Build Winning Relationships with Executive Recruiters

by Meg Guiseppi on April 12, 2010

In my initial “let’s see if we’re a good fit to work together” consultation with prospective clients, I always ask those who are job seekers what they’ve been doing to accelerate their search.

When we address networking, I ask if, as part of proactive networking, they’ve sourced a number of recruiters who specialize in their area(s) of expertise, and been busy building alliances and staying top of mind with them.

Some of them disdain working with recruiters, mostly because they have unrealistic expectations for the recruiter/job-seeker relationship.

Many don’t grasp the fact that recruiters don’t work for job seekers. Their role is to find the best candidates for their client companies.

I set out in this post to provide the inside skinny on understanding, building, and leveraging recruiter relationships, so I went right to the source by visiting the blogs of trusted Twitter friends who are recruiters.

Here are some helpful tidbits from two of my favorites, with their Twitter handles. Follow them (and other recruiters) on Twitter. They’re providing job leads and a wealth of valuable information and resources:

Jennifer McClure of Cincy Recruiter (@CincyRecruiter), listed as one of HR Examiner’s 2010 Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters, in her post, I Hate Recruiters: Why Do They Try To Pigeonhole Me? answered the question:

“How do you get a Recruiter to pay attention to you when you contact them because you want to make a career change, or change industries?”

My advice? (And it applies to anyone who contacts a Recruiter directly.) Treat Recruiters like you would any other networking contact! It’s not likely that you’d pick up the phone and start calling other professionals that you don’t know, and expect them to “get” you or to go find you a job without knowing anything about you. So I would suggest choosing a few Recruiters (2 or 3) to try to build a relationship with first – before asking for their help.

Here’s a few suggestions on how you can start that process:

  • If possible, try to meet Recruiters “out in the wild” (i.e. networking/professional development events/volunteering, etc.) so you can introduce yourself in person.
  • Get an introduction or referral to a trusted Recruiter from someone in your network.
  • Interact with Recruiters and build effective virtual relationships with them via the various on-line professional or social networks they inhabit.
  • If a Recruiter contacts you about an opportunity that is not of interest, offer to assist them with referrals or to be a resource for them in the future.

Jeff Lipschultz of A-List Solutions (@JLipschultz) from his post, Recruiting Your Recruiter in the Job Search:

Stay in touch with your recruiter, but not too often.  He/she may not be able to follow-up as often with you as you’d like, but you certainly can keep the line of communication open from your end (especially when there is recent activity to follow-up on).  Many appreciate emails over phone calls so they can manage their day better.  Communication is essential when your situation changes (i.e., another job offer pending).

Consider a recruiter a life-long friend in your career process, not two ships passing in the night.  If you have a well-established relationship with a recruiter, he/she is more likely to go beyond the norms to help you (or a friend) when you need it most.  And, the recruiter will know you as a person, not just as a candidate. With this in mind, keep your recruiter appraised of all career changes.

The best way to return a favor to a recruiter is to network him/her to a new client you know is hiring.

In Recruiting Your Recruiter in the Job Search, Part II he polled several experts, including Jennifer McClure, who advised job seekers to:

“always ask the recruiter how their process works, what happens to their resume if they send it to the recruiter and what should they expect from the recruiter in terms of follow up or actions.”

She added that many recruiters do not operate the same way, and

“if job seekers would ask these questions of each recruiter they interact with, it would go a long way toward eliminating some of the frustrations with recruiters.”

Additional resources:

Kennedy Information’s Directory of Executive Recruiters, the “Red Book” which lists over 10,000 recruiters at thousands of search firms, with all the contact information you need to start networking immediately with them.

Riley Guide’s short list of quality recruiters and how to work with them.

Jeff Lipschultz’ article for, How Recruiters Pick YOU.

Related posts:

My Interview with Executive Recruiter Jeff Lipschultz

2010 Top 10 Executive Personal Branding and Job Search Trends

How to Build a Powerful Executive Network

16 Deadly Executive Job Search Mistakes


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