Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Make Recruiters Work for You

By Jak Phillips

A call from a recruiter is more likely to be for their gain than yours. Still, that call could be the springboard for your next jump up the career ladder.

With the economy still sputtering and the unemployed outnumbering job vacancies by six to one, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recruiters and headhunters are becoming an increasingly vital contact. Last year they helped nearly 13 million U.S. workers find temporary, contract or permanent jobs, and more than 90% of U.S. companies now use staffing firms to fill vacancies, according to the American Staffing Association.

As you might expect, technology, health care and engineering are some of the major industries that are looking to hire at the moment, while ironically enough, the recruitment industry itself is one of the biggest boomers. (The U.S. Department of Labor expecting it to grow more than 50% by 2014.) While you might not expect it, you could soon get a call from one these smooth-talkers, so here are TIME Moneyland’s top tips for how to make recruiters work for you.

1. Set The Tone
It’s important to establish a dynamic from the outset and ensure your relationship starts on a comfortable footing. For Alison Doyle, job search expert for, the first call is all about laying down cards on the table at the earliest point. “It’s important to set the tone at the very beginning of your relationship,” she says. “Find out what information the recruiter needs from you and if they have specific openings they are interested in talking to you about.” She also recommends determining how you will stay in contact with the recruiter, and how often.

Meanwhile, Michael T. Robinson, president and founder, says he thinks you should already have a sales pitch in your head, pinpointing what it is you do and how you’d like to progress. “You need to give them your 7-second elevator pitch,” he says. “Make it quick, memorable and practice it until it rolls off your tongue.”

2. Establish Their Credentials
Having hopefully established an understanding, it’s important to make sure this is actually someone worth talking to. Oodles of charm is one thing, but if the recruiter doesn’t have a good rapport with the hiring manager, they’re unlikely to get you an interview. “When I used headhunters to find talent for me, we would talk several times per week – thus they knew a lot about me and what I was looking for,” says Robinson. “If the person calling you does not know much about the hiring manager, they are probably not that good.”

It can also be worth checking up on a recruiter’s history. As well as asking the recruiter about their specialties and previous dealings with their client, Doyle recommends looking at their LinkedIn profile to read the feedback from people they’ve placed.

3. Build a Good Relationship
At the end of the day, this is abusiness transaction. But as we all know, it never hurts to build a rapport with the person you’re dealing with. As Charlotte Weeks, the career guru behind points out, being on friendly terms with the recruiter could give you the edge over equally qualified candidates. “Treat them like a networking contact and stay on their radar the way you would with anyone else,” she says. And at the same time, it’s a two way-street. “Call or email once in a while to see if anything is coming down the pipeline,” she adds. “They’ll especially appreciate you if you’re ever contacted about a position that doesn’t seem to be a fit and you refer them to someone who might be.”

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