Debunked: Five Myths About Working With Recruiters

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Think you know all there is to know about working with a recruiter to land a great job?  In my work running a temporary staffing firm, I’ve found many job seekers fall prey to false beliefs about what the process is like.  Here are the top five myths when it comes to working with recruiters.  Don’t let these common roadblocks get in the way of your next job search.

Myth 1:  I’ll contact a recruiter, and they’ll find me a job. Recruiters are hired by a company to find the best person possible to fill a specific position.  They work at the pleasure of their client, not the job seeker. Their role is to find a select group of candidates that are each a perfect fit, present those candidates to the client, help assess, provide feedback, and work with the client every step of the way until they have found and hired the best choice for their needs. Most recruiters work on a contingent basis, meaning they are not paid for their efforts unless the client hires one of their candidates.

It is in the best interest of everyone involved (including you) that the right candidates are presented and hired. If that is you, fantastic! If it’s not, they can keep you in mind for future positions that may be a better fit.  But don’t make the mistake of thinking the recruiter’s focus is on finding you a job.  It isn’t.  It’s on finding great matches for their open positions.

Myth 2:  I’ll just submit my resume, and the recruiter will do all the work.Successful recruiter-candidate relationships are partnerships. Recruiters build relationships, understand the client’s business and needs, have insight into new roles or potential hiring decisions, and act as trusted advisors that clients rely on to help build the best possible team of talent. They’ll connect with you to determine whether a role they’re working on may be a good fit, present you to the client, provide feedback, and help manage the process. But once the recruiter gets you in the door, you have to sell yourself. It’s up to the candidate to present a solid resume and body of work, understand the company and the role, present well in an interview, and work as a partner with the recruiter to negotiate details of the offer. Recruiters can open doors, but you have to land the job.

Myth 3:  It doesn’t matter which recruiter I contact, they all do basically the same thing.Some recruiters are generalists, but most are specialized. Specialization may be by industry, role, professional area of focus, region or location, experience level, or other factors. It’s important to understand what a recruiter specializes in, and whether that’s a good fit for you and what you’re looking for. One of the largest factors is whether they work with the clients or types of clients you’re interested in. If they don’t, they probably don’t have any better contacts or pull with that company than you do.  How do you find out a recruiter’s area of specialty?  Ask them.

Myth 4:  If I’m interested in a company I should apply online or give my resume to a friend first; if that doesn’t work, then I’ll try a recruiter. If your resume has already been submitted to a company, then the process has likely already moved beyond the point where a recruiter can get involved on your behalf. If you’re working with a recruiter that has that company as a client, contact them first. Or figure out what recruiters that company uses and get in touch with them. The recruiter will know so much more about the company and the specific needs of the position than what’s found online or in a posting. They can help you evaluate whether the position is indeed a good fit for you, and present you to the client to get primary consideration. If that position is not a good fit, they might know of other roles the client is looking to fill that would be better suited to your needs and experience.

Myth 5:  My relationship with a recruiter can be a “need to know” basis…they don’t need to know what I’ve applied for, or all the details of my background and career. A recruiter can be a strong ally in helping you gain consideration for a position you’re interested in, but they are only as good as the information you share with them. If a recruiter contacts you about a position that you’ve already applied for, let them know right away. Details of the situation matter…how long has it been? What job did you apply for? Did you have an interview? Be sure to share anything significant about your career, plans and motivating factors. Nobody likes surprises–if the recruiter knows what’s important to you, they can help sell you to the client and negotiate on your behalf. If you keep them in the dark, you’re not helping them help you.

A good recruiter can be a powerful ally throughout your career. For the best results, find the right person or company for your situation, build a relationship, listen to their advice and work with them as a partner.  Side-step the common mistakes above to move your job search to the fast track.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included. ©2011 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

Kristen is co-founder and owner of Portfolio Creative, an Inc. 5000 fastest growing firm for the past three years. Portfolio Creative connects clients with talent in all areas of design, marketing, communications and advertising and was ranked the 16th fastest growing staffing firm in the U.S. by Staffing Industry Analysts. 


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