A recruiter can introduce you to the right opportunity and accelerate your job search. If you’ve never considered working with a recruiter before, here’s your chance to learn more the job seeker/recruiter relationship. In a conversation with Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half International, a staffing firm, we find out what job seekers should know about working with a recruiter and how it can be beneficial to their careers.
Q: If a job seeker has never worked with a recruiter before, what should they know, starting out, about the recruiter/job seeker relationship?
McDonald: A recruiter’s job is to find job seekers rewarding positions, and your recruiter can serve as your eyes, ears and advocate in the marketplace. Whether you are publicly looking for a new job or want to conduct a confidential search, a recruiter can be a valuable resource.
Working with a recruiter offers a number of benefits. Recruitment firms have well-developed relationships with employers in their areas, provide insights on targeted potential employers, place professionals in positions that fit their skills and also their personalities, and can make the job search quicker and more efficient. In addition, they frequently know about jobs yet to be advertised.
But the benefits of working with a recruiter go further. For example, your recruiter can provide hiring and compensation insights, offer résumé and interview advice and help you navigate salary negotiations. Many staffing firms also offer access to free resources such as online training, which you can use to enhance your marketability.
Q: From start to finish, what’s the timeline and process like when working with a recruiter?
McDonald: Job seekers typically start working with a recruiter in one of two ways: Either the recruiter finds them through his or her network or job seekers register with the firm. The next step is a discussion of the candidate’s skills, experience and objectives. The recruiter will also review the job seeker’s résumé and, if there is a potential fit with a client company, invite the person for an interview and conduct a skills assessment and reference checks.
There is no set timeline, since a number of factors affect the hiring process. What job seekers can do to help ensure the process is as efficient as possible is be able to clearly explain to their recruiter their experience, career objective and type of organization where they’d like to work. In other words, know what you want and have a well-honed elevator pitch. This will allow the recruiter to conduct a targeted search and focus on potential opportunities in alignment with your specific goals.
Throughout the process, keep your recruiter up to date on who you’ve met with, what’s working and what’s not and any new openings you hear about. Provide constructive feedback to help the recruiter refine the search as needed, and also be open to guidance about changes, such as to your résumé or interview style, that could enhance your prospects.
Q: How can a job seeker find a recruiter that is right for their career goals, personality and budget?
McDonald: Budget should not be an issue. A reputable staffing firm never charges job seekers a fee.
When considering a recruiter, look for a firm specializing in your field. A specialist will have opportunities better targeted to your needs and can provide stronger market insights and career advice. Also look for a firm with a history of success, including in your area, and expansive networks in the business community.
Tap members of your network for their thoughts and referrals, and also research firms you’re considering. When you connect with a recruiter, ask questions to ensure the working relationship will meet your needs. For example, ask how long the firm has been in business and works with job candidates. The rapport you build with your recruiter is vital to your job-search success, so make sure you find someone who has good experience and who you like working with.
Q: What skills do recruiters look for when working with a job seeker?
McDonald: The specifics typically depend on the market and the job seeker’s field, but, in general, professionals should highlight their skills, experience and, ideally, record of advancement. While these attributes, along with education, accreditations and technology proficiency are critical, so, too, are nontechnical skills. Also known as soft skills and formerly considered nice-to-haves, excelling in areas such as communication, leadership and business acumen is now essential within many professions. Recruiters know this and are looking for professionals who possess the right combination of technical and nontechnical skills to meet their clients’ needs.
When meeting with recruiters, let your personality come through. A major part of hiring is ensuring a job seeker will fit in with the team and organization. A recruiter will assess the type of culture where you’ll fit best to find a position where you can thrive.
A recruiter can be a trusted resource throughout your career. Even after finding you a job, a recruiter can continue providing market insights and serve as a sounding board. Maintaining a strong business relationship with your recruiter will also give you a head start the next time you’re ready to make a move.