Whether you like recruiters or not, odds are you will have to use one at some point in order to secure a job. Even those companies within the digital world that advertise direct often place a huge emphasis on using recruitment firms and trust the judgement of the consultants to understand their company culture and the type of people they prefer to employ.
This is why even now after 17 years of being a recruiter I'm still amazed at the attitude of some job hunters in the way that they interact, or more accurately don't interact, with recruitment professionals. I remember one person actually pulling out a chocolate bar during an interview for a role and proceeding to eat it in front of me. I let that person finish and asked that person to leave.
Recruiters are more often than not the gatekeepers to those vacancies, and unless you do a good job of selling yourself to them, they will simply discard your application and put other people forward. It may be your dream role and you could be the ideal fit for the company, but a bad attitude toward the recruiter and you have no chance to prove it. Think of it like a fairy tale or politics - we all have to kiss a few frogs or babies to get what we want in life.
So let's take a look at a few points that will help you impress a recruiter and get them to put you in front of their clients.
Get the basics right first and produce a good quality CV. Put a little effort into this and it will pay off for you. I can't express how annoying it is to receive a badly formatted résumé that looks like it's been produced by a three-year-old, let alone how often this happens.
Make sure the CV explains exactly what you do and who you are. Technical line managers are often not the first port of call for a CV so spell it out in layman's terms. I want to see a good profile of your career summary and achievements as well as detailed current job duties and skills.
Ninety-nine percent of recruiters and HR know next to nothing about the roles they recruit for, so they learn to skim CVs for keywords. If you don't make what you do crystal clear for them, they will simply delete your application.
The next important thing to consider is what happens when you meet the recruiter. The recruiter is there to assess your skills in relation to the job applied for, as well as making a decision as to whether you would be a good cultural fit for her client too. And more often than not it's the cultural fit that takes precedence. Turn up late, have an offhand attitude, or just make no effort in your presentation and it's highly unlikely you will get further than meeting the recruiter. It's not a fairy tale land we live in; a book is judged by its cover, so make an effort to stand out in a positive way.
A little piece of the job hunting puzzle I see many recruiters overlook initially is references. If you are currently employed, then of course it's best not to contact your current employer, but if you have any references from previous jobs, then bring them along. A good reference presented alongside your CV on an application makes a huge difference and more often than not will boost your CV to the top of the pile and interview request list. It's like buying from an online store and seeing customer reviews; it's a powerful conversion technique so use this to your advantage when job hunting.
Recruiters may not be the nicest people in the world, or are certainly not perceived to be, but they are here to help you and if you find a good one, they will go out of their way to find you work if they think you have true grit. Take a close look at your history and achievements and get these into a well-written profile at the head of your CV.
Be honest and upfront with recruiters too. If they ask what you currently earn, tell them. If you think an answer such as "It's none of your business" is a good one, then I suggest you stop looking for new work right now, because with that attitude, you're not going anywhere fast. How would a hiring manager react to this type of answer? I think you already know to rein in the attitude when dealing with recruiters.
So that's it really. Be polite, honest, and make an effort with recruiters because those who don't miss out, and you won't.
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Jake Langwith is managing director and founder at International Head Hunters Stone Carter where he specializes within SEO, web analytics, and social media. With over 17 years experience across the U.K., Europe, and Asia Pacific markets he has established a strong global reputation and works in close partnership with some of the world's leading digital agencies and brands.
Jake is actively involved in the digital marketing community. He's also an avid blogger and a speaker at SEO-related industry events such as the SES conference series. He takes a keen interest in his market sector and outside of recruitment runs several websites where he puts into practice SEO and marketing strategies. Jake is particularly interested in SEO and conversion strategy within e-commerce.
A self-confessed search and tech geek, Jake is married with two children and lives in London where he was born and bred.
June 5, 2013
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