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The Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Recruiters

May 30th, 2017

Whether working for an independent agency or within the Human Resources Department of a specific company, almost everyone will encounter a recruiter during their careers. All recruiters are different, but here is a short list of some DOs and DON’Ts that should help when you do happen to encounter a recruiter:

DO

Be respectful of the recruiter and their time. If a recruiter is reaching out to you, then they believe that you could be a fit for a position they are trying to fill. Whether you applied or if they found your resume on the internet, they are calling to offer you an opportunity—not to waste your time. If you are not interested, then politely let them know that you are not open to looking for new opportunities. Additionally, just because the recruiter doesn’t have the final say in hiring, do not treat your conversations with them as anything less than a formal interview. They will be the reason you get the opportunity to meet with the hiring managers.

DON’T

Do not assume that the recruiter works for you. First and foremost, they work for their company. And if they work at an agency, they work for their clients. This does not mean that they do not care about their candidates, but when you develop a relationship with a recruiter, they generally only have one opportunity for you. If, for some reason, that doesn’t work out, then it is not the responsibility of the recruiter to find something else for you. If there’s another position that they can put you in, then they will.

DO

Answer questions honestly and reasonably. Recruiters go through a very thorough screening process to gauge the abilities and interests of multiple candidates. The more open you are with your recruiter, the better; no time will be wasted and it will eliminate steps later in the recruiting process. Besides, telling a recruiter the most important things that you look for in your decision-making will go directly to the client; the sooner that information gets to those managers, the more accommodating they will be. The smoothest recruiting process is one where all the information is on the table from the beginning. On the other end, be reasonable. One of the touchiest subjects is salary, but there is more to consider than just the number (benefits, 401k, vacation time, etc.). Total compensation is a big deal and something worth considering.

DON’T

Do NOT give an emotionally-fueled or short-sighted reason as to why you want to leave your current position. NEVER say bad things about your current company, you never know it it’s a best friend or favorite uncle you may be insulting—besides, it’s unprofessional. Also, NEVER say that you want to leave because you’re bored. The right way to go about it is to say you’re seeking a new challenge or that you want to learn a new skill or a new industry. Saying you’re bored will make a recruiter put you on the Do Not Call list. And, yes, those exist. This brings me to another important DON’T… Do not LIE or fail to provide pertinent information to the recruiters. Untruths and withheld information have a tendency to be found out, and you not only will lose the job, but you lose the respect of the company and the recruiters. And that isn’t just your reputation on the line. The recruiter who worked really hard to get you those interviews and that offer—you just tarnished their reputation too. It is unlikely that they will want to work with you again.

DO

Be transparent about your job search. There is nothing wrong with actively searching for a new position, but you need to tell your recruiter. I can tell a client that my candidate won’t be on the market for long and that they are interviewing elsewhere. At that point, they become a hot commodity and that will make the hiring managers act quicker and more open to negotiations. If two companies are making the same candidate an offer, telling your recruiter about what the other offer is will help you negotiate for the best overall compensation package and you can see which company values you more. If you wait too long and never mention that you are speaking to another company, then negotiations may be out of the question.

DO

Do your homework! If a recruiter or hiring manager is considering 2 people with very similar backgrounds and has to make a decision, one of the best ways to be remembered and impress someone is to have shown in some way that you have done research on the company you are interviewing for. Doing your homework on a company is great for a couple of reasons, it impresses the person who in interviewing you, and it helps you, as an applicant, get to know the company a little better and help you envision yourself working there. You will know if the company is as good of a fit for you as you are for them.

DON’T

Don’t show up to an interview unprepared. Whether it is a phone/Skype interview, or an in-person interview, ALWAYS be prepared. Make sure you are dressed to impress (even for a general labor position, don’t show up in sweatpants or jeans and a t-shirt looking like you just came in off the street), for in-person interviews have a couple of extra copies of your resume on hand, have a notepad and pen to take notes, and always come prepared with a couple of questions of your own. Some of the best interviews out there are two-way interviews: you being interviewed, and you interviewing them.

DON’T

Do not harass your recruiter or the company they work for. If you are working with an agency, it is highly inappropriate to contact the HR Department of the company you are interviewing for or the managers you met with for anything other than a “Thank You” email. Your recruiter is your agent, speak to them if you want updates or if you have questions. At the same time, calling the recruiter every day for an update is a bit excessive. This leads to another DO: Kindly follow up with your recruiter. There is nothing wrong with sending a brief email or a friendly text asking if there were any updates, but don’t be surprised if there isn’t one. Be patient with them, they can only move as fast as their clients or managers allow them to.

DO

Follow through on your promises. If you are made an offer and accept it, don’t back down at the last second. If there was something wrong with the offer, then that should have been expressed to the recruiter before it was signed. The same thing goes for interviews, don’t say you will show up for an interview and then fail to do so. Especially for a client interview, at least let your recruiter know that you will not be showing up so they can let the client know. Again, failing to show makes you AND the recruiter look bad. These two things are not only the best way to get on a Do Not Call list, but a great way to burn a lot of bridges in the industry. Recruiters are very well connected, if they recruit for a company that you want to be a part of in the future, many times they won’t even take a second look at your application.

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