How to work with a recruiter
Most students veer towards the world of bars and retail when they need to boost their income during university. These types of jobs are easy to come by and often look for no prior experience, so handing in your CV as you pass by might be enough to get hired. Once university ends you will be looking for a more permanent role at a company that offers progression and career prospects. Job hunting post-university requires more effort than just dropping your CV through the letterbox. Working with dedicated recruiters can be the ticket to getting in front of hiring managers at interesting companies, because they are dedicated to spotting talent in people and matching them with suitable roles.
How does a recruiter work?
Over the last few years, recruiters have developed a reputation as ‘sharks’. As is often the case, this relates to a small minority of agencies that have created a negative impression for the whole industry.
External recruiters work by managing the hiring process for companies that can’t do it themselves. There could be many reasons why a company outsources their hiring – from being tight on time, or feeling new and unsure how to attract the best, to simply understanding that a recruiter will have many candidates ready and available on their books. Whatever the reason, they choose recruiters to make their lives easier.
For a candidate, a recruiter is a source of knowledge and the link between you and the company. Once a recruiter has been given a role to fill, they will then advertise for the position on various job boards and seek out the best candidates on LinkedIn. As a graduate, you can benefit from a recruiter’s vast knowledge and experience of the jobs market. Lots of graduates come out of university with no real clue about the roles that are out there, and the opportunities they could be missing out on. This is someone who will take the time out to listen to the kinds of jobs you are searching for and cross-reference that with the kinds of roles that are out there in the industry that you might be good at, but not even thought about.
Should you use a recruiter?
Using a recruiter can be helpful at any stage of your career, but it can be especially valuable to anyone feeling lost and uncertain as they leave university. Reaching out to recruiters for a chat about your career options can be the best thing you do to give yourself a flying start. They will be able to talk you through your CV and help you present yourself in the best light.
If the area you are looking to break into is particularly niche you may want to look for a recruiter that works in that area. The reason for this is that they will have built up a client list in the industry and if your profile looks good enough they might send you over to companies regardless of whether they are hiring. You can do this by yourself of course, but having the recommendation of a recruiter behind your application might mean it is handled with more interest. Similarly, if you are entering an industry that is heavily oversubscribed, then having feedback on your application from someone who sees hundreds every day could mean your CV is lifted to the next level, and stands out against the others.
Best practice with recruiters (and what not to do).
As mentioned previously, recruiters work by acting as the middle-man between an applicant and a client (company). If you choose to work with a recruiter, then you should stay aware that they are not the company that you are applying for and are in-fact managing a business relationship with the client. In short, this means that if they choose to put you forward for a role, they are telling the client that you are worth investing their time in seeing.
Every so often a candidate will be unable to make it to an interview for one reason or another. There is often a perfectly reasonable excuse for this sort of thing, and in that case, you should try to give your recruiter as much warning as possible if you need to cancel or rearrange. This is to ensure that the recruiter can in-turn notify the client with enough warning to ensure a continued positive business relationship. Cancelling without warning leaves your recruiter in an awkward position with a frustrated client who made time in their day to meet you.
Some reasons for cancelling are less acceptable than others. Changing your mind about the company on short notice once an interview has been arranged is tricky to justify, as it speaks volumes of unprofessionalism. Similarly, getting cold feet and backing out because of nerves is surprisingly common. Most recruiters understand that graduates can feel unsure when it comes to interviews (which is why they offer to help with the prep beforehand) so they are used to candidates trying to drop out at the last minute. If you feel nervous and panicked it is always worth ringing your recruiter for a chat, so that they can talk you through the process and help you realise all the benefits for going ahead. Often the hardest bit is turning up – once you are there it’s all over in twenty minutes and you get that euphoric feeling of having accomplished something. Going to an interview is usually a positive experience and can give you a better insight into the company – job specs are not always successful in getting across the true nature of the company or the role, so hearing somebody talk about it from the horse’s mouth might boost your opinion.
Once you have finished your interview your recruiter will be the one that hears from the company and relay any information back to you. The hope is that this will be within a short time frame, but clients vary and sometimes they can be too busy to provide feedback for a while. This doesn’t mean there is a lack of trying from the recruiter, just that sometimes companies are interviewing a lot of candidates for a role, or have been caught up with something unexpected in the business. Be persistent, but patient with your recruiter to ensure a continued good relationship. This is important because if you miss out on the position this time, they will remember your name when anything similar comes up and put you forward.
If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t get disheartened. Stay in contact with your recruiter and update them regularly with your job hunt to stay at the forefront of their mind. If something relevant comes in they may contact you before even putting the job spec up anywhere because they know you are available and a good fit. This kind of relationship is one of the big pluses of working with a recruiter because you simply can’t get the same exposure to companies on your own.
On the other hand, if you end up being offered a job, you should be honest with your recruiter about where you are in the hiring process for any other opportunities. They will be happy to work with you to negotiate with the client on giving you time to think over the offer or ask for a higher salary. These are invaluable services that a recruiter can provide anyone new to the career search: namely, grads!
Simply put, recruiters can be a lifeline when you are struggling to get interviews and drowning under applications. Find one that has your best interests in mind and work with them to land your dream job sooner rather than later.