Well, perhaps not a best friend forever, but a recruiter that has your best interests at heart, gets you in front of those key decision makers and wants to help you find the perfect job.
Everyone has a horror story regarding an experience with recruiters. The bad press is ubiquitous, from the agency that don’t acknowledge your resume, the organisations that NEVER call you back when they say they will and those recruiters that even forget your name when you call.
For every complaint however, there are thousands of candidates that have had a positive journey through the recruitment process, both from an in-house and agency driven perspective. Despite what you may read on the Internet; the vast majority of recruiters are actually good at their job. The flip side of this means they are often very busy.
Where Does It All Go Wrong?
Recruiters are tasked with achieving one thing: Find the right person, for the right job, at the right time.
This is trickier than it looks. Speaking as someone with over 12 years in the recruitment business, I have encountered a range of candidates, colleagues and suppliers that are great at helping me achieve two out of my three goals.
The last part of the objective, ‘at the right time’ is where things get difficult. As a busy recruiter, I need to focus my attention on candidates that are likely to be placed in a role, but often, my time was spent managing issues surrounding applications that weren’t suitable
- Candidates sent in speculative resumes to me all the time, despite our corporate website saying we only accepted online applications;
- I would receive emails from people wanting to work ‘in a vibrant private sector organisation’ when I worked in-house for a large charity;
- I’d happily forward a strong talent pool candidate to a hiring manager, only to discover upon inviting them for interview that a key certification had lapsed;
- A candidate had a strong resume, but upon Google searching their name, was discovered to have a poorly filled out LinkedIn profile and some dubious Facebook pictures available for public consumption.
All of these ‘hiccups’ involved time spent on rectifying situations and rearranging the working day.
Whilst a recruiter has a responsibility to ensure a candidate is matched to a role, there are a few things that an applicant can do to make the process easier, promote positive relationships with a recruiter and ensure that they are viewed positively by an organisation, even before they arrive for an interview.
What Can I Do Right Now?
Building a good relationship with a recruiter can help you enormously in a job search. If you approach your job seeking activity as an opportunity for some teamwork, you will reap the benefits; a recruiter that will be pushing your name forward ahead of others, will give you honest and valuable feedback and who will be proud to display you as a top-notch candidate.
Below, there are some simple ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of finding and building a great relationship with busy in-house and agency recruiting professionals. Ignore them at your peril!
… search for agencies and organisations on Google using keywords. It’s no use registering with an IT recruitment agency if you are in Marketing!
… use LinkedIn to connect with recruiters from organisations. Use a keyword search for terms like Recruiting, Resourcing, Talent Planning, Staffing, Headhunter, Sourcing and Candidate to find those that are looking for new recruits.
… join groups and forums on LinkedIn and industry websites. Get involved and TALK to recruiters. You never know, they may think of you when a position becomes available at their company.
… keep your information up to date and inform recruiters if anything changes. This can help in matching you to a wider range of jobs.
… if you have ‘dealbreakers’ regarding jobs, tell your recruiter about it! If you don’t want to work in a particular industry, wear a suit or have to work unsociable hours, let people know BEFORE you get to the interview stage.
… make your resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and applications easy for the recruiter to read. Format them well, check for spelling and grammar errors.
… make sure your documents are keyword loaded. This helps recruiters quickly identify suitable candidates from databases and will improve your likelihood of being considered for vacancies.
… create competition. If your chosen headhunter/agency hasn’t managed to get you any interviews within a specified timeframe, ask them for information about other individuals or organisations that could help – they won’t want to lose a commission so may step up the search for you.
… disregard niche or boutique organisations or agencies. They are often more client and relationship focused than the more ‘sales driven’ big boys.
… call for updates on your application during busy periods (first thing in the morning, just after lunch or Monday.) Everyone else is calling at that time and the recruiter won’t be able to give you the attention you deserve. Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are a good bet.
… sign up to an agency because you had a bad day at work, or your manager annoyed you. Ensure you are serious about moving on so that recruiters don’t waste their time when you are actually content staying where you are.
… ignore the application guidelines. If an application form asks for an additional personal statement, do it! If it asks for a cover letter with a resume, then make sure you send a cover letter geared towards the position.
… hand your resume in to an agency and hope that a job will land in your lap. Keep in touch with fortnightly emails or calls to ask if there are any new roles around and if there is anything you can do to increase your chance of an interview. Make sure your details don’t fall off the bottom of the ‘active candidate’ list.
… stay silent on why you have decided not to go for an opportunity when presented to you. Give feedback on why the role wasn’t suitable and suggest alternative candidates to help them fill the position.
… assume you are a recruiter’s only candidate for a role, or that the vacancy that you have applied for is the only open position. If an advert says you will be notified after a week, try to hold back from calling 3 days after you have applied to see if you are through to interview.
The Long Game.
Identifying an appropriate organisation or agency and abiding by the rules that they work by is only the first step in building a mutually beneficial relationship. In today’s employment market, job searching can often be a marathon rather than a sprint.
All marathon runners know that you need to top yourself up with energy along the racecourse at set intervals. The same goes for your job search. Check in with recruiters at regular intervals to let them know you are still interested in working for them or one of their clients, and provide updated documentation in-line with your own development. This will keep you at the forefront of recruiter’s minds when a perfect position comes up.
Whilst the common perception is of the ‘loneliness of a long distance runner,’ many marathon athletes train in groups, providing mutual motivation and support. Take advantage of many company and agency ‘refer a friend’ schemes and get some of your associates to register their interest. This gives YOU a level of connection to your chosen employer, gives THEM an added candidate to ‘sell’ and keeps your name ‘popping up’ around the office.
Finally, those marathoners don’t just run, they do activities that support their goals outside of pounding the streets. Sports massages, gym workouts, meditation, rest and relaxation all help towards the final race.
Similarly, attending social and networking events, responding to marketing emails and chatting to recruiters via online forums is a great way to make people aware of your skills and attributes in a less formal setting and build a stronger relationship with the people who could potentially land you the job of your dreams.
It’s a Two Way Street.
As with most things in life, the recruitment process involves a bit of give and take. Giving a recruiter the time to be able to focus on your application, the confidence in the quality of your documentation and skills and an ongoing understanding of your job seeking goals will enable them to give back through positive representation, ongoing feedback and a desire to help you succeed.