Job Hunting, Recruiters and Minding Your Manners
By Amanda Frank
Revised by Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
In the Who’s Who of the hiring world there are few more valuable allies than recruiters and headhunters. Whether you’re new to the job market or are have an established employment track record, collaborating with a recruiter is a great way to augment your job search.
There are recruiting firms tailored to every level of employment. It’s important that you know which ones to select. Otherwise you’ll waste your time chasing down phantom opportunities.
Recruiters can be your ally as you seek a suitable job. They’re an addition to – not a substitute for – a comprehensive job hunt that includes replying to posted positions, networking into the hidden job market, and marketing yourself online.
Since recruiters can act as a gateway to job interviews, you should treat them as partners. Understand how they function to improve your chances of being their candidate of choice.
How Recruiting Firms Operate
Recruiters and headhunters often post positions they need to fill on Monster.ca. These jobs are offered by actual employers. Yet to get an interview with the employer, you have to convince the recruiter first that you’re a fit for the position.
If a recruiting firm sends you on a job interview, and that employer offers you a job, it’s the employer that pays the recruiting firm’s fees. This applies whether the recruiting firm sent you for a part-time job, a contract position, an hourly wage role, or a full-time, salaried job.
You do not pay a penny to the recruiter. If you are asked for money, run like the wind. It is likely a scam of some sort. Note as well that recruiters are normally not career coaches. It is best to approach recruiters after you know what kind of work you’d like to pursue,
Different Types of Recruiters
You may have heard the following terms: headhunters, personnel firms, placement agencies, executive recruiters, staffing consultants. Do they all mean the same thing?
Not exactly. Ultimately they do serve a common function, which is to assist employers in finding appropriate candidates to interview and hire. They review resumes, interview applicants, maybe do background checks, and recommend (but not decide) who should be hired.
Here are some of the key differences between the different types of recruiters:
Headhunters and Executive Recruiters
These are at the top of recruiting’s food chain. They deal with higher end, more senior, or expensive talent. Often they work on retainer and have exclusive listings with the employers they represent.
What this boils down to is that at some point, you usually have to go through that particular headhunter for the senior level jobs they post. They get paid regardless of how you are introduced to the employer, even if it is through networking.
Recruiting Firms and Consultants
This group caters most often to mid-level employees, as well as to junior people who earn over a certain salary. All sorts of recruiting firms exist. Some specialize by focusing on a specific industry or profession. Others are generalists.
Staffing, Personnel and Placement Agencies
Use this type of recruiter when looking for part-time work, administrative positions, and other lesser paying jobs.
Working With A Recruiter
You should get to know the names of relevant recruiting and staffing firms in your area. If you’re new to the whole recruiter spiel you might need a few pointers on how to make the most of this relationship. Like any business relationship there are ground rules for professional etiquette. Abide by them and vastly improve your shot at getting your dream job.
According to Cindy Schwartz, Recruitment Manager at Quantum Management Services, “recruiters are humans selling humans to other humans.” The keyword here is human. She didn’t say people selling numbers to dollar signs.
· Your strategy should be maintaining a relationship. So be personable.
· Think of yourself as the president of your own company.
· The product is you.
· The marketing department is you.
· Your recruiter is part of your sales force pushing YOU to employers.
What can you do to get on the good side of your recruiter? Here are some surefire ways to stand out.
Working with a recruiter is like being a rock star and having an agent, or as close as you’ll get (I’ll happily eat my words if you become a YouTube sensation.) You don’t need to play guitar and you don’t pay a fee for the service. Wait it gets better!
Your recruiter has access to hundreds of companies looking to hire and can fast track your job search. It would take a hundred job interviews (score a tenth of that on your own and I commend you) to equal the hiring exposure you’d get through one recruiter. Your recruiter meets you once for an evaluation of your skills and personality then uses your profile to line you up for the best-matched jobs in the system. You don’t even have to write a cover letter. It can very efficient providing your skill set and career goals match up with a job opening. You have to be patient during the search and match process.
Because the recruiter initiates the contact, someone with clout is personally vouching for your abilities. This is especially helpful when you’re starting out in the job market with a reflectively short and sparse resume.
Just because you’re working with a recruiter doesn’t mean you should hole up in your room all day playing with your Wii. Increase your job-hunting efficiency exponentially by working in tandem with your recruiter. You should be busy searching the Internet, writing cover letters and gussying up for interviews. Looking for a job is a full-time job. It’s a bonus to have someone working on the sidelines to help you.
Skip the attitude. Don’t act like an entitled prima donna or male equivalent. Your recruiter isn’t paid to get you a job. As mentioned above, they are paid by the employer when they match a good candidate to an open position.
Working with humans leaves room for a large margin of error. “Placing people in jobs is a precarious business,” said Schwartz. “So many things can go wrong. The best way to minimize risk is to be open and truthful.”
Your recruiter will extract a list of your wants, needs and expectations in terms of desired salary, benefits, corporate culture, job function, travel time. Answer honestly, and when the subject comes up with the client in an interview, be consistent. Nothing irks a recruiter more than having a candidate suddenly turn on them by ambushing the client with a surprise demand. Schwartz described what happened when a candidate recently pulled such a stunt by asking for $50,000 salary when the expectation had been set at $35,000.
It’s important to know what you want, though this can be decidedly difficult when you aren’t sure of your options. Your recruiter is a specialist in the job market you’re hoping to enter. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, young grasshopper.
“Some people have unrealistic expectations,” said Schwartz. “We’re here to be able to guide the process. We can give you constructive criticism based on how you perform during our interview and we can coach you on the spot to help you ace your interview with the client.”
To your recruiter, you are a valuable resource that only appreciates with experience. Nurture this relationship and it will serve you well for years to come. The best relationships are built on trust, respect and communication.
“A lot of the time our candidates keep us out of the loop of the process, which only sabotages the relationship,” said Schwartz. “It comes down to professional courtesy. If the candidate communicates honestly, then we’ll do our best to get the candidate what they want.”
“Within 48 hours of meeting with one particular candidate, I got her an interview with her dream company,” explained Schwartz. “She had given me her salary expectations which were in line with what the employer was offering, but when she met with the client she totally highballed herself. Of course the client comes back to me for an explanation. That puts me in a very awkward position. The candidate put herself over budget, lost the offer and burned her bridge with me.”
Follow Up With Your Recruiter
According to Schwartz quality communication is not about frequency. Alert your recruiter of your progress at certain key points along the way. Here’s when to keep in touch.
After an interview. Call before the recruiter needs to get on the horn for feedback from the client. Let her know how the interview went, how you felt about the company and the job. Tell her you’ve done your due diligence and issued the compulsory thank you emails to the people that just interviewed with you.
When you get a job. If your recruiter didn’t place you in the job, she won’t know you found one. Let her know you’re off the market. Otherwise she’ll be wasting time working on your file. It’s a simple courtesy, but Schwartz reports that most of her junior candidates don’t ever notify her. You don’t want your recruiter to call you with an interesting job opportunity only to hear you’re already working. Assuming you are working, you know it’s a pain in the rear. Don’t add to other people’s workloads.
To say thank you. If you are gainfully employed and your recruiter placed you, then you should convey your thanks. Call, write an email or be really classy and send a card by post. It’s a great opportunity to bond over your common victory. Bonding is good for relationship building. Acknowledging people for their hard work that you benefit from should be a no brainer.
You’d be surprised but Schwartz reports a high rate of delinquency from junior candidates in the thank you department. “Very often I’ll write candidates an email to congratulate them and won’t ever get a reply, much less a thank you. Senior candidates don’t act that way.”
Because Mom Said. “One of my candidates calls me every six months just to say hello and check in,” said Schwartz “because his mother tells him to do it.” It’s a good policy. But I would advise against admitting the impetus came from your mother.