Your relationship with recruiters is a two-way street. They're important to you - and you're important to them. Says Rebecca Meissner, a former finance recruiter and currently manager for a Facebook recruiting app: "It's the candidate who drives the ebbs and flows of a recruiter's business."
So how do you keep traffic moving both ways?
Approach your recruiter with a clear vision of what you want.
Be sure to let recruiters know what you want from the process and the jobs you're open to, says Paul Solomon, founder of recruitment firm Solo Management. "We love an applicant who positively knows what they are looking for," Solomon says. "It allows us to target the search and get right down to the business of finding them a job. No one likes what we call the 'shopper' - a candidate who uses the recruitment process as the environment to find out what they want to be when they grow up."
When sharing about yourself, keep it real.
You get a lot further if you tell the whole truth, says Cathleen Faerber of the Wellesley group. "I've had candidates try to embellish salary information, work history, education. I've also had them try to hide gaps in employment," she says. "Sooner or later the truth will come out."
"Recruiters know that work and life are complicated, and we're here to work with you so you can find the right job opportunities and simplify the overall deal," adds Katy Keogh, principal in the accounting and finance division at Winter, Wyman. "Eliminating surprises helps us help you."
Partner with recruiters YOU like.
Keogh urges candidates to sign on with headhunters who take the time to truly understand their background, goals and expectations. Recruiters should establish expectations for working together, check in regularly and keep you intimately informed of their work on your behalf. "I'm evaluating my candidates from the very first conversation," Keogh says. "You should do the same thing with your recruiter."
Don't cheat on your recruiter.
Meissner advises against working with more than two recruiters at a time. "The day a recruiter finds out you've already been presented to one of their clients is the day that they hesitate sending your resume to anyone else," she says.
Frances Moreno, founder of Los Angeles-based recruitment firm Vaco, notes the quickest way to burn a bridge is to selectively play free agent. "Don't ever go ... 'direct' when you find out about an opportunity before your recruiter," she says. "However, I love it when it's a two-way street and a candidate tells me about openings to chase on his or her behalf."
Treat the recruiter like you would treat the client.
Show up on time for all appointments - including phone meetings, respond to e-mails and voice messages promptly, dress to impress, and send thank-you notes. "Most recruiters will remind candidates to send a note post-interview, but doing it for the recruiter shows that you were responsible enough to do it on your own," says Meissner. Plus, it means they'll remember you. That's critical since many contingent recruiters meets with five candidates a day.