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How To Work With Recruiters

This article is based on interviews with recruiters actively working today in different industries.

We are specially grateful to the following recruiters for taking the time to provide detailed advice: James Williams (Vancouver, BC), Steve Walker (Toronto, ON) and Aaron Hill (Toronto, ON).

James and Steve have filled in many mid to high level jobs while Aaron specializes in contract and temp workers hiring.

Following are the key topics covered here:

  • Categories Of Recruiters
  • How To Contact Recruiters
  • Recruiter DOs and DON’Ts

Introduction To The World Of Recruiters

Employment agencies, staffing companies and executive recruiters are paid by employers to find suitable candidates. The employers are their primary clients, not the job seekers.

The recruiters typically get paid 20% to 30% of the annual salary of the candidate. However the recruiters also get an incentive for finding candidates who are willing to work at a lower salary. Thus, remember that the recruiter is always working for the employer and watching his/her interest not yours!

Categories Of Recruiters

Retained Search
Head-hunters in this category are hired by the employer to provide approx 10 suitable candidate. The recruiter gets paid their retainer irrespective of whether the candidates get hired. The recruiters have an exclusive relationship with the employer organization. You need to find many such recruiters in your area of work since each recruiters is only working with one or a few companies at a time. ESPs (Executive Search Professionals) in this category are often talent scouts for the hiring organization.

In this category, employment agencies contract with the employer stipulates a bonus or fee payment only if the candidate provided by them is hired. In this case the recruiter works with the candidate coaching him with some inside information about the employer company. It is in the recruiters best interest to see his candidate get hired. Multiple recruiters like this may be trying to fill in one vacancy and they don’t have an exclusive relationship with the hiring company.

Contract, Part-Time, Temp, Temp-To-Perm
Many organizations today prefer contract workers not only for admin & front-desk jobs, but also for specialized work and executive positions. Temp-To-Perm may be an easier method to find your way in a prestigious organization.

Agencies specializing in bringing foreign nationals to Canada & placing candidates in foreign countries:
These recruiters specialize in placing foreign nationals quickly into Canadian contract (1 year or 2 year) jobs without immigration. Some of the recruiters in Canada also specialize in placing IT professionals in companies outside Canada.

“Higher level” and “lower level” recruiters
Recruiting firms are all specialized by the salary level of the jobs they fill. Generally lower level recruiters sometimes fill higher level jobs. But not frequently. Higher level recruiters never fill lower level jobs. Higher level jobs (VP, CFO etc) are more specialized by the industry than lower level jobs.

How to contact recruiters

70% of the recruiters prefer this method of contact: “Phone first, talk with a recruiter, send your résumé and then follow up”.

Recruiter Dos & Don’ts (There is nothing special about the following suggestions – they apply to any human-to-human interaction).

Recruiter Dos

  • Contact and work with many recruiters since each recruiter agency may only be having a few organizations in their portfolio.

  • Show past experience in your current field. Recruiters rarely work with inexperienced candidates.

  • Use KeyWords. Recruiters scan the resumes for key words – programming languages, sales trainings attended, industry certifications and others as appropriate.

Recruiter Don’ts

  • Do not pester the recruiters. Let them know in advance that you would be periodically calling them every two weeks or so. When you call them, instead of simply asking for a status, give them some industry news to make their time productive as well.

  • Do not pay the recruiter. Any staffing company or recruiter which asks for money from you is fraud.

  • Do not send unfinished resumes. Once you have sent your resumes to a recruiter you can never control its distribution. You can not call it back to modify.

  • Do not ask the recruiter to modify your resume. The recruiter may be willing to give some quick tips but he is going to form an unfavorable impression of you if you make unreasonable demands on his time.

  • Do not pressure the recruiter or show desperation. No one – hiring managers nor head hunters – like the desperate vibe. Show enthusiasm, passion and spark their interest.

  • Do not ask if there are any jobs available. Do not ask the recruiter if he/she “can get you a job”. Avoid close ended questions like thse which makes the recruiter feel guilty for not helping you.

  • Do not apply to a company which the recruiter is working with and not tell the recuiter. Be open with the recruiter regarding your job search. Do not circumvent a recruiter who has existing ties with a company.