Many job seekers have never worked with a recruiter. Consequently, there is often misunderstanding and even myths about what a recruiter can do for you. “We talked but then I never heard back from her!” is a common complaint. The truth is most applicants don’t have a good understanding of how recruiting works, what the role of the recruiter is and what the candidate can do to get the most from this relationship.
Imagine a boxing ring. The coach waits at the corner, ready to give advice and support to the boxer, sending him back out to win. That’s what a good recruiter does for you, the candidate. They know the market, they know the opposition, they know your strengths and they coach you to do your best. They’re also there afterwards to debrief and prepare you for the next step.
Recruiters are also up to date on the job market. It’s what they do day in and day out. They know salary ranges for different positions. They know what positions are hot and which aren’t. They also get information from the employer that may not show up on the official job description. This kind of intelligence enables them to put you forward for the best jobs. They’ll work to prepare you for the interview and even help with salary negotiation.
Recruiters are like matchmakers. They work with candidates to try to find the right job for them. Because it’s easier for the employer to have a single point of contact, the recruiter works with an account rep that manages the client relationship and brings in new job postings. The recruiter sees the job opportunities and seeks to match the candidates they know with the position. So, that first conversation with your recruiter is essential. It enables them to get to know you and what you’re looking for. There might be an appropriate position available immediately but there might not be one for weeks or months.
Your recruiter is a bridge to all the other people involved in the hiring timeline. They are your main point of contact for everything, and they can streamline the whole process. If they feel a particular job is a good fit, then you’re presented to the employer. From there, it’s in the hands of the employer so if it feels like it’s taking forever to hear back, that’s most likely where the backlog is. As soon as the recruiter gets an update, they pass that information on immediately to the candidate and find out what the next steps are.
Recruiters do a lot behind the scenes too. They’ll give you everything you need to present well, such as feedback on your resume and coaching for a successful interview. They’ll even send thank you notes to the employer. All of this is a free resource to the candidate.
To successfully place you in the right job, recruiters need a lot of information from you up front. They’ll want to know your background, of course. What is the ideal role you want? What’s most important to you – money, benefits, flexibility, title? Where do you want to be in five years? What skills do you want to develop? Where do you want to work – in an office, hybrid or remotely? What industry attracts you most? What’s a “must have” and what’s a “nice to have?” Clear, honest communication is essential because it builds a stronger relationship with the recruiter. When they know who you are and what you want, it helps them find the best fit. Saying, “I’m open to everything,” or “I don’t know” isn’t helpful. Focus on what you want. In the end you want more than just a job; you want a job you enjoy, in a company you respect and, in a place where you can grow.
Before even speaking with a recruiter, you’ll need to get your resume and, if you’re in the creative space, your portfolio in good shape. You want to give your recruiter tools that will help them pitch you to the right employer. The more buttoned up you are, the easier it is for them to sell you.
Brand is something we typically associate with a product. The concept of clearly projecting a specific message can apply to individuals as well. Take a good hard look at your LinkedIn page. Does it tell the story you want, to get the job that you want? Add important details to the “About” section as well as your previous job experiences – not just a title and years worked. Talk about your professional passion and interests. Share other posts on your feed that are in line with your professional interests. It shows prospective employers that you’re current and passionate about your field. Ask colleagues and former managers to add recommendations. In the skills section, be sure to list your skill areas and ask friends and business associates to endorse you.
When meeting with a recruiter, treat it as you would a job interview. Be prepared with your resume and work samples. Be dressed appropriately. Conduct yourself professionally. Why? Because in the back of the recruiter’s mind, they’re thinking, “Is this someone I want to put in front of my client, the employer?” To be frank, if a recruiter sends inadequate candidates to the employer, it could hurt that recruiter’s reputation with the client in the future. But if you’re polished and prepared, the recruiter feels confident putting you forward and excited to work with you.
Staffing professionals are just one element of your job search. Certainly, keep looking for positions on your own. Keep a running list of where you have applied. This is important to communicate with your recruiter so that they don’t present you to an employer to whom you have already applied.
A recruiter can be a powerful partner in your job search process. We hope this article has given you a clearer idea of what to expect from that partnership and how to make the most of it.
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