One glance through the LinkedIn Pulse or any other professional forum can tell you that recruiters draw a lot of ire from candidates these days. While many of the criticisms from candidates have merit, there are many problems that can be avoided by recruiters and candidates establishing expectations, and agreeing to a plan of attack when they first meet. From there, all it takes is open communication to have a productive partnership.
It’s important to understand the power dynamic when partnering with a recruiter. Most often, the recruiter does not work for the candidate- they work for the client. Their number one goal is to provide the client with candidates that fit the requirements of the job, not to get their candidates as many interviews as possible. This means that when you are working with a recruiter you are not “hiring” them to help you, you are entering a partnership with the aim of being introduced to clients whose goals align with yours. How you engage with your recruiter (and vice-versa) can have a big impact on the success of the job seeking process.
Set expectations early – make sure you and your recruiter are on the same page about communicating with each other. This means knowing when and how you plan to follow up (an email every few days, a weekly phone call, etc.).
Be responsive – if your recruiter cannot consistently get in touch with you it is going to be a major disincentive for them to work with you. Recruiters often have short timelines from employers to get candidates booked for interviews. Being unable to reach their candidates reflects poorly on recruiters in the eyes of their clients, and it becomes difficult to represent candidates who can’t respond in a timely manner.
Be honest – the goal of a good recruiter is to create a mutually beneficial situation where the interests of the client and candidate align. The recruiter’s unique position in the hiring process allows them to leverage feedback they receive and broker agreements to bring parties closer together. Whether this is related to compensation, benefits, or job responsibilities, the recruiter’s job is to make sure- if there is a common ground to be found- both parties land on it together. A recruiter cannot perform this task if they don’t know your true goals and your assessment of the client.
Give advance notice – if you are no longer interested in a position, don’t wait until the day of your interview to tell your recruiter. The same goes for you landing a different job, or leaving town for a few weeks in the middle of an interview process. Waiting until the last minute to update your recruiter can put them in a serious bind. Informing them of new events as they occur gives your recruiter the ability to cover for you.
This a two-way street – recruiters must hold themselves to these standards as well. A quality recruiter can make a huge impact on your job search, but for the partnership to be successful, everyone needs to work together. By having open communication, setting expectations, and creating a strategy with your career goals in-mind, you can maximize the benefits of working with a recruiter.