People tend to have a love-hate relationship with recruiters. They love us in theory because we’re seen as the gatekeepers of new opportunities. Yet, they hate us in practice because they feel that we don’t always return calls, we’re flaky, and we often disappear without providing feedback. If I’m being honest, which I tend to be (to a fault), I can agree with all of those points. However, most of those who complain don’t truly understand the business.
I get a lot of random calls and email from job seekers. They know that I’m an executive recruiter, and they want to “work with me” on their next role. I try to do my best to be helpful, time permitting, but I always have to explain that recruiters don’t really work with job seekers.
As the world of recruiters seems to be a mystery to many, here are the top 5 things you need to know about recruiters.
1. We are not guns for hire by job seekers. Individuals can’t afford to hire us. Our clients are corporations who enlist us to find the right candidates for their open positions. We work with candidates to the extent they are a good fit for whatever role we’re recruiting at the moment. For example, if you’re an amazing CFO candidate, I’ll keep you in mind, but I won’t be helpful unless I’ve been retained to recruit a CFO position.
2. All recruiters are not created equally. Most of us specialize in industries or levels. Knowing a recruiter does not mean that we can automatically be helpful. If you meet a recruiter, it’s best to inquire about his or her specialty to determine if she or he is the appropriate resource. If you’re in marketing, approaching a recruiter who typically places financial officers makes as much sense as going to a podiatrist for heart palpitations.
3. We prefer not to take courtesy meetings. Sure, there are moments when we do professional favors and meet with people who want our opinions on their career moves. The trouble is that we don’t have a lot of time. Most of us carry a heavy client load, and we have a short time to contact as many people as possible. We typically review 50 plus resumes/profiles each day. We’re not trying to be rude, but we don’t have hours to spend with people who can’t be candidates at the moment.
4. We are not trying to blow you off. If you’ve interviewed with one of our clients and we don’t provide immediate feedback, it’s usually because we don’t have information. Our clients occasionally fall off the grid for weeks at a time without giving meaningful feedback that we can pass along to you. Yes, it sucks; but it happens.
5. We have long memories. I might not have something that fits your background today, but I’m keeping you in mind. If I’ve met you previously and thought you were a great candidate, you might hear from me in six months, or you might hear from me in two years, depending. Of course, the flipside is that we also remember candidates who perform negatively in interviews or stalk us.
If you’re interested in getting the attention of a recruiter, your best bet is to make sure that we can find you.
Research the search firms that specialize in your industry, and make sure that an updated resume is in their corporate databases. Many recruiting firms have websites where candidates can register themselves. Additionally, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an updated LinkedIn profile.
If you are job-seeking, I wish you the best of luck. I answer most questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. But please don’t send me your resume.