If you don't do this now, you could regret it later. September is a comparatively quiet time of the year for headhunters and recruiters. They are milling around quietly, gently schmoozing clients and surfing the internet. In a few months they will be frantically fighting for jobs to fill in 2012 whilst fending off waves of the newly unemployed. If you want to get a headhunter/recruiter on your side, now is the time in which to do so.
Senior headhunters already report a rise in the number of people suddenly trying to be nice to them. "A lot more people are sending in their CVs," says one, "But it's the change in attitude among people who are our clients that I've really noticed. They're fearful for their jobs and are suddenly becoming a lot warmer towards us, calling up and wanting to meet and be our buddies."
"I'm getting a lot of calls," says another. "I had one five minutes ago from someone I'd never spoken to before who'd been recommended by one of my clients. It's happening almost every day. Frankly, I'm having to turn a lot of them away."
If you've spent the past few years repelling recruiters and headhunters, sucking up to them may seem strange. It will help if you've sensibly cultivated some key recruiter relationships while the going was good. If you haven't, you need to make rapid amends - before everyone else does. "The number of CVs coming through is already starting to pick up," says Jim Nairn, director at recruitment firm The Cornell Partnership. "People know whether they're bottom the 10% and that they need to do something practical about it."
How can you groom a recruiter without being repellently sycophantic?
1) Become an information conduit
Do you know something a recruiter/headhunter would like to know? Specifically, do you know who's hiring or approximately how much someone is being paid. Recruiters will like you if you pass this on to them. "You need to share market information that they may find useful," says career coach Sital Ruparalia.
2) Refer good candidates to them
Recruiters/headhunters will like you if you help them make money. If you refer someone excellent to them who enables them to earn a fee, they will owe you a favour.
3) Use your immense power as a client to make life pleasant for them while you can
If you're a line manager or are in the position to work with recruiters, be especially nice to those you work with in the hope that they'll be nice to you if you need their services as a candidate. Ruparalia suggests writing them a LinkedIn recommendation without them requesting it. "You will be immediately on their radar and they'll talk about your recommendation to their colleagues," he points out.