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Help Your Recruiter Help You: A Candidate’s Guide

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By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Recruiters are part broker, part matchmaker. They help employers and candidates put together great deals, and find that ideal fit. But they need help from both hiring managers (HM) and candidates. Here in Part One I’ll share insights about how candidates can help the recruiter, and in Parts Two and Three I’ll present advice for HMs.

As a candidate, Rhonda Recruiter is a valuable resource for you, whether she works directly for the employer or for a recruiting firm. But before you even talk to Rhonda . . .

Design what you want
Be clear about what you’re looking for in your next role, and why you’re leaving your current position. There are no wrong answers — maybe you feel limited, or you believe you can get more money. An honest assessment of your motivation will help you target your own search. At Decision Toolbox (DT), we call this “designing what you want or dealing with what you get.” Try discussing your career goals with family and friends, to get feedback.

Know your strengths
Also clarify what you bring to the table — particularly this employer’s table. Research the employer’s needs and determine how your talents can make an impact. These become talking points for interacting with the recruiter or hiring manager. Make sure these points stand out on your résumé . . . it has four to ten seconds to get the hiring manager’s attention. Tailor a unique version of your résumé for each job you want.

Now that you’re ready to start working with Rhonda . . .

Be positive
Good candidates can undermine their chances by criticizing their current employer or complaining about their paycheck. No recruiter wants to put a whiner in front of the client — it makes both of you look bad. Focus instead on solutions and how you can add value to the employer’s organization.

Play straight
Nobody likes surprises. It’s happened to Rhonda: everyone is on board right up to the offer, and then the candidate reveals that she has a non-compete agreement. The deal falls apart and both Rhonda and the candidate appear shifty. That kind of issue doesn’t have to undermine the deal as long as you share the information up front. That way Rhonda can set the stage with the employer in advance.

Other potential tripping points to share: stock options, golden handcuffs, unused vacation weeks, or an upcoming bonus. In addition, take time to compare benefits plans and explore relocation options.

Another credibility gap to avoid can occur if the responses you give during an interview with the HM don’t match the ones you gave the recruiter. Rhonda and the HM compare notes, and inconsistencies are a red flag.

Don’t burn bridges
Never no-show to an interview. Plans may change, but the world is smaller than you may think. With applicant tracking systems, a lapse goes on record. It makes Rhonda look bad to the client, and recruiters don’t forget. For the same reason, be open to providing referrals if it turns out this position isn’t a fit. Rhonda may have another position in a couple of months that’s a great fit for you. If she remembers you as cooperative and professional, she may just reach out.

Clear the channels
If Rhonda hears something from the client, you would expect her to tell you, right? It works both ways. Every piece of information is important. If you hear from the HM, let your recruiter know.

Do your homework
Before interviewing with the HM, visit the company’s website, view LinkedIn profiles of key players, and google news stories. That way you can tailor your answers and ask smart questions.

Now go get that job! Stay tuned for how hiring managers can help recruiters help them find the best talent.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us or check out the DT infographic.

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  • " (DT Recruiter) is great! It's eminently clear that she's invested in the best possible outcome for both clients and candidates -- she was always available for updates, candid thoughts and juggles to the schedule. She made a fairly onerous task manageable and (dare I say this out loud?) fun! You have a treasure on your staff and I look forward to working with her again! "
  • " (DT Recruiter) was fantastic, from start to finish. "
  • " (The DT Recruiter) was terrific. She dealt with some of the internal struggles our company is having in terms of "what type of candidate do we really need vs. what we thought we needed." She helped management think through the type of candidate we were looking for and was a huge asset to us. I also liked the web based system that DT has set up. I felt informed throughout the process. "
  • " We would not be where we are without you. "
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