Working with recruiters can be time-consuming, frustrating and can often feel like a one-way street where you are at the recruiter’s mercy and not in control. So what can you do to maximize your relationship and influence the recruiter so they are your cheerleader?
Firstly, let’s be clear about a recruiters’ role and the commercials.
Recruiters are engaged by companies (a client) to source candidates to fill a vacancy. This could be on an exclusive basis (only agency supporting the client) or in competition with other agencies. Invariably if a recruiter is the sole agent on a job, both you and the client will get a better service, as commercially they will make money. When in competition, it is more a game of speed than service. This is not always great for you as a candidate as you could be put forward to a role that is less than perfect just to get you represented first ahead of other recruiters.
They will be paid a fee for the successful placement of you, which is normally guaranteed for a period of 3-12 months either by replacement or refund if you don’t work out.
Secondly, the recruiter is in the driving seat.
Recruiters do have the power to decide whether to represent you to a client or not. This is particularly important in a high supply market (lots of candidates = lots of competition = choice for a recruiters shortlist). Be mindful that anyone representing you is a potential barrier to entry (in you getting the job), he/she could be your greatest advocate or prevent you even getting an interview.
So how can you effectively manage this relationship and enhance your chances of making their shortlists?
- You don’t pay recruiters to work for you. But don’t treat a recruiter like you have zero investment in the process. Make your recruiter’s life easy, time is money, so get back to them when you say you will. It is a fine balance between keeping at the forefront of your recruiter’s mind and taking up too much time. Ask your recruiter how best you can help them and what contact they want from you.
- You are judged by your behaviour, so make sure it’s how you want to be perceived, this will be reflected upon if a recruiter is asked to advise on cultural fit and suitability and taken into consideration when deciding on who makes a shortlist. Processes can be slow and this is not often the recruiter’s fault, so don’t let loose on them if you are frustrated or unhappy with the outcome.
- Always contact your recruiter after job interviews with feedback. This is your chance to reiterate your interest in the role and company, your suitability and strengths. It’s not positive if a recruiter has to chase you for feedback, the assumption is you are not 100% interested in the job, otherwise you would be actively ensuring they know that you are. Clients will ask the recruiter for your feedback so you are not helping your recruiter support you if you haven’t provided any. If they don’t know your feedback or even if you remain interested in the role, then it is unlikely you will be backed over other candidates who the recruiter can rely on.
- Your reputation is critical because if you are not respected in your industry, have good recommendations of your work and solid references, then you are a risk to the recruiter. If you are working with a specialist recruiter, one who is well connected in your industry they will also know a lot about you. Make sure what they know is positive. And remember, a recruiter’s reputation is linked to the successful placement of you.
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