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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Working With Recruiters

At some point in your career you are likely to interact with a third-party recruiter. That person may reach out to you or you may meet him or her at a networking event. Here’s a quick primer on how job candidates can work with recruiters to everybody’s advantage!

How do recruiters work with job-seekers?

Recruiters meet job-seekers and other folks who aren’t job-hunting (often called “passive job-seekers”) and present them to employers who have job openings they’re trying fill. Employers hire recruiters to help them fill job openings that the employers are having trouble filling on their own.

What is the advantage to working with a third-party recruiter on my job search?

There can be lots of advantages to working with a third-party recruiter. The recruiter may know about job openings that aren’t posted publicly. He or she may have a long history of filling job openings for a particular employer and even the specific manager who will be your boss in a new position.

Your recruiter can help you negotiate your job offer. Some working people maintain great relationships with one or two recruiters over twenty or thirty years. Some people never job-hunt on their own; all their new positions come to them through recruiters they know well.

How do recruiters help hiring managers and HR people?

Search partners are recruiters who filled job openings that my team and I couldn’t fill on our own. Recruiting partners bring tremendous new hires that allowed our company to keep growing.

What are the qualities that a recruiter will look for when s/he searches LinkedIn for candidates?

That depends on the job opening that a recruiter is working on when he or she searches LinkedIn, but listing the technical and non-technical skills and tools you’ve worked with the most is a big help to any recruiter who may be using LinkedIn as a hunting ground for candidates. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date helps recruiters find you, and so does a clear LinkedIn headline (not “Seeking new opportunity,” a poor choice of headline because it leaves out the most important detail: what you do for a living!).

Can a third-party recruiter give me job search advice?

Here is an analogy that may help make the recruiter/candidate relationship clear. Let’s say that you meet a real estate agent at a block party in your neighborhood. The real estate agent asks you, “Do you ever think about selling your house?”

“Yes,” you say, “I would love to sell my house, but unfortunately my house has huge structural problems so I can’t sell it until those are fixed. There are problems in the foundation. I need to hire someone to fix the problems.” The real estate agent may say, “I have some names of contractors who can help you. If you send me an email message I’ll get you those names.”

The real estate agent gives you her business card. That’s a favor from a new acquaintance. Perhaps you and she will work together at some point, but you’re not working together now, because your house is not anywhere near ready to go on the market.

Third-party recruiters are deluged with inquiries from job-seekers. If a recruiter believes he or she can place you in a job fairly soon, then the recruiter has time to talk with you and help you get your resume ready for a job search.

If the recruiter can see from your resume or LinkedIn profile or can tell from a quick phone conversation with you that he or she cannot place you in a new job anytime  soon, the recruiter is likely to tell you that he or she can’t help you right now. Don’t be upset if that happens. The recruiter who tells you that he or she cannot represent you is not insulting you.

He or she is being paid by employers to find them new hires. No one pays a recruiter for career advice, so it isn’t reasonable to expect recruiters to offer career coaching for candidates they are not representing.