WORKING WITH A RECRUITER
Basic facts you need to know...
The recruiter's job:
- Remember the professional recruiter's job is to fill a client's open position. They are "job opening" driven. You need to be there when they have an open position.
- Your goal should be to get on your professional recruiter's call list to hear about every new job opening in your industry.
Use your recruiter as:
- a member of your personal job-search network
Choose a professional recruiter who:
- works in your field of specialty
- deals with the level and type of position you want
- has a stellar reputation within your industry
- passes a reference check
Maintain a relationship with your professional recruiter by:
- giving occasional updates of your achievements, accomplishments and increased responsibility a few times per year. (In the case of Management Recruiters of Melbourne, Inc. / The Atlantic Group, please feel free to just drop us an e-mail and your file will be duly noted)
- having periodic contacts but not just small talk
- expecting a give and take relationship
Avoid unprofessional recruiters who:
- show unethical behavior
- charge the candidate a fee for their service
- release your resume without permission
- have a personal chemistry that doesn't click with yours
When communicating with a professional recruiter:
- use e-mail - it's the easiest and the fastest for both parties
- don't call for idle chit chat
- always give them updates on your personal career status
- offer industry information that would be helpful to the professional recruiter
How to Make an Impression with Executive Recruiters
By VALERIE PATTERSON
From the National Business Employment Weekly
"Iím an unemployed technical marketing executive in New York who has called and sent resumes to dozens of recruiters in my field. Why arenít they calling back? I thought everybody was hiring these days."
Many unemployed executives feel stonewalled by recruiters who donít acknowledge resumes or return phone calls. While thereís no doubt executive search is hot -- business at select search firms grew an average of 24.5% last year, reports Kennedy Information LLC, a Fitzwilliam, N.H., publishing firm -- thereís a fact of life every job seeker needs to know. Recruiters donít work for you. Instead, they work for -- and are paid by -- client companies to locate and screen candidates for positions. They also typically focus on finding exact fits for specific jobs -- the proverbial "round peg for the round hole" -- rather than on chasing down a broad population of candidates.
"Job seekers get very hurt when recruiters donít return their phone calls, but why would they return your phone calls when youíre not paying them?" asks Ginny Rehberg, a consultant in Burlington, Mass., for Drake Beam Morin Inc., an outplacement firm.
But all isnít lost if youíre currently job hunting and want to get recruitersí attention. Here are steps you can take to reach out to search executives.
1. Learn how recruiters work. Youíll find two types of recruiters: contingency and retained. They differ in how and when they receive payment for their services. Contingency recruiters earn fees only after a client company hires a candidate they refer. Retained recruiters are paid "retainers" in advance to conduct a search. They may collect payments even if their search doesnít produce a successful hire. Both types of search firms earn 30% to 35% of first-year compensation for candidates they place and never charge candidates.
According to the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), a New York-based trade group for retained search firms, contingency recruiting often is used for:
∑ positions that pay salaries of less than $100,000
∑ positions which have many qualified candidates
∑ filling multiple vacancies with similar candidates
∑ hiring organizations that want more involvement in screening, interviewing and negotiating
Retained firms are hired when:
∑ salaries exceed $100,000
∑ highly unique or specialized candidates are needed
∑ a hiring organization wants a third party to screen and interview candidates
∑ a company wants to persuade an executive to leave an organization and needs an intermediary
2. Find the right targets. Youíll improve your chances of a return call if you locate headhunters who specialize in your industry or function. Check your local bookstore or library for directories that list recruiting firms by type, industry, job function or region. "Stay away from recruiting firms that sound like they do all things for all people," says Peter Jacobus, a recruiter of software sales and support professionals for Century Associates Personnel Inc., a search firm in Philadelphia. Most good recruiters specialize in a few industries or functions, he says.
Itís wise not to limit yourself to contacting recruiting firms in your immediate geographical area, even if you donít want to relocate. Many firms that appear to be local or regional actually have national accounts, says Wayne Cooper president of Kennedy Information, which tracks the industry.
And while many executives donít contact search firms until they have a career crisis, itís best if you can initiate contact with these professionals "long before you need them," says Mr. Cooper.
3. Get and give referrals. You should ask friends, co-workers, family members and colleagues in your industry for referrals to recruiters. Then, place calls to those individuals and mention your mutual contact.
"If you can present yourself as a referral of someone whoís used the firm before, itís always good," says Mr. Jacobus. Whatever you do, donít come across as desperate. Most recruiters donít appreciate being pressured by callers, he says.
If a recruiter phones you about a job and you arenít interested, he or she almost always will ask if you know anyone who might be appropriate for the assignment. Youíll gain favor with the recruiter if you can make referrals.
"I make a note of whoís been helpful in recommending other candidates," says Joe Zaccaro, president of the Human Resources Consulting Group Inc., an executive search firm in Lakewood, Colo. "But donít give names just to give names. Suggest people who genuinely may be good."
Barbara Bogart, a strategic-alliance executive for a Maryland-based software firm, found her current job through a recruiter after being downsized from her previous position. She still gets two or three recruiter calls each week. She says she always speaks with search professionals and provides referrals if she can. These efforts will pay off the next time sheís in the job market, she says. "Itís relationship-building, pure and simple," says Ms. Bogart.
4. Donít be a wallflower. Youíll improve your chances of being found by recruiters in your industry or function if you join professional societies, attend a conference and tell colleagues confidentially that youíre open to speaking with recruiters. These are sources of leads for recruiters and their search researchers who help uncover potential prospects.
5. Prepare a 30-second "commercial." When you call a recruiter, first ask if he or she can spare a few minutes, says Mr. Jacobus. Succinctly describe who you are, what you do and what youíre looking for. Then listen and allow the recruiter to let you know if he or she can market you effectively. Donít read your resume. Recruiters prefer dialogue thatís short and sweet, says Mr. Jacobus.
6. Donít take silence personally. "Good recruiters can and should be awfully nice to job seekers, but their first allegiance is to the client organization," says Ms. Rehberg. Realize that recruiters usually are working on multiple assignments and canít personally return all calls or letters. Donít take their lack of response personally.
"Even if your resume is impressive, it may not fit one of their jobs," says Mr. Cooper. "But three to six months from now, they may have a new assignment, search their candidate database and find your resume matches the requirements."
Says Ms. Bogart: "If you have the talent [recruiters] are looking for, theyíre all over you," she says. "If theyíre not trying to fill a position in your area, they wonít call."
Moreover, search executives dread candidates who badger them with phone calls and resumes. If your job situation has changed since you first notified a search firm, simply send a new resume, but donít leave messages asking if theyíve received our resume or have new assignments you might fit.
7. Screen recruiters who call. Check recruitersí credentials before revealing personal information. Ms. Bogart asks for the firmís name and whether itís a contingency or retained firm. Ask search executives to describe their typical assignments so youíll know if they recruit for positions that match your experience and career goals.
"I also ask the person who gave my name to the firm about [the firmís] reputation," says Ms. Bogart, who questions recruiters about their background in the software industry to see if they understand how software firms operate.
8. Be candid about your experience and compensation. Once youíre under consideration for an assignment, recruiters will investigate your background to make sure itís squeaky-clean before presenting you to a client company.
You wonít hurt recruitersí feelings if you tell them up front that an opportunity isnít right for you. Also say early on if youíre willing to relocate or if you might consider a counteroffer to stay with your current employer.
As employers try harder to retain staff in the current labor market, counteroffers are causing problems for recruiters because they prolong searches or cause them to fail. If you accept a counteroffer, it may jeopardize your relationship with a recruiter permanently.
"Accepting counteroffers hurts your credibility with the search firm and the client company," says Mr. Zaccaro.
Moreover, be prepared to answer frank questions about your salary or compensation package. Give the recruiter "an indicator of where you are," says Peter Felix, president of the AESC, but donít feel you have to disclose your exact compensation**. Additionally, donít give this information out freely to search professionals you havenít screened.
"Use vague terms to describe your salary,"** says Ms. Rehberg. "Say ĎThe positions Iím looking at are in the salary range of $150,000 to $200,000,í or you might offer a range that captures your total compensation package."
Or turn the tables and ask about the compensation level for the available position. "If they say $200,000, then you can say, ĎIím comfortable in that range,í but it doesnít mean thatís what youíre making," says Ms. Rehberg.
Ms. Patterson is associate editor of the National Business Employment Weekly.
**Management Recruiters of Melbourne, Inc. / The Atlantic Group needs to know your exact earnings in order to find a career opportunity that fits you requirements.
Get recruiters to call you with great jobs
Here's how to get on headhunters' radar for opportunities you'd really want. Plus: why it pays to Google yourself.
By Anne Fisher, FORTUNE senior writer
NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - Dear Annie: After 12 years as a finance manager (three promotions, consistently excellent performance reviews), I think I've gone about as far with my current employer as I can go, and I'd like to explore opportunities elsewhere.
Yet the only calls I get from recruiters are for jobs that aren't appropriate for me in one way or another - either a step down from my present position, or in some other way not suitable. It's gotten to where I just don't take their calls anymore. Meanwhile, acquaintances and former colleagues of mine who don't have my credentials or experience are finding great new jobs through headhunters.
Can you explain how this process works? Obviously I'm missing something. -Perplexed in Pittsburgh
Dear Perplexed: Oh, indeed you are. I'd be willing to bet that the people you mention who are getting those terrific new jobs are those who never stopped taking, or returning, recruiters' calls. (No need to take my word for it. Ask them.) Headhunters remember people who make their own jobs easier.
"There is a lot of quid pro quo in our business," says Dale Winston, CEO of Manhattan-based executive recruiters Battalia Winston International. "We keep people in mind who have helped us find good candidates in the past, and we like to reciprocate that help."
Translation: Even if you aren't the right person for the job a headhunter is trying to fill at any given moment, you may be the right person for the next one. So take those phone calls, and see if you can't come up with the names of a couple of good prospects, or at least be willing to try.
Beyond that, it's possible that you aren't as visible outside your own company as you could be. With hiring on the rise at all levels of management, it's a great time to get your name and accomplishments out there where headhunters will notice them.
"If you're not sure how visible you are to recruiters or to other people who might be interested in you, Google yourself," Winston suggests. "Headhunters do use Google to spot people who are leaders in their fields. So be there."
What if you try it and nothing comes up? Time to get busy. If you're already active in a trade association or professional group, try to take a more influential role, perhaps by running for elected office (treasurer, secretary, president...) or heading up an important committee.
"We do look at who is in leadership positions in professional organizations, because these tend to be smart, energetic, proactive people," Winston says.
Giving speeches at conferences and other industry events is another way to get yourself on the map (and your company's very own public-relations folks may be more than happy to put you forward as a possible speaker).
You might also write articles for trade journals or your local newspaper's opinion page on topics in which you're expert, particularly if they're timely. As a seasoned finance manager, for instance, you may have something fresh to say about some aspect of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Don't hide your light under a bushel.
"You need to make the time to get significant exposure beyond your own company - and do it before you get totally frustrated with your current job," says Winston. "Once you reach the woe-is-me stage, you're not going to be a good candidate." Good luck!
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