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Notes from the outplacement seminar: How to use recruiters

Yesterday we devoted long hours to attending two seminars run by outplacement company Fairplace in a subterranean room off Cornhill. Here is a digested version of the wisdom they imparted on the use of recruitment firms.

Recruitment firms are not working for you: They are thinking of their bottom line and want their placement fee. Do not be surprised, therefore, if they a) encourage you to take a job that may not be ideal, b) encourage you to accept a job at a lower salary than you had hoped for, c) try to elicit knowledge about other opportunities on the market.

Go for double digits: It used to be advisable to work with six to eight recruitment firms. In this market it is advisable to work with 10. Set up a database to track which ones are doing what and when you last spoke to them.

Be discerning: You may be working with 10 recruitment firms, but make sure they are the right ones. Establish this by asking them questions such as: “Who are you working for on a preferred supplier basis? When did you last place someone at X bank/financial institution?” Alternatively, try asking the HR department at your previous firm which recruiters they work with on a preferred supplier basis.

Beware recruiters who try to charge you for their assistance: This is happening. One unnamed City recruiter is said to be charging 3k for a premium service.

Don’t expect recruiters to be career counselors: It is no good turning up at a recruitment firm and saying “I might be interested in x, but I could also do y, and am not sure about z.” You need to say, “These are the skills I have. These are the roles I could go into.”

Call at the right times of day Recruiters are most amenable mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Follow-up: For the initial introduction you can email or you can call. But if you do one, make sure you also do the other.

Face time: There is no alternative to face time. Treat all meetings with recruiters as seriously as a formal interview. Ask questions which show you understand the recruiting world. These might be –

– ‘Are there any idiosyncrasies about your database that I should be aware of in order to maximize the chance that my CV comes up?’

– If you are advertising a job that is appropriate to me, will you be sending my CV automatically, or do I need to resubmit it to you?

– Will you be altering my CV before it’s sent out? Can I see the amended version if so?

What are my chances of getting a job anytime soon? What do you think of the current market?

Comments (10)

  1. 3k for a premium service………is anyone really naive enough to pay this?

    It sounds like Fairplace are talking about contingent recruiters – “idiosyncrasies about your database “….Pah!

  2. Were there any discussions about how to apply directly? I think people should be aware that employers are leaning toward direct recruiting – its helps to get sign off when there isnt a recruiting fee.

  3. Dave – It was mostly about recruiters. Someone said that a bank they’d been introduced to by a recruiter had approached them directly, which was putting them in a difficult position as the recruiter wouldn’t get the fee.

    It was also said that if you decide to go direct it’s a difficult choice between sending a CV to HR (who will file it if they don’t want you know) and to a line manager (who’s more likely to act if they want you now, but won’t file it).

    Stats about networking were trotted out – only 35% of jobs found through recruiters and job ads, most through networking and speculative approaches to banks directly,

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  4. I work as a recruiter for a major IB (who is doing some limited hiring) We always look directly before going to agencies and actively use job boards and our website to hire, so always best to try this as over 50% of our roles never reach agencies. This is true up to and including Director level roles.

  5. I would love to hear a counter report on candidates experiences of working with outplacement firms or from recruiters who have met with individiual recently “aided” by them.

    Most candidates I met who have met with them turn up with butchered skills-based and waffling cvs and a skewed idea of how to approach their job search.

    Numerous candidates I have worked with express that an hour with a recruitment consultant who knows their market is more valuable than the 8 hours of seminars with an outplacement firm.

  6. All the Chaff in recruitment will go down the plug hole this year – and they all know it as well.

    The good ones, who know there market and have very tight relationships will survive by the skin of there teeth.

    A few tips on what to ask and look for in a recruiter:

    Tip 1.) If you ask a recruiter how they are doing and they say …. WELL. They are lying – tell them to do one.

    Tip 2.) If they have pointy hair and pointy shoes – your on to a wrong un’

    Tip 3.) If you old boss or former more senior colleague who you respect knows them ‘like a friend’ – You getting there

    Tip 4.) If they can tell you who you wor with, how long you have been in the market for, what football team you support and how many kids you have and there ages before you have said hello – You might have a winner.

    The drowning consultant Reply
  7. Where is Henry?? And where is his article / column??

  8. Henry has not submitted his article/column. His whereabouts is currently unknown.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  9. Dont wish to be difficult but if i had any inkling that a candidate was working with 10 recruiters, i would not want anything to do with them.I certainly would not want to find that when i approached a client they had already seen the details 5 times already
    Be very wary of preferred supplier lists.They mean little..if the candidate is a good potential fit the client will take them, whether the recruiter is on a psl or not.Ubfortunately it is well known that for many Banks a psl is a good way of not allowing recruiters to poach staff..it is the norm to have to sign a “hands off” agreement in a psl
    Any recruiter that sends a cv automatically without reference to the client should be avoided
    For goodness sake..let the recruiter check over the cv…it is what they do..unfortunately most cv’s are truly awful…there is no issue with “slanting” differing (tho honest) cv’s at different roles
    A decent recruiter absolutely will want to see evidence of salaries/bonus etc..them representing you puts their reputation on the line.
    Let the recruiter do as much of the remuneration negotiations a spossible..

  10. As a headhunter…
    1: it is not legal for a recruiting firm to charge candidates.

    2: Search a couple of the financial chat sites, to learn who the good and bad HHs in your sector are.

    3: I *am* a career consultant, any decent HH is someone you can ask questions. Some recruiters are the equivalent of Tesco, pile hile and sell cheap, I’m not criticising that business model, you want personal service go to a local shop, else you go to a supermarket.

    4: I have no idea where the “good times” to call HHs, but for what its worth their wrong for us.

    5: The “face time” thing is right, my job is to sell you, if you are “difficult” with me, I’m going to assume you will be “difficult” with the people I’m trying to sell you to.

    6: We see negotiating money and terms as a combined effort, but yes it is the role of a HH to be good at negotiation, and sometimes to ask or say things that are best said by them as a 3rd party.

    Dominic Connor, headhunter of old London town Reply

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