Firms that hire recruitment agencies do so because they don’t’ want to expend the time necessary to identify and screen viable candidates. For these firms the opportunity cost in terms of lost productivity when sourcing candidates more than outweighs the real costs associated in paying the fees of recruiters.
As a job seeker, there are real benefits to working with a recruitment agency, perhaps most importantly that can market your candidacy to potential employers and negotiate offers on your behalf.
Here are 8 tips to foster a successful relationship with recruitment agencies
1. Set realistic expectations. First and foremost is to understand that recruiters are not working on behalf candidates but for the client companies who pay their fees. Agency recruiters primarily work on a contingency basis meaning that they don’t ’get paid until they make a successful placement, typically evidenced by the new employee remaining on the job for 90 days. Recruiters typically a commission of between 15 to 30 percent of the candidate’s first year salary.
Because recruitment agencies must screen candidates carefully and time literally is money in the recruitment industry, it is not possible to respond to every candidate who applies but only to those who most closely match the needs of the vacancy. This is not only because professional recruiters are short on time and don’t want to bombard clients with candidate résumés, but also because they realize that their fee is tied into retention so want to ensure that the placement is a good match on each end. Toward this end, you can expect that the recruiter will ask questions to determine you fit in terms of skills set, past experience, credit history, criminal background (if any) and work style preferences.
2. Contacting Recruiters. If you are responding to a job ad posted by a recruiter, be sure to use his or her name in the salutation of your cover letter (if provided) or call the employment agency to determine who submitted the posting. Ensure that your cover letter speaks to that opportunity directly rather than sending a generic letter. In the letter, discuss how your background, skills and accomplishments can ensure your success in the role. If you are cold calling an agency, prepare a short script beforehand which includes your 30 second “elevator pitch” a statement of who you are, your current job title, and the type of job you seek. Get to the point quickly as recruiters are typically busy people who won’t be able to spend large amount of time on the phone.
3. Partner with recruiters. Viewing recruitment agencies as your partners in the job search process will go a long way toward ensuring a successful job search. Be open about any skeletons in your professional closet, such as termination from a prior job, poor credit and so on. Having any of these does not mean a recruiter will not work with you. On the contrary, the recruiter will often offer advice on how best to present such a background to potential employers. They will also know not to refer you to certain types of positions, where they are aware of the client being extra-sensitive.
Return phone calls and email from your recruiter promptly to show respect. This is especially important when you are engaged in job offer negotiations. There are instances in which a job offer has been rescinded because the candidate took too long to respond indicating lack of interest.
You should also provide feedback to the recruiter after each interview and indicate whether you continue to have interest in the job. In this way the recruiter can approach the employer on your behalf or refer you to other opportunities.
4. Discuss your job priorities. Before actively engaging in a job search you should take an inventory of your priorities with regard to a new job. This can be salary, career advancement, schedule, location, benefits, etc. Communicate these priorities honestly so that the recruiter will target only those opportunities that closely match your needs.
5. Be flexible. Having set your priorities, try to also remain flexible as not every job will be a perfect match in all regards. For example, if the job offers room for advancement, tuition reimbursement, along with fully paid for health coverage but the salary is somewhat lower than your range, carefully consider whether the other features make up for this shortfall. In itself, full healthcare coverage can easily add $400 or more to your pocket.
6. Remain open to suggestions. One of a recruiter’s pet peeves is to make suggestions based on what they know of their client company and job priorities only to have candidates try to argue the point and insist on doing things their way. Employment agencies have long experience counselling candidates with regard to resume preparation, interview techniques, what the company considers an ideal candidate, as well company culture. Be open to their suggestions as they will help strengthen your candidacy.
7. Be proactive. Recognize that recruiters are likely working on multiple job orders at any one time, each falling along a different point of the continuum. Due to this workload they may not be able to return your calls as quickly as you would like. However, there is nothing wrong with initiating a phone call or email to follow-up and indicate your continuing interest in one job, or availability to continue interviewing. Most recruiters value follow-up since it provides evidence of your interest. However, placement is the name of the game. If recruiters don’t have a job which matches your skills and interests, they will likely not spend much time speaking with you, preferring to concentrate on candidates who do match the criteria of their job orders.
8. Work with multiple recruiters. Just as recruiters may be working with multiple candidates for any one job order, so should job seekers work with several recruitment agencies. This can help you gain greater exposure to the job market as not all recruiters have access to the same job orders. However, if you have applied to one company that a second recruiter also has the job order for, be honest about already having interviewed. If you fail to do this, you will leave a poor impression with both the recruiter and client company giving each the impression that you are trying to “back door” your way in.