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Putting Recruiters To Work For You (Part 2)

From Career Tips, 2005 Volume 5, May 2005

Woman Smiling On Phone

You've decided to incorporate recruiters into your search. How do you decide which recruiters to use?


First, ask others who they consider the best recruiters in your area, industry, etc. Especially good sources are hiring managers and those who work in human resources.


Next, interview any recruiter before you agree to have them present you for any openings. Some of the questions you want to pose:

  • What salary range do you typically recruit for?
  • What is your success rate in placing candidates?
  • How often do you work with candidates in my industry? At my job level? In my specific job area? In my preferred geographic area?
  • What is your success rate in my industry, profession, at my job / salary level?
  • Do you have an exclusive arrangement with certain companies, or do you simply work "on spec"?
  • Do you operate on a contingency or a retained search basis?
  • Specifically how will you go about marketing me?
  • What level of feedback can I expect on the quality of my resume, interview & presentation skills, how I performed in the actual interview?
  • How do you submit my resume to prospective employers? Do you mail in the clean copy I send you on bond paper, or do you only email or fax it in? Do you mark up my resume in any way before sending it in?


Only after you have gotten answers that you are comfortable with, and established that the recruiter's philosophy is compatible with yours, should you give permission for a recruiter to present you to any company. And even then, you should insist on giving permission for each specific company to which you will be submitted. (You may even want to follow up with an email or letter from you to the recruiter confirming this agreement.) Keep in mind that if a hiring manager receives your resume from a recruiter, and you independently reach that company via networking, the company may still have to pay the recruiter a fee. And if you come back to the company for a different position a few months later, even elsewhere in the company, again a fee may be due to the recruiter.


By the way, the recruiter may give you career advice, such as how to best present yourself, what should go on your resume, etc. Weigh any advice you receive carefully, as the recruiter works for the employer, not you. Some will give you excellent advice, while others' advice may be tainted by their desire to sell you and gain the fee, even if the position isn't the best fit for you or the employer. And you will likely receive conflicting advice from various sources, so you need to make sure you are following any advice you receive for a good reason.


Many recruiters will also seek to interview YOU, and you should take this as seriously as any job interview. The recruiter is performing an initial screening of you as a potential candidate. The better job you do of presenting yourself, the greater the chance of the recruiter presenting you to an employer, and the more effective they will be at 'pre-selling' you to an employer. And be prepared to explain your salary requirements, as they will almost always expect this information before they are willing to work with you. You should do your own research on the market value of the specific job(s) you seek.


Often a recruiter is asked to 'source' potential candidates to establish their fit to potential assignments. You should make sure that your references know about any recruiters with whom you have chosen to work, and what sort of position they might present you for. This way they will be sure to accept the recruiter's calls, and will be in the best position to present your greatest strengths to the recruiter relative to that type of position.


And finally, now that you have agreed to work with the recruiter, do so ethically - don't try to figure out what company the position is with and then try to get to the company directly. If I as a hiring manager get a sense that you aren't dealing ethically with a recruiter, how am I going to trust you to deal ethically with me?


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