Help Your Recruiter Help You

June 20, 2023

Job changes are in the top 3 of the most stressful events you will go through in life along with purchasing a home and getting married. It is wise to equip yourself with the intel you will need to remove painful obstacles during your search.

Recruiters have tremendous knowledge to share about the market, resume tips, coaching, interview advice and more – they are your partner in your the search and you’ll need to “help them help you” along the way though. Let’s talk about a few tips to make these partnerships successful.

If you applied to a recruiter’s job posting and they are responding, thank them. One of the biggest frustrations we hear from job seekers is that they apply, and apply, and never hear anything. When you receive a response from a recruiter to your application, you have something valuable to offer and they have recognized it and probably passed on several people in the process.

Do not ask them to remind you which role you applied for – recruiters have no point of reference to how many roles you apply to and may be thinking beyond the specific role you clicked on. Keep your mind open and see where the conversation goes. You will not be wasting anyone’s time, we promise

If you receive a call/email/message because your background is impressive (but you never actually applied), be polite. Please don’t be annoyed but consider it a compliment that you attracted attention. In fact, someone may have confidentially referred you with the best of intentions and you don’t want to risk tarnishing that person’s relationship

If it’s not a convenient time to talk, suggest a different time to connect when you know you will feel better prepared to discuss what is important to you

If you have no interest in making a move, it won’t hurt to entertain a conversation anyway. In fact, you may know someone better suited to the role at hand, be opening the door to a future role of your dreams, or find the best partner to help round out your own dream team

Treat your initial meeting the exact same way you would approach any other first interview: Your recruiter is excited to meet you! Their job is to represent you in the best possible way to potential employers to give you every advantage during the process:

  • Be on time – if you are running late or need to reschedule, be respectful and give them a heads up with an apology
  • Dress for success – show them what you will look and sound like in front of their clients so they have confidence in you
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your next boss. This is a REAL interview – not a practice round. And nothing is more insulting to a recruiter than hearing, “I would never say this in a real interview”

Update your resume accordingly: While your recruiter will surely offer tips and suggestions, their job is not to rewrite or fix your resume for you. Make sure dates/titles are accurate. Use a few bullets per role – not paragraphs – and keep them brief and to the point. Use the correct grammar/tenses/spelling. Highlight your accomplishments and only list your key responsibilities. Finally, avoid templates with boxes, lines, multiple colors and fonts.

Have a thoughtful yet realistic list of requirements and wishes for your next role. Understand what a realistic salary for your desired role should look like, but take their advice into consideration especially for different markets, industries, and corporate structures. Prioritize your non-monetary musts and wishes – at least the top 3 (think corporate culture, career progression, ideal leadership, etc.). The clearer you are on what you want and need, the easier it will be for your recruiter to give your search the right focus.

Please note that recruiters will most likely not be the right route to make a career change from one field/focus to another, even if you are qualified to be making such a move.

Don’t expect miracles – nobody can snap their fingers and produce your dream job. However, they do have insight into employers and hiring managers you will never have from a blind job posting/application

Follow their instructions and respond quickly. Be on time for interview preparation/follow up conversations – this couldn’t be more important in being your advocate throughout the process. If the recruiter requests information from you in a certain format, be prompt and thorough with your response so they have everything they need to highlight you. Use the communication method they have requested, especially if they are expecting your feedback in a timely manner (i.e., a call means a call – not a text or email). If you agree to an interview with their client, follow through with it or give them ample notice as to why you are unable to do so. Missing an interview or being late reflects very poorly on both you and the recruiter

Be open and upfront with them. Keep a running list of where your resume has been sent whether you applied directly or were submitted by another recruiter. It reflects very poorly on all parties if you are submitted twice for the same job. If you are working with other recruiters, please let them know. Recruiters understand that you may be using multiple resources, and they will appreciate your candor. If you are at all hesitant about moving forward with a role, or your situation has changed, let them know right away so they can shift their focus appropriately for both you and their client

Be patient and respectful. Keep in mind that recruiters have full calendars because they are helping many people like you land jobs. Be respectful of their time by keeping communications brief and to the point and don’t inundate them with phone calls and emails. Most recruiters are giving equal time and attention to hiring managers to fully understand position requirements and nuances which help them make the best match. They may not be able to get back to you as quickly as you would like. Just as you are forced to prioritize your day-to-day activities based upon urgency, recruiters are doing the very same. Remember that your recruiter doesn’t make any money unless you are successfully placed, so your interests are directly aligned. Their reputation is on the line every time they present you or advocate on your behalf

Get to know them! Recruiters want to work with people they like – just like everyone else. Engage in the small talk and let them see you for the amazing person you are. Ask them about their backgrounds and how they got into their specialty recruiting field. (Disclaimer: If they don’t have any experience in what they staff for or haven’t brought in an expert on their team who has experience with your skills – that is a real red flag). Ask them for constructive criticism and advice – and be open to what you hear. You will be surprised at how just a few small tweaks can increase your odds during your search. Finally, stay in touch with them once you land – even if they weren’t the one to place you. This is especially important if you find yourself in a hiring position. You may need their expertise to understand the hiring landscape when filling key positions

Whether you are testing the waters in a job search, or are thrust into one due to outside circumstances, let’s face it – this is not something you do every day. You will want to engage experts in your field to help you along the way. Working with recruiters can make the process easier to navigate and take away a lot of the guesswork you will face when searching on your own.

Seeking a new position in HR or Marketing? The experts at Elevation Talent Group can help. Contact us today to learn more!


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