As job seekers face up to bonus season in an uncertain employment market, recruiters are (like it or not) increasingly becoming career advisors. Because finding work is not so easy at the moment, candidates should get all the help they can from their consultants. Here’s what recruiters should be doing for you:
Setting up a communication arrangement
The most common complaint about recruitment consultants is that they only want to talk to you when you have something that they want, says Jennifer Combe, manager, IT, Morgan McKinley. Good recruiters will let you know in advance when and how they will communicate with you. “This may be as simple as saying they will only call if they have something for you, or as complex as setting specific follow-up times and methods for feedback from interviews.”
Candidates can assist this process by suggesting their own follow-up schedule and gaining the consultant’s agreement. “By setting the expectation at the outset, you will know what to expect and then have a point of reference for holding the recruiter accountable,” adds Combe.
Giving practical advice
“When I interview candidates, it is informal, but it still has structure. I give 10 minutes for these three sections: their career snapshot and achievements, their next career move and then my advice. I advise them on what to read, who else to connect with – even my competition – and ask them one thing: ‘Send me an e-mail once you’ve conducted the basic research and let me know your thoughts,’” says Warwick Peel, director, pb Human Capital.
Peel reckons fewer than 10 percent of people respond with the requested e-mail. “My advice to candidates is consistency and follow up. Contact your trusted consultant once per fortnight. Or if you see an interesting job, ask for advice even if it’s a direct role, because the recruiter will likely know someone in or something about that financial institution.”
Providing market knowledge
Make sure you tap into your consultant’s knowledge as much as you can, says Andrew Hanson, director of banking and financial services, Robert Walters. “They are industry specialists and work closely with their client base, so they will be able to tell you about the hottest jobs available and the types of skills employers are looking for at any given time.”
Consultants who specialize in your job function can also help you understand your market worth. “A good recruiter will be able to tell you how in demand your skill set is, how much you are likely to get paid and which organizations are currently recruiting,” adds Hanson.
Counseling and coaching
“We have to lend a sympathetic ear and act as somewhat of a confidant to the individual. Layoffs are a common fact of life these days, but it does not make it any easier on people. Secondly, we are counselors guiding candidates through their careers, suggesting what might be the best option for them next and, in some cases, bringing them back down to earth with a bump,” says Jeremy Paterson, general manager, Lloyd Morgan.
Coaching is also part of a recruiter’s role. “A number of candidates have very little interview experience, so we then show them how to sell themselves and behave in an interview. Finally, we are professional negotiators and mediators: we try and get the best outcome for the candidate and client, which is not always the easiest of tasks when there is money involved.”
Avoiding fake feedback
Being honest with a candidate may sound fundamental, but many consultants are hesitant to share full feedback for fear of how it may be interpreted, says Combe. Candidates should say from the outset that they want to know exactly where they stand for a specific role, or in comparison with peers.
“Feedback from a consultant is a fantastic way to identify holes in your resume or areas of improvement for interviewing. When I share constructive feedback with candidates, I often find that by giving them the chance to respond, they can usually explain their concerns, ensuring that I represent them correctly and effectively. No one is perfect, and only through understanding how you compare with others and the criteria for a role will you be able to manage your own expectations,” adds Combe.
Creating a long-term relationship
Building a strong bond between a consultant and a job seeker will help all parties in the long run, says Paterson. “We recently placed an individual after working with him for over 12 months. On average we spoke twice a week and caught up for regular coffees to discuss the recruitment market.”