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Getting the most from your recruiter: a guide for candidates

We recently published our guide for how digital companies can get the most out of their relationship with recruitment agencies. Today we’re doing the same thing – for candidates.

Whether you’re looking for your first job in an exciting digital industry, are looking to make the switch from permanent to contract work or back again, or are a seasoned professional seeking a new senior position, a recruitment consultant can be a key partner in your jobhunting process.

But – and believe us, we’re all too aware of this – many jobseekers have poor experiences of working with recruitment consultants, viewing them as a ‘necessary evil’.

From the basics – unreturned phone calls, a poor understanding of the kind of job you’re looking for – to downright harmful behaviours, like putting you forward for jobs you’re not interested in or even speaking to your current employer, there are some real horror stories out there.

For obvious reasons, we like to try and change this!

So aside from choosing carefully who you work with, how can you make sure that your recruiter relationship is productive, effective – perhaps even pleasant?

INSIST ON AN INTERVIEW

Not necessarily a face-to-face one, but certainly a comprehensive phone call at the very least, so that your recruiter can really get to grips with your skills and experiences – and, just as importantly – what you want from a new position. You don’t just want a digital designer job – you want one at a company that looks like A, with clients like X, Y and Z, in a team with a certain ethos and a building with a blue front door? Your recruiter should find all this out, on day one.

Any recruiter that glosses over this step isn’t worth dealing with – they’re more interested in you as a number than you as an individual. And by going through the full interview process, you’re far more likely to be recommended for highly relevant vacancies that are going to get you excited, rather than positions that just are vaguely similar to what you’re doing now.

BE HONEST

And so will we. Yes, we ask where else you’re interviewing because we need to gather new sales leads – let’s not pretend otherwise.

But we also ask because it helps us do our job better. By understanding the kind of companies that are exciting you – or, indeed, that don’t appeal once you’ve gone through the interview process – we can get a better idea of which of our clients will suit you best.

Likewise, if you’re at the final round of interviews with four other companies, it’s important for us to be able to manage our clients’ expectations – and even hurry them along with scheduling interviews with you!

There’s a practical element too – by knowing when your interviews are scheduled in, we can try and book our own interviews at similar times, so you don’t have to negotiate two separate afternoons out of the office.

Never forget – we don’t get paid unless we place you in a new job – one that you’re going to stick with.

FILL IN THE GAPS

Recruiters will generally contact you because they’ve accessed your details either online (job boards where you’ve posted your CV, LinkedIn etc) or offline (in their own private networks and databases built up over the years). Ensuring that your online profiles are bang up-to-date can help reduce irrelevant phone calls. So, once you’ve started a new position, be sure to update your LinkedIn profile and remove your CV from any online job boards where you’ve posted it.

ENSURE THERE’S A REPRESENTATION EMAIL

What’s a representation email? It’s an agreement, in writing, from your recruitment agency, asking you to confirm, also in writing, that you are happy to be put forward for job X at salary Y.

You should get a representation email for every single vacancy a recruitment consultant – any recruitment consultant – puts you forward for.

Lots of recruiters don’t bother with them. We think this is lazy and disrespectful. You have the right to know exactly where your CV is – and isn’t. You should be in control of which positions you’re considered for.

However, for representation emails to work well, you need to be prepared to reply to them sharpish, giving your recruiter the go-ahead to do their job. Don’t hold up the process.

ASK FOR EXTRAS

Want to check your CV’s formatted in an easy-to-read way? Anxious about your first interview and want a coaching session? Interested in knowing how much you could expect as a starting salary at a competitor? Thinking about taking up contract work but not sure about the legal and financial requirements? These are all questions and issues that a reputable recruitment agent should be able to deal with. So ask for the extras and really maximise that relationship!

We’d love to know what you think. What are the number one things your recruitment agent can do to make your relationship run like a dream? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.