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I Know! I'll Let a Recruiter Find Me a Job!

It’s a tough job market out there! You’re struggling finding your next job and it dawns on you… “I should use a recruiter!” “They can be my agent, and they’ll find a job for me!” Wrong!

There’s no question, a recruiter can be a wonderful resource. I am one… have been for over 20 years and love the fact that I often get to help people find their dream job. I feel like it’s been a good day when I’ve been of value to someone. However, although I want everyone I have conversations with to feel like I’ve helped them in some way, I only place a very small percentage of the people I talk to. In fact, recruiters as a whole only place 3% to 5% of the positions that get filled!

Additionally, although I talk to people all the time that I’d love to help, my primary responsibility is to my client company that pays the bill. They pay me a very substantial fee to find the best person for a particular job. That’s the person that has the best skills, experience, culture and personality match for that specific role. I may have someone I think of quite highly, but if they don’t match all those criteria, I can’t place them.

A recruiter can be a resource, but certainly not your primary resource. The only one responsible to find you a new position… is you! You certainly want them to be aware of you, have a very positive and professionally credible impression of you so that they do call you if an appropriate opportunity does arise. However, your attitude ought to be that it’s a bonus if you do get an opportunity from them, rather than an expectation. Your primary focus should be networking, and proactively pursuing companies you have an interest in on your own.

When you do work with recruiters, here are some key points to help you be most effective:

  • Although a good recruiter will be able to provide great advice, they are primarily looking at you as a hiring company would. Consider your time with them a job interview, not a career counseling session. Put your best professional foot forward.

  • A good recruiter may market you proactively to their clients IF they view you as bringing unique skills, an above average professionalism, or an exceptional presentation to the table. If you want them to market you, it’s your responsibility to help them see that.

  • Be accessible. If they are trying to reach you with an opportunity, they want to talk to you right away, and will move on to someone else if it’s too difficult or takes too long to get in touch. Furthermore, if they have too hard a time reaching you one time, they may not try again with other opportunities later.

  • Know what you want. In speaking with a recruiter, as when you’re networking with others, they can’t help you if they are not clear on what you are looking for. They don’t want to send a candidate to their client that is wishy-washy in their objectives.

  • Don’t stick them with surprises, and be reliable with what you agree to. Don’t tell their client something different than you tell them… especially salary history and expectations.

  • Be flexible. Make it easy for them to schedule interviews for you. They are less likely to work with you if they can’t find common times that you and their client are available to meet.

  • Be upbeat and cheerful. You don’t have to be the “life of the party”, but no one wants to work with a grouch.

  • Show confidence, but not cocky. “I’m your dream candidate” kind of an approach will alienate them, not make you more attractive.

  • Be focused and concise. Rambling on and on to make sure they know “all” about you will not help. Give them the key points, and let them ask questions. Then give succinct answers.

  • Keep careful documentation of the company contacts you’ve had. Do not have a recruiter pursue a company you’ve already presented to, and do not allow more than one recruiter pursue the same companies for you. You will likely miss out on an opportunity because of the confusion of the source of your information.

Work with recruiters, but they are not your “agent”, they are the company’s agent to find the best candidate for a job. They are an additional arrow in your job search quiver, but not the “silver bullet”!


Thank you for visiting The Wise Job Search. I truly appreciate your interest. If you like the material here and would like to help keep it viable, please peruse and visit book recommendations, and other resources posted throughout the site. Best wishes on your continued search, and feedback is always welcome!


Seattle Interview Coach said...

Most job seekers don't know how to work with recruiters, so this set of tips is incredibly helpful!

FreeRangeHuman said...

Spot on. Just the sort of stuff I tell my clients - in the UK there's a real reliance on recruiters, but it's amazing how many people expect on them to also career counsel/coach/write their CVs... nice post.

Jeff Lipschultz said...

Harry's posts are some of the best I've read for job seekers. He truly knows the industry and the challenge of finding a job. The links below are supplied as additional help for working with recruiters:



I hope Harry and I have presented all the info you need to be successful working with recruiters.


Dan Burr said...

I think recruiters should be more proactive for the company vs. reactive at best match for what the company calls them for. This requires thinking out of the box. Paradigm shift from old typical. That's a rare breed. And I agree some better recruits are proactive reps for both sides.


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