Knowing the secrets of working with recruiters can help you land your dream job! Read on for valuable tips and insight into the world of recruiting.


What Is A Recruiter?

A recruiter is usually an independent agent who works for companies in order to find them great talent. A recruiter is typically given a project, scouts for talent, lines up the interviews for the company and helps to negotiate the offer. They may also be responsible for checking references. Additionally, recruiters may serve as the point of contact between all the candidates and the client through the entire hiring process.

What A Recruiter Can and Cannot Do

They can be your best ally if used correctly in the right situation. They cannot send you into an interview for a position that does not match your background. Recruiters work hard and are paid handsomely by their clients who send them out to find that person who exactly fits their requirements. So, if you are a VP of Technology looking to get into commercial construction or architecture, you can pretty much sidestep the process of working through a recruiter to make your job transition.


What Do Recruiters Look For?


What Do You Do?

A good recruiter looks to see if your qualifications match their client's requirements and if you have been in the same industry. It is more important that you identify the recruiters that work in your industry vs. where they are located. A recruiter based out of Chicago may have a client who is in Nashville, why? Because many recruiters are industry specific. They may also have a client that has offices in multiple locations.


Where Are You?

Recruiters are largely industry specific. So if you are in California and the position is in Florida - if your background is a strong enough match your recruiter typically will be happy to put your name in the hat!

The more specialized your work - the less relocation matters in the grand scheme of things. However, contacting recruiters in your home town is still a very smart move. Local recruiters do work on local searches. It is best for you to do both - contact regional or nationwide recruiters in your industry as well as recruiters in your city.


Who Are You?

Recruiter's impression of your personality can be a critical factor if you want to earn the right to have the recruiter tell their client you are going to love talking to him/her! How you present yourself over the phone, both in courtesy and ability to articulate is critical. So be cautious not to appear arrogant, short, demanding etc... Also, do not tell the recruiter you don't know what you wish to do or that you can do anything! Ask them what the job is, and once you have a basic understanding, relay those skills of yours that apply. Just like an interview.


Is A Recruiter On Your Side?

Well, it depends. Your best bet is to treat the recruiter just like a potential employer. The good news is: recruiters can sell you on your behalf. It's their job to contact their clients and gush I just found the perfect guy (or gal) for you! Just listen to these credentials...! So, in this way, a recruiter can be a strong ally for you. What is their allegiance to their clients? Well, they might give them inside information on you relative to the impressions they have picked up. So it's important to be forthright, but not comfortable with your recruiter, when you are divulging information to them. For example: If you divulge that it would take

$30 k relocation dollars for you to move and your spouse is adamantly against moving so it would be a stretch anyway, you might just not get the glowing report that recruiter would have otherwise given you - to their client. (But another candidate they are representing for the same position might!) The lesson: sell yourself to the recruiter and the recruiter will sell you to their client.




What about the recruiter negotiating on your behalf? I have heard different views on this. But as a recruiter for many years myself, I have negotiated great deals for my candidates.

  • The recruiter has generally been given a range in which they can work within on a particular search. If you are really what they are looking for (you should be able to determine this by their description of the position and their feedback to you) they might contact their client and state I found your perfect person, but I think he needs more than the range you gave me. Good recruiters know how to generate enthusiasm about a star candidate and often can get them in the door and overcome a lot of these obstacles up front for you. So if you know what you basically need, compensation wise, relative to the position, I say let the recruiter see if they can work up a little excitement on your behalf to get the client thinking outside of the box. Remember, it's in the recruiter's best interest if you get hired!
  • A good question to ask a recruiter is is your client contact in human resources? If they say yes, disregard this whole paragraph. This recruiter is not working with the person who is going to be able to make these decisions, though they might be offering a great position. If they work with the president or the VP, you're talking with a person who can make things happen.
  • The other tact you might take is not to divulge anything about your current compensation but the most basic information if you are afraid you might not get the interview because you are over or under by too far a stretch. However, it's typical that they will give you some kind of a range and will expect you to give them some kind of a range to determine if it's basically feasible to take the next step with you. What is basically feasible? Respectfully, within 25K of the general range the recruiter has been given by the client.



A recruiter might also be able to say things to their client you cannot. Just as they can say things to you a client cannot. A good recruiter knows how to walk that line of finding out what each party needs and seeing if they can't marry the two. So a recruiter negotiating for you might say to their client were going to lose him if we don't move on this quick or if we don't throw in a company car I am afraid he's going to take that other offer. These are things the recruiter has the freedom to say and he can push it where a candidate in an interview position must maintain a different stance.

The client is not holding their cards as close to their chest with a recruiter. They will often times divulge information to the recruiter they would not tell you, and often times, the recruiter will in turn, inform you. If they really want you, expect the information to be quite positive, until a recruiter has exhausted every effort trying to get you what you want (within reason) they might hold back any negative news in fear of losing your interest.


Additional Tip

 If the recruiter has worked with the client they wish to present you to for a long time, they are a WEALTH of information to you. They will know how that company negotiates the scoop on various personalities, what kind of interview style really impresses that client, company growth and future plans etc. So USE them, ask them questions as this will help you tremendously as you prepare your interview strategy. If they tip you off to who likes what or what to do in a particular situation, listen to them! They are speaking from direct past experience with that client.

Sending Out Your Resume & Following Up

Have you sent your resume to a great recruiting firm but no one called you? Be persistent! If you feel that particular firm can be a great help to you then follow up several times. Ask for the recruiter who specializes in your background. You may also ask for the manager. Introduce yourself, share with them what you are industry targeting, and ask them what searches they currently have open. Make sure you get a copy of your qualifications to the person you spoke with.

If the recruiter sounds positive, keep checking back with them. If they tell you they don't have anything in your area of expertise at this time and nothing on the horizon, move on. If they are interested in you, you will generally get the kind of feedback from them that will hopefully culminate in landing that dream job!

Heather Lynn Fike is a senior delivery consultant for RL Stevens & Associates Inc. She can be reached at (210) 641-1247 or