Why "knowing" recruiters won’t help you in your search

I was recently asked by a prospective client if I “knew” any recruiters. Well, I do maintain strong relationships with recruiters in various fields, but there seemed to be a disconnect in the question.

You see, finding a recruiter is only part of the effort you’ll need to undertake in order to be successful. Recruiters find candidates, not jobs. Let me repeat that again – a recruiter will NOT set out to find you a job.

Recruiters are in the business of locating desirable candidates to fill requests by the client companies that pay their fees.

Therefore, they will have little reason to scour the corporate world to find new job openings for you, but they may be interested in your qualifications. The key word here is “may.”

If you offer a straightforward career trajectory with a wealth of industry experience, you may well be a sought-after candidate by recruiters.

However, if you plan to change careers, your work history is spotty, or you are currently unemployed, you may find that recruiters are not able to convince their clients of your value.

What does this mean for your search? You’ll need to spend time finding the right audience for your resume, rather than just shooting off a mass email to thousands of recruiters (or finding someone who “knows” a recruiter!).

And above all, remember to use the same level of professional courtesy that you’d deliver in the context of an interview. Recruiters are dealing with intensities of the job market just as you are, and will remember their interactions with you.

Should you work with a recruiter?

Considering contacting a recruiter for your job search? You’ll need to first understand how this relationship works, then locate and nurture the best sources of recruiters for your field.

First of all, your best option is to contact more than one recruiter during a job search.

For jobseekers who don’t grasp the overall strategy of recruiting, this may seem confusing. Can’t the recruiter you called just find you a job?

Well, no. The companies that contact recruiters to fulfill their hiring needs are the recruiter’s true clients (not jobseekers).
Therefore, since recruiters work for (and are paid by) client companies, they do not have allegiance to any particular candidate and WILL NOT FIND JOBS FOR YOU—unless your expertise matches their client’s needs.
In addition, many recruiters now work globally to source the best candidates for their clients. Therefore, a recruiter based in Texas may recruit a Colorado candidate to fill an open slot in New York City. Given that recruiters are looking for that perfect match, it can be in your best interest to present your resume to more than one recruiter or recruiting firm.
Here are 3 ways to find and make the best use of recruiter contacts:

1 – Find recruiters that specialize in your area of expertise.
Google for recruiters that fit your skills and field, using search terms such as “recruiter IT” or “recruiter operations” to get lists of firms that source candidates for particular fields. Some websites, such The Riley Guide, also offer lists of recruiting firms by specialty.
Another option is to use a recruiter directory such as OnlineRecruitersDirectory.com or HeadHuntersDirectory.com. Here, you can specify either a location or a particular field in order to guide you to firms that fit your situation.
Yet another alternative is to send out a recruiter email distribution. While this is certainly NOT a guaranteed strategy, it can save you many hours of time (if you intend to spend those hours emailing your resume to recruiters).
Many firms offer resume distribution, with fees that vary from $50 to more than $300. The general feedback on these services is that you get what you pay for in terms of better quality contacts. Of course, using this method means that you will lose the personal touch associated with calling each agency.
Larger, well-known recruiting firms, such as Heidrick & Struggles and Korn Ferry also specialize in executive recruiting for varied skill sets.
2 – Adjust your resume style for a recruiter.
Recruiters often scan resumes very quickly for experience and education, and prefer straightforward, chronological resumes. They are usually looking for job histories that match specific criteria—meaning that they are not able to match candidates to jobs outside of their experience.
If you plan to change careers or industries, it is best to avoid contacting recruiters, as their client companies pay them to find seasoned candidates with specific experience in the desired field.
However, if you plan to stay in the same industry and have a solid career background, you will be an attractive candidate for recruiters. An impressive academic background is also desirable, as is the candidate who has held no more than 3 jobs in the past 10 years.
3 – Cultivate long-term recruiter relationships.
Keep in mind that many recruiters stay in touch with their clients on a regular basis, and are therefore a great source of information on the industry or a particular field of expertise.
It’s a good idea to stay in touch with a recruiter from time to time, as new job requirements can pop up even months after you’ve first contacted them. As many recruiters fill a multitude of job orders and talk with many candidates, they may not recall your area of expertise unless you stay on their radar.
Most importantly, treat the recruiter relationship as you would any business arrangement, with courtesy and attention to follow-up. Offer to pass along the recruiter’s contact information to other valuable candidates as well, as most recruiters will appreciate—and remember—your responsiveness and professionalism.

Working With Recruiters, Part III: 5 Tips for Finding and Approaching Contacts

If you’re conducting an active job hunt, you’re probably aware that working with a recruiter can be an effective method for your search. However, finding a recruiter that specializes in your field can be a daunting prospect. Where should you look? How do you know what to expect? And what precisely should you be prepared to provide?

Finding and effectively collaborating with recruiters is mostly a matter of sharpening your networking skills (which is a good idea during any phase of a job search!).

Read on for some ways to expand your options and locate key professional recruiting contacts that may also be looking for YOUR expertise:

1 – Avail yourself of professional organizations in your industry. These associations can be a boon to the active job hunter, as they frequently offer job postings, member networking events, and other resources that can help you tap into unadvertised positions.

Recruiters who source candidates from a particular industry will often attend professional association meetings. Where allowed, recruiters may introduce themselves with the idea to stay in touch, although most won’t solicit members directly.

If you don’t attend association meetings, there’s never been a better time to start. Perform an Internet search for organizations in your industry, and attend some of their events in order to familiarize yourself with potential new resources for your transitions.

2 – Consider automating part of your search. Recruiter distribution services abound on the Internet and elsewhere. What do they offer? For most, this is a combination of fast access to recruiters, plus ease of use.

When evaluating different distribution services (a few are ResumeRabbit, ResumeMachine, Resume Zapper, and ResumePromotion). Be sure to compare distribution coverage (as in the number of major metropolitan areas), plus the number of recruiters that the service claims to have in their network.

Two caveats should be mentioned in conjunction with resume distribution: first, not all recruiters appreciate receiving an emailed resume, and may not respond, and second, if your resume isn’t a fit for current openings, you may not receive the same level of personal consideration had you contacted the recruiter personally.

In addition, if you aren’t a great candidate for the requirements of the market, distributing your resume to recruiters won’t increase your chances of success. However, in terms of time savings, this type of mass distribution can definitely cut some corners.

3 – Use online social networks to find additional contacts. This method also allows you to view recruiter qualifications and specializations. For example, if you’re concentrating on getting out of the mortgage industry, contacting a recruiter who works exclusively with technical sales professionals would not be a fit.

Conversely, most recruiters who maintain profiles on LinkedIn or other social networking sites will delineate what they are looking for in a candidate, and this can save you some time.

4 – Build your own online profile to make it easy for recruiters to find YOU. If you don’t already maintain your own LinkedIn profile, this is a great time to jump on board. Visit www.LinkedIn.com to build an online presence, add connections from your email address book, and start looking around to see what else is offered, including plenty of job postings and professional advice.

You can also view my LinkedIn profile here, and be sure to connect with me to find out how many recruiters are in my network.

5 – Send a brief query that indicates your interest, and then follow up. After you’ve identified recruiters that specialize in your field, it’s best to attach a resume for perusal, or point to your online profile to give the recruiter more information. Follow up with a phone call to gauge the level of interest and start building a relationship.

I recommend sending out a short, pointed letter of inquiry, rather than a wordy description of your skills. Recruiters are by definition quite busy, and they’ll appreciate your brevity.

To summarize, finding recruiters takes the same type of activity that you would typically engage in for a job search.Be prepared, just as you would be to approach an employer, to review your goals in some detail and decide if there’s a collaborative fit.

ExecuNet Article – Working Effectively With Recruiters

The topic of working with recruiters comes up frequently in my line of work. For every person who has actually used a headhunter, there must be at least three who are unsure how to start or believe that this is the solution to finding a job with minimal effort.

This ExecuNet article brings up excellent points for candidates seeking the services of a recruiter: http://tinyurl.com/gfpay

To reiterate, recruiters do have your best interest in mind and are trying to make that perfect match happen. Establish a good working relationship with one or two headhunters in order to benefit from this arrangement.