Whether or not you prefer working with a recruiter during your job search, you have to admit that the good ones can open career opportunities that would otherwise be closed to you.
So how do you cement your relationship with recruiters, making sure they’re working hard on your behalf without annoying them? Here are a few ways to get the most out of the relationship with a recruiter.
Tell the recruiter if you have applied to the firm previously
This may be the easiest way to make a recruiter look bad, other than not showing up to an interview (which happens more often than you’d think). If you have already applied or interviewed at the bank or firm in question, let them know. If a hiring manager already has your resume through their own internal system or through another recruiter, only bad things happen – both for you and the recruiter.
To the client, the recruiter will look as if they have no real knowledge of the person they are representing and will lose their respect. But it’s equally bad for the candidate. You’ll look like you’re sending your resume everywhere and may come off as desperate or, worse, forgetful.
Some firms even have a policy that they will walk away from a candidate if their resume has been submitted by multiple search firms. It says something about the candidate, and they don’t want to find themselves in the middle of a fight for a commission.
If you let the recruiter know up front that you applied several years ago – especially if it is for a different role under a different department head – the bank likely won’t have an issue with it. It’s when they find out after the fact when problems can occur.
Don't lie by omission
From the beginning of engaging with a recruiter, be honest and open about your situation, including the status of your relationship with your current or most-recent employer, as well as salary information.
“Not giving this information, or giving inaccurate info, could damage the relationship with the recruiter, so be open and honest knowing at the end of the day they’re trying to put you in the position you want,” Brianne Toole, principal consultant on the investment banking team, Americas, at Selby Jennings
Also, keep in mind the company will check your references and do a background check, which will turn up whether you were fired, laid off or left of your own accord, so lying to a recruiter will only hurt you and waste everyone’s time.
Respond promptly to messages
When you receive a request to set up an interview, get back to the recruiter in a reasonable amount of time.
“If the recruiter secures you an interview, not getting back to them is a no-no,” Toole said. “Even if you don’t have availability till the next month, it’s not ideal, but tell the recruiter right away.”
Not responding to a voicemail or email damages your relationships with the recruiter and their client, because it comes off as not being interested or that you’re disorganized.
“Hiring managers and recruiters will be understanding of a candidate saying, ‘I need a few weeks,’ but they won’t be understanding of radio silence,” Toole said. “Keep an open line of communication with your recruiter.”
Call with interview feedback immediately
As a recruiter, you always want to talk to the candidate before you do the company to get a pulse on their interest and begin negotiating. Plus, selfishly, it makes them look like they are in control – as if you are all working on the same page.
Also, it shows the hiring firm that you truly are interested – that you just couldn’t wait to talk about the interview experience.
Send your resume as a Word doc and a PDF
When you send your resume to a recruiter, there is a good chance the document will be forwarded multiple times. As not everyone is up to date with the same version of Microsoft Word, resumes that are sent between several inboxes at two companies – the headhunting firm and the bank – should almost always be PDFs so that the formatting doesn’t get unraveled.
However, you may also want to include a Word document as well. Then a recruiter can make recommended additions or subtractions to your resume to help tailor it to a specific job or firm. As a recruiter, it’s always helpful to have two options to work with.
Check in with emails, not calls
Recruiters are on the phone all day long. Many firms publish daily call logs to keep up on the activity of recruiters (and to shame them into calling more people). Many recruiters will make more than 50 calls a day and be on the phone for north of four hours. If you’re just checking in if a firm has interest in your resume or on interview feedback, shoot them an email. They’ll appreciate it.
If you’re looking for an update on a potential employer’s decision of whether or not to make you an offer, send a quick note to the recruiter via email saying, “I understand that you probably haven’t heard an update, but I wanted to check in to see if there’s been a change of status or if the decision has been put on hold.”
“I recommend not taking up too much time following up when there hasn’t been any update or feedback,” Toole said. “Hiring managers have other things on their plates, and we’re on the candidate's team.
“We get back to you as soon as we hear anything, so don’t bother anyone or waste anyone’s time,” she said.
Don’t go around their back
Another easy way for recruiters to lose the respect of their clients is when candidates dodge the recruiter and contact the hiring manager themselves. Again – it makes you look just as bad. Most people don’t want to hire someone who is impatient and untrustworthy, which is how you’ll look.
If you prefer to negotiate on your own behalf or take greater control over the process, just ask.
Be honest about red flags
If you have a red flag in your background that will come up in the interview or in a pre-employment verification, such as a minor arrest, tell the recruiter up front (but after you get to know them a bit). Then they can either model it more positively with the hiring manager – allowing you not to deal with that awkwardness – or they can be prepared to confront it when everything does come to light.
Recruiters want to make money. They won’t trash your resume if you have a small blip in your background. But it’s best to prepare them for any future bumps in the road.
If you’re not interested in a particular job that a recruiter mentions to you, but say you went to business school with someone is a good fit for it, make a referral. That will make the recruiter want to work with you in the future and keep you in mind for opportunities down the road.
“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” Toole said. “Even when it doesn’t work out, giving them the name of someone who will be a better fit is appreciated, and they’ll come back to you when something that’s a better fit comes along.”
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