Updated: January 2021
Working with recruiters to access job openings is essential for your career. Recruiters are the gatekeepers for most opportunities. However, if you’re like most people, you aren’t receiving callbacks from the recruiters you try to engage. In this post we will share tips for working with recruiters to effectively keep your career on track. We will also share tips for accessing the hidden job market and how to leverage recruiter relationships to advance your career.
Why You Need Recruiter Strategy for Your Job Search
Job search strategy and long-term career planning are incomplete without a robust recruiter strategy. All too often, I see my clients make the deadly mistake of neglecting to connect or work with recruiters. As a former executive recruiter, seeing how top talent was selected, I can confidently say that recruiters are a necessary part of your job search. You don’t have to love them but you do have to work with them to find hidden opportunities.
The Hidden Job Market – Fact or Fiction?
The hidden job market consists of jobs that are never posted online or advertised. I’ve found it stated in a number of online articles that anywhere from 75-90% of jobs are never advertised. Of course, this number is disputed by some authors, stating that the number is nowhere near that. Whichever end of the spectrum you buy into, it’s important to know that there are jobs that are never advertised. I experienced this first-hand when recruiting executive talent for Fortune 500 companies.
For executives, this is especially important since many companies keep new openings confidential. A job posting for a key executive could alarm employees or tip-off competitors – so confidentiality is important at the top of the food chain. For entry-level and mid-career professionals, the hidden market exists because of the sheer volume of applications received or the cost of hiring. If you’ve read my blog post on ATS’s and how to get around them, you’ll know that companies receive an excess of applications once they release jobs into the market. For this reason alone proactively searching for candidates (hint: one reason you must be on Linkedin) or relying on internal referrals is the hiring strategy of choice.
There are jobs that are not advertised online and you should do everything you can to find them.
How to Unlock the Hidden Job Market
Now that you know about the hidden market, you’re probably wondering how to access it? The way to access this market is dependent upon who you know and timing. Networking is the best way to find people privy to hiring or willing to pass your name along as a referral. Networking with recruiters and building relationships is essential for unlocking access to this market. If you’re not sure how to build relationships with recruiters, I recommend learning the quick basics of recruiter networking.
The 4 Recruiter Myths That Are Killing Your Career
So if there are all these jobs available through the recruiter relationships, why don’t more people take advantage of this? The reason people aren’t banging down the door to connect with more recruiters is simple: most job seekers buy into a slew of myths based on simple misunderstanding of the recruiting profession. If you want to unlock the hidden job market and really give your career a push in the right direction, you must start working with recruiters today! There are 4 myths I encounter most often with my clients and workshop attendees:
Myth #1: Recruiters are working for you
Sure your recruiter might be offering resume advice or coaching you for the phone interview but make no mistake: recruiters work for the company – not you. The hiring company is going to pay the recruiter for finding you if you get hired so of course there is some interest on the recruiter’s part in making sure you get hired. However, if at any point in the process the client decides that you are not the candidate for the job the recruiter MUST move on to other candidates. The recruiter’s job is finding the best person for the client’s job – not putting a bunch of semi-qualified candidates in front of the hiring manager. Putting forward candidates who aren’t qualified would simply result in a loss of the recruiter’s professional credibility. This is also the reason why your resume must be recruiter-scan formatted.
Myth #2: Recruiters don’t return phone calls
If you bought into the first myth, you likely have bought into the second stigma attached to recruiters and how they don’t return phone calls or emails. While there may be some truth to recruiters not returning your calls, it’s also important to refer back to the clarification around myth #1: recruiters don’t work for you. The sooner you can accept this reality, the sooner you can accept the fact that you probably weren’t the best person for the job. You can’t win ‘em all, right? So with a loving tone, I’d recommend cutting your losses and waiting until they have another opportunity that’s a better fit for you. It’s to your benefit to find the right fit when it comes to your next employer so trust that the recruiter is doing their best to make the match. I’m not at all saying that unreturned calls is a good policy – it’s not. It’s inconsiderate. However, if you can put yourself in their shoes you might be more forgiving in this area. Recruiters are typically bombarded by hundreds of persistent job seekers, desperate for employment. It’s tough to be responsive all the time. Right or wrong, the best thing to do is accept reality and not allow your feelings to get hurt.
Myth #3: You only need a few recruiters in your network
If you’ve embraced recruiter strategy in your career, you might be falling victim to this 3rd myth about only needing a few recruiters in your network. Proceed with CAUTION if this is your belief system. The best policy when it comes to your career is that you can never have enough people in your corner. This includes recruiters. To stress an important point again: recruiters are sometimes the only thing standing between you and a really great opportunity. You need A LOT of the right recruiters in your network – as many as possible! By limiting yourself to only a few of the ones you trust or like (or both) you are limiting your visibility for the other great opportunities in the market. Even limiting yourself to recruiters in your immediate geography can be dangerous since many recruiters at the executive level recruit for clients globally.
Think about it. In general, recruiters only recruit for their clients. Their clients may only have a handful of roles open at a time. If you haven’t been identified for one of these roles with your one recruiter, you’re just going to be waiting until the next time they have a client who needs you. Talk about horrible odds and leaving it up to chance!
By connecting to EVERY recruiter you can find in your space, you’ll be on a lot more radars. This kind of visibility will only increase your chances of being found, remembered and eventually considered when new opportunities open up. Join a few Linkedin recruiter groups to find the right recruiters for your industry.
Myth #4: The best time to connect with recruiters is when you need help
Since job openings are fluid and recruiters can only work with you when they have a role that is a fit, it’s best to think of recruiter strategy for your long-term career goals. If you contact a recruiter only when you are ready for the job search, there’s no guarantee that they’ll have anything open. It’s important to connect and build relationships with this valuable network sooner rather than later so that they think of you when the perfect fit opens up. This is especially true if you are really happy in your job. Make a point to re-engage your recruiter network every 6 months or so.
If you’re hoping to improve your recruiter strategy and land a job in record time, check out the Job Search Accelerator. In this budget-friendly job landing community you’ll have access to all of Noelle’s expert resources including a FREE resume review, optimized resume and cover letter templates, networking scripts and templates, LinkedIn optimization courses, interview answer scripts and more – everything you need to feel confident, navigate the job search successfully, and put your best foot forward as an applicant.