We recently explored how to identify the signs that your recruiter is a perfect fit for you. It's definitely important that when working with a recruiter, that person is well-suited to help you achieve your career goals beyond your MBA program. However, working with a recruiter is a reciprocal relationship; their job is to sell you to potential employers, and to do that, it's just as important that you're a good fit for them.
In order to motivate a recruiter to work hard to place you with the perfect job, you need to leave them with a good impression—not just of your credentials as a candidate, but of who you are as a person. The key is to approach a new relationship with a recruiter with as much professionalism and attention to detail as you would approach a new job. To that end, here are four ways to make a good impression with your recruiter.
Always respond, even if you're not looking for a job.
Many recruiter/candidate relationships begin with some variation of an email or direct message we've all seen at least once:
I saw your profile on LinkedIn, and I thought you'd be a great fit for a position I'm working on. Are you looking to make a move? I'd love to connect with you if you've got a few minutes this week to hear more about the position. Let me know if you have some time for a quick call.
Looking forward to your response."
Recruiters cast a wide net. Still, they're not going to reach out to somebody they don't think they can sell to an employer. So, if you've gotten a message like that, chances are, they really are interested in speaking with you.
Even if you're not currently in the market for a job, it shows a certain level of professionalism and consideration when you respond to let them know. You might not need a job now, but you might further down the road, and if you've shown a recruiter that you took their message to heart, then you've kept the lines of communication open if you need to reach out to them in the future.
Treat your first meeting with a recruiter as you would treat an interview.
The stakes may seem slightly lower when you meet with a recruiter than when you interview for a job, but they aren't really. This is still a person who needs to learn who you are as a candidate, and whose impression will play a critical role in how you progress down the job search pipeline. Take this first meeting as seriously as you would an interview, and you'll show them you're not only someone they can sell, but someone they'll want to sell—someone they can root for.
Do your research before you meet with the recruiter for the first time. Know the job description by heart, and if they give you information about the company or the hiring manager (they won't always), do your due diligence with that information, too. If you don't have specific information about the company, research the staffing agency for whom the recruiter works. Understand the areas in which they specialize, and familiarize yourself with the specific recruiter's LinkedIn.
Dress for the meeting the same way you would dress for an interview, and bring the necessary materials—your resume, a portfolio if necessary, and any documentation the recruiter might need to add you to their system. Be prompt, and follow up with a thank you note.
Answer all questions with candor.
Okay, so this one seems pretty obvious. Of course, when you're speaking with somebody whose job it is to sell you to your future boss, you want to give them as accurate an idea of you as possible. You never want to lie or exaggerate points on your resume or aspects of your experience. You want to be forthcoming with your goals.
But there are other things a recruiter might ask you that you might be tempted to gloss over. MBA students, for instance, might not want to give the impression that their coursework could impinge on the amount of time they can commit to a new job.
A lot of recruiters will also ask where you are in your job search; they may ask how many interviews you've gone on, and if you're awaiting any outstanding decisions. They could also ask if you're working with other recruiters. Some people find these questions probing, and are hesitant to divulge sensitive details about their job search. But a recruiter will appreciate your honesty, and candid answers may go towards helping them build their case for you.
Always follow up.
Recruiters will usually want to hear from you after the interview to get a sense of how it went and to gather feedback for when they speak with the employer about a decision. If they don't call you first, it's imperative that you reach out to them. Staying proactive even beyond the interview will show them that you're serious about the job. Follow up in another few days if you haven't heard from them one way or another.
If you get another job while you're still in active communication with this recruiter, it's helpful to let them know. They'll appreciate that you were honest with them that you found a job elsewhere, and they'll know not to continue looking for opportunities to place you. It's polite and it's also something not everybody does, so they're definitely more likely to remember you. Chances are you're going to need another recruiter again at some point during your career, so keeping the lines of communication open is always a good idea.
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