Best Practices for Working with a Recruiter

Apr 15, 2018


If you’re actively on the job market or are even considering a new career opportunity, you might find yourself working with a recruiter. Building a relationship with a recruiter is a two-way street thatrequires work on the part of both the recruiter and the job candidate, but the better you understand the search process and what the recruiter needs, the more likely you are to get noticed. 

First, it’s important to understand a recruiter with a retained search firm represents his or her client—the hiring organization—not the job candidate. That means the recruiter’s sole focus is on finding the best slate of candidates for the open position and not finding jobs for individuals. Retained recruiters are the sole firm representing the hiring organization and will only present candidates to one client at a time. The process is very confidential and we don’t share your information with the client without your permission.

There are several things you as a job candidate can do to get the attention of retained recruiters and increase your chances of moving forward in the search process:

  • Be sure your LinkedIn profile and resume are up to date, robust and easy to read. A recruiter may look at a hundred resumes a day, so be sure the skills that set you apart are clearly articulated.
  • Know your story and be able to tell it succinctly.
  • Look for a recruiter who works in your industry and your job function. The chances of landing your dream job increase if the recruiter has deep ties to that industry.
  • Keep in mind a recruiter isn’t a career coach. Have a clear picture of the position you want as well as what you don’t want in a job or company culture.
  • Recruiters are more likely to pursue conversations with candidates who know their own strengths and weaknesses. If you aren’t certain what yours are, consider taking a personality assessment or ask people who know you well to share their insights.
  • Have a realistic understanding of the compensation landscape. Your current salary might not be the best predictor of what you should be paid in a new role so be sure to do some research.

Even if you’re not a fit for any of a recruiter’s current job openings it’s possible something will turn up in the future. In the meantime, you can bring value to a recruiter in other ways. Do you have specific industry knowledge that may help the recruiter in another search? Can you refer other candidates or even potential clients? Building that level of trust will go along way to keeping you top of mind when a great position comes along that aligns with your strengths and goals.

In the end, recruiters may be helpful to you in your job search, but you shouldn’t rely on them to find you a job. Good old fashioned networking—whether it means reaching out to those in your personal network or expanding your reach to new groups—is typically the most effective way to find your next career opportunity and ensure you’re the right fit for the culture.