I am always amazed at the animosity that many job seekers have toward recruiters. In some cases it’s justified because there are some slimy recruiters out there simply because there are no certifications or specialized education required to become a recruiter. Anyone can call themselves a recruiter and some of the folks who do are not particularly talented or professional.
With that said there are some amazing recruiters out there who are great at sourcing and placing top talent in great jobs. In order to work with recruiters and not get frustrated when they don’t behave as you, the job seeker, think they should it’s important to understand a few things about the role recruiters play in the hiring process.
Seven things you need to know:
1. Recruiters have tough jobs.
Most recruiters are contracted by, and nominally report to, an HR representative within whatever company they are recruiting for. Sometimes elite recruiters who are hired by a Board of Directors or a CEO to find a senior leader for the company report directly to the hiring authority. But most of the time HR is the liaison between the recruiter and hiring manager. Most companies give recruiters a very big “wish list” for their candidates because they figure that if they have to pay a fee to find a new employee the recruiter had better find them the perfect candidate. Also understand that HR people are, for the most part, overworked and under appreciated by their employers simply because they are overhead and, as such, do not generate revenue. So, HR people can be very hard on the recruiters they have contracted because, lets face it, crap rolls downhill.
Recruiters spend their days trying to find the absolute perfect candidates for their client while managing sometimes impossible client expectations. If you are a candidate who has been frustrated that a recruiter won’t present you to his/her client for a job for which you are not a perfect fit you should try to look at it from the recruiter’s point of view. He/she may have marching orders from the client that just don’t allow him/her to take chances on candidates who don’t match the exact specifications set forth by the client.
2. Recruiters don’t work for you – they work for client companies who pay their retainer/commission.
If you have every wondered why recruiters don’t call you back or don’t seem particularly interested in your career interests this is why. Recruiters get paid to find people for companies, not the other way around.
3. Recruiters aren’t babysitters or therapists.
Recruiters don’t want to hear a sob story about your mean boss or your personal problems. They want to hear carefully crafted and well-prepared answers to interview questions that are appropriate for a job interview. Share too much information and you will be labeled a basket case and loose cannon. Recruiters can’t take the chance that you will show up for an interview and act like an idiot so if you seem overly emotional and/or share inappropriate information you may not get to interview at all.
4. Recruiters aren’t resume writers.
If you have a poorly written resume a recruiter will probably just pass over you but a few of them might be willing to give you tips or feedback on the document. But you can’t expect them do more than that. Get your resume in order before sending it to a recruiter even if that means asking for extra time before you send it along. It could mean the difference between getting a great job and being an also-ran.
5. Recruiters aren’t career coaches.
See point #2. Recruiters are paid to find talent not coach it. If you have run into some career roadblocks and you aren’t sure why, don’t ask a recruiter, hire a career coach instead. Jason Alba has a great list of career coaches on his blog and I have a list of coaches whom I partner with and vouch for on my website if you need assistance in finding a coach.
6. Recruiters, like everyone else, understand quid pro quo.
Don’t wait until the economy has gone sour or you are about to be fired to try to build a relationship with a recruiter. Any networking guru will tell you to build your network before you need it and that applies to recruiters too. If you aren’t looking for a job and you get a call from a recruiter, listen and do your best to connect him/her with any of your contacts who might be appropriate for the job he/she is trying to fill. You won’t be forgotten, especially if you are sincere in your efforts and you facilitate a personalized introduction between the recruiter and your contact.
7. The time to meet and get to know a recruiter is BEFORE you need a job.
See point #6. Build relationships and do good deeds before you ever need to ask for help and you will find that when you do ask for assistance that it will be given to you happily.