There aren’t as many jobs around as there were. Even recruiters say so. At the last count, Morgan McKinley said London financial services jobs were down 57% year-on-year in March 2012; Astbury Marsden thought they fell 11% month-on-month.
But recruiters and headhunters have to do something. Many are still out there, soliciting candidates, making calls. So, if you come across a recruiter purporting to have a job for you, how can you be certain that job exists and is not merely the result of a recruiter trying to bolster his/her candidate database?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. “The only way you can establish whether a job exists is to ask,” says Simon Head, head of fixed income at Correlate Search. “You need to be asking things like, ‘Is this an exclusive mandate, who is the client, what is the background, who is the hiring manager.
“I would be happy to tell a candidate all of this information,” he adds.
Many recruiters will be frank with candidates: yes - they may simply be building their candidate database, yes – they may simply be getting in contact with you in the hope that they will be able to place you in the future. No, they might not have jobs at the moment, but is there any harm in building your network?
The more questionable situations are probably those in which recruiters approach candidates claiming they have plenty of opportunities and aren’t upfront about the reality of the situation.
“I am particularly straightforward,” says one M&A headhunter. “I will say to people that I’m keen to speak to them because I want to get to know them. I will admit that - to be honest - I don’t really have much to offer right now but I should have soon.
“I’ve been saying that consistently over and over for quite a while now,” he adds, morosely.
Even if a recruiter doesn’t have any specific jobs , networking now could be a good thing. “It’s about building a long term relationship with candidates,” says another headhunter. “Even if we’re not necessarily able to place someone now, it makes a bit easier to make the call when we do have something for them.”