Modern Job Search

Find the Right Recruiter and Make Friends

Building mutually beneficial relationships with headhunters

Everyday Career Advice: Find the Right Recruiter and Make Friends

By In Blog, Everyday Career Advice On March 3, 2017

Over the years I’ve read a lot of articles about both how to get a recruiter’s attention and how it is no fun to be ignored by recruiters.  Most of the articles give some tips and tricks to get attention but few ever get into how the executive search business works.  Exactly like I suggest for job seekers who want to get the attention of the hiring managers, job seekers who want to befriend recruiters should learn about their needs.

Recruiters don’t work for candidates, we work for client companies.  I like to help as many candidates as I can, regardless of who pays the bills but the fact is, my “job” is finding candidates for my clients’ jobs.  Understanding the relationships involved is the first step in understanding recruiters’ needs.

Recruiters have to constantly earn and maintain credibility with their hiring manager clients.  This is a tough one.  There’s not much loyalty in this business.  Good recruiters understand that their clients want what they want and will rarely be convinced to deviate from their stated desires.  What does that mean?  We can’t take chances on candidates who don’t match our client’s qualification requirements.  Doing so means getting fired, or rather, just being ignored.  The space is just too competitive.

Recruiters trade in information.  I’ve joked for years that in my job I don’t make any decisions.  I make suggestions, introductions and if I get really fired up, sometimes recommendations.  Hiring managers and candidates make decisions.  Recruiters give them options, which means sharing information.

Knowing these things, how can job seekers develop productive relationships with recruiters?

Number one:  Recruiters like to make placements.  If you want to get a recruiter’s attention, make sure that you are a future placement for them.  That means understanding that recruiters are specialists, most good ones only working a few job, industry or company types.  Find one that works in your industry and on your job type and it’s a lot easier to get their attention.  For example, I only work on supply chain and strategic sourcing jobs in manufacturing and energy – that’s all.

Number two:  Be generous with information.  Remember, recruiters like to make placements.  We’ll place you if we can (especially since we’re already talking) but if we can’t it’s not because we don’t want to, it’s just that our clients want someone else.  If you know someone else that we can place, refer them and you’ll be remembered forever.

Number three:  Send recruiters leads to jobs that you want to pursue – but make sure you haven’t applied to them.  I tell candidates this all the time.  I can’t find every job but I can bypass the normal process and get my candidates to the front of the line.  It’s what I do.  Send us leads to jobs you interviewed for but don’t want or won’t get too.  We have other candidates and maybe we can help one of them.

Number four:  Stay in touch but don’t overdo it.  If I have a job that is a fit for you there is nothing that will stop me from finding you – so emailing me your updated resume twice a day is not necessary.  Most recruiters don’t make more than 10-20 placements per year, depending on the level and complexity of their assignments so it could take time for the right job to come along.  It pays to be patient.

Number five:  Don’t oversell yourself without asking about what I’m working on.  Find out what I need just like you would with any hiring manager.  The candidates who move forward in a normal interview process are the ones that can speak to the needs of the position.  The job seeker – recruiter relationship is no different.

Following these guidelines will allow you to develop more productive relationships with fewer, more specialized recruiters and hopefully get better results.

(Photo: Sunrise, Benicassim, Spain 2012)




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