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Are you helping me? Building a relationship with a recruiter to maximise your job opportunities

By James Bessant, 13th March 2013

As with many sales-focused industries, recruitment consultancies are often seen as an unnecessary cog in a fairly round and straightforward wheel.

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I know recruiters are often branded as being solely focused on money and not on providing quality service provision to people that need our support; you, the job-hunter. My own personal experience of our industry is mixed having worked for two very different organisations. Having started my career in a heavily-revenue/sales driven company, I recognised that whilst this type of business was highly successful in their approach, I personally wanted to work for a recruiter who spent more time focused on the candidate journey through the recruitment lifecycle. At Park Street People, I therefore drive home the importance to our staff of aiming to support every candidate once contact has been established with them.

From a recruiter's perspective, we want to be able to assist every candidate who we come in contact with. We benefit through sourcing a suitable position for a candidate and therefore it's in our interest to go out-of-our way to help. However, when a candidate isn't receiving the feedback or support they are looking for, it's important to bear in mind some of the following points:

The client's requirements and feedback is crucial; a successful recruiter will always listen to their client and look to meet the skills and character specifications which they are provided. Whilst there is usually some room to manoeuvre, considering candidates too wide of the mark can cause a deterioration of relationship with the client.

Recruitment consultants (in most cases) have revenue targets to meet; time therefore has to be used efficiently to source candidates for the live vacancies they are currently working on. Many recruiters would love to speak to more candidates but this can be detrimental to their personal performance if too much time is used inefficiently.

Many clients require small shortlists of candidates to be submitted for a vacancy from external recruiters; this means the recruitment consultant often has to be fairly brutal to narrow down a long-list of applicants to a short-list of highly skilled and suitable profiles.

Sometimes a recruiter simply doesn't have an update to give; it's in the interest of the consultant to keep all suitable candidates engaged throughout the interview process and they should always keep you fully informed as and when an update is available.

A recruiter can only supply the jobs they have live at that time; through networking and speaking to new potential clients, we can look to generate new vacancies for candidates but ultimately the immediate focus needs to be on supporting the clients who we have current vacancies with.

Some of these areas can often be overlooked by candidates when they desperately are searching for a new job. I've come across so many frustrated applicants during my 12 years in recruitment who, once you talk through some of these points, better understand the pressures and difficulties a recruitment consultant can face on a daily basis. How then can a candidate improve their chances of building a successful rapport with a recruiter when it often seems so difficult?

The job application

Assess the roles you are applying for; are they realistic in-line with the skills you currently possess? A recruitment consultant has to make a judgement call about your application by reviewing your profile against their client's needs. A candidate who makes too many unrealistic applications is unlikely to improve their chances of securing a role.

Consider the general employment market conditions; with a weak economy (as we currently have in the UK), straightforward economics is applicable - the supply of candidates far exceeds the demand from clients. Position your expectations accordingly, particularly if your skills lie within an area where applications are likely to be high. A candidate will naturally have to make more applications to find the right employer.

Never rely on a spell-checker with your CV and application letter; proof-read it on numerous occasions to ensure these critical documents are free of errors. When assessing your suitability for a vacancy, a recruitment consultant will always factor straightforward CV errors into their thinking.

Have patience; a recruiter will have different timeframes to work toward on each vacancy. For example, if a candidate makes an application for a role where the client is currently on holiday, it's very likely the consultant will prioritise other vacancies first

Agency interviews & dialogue with recruiters

Be honest during an agency interview; recruitment consultants are there to help you. If we have a full and clear understanding of your current situation, then we're able to work in a fully informed manner with our client(s). Misrepresenting your background or intentions will come back to haunt you eventually.

Be upfront about where you're interviewing; you don't necessarily need to tell a recruiter the company names you're interviewing with but be honest if you've made an application to a company who that agency is representing. Sending your CV multiple times to the same company can only reflect badly on your application.

Recognise we're the point of entry to a company and act professionally no matter how frustrated you are; too often candidates see a recruiter as an obstacle to their end goal - an interview with a company to get a job. Always appreciate that every single time we communicate with a candidate, we are assessing their suitability for our client. If someone doesn't act professionally with us, we'd assume there's a very high probability this would happen with our client as well.

Take on board constructive feedback in a positive fashion; many experienced recruiters will be able to give incredibly useful advice to improve your chances of making successful job applications. Absorb this information even if it can appear critical of the work you've put in so far.

If support and guidance is provided by the recruiter, work with them; a good recruitment consultant will know their client inside-out (as though they are an employee of that business). You will maximise your chances of success by working with the consultant to prepare for an interview in the way they require you to.

Get timeframes and stick to them; most recruiters will have a clear timeline they are working toward with their client. Ask questions to understand how quickly feedback will come through on an application (and in-turn a job interview). Take onboard this information and then be persistent to follow-up with the recruitment consultant if this time has been reached. Waiting is never easy and it's in the recruiter's interest to push the process along as quickly as possible.

Things to avoid

Don't be overly persistent with a recruitment consultant; as mentioned previously, a good recruiter wants to help and support you throughout a recruitment process. Calling and emailing non-stop is off-putting and would create concern in the mind of the recruiter over your suitability for their client(s). Recognise there's a line between being proactive (positive) and pestering (negative) the consultant.

Don't ever take anything personally; a recruitment consultant has to be accurate in their work to justify their fee. If you're not selected for an interview process or you don't receive a call following your application, recognise this means there were candidates who were better suited for the role. Follow-up with an email to explain what you're looking for and this will garner the best possible response from a recruiter.

Don't disappear during a recruitment process; nothing is more frustrating for a recruiter than identifying a suitable candidate, getting their client excited and then......nothing! We all appreciate honesty and it's far better to send a quick email or make a short phone call to make your consultant aware of what your thinking. I personally will go out of my way to find the perfect job for someone if they are honest to tell me a job which I've sent them for isn't right for them.

Don't try to circumnavigate the recruiter to get to the client direct; as no-no's go, this is a recruiter's pet hate. You don't know when you'll need support in the future and by making a direct application to a client when you've talked through the role with a recruiter, you've immediately created a rod for your own back. What happens if you're unsuccessful in your application and you then see another role from the same recruiter? It's highly unlikely they'll give you the same amount of support the second time around and you could miss out on the perfect role due to your initial decision.

Don't contact every agency in your area; select a suitable number of recruiters who you feel confident will represent you in the best possible manner and then work with them to increase your chances of successfully identifying the right job. Knowing who you're working with in your job search allows you to invest time in building a rapport with each recruitment consultant.

Don't apply for every vacancy which seems suitable to your skills; the automatic response to this point is 'why?' The majority of employers work with multiple agencies per hire. If you see two adverts which appear to mirror each other, there's a very strong chance they are the same role. Choose one of the agencies to apply through and speak to them about the role. It'll save your time, the recruiter's time and inevitably the client's time having to resolve a potentially complicated situation. 

Always remember that a recruiter benefits from helping you successfully obtain a job through them. By making sure you manage this relationship in the most effective manner, you'll dramatically improve your chances of getting more opportunities from the agencies you partner with.

Tags: Standards, candidate spotlight, new opportunities, PSP, Park Street People, candidate advice, Digital & Technology candidate, Sales & Marketing candidate, Languages candidate, Office Support Candidate, assign James Bessant

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