How To Work With Recruiters (Even If You Don’t Like Them)

Teamwork in the office

Love them or loathe them, nearly everyone comes in contact with a recruiter while looking for a job. Maybe you’ve had one contact you when you didn’t even apply for a job! That happens all the time on LinkedIn. As a former recruiter and hiring manager myself, I know that it’s often a complicated relationship that job seekers have with recruiters. I read dozens of posts on LinkedIn from frustrated job seekers who bash recruiters and frustrated recruiters who bash job seekers. Have you seen those too!?

In my opinion, there is a simply a lack of understanding on both sides. Now that I’m out of the corporate world, my loyalty lies with you the job hunter and not the companies. And that’s the way I like it! Therefore, my goal in this post is to help you, as the applicant, to better understand the role that recruiters play and how to positively and constructively work with them in your search.

Here’s three things that you need to know..

  1. There’s More Than One Type of Recruiter. Working with an agency recruiter will give you a different experience than an in-house recruiter who works directly for the hiring company. Agency recruiters work on commission more often, and more heavily, so they are typically more motivated to push your resume through than an in-house recruiter. They may even coach you a bit on how to optimize your resume before it’s presented. Even within agencies though, there are two more types of recruiters, Contingency and Retained. Contingency recruiters are non-exclusive and commission only. Retained recruiters are exclusive and receive a salary, or retainer as a result.
  2. Recruiters Don’t Work For You. I know it’s hard to be patient when you need a job quickly, but many candidates put too much hope in recruiters, thinking that they’ll get them a job. It does happen that way, but you cannot rely on it. At the end of the day, their job is to fill the position with the best candidate, which may or may not be you. Their performance is often graded on retention (if they are in-house), so finding the right fit does matter to them. (Personal note: I learned this lesson the hard way when I was unemployed years ago. I still remember getting the “we work for the company, not you” speech from a recruiter!)
  3. The Human Factor. There is one terrific benefit to working with a recruiter. They’re human! In today’s modern job search, you need to do everything you can to avoid the online black hole and “humanize” the job search again.  Establishing relationships with recruiters is a way to do that. You’ve got a better shot at getting some actual feedback on your candidacy from a recruiter than you ever will from a computer. So, connect with as many of them as you want! The more connections you make, the better. Relying on any one person (or strategy) in your search never works.  So cast a wide net, my friends!

As someone who has recruited and worked alongside many other recruiters, I can assure you of this: Recruiters absolutely would love to help you and answer every single email you send them, but they just can’t. At a large firm, one recruiter could easily have 100 open requisitions under their name. Bottom line: They are busy and they are doing the best they can, just as you are, as the job seeker.

 


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