How to Work with Recruiters

A while back we talked about begging or building – how to network effectively. In this story, Judi Perkins shares some solid tips about building positive relationships with recruiters – before you need them Read on!

How to Work with Recruiters

Judi Perkins,

When’s the last time you responded to, or actively courted, the attention of a recruiter? When happily employed people get a call, they usually terminate it fairly quickly – because they’re happily employed. Those who are unhappily employed respond if contacted but don’t generally initiate it. On the other hand, for unemployed people, a recruiting firm is usually the very first step in the process of locating a new job.

So why do so many wait until they’re in a bind to turn to a person who can – free of charge – significantly broaden their options? It’s because, aside from horror stories and the varying skill levels of recruiters, people just don’t realize how many openings are handled by search firms.

A study by Coopers & Lybrand found that recruiters fill 64% of all vacant positions. That means only 36% are filled through advertising and other sources.

Here are a few reasons why companies use a search firm, and why you shouldn’t wait until you’re unemployed – and at a disadvantage – to be in contact with a recruiter.

a. Companies do not use recruiters as a “last resort”: Companies that have benefited from developing a relationship with a recruiter often pick up the phone to call their recruiter first and never post an opening anywhere else at all.

b. The company is targeting a specific person: It’s highly unethical for a company to contact an employee who’s working for a competitor. But they can call a recruiter to contact that person and find out if that person is open to making a change. This is only one reason why when you’re contacted by a recruiter, you should listen.

c. The good ones are already taken: Companies know that using a recruiter expands their scope of potential candidates. They want to hire achievers, people who are happy with their current company and position and appreciated by their existing organization. These people aren’t actively on the market. They aren’t reading the want ads, and they aren’t sitting home unemployed.

There’s a benefit to hiring people who are employed and open to change but not in dire straights: their priorities are more in line than those of the person who has been unemployed for a while and getting panicky as more and more money flows out of their bank account.

Employed people are more objective and better able to make a decision about changing to a new company. The unemployed person eventually begins to make concessions about what’s of value in their next job, because their priority becomes getting a job. Once they’re employed again, reflection causes the person’s original values to re-assert themselves. Suddenly their wonderful new job isn’t so wonderful anymore.

a. Value-added services: Most companies appreciate the value-added services recruiters can provide. These not only include the ability to penetrate competitor companies, but a distinct access to people the companies wouldn’t otherwise know about. A recruiter also sorts through resumes, and screens and interviews potential candidates, vastly time consuming for any hiring authority.

b. Confidential replacements: Did you accept a counter-offer with your current company? Your position could be listed with a search firm right now. Are you maxing out your sick time? Your days there might be numbered. Have you had distinctly unfavorable job performance reviews? Better polish up your resume. Your job is open, and no one knows it but your boss … and his recruiter.

If you aren’t in control of your career, then your company is. Corporate restructuring, layoffs and downsizing are taking place with alarming frequency as companies tighten their belts and look hard at who is contributing and who isn’t.

Sometimes it isn’t even a matter of contribution. In those plushy carpeted, window offices, the top executives and board members comfortably decide whose heads will roll and for what reason. Sometimes it’s simply eliminating an entire department – and it has nothing to do with you, individually, at all. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a new manager or president to come in and bring his own people with him.

A friend of mine began work in the corporate offices of a statewide corporation right after we graduated. Over the years, she obtained her MBA and continued to rise through the ranks. For twenty-five years she was with this company…..until she was laid off a few months ago. She hadn’t seen it coming. And she freaked out. It can happen that quickly, and it can happen to you.

If you want to stay in control of your career, develop a relationship with a few skilled and thorough recruiters in your industry. And when they call you, even though you’re not actively looking, listen to what they have to say – because one day, they may be calling with your perfect job.

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