When working with recruiters, following business protocol standards isn’t enough. A few tips:
1. Being responsive to a recruiter’s requests is very important. Speed is one of the most critical factors when working with a recruiting firm, especially contingency recruiters. If a recruiter is trying to reach you to discuss an opportunity, they will want to talk to you right away and will likely move on to someone else if you are hard to reach.
2. Be mindful of the recruiter’s time when you make contact. Remember that recruiters are often working on numerous search assignments simultaneously.
3. Build a relationship with a recruiter. As a general rule, you should always take a recruiter’s call, even if you are not looking for a new position. A recruiter in your industry can provide valuable industry information, and you can be a good source of information for the recruiter as well.
4. Be a referral source for recruiters. Even if you are not a fit for an opportunity you are contacted about, you can recommend someone else. Position yourself as a good contact for an industry/sector recruiter—keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and candidates; share that information with the recruiter.
5. Don’t contact too many recruiters—especially at the same firm. Recruiters often have access to an internal candidate management system that allows them to see what contact you’ve had with other recruiters within the firm and other positions you’ve applied for.
6. Let your recruiter know when you are working with another recruiter at that time. If two contingency recruiters submit you as a candidate to the same firm, you may not be considered by the client company at all, even if you are a perfect match. Companies don’t want to mediate an argument between recruiters about who “owns” the candidate (and, consequently, who would receive the commission if the successful placement is made).
7. If you are working with a recruiter, don’t apply for the same positions you are being submitted to as a candidate. You may end up inadvertently disqualifying yourself because the employer doesn’t want to risk a recruiter making a claim for a commission if you are hired directly. If you see a position advertised and are contacted by a recruiter for the same opportunity, you can decide whether you want to apply directly or be submitted as a candidate by the recruiter. If you have a networking contact at the company, you may decide to apply directly. Otherwise, if you would be a good fit for the role, a good recruiter can get you in front of a hiring manager more easily if you don’t have contacts at the company. (This is particularly true if the employer uses an applicant tracking system to screen resumes. Recruiters can often reach hiring managers directly.)
The most important thing when working with recruiters is communication. Keep the recruiter informed about other interviews you have and other companies you are applying to. Be clear about what you want and be honest with the recruiters you are working with.