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Working with a recruiter from a staffing agency is a great way to help you navigate the job search. Recruiters work to place candidates with the companies that need their talent, and they play an important role in helping many people find their perfect job.
A recruiter might reach out to you after seeing your resume on a job board or your profile on LinkedIn, or you might contact a staffing agency to be paired with a recruiter. Either way, finding the right recruiter for you is essential. Here are seven signs the recruiter you're speaking with might be a perfect fit for you.
They're attentive without being overbearing.
When someone’s helping you find a job, you want to feel like you have their full attention. It’s important your recruiter is available to answer questions, responds promptly, and even gives you the occasional nudge when the ball’s in your court. As you lose yourself among the various stresses of the job search, very little feels more grounding or reassuring than stern, yet helpful, reminders that your resume needs to be updated.
On the flipside, an aggressive recruiter can be as frustrating as a boss who micromanages you. Listen, things move fast when you work with a recruiter—often, the window between a job offer and the deadline for your onboarding paperwork is only a day or two, and during this time, there might be a barrage of paperwork and back-and-forth emails. But a recruiter who calls you immediately after an email—and emails too many times per day—can run you ragged. You need a happy medium; someone who makes time for you without demanding all of your time.
They listen to you.
A good recruiter is inquisitive, intuitive, and a good listener. Their job is to sell you to potential employers, and to do that, they need to learn everything they can about your qualifications, history, and goals. During those first few interactions, you should be doing most of the talking. Your recruiter will guide the conversation with their questions, but it’s the information you provide that helps them make the strongest case for you. You should feel comfortable expressing yourself and being straightforward about what you expect from your next job.
A recruiter shouldn’t talk over you, and they shouldn’t try telling you “what’s best for you” in terms of which positions to apply for, how to conduct your interview, or what compensation to accept. Of course, they are there to advise you, and as hiring experts, they may have insight that can help inform your decision. But it’s your career, and the decisions you make about it are yours. The right recruiter recognizes this.
They (or their agency) specializes in your industry.
Okay, so this isn’t absolutely make-or-break. There are plenty of staffing agencies and recruiters who place candidates across a variety of industries. But it can’t hurt if the recruiter you work with specializes in your desired industry. When a recruiter spends all of their time in the industry that most interests you, they get to know it better than anyone.
They understand hiring trends in the industry and have a strong sense of what employers look for in candidates. If the industry is new to you, they can suggest changes to your resume or interview tips that better position you for the job. In some cases, they even form important industry contacts that might help get your foot in the door.
They submit your resume to positions for which you’re qualified.
Recruiters want to place you with a job; successful placements are their bread and butter, but it’s not uncommon for a recruiter to get overly ambitious. The right recruiter understands your level of experience and how it aligns with a particular employer’s requirements. To that end, they should only be submitting you for jobs that fit your qualifications.
If you’re a second-year MBA student looking to land a job by the time you graduate, your recruiter shouldn’t be submitting you for senior management positions unless you have the work experience. On the other hand, if you were in the field for seven years before you got your MBA, you’re likely overqualified for an entry-level job. It’s a waste of time for you and the person interviewing you if the job doesn’t reflect where you are at this specific point in your career.
If a recruiter listens to you the way they should, they’ll submit you for jobs where they know you can thrive.
They adequately prepare you.
Part of this entire process includes interview prep. Some recruiters do little more than send you the job description and the interviewer’s LinkedIn. Others, however, take the time to prepare you for what to expect during the interview. They’ll review the job description with you, offer insight into who will be interviewing you, tell you what to bring, and give you an idea of the types of questions you’ll receive. They might also go through your resume and point out certain strengths they feel you should emphasize.
One of the biggest perks of working with a recruiter is walking into an interview with a deeper understanding of the job and the employer. If you feel confident and well-rehearsed, it reflects well on you and your recruiter.
They follow up with you after your interview.
One of the last things a recruiter says during that last call before your interview is usually, “Call me after.” They don’t just want to know how it went; they also want to get a sense for how to coordinate the follow-up. Unlike when you apply for a job directly, the responsibility falls with the recruiter to follow up with a thank you note, glean feedback from the interviewer, and inform you of the next steps.
After your interview, a good recruiter should tell you when you can expect to hear back with either a decision or a second interview. Once they speak with the interviewer, they may provide feedback or requests for additional materials. If you get the job, they might even be the one to coordinate your onboarding paperwork. Your recruiter is a crucial part of the process up until your start date (and beyond, if it’s a temp job), you want someone who will be proactive and responsive after the interview.
They value transparency.
Transparency is one of the most important qualities of a good recruiter. You want someone who answers questions honestly and is also willing to communicate everything they’re at liberty to share. Communication is key throughout this process, so it’s important your recruiter is as transparent as possible.
If, after speaking with you about your resume, they decide you’re not a good fit for the job, they should tell you. They should be honest, yet constructive if the interview didn’t go the way you hoped. If the employer is taking longer to make a decision, they should be upfront that it could be a while before you hear back. Be wary of noncommittal responses, or no responses at all, and learn to appreciate when a recruiter sincerely tells you they just don’t have an answer.
Transparency applies to you, too. Recruiters need you to be transparent, and the more you share with them, the better they can serve you. Don’t go on an interview for a job you don’t want just because a recruiter presents it to you. Be honest about what you want, and upfront about your expectations. A recruiter will often ask you if you’re working with other recruiters, or what jobs you’ve applied for; they expect you to be casting a wide net, so tell them the truth so they can tailor their search for you. This reciprocity is essential to a successful recruiter/candidate relationship.
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