This originated in a conversation I had with a columnist on TheLadders
. I am a Recruiter and Business Development VP for Elever Professional
, a nationwide search firm with consultants in Austin, Los Angeles and New York. Our consultants are in the business of farming professional relationships. In rather broad fashion, I'm offering some professional insight into how job seekers can cultivate and successfully leverage productive relationships with recruiters. BE PRO-ACTIVE:
Ultimately, an executive recruiter's success is based on the relationships he or she is able to maintain. Rather than committing all of your resources to filling an organization's inbound channels of recruiting, spend a valuable portion of your time researching the recruiting firms operating in your professional space. Most recruiting firms, large and small, post available roles on their websites and provide contact information for the individual consultants working to fill the role. An introductory email, phone call, or LinkedIn note will put you on the recruiter's radar. If your experience is aligned with the open position, a referral might result. If it does not, at least you've opened a dialog that might prove useful on other engagements. UNDERSTAND THE JOB OF A RECRUITER:
Whether retained or contingent, the recruiter's job is to place the right candidate with the right company. Though it may seem heartless, they do not "get people jobs". When introducing yourself for consideration, try and objectively evaluate how your experience aligns with what the recruiter's client company seeks. If you do not have VP level experience, no recruiter will consider referring you for a VP level position. It is our job to find and recruit candidates who outshine those available in the conventional job marketplace. PROVIDE PROMPT AND HONEST RESPONSES TO INQUIRIES:
Recruiters walk a fine line of representing the client (who happens to sign their checks), and the interests of the candidate. If a recruiter has concerns about your reliability based on poor communication, they're not likely to put their reputation on the line by including you in the interview process. Remember, if you're discussing a specific role with a recruiter, many other candidates are also talking to the same recruiter about the same position. A lack of urgency or a lack of transparency in your communication might very easily mitigate the search out of your favor. DO THE HEAVY LIFTING:
Have a dead resume? Not interviewing well? A recruiter can help you through the repair process with advice, but you've got to take the advice and fix the problem. If I coach a candidate through a resume repair and they later submit a draft that completely misses the mark again, ask for additional feedback, or open debate over my suggestions, I consider there to be a problem. Recruiters have a huge incentive to make your candidacy legitimate and have the client company's insight into how to best accomplish that legitimacy. Productive recruiters won't suggest changes to your overall presentation without having a solid impetus to do so. DON'T PLAN ON WINGING IT:
Be prepared for your conversation with a recruiter. Polish your resume and dust off your accolades. We want to hear about your accomplishments in tangible terms, since that's how we'll need to present them to our client company. In preparing for our call consider that we're operating in a somewhat nebulous space between wanting to earn your trust and being dutiful to the folks who sign our checks. Treat your introductory phone conversation like an interview but without the suit and tie conventions.