A good relationship with a great recruiter can be one of the most valuable arrows in your quiver when you’re looking to make a strategic career move. A few of the powerful benefits that working with a recruiter provides include access to hiring managers at the top companies within your field, objective knowledge of the corporate culture within multiple companies, and expedited connections to these companies. Like every strategic tool, there is a set of best practices that will influence your results.
The following tips will help you get the most out of working with an external recruiter……that is, a recruiter who works independently and not directly for a specific company.
Understand How Recruiters Work
An external recruiter is a bit like a matchmaker for employers and candidates. External recruiters are paid by the employer only after their candidates are hired, so they do aim to serve the company’s best interest. At the same time, to become an effective and successful recruiter, they also balance the interests of their candidates with those of the prospective employer. This helps foster long-term relationships with both employers and candidates.
“We balance both sides of the equation to create a good fit and to help create a win-win hire. Our reputation depends on the satisfaction of both parties, and results in repeat business,” said Kay Durkin, founder of Phoenix Partners, who has been in recruiting for 30 years.
Foster a Transparent Relationship
Recruiters trade on their reputations and their ability to produce results. They are also stewards of both the employer’s and candidate’s time. This means they need to know the “straight goods” on your work history, qualifications, background, and salary in order to meet employer expectations when presenting you as a candidate. The employer is “trusting” the recruiter to have accurately assessed your candidacy. When this trust is betrayed, everybody suffers, and valuable time and energy are wasted.
For example, if you misrepresent your current compensation in an effort to obtain a dramatically higher salary, the truth will become evident when your future employer does a background check. It will reflect poorly on you as well as your recruiter.
“If you’re working with the right recruiter, you should feel comfortable sharing confidential details as needed, including present salary, and trust that the recruiter will use his or her best judgment in representing you. If you’re not in a trusting association, you need to work with a different recruiter,” Durkin said.
Work With a Recruiter Who Specializes in Your Field
You will benefit most from working with a recruiter who specializes in your field, industry or discipline. The recruiter will be familiar with your qualifications and the significance of your accomplishments. He or she will likely already be working with the top employers in your field, and will have a solid understanding of your potential career path and goals. The specialized recruiter will also be able to supply the best advice for your career advancement. However, the fit does not need to be exact to be of benefit to you. For example, a technical recruiter may cover several related job categories, for example software developer to systems administrator, across several industry verticals where those types of technically talented candidates are sought.
Build Your Relationship For the Long Term
Like any relationship, a rewarding relationship with a recruiter is built over time, and through transparency and trust. Ways to build this relationship include good communication practices.
Keep your recruiter updated on your job status even when you’re not in the market. Share your accomplishments and long-range goals. Refer candidates that you think are qualified when you learn of open positions for which you are not applying.
When working directly with a recruiter on open positions, always respond promptly with post-interview follow up. Likewise, if you’ve already applied at a particular company on your own, it’s important to let your recruiter know in order to avoid a conflict.
If you’ve previously worked with or are currently working with another recruiter, it’s also important to disclose this. While recruiters do not necessarily require that you work with them exclusively, the relationship is stronger and attention more dedicated when it’s exclusive. The critical element is to avoid conflicted sourcing in the presentation of candidates. It will reflect poorly on you if an employer feels you’ve not been forthright or in communication with your recruiter, even more so if you apply directly without telling your recruiter.
“Many of my candidates have been with me throughout the majority of their careers. I treasure the opportunity to help them target the next step in their career path and champion their goals,” said Durkin. “When there’s integrity in the process, everybody wins.”