When searching for a new job, relationships are the most important piece of the puzzle. How you manage your interactions with people has a direct impact on the value of the relationship. This logic holds true for working with recruiters, too.
When engaging recruiters in your job search, realize there are many nuances to a successful relationship. It is advantageous to know the Good, Better, and Best ways to engage a recruiter and maintain the connection long term.
• Expectation: Remember that you are swimming upstream. Recruiters typically find candidates to fill jobs, not find jobs for candidates (although, there are times the candidate is a key to engaging a new client). With this in mind, here are some approaches to getting a recruiter’s attention:
• Good: Find recruiters on Twitter and LinkedIn by doing simple searches and invite them into your social network. Be sure to include something about yourself or reference their blog—something to make a small connection. You can also email your resume to them with a cover letter outlining very specific goals for your job search and what job you are seeking. Keep in mind, the email subject must catch their eye.
• Better: Network to the recruiter through a mutual friend or colleague. Ask your friend to tell the recruiter to expect a call from you. In many cases, you’ll get the recruiter on the line long enough to discuss your situation and potential opportunities down the road. Finding recruiters through friends also helps you find ones who focus on your industry or occupation.
• Best: If you really want to get a recruiter’s attention, give them something they can use, like a connection to a new client. You might have a neighbor who is hiring and needs the help of a recruiter.
• Extra credit: Help them find you. Beyond the job boards and focus groups, leverage Social Media. Write blogs covering your area of expertise; then tweet or send updates on LinkedIn with links to the article. Recruiters search for certain tools, industries, expertise and skills on the Internet all the time—their search may lead to your blog.
Maintaining the Relationship
• Expectation: Once entered in their database, realize that you are easily “resurfaced” if you have a good resume filled with key terms. Calling a recruiter every week to see if new opportunities popped up is not a good idea. Nor is sending a weekly email saying you are still on the market. However, if your situation changes, it is good etiquette to let them know (especially if you got a new job). It is acceptable to maintain relationships with several recruiters, but realize there is work to do with each:
• Good: Watch the recruiter’s job listings or subscribe to the RSS feed. They will likely call you if you are a good fit, but just in case, keep up to date. Call if there is a legitimate match.
• Better: Develop a little bit of a personal relationship. Tweet them once in a while about non-job related things. Once you have a good relationship, they may take more time to coach you on job search techniques.
• Best: Continue to provide valuable information to the recruiter. Perhaps share an article related to their industry. Share the names of good candidates for jobs they are working on.
• Extra credit: Offer to write an article for their blog if they have one. Bloggers love guest writers and you stand a great chance of being noticed by your recruiter’s entire network.
Working on an Opportunity
• Expectation: Once there is an actual job for consideration, your recruiter is fully engaged with you. Realizing that the recruiter needs to be completely aware of your thoughts on the job opportunity will help keep everyone in synch.
• Good: No surprises. Your recruiter should know about your level of interest in the job, salary expectations, other interviews, and ideal work environment/culture. Make sure the recruiter can accurately gauge how good of a fit you are for the job.
• Better: Be honest. Let the recruiter know about gaps in employment or unique circumstances surrounding leaving a past job. This information will surface eventually. Your recruiter will not be pleased if he/she was misled about you. Their reputation is on the line whenever they present someone. Along the same lines, if you have already been submitted to the company through other means, let the recruiter know—you do not want or need to be submitted twice.
•Best: Ask the right questions. Make sure you are well-prepared for interviews. A good recruiter will know the inside scoop on the job, company, interviewers, and non-salary benefits of working there.
• Extra credit: Share any findings in your research you think the recruiter may not know. A colleague of yours may know something about the company your recruiter does not. This information might help both of you.
After You Get a Job
Once you land a new job, keep your best recruiters in the loop. Check in with them once in a while. After you have gotten integrated in the company, see if there is an opportunity for the recruiter to work on new job openings. Keep providing good candidates or potential clients. You never know when you or a close friend will need their assistance. Keeping that bond will make the recruiter want to spend the time and effort to help you down the road.