Here are my top tips (as an ex-recruiter) on how to choose and work with recruiters for your job search.
There are two options available to you: either spread your net wide or align yourself with a few.
If you’re exceptional at what you do, then it is likely recruiters and head hunters will find you or already know of you, especially if you are well networked and have a professional and engaging Linked In profile. But for the majority of job seekers, you will need to engage recruiters directly.
If you’re out of work then it would make sense to spread your net across a range of recruitment agencies to maximize your chances of securing work as well as managing your own job search with direct advertisements. This tactic works best if speed is of the essence as opposed to finding your dream role.
If you are employed but are looking to take your career to the next level then my advice is to identify one or two recruiters who you believe are the most networked and supportive of you and are best placed to represent you in your market.
To do this you need to do your research. Ask your peers who they recommend and have used in the past, either as a candidate or as a client. Experience and credibility count for a lot when you are working with a recruiter, both in the service you will receive as a candidate and what advice the client will receive (and listen to) from the recruiter.
My advice is to find someone who has been in your industry sector awhile, is well known and has a good reputation. Your recruiter can be your biggest advocate and be instrumental in whether you get an interview with the client.
So how can you manage and maximise your relationship with your recruiter?
Firstly you must have the suitable skills and experience the recruiter is seeking, don’t waste yours or anyone else’s time applying for a job you do not have the experience for. Listen to what the recruiter is saying their client is seeking, and specifically highlight those skills concisely.
Address the email and cover letter to the recruiter directly, not “Dear Sir” or “Dear Recruiter” this stock email or cover letter suggests it’s been mass distributed not specifically tailored to the role and recruiter. You are trying to build a relationship and this multiple-dating style email will not cut it.
Relationships are more easily built face to face, take the time to have a meeting with your recruiter, ideally in their working hours if you can, if this is not possible then Skype is a great alternative. This person is going to be your representative in the market, you need to sell yourself to them, they need to buy into you, understand what you do, what you have achieved, and what you want, so they can bring the right roles to your attention and sell you effectively to their clients.
If you are just looking to get a pay rise or promotion at work, don’t waste a recruiter’s time getting you a new job offer if you know you are not interested. Because when you really do want a new job, the chance is they won’t work with you again. Ask them for advice instead on your worth in the market and if you don’t get what you want in your current company then you can easily go back to them and they will be far more willing to work with you.
If you have already applied directly to a job, spoken to the client previously, or have been represented by another agency, tell the recruiter. It will not double or triple your chance of getting the job if your CV is duplicated. It will suggest to the client that you either have no control over your job search, are not taking it seriously or you are so desperate for a job you will take any role. None of these are reasons to hire you, and it will not enhance your relationship with the recruiter either.
From a recruiter’s point of view, if they have a great candidate with highly desirable skills and you offer the recruiter a period of exclusivity, then commercially they are more incentivized to work for you (because they have a higher chance of placing you and making money). They will work their magic with their contacts and sell you into networking meetings, which is a great way to build your network for future roles. Whatever the benefits for a recruiter, this is good news for you; just make sure you have aligned yourself with the best person to represent you.
Follow these 6 steps to successfully choosing and working with recruiters, and you will have more success in your job search, build your network, and open up more potential opportunities now and in the future.