Career Corner Q&A with Steven Starks
Q. How do I work with a recruiter in my job search?
A. If you’re considering working with a recruiter as part of your job search strategy, it can be helpful to understand a bit about how they work.
Contingency recruiters (aka headhunters) receive payment from employers only if the candidates they present are successfully hired. Retained recruiters are paid by employers for their services, usually to find talent for senior-level positions or those that are difficult to fill. Corporate recruiters work in-house as employees, typically for large organizations with a lot of hiring needs. Recruiters at temporary staffing agencies specialize in filling temporary/contract positions.
Ultimately, it’s important to understand that recruiters work for employers, not job seekers. Their job is to find best-fit candidates for their clients’ job openings, not to find jobs for job seekers. Therefore, recruiters are typically not the best to work with if you are hoping to break into a role or industry for which you have no experience because you won’t match what their client is looking for. However, if you possess the job- and industry-specific qualifications for the jobs they’re trying to fill, recruiters can be a great partner to you. You just need to find recruiters who specialize in your niche.
Remember, always be courteous and polite in your interactions with recruiters. Do not expect them to give you a lot of their time because they tend to have tight deadlines and heavy workloads.
— Steven Starks, senior manager of career counseling programs and operations
Try conducting a people search on LinkedIn, using keywords like recruiter + (industry of job function). You could also create a list of employers in your area that you might like to work for and use LinkedIn to find their corporate recruiters. Another option is to look for search firms who specialize in your market.
When you find recruiters in your niche, feel free to reach out and briefly introduce yourself, including your qualifications, background and areas of expertise. Be sure to share an updated resume that effectively presents your work history and accomplishments. For tips on how to craft a powerful resume, download our comprehensive Resume Guide. And remember, always be courteous and polite in your interactions with recruiters. Do not expect them to give you a lot of their time because they tend to have tight deadlines and heavy workloads.
Perhaps, check-in every couple of weeks with a quick note or find ways to be helpful by offering to introduce them to people in your network who fit what they are looking for. Even if you don’t get responses, you will leave a positive impression and be top of mind if that recruiter needs to fill a position that matches your background.
Finally, be cautious about companies and individuals who want to charge you. Recruiters are paid by employers, so anyone claiming to be a recruiter who wants to charge you a fee is most likely not a recruiter.