I spent a decade as a recruiter both internally and externally. This means I’ve worked as a headhunter for hire as well as a corporate recruiter. There’s a right way and a wrong way to work with recruiters, no matter your profession. Here are a few tips on working with recruiters that will help you find that new job this year.
1. Find the best recruiters in your chosen industry
There are a few ways to go about this. Just because a recruiter has several positions posted doesn’t mean (s)he is the best in the business. In fact, the best recruiters often have such a vast network that they don’t post many positions. Ask people you’re connecting with who they work with. Recruiter relationships are often a highly guarded secret for professionals. It’s like having the best hair dresser or banker, you know the person only has time for so many clients so they might be hesitant to share. You can also check social media. Who’s interacting with people online? Who’s speaking at events? Who’s been at this a while? Tenure is important as recruiting is a high turnover profession. The flip side to that is that a relatively new recruiter will have the time to work with you and get to know you. Remember, working with recruiters is like dating. It doesn’t have to be exclusive in the beginning but does need to be respectful and the closer you get to something serious the more exclusive the relationship should become.
2. Introduce Yourself
Once you’ve determined who the strong recruiters are in your industry or within the companies you have interest in, reach out to them and introduce yourself. While email will seem like the easiest avenue it will get deleted or skimmed the fastest. Place a call, follow them on social media, and let them know you have something of value that might be able to help them. Recruiters are paid on commission so they’re focused on what can help them close the deal. If that’s you or someone you know, they’ll be more likely to talk with you.
3. Ask them how they work
Once you get a few minutes with a recruiter ask how (s)he prefers to work. How often do they want to hear from you? Are they looking for industry information you may be able to provide (the good ones should always be)? Do they do everything online and not take calls? Ask how they want to work with you and it will score you lots of points.
4. Be respectful
Once they tell you how they want to work with you, respect their wishes and communicate with them in that manner. If they get to the office early and are open to talking before work, call them. If they prefer to arrange a time to talk to avoid voicemail tag, respect that. Internal and external recruiters are calling, interviewing, or networking with over 100 people every day. They have small windows of time and will be more likely to work with people who respect how full their day is.
5. Take their calls
When a recruiter calls, take the call. A former client once told me he takes every headhunter’s call because one day he might need that person. He worked for the same company for over 20 years when he was downsized unexpectedly. You better bet those recruiters he always spoke to were the first ones he called. Even if you’re not looking, take the call and be helpful. The day may come when you need their help in return.
6. Provide them valuable information
A recruiter is only as valuable as the inside information (s)he has. A strong recruiter will always ask who you may suggest they speak to about a position. They’re not asking who’s looking, they’re asking who’s connected and can help them find the right person. Provide them information and share insight when you have it. If someone just announced they’re leaving a position and you know the company is going to seek outside sources to fill it, give your recruiter a call. They’re more likely to take your call when you need help.