Last Updated June 15, 2019
Working effectively with recruiters is a critical part of job search strategy. Recruiters have the power to disclose unadvertised job postings as well as open doors into companies for the right candidate. If you are eager to ramp up your recruiter strategy, it’s worthwhile to know how to work with recruiters. In this post, we’ll explain why recruiters are critical to your job search, the 3 different types of recruiters to work with, and how to more effectively work with recruiters to advance your career.
The Mistake Most Job Seekers Make When it Comes to Working With Recruiters
I’m partial to recruiters because I used to be one. My recruiter experience has opened my eyes to how the hiring process works on the inside. It further opened my eyes to what candidates were doing wrong in the job search – and why they weren’t landing jobs. It also opened my eyes to the reality that most people do not like recruiters and therefore do not make huge efforts to engage recruiters in the job search. This is a huge mistake!
Why Connecting with Recruiters is Critical for Your Job Search Strategy
Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, you need to have a robust recruiter network on your side. This will ensure you are on recruiter radars – a place you want to be. If you are on recruiter radars, you will be contacted for the right job when it comes onto their radars as well. It’s a recruiter’s job to find the best person for the job. Recruiters have to constantly be in the know. Part of being in the know is being extremely well connected – to people and companies. Recruiters usually know about job openings before the jobs are posted on job boards. And let’s face it – the best way to land a job is by being contacted cold, without ever having applied!
Therefore, if you are connected to recruiters, you are going to be that much closer to being connected to companies and job openings. This doesn’t mean being connected to 1 or 2 recruiters like most job seekers I come across. If you’ve bought into this myth about working with recruiters, you probably are falling victim to these dangerous career-killers. You want to have a robust recruiter network in your back pocket in order to ensure you are doing your career due diligence. So how do you connect with recruiters and make sure you’ve completely optimized this unique network? Here are 5 tips for effectively working with recruiters.
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1. Determine the Most Appropriate Recruiter for Your Career Level
All recruiters are not created equal. This was a big mistake candidates made when engaging with me during my recruiter years. Yes there are a lot of recruiters out there. No they do not all recruit the same way or at the same career level. The basic recruiter categories are as follows:
Executive Recruiters or Retained Search Consultants
Executive Recruiters also known as Retained Executive Recruiters and Executive Search Consultants recruit executives. Executives are defined as professionals earning over 6-figures, for the purposes of executive recruiting. These types of recruiters do not work with candidates who are earning below this range and/or who have not achieved the more senior career level. Even if you are a new executive, it is worthwhile to engage these types of recruiters. They are often looking to recruit candidates to be promoted into the next level. As a rule of thumb, once you achieve 6-figures or a senior management title, you should be engaging these types of recruiters.
Executive recruiters are often retained by the client or given payment up front, before the candidate is placed. The retainer creates for a closer company/recruiter relationship in that the recruiter has certain obligations to the company to deliver high quality in terms of service and candidates. They are typically paid the remainder of their fees once the candidate is hired. Therefore, this is considered the upper echelon of recruiting. This type of recruiter tends to work with a very high level of professionalism and is quite sophisticated in their trade – hence the more sophisticated fee structure. They are also paid more than most recruiters because they are recruiting at the highest level of an organization – where talent is paid the big bucks.
Unlike retained executive recruiters, Contingency Recruiters are paid contingent upon candidate placement. Contingency recruiters recruit a lot more volume as they are typically recruiting at the middle to lower levels of an organization. If you are just starting out your career or at a mid-level role, these are the kinds of recruiters you want to work with. Organizations like Michael Page would be contingency recruiting in nature. If you are mid-level or early career and have ever received a call or email from a recruiter, those recruiters are the ones at the most appropriate level for you.
Because these recruiters get paid only after the candidate is hired, they tend to work very fast and can be perceived as less professional than a retained recruiter. If you are not at an executive level, you really have no choice in working with any other kind of recruiter. My best advice is to work with any recruiter at this level that will work with you. If a recruiter is willing to engage with you, that means they see you as a potential fit. if they aren’t willing to engage with you, they don’t see you as a fit. At this point it is probably best to move on. The good news? There are TONS of contingency recruiters and boutique recruiting agencies out there. Make outreach as much as possible to recruiters and you should be in good shape.
In-House or Corporate Recruiters
Last but not least, are In-House or Corporate Recruiters. As the name indicates, these recruiters sit on site with the employer and are usually a part of the hiring organization or Human Resources (HR). Depending on the size of the company, the recruiter might also be the human resources personnel (for smaller companies). HR is the toughest part of the organization for job seekers to get through. Therefore, your chances of effectively engaging these types of recruiters, is sometimes more challenging than the other two types. My advice would be to engage if you are engaged by them. Yes, it’s worthwhile to make cold outreach as well. Just be aware that it might be a tougher path to travel into the organization. In-house recruiters may recruit across all levels of the organization.
2. Identify the Best Recruiter Contacts by Industry and/or Function
Once you have determined the appropriate level of recruiter, you’ll want to narrow your recruiter list one step further. Recruiters (especially retained recruiters) will usually have an area of specialty for which they recruit. These specialties are based on industry or function. For example, large executive recruiting consultancies will have multiple recruiters for IT, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Board Level, C-Suite and so on. They may further have practice areas that just focus on startups, non-profits, or other organization types.
You should only be making outreach to recruiters in your industry or particular space. If you don’t focus your outreach accordingly, recruiters won’t respond. The recruiter will be focused only on recruiting candidates in their particular space because these are the only job specs they are working with. Reaching out to a recruiter in the wrong space, wouldn’t make any sense because they would have not jobs to fit your profile. Therefore, you should do your research and jot down all of the recruiters in your space. Don’t worry about geographical boundaries because recruiters work virtually – especially in the retained space. Then you will be ready to make contact.
3. Reach Out to Recruiters and Get on Their Radars
When you reach out to recruiters it is important to remember that they are key players in the hiring process. Therefore you want to treat them with as much respect, courtesy and professionalism as you would a hiring manager. Personalize your communications to them (AKA: address them by name). When you send an email, be sure to attach your resume. Structure your email similar to a slimmed down version of your cover letter. In the email body, let the recruiter know within the introductory paragraph that you are in the same space. You can let them know that you thought it would be a good idea to be connected in case they have an opening that you are a fit for now or in the future.
Always Keep it Brief
The key in sending these communications is to keep brief, to the point, and without expectation. You are not asking for a job because you know that recruiters don’t have the power to give you a job. Rather, you are letting them know you exist, the type of experience you possess, and sharing your resume in case they are interested.
Try Cold Calling
It’s also advisable to cold call recruiters. Cold-calling is a great way to catch someone at their desk live. It ensures that you actually get to have a brief conversation. It also opens up the possibility that the recruiter may have a few minutes to chat. If this opportunity presents itself, make a brief introduction. Have a few questions about the market prepared as well. Recruiters are a wealth of knowledge in terms of your market and may be able to provide invaluable leads around hiring organizations.
4. Make Recruiters Want to Help You With This Simple Trick
In your closing paragraph, let the recruiter know you are open to networking and you would be happy to help by offering the recruiter your network if ever a need arises. This is a professional courtesy that you extend to let the recruiter know you are willing to help them – and that it’s not just a one way street. By offering to help, you are providing your new contact the opportunity to tear down any guards and even feel compelled to help you in return.
5. Relationship Management is Key to Working With Recruiters
Recruiters are networkers. Networking is about building relationships. Relationship management is ongoing. It never ends. Once you make a connection with a recruiter, I recommend keeping the relationship warm. Check in every 6 months to say “hi” and hit the refresh button on the recruiter’s radar.
Relationships are at the center of everything in the world of career: promotions, partnerships, hiring… Who you know still matters which is why working with recruiters should be at the top of your priorities when it comes to career relationships.
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