Searching for new employment, whether you are currently employed, or unemployed, is difficult.  Researching a potential new employer to ensure your professional chemistries mesh and that you fit into their company culture can take hours, and the information you find online (or by speaking to current or past employees) can be conflicting.

In addition to your own search efforts, engaging a recruiting company can prove to be highly beneficial.  Recruiting companies are constantly searching for top talent to fill roles for their clients, or to build their database for when a new role comes around.  Using recruiters can help target your job search, rather than applying aimlessly to ads on job boards.  They can serve as career coaches.  Partnering with a recruiter can have its advantages, as long as you utilize the service to its full potential.

Here are a few ways to maximize the benefits of partnering with a recruiter.

Dress to impress.

When preparing to meet with a recruiter for the first time, treat the meeting as though you are meeting with a potential employer.  Although many recruiters will tell you that you don’t have to “dress up” for them—they mean decked out in a full suit—do not take this courtesy as an invitation to show up in distressed denims and a T-shirt.  Dressing professionally is always the best idea when meeting someone who will have an influence on your career.  Recruiters decide carefully whether to send your resume to a client for consideration, and a big part of their decision is whether you’ve managed to make a lasting first impression. When a recruiter sends your resume to a client, and, ultimately you interview with that client, you are a representation of that recruiter and the agency.  Making a bad impression on the client reflects negatively on the recruiter and could potentially affect the relationship of the client with the recruiter or agency, a risk no recruiter is willing to take.  Maintain a coiffed, clean, crisp and conservative look when meeting with a recruiter for the first time.  Slacks or a knee length skirt, and a buttoned down blouse with flats or heels should do the trick.

Maintain professionalism and diplomacy.

In tandem with our first point, treat this first meet and greet as an interview with a potential employer.  It is important to get comfortable in the sense that you are able to shed some light on who you are, your energy level, and professional demeanor, but do not get so comfortable as to use foul language, slang, or speak poorly of a previous employer.  Go over your professional experience with poise and tact, speaking honestly yet diplomatically about previous employers.  Often, a good recruiter—given you’ve proven yourself in other areas—may help you develop answers that are more diplomatic or appropriate for an interview, but the willingness to receive feedback has to be apparent.  If you’re unable to maintain a level of professionalism with the recruiter, how can they trust that you will maintain professionalism at an interview with their client?

Be frank.

Be upfront about your skills and expertise, and the level at which you feel comfortable with certain responsibilities, computer applications, or situations.  In conversation, it may surface that your are more or less advanced in a particular skill, or even that you’ve neglected to put something on your resume that will help you stand out.  A good recruiter will point these things out to you and help with your resume.  When a recruiter places a candidate within a company, their reputation (and their paycheck) is at stake; if the candidate decides they do not like the role, is not a good cultural fit for the company, or cannot handle the responsibilities delegated to them, they will probably leave the firm.  Candidates leaving suddenly, or shortly after being placed affect not only the relationship of the client with the recruiter, but also the relationship between the candidate and the recruiter.  For this reason, it is important to speak your preferences and be honest about your skills.  If you are more comfortable assisting only one person, say so.  If you can single-handedly write the manual on how to use Word, say so.  If you have never once arranged travel or planned an event, say so.  These details are important for recruiters because they need to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are as well as what corporate culture you are likely to fit into, and what types of roles you will succeed in.  Someone who would fit well at a large, conservative company with structured hierarchies and processes, may not do as well at a small, start-up firm where titles don’t mean much, and everyone, even the CEO, pitches in where they can.

A recruiter can prove to be a tremendous asset to your job search.  Recruiters work with you to match your interests to a company where your skills will be showcased and your professional chemistry and the company’s culture will blend well.  A recruiter will always position you to a client in the best possible light, and may even help you improve your responses to tough interview questions, the content on your resume, or your tangible skills (ask about our testing and tutorial services).

Have you had success working with recruiters in the past?  What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced?  Let us know in the discussion section below!

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