For many years, I didn’t know a thing about how to work with recruiters, mostly because I hadn’t really crossed paths with them until I was several years into my professional career. The first time I was ever contacted by a recruiter was during my first Associate Marketing Manager role at Clorox, and I had no clue what to do.
Years later, I not only landed my brand management role at Haagen-Dazs through a recruiter, but also hired most candidates using recruiters. What I didn’t know then that I fully appreciate now is that recruiters are some of the most important professional contacts you’ll ever have.
As a job candidate, working with recruiters (also known as “headhunters”) can be one of the most effective ways to find your next role. However, too often, candidates don’t know how to work well with recruiters, resulting in frustration and a royal waste of time for the job applicant, recruiter, and hiring company.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on how to work with recruiters, so I decided to turn to Ben de Grouchy, Co-Founder of Jarlett de Grouchy Marketing Recruitment, someone with over 10 years’ FMCG marketing recruitment experience, to get his insights. Here are five key tips from our conversation on how you can stand out as a candidate when you’re working with recruiters:
1. Pick up the phone
Most candidates tend to reach out to recruiters via email or responding to online ads. The best way to stand out is to actually pick up the phone and have an actual conversation with a recruiter about your current situation, what you’re seeking, and your qualifications. It helps you stand out amidst a sea of literally hundreds of daily email contacts that flood recruiters’ inboxes each day.
2. Meet recruiters in person
After an initial contact with a recruiter, offer to meet them in person. This takes more time and effort, but it allows a recruiter to put a face to the name and more important, assess your ability to interview and present yourself well. Recruiters have an easier time vouching for you when they can say they’ve actually met you to get a more complete picture of your personality and communication skills, which ultimately influences how well you’ll fit with a company’s culture, one of the most important hiring considerations.
3. Leverage recruiters’ company insights
Candidates often underestimate the usefulness of a recruiter’s deep knowledge of a company’s culture, people, and ambitions. Although recruiters don’t always work within these companies, they often have a longstanding relationship with hiring companies, so they have a lot of insight into what it takes to not only excel at the company, but also succeed in the hiring process. If you take the time to tap into this knowledge from recruiters, you’ll be at a real advantage during your interviews.
4. Be courteous
Too many candidates believe that recruiters are out there to help them find a new job. On the contrary, recruiters’ clients are the hiring companies, not candidates. Recruiters are paid to fill positions, not to place candidates. Being mindful and respectful of this dynamic by being patient and respectful of their time will allow you to build a strong rapport with a recruiter and maximise your chances to be presented to his or her client, especially because so few candidates approach recruiter relationships with this attitude.
5. Proactively stay in touch
Take the time to call or write to recruiters in your network regularly. They’re often balancing many positions with many hiring companies and hundreds of candidates. Regularly staying in touch will help you remain top-of-mind when opportunities to arise. More importantly, it can signal how much you value maintaining strong professional working relationships, a skill critical to success in your marketing career. Even if you’re not actively seeking a new role, reconnect with select recruiters in your network at least 2-3 times a year with an update on your recent accomplishments and current aspirations.
So be proactive in your communications, leverage the unique insights recruiters offer, and treat your recruiter relationships with respect. With this approach, you’ll create a positive candidate/recruiter relationship resulting in win-win for you, the recruiter, and hiring companies.
Read my full Q&A and interview with Ben de Grouchy.
Joseph Liu is a Career & Personal Branding Consultant, Speaker, Associate Certified Coach, and Founder of JOSEPHPLIU.COM, helping professionals relaunch their careers by marketing their personal brands more powerfully. He's also the host of the Career Relaunch Podcast featuring inspiring stories of career change. His work is informed by 10 years of global marketing experience in the US & UK on brands including Glad, Liquid-Plumr, Gü Puds, and Häagen-Dazs, 4 major brand relaunches, and 450+ hours of professional coaching. Joseph has served as a featured speaker at TEDx, MarketingWeek Live, and the Edge Digital Marketing Conference. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and Medium.