Who’s the Boss?
What does a recruiter do, and how can they help you in your job search?
When you begin to look for a job, people will often suggest that you should contact local recruitment firms or employment agencies. You may have interviewed with recruiters in the past.
There are some fantastic companies and true professionals in that market; really good businesses and people that are committed to providing excellent service. It’s not an easy job, but it can be tremendously rewarding. So don’t take anything I’m about to tell you as a ‘slight’ against the industry or anyone who works in it. Companies like this can be an important part of any job search.
The operative word here is ‘part’.
When you think about the role a recruiter plays, you may picture something like a talent agent. Someone sitting in their office, phone ringing off the hook with calls from companies looking for someone like you. Pulling up a folder on their computer with your resume in it, triumphantly exclaiming, “I’ve got just the person!” Or maybe even calling all their contacts in your industry, pitching you to potential employers as their next great hire.
The reality is quite different. In fact, most of a recruiter’s day is spent nurturing relationships with the hiring managers they know, and selling the services they offer. It’s a highly competitive business, and the ones who succeed are the ones who can lock up the highest number of recruiting assignments.
In saying all this, I’m asking you to make a mental shift in the way you think about recruiters. Specifically this: recruiters don’t work for you.
Recruiters work for the companies that are hiring. It’s the companies who pay their fees, and that’s where their loyalties lie. It’s also where the majority of their time and attention is focused. As a candidate, you are a means to an end. If recruiting is retail, candidates are inventory. They’re items sitting on a shelf, ready and waiting to be sold.
Now, don’t get me wrong; all of this is not to say that recruiters don’t care about candidates. The vast majority of recruiters are wonderful people who sincerely care about creating a good fit between their company clients and their hired candidates. It’s in their best interests; that’s how they get repeat business.
The reason I’m telling you this is because there are far too many people in the job market who think that meeting with a recruiter is the end of their search. And make no mistake, this can be a dangerously seductive belief. If you’re feeling down and discouraged about your search, it’s easy to believe that you’re ‘done’, that the hard part is over and now all you need to do is wait for the call. If you’re not overly outgoing or confident, and if you’re feeling uncomfortable about taking proactive steps to market and sell yourself, it’s so much easier to believe that someone else will do those things for you. But those are risky lies to tell yourself, and they’re ones that – sadly – not all recruiters go out of their way to correct.
So what is a job seeker to do? Certainly get your resume in the hands of recruiters, and if you’re invited in for an interview, make the best possible impression. If they get you an interview with one of their clients, make a good impression so that they remember you and send you to others.
Just don’t stop there. Learn the skills and get the information you need (by spending some time here, of course), and manage your own job search … like a boss.