When it’s wise to bite the bullet and use a recruiter

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If you’re looking for a new job for the first time in a long time, the idea of working with a recruiter may be a bit foreign. Most people want to be in complete control of their job search, but many also require help along the way to open doors that may be otherwise closed to them.

Before putting the work in to find the best, most trustworthy recruiter, it’s best to confirm early on whether or not you actually need one. That way, you don’t go wasting your time, or worse, spinning your wheels all alone.

As a former recruiter, here are situations where the help of a headhunter may be advisable. If none of these are you, adding a third party to the mix may not be necessary.

When you aren’t skilled at salary negotiations

This is particularly the case for less experienced candidates. You’re so excited about the company and the opportunity, you accept the first offer given and leave some money on the table.

Or, another possibility, you know exactly what you’re looking for but don’t feel completely comfortable taking part in serious negotiations with a would-be boss. After all, you must tread lightly while also trying to command respect, and of course money.

Typically, recruiters can do much of that work for you while eliminating the awkwardness. And most headhunters are paid a percentage of your starting salary, so it’s in their best benefit to negotiate well on your behalf. The key, though, is finding a trustworthy recruiter that is experienced negotiating salary who won’t muck it up on your behalf.

When your resume may have a glaring hole or two

JPMorgan says it right on their career page. “Successful resumes serve only one function: to get you an interview.”

But what if you have the experience and all the soft skills in the world to impress any interviewer, but are missing one buzz-word or particular skill set from your resume? Many CVs that are sent in electronically are scanned by human resources, which often check boxes to move a resume along.

A good recruiter will have access to a hiring manager (be sure to ask them that they do) and can sell you and tell your story – maybe explain why you are a fit despite one omission on a bullet point list. Again, this is where good recruiters show their worth.

When your network is limited

Ask anyone in any industry. The best way to land a great job is through your personal network. People who know you and have worked with you can open more doors than anyone who gets paid to place you.

That said, if you don’t have a strong professional network – or you have already exhausted yours – working with a recruiter is your next best bet. Don’t wait forever to reach out to a headhunter if were just laid off. New research suggests that eight months of unemployment is the threshold to becoming a “stale” candidate with a significantly worse chance of earning interviews.

When you are looking or willing to relocate

Relocating to a new city is quite obviously a painstaking process. But it’s not just about picking up and moving your personal life. Banks often offer relocation assistance, travel reimbursement for interviews and other perks for those who are willing to change cities or countries. Recruiters can act as a travel agent of sorts.

Plus, they can help advise you on things you wouldn’t want to bother your potential employer with: good neighborhoods in which to live, commutable locations etc. And obviously, they’ll have a better network in that particular city or country.


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