Regardless of where you sit in the job market right now - whether you’re actively looking for a new role or happily sitting in your current position, it’s likely at some point you’ll be in contact with a recruiter.
The question is, will you be ready when a recruiter comes knocking?
A quick Google of recruitment will tell you that ‘recruiters work for the company, not you’, but the truth is, a good recruiter works for both. What we do is connect candidates with decision-makers in organisations and work with both to make a good match that everyone’s happy with.
That means there’s a window of opportunity for you, the candidate, to get the most out of your relationship with a recruiter and find your next role that ticks all of the boxes.
We caught up with our Managing Consultant here at 84 Recruitment, Rob Sellars, to get some gems on the best way to leverage your relationship with a recruiter. Spoiler alert: it’s not always about getting a job!
1. Keep all your documents up-to-date, especially when you’re not job hunting.
This one might sound like it should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people are lurking around out there with CV’s last updated five years ago. If you’re knocking on a recruiters door with all your documentation ready to go, this one isn’t for you. If you’ve been sitting content in your job for a few years now and your CV is collecting dust, it’s time to make some updates.
But why should you put in the effort if you’re not looking? Rob explains;
“A big part of what we do as a business is sift through all of the people in the market whether they’re looking or not and identify people who might be good for the jobs we’ve got available. We find information, talk to them and if they’re suitable try and sell them on applying.”
You never know when your dream job might find you, and for that reason, you don’t want to have to waste time rewriting your CV from 2015 to get your application in.
“Keeping your CV up to date on a regular basis is a good idea even if you’re not looking - and that’s people in general because most people are employed and reasonably happy, but always keeping their eye on the next opportunity. If you keep your CV up to date, it’s always a good thing because then you don’t have to do a huge overhaul when the right job is presented to you.”
The more up-to-date you are, the faster the process will be between you and your recruiter when the time comes.
2. Maintain a career plan - it’s a game-changer when it comes to being placed in the right role.
The counterpart to a CV that’s often overlooked, is a solid career plan that’s been well maintained. We often find that when people have been cruising in their role for a while, they forget to write down their accomplishments and update their goals when they achieve them.
“Maintaining a good record of your career plan, performance plan and goals and maybe even what you’re struggling to achieve with your current employer is a great thing to do. A lot of people might have been sitting in a job for 7 years and everything has just been ticking along and they won’t have thought about it too much.”
This will help you to really make the most of your recruiter because through your career plan they’ll be able to figure out exactly what you do and don’t want in your next role. Rob adds;
“‘What does your ideal role look like?’ is one of the first questions we’ll ask candidates when we start talking to them. So you want to have quite a clear understanding of what your next move is. What does that job look like, where do you want to work, are you willing to relocate, what type of firm are you keen to work for? The clearer you are on that, the better recruiters can work for you.”
We want you to be happy wherever you go next, so in order for us to assess whether it’s the right thing or not, getting into the detail of what you do or don’t like about your current role is really important.
3. Be honest. We’ll know if you’re not.
You’d be surprised how often this one comes up - it’s absolutely crucial to be honest about your career in order to get the most out of your recruiter. From made-up past roles, embellished job titles, fake references all the way to fabricating a few details about involvement in past projects, we’ve seen it all. What people often don’t realise, is that most of the time we’ll eventually find out if you’re not telling the truth.
In Rob’s experience, some candidates don’t do their background research on recruiters before working with them.
“People probably don’t give credit to how good some recruiter’s relationships are with people in the industry. It amazes me, on my LinkedIn profile it says who I used to work for and who I’m connected with to a degree, and yet candidates are often oblivious to the fact that I know certain people.”
But don’t worry, if you’ve had some go wrong in the past or maybe had a job that didn’t work out the way you wanted it to, it’s not all bad. Actually, being honest about it with your recruiter can work in your favour.
“I think if a good candidate has messed up and they’re honest about it then that’s okay - the biggest thing is to show that you’ve learnt from that experience. In fact, that’s a key question in our interview process, what was your biggest mess up and how did you come back from that. That’s what set people apart - how did they answer that question.”
Rob summarises this one well - recruiters are human too, we know that no one’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you bounce back that counts.
4. Keep in touch and maintain the relationship.
As we’ve mentioned, the first time you speak with a recruiter isn’t always because you’ve sought out the conversation. Sometimes we’ll send you a message in your LinkedIn mail, an email or a quick call if we think you’d make a good fit for a role, and often you won’t be expecting it.
What we would say though to get the most out of our interaction, is to keep in touch and maintain a relationship, even if you’re not looking for a job. Usually, this kind of relationship leads to some kind of positive outcome for you, the candidate. Rob explains;
“I just got a call from a candidate yesterday who I had headhunted some years ago. Usually, we call people to say ‘hello, I’m a recruiter can we stay in touch?’. I’ve never placed this person but we’ve had multiple conversations over the years. He proactively got in touch the other day and said ‘look, I’ve already done my own job search and I’ve got two offers so I don’t need your help in finding opportunities, but I do want your advice on which job I should take’.
I just listened to him and helped him think through some of the pros and cons so that he could go away and make a decision. [Keeping in touch] can work in your favour even if it doesn’t result in an opportunity, sometimes it’s just advice.”
It doesn’t have to be high effort a call, email or text message here and there can go a long way and keep you at the forefront of a recruiters mind.
5. We’ve got industry intel - make the most of it!
Here’s the real gold we’d encourage you to make the most of… we know a thing or two about very specific industries. If you’re wondering about a specific company and what they’re like to work for, we wouldn’t be good at our job if we didn’t know the answer.
“We work in niche markets and are often 100% focused on a narrow range of specialised candidates. Our clients may only spend a part of their time on recruitment but because it is our full-time job, we do end up knowing quite a lot of information about the industry and the people in it.”
That information Rob mentions can be anything from details on companies, roles or projects across the job. As a candidate, you can have quite a sheltered view of what goes on in a company and often you’re ‘sold the dream’ by a company that wants to hire the top talent. Recruiters are in a position to give a slightly less biased view.
“If you’re looking across the industry and want to compare options, recruiters are in a really good position to give you some good advice and information about what to expect. We’re talking to people at these companies on a regular basis.
We have pretty up-to-date information on what’s happening in a company, what’s going well and what type of environment it is in terms of culture. That’s a lot more information than what’s in a job ad and it’s less biased than a company that’s trying to sell you on joining them.”
Now is the time to ask the hairy questions and make the most of your recruiter’s industry chops too. As we’ve mentioned before, right now it’s a candidate short market so the candidate is in the driving seat - so ask away!