What You Should Know Before Contacting a Recruiter

Guest post: Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Résumé Writer, LinkedIn Profile Writer, Past Recruiter, Resume Expert & Columnist

Considering contacting a recruiter to find out about executive or leadership jobs in your field? Many job hunters assume that forging connections with recruiters will put them closer to lucrative, high-level positions that aren’t otherwise advertised.

However, a successful recruiter-job seeker relationship doesn’t just happen. It’s important to understand the relationship among all involved parties (the recruiter, company, and you), get your résumé in top shape, and to be ready to deal with potential objections.

These tips will help you be ready to work effectively with a recruiter—with better results from the relationship and a faster outcome for your job search:

1 – Recruiters often source candidates that have been there, done that.

Career professionals and executives that have followed a straight-line, traditional career trajectory (and very few job changes) are the best candidates for working with a recruiter.

The reason? Recruiters are hired by companies to identify talent among leaders who can demonstrate commitment to a specific type of career or skill set, with steady advancement toward a senior-level role in their particular field.

Therefore, if you’re trying to switch between one job type to another, or you’ve hopped among different employers frequently, you’ll often fare better by contacting employers directly.

2 – A recruiter’s mission is to focus on the needs of their client companies.

What many job hunters fail to grasp is that recruiter job orders often contain specific detail on the background, education, career history, and competencies  of the ideal candidate.

Depending upon the recruiter’s relationship with their clients, they may not be able to convince the company to take a chance on your background—especially if it’s not in line with these requirements.

A recruiter must not only be comfortable with the strength of your credentials, but confident that you represent a true personality and leadership fit within their client companies. After all, the recruiter’s professional reputation (and future commissions) are riding on their ability to supply the all-around perfect candidate.

3 – Your résumé must be ready for presentation to their clients.

Too often, job seekers dash off a résumé to recruiters that undercuts their abilities—making it difficult for the recruiter to promote the job hunter as a viable candidate.

If your leadership résumé  hasn’t had a review from colleagues or a résumé professional, it can be worth your time to request a critique or suggestions. Some recruiters even refer their clients to career coaches that can elicit a strong brand message on the résumé.

Others can often see qualities in your background that you’re too close to realize, and their recommendations can make the difference in the response you receive from a recruiter.

As a job hunting method, working with recruiters can be very effective, but only if you go in with an awareness of your role, fitness as a candidate, and realistic expectations.

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