In all industries, there exists the top, middle, and bottom players. However, most of us don't pay this any attention until we are slapped in the face by a bottom player. We can all think of someone...not just clueless, but proudly ignorant of what constitutes professional behavior. And I'm not just talking about the people at McFriendlys who mess up my order for 1 small diet coke every stinking time or the recruiter who posted a naked picture on LinkedIn earlier this week (yes, I'm still offended by that!!)...I'm talking about people who are responsible for placing you in jobs...today's rant is about recruiters.
Now, before you think I'm going to talk about how awful recruiters, are, think again. I LOVE recruiters. I made my living as a recruiter of recruiters, among other skill sets. This is an amazing profession. However, as with all things, there can be some bad apples in the bunch that ruin the reputation of the whole industry. So how do you find the recruiters who shine? Well folks-you're going to have to do a little leg work here! Ask, ask, ask questions of the people that you know such as:
1) Have you ever used a recruiter? If so, can you introduce me?
2) Does your company use recruiting firms? Any firm you'd recommend?
3) Do you have any friends who recruit?
These are some very basic questions that should get the conversation going regarding recruiter referrals. However, once you find a recruiter worth checking out, some things to ask are:
1) Have you placed people with my skill set in the last 30 days? Was it at my pay rate?
2) Is my pay rate reasonable for the marketplace?
3) What types of clients do you place for?
4) Do you place both full time and contract?
5) How long have you worked for XYZ company?
6) How will you market me for jobs? Will you market me for other jobs?
7) What other recruiters do you know?
This is a pretty basic run of questions, but if you can get a recruiter on the phone, these questions can probably help you determine where you should begin to invest your time. But be brief-most agency recruiters are wearing a ton of hats, so don't expect an hour long conversation. Drive your questions forward while selling your skills and abilities.
I'm open to anything!
In today's economy, it's good to remember that generally speaking recruiters find people for jobs, not jobs for people, so if you are expecting your recruiter to be a career coach-you may be disappointed. This may change when we are back to the days of milk and honey..but until then...be prepared to sell yourself! In some industries, recruiting is a very transactional process, so you may not find a recruiter that is interested until he or she has a job to put you in. Don't despair-just keep working your leads to make new recruiter connections while you see how leads pan out.
How many recruiters should I work with?
I'm often asked how many recruiters should you be working with, and my opinion (and it's only an opinion!) is that if you are entry to mid level, you should work with at least 3-5(possibly many more depending on skill set), if you are senior to executive level, you might find that the field is a bit smaller and you should think about focusing on 1-3 recruiters to align with. At the executive or C-level, the process is more collaborative, so will you really have time to sing cumbayah with a whole bunch of recruiters? Probably not.
Once I've tapped my referrals, then what?
Many recruiters work large geographies without ever setting up a brick and mortar location. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to identify recruiters who are actively posting on their status updates, and within the groups. You can also search for their updates on sites like Twellow.com to tap into the Twitter information stream. Regardless of which site you use to network online (because you are doing that, right??!!), you should follow the posts and check out recruiters who are active. It doesn't always mean that they are the best recruiters, but it's a good place to start once you have exhausted referrals.
Bottom line is recruiting is all about understanding skills, needs, and culture on both sides of the hiring equation. It won't always be a perfect relationship, but when you find a recruiter who gets it-stay in contact with him or her through your career-not just when you are searching! You never know when you need to find that person who shines...and better yet, understands that you do too!