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Working with recruiters

by Brought to you by ACS Career Navigator
January 1, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 1

Illustration of a hand picking someone out from a crowd.
Credit: Shutterstock
Recruiters can help pick you out of a crowd.

Searching for a new job can be a long, lonely process. While part of it is talking to people in your professional network, a large part is submitting applications and waiting to hear back. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have someone else do all that hard work for you? Well, you can. Sort of.

If you have a good online presence or an extensive professional network, recruiters may contact you about new opportunities. It’s almost always worth listening to what they have to say, and they might point you to the next step in your career. However, there are some things you want to keep in mind when working with recruiters.

Recruiters find candidates for jobs, not jobs for candidates. As a job seeker, you should never pay a recruiter. Good recruiters make their money from employers, and they get paid for each successful placement. Therefore, the recruiter’s loyalty is to the hiring company, not the job seeker. A recruiter who works in your industry or with the firm you’re interested in can be a great resource and could have connections and insights that can add to your knowledge of the industry. However, to the recruiter you are just one of many candidates who could fill the open positions.

You can seek them out. If recruiters don’t call you, you can contact them. Use your professional network and ask for introductions to companies and people who work in your industry or field. If you’re currently employed, you will need to do this discreetly, of course. Research each possibility, talk to individual recruiters to identify their areas of specialization, and see if they are a good match for where you want to go with your career. You should also ask them how they work: Will they let you know before they submit your information to each company? Do they work only on permanent positions, or do they also recruit for short-term, contract positions?

You can work with more than one recruiting agency. You want to develop a relationship with the two or three recruiters who are well respected and well connected in your industry and city. While having multiple recruiters looking for opportunities extends your reach, it also adds a level of complexity to your job search. You need to keep track of not only what positions you have applied to but also where each recruiter sends your résumé and what version was submitted. If two recruiters submit your application for the same job, the employer may pass on you completely rather than figure out which recruiter should get credit (and thus paid) for the referral.

Be honest with them. Good recruiters are partners in your job search. Tell them about what you are doing currently, what you do and do not want from your next job, and your long-term career goals. The more they know about what you want, the more effective they can be in helping you find it. This means you have to know what you want; recruiters are not career counselors.

Always be honest with recruiters, and keep them informed of what you are doing to advance your job search. Let them know if you have interviews or are going to accept an offer. Treat them professionally, and they will trust that you will treat a potential employer the same way.

Get involved in the discussion. ACS Career Tips is published the first week of every month in C&EN. Post comments, follow the discussion, and suggest topics for future columns on the ACS Careers blog (­careers).


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