I always advise executive job seekers NOT to rely entirely on executive recruiters to get them into a job.
If you reach out to several recruiters and then sit back and wait for them to connect you with a job, you may be waiting a long time.
Most of your job-hunting efforts should revolve around networking your way into the unadvertised or “hidden” jobs at the companies or organizations you’re targeting.
But you should build relationships with several executive recruiters in your niche, and stay top-of-mind with them.
Understand how recruiters operate, and you’ll be much more likely to have a satisfying and rewarding relationship with them.
First and foremost, the recruiter’s job is not to find you a job, it’s to find good-fit candidates to fill jobs for their client companies.
8 Secrets Executive Recruiters Can’t Tell You
In a Glassdoor article, Amy Elisa Jackson interviewed Omer Molad, CEO/Founder of recruiting company Vervoe, about 8 things recruiters might like to tell candidates . . . but can’t:
1. “We could have gone higher if you had negotiated.”
They have a salary range (or band) to work from, and rarely offer the top salary first thing, so go into salary talks prepared to negotiate. It’s expected.
2. “Don’t go overboard with buzzwords — we can tell.”
Although you need to include the right relevant keywords in your resume and LinkedIn profile, overdoing it can make you come across as inauthentic.
And time-worn buzzwords do nothing to differentiate your unique value-add.
Make your personality shine by displaying your passion for what you do.
3. “You never had a chance after that bad first impression.”
I’m sure you’ve heard it said time and time again that you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Just as it is when you meet someone new in any setting, a bad first impression is hard to shake.
In job search, that can include the way you’re dressed, poor manners, unreturned phone calls, discourteous behavior, etc.
In fact, likeability can sometimes make up for lacking some qualifications.
4. “Your references weren’t very flattering.”
If you’re not carefully selecting your references, and at least somewhat prepping them on how to present who you are, they may not screen well.
Make sure your reference list only includes professional people (not family or friends) who will have positive things to say about you.
5. “I back-channeled you, and found out the truth.”
Are you aware that, along with the references you provide, recruiters and employers will reach out to connections you have in common to get any dirt about you?
Especially with the popularity of LinkedIn, it’s not too difficult to identify mutual connections.
All the more reason to stay positive in your professional relationships.
6. “We already gave the job to an in-house employee.”
Plenty of job postings you see on job boards are not legitimate. Even on company websites, job postings may be listed just as a formality. And that’s perfectly legal for companies to do.
They often prefer hiring from within, but for whatever reason, have to post the opening.
This points to the futility of focusing too much of your job search efforts on responding to job board postings. Use job boards for research . . . not to find executive jobs.
7. “Your last few social media posts were deal-breakers.”
Social recruiting is the norm. The vast majority of recruiters and hiring managers use social media to assess candidates. They’re looking for red flags and other negative information that will rule you out.
Always be sure you present yourself in the best light on social media, and that anything you say about yourself and your career qualifications are truthful and align with what you say in your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Take control of your online presence by self-Googling once a week, so you’ll see what THEY see.
8. “The team is dragging its feet waiting for another candidate’s response.”
If you’re not hearing back from a recruiter, it could be that you’re the second choice, should the first choice not take the job.
Don’t take it personally that you’re number two. Be glad you’re still in the running. This may be the time to get in touch with the recruiter and convince them that you’re the best hire.
8 Tips for Working with Executive Recruiters
1. Treat them like you would any other networking contact. Build a relationship with them first (and stay in touch with them) – before asking for their help.
2. Get an introduction or referral to a trusted recruiter from someone in your network.
3. Because recruiters mostly source candidates via social networks, be sure your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking profiles are SEO-friendly (Search Engine Optimization), to make you more visible and findable to them.
4. Interact with recruiters and build effective virtual relationships with them via LinkedIn, Twitter and the other social networks where they hang out.
5. Also try to meet them in person, so they’ll get to know you as a person, not just a candidate. This will help them remember you better, too, when good-fit opportunities come their way.
6. Stay in touch with your recruiter, but not too often. Many appreciate emails over phone calls. Communication is essential when your situation changes (i.e., another job offer pending).
7. 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.
8. To eliminate some of the frustration of working with recruiters, always ask them:
- How their process works
- What happens when you send your resume to them
- What you should expect from them in terms of follow up or actions
Which Resume File Format(s) Do Executive Recruiters Prefer?
Career Directors International asked several recruiters to weigh in on which resume file format(s) they prefer to receive – Word, PDF, ATS-compliant, presentation version with graphics, or other.
In general, the findings reveal that different application methods call for different resume file formats. There is no one best format and style when applying for jobs. The formatting style and file type depend on the situation.
For instance, presentation versions of resumes including graphics can be visually appealing and easier to read, but they should only be used when sent directly to the reader. (Note: Since many recruiters like graphic elements, you need to ensure that critical ATS data isn’t in graphics or that graphics have been made ATS-friendly).
Applying through online job boards on the other hand, will often rely on applicant tracking software (ATS) to conduct an initial scan of the resume, and therefore an ATS-compliant document should be uploaded.
Since resumes need to be easily searchable in databases, the right file names and tags can enhance your resume’s ability to be searched for and retrieved. When working with an agency recruiter, it’s best to send a Word version, which allows the recruiter to easily modify the content.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that a successful resume is not just stuffed with keywords or graphic elements; instead it is thoughtfully written and designed to display story examples and proof that showcase how the key required skills were put to use.