Recruiters work hard to make lasting matches between job seekers and companies. The process can be complex and requires exceptional clarity with expectation-setting, follow-through, and communication.

To make sure you are informed and prepared before working with a recruiter, check out these six things they (we) should be discussing with you first:

1. We Help Clients Find Candidates for Their Job Openings (Versus Helping Candidates Find Jobs)

This may sound like the same thing, but they are very different. Companies hire recruiting agencies to find candidates to fill their open positions. In this arrangement, recruiters are held to a very high standard in terms of the types of candidates we can present.

Our job is to identify and recruit candidates with very specific skill sets to fill job openings for our clients. This means we are required to find a candidate who often possesses all (not just some) of the following:

- experience in a specific industry;

- current, real-world experience with definitive technical skills and/or products, including current versions of those products;

- a minimum number of years of experience in a given field;

- experience working for companies of a certain size;

- a degree in a specific area of study;

- the ability to commute a distance within a reasonable radius of the company;

- specific certifications;

- and willingness to accept a salary offer within the range the company has budgeted to pay.

Once we have identified candidates based on these requirements, we also have to make sure candidates fit the organizational culture and have good chemistry with the manager and the team. This is very important not only for the client, but also for the candidate. The candidate’s career goals also need to align with the company’s structure and plans for growth. All of these pieces need to fit in order to make the right placement for a client.

hills2. When an Agency Tells You They Are Not a Good Resource for Your Job Search, It Does Not Mean You Are ‘Unhirable’

This is a very common misconception, and it leads to frustration and negativity toward recruiters. Although we would love to, unfortunately, we just can’t help everyone. While a client needs us to find candidates who meet all of the criteria outlined above, that very same company may consider hiring a candidate who fits most of those requirements if it were to find that candidate through its own recruiting efforts. So, depending on your background, the job, and the company, you may sometimes have better success searching on your own. This is especially true if you are making a career change or are looking to re-enter the workforce after being out for a period of time.

3. Trust Me: We Want to Find a Way to Help You

Recruiters definitely want to find a way to place you – this is a big part of our job! Anything we can do to help you be more marketable to our clients is in your best interest and ours. One of the biggest challenges for a recruiter is when a client company is very strict with its requirements.

If a recruiter doesn’t think they can help you, it’s not personal. Furthermore, recruiters should be careful not to set the wrong expectation with candidates. We work hard to avoid leading someone to believe we can help them if we cannot. Honesty is always the best policy – even if we have hard news to deliver.

4. The Importance of the ‘F-Word’

Feedback is a hot topic for recruiters. There is no such thing as too much feedback. The more feedback we have, the better we can do our job and the more efficient we can be in making the right placements. Unfortunately, some clients are better than others in providing feedback on issues like why a resume wasn’t selected or why someone didn’t move past the first interview.

There are times when we recruiters don’t get feedback for two weeks, and sometimes we don’t get any at all. While this is not the norm, it does happen, and recruiters do whatever they can to prevent this situation. It’s extremely frustrating for both the candidate and the recruiter, and it certainly doesn’t make the recruiter look good in the eyes of the candidate.

If we explain you are not moving forward in the process but don’t have specifics as to why, we can promise that we did whatever we could do to get more information for you – not only for your knowledge, but to help us figure out how to find a more suitable fit for you and for the job we’re filling.

houses5. We May Not Have Anything for You at the Moment

While many companies prefer to partner with an agency when it comes to hiring, recruiters don’t get access to every open job. We also don’t have control over when positions become available and what types of roles open up. Your background may line up well with the kinds of roles we regularly recruit for, but timing is everything. Sometimes, we just don’t have any roles that are a match for you at the moment.

This doesn’t mean you’ve fallen off our radar or that we are not interested in helping you. We just don’t have anything to show you right now. The good news? Things change quickly in the recruiting world, so it’s important we stay in touch.

If you’re wondering how we should communicate and who should initiate it, be sure to discuss that with your recruiter. Some recruiters may want a weekly call or email, while others may want to connect once a quarter. You can rest assured that as soon as something comes in that is a fit, we are going to get in touch with you.

6. Recruiters Are People, Too

Recruiters who are only concerned about making quick placements won’t be in this business for long. Time has proven that. Building strong relationships with clients and candidates is the key to longevity. That means being honest, ethical, setting the right expectations, giving sound career advice, being a good listener, acting with integrity, and doing the right thing every single time.

Despite our best efforts, we are never going to make everyone happy all the time. If you are working with a recruiter who isn’t meeting your expectations, you should absolutely have a conversation about how they can work to better serve you. Our goal is to get you a great new place to work, to learn, and to grow while meeting the needs of our clients. That’s not an easy task, but we are up to the challenge.

Kelly Finn is a principal consultant at WinterWyman’s Information Technology Search division.

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