Working with Recruiters to Get a New Job

Is working with recruiters or job headhunters right for you? Find out when and how an employment headhunter can be huge asset to your job search. Includes important tips on working with recruiters.

Recruiters work with employers to find candidates with specific experience and qualifications to fill an open position at their company.

What Does that Mean for Job Seekers?

If you have experience in your field and want to transition to a new job within that field, job headhunters or recruiters may be an important part of your network. On the flip side, if you are a seeking an entry-level job or changing industries or careers, a recruiter would not be particularly helpful.

woman recruiter against water cooler

As a recruiter myself, employers work with me to find a candidate to fit very specific positions. Companies are willing to pay recruiters to do the sourcing and pre-screening based on their specific criteria. In return, recruiters deliver only the closest matches to their requests.

The best way to think of job headhunters or recruiters is an important asset to your network. If you have the types of skills that companies are looking for, developing a relationship with a recruiter can be an asset — they will keep you in mind for job openings that might be a match and often tell you about hidden positions – ones which aren’t available for the general public. Here are some tips on making that connection work:

  • Be established in your field, and intend to stay there.

    Employment headhunters or recruiters work to find experienced job candidates for their clients. To most recruiters, the best potential candidates will be those with considerable experience in the particular field in question, and who are looking for their next position.
  • Be professional, even with the recruiter.

    A recruiter can be your ally. Or not. It is not an exaggeration to say that they work with hundreds of candidates. To stand out, treat a recruiter as you would a potential employer; practice your personal introduction to clearly articulate why you’re a great candidate.
  • Be straightforward, honest and open.

    Whether you’re discussing your experience, salary and even general intentions, if you want a successful relationship with job headhunters, honesty is key. You can be sure that they will do their homework. And because their reputation is on the line, they would never recommend a less-than-honest person to a potential employer.The most common challenge in working with job headhunters almost always results from miscommunication. If you withhold information about other companies you’re interviewing with or other recruiters you are working with, that could ultimately hurt your reputation later, and even cost you a position. Clear communication from the start avoids all of these potential traps later in the process.
  • Choose your recruiter carefully.

    Not all recruiters or job headhunters are created equal. Look for someone who is a specialist in their field and who understands the nuances of your industry. Look for a match in terms of personality and temperament; at the very least, the recruiter should be able to understand you and what you’re looking for.

    A recruiter that you can trust, who understands the way you think, what your values are, and what you like is going to be able to make you a much better match with prospective employers who will be a good fit for you. One of the things a recruiter is charged with doing is finding a good fit for you, and he or she is going to have a much tougher time doing that if you simply don’t think alike.

    And although it is absolutely true that you must be professional and honest at all times, you DON’T have to try to be somebody you’re not, and in fact that’s the last thing you should do. Your objective here is to find a job that fits you as you are, not to be somebody you’re not. Good job headhunters are going to know that and are not going to try to change you.

  • Don’t expect the recruiter to do your job-hunting foundational work for you.

    A recruiter can certainly help you find employment much more easily than you could on your own, and he or she can also give you tips for fine-tuning your resume for a particular position and important hot-buttons to emphasize in your interview. However, it is still your job to write your resume and to conduct yourself professionally.
  • All the same rules of finding a job still apply, plus one.

    When a recruiter introduces you to a company, you will still want to do your research, practice answering interview questions and send thank you notes to the managers who interviewed you. All the same rules apply but you’ll add one more – debrief with your recruiter so that you can ascertain next steps together.

In summary, your conduct with the employment headhunter should be similar to that you would exhibit if you were working with the potential client directly. Remember that there is a lot of competition out there, including for the jobs you’re looking for, and the recruiter probably has other potential candidates suitable for the same positions that you are in the running for. So if you act unprofessionally or like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not doing yourself any favors. The recruiter will very likely simply chalk you up as unsuitable and will move onto the next potential candidate.

With all of that said, of course, the recruiter is also there to help you find the perfect job match. He or she is going to know of job listings that may not be public, so that you have a better chance of getting employment than you would if you simply tried to find a job on your own. By putting yourself in the best light possible without being dishonest, you should be able to have a successful relationship with the recruiter you’re working with, so that you can find that perfect job.

Good Luck!

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