THE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT – FRIEND OR FOE?
Working with recruiters can be frustrating if you are a job seeker and don’t know the best way to approach them. It’s time consuming to research and find the right recruitment consultants to work with, deciding on the best way to sell yourself, remembering everything you’ve ever done in your career, perhaps explaining a bad situation, why you left or why you are thinking of leaving your current role.  Should you write a thank you note or email, and if so, how to write one that hits the right points?

To make life a little easier, here are a few tips to help you along your way. How do they look at the whole process, what they really think when you ask for interviews only between 6-7pm and what you can do to make your partnership successful.

How to choose a recruiter to suit your needs

Here’s where you must do some research.  Not all recruitment firms handle all types of roles.  Some specialize in ‘C’ level roles (the Head Hunters) and will only work with you if you are currently, or most recently, have been at a certain salary level.  Some handle interim management roles.  Some handle part-time or contract roles.  Some specialise in marketing and sales roles, some only handle specific industries.   
An easy way to find a recruiter who currently handles roles that may suit you is to do a job search through an internet job board (www.seek.com.au, www.monster.com, www.jobs.dbm.com, www.sixfigures.com.au, www.efinancialcareers.com, the job search section of www.linkedin.com ) with the job title you have in mind.  You will find that many job advertisements are posted by recruitment consultants.  If the ads mention a consultant name and provide a phone number or email address at the end, that makes your research easier.   
Even if the role is not one to which you would like to apply, it means that at least that recruiter works within your area and might be interested in your skills and experience.  If no contact name is given, call the consultancy and ask who handles those types of roles.  Don’t be disappointed if you are told to simply email your resume to get on to their database.  That will probably happen a lot.  There may, however, be the chance that you are lucky and are connected to a consultant who is interested in what you have to offer.  Building the relationship from then onwards is up to you.

Taking the Screening Call

When you have successfully registered with a recruiter or a number of recruiters, you are in the game and you never know when you will contacted for a screening interview.   The first rule of thumb is to avoid answering your mobile phone unless you are in the perfect position to talk.  If you are still at work, obviously it wouldn’t be wise to speak to a recruitment consultant if your boss is within earshot – you won’t feel comfortable and neither the recruiter nor your boss will be impressed either!

Take advantage of caller ID and let calls go to voice mail. Only return calls to recruiters when you are in a position to speak freely.  Don’t go to a busy café to return the call – the background noise will be a distraction.  Call from your car (not while driving!) or find another quiet place to return the call.  You don’t have to call back within the next five minutes, getting back to the recruiter by the end of the business day is perfectly acceptable.

Scheduling Interview Times

Give the recruiter blocks of time when you will be available to interview. The recruiter’s job is to move the process along.  You, as the candidate, must give the recruiter windows of time that works for you to schedule these meetings.  If you can offer consistent blocks of available time from week to week, it makes their job easier.  

What about early morning or late evening timeslots if those are the only times you can speak?   Whenever possible recruiters will try their best to work with your availability, whether it’s at 8 a.m. or 6 p.m.

What if you are totally free and can interview anytime?  Don’t be too available, work with reasonable and specific blocks of time to give the recruiter some structure.

  Don’t claim to be in ‘all–day meetings’ constantly, recruiters want potential employees to be low–maintenance.  Scheduling multiple managers and candidates can be difficult enough without having to battle with the unavailable job seeker.

Be realistic and respectful of employers’ and recruiters’ time.  Knowing the demand level for your particular skill set and expertise can also help you. Professionals in mid–level positions with widely–available skills can expect less flexibility, but those coming from senior–level positions and specialty fields may experience a bit more freedom. Based on that, you can gauge employers’ potential flexibility and willingness to accommodate your needs in the interview process.

What is your Value Proposition to the Potential Employer?

In order to secure that job, help the recruiter sell you to the employer.  Help him or her build a best–case scenario for your candidacy.  Articulate why the position is a good fit for you.  Give them a good story about your experience and skill sets, your relevant qualifications, the projects you have managed.

Provide tangible results of your past efforts at work whenever possible. Give examples of positive performance, quotas, numbers, and results.   Be prepared to discuss your resume in a succinct, concise manner.

Think about the Problems or Situations you have encountered at work, the specific Actions you took (as an individual or as part of a team effort) and then the quantifiable Results of your Actions.  Be ready to discuss them to back up your claims of competence for any role to which you apply.

How Open should you be regarding Personal Issues in the interview?

Don’t delve into the nitty-gritty of personal problems that have no bearing on your ability to perform in a role.  Keep the information you present pertinent to the job. Focus on your relevant job skills.  Sometimes, divulging something personal that affects a job requirement is essential. For example, if driving is a requirement of a position and you do not have a drivers’ licence, you need to tell the recruiter upfront.  Don’t waste his or her time.  Stick to the facts, you do not have to explain why you don’t have a licence.

Follow Up with a Thank You Note or Email

This is polite and shows attention to detail.  Thank you notes should be sent within 24 hours of the interview. Remember to collect business cards from each person you meet if possible so you can send individual notes to everyone. Your note does not have to be long – just acknowledge your appreciation of their time and point out the skill, talent and experience that make you the ideal candidate for the position. Emails are widely accepted for thank you notes.

Remember to follow appropriate grammar rules.  Follow up Thank You notes are not text messages.  Make a good impression in every note you send throughout the job search process.  Remember to include your contact details in your signature line.

These suggestions can help you along in the interview process.  To be honest, once you are in the running, recruiters and employers actually want you to be right candidate for a job – it means they can stop their search (and don’t forget this means commission for the recruiters!)   However you need to do your part to get in front of them and market yourself to show how you are the best person for the role.

If you have any interesting stories of your experiences working with recruiters or if you have any additional helpful tips, I’d love to hear them!

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