Allied Forces: Making the Most Out of a Recruiter Relationship

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Armed with your resume and a handful of references, engaging in the battle for a new job can be daunting, exhausting—and lonely. But what about using a recruiter? Should you have one (or more)? Would it help? And how can you get the most out of the recruiter when you have one?

Working with a recruiter can give you access to a range of opportunities beyond what you are accessing, including openings that have not been formally announced. A recruiter can also save you time by screening opportunities and helping you target only the most promising leads. The goal of the recruiter is always the same, whether they work with hiring managers at a financial firm or as a headhunter with an independent company—fill a position with a qualified candidate.

Referrals

To get started, ask friends and colleagues to refer you to recruiting professionals with whom they have worked. Next, use professional networking sites to contact recruiters in your field. Generally, they will be very receptive to being contacted directly, though be sure to choose those who specialize in your field or industry. Review their LinkedIn page to view feedback from people they’ve placed.

Working with experienced recruiters will net you more than just job introductions, if you let them. They can help you revise your professional materials and suggest skills and credentials that could enhance your marketability to potential employers.

Your challenge, as always, is to be open and honest. Some financial professionals use their initial meeting with a recruiter to impress the person and provide the "right" answers to his or her questions. Better: articulate your actual interests and skills to give the recruiter a better chance of matching you with the right opportunity. For example, address aspects of your work history that will inevitably emerge in any lengthy discussion of your background, such as a long period of unemployment or a termination.

How to keep a recruiter working for you

Always respond to your recruiter’s calls and e-mails in a timely fashion. It demonstrates your professionalism and respect. Discuss early on how you will stay in contact with the recruiter and how often. When you are in discussion about a job offer or salary negotiations, treat any communication with urgency. Taking more than a day (two at the most) to consider an offer is a signal that you are less than enthusiastic, or not serious, and could very well kill the deal. And even if the call is about a position that isn’t right for you, recruiters will be especially appreciative if you refer them to someone who might be.

Always assume that any contact with a recruiter is part of the interview process. No matter how informal the tone, the questions or the meeting seems to be, it is all going to be part of your evaluation. And while corporate recruiters tend to keep your resume on file and will contact you if a position matches your skills in the near future, third-party recruiters generally will not, so it will be up to you to stay in touch every month or so and keep them updated on your status.

With the economy still sputtering and the unemployed outnumbering job vacancies by six to one, recruiters and headhunters have become an increasingly essential tool.

Working with a recruiter isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get hired—but it can help you by providing inside information, finding job openings you will not , and placing your resume at the top of the pile. At the very least, it’ll make the job search process a little less lonely.

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