The best relationships with recruiters are characterized by honesty, transparency and trust. It is a partnership where both of you have a vested interest – you will secure a new role, and they will receive their commission if they place you. More important however is developing what could blossom into a long-term partnership. Having a trusted advisor on your side whenever you are considering a career move gives you a significant advantage over those who treat recruiters like a one-off nuisance.
1. Have a totally transparent application process. Be honest about where you have applied. The job search is a complicated process, and if you confide in your recruiter as to where you have applied, they can gain a better understanding of what you are aiming at. It will also help them know which companies are currently hiring – they may have other candidates for these roles if you are not the one for the role and they will appreciate this knowledge.
2. Be crystal clear about your value. Recruiters are not mind readers and do not have the time to explore your motivations as a career coach would. You have to present a compelling case to them – and be in the top 20% of your market. No matter how benevolent they are, they are less interested in mediocre candidates, so make sure that your story is a powerful one. A recruiter’s role is to “locate” the best talent that is available so really sell your case to them. Talk about your specific contribution in all areas of your career – how did you make the difference? They can’t be your advocate unless they understand how best to make your case.
3. Be honest about your “red flag” issues. If a recruiter knows in advance about the skeletons in your career closet, they can often present them in the correct way at the correct time to a prospective employer, on your behalf. Their relationships with the future employer and the recruiter may be close so if you are upfront about what MAY be discovered then your recruiter is one of the best people to address any concerns. The best recruiters are diplomats – they can defuse potential issues that otherwise would have caused your candidature to fail.
4. Use their inside knowledge for your interview. Don’t just assume that their job is to get you an interview. Their value doesn’t stop there, the best recruiters will also know the interviewer and can give you the inside track on the company culture. They may have placed people there before who might be able to give you advice on the interview process. Ask the recruiter for all the information that they can provide so that you’re well prepared for your interview. They are invested in the process as much as you.
5. Give a full interview debrief. The debrief is a two-way street – you should be candid with the recruiter, and the recruiter will tell you the company feedback. It is important to get as much information as possible about how you performed so that you can make improvements in future interviews. Sharing information with the recruiter will also better inform him about the process and benefit his other candidates. This is all part of building the longer-term partnership.
6. Keep your recruiter informed about your progress with other opportunities. Often you will be interviewing with multiple companies, not necessarily through the same recruiter. It is important to try to synchronize any potential offers, and often the recruiter will be in a position to leverage any forthcoming offers or speed up any processes if required.
7. It is all about building relationships. Just as you don’t want to be a “hit and run” encounter by the recruiter, don’t hesitate to do your part to build an ongoing relationship of trust. Be willing to give referrals of potential candidates within your network. Inform recruiters if you understand a company is looking for someone within their area of expertise. Give them a recommendation on social media – “like” their posts, etc. Find a way to become a small and positive part of their ongoing lives, and when you need their help next time, they will be more than happy to oblige.