How do I deal with a professional recruiter?
by John Brandwagt, Practice Leader, Finance and Accounting

So it’s time for you to put your toe into the water and check out what may be out there for new career advancement opportunities for you. You’re busy and you don’t have the luxury of time to respond to umpteen job postings or ads. You do need a professional who can be your “eyes and ears on the market” for you, someone you can trust will have your best intentions in mind. Now how do you get that relationship?

Think back to the last time you considered buying a home. Were you upfront with the specifics of location, size, and price range, expectations of style and timing of your potential move? That’s exactly how you need to be with a professional recruiter, search consultant or as we affectionately like to call them “headhunter”. The more you disclose, honestly, the more likely that individual will be able to find you the position you are seeking.

From a recruiter’s standpoint, what are some of the dos and don’ts that you should remember when dealing with a professional recruiter? Whether the recruiter is working on a retained basis or contingency, they will be measuring your level of “engagement”, your commitment to working with them during the process. The first clue they look for… “Is this person spreading themselves out across the market?” Are you answering ads that look dramatically different so that it appears you might be unfocused on what you desire in a new opportunity? Are you talking to everyone in the business? A real estate agent won’t give you much of their time if they sense you are working with 4 or 5 realtors to find a home. The same could be said for a recruiter. The reason being, they are looking for a degree of commitment on your part. The higher the level of commitment on your part, the more they will be willing to do for you. Also time in the placement process is precious and one must be respectful of each other’s time. Responsiveness to calls is a clear indicator to most recruiters if the candidate (who is looking) is committed to the process.

Once you’re ready to look you should be prepared to answer the following questions:

• What type of role/title am I seeking?
• What is the targeted income I need and what would be the minimum I’d take for the ideal role?
• What types of companies would I like to work for?
• What geographical locations would I be open and/or relocate to?
• When would I be prepared to start a new job?

Many of these questions provoke other questions so you must ask yourself these and be prepared to answer them to not only a recruiter but likely to a prospective employer.

Finding a good recruiter to represent you is important. You must also gauge their level of commitment to you. Will they meet face to face with you? Do they have the capacity to understand what you do and can articulate that to their clients? With that, are they boutique style, concentrating on one professional discipline or are they dealing with various positions, financial one hour, sales or technical the next? Will they keep you posted on upcoming opportunities and how will they do that? Do they have access to the types of employers you want to work with? What will they do for you when it’s your turn to interview, will they prepare you for it and how will they do that? What role will they play when negotiating an offer acceptance?

As you can see, this relationship is a “two way street”. The recruiter will have certain expectations of you and likewise you should have the same of them. The process works when the dialogue flows back and forth thus producing a Win-Win situation for candidate-recruiter-employer. If there is a breakdown, that’s when the problems start. Knowing what you want, need and expect is important and knowing when and how much you are willing to flex on them is equally as important.

In closing, once when I was approached for my business card I asked back “why would you want one?” He replied, “There are certain cards I like to keep in my wallet for those occasions when I really need help: a knowledgeable doctor, a strong lawyer and a trusted headhunter.” Make sure you find a good one to help you with your career search


John is Practice Leader for INTEQNA's Calgary Finance & Accounting search team. With over 9 years as a professional recruiter starting in Information Technology, he has lead and infused vision for both the Calgary and Western Canadian operations.. Previous to recruitment John was a Controller and eventually Sales & Operations Manager for a household name in lighting. You can reach John at 403.290.6871.

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