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Working with a Recruiter 101: Build a Relationship

This is something I wrote was I was recruiting full time. I found it in my "archives" (aka email) and I think it's relevant to all of you who are working with recruiters be it for the first time or the thirty first time...

Every so often I call or set up a meeting with someone who clearly doesn't want to talk to me. I know! Who doesn't like me? The vast majority of these people are talented individuals who I suspect are perfectly nice human beings. More often than not, in the first 5 minutes of conversation it comes out that it isn't me they don't want to talk to, it’s my industry. That makes me mad! Not at them, but at every previous recruiter who has given what I do a bad name. I know it happens, the complaints I hear usually fall into two categories, some creative placement agencies are resume farms. They get as many resumes signed up as they can and then deluge hiring managers with the when work comes in having made little to no effort at developing relationships on either side. Some recruiters are only interested in developing a relationship during the moments they see pay off and the second you are no longer in the running for an immediate placement you fall off their radar.

What strikes me as interesting is what I don't hear. I almost never hear someone soured on recruiters because a recruiter didn't find them work, it’s almost always that a recruiter just never returned calls/email, never answered their questions or acknowledged their check ins. I know I won't place everyone I meet, it’s a sad fact of my job, no matter how talented, how smart, how dynamic I think you are, I may not find you what you are looking for. At the end of the day if my clients don't need, at that time, what you have to offer, I can’t place you. That said, I’m never sorry I met you and I definitely want to stay in touch. Sometimes, it takes a couple of years until we get the timing right and I may be able to help further along in your career. The placement I am most proud of from this past year was getting to find an amazing spot for a talented designer I first met at least four years ago when he was finishing grad school at Parsons. When he graduated we were short on junior to mid level full time spots but he looked me up when he was on the hunt again and this year it all worked out. But I have digressed...

My point is that it seems to little old me that the main issue people have with recruiters is the lack of communication. It used to be the HR was the void you sent your resume into and never heard from it again and you went to a recruiter to have a guide to keep your resume on the right path and make sure it scaled the mountain safely to the hiring manager. Now even the recruiters are dropping out, not getting back to you, not answering emails, etc...

I get that it happens and I’m sorry, that sucks. But please, please, don't judge a book by it’s cover and never judge a girl by her title. We recruiters are not all the same. Honestly, I’m sick of dealing with the pre-existing expectations and biases people have against recruiters. I don't do things the same way everyone else does.) The relationship between a candidate and a recruiter is just that, a relationship and every relationship expert (this is based intense research, ie many hours of Oprah, Dr Phil, Ricky Lake-oops I just dated myself with that reference) will tell you that the key to a good relationship is communication.

I know everyone has their own style when it comes to communication but there are two components that, if they are present, should lead to successful interaction: openness and honesty. What this means to be, in my job, is that one of my most important responsibilities is to very simply keep candidates well informed about what is going on: ie what our process is, where you are being presented, what the status is on anything I have presented you for and to fill you in on both the good and the bad. Because communication is a two way street, I also have to listen, I mean really listen. If you sound hesitant about a particular company, it’s my job to pick up on that, ask why and either pull you out or help assuage your your doubts and make sure that if you are keeping yourself in consideration, it’s a decision you feel good about. Many of the recruiters I have met in my career, and everyone I work with here, would agree with me on these simple guidelines. There are many good recruiters out there, don’t let one or three mass-emailers with no people skills, ruin you on the rest of us!

I’ll let you know, when I call you about an opportunity, if I know that this client tends to take a long time to get back to us so you are not expecting call or email the next day, I’ll let you know, if I think you are a long shot for a particular job and why I think that, I’ll fill you in on the personality of a hiring manager before you meet them so are not thrown when you walk in and she doesn't speak, I’ll even let you know if this is a brand new client for us and I have no way of letting you know any of what I just wrote.

That said, there has to be more than one person engaged to make it a relationship, and I expect the same type of communication from everyone I work with. If I have called you about a possible contract opportunity and you need to know where it stands so you can take or turn down something else, tell me. I’ll do everything I can to get you an answer and I’ll keep the client updated about your availability. If you have been sitting at home waiting for me to give you an update, just email or call. When I have sent a resume to a client or called/emailed them with a question, it sometimes becomes a waiting game. It’s a judgement call on my part when to update the candidate. If I haven't been in touch, it’s usually because I have no news or answers. If you feel it has been too long since you heard from me about it, let me know, I’ll update you and do my best to close that gap and update you more often going forward.

When I start working with a new client, I always ask up front for any and all feedback they can send my way about every resume, interview, conversation, etc because that information allows me to consistently recalibrate the search to be more effective. It’s the same when I am building relationships with candidates, if there is something I am doing wrong or something you are unhappy with, tell me. I want to talk about it and learn what I can do differently to make sure we both have a positive experience. I promise to do the same for you.

One final note, I feel I need to address before someone emails me in response to this. This post is about relationships, meaning those with whom I’ve already been in contact. There is another issue which is the “I keep sending your agency my resume and I got the form emailing saying it has been received but no one has contacted me” issue. I get that is is frustrating when you don't get a personal response and I’m sorry. There was a time when, I could respond to every resume that was set to me or to agency where I was working. Now we have this thing called the internet and these other things called job aggregators, Both are amazing wonderful tools that have opened up the industry in which I work in exciting ways. However, they also mean that sometime we get hundreds of resumes for a specific job and thousands of resumes from people who are looking. Sometimes it isn't possible to reply personally to everyone, it’s simply not an effective use of manpower. The more time we spend on that, the less time we spend landing new clients and going through our own database to make sure we are doing everything we can to find more of you your dream job.

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