Submitting a resume for a job posting online doesn’t always bring the results you expect. Some people are happily invited for a phone or on‐site interview by a hiring company; others are contacted by a screener or recruiter working as an intermediary for a company; some receive an automatic, computer generated reply, and many receive no response at all despite feeling they were a perfect fit. Occasionally, job seekers get a call like the one received by one of my clients recently... “After applying for a job online through Career Builders I was contacted by an executive search firm. They have an office nearby and invited me to come in and meet with them about my job search. Is there a down side to me setting up a meeting and talking with them?” There are several topics worth talking about in this one query. First, what does the executive search firm representative want to talk about – specifically? Second, how did she get your information and how is it being used? And finally, if you decide to meet, what should you say and do? The first two questions are perhaps best handled in a phone call before you decide to meet with the firm. There is no need to rush into meeting with a representative until you have some basic questions answered.
Allbusiness.com explains that an executive search firm is a, “private employment agency specializing in the recruiting of professional and managerial personnel.” Answers.com defines an executive search firm as “a type of employment agency that specializes in recruiting executive personnel for companies in various industries. Executive search agents/professionals,” it goes on to say, “typically have a wide range of personal contacts in their industry or field of specialty; detailed, specific knowledge of the area; and typically operate at the most senior level of executive positions.” A search on the Internet however reveals that executive search firms frequently do anything from recruiting to training, mentoring, coaching and negotiating contracts. Who wouldn’t want job search assistance from a firm that could help in all these areas? But be clear, although recruiters are a no‐cost‐to‐you endeavor, the other services offered by some recruiting type firms may carry a price tag. So it is important to find out exactly what this search firm is offering and what cost they want you to bear.
Unfortunately, some companies are taking advantage of people who are looking for employment. One approach is to post jobs that do not exist as a method of business development. Another approach is to post one or two authentic jobs and then solicit all the applicants for additional services. You’ve probably heard that each job posting generally receives around 200 applicants, right? Think about gaining 200 prospects from one posting – pretty nice marketing returns for any company. Sure it’s a creative business development approach, but what does it say about the individuals involved in marketing – or the company for that matter? Have they been honest in gathering your contact information? Will they be honest in working with you in the future? What happens if they also sell your contact information and history to other firms, for other purposes? This firm may have crossed the line once, might they do it again? Check to make sure your information is protected, and that the company contacting you employs honest business practices. Ask about their clients, their placements and their business expertise. Ask about the job you applied for, and about other jobs or clients they feel you might fit. If you ask enough questions you will get a good idea as to whether they are placing blind ads for business development or they honestly represent particular clients. You’ll also get an idea of the extent of services they offer and where they place the majority of their effort – recruiting, workshops or coaching. If appropriate, have your name removed from their database and request that it not be sold or shared with other businesses.
A Working Relationship
Many executive search firms are respectable and employ honest business practices. In fact, most do. If you are fortunate to be contacted by a recruiter from a trustworthy and reputable firm, or you have contacted a recruitment agency on your own, consider using these guidelines to get the most out of your relationship.
1. Be Professional in Appearance and Conversation
Meeting with a recruiter is an interview. Participate it in the same way you would a job interview – with proper attire and conversation. Whether your meeting is in person or over the phone, you will be judged on what you say and how you act. Be professional at all times and use caution as you share your stories. Don’t allow the informality of the conversation to drift into information you would not share in a regular job interview. Instead, answer recruiter’s questions honestly and professionally focusing on your accomplishments and goals.
2. Identify Your Recruiter’s Expertise
Many firms and numerous recruiters specialize in the industries they assist. Do some research and make sure the recruiter you are soliciting for help knows about the industry you hope to enter, and has some contacts or resources in that arena. One of the primary values of a recruiter is that they have the inside scoop on employers. Make your contact with a recruiter count by asking questions about the employers you will meet. Be responsive to
recruiters' suggestions and comments. They often know their clients well
enough to give you an edge in your interview.
3. Respect Your Recruiter
Your recruiter’s credibility is dependent on the caliber of candidates she sends to client interviews. As a result, recruiters look for candidates who know what they want, present themselves professionally, and are out to win job offers. If you are recommended for a job, be honest with your recruiter and provide feedback following each interview as agreed upon together – by phone, e‐mail, or in person. Be sure to share your interest level, your impressions of the interview and interviewer, and the next steps you and the company have agreed upon.
4. Listen to Your Recruiter’s Advice
Recruiters will make recommendations on such things as resumes, interviewing and attire. Listen to their advice. They are helping you connect with their clients. Recruiters have inside information on what the hiring organization is searching for, and the information they provide is based on that knowledge.
5. Networks and Actively Job Search
Recruiters are just one source of getting interviews. While they are upholding their commitment to their client companies, you should be conducting you own research and job search through the Internet, job postings and informational interviews. Recruiters are only one tool of the many you should be using to effectively find your next job.
You many get some unexpected results from your applications online. Some will thrill you and others may disappoint you. When you get a call from a recruiter or placement firm after submitting a resume, move forward cautiously. Make sure the firm or individual is honest and reputable. Question whether they are offering services that benefit you, and that you can afford. Take advantage of the opportunities recruiters can provide in moving your career development forward by giving them your respect, valuing their expertise and using them in conjunction with other job search methods. Your reputation is only as strong and the company you keep. Keep good company in your job search and soon you will be working for a good company as well.