Guest Comment: how to cope with recruiters

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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.