Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nine Tips for a More-Effective Job Seeker/Recruiter Relationship (or, Some Things You Can Try If That Recruiter Is Ever Polite Enough to Return Your Call)

I have a recruiter friend who keeps trying to convince me that I should like recruiters. I don’t.

Recruiters sell people for a living. Come on. What’s to like, here?

And, let’s be for real. Recruiters don’t have much love for HR folks, either. They see themselves as the hunters bringing home the big kills, while HR generalists who recruit are “dabblers” who don’t really know how to do it like the big boys and girls do it.

I sat down with my friend for coffee, because I wanted to hear from an insider whether age discrimination really is as bad as older workers believe it is, and  …. well, let’s just say that when I’m told of a young recruiter looking at a resume and then saying something like “Oh, she’s old. She almost has as much experience as my mother” my fears aren’t exactly calmed.

And then my friend surprised me by saying that many  recruiters eventually hope to get into HRa thought that truly sent shivers up and down my spine.

Well, like it or not, recruiters are here to stay, right? So, if you’re a job seeker, how can you work with a recruiter for the best result?

Here are nine tips from my friend. (No, I don’t know how these are supposed to help you fend off discrimination, but my friend means well and does have tons of experience, so let’s just focus on the positive for a moment, shall we?) 

My comments are in italics.

Rules Tips for Effectively Working With a Recruiter
#1. Don’t transfer your job search frustration and responsibility to the recruiter. He won’t like it.

#2. Be willing to be flexible. That means looking at companies, roles, and locations that weren’t previously on your radar.

#3. Be willing to listen to the experts (I’m guessing those are the recruiters?). If you ask for advice and don’t like it, you may need to take another approach to the problem.

#4. Be willing to be creative and take risks that are appropriate. Do not alienate people, be collaborative. (Damn. I guess I blew that one the minute I posted this piece.)
#5. Be willing to manage the job search like you would any other work project. Between thirty and forty hours should be spent weekly on a job search (are you serious, friend??)—fifty percent networking, twenty-five percent researching companies, and twenty-five percent directly applying to positions.

#6. Be willing to be consistent. Don’t fall off after a few weeks.
#7. Do your research. Make sure companies and positions are a good fit.
#8. Be prepared to make your case. Be specific about your job search goals.
#9. Never say, “I just want a job,” or “I’ll do anything.” It makes you look desperate and unfocused.

Gee, these recruiters have lots of tips rules, don’t they?

If you’re an HR pro working with a recruiter, I have one tip—make sure you know exactly what the agency’s background check will consist of. I once hired an individual—through an agency—with a completely fabricated work history. The individual talked a good game, and I fell for it (my bad), but his total lack of competence became apparent pretty quickly after hire (although not quickly enough for me to get my ten grand back). When all the lies were exposed (as a result of my own curiosity and diligence), the recruiter basically said “Hey, you never asked me to verify education or job history!”

And with that, folks, we’ve come full circle.

(See paragraph one, please.)   


  1. Crystal, I must say I share your concerns. Great post!

  2. Hi Danyel, and thanks for sharing here and on Linkedin.

    I hesitated to write this post, but if what I'm saying isn't true I don't know what is. People who have been placed by recruiters, or who've had good employees placed by recruiters, no doubt think they're great. So why do recruiters have such a lousy reputation? Theirs is almost as bad as HR's, LOL!

    Seriously, I've proposed before and I'll propose again that something in the hiring system is broken, and both recruiters AND HR should be motivated to fix it. However, I fear that day will never come. Principals in both camps seem wedded to the idea that job seekers are to blame for faulty expectations or not knowing how to work the system.