Working With Recruiters – A Rough Guide

We have previously written another extensive guide relating to working with recruitment consultants (please visit the link here) but thought it would be worthwhile providing an updated version for candidates to go through. We sometimes find ourselves as the second or third recruiter a candidate has spoken to – more often than not, the reason the candidate is contacting us is because they have had a poor previous experience with another recruiter. The poor experience usually relates to a lack of realistic feedback from the other recruiters both on whether they can actually help the candidate or get them feedback from their client companies.

Finding a new job is one of the most important changes a person makes in their life. If you are looking for a recruiter to assist you in this you need to make sure that you are getting the information you need in order to understand if this recruiter is able to help you with this change. Here are some things to ask or look out for when you speak to a recruiter for the first time:

  • What specialist area does this recruitment consultant or recruitment company focus on? There is no point approaching a company or consultant who specialises in areas that do not have anything to do with your background and experiences. Do some research BEFORE you send your CV or give them a call. LinkedIn or a basic web search should be able to give you an idea if they may have the right consultants in your market space.
  • How long has the recruitment consultant been focusing on their specialist sector? In Asia the recruitment industry within Property and Construction in particular is still relatively new compared to more established markets in Europe or the US for example. This means that there are a lot of inexperienced consultants in the market place who are not specialists. Experience counts for a lot in Asia. If the consultant knows their respective market sector inside-out AND knows how things work in Asia then they can give you invaluable guidance and experience. If they have only been working in recruitment for a few months then be very cautious. It is likely they are under KPI (Key Performance Indicator) targets to drive volume rather than quality to clients. This is where many people find they have fallen victim to a CV sending service. One other word of caution here too – if a consultant is telling you they have had “X” number of years of experience, do a check on their profiles on LinkedIn to make sure they are telling the truth. You may be surprised to find that most consultants exaggerate this extensively when speaking to candidates.
  • What type of client relationships does the consultant have? You will notice that we haven’t suggested you ask WHICH companies they are working with – that can come later. Firstly try to find out whether the consultant has the right type of contacts to be able to get you tangible and real feedback. Are they working with decision makers in their client companies? Directors, Line Managers or ultimately the person who is hiring for their team? Do they purely have a relationship only with HR? If so, what is the relationship there? If it transpires that they can only offer to send your CV to a HR contact and wait for feedback then surely that is something you can do yourself? What you are really asking here is “am I better off approaching companies myself?”
  • Can the consultant actually help you in your search? We are very honest with our candidates and if we cannot help them we will tell them and let them know the reasons why. Part of the reason we get candidates coming to us who have had poor recruiter experiences already is because the other consultants have not been honest with them in saying they cannot actually help them. Our clients ask us to find them candidates with specific skills and experiences – if you do not match the requirements of our clients then we probably cannot assist you. What we will do though is explain the best way to try and help yourself whether it be to contact a firm directly or rework your application to give you more chance of success. The feedback we get from being open and honest with candidates is overwhelmingly positive and allows candidates to focus their efforts more appropriately.
  • Is the consultant talking to you about specific companies IN DETAIL and explaining why they think you could be right for them? Or are they sending you a list by email? Do you even know where your CV has been sent? A consultant should be able to explain to you why they are suggesting a company is appropriate. It is essential they can represent you to the right people and in the right way and you understand why they are recommending certain options. A lot of recruiters will send a list through to a candidate promising a huge range of options – this is just to cover things off in case you speak to other consultants. Most candidates come to us in this situation having never heard anything further after a long list of companies has been sent to them. This is because the recruiter either hasn’t sent their CV or doesn’t actually have the relationships at those companies to get you feedback.
  • When will the consultant contact you again with feedback? If the consultant is able to actually provide you with real options they should also be able to tell you what the feedback process will be. You should go away knowing when you can expect to hear back from them and you should also go away knowing that even if the news is not positive that you will still get some tangible feedback you can work with in the future. Most candidates never hear from a recruiter after the initial contact has been made.
  • Can they give you real advice and guidance on your salary level and what you can expect in the market? Different markets offer greatly varying salary levels. Across Asia the salary levels can vary depending on location or the market conditions specific to a region. A good consultant can help you understand how your current or expected level compares in the market. We will be publishing a rough guide to salary expectations in Asia shortly.
  • Can they help you through the entire process from interview to offer and after you have started your new role? Or will you just get an interview date and time and be told where to go? Or an offer – here’s a number, what do you think? Or no call or follow up after you have started to see how you are doing? This approach is not helpful to you or helpful to the companies using the recruiters. A consultant needs to guide you through the entire complicated process in order to ensure you work out for the company you join. This includes making sure you are fully prepared for any interviews, that you understand fully what any offer is and ensuring that your first few weeks and months (usually the most difficult) are as trouble free as possible.

Following the above guide should ensure your relationships with any recruiters you speak to are more meaningful and ultimately more helpful to you in your job search. Even if you are speaking to a consultant and they tell you that they cannot help you, you should be going away from the recruiter experience with a positive view point. We can see that being honest and open with candidates works – we are often referred new candidates by people we haven’t actually been able to assist because they know that if nothing else they can get an honest service. If you cannot get this from a recruiter, do not use one!

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One Response to Working With Recruiters – A Rough Guide

  1. Pingback: A Guide To Salary – Part 2 | Ellicott Long's Blog

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