How to use an Executive Recruiter in this Market!

We all have been witness to a challenging job marketplace for the past few years, and those especially hard hit have been the recruiters that make a living placing professionals into firms across many industries. From my personal perspective, as a recruiter within the financial industry, my area of expertise has been adversely affected. However, the light I see at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train, and I sense that companies are turning back to executive recruiters to find them the top talent they are truly seeking. With that in mind…

OK, #1, let’s get things straight. I am a for-profit endeavor. Period. I am compensated for earning fees resulting from matching a candidate and an employer. My clients request that I use the most efficient way possible to find them their ideal candidate.

The cold hard truth is that I don’t earn money by spending time assisting and advising those candidates I cannot place. However, I personally am a firm believer of WGACA…”What goes around, comes around”, and that is why I often choose to help someone I cannot personally place. I have often received calls from my candidates who tell me that it was my advice and approach that allowed them to get hired, naturally resulting in a nice placement fee for another recruiter. “You’re welcome!”. But again, WGACA, and these people will ask me to help them hire professionals at their new place of employment, and thus a new client develops, or a current one becomes stronger. I would estimate that at least 80% of my clients have been or are currently candidates of mine.

So at this point you’re wondering, in the spirit of WGACA, how are you going to help me, Mark?

When do you call a recruiter?

1) Just as you have been laid off…
2) Curious about the market…
3) Heard that company XYZ is hiring again…
4) Friends are making more $ at…

How do you choose which recruiter(s) to call?

1) Referrals…ask your friends who they use and trust
2) Ask internal HR if you’ve been laid off whom they use…
3) Check to see which firms are advertising in your desired spots, and which seem to be most prominent in the industry websites you are on.

Before you send your resume, it is critical to “interview” your recruiter, as they will be your agent in the job search process.

Ask many questions, and try to determine if the recruiter is…

1) Articulate and intelligent – if they sound that way to you, they sound that way to the employers, and likely have a strong reputation in the business.
2) A Good listener – they ask many questions about you and what you want to do, your goals, strategy, etc, as opposed to what they want you to do.
3) Knowledgeable of the business – understanding of the lingo, knows whom the players are, name-dropping.
4) Up front and honest – they avoid sugarcoating, and play it straight with you, giving you a true assessment of your prospects.
5) Friendly and courteous – again, see #1, but also so much easier to work with someone that way.
6) Organized – it should be clear to you that they remember previous notes about conversations you’ve had, meetings, etc…

During the conversation, make sure to try, if logistically possible, to meet with the recruiter in person. You learn so much more about a person when you can look them in the eyes.

But part of getting that appointment is to sell yourself to the recruiter – after all, it is them that will be representing you to the employers.

You must convince the recruiter that you are:

1) Truly knowledgeable of the products and processes.
2) Articulate, intelligent and to the point – How many times have I asked a question in an interview, only to hear twenty minutes later that his grandma was a major influence in his decision to learn finger-painting.
3) Able to convince the employer of the benefits of hiring you over your competition.
4) Able to listen, disseminate and use their advice – I remember a time when a candidate swore to me up and down that even though he was out of work, and used to make $300k, he would absolutely accept $200k to get back in the business. We made him promise he wouldn’t blurt out that he wanted $300k, but blurt he did!
5) Apply the education you have received, with much of it coming from Streetsmarts University.
6) Did I mention able to listen? – You may be an expert in your field, but have the decency to expect that the recruiter may know a thing or two about the job market, interviewing, etc…

Now you’ve convinced me to see you…where do you go from here?

First, it’s critical to break the ice, relax a bit, etc…We’re both in this together, and we both have the same goal! If I am sending you into an interview against five other candidates, I want YOU to get the job, not any of the other five! So I will do everything I can to prepare you for that set of interviews, because I want you to beat the competition. And not barely – make it a no-brainer!

I will discuss in a future post some interviewing strategies that will help you be the front-runner in the race for the offer, but the bottom line to all of this subject matter is for you to understand that if you are using a recruiter to help you find your next position, try to select two or three recruiters that you feel comfortable with, who truly know the business you are in, the people in the right places, and who generate your trust that they will represent you fairly and honestly.

Remember WGACA!