Now here’s a question I get asked quite often: “Should I work with a recruiter?”
And if so, “Who do you recommend?”
A recruiter can be an invaluable resource to job seekers in today’s digitally-driven job market. Recruiters often have excellent relationships with top companies that can be difficult to break into, and partnering with the right person can help you achieve significantly more interviews.
I was a recruiter for 10 years, both for an external agency in Boston and on a contract basis in New York, working with some of the top companies in advertising, marketing, and design. My Boston firm specialized in temporary and freelance placements, and almost anyone who sought out freelance work in the advertising industry up there came through my door at one point or another. This was mostly because Boston is a small creative community, and it benefits hiring managers to use a recruiting firm like mine when they have last-minute or project-based hiring needs. We’d already vetted the talent, and it saved them the trouble of recruiting through a massive online (or outdated) talent pool.
The process can work similarly for those seeking full time employment. As a hiring manager, one of the benefits of using a reputable advertising agency is the agency is pre-qualifying the candidates before sending them over. So immediately, there is an extra level of credibility attached to the candidate when they arrive on HR’s desk.
For larger organizations, recruiting agencies can be beneficial to hiring managers who recruit for a number of different specializations – such as finance, creative, and technical. Typically, a recruiter will specialize in one or more related fields, and have access to the top talent in those areas. This gives hiring managers another reason to utilize their services.
My point: companies use recruiters very often, and it’s worthwhile to you, as a job seeker, to tap into that resource.
Some of the benefits that a candidate can receive from working with a reputable recruiter include:
- Access to the recruiter’s relationships – which means access to companies that can be difficult to penetrate, or extremely competitive. Recruiters have direct relationships with the hiring manager, and often the decision maker, which means they can expedite your application to the front of the queue.
- Along those same lines, access to new job opportunities that haven’t yet been posted or approved, but for which hiring managers might be passively sourcing.
- A trained eye to examine your resume and portfolio, and give you an honest opinion as to whether you are positioning yourself competitively in the market.
- Access to very high-level or niche roles that typically won’t yield optimal results through online advertising or job boards. This also includes access to exclusive searches, which means the company and recruiting agency are working exclusively to fill the role, and it may not be advertised elsewhere.
- A trusted advisor whom – if both parties hold up their end of the professional relationship – will work diligently on your behalf to find the right role, and keep you informed of new opportunities as they arise. And recruiters change jobs as often as anyone else, so a strong relationship can go a long way and benefit you, once that person moves on to another organization.
- Using a recruiter is a free service to job seekers. The client company pays for the access to top talent, should a match be made.
A few tips for getting the most out of partnering with a recruiter:
- Ideally, connect with someone who specializes in your field. This is where they will have the most solid relationships, and the most opportunities.
- Do your research – learn about the company, their clients, and what kinds of candidate they place before deciding to work together.
- Maintain a relationship with 1 or 2 recruiters. If you have too many recruiting agencies sending out your resume, you can run into challenges if more than one submits you to the same organization.
- Ask the recruiter to contact you before sending your resume anywhere, to make sure there is no conflict of interest. This is especially important if you are a passive job seeker, or looking to keep your search private from your current employer.
- Finally, follow up! Recruiters work with hundreds, sometimes thousands of candidates. It is expected that you will keep them abreast of your availability, and check in from time to time if you want to remain on their radar. Also, ensure they always have the most updated version of your resume and other materials.
Similar to working with a career coach or a resume writer, your relationship with a recruiter should be a 2-way partnership. Be clear on how they can help you, be willing to contribute to the process, understand the expectations, and you stand the most chance of getting an excellent return on your efforts.