Recruiters: What To Look For

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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Recruiters: What To Look For
As published in The Flightpath News - November 6, 2002
By Kevin T. Buckley

Recruiters: What To Look For

Recruiters come in many categories -- specialists and generalists, retainer and contingency. They all share one thing in common: employers engage their services to hire people for specific positions.

There are limits to what a recruiter can do for you if you are not immediately applicable for a current search assignment. So, how do you determine which ones are more likely to be a useful contact for you? How do you recognize the ones who will fairly and professionally represent you to their clients? Use these benchmarks to evaluate them by: honesty, integrity, longevity, discretion, attitude, commitment and awareness.

Honesty and integrity are the first considerations. Avoid recruiters who want you to misrepresent yourself by suggesting changes to your resume -- inflating titles or position duties, or leaving out portions of your career history to make you more "marketable". Regardless of the persuasiveness of their arguments, remember that employee misrepresentation can be justified cause for immediate termination by an employer if it is discovered. Suggestions of this kind can indicate the level of professionalism of the recruiter. You want someone who is going to be truthful with you about your prospects, your presentation strengths and weaknesses and the career opportunity itself.

Longevity means a recruiter has remained in business because employers and candidates have been willing to place trust in them over a period of years. Do industry associations active within their area of specialization know these recruiters? Ask friends and coworkers what their reputation is. Look them up in the Canadian Directory of Search Firms, published by Mediacorp in Canada. How long have they been in operation?

Discretion is vital. If a recruiter is careless, your resume or the knowledge that you have been looking may come to the attention of your superiors. Establish how they work and set the ground rules for them representing you. Insist that you know beforehand which companies you are being presented to. You don't want unpleasant surprises by finding that your resume has been sent without your permission to a key supplier, customer or competitor.

Attitude and commitment are important. Determine if your interests and needs are being taken into account. Be wary of the aggressive recruiter who tries to steamroll you into looking at or accepting a job, trying to convince you that they know what you need. Some people allow themselves to be bullied into accepting jobs because they feel that the recruiter must be the expert. Accepting under duress rarely makes for sound decision-making. Don't be rushed into making a commitment that doesn't sit well with you. Trust your intuition. If it feels wrong, it probably is. How committed are they to the people they represent? What resources do they offer in their literature or website to help people in need of guidance with resumes, covering letters and other issues? Do you get the feeling that they are genuinely trying to help you, or is self-promotion the theme of their communications?

Ask them how aware they are of trends in compensation or other changes affecting your industry. Do they know that certain companies in your industry have a reputation for high turnover? Do they work with those firms?

An informed recruiter can be a good contact to have and a valuable resource of information and counsel to consult when making a career move. At the right time, they can direct you to those unadvertised career opportunities of real interest to you.

Recommended Resource: Internet Recruiter Directories, this site  

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