How To Develop A Relationship With A Recruiter

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Recruiters interact with both candidates and companies, sharing a wealth of information and potential leads. From them, you can gain insights on hiring and compensation trends, as well as upcoming opportunities in companies you've targeted. In addition, recruiters can link you with other professionals and provide an impartial perspective on your career aspirations.

What Recruiters Are Looking For

If these sound like important relationships, well - they are. How do you find them? "If you want help from a recruiter, get on their radar screen," says Mark Jaffe, managing partner at Wyatt & Jaffe, a retained search firm. Because recruiters talk to people daily, standing out is crucial. One way to do so: Lend a hand, even if your ideal position isn't offered to you immediately. While highly qualified senior executives are always hot commodities, Harry Somerdyk, of Spencer Stuart, whose clients include Merrill Lynch and most major banks, says a four-star pedigree isn't essential: Candidates who provide anecdotes about markets or companies can be tremendously valuable.

Search consultants want a little give and take, so offer up any relevant personal experience about companies or industries they're following. While ideally you'll help them fill a position by referring a qualified candidate, recruiters appreciate simple responsiveness. Returning phone calls and e-mails proves you're reliable and is the first step in establishing a bond.

The easiest way to get a recruiter's attention is to be introduced via referral, says Jeff Sanders, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles. But, he says, a well-crafted introduction by e-mail will also get noticed.

First Impressions

Once you establish contact, clearly communicate your aspirations. Enlist a recruiter to target specific companies or industries. Aligning your search with a recruiter with contacts in your desired sector demonstrates you're focused and you've done your homework.

When interviewing, never oversell yourself, says Sanders. Instead, spotlight your accomplishments in a natural, well-thought-out fashion. "You want your resume to speak for itself," he says. View interviews as an opportunity to describe your current and long-term goals. Leverage your strengths and identify areas where you could improve.

There are many advantages of working with a recruiter, says Robert Pearson, CEO of Pearson Partners International. Some include:

  • Introduction: By meeting a client company through a respected source, such as recruiter, you can stand out.
  • Security: Companies that pay for a search tend to be financially stable and committed to your success.
  • Identifying leads: Many searches are confidential.
  • Negotiation and Preparation: Recruiter compensation relies on your landing the job, while you can also get insights into the hiring company and interviewers.
  • Buffering: A recruiter is a useful intermediary between you and the company.

A hot job market and increased regulatory scrutiny are making many firms more prudent in filling top positions. Despite that challenge, recruiters face stiff demand for qualified candidates. If you're willing to treat your relationship with a search consultant as a two way street, you'll probably see desirable positions head in your direction.

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