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Guest Comment: how to cope with recruiters

With the volume of job applications climbing steadily over the last six months, it should come as no surprise that recruitment consultants are busier than ever. As a candidate in this competitive environment, your challenge is to stay top-of-mind with the recruitment consultants who are best placed to get you that job.

Choosing the right recruitment firm

Avoid the temptation of registering with a multitude of recruitment firms. Whatever your profession within financial services, there will typically be two or three well established firms that represent the majority of roles with the leading employers. It pays to concentrate your efforts accordingly.

How do you work out which recruitment firms to approach? Visit job boards and recruitment websites and search for the sorts of roles you are interested in. It won’t take long to confirm which recruiters genuinely specialise in your job function. Also take the time to note the quality of employer brands being represented. If you find a recruiter with a healthy volume of jobs going in your area with the sorts of firms you’d like to work for, register with them.

Be realistic in your job applications

Recruiters understand the pressures you face as a job seeker and the urgency with which you need to re-enter the workforce if you are currently unemployed. But there is a difference between tailoring your resume to a role and applying for something you are clearly unqualified for. If you bombard your recruitment firm with unrealistic job applications, you will stay top-of-mind for all the wrong reasons.

So be realistic in the jobs you apply for. If you are unsure of your suitability for a role, pick up the phone and call the consultant listed on the job advertisement for more information.

Talk to your consultant

As a job seeker you need to understand how best to work with your recruitment consultant. For example, how long should you wait before following up on an application? How often should you touch base? Is email or phone the preferred method?

You need to talk to your consultant about these process-related questions up front. You can do this over the phone after you’ve applied for a role, or during your initial interview with the consultant. Take the time to establish an agreed framework for communication and interaction. This mutual understanding will lead to a productive relationship and give you the best chance of success.

Keep it transparent

Banks sometimes ask multiple firms to compete in recruiting for the same role. So if you are registered with more than one agency, you run the risk of being represented for the same job by different recruiters. This is a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t look professional if multiple copies of your CV end up on the desk of an employer. And recruiters won’t appreciate putting in the time to represent you when they realise you have been put forward by another agency.

Recruitment consultants aren’t in a position to identify the conflict – this is your responsibility. Alarm bells should ring if the job descriptions you receive from different recruiters list the same salary level, work location and similar responsibilities. If this occurs, be open and only apply through one firm. All parties involved in the process will appreciate the transparency.

Brad Shotland is an associate director at Michael Page Finance.

Comments (6)

  1. While I agree that in theory the agency advertising “lots” of jobs maybe the best way to go – beware the agency that is advertising bogus jobs. You are trusting the recruiter – not the agency brand name. A larger agency doesn’t necessarily have quality recruiters or “real” relationships. I would seek referrals from agencies/candidates/contacts about who they think is quality and register there – job boards are very misleading. As an experienced Financial Markets recruiter I will happily refer candidates to agents I know are quality in my market if I can’t help them – irrespective of who they work for. Recruitment firms don’t advertise ALL their roles – they don’t need to if they use their database/network effectively. Anybody can stick an ad on the internet and hope for applicants – that’s not the service our clients get value add from.

  2. Of course, all of the above makes very good sense. However, the main obstacle I’ve encountered is to get a recruiter to return a call or respond to an email. I’ve yet to fathom the logic of including a name and phone number in a recruitment ad, and then not return all calls enquiring about the position. It’s pretty irritating and very demoralising to be ignored, despite meeting most if not all of the listed criteria for the advertised position.

    Does Brad have any words of wisdom to help overcome this problem?

  3. I have few points to add to the following

    “it should come as no surprise that recruitment consultants are busier than ever.”

    Recruitment consultants are busier with getting lots and lots of profiles from their regular candidates and also from references /postings etc> Maintaining that database is a big task and it takes lot of efforts and time inspite of all software which is available in the market ,. Which partially answers Susan’s querry.

    Recruitment consultants give Phone no and email in postings basically as information and it is not possible to reply to every single, candidates. IT is like out of sight is out of mind.

    But how many companies/firms are actually hiring is the main question ? and secondly how many of them go thru consultants and vendors .

    Ravi Shendarkar Reply
  4. Good article – it strikes me that the market has shifted markedly from 6-9 months ago and that candidates and recruiters alike need to adjust their approach to accommodate this.

    It’s not realistic to expect a recruiter to personally reply to each of 100+ applications for a role however I think there is more they can do to manage candidate expectations. Labour markets move in cycles and the better recruiters in my experience are mindful that today’s candidates may be tomorrow’s clients; a partnership approach, as Brad suggests, is vital.

  5. I think the thing to remember is that most recruitment consultants earn money on commission, therefore are paid a very low base. Given that some of the larger agencies are also listed, there is massive pressure on them to make placements and to make them quickly.

    Simply put, this doesn’t drive the best behaviours in consultants, and its usually the candidates that suffer.

    When choosing a recruiter to work with, its important to understand how they are remunerated, how is their performance managed etc.

  6. I know it is extremely frustrating Susan. There are 2 ways that agents work, they either go through their database/internet responses & find 3-5 candidates they feel fill the requirements of the job so they can get them to their client asap as speed is everything. They don’t bother looking at the other CVs. Others look at every application and call people as they go to make sure that they do put the “best” person forward. Many companies know this and only ask for 1 or 2 CVs so they don’t get bombarded with a random selection. As an internal recruiter with a Preferred Supplier Arrangement in place, our agencies must have interviewed the candidate and provide an overview of how they specifically match our position before we see their CV. Having said that we try to recruit people directly rather than via an agency. If you know companies in your space Susan I would approach them directly. As an employer of choice we “talent pool” people like yourself and are the first external group looked at when a role becomes vacant. To an advertised role send your CV & an application letter (not just a cover letter) with some specific detail as to how you match the requirements.

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