Want help from an agency recruiter in your job search? Our top 5 tips to make the system work for you

If you’re expecting an agency recruiter to play a pivotal role in helping you find a permanent role, here are some tips to make the system work for you:

1) Don’t broadcast the fact that you’re available for a new job over social media – not even on LinkedIn!

Every now and again I see a post that is several paragraphs long but will essentially say this: ‘I can’t find a job through this stupid site, all recruiters are shit etc etc’ and I have a cheeky scroll through that person’s posts to discover that more often than not the individual in question has been broadcasting that they desperately need a new job since they became available….

Why is this bad?

Many recruiters will work on a contingency basis – meaning they only get paid when they introduce a candidate that isn’t already known / available to a company.

Many internal recruitment teams OR hiring manager OR Directors (who are often over-stretched and under-resourced) won’t accept an introduction to an individual who is clearly already available.

Worse still, an internal recruitment team at one of the companies you want to work at might accidentally overlook your broadcast and more able recruiters with exceptional opportunities might ignore you as getting you a job there would most likely result in no fee. Why place you when they can get paid for placing someone like you who hasn’t made it known to the world (and potentially the client organisation) that they’re available?

It sounds awful but unfortunately, there is no commercial interest in submitting you to a role someone worked really hard to get a license to recruit for.

2) Don’t send your CV to every recruiter that asks for it.


Much in the same way that you’d want to know that the Doctor treating you is qualified to do so, you need to make sure that the recruiter who is asking to represent you is best placed to do that job.

It sounds like another stress on top of an already stressful situation but adhering to this small process will do you wonders in terms of opening doors that may not even be open, or getting you a salary increase above your market value in a situation where you probably shouldn’t get one.

A recruiter may not tell you where they’re sending you to before getting your CV because they might only be making money from placing you on a contingency basis – and that’s ok. This means they only get paid if they place you. If they told you the company that they’re working with without getting commitment from you, you could circumvent them and go there yourself thereby wasting the recruiters time in building a relationship with that company with respect to filling that role.

You probably wouldn’t put out on your first date so don’t agree to send your CV on your first call – say you need to think about it. You’re saving it for someone special even. If you do decide to send your CV, explicitly state that the recruiter needs your written permission to send it to anyone else. Ask if they’re members of the ICO and details on their registration so you can hold them to account if your CV is leaked to other organisations without your permission. Here is ours: https://ico.org.uk/ESDWebPages/Entry/ZA231825

3) So how do I qualify a recruiter?

You can however ask questions to qualify their involvement in the recruitment process.

Ask questions about how many jobs they’ve filled with the company they want to send you to. If they’re a new client ask how many interviews they’ve secured for candidates like you.

Why has the job come about? What are the growth plans going forward?

Ask about the relationship they have with the hiring manager they want to send you to.

Have they visited the company you’ll be working for?

What can you expect in terms of communication – how often will they get in touch, will they be available when you finish work etc?

Make a list of questions like the ones above to help you sound out whether or not you can trust the recruiter to represent you.

Go with one recruiter and only one unless you absolutely have to go with another. Trust an experienced recruiter and explain openly and without prejudice what you want and don’t want. The companies you’d like interviews with and the ones you rather wouldn’t – and why! The minimum package you could happily move for and what you believe your value is in relation to that – a good recruiter will be able to inform what that view should be.

They may have solid relationships with some of the companies you’d like interviews with but sometimes they may need to speculatively engage with Directors / Managers elsewhere to see if there is an opportunity there for you – that’s ok too. Sometimes really good recruiters will find opportunities that aren’t even available on the open job market. If they’ve built solid relationships with some reputable businesses that you want to engage with, it stands to reason that (on the balance of probability) they’re going to represent you well in a speculative call to the ones they don’t already have a solid relationship with!

4) Don’t get trigger happy on job boards


You’re doing yourself a disservice by giving everyone your CV. Ring the recruitment agency and ask to speak to the recruiter responsible for that job and question them like you would in 3)

5) Don’t upload your CV to job boards.

Recruiters (and anyone else who buys a subscription to these job boards) can access and download your CV by simply searching your name / job title / location. Cowboy recruiters will often harvest CVs from job boards and mail shot them at companies without your permission and demand the fee even if a good recruiter submits you after spending time understanding what you want and gaining your permission.

Here are some benefits to working with recruiters like us: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-should-recruiters-use-rec2rec-zack-raja/

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