As Glinda, the Good Witch of the North said in the Wizard of Oz, “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”  There are good recruiters and there are bad recruiters.  Job seekers have a lot of choices when looking for employment.  Do you apply directly with a company?  Which recruiter should you use?  Who’s going to take your best interest to heart?  After having been on both sides of this debate – and providing a lot of unbiased guidance, I felt it was time to share what I’ve learned.

A Recruiter’s Insight into the Staffing Industry

1. When to Use a Recruiter

It seems that job seekers have no shortage of choices with regard to representation on the job hunt.  But is it always necessary?  Yes and no.  Some firms are on vendor lists and still have to go through the same submittal process that you do – submit the resume to HR or a VMS (Vendor Management System) and hope that someone looks at it.  This can be compared to sending your resume into a black hole.  If your resume does get reviewed, it’s probably going to be by someone who has so many other things to do, they’ll do a cursory search for buzzwords and then arbitrarily decide whether to forward a resume on or not.  Other times, salespeople have cultivated relationships with managers and can submit – and sell – candidates directly to them.  These relationships are great because you get to know the manager and know what they are looking for in a new employee.  You also get to know the ins and outs, the “nitty gritty” details of the position (basically everything that isn’t included in the job description).  In cases like this, it’s beneficial to utilize the services of a recruiter to submit your resume.  You have a much higher possibility of having your resume screened and being called for an interview.  Also, you have a better chance of getting feedback because the salespeople talk to these managers regularly.  One suggestion I would make is to find a recruiter you feel comfortable with – build a rapport – and then reach out to that person before you submit your resume to an online posting.  If they have a relationship with that company, consider submitting thorough them.  If not, go ahead and submit directly to the company.

2. Not All Recruiters are Created Equal

The age old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” holds true for recruiters too.  If you think you’ve encountered someone slimy – you probably have.  If a recruiter wants to submit you to a client but won’t tell you who, that’s a red flag.  A lot of companies (including PSCI) post positions online and use their company name as the client.  If you see this, ensure you find out who the client is before you ok the submittal.  If they don’t want to provide that information, I’d think twice about using that recruiter.  As for myself, I’d never submit someone without telling them who the client is.  That benefits both the recruiter and the job seeker: What if you’ve already applied there?  What if you have no desire to work with that specific company?  What if you worked there in the past and had a bad experience?  There is nothing more frustrating than getting all excited about a potential new position only to find out you already know about it.  Do some research before you apply for jobs.  Is the company an agency?  Or is it the actual end client?  You never know if you submit to an agency job post if that’s going directly to a client or not.  A good recruiter wouldn’t do that – but again, not all recruiters are created equal.

3. Think Local, Not Global

Most reputable companies recruit locally rather than nationally.  Even the big players have local offices.  There is no way to be able to keep your finger on the pulse of every job in every market.  Even if a company has one corporate office and teams dedicated to a specific region or city, there is no way for them to have the carefully cultivated relationships that local firms have.  If a company is based in, say, California, they probably don’t have the best idea of what is happening on the East Coast.  The recruiters are probably working on positions based all over the country and they have a lower chance of having all of the details and the local information that a nearby company would (I know I can’t tell you about the commuting or the employment trends in San Francisco… but I can about the greater Philadelphia area!).  Even if you utilize online map systems they don’t always give you those insights – a 20 mile drive from West Chester to Wilmington would take you about 40 minutes depending on traffic – it’s not a static conversion.  If you are looking to relocate, get in touch with local recruiters in your desired area, they’re the Subject Matter Experts on that region.

4. Beware Email Only Communication

Another trick I’ve seen is people who only communicate through email.  I know, it’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s convenient.  I can email you from the car, the beach, the mall.  But always try to have a real conversation with your recruiter.

5. Interview the Interviewer

This person is representing you for your next career move.  Interview them just like they interview you.   Make sure you can understand them, make sure they seem like a person you want to work with.  Deep down we all have the same motive, but some go about it better than others.

6. Do Your Homework

With the advent of social media and online reviews, it’s not just about restaurants anymore.  Companies like Glassdoor provide information on businesses – from reviews from applicants and employees, to salary information, to job descriptions.  Make sure you’re dealing with someone who seems to have a good reputation rather than someone with a lot of unhappy customers.  Also, use your network.  Almost everyone has a LinkedIn profile and in today’s market, a lot of people have been consultants or used recruiters.  A great statistic is that someone who receives good service will tell about five people, those who receive bad service tell a dozen.  See who they’ve liked – and who they haven’t.  Who communicates regularly and who doesn’t?  Who actually listens to what you’re looking for in a new job and who just wants to shoe-horn you into a position?  The worst thing a recruiter can say is “I’ve got a job that is PERFECT for you”…

In conclusion, there are a lot of choices out there.  Job searching can be scary, but with a little preparation and some due diligence, you can have a less stressful experience and get the job you want – maybe even with a bit of help!

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