The #1 point to remember about search firms is that they work for employers, not for you. That’s not necessarily bad news (see the first “Don’t” on the list).
- Don’t pay a recruiter. Recruiters are generally paid by employers; be very skeptical of one who asks you to pay.
- Don’t expect a recruiter to “market” you to employers. Their goal is not to find a job for you, but to fill a “pipeline” with qualified candidate for the employer’s attention.
- Don’t expect the recruiter to figure out how your experience doing “A” translates to doing “B.” The burden is on you to make it crystal clear with strategic job search communications, especially a well-written resume.
- Don’t expect much from search firms if you’re changing careers or are not an obvious fit for the job you’re seeking. If this is you, you’re most likely to find a job through networking.
- Don’t take it personally if they don’t get back to you. Recruiters are usually extremely busy, overworked and inundated with candidates. They don’t have time to return everyone’s messages.
- Don’t expect advice on your resume or job search.
- Don’t expect unbiased or “inside” information about the companies they represent. Do your own research.
- Don’t call them except by request. Unsolicited phone calls are a pet peeve of recruiters.
Instruct recruiters to send your resume to employers only with your permission each time. If they send a resume to a company you’ve already approached on your own, issues result that can cause the employer to simply drop you from consideration.
Pick one or two recruiters who specialize in your field – through word of mouth or Internet research – and build a relationship with them over time. Connect them with candidates they may be interested in. Update them regularly (once a month or as requested) on your availability and career (new skills, etc.), and attach your resume. Invite them to connect on LinkedIn.
If you aren’t able to take this approach, it may be helpful to broadcast your resume to a list of recruiters, perhaps via an online service like My Resume Agent. Be sure to attach a letter instructing them to ask your permission before submitting your resume – but realize there’s a risk they may overlook that request.
Continue job searching through other means, especially through networking and reaching out to targeted companies.
For most job seekers, using search firms should not be the main strategy, but it can be a valuable part of an overall campaign.