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Over the last 12 years I have been amazed at how many candidates I have worked with who don’t fully understand how a recruiter can assist them in their job search process. There are many that want to avoid working with search consultants, recruiters and headhunters because they feel they are gatekeepers preventing them from accessing the people at the companies they want to work for, when really the opposite is true. These individuals are working to help you land the job you want. They benefit from placing candidates in open positions and they want to fill open positions perhaps as much as the candidate wants to be offered the job. Both the recruiter and the job seeker benefit; applicants don’t have to pay recruiters any fees, the company does, yet the recruiter works to fill open positions of the hiring company. Of course recruiters need to move on to other candidates if you are not a fit for their paying clients. However, if the recruiter works in a niche (that you are in), they may let you know about other opportunities you would be a fit for as they come up. Because of this, it can be very helpful to maintain contact with a couple recruiters in your niche that represent different companies.

Recruiters get paid by companies to find great candidates. As a result, recruiters are expected to deliver high quality prospects with specific qualifications. Typically, companies want someone from a competitor with a proven track record of success who has relationships with the type of customers or clients that company is looking to acquire. This is particularly true in insurance and banking and recruiters generally don’t want candidates who have changed jobs too frequently, even if the reasons are solid. However, recruiters can help make a case for a candidate with a fluctuating job history, at least enough to obtain an interview.

But what if you are not actively looking for a new job? Let’s say you’re not thrilled with your current role but you haven’t updated your resume when a recruiter calls you out of the blue about an opportunity. Should you speak with that recruiter?

Absolutely! You have so much to gain and nothing to lose. Think of hiring and getting hired as a poker game. You are seated at the table with the hiring managers of other companies. In comes a recruiter who is allowed to stand and walk around the table to see what hand everyone is holding. The recruiter is incentivized to use that information to help everyone get what they want.

1. Don’t Wait Until You’re Desperate

The best time to look for a new job is before you actually need one. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a recruiter reach out to you before you are miserable and point you to a new role that might be worth taking a closer look? Does it really hurt to hear what that recruiter has to say? If there is one thing you can count on it’s that your dream job won’t turn up the day you are laid off or the day you can’t bear to work you current job another minute. Don’t wait until you’re desperate. Listen to the wise words of Harvey McKay; “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Or at least know about other wells before you’re dying for a drink.

2. Keep a Low Profile

So maybe you are worried about your employer finding out that you’re looking for another job. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Good candidates are hard to find and you may be surprised at what your company is willing to do to keep you. However, if you know there is nothing your current organization can do to entice you to stay, you may still be concerned about them learning you’re looking for a new job. Most industries can become very small, especially the higher you climb, and multiple people at your organization might have a relationship at the company you’re looking to move to. A recruiter can help in this instance as well by providing information and answering questions about a role so you know whether or not it’s worth the risk to pursue.

3. Gain a Blueprint for Success

Once you’ve decided you are interested in pursuing an opportunity you will have plenty of time to assess the pros and cons of making a move before choosing to accept. Many companies, especially in the insurance and commercial banking industries, take 6 to 8 weeks and beyond before deciding to make an offer to a particular candidate. A recruiter can help prepare you for what to expect, who you’ll be meeting with, what, if any, testing is required, and more. Recruiters are always subject to the changing priorities of the company they work for and sometimes the position you’re applying for can get put on the backburner, or you are no longer being considered, but wouldn’t you like to know either way?

4. Preparing for the Interview

A recruiter can be invaluable when providing you with the background and history of the person you are interviewing with and the position you are interviewing for. Knowing why the company is looking to fill the role, and what happened to the previous employee, can make the difference between a job offer and an email stating the company is moving on to more qualified applicants. Don’t lose your opportunity to someone less capable simply because they looked better in an interview.

5. Gain Interview Feedback

When a recruiter is involved in your interview process you can gain immediate insight into how you were perceived during the interview process. This is invaluable feedback that can help you put a stronger foot forward in sequential interviews. Likewise, a recruiter can help clarify any questions you may have regarding something that wasn’t initially clear during the interview.

6. Making the Final Decision

While some struggle with believing the grass is always greener on the other side, others question whether another opportunity might sound too good to be true. Change is difficult and every career decision will have a list of pros and cons. Sometimes staying is the best decision while other times the fear of making a change can prevent you from making a truly great change in your career. A recruiter can help you work through your thoughts, remind you why you were looking to make a change, and advocate for the new role, ultimately helping you make the best decision for you.

7. Negotiating

This is often one of the most difficult things for a job seeker to do. It can be tremendously difficult to find the balance between cheating yourself out of something more and asking for too much, ultimately causing the offer to go to someone who doesn’t ask for as much. You could also end up getting what you want but feeling like you’re under a microscope until you have proven yourself. Again, a recruiter can help by creating realistic expectations from all parties so the remaining items being negotiated won’t compromise the position.

8. Resignation Guidance

If your ultimate decision is to accept a new opportunity a recruiter can help you with your resignation if need be. It can be difficult, especially if you are on good terms with your employer and boss, to tell them that you’re leaving. A recruiter can help you with common resignation etiquette, what to expect and how to respond in a professional manner that will keep your relationships intact.

9. Mediator

There are times when an interviewer may over promise and under deliver either about compensation, responsibility or something else. A recruiter can help make sure proper expectations are set and executed for all parties involved. Often, a recruiter will reach out to a new candidate periodically once placed to make sure all parties are happy. A recruiter sometimes still has the opportunity to clarify expectations or remind all parties of what was said during the interview process.

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Article written by Steve Faulkner, President of Spencer James Group. Contact Steve today if you are a candidate in need of a recruiter.