By Shannon Houde
Sorry for the disappointing news but recruiters work for companies, not candidates. Think about it. Who is paying them? What's more, they don’t usually have time to do the market research and networking for each individual candidate to help them “get a job." It doesn't matter that you are a lovely person with a marketable skill-set; if you don’t fit the exact requirements for their current openings, recruiters may not be very responsive.
Don’t take it too personally! This is the way the recruitment industry works. If you want to land your dream sustainability job, you need to understand these mechanisms to make the recruitment process work for you rather than against you.
With that in mind, here are some top tips for working with a recruiter to improve your chances for success at each stage of the recruitment process:
Stage 1: Selecting the right recruiter
- Go through recommendations.
Speak to others who have a similar professional background to yours, ask which recruiters they have used and - more specifically - which individual within the recruitment company they have worked with.
- Be strategic about who represents you.
Work with one or two recruiters who best represent your interests in the sector in which you want to work. If you are working with multiple agencies it can become confusing knowing exactly what you have applied for and who exactly is representing you. Recruiters will be more motivated it you commit to working with them exclusively.
- Before you approach a recruiter, consider seriously whether you would accept a counter offer in your current role.
If the answer is yes, think about negotiating your package with your employer prior to searching for a new job. If you turn down an offer that a recruiter has brokered to remain in your current position, you should expect that they may be frustrated. Often they are working on a 'fee on success only basis', so they may not be so helpful next time you need their assistance. It is a two-way street, and you will get more out of them if you develop a firm and open relationship.
- If possible, meet face to face with the recruiters you are working with.
This helps you to form a much closer relationship with your recruiter and shows a real commitment to the process.
Stage 2: Building a strong relationship with your recruiter
- Give them the essential information the first time you meet with them and be transparent.
If they are good recruiters they will want to gather a lot of information about you in order to best represent you to future employers. They will want to know details of your full benefits package, realistic location requirements, reasons for being on the market, etc. You need to be willing to spend some time on the phone with them as well as meeting face to face. Be open. Don't take offence if they ask you to amend your CV. They know best what their clients want and their own personal success is based on making a successful match between you and an employer.
- Don't be forced into interviews or paths that you do not wish to investigate.
Set the goal posts at the start of the relationship and make your requirements and desires clear. If you are working with a good recruiter they may push back and advise you to look at other options. Remember that they are the experts and their advice is worth listening to so be flexible but don't waste your time, the recruiter's time or an employer's time by attending dead-end interviews. However, remember that some interviews are worth attending even if you are quite sure the opportunity is not right. A couple of hours invested in meeting an employer may come back to benefit you in the future.
Stage 3: Communicating with your recruiter
- Keep in contact with the recruiter, but not too often.
A fortnightly or monthly call is fine but they are likely to be in touch with you should they have suggestions. Keep them informed of any circumstance changes (pay rises, change of location preferences, reduction in urgency of your job search, etc.).
- Return your recruiters’ calls promptly.
Recruiters want to work with responsive candidates and if calls aren't returned it gives off bad signs. Conversely, if a recruiter doesn't return your calls over a period of time, consider whether they are the best suited to represent you.
- Be open with recruiters with whom you are working.
If you are attending interviews with a number of organizations let them know that is the case. The more open and honest you are about your employment search the more likely the recruiter will be open with you in respect to your suitability for specific roles and candid with their feedback.
I hope this helps you develop a more fruitful relationship with your recruiter. If you'd like some one-on-one advice on developing your personal brand to sell your skills in the jobs market, get in touch today
Image credit: Flickr/David Goehring
Shannon Houde is founder of Walk of Life Consulting, the first international career and executive coaching business focused solely on the environmental, sustainability and corporate responsibility fields.