For most people looking for employment, it is absolutely one of the more stressful experiences life can throw at us. Some individuals are pros at finding work. They know exactly how to prepare a resumé and cover letter. They know precisely the kind of tone they should adopt during an interview. They are experts at negotiating a job offer. Best of all, some have amazing networks they have cultivated over the years that they can call on to help them find that perfect job.
If you are one of these people, I doff my hat to you. Respect! Most of us do not fall into this elite category and that is okay. It simply means that we are like the majority of people who find themselves looking for work from time to time and need a helping a hand. It is not a reflection on how we perform the work we are trained to do. In fact, it has nothing to do with our status as Private Service Professionals. It just means that we need a hand finding the right job within a timeline we are comfortable. This is where recruiters come in.
The first question anyone should ask themselves when looking for work is “do I need the assistance of a recruiter?” You might feel uncomfortable working with an intermediary. Many do. You might prefer to call on your own trusted network. There is no straightforward answer to the question. It is all a matter of one’s comfort level. If the decision to work with a recruiter is affirmative, however, there are a few things you should know in advance.
The first thing to remember is not all recruiters are created equal. Just like there are good and bad housekeepers or house managers or dry-cleaners, there are good and “not-so-good” recruiters. Use your network for a referral. A colleague’s positive experience with a recruiter will, in all likelihood, result in a positive experience for you.
While you are at it, research the recruiter’s reputation. Just like you would not hire any plumber or pool company for your employer, a recruiter’s services should never be blindly engaged. One of the ways to distinguish between a good and bad recruiter is through the jobs they post. For example, good recruiters usually work with their clients to create a job description that is marketable and conforms with the labour laws of given jurisdictions. This work is reflected on the recruiter’s job board. If a recruiter is trying to “sell” you on a job that is inconsistent with labour laws, it is likely a red flag for candidates.
While researching recruiters, it is important to know that there are various types of recruiters and job seekers should know the differences. For example, some recruiters work on a contingency basis, which means that they do not take deposits from their clients to initiate their search and recruitment process. Contingency Recruiters typically have a lot of job orders on the go, which means that the level of client commitment to the recruiter might be low since no monetary investment in the process has occurred. So, while the agency’s job board might list pages and pages of jobs, many of those positions might belong to uncommitted employers.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are Retained Recruiters. They usually work by contract with their clients and receive an upfront deposit to ensure the client’s commitment to the process. While there are excellent Contingency Recruiters in the marketplace, my preference has always been to work with Retained Recruiters. Their committed clients usually translate to an almost equal commitment to candidates and the positions they post belong to clients who are very serious about hiring.
Another key detail worth remembering… the thing that 90% of candidates forget (okay the percentage isn’t scientific) is that they are NOT the client. A recruiter’s loyalty ultimately rests with the employer who has engaged the domestic recruiter’s services and will pay a fee once a placement is made. It is important to remember this. While a good recruiter will do their level best to be transparent with candidates, there will inevitably be information they might not be able to share for reasons of contractual confidentiality. It is important for informed candidate’s to keep in mind ALL the relationships that are in play when engaging the services of a recruiter.
Once you have made the decision to work with a recruiter, how you approach them matters. By all means reach out to recruiters, but recognize that they work in a highly demanding field that places all kinds of pressures on their time. In other words, do not expect your cold call to be greeted by a recruiter who immediately sets aside an hour of their time to speak with you about your experience, wants and objectives. Be respectful. Introduce yourself and ask, either through email or over the telephone, when would be a good time to speak. Follow up by asking the recruiter if they would like to see your resumé in advance and where you can send it. A respectful approach should result in a mutually respectful relationship.
When you do speak with a recruiter, be honest with them. Do not try to hide unsuccessful employment experiences. Invariably recruiters will discover these instances through their own methodology and it is the candidate who will pay the price for their lack of transparency. Recruiters want to represent people they can trust. It only stands to reason. As with any relationship, dishonesty is a sure way to “bomb the relationship bridge.”
Further, do not be overly sensitive. Good recruiters will be candid – hopefully politely so – and let you know if you have the right skillset and personality for a position. Do not let a recruiter’s transparency hurt your feelings. Instead be grateful that you are working with a professional who gives you honest answers to your questions. Occasionally, because of confidentiality obligations with the client, recruiters might not be able to be as frank as they otherwise would be. Do not interpret this as dishonesty. Recruiters, like private service professionals, are required to operate at a high level of discretion and are often bound by contractual confidentiality clauses.
Furthermore, if you do not hear from your recruiter as time passes it may be a case of there not being a position at the moment for you. With that said, do not be afraid to stay in touch with your recruiter. If you see a position on their job board that interests you, contact them and let them know you are interested. Sometimes being a squeaky wheel is a good tactic. Just do not become a pest.
It also must be said that not hearing from your recruiter is the best indicator that you still have work to do. Just because you have entered into a relationship with a recruiter does not mean that you should sit back and relax and let them do all of the work. For example, recruiters will not write your resumé, nor should they. Many will offer valuable coaching and will welcome intelligent questions, but candidates still have work to do. Job seekers should keep their eyes and ears open for good positions. In other words, do not place all of your eggs in a recruiter’s basket.
A final bit of advice for job seekers is if you feel uncomfortable with a recruiter, MOVE ON! There are plenty of recruiting fish in the sea! Just as employee / employer relationships rely on good chemistry, so too do the bonds between candidate and recruiter. If things do not feel right, things probably are not alright. Listen to your gut.
Working with recruiters is not for everyone. It does not help matters that the industry’s reputation has been sullied by unscrupulous practitioners. My thought on this is that all industries are impaired by bad apples. I would caution candidates, however, from tarring an entire industry with the same brush. Instead, make a practice of being at your best. Be professional. Practice due diligence. Most of all, be open to those who can help you in your career objectives. Finally, good luck in your search!
Article written by Scott Munden who is the founder of Portico Staffing. Private service professionals can learn more about Scott’s recruitment services by visiting his company website >>> https://www.porticostaff.com