By: Elias Cobb, National Recruiting Manager

So…you read my last blog Why Even Work With a Recruiter?? and are now ready to finally work with a recruiter.  Or maybe you’ve worked with recruiters in the past, and want to maximize the experience.  Or maybe you had a bad experience with a recruiter, and want to have a better experience this time.  Any which way, read on…I have some tips for you to make the most of the time spent with a recruiter, and to help you manage your expectations of the process.  After all, neither one of you gets paid if you don’t get a job, so you might as well get SOMETHING out of the experience.

  • The recruiter controls ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THE FEEDBACK TIMING.   This is important to understand.  Don’t do anything stupid like setting a deadline for the recruiter to get you an interview, or you’ll pull out of the process.  Really?  And you won’t go on the interview if you get called three days after your deadline expires, and you haven’t found a job?  Be realistic and treat the process in a business-like fashion.  The recruiter can’t control when the manager will respond.  But you CAN expect the recruiter to get back to you when you ask if there has been feedback, and to return emails and calls.
  • The recruiter gets paid MORE MONEY IF SHE GETS YOU MORE MONEY for a perm job.  So go ahead and have an open discussion about your salary expectations and *gasp* your salary history.   “But Elias,” you say, “They say to never, ever share your salary history.”  Why on earth wouldn’t you share it, if the recruiter is motivated to get you as much as she can?  That’s nonsensical.  If you have a frank discussion and understand where the client is coming from, you can maximize your potential salary by working with the recruiter, hand in hand. 
  • You won’t be the only candidate submitted for the job.  Of course you won’t; the recruiter works for the client, not for you.  But on the other hand, you’ll probably apply for more than one job, won’t you?  
  • Be open to tailoring your resume a little.  You should be doing this already, having different versions of your resume for different jobs.  But in this case, the recruiter can make an enormous difference in your chances.  The recruiter should know the hiring manager’s specific desires in the new hire, and can help you emphasize the things you have done that meet those needs.  Never make anything up on your resume, but definitely be open to suggestions.
  • If you get an interview, ask the recruiter for feedback on previous candidate interviews.  If you aren’t going to be the only candidate, you might as well profit from there being others before you.  The recruiter will be motivated to help you as much as he can with the interview.  And if you’re candidate #1, well, the recruiter should still be able to tell you about the manager and their likes and dislikes in candidates.
  • Be open to general interview suggestions.  For example, if the recruiter tells you that the manager likes short, to the point answers, that means you probably talk too much.  That’s not a problem for some managers, but many don’t like candidates to go too far off topic.  The recruiter may bring up these things, either very directly (“You need to keep your answers on topic in the interview”), or in a more round-about fashion like I expressed above.  Either way, don’t take it personally, and try to incorporate those tips into your interview.  Remember, the recruiter WANTS you to get an offer, so they’re not going to steer you wrong.
  • Don’t get mad if the recruiter can’t answer every single little question you have about the job and the company.  Sometimes hiring managers won’t answer questions, or just provide the bare bones minimum to recruiters.  Sometimes they give more info.  It doesn’t mean you should pull out of the process.  Look, if you need to know the color of the carpet and size of the cubicles, just be open to getting an interview.  You aren’t committing to ANYTHING.  And 99% of companies will do a phone interview first, so all you’re out is 30 minutes of time.  You can ask the hiring manager everything you need to know.  And you know what?  Maybe you’ll find that the position is a better fit than you imagined.

The bottom line is, a good recruiter should have a give and take relationship with candidates.  There should be a collaboration, and hopefully you can both get something out of the relationship.  It should be something that benefits you both long-term.  I’ve placed many candidates multiple times, and had candidates become clients and back to candidates again.  Some of my candidates are my friends now.  If you work with recruiters who just look at you as a quick commission, or if you look at recruiters as only trying to take something away from you, or taking your money, you will never get the most out of the relationship.

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