How to find a recruiter to help you find a job

When a recruiter ignores you, it hurts.

If you’ve been on a job search for weeks or even months, those agonizing days takes its toll on you.

And when recruiters ignore your requests for available opportunities and never get back to you, you start to doubt your skills and wonder if you are good enough for the job market.

This is especially true if you’re moving to a new country — think of the times recruiters have told you to contact them after you land in Canada?

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

First, understand what’s in it for them. Contingency recruiters get paid around 25 per cent commission by companies who use them to find candidates. And they get paid only when a candidate is offered the job. No job, no commission.

You might be thinking you are the recruiter’s client and they should be bending over backward to find you a job.

Big mistake. The recruiter’s clients are the companies (employers) that hire them to find candidates to fill a role.

The recruiter’s job is to find the right candidate for the company they represent, not to give a job to every candidate who contacts them.

As such, what recruiters want are picture-perfect candidates who will look good both on paper and in person to the hiring manager.

You might also be thinking you don’t need the services of recruiters if they’re going to be such arrogant snobs who will only give their attention to job-attractive candidates and not care about your other skills and abilities. Also a big mistake.

The right recruiter can be a strong ally in your job search because:

  • They have access to the hidden job market, as they get first dibs on upcoming jobs available to employers who use them.
  • They can be specialized in a specific market, as are you. So they are well connected with the people who have the authority and money to hire you.
  • They know the hidden truths behind what employers want. This juicy info will not be advertised on public job descriptions.
  • After an interview, they can be an objective middle-person getting honest feedback on how you did, feedback the employer may be uncomfortable to give you.

So what do you need to do to get recruiters on your side, instead of having them ignore your requests for attention?

Getting recruiters on your side

Now you know what recruiters and headhunters care about — candidates they can most easily can be placed into jobs so they earn their commissions. So let’s talk about how you can make yourself irresistibly attractive to recruiters.

What you should NOT use a recruiter for: Recruiters and headhunters are not career counsellors. Don’t expect them to give you in-depth knowledge about technicalities of your job and prep you on interview skills. Don’t expect them to tell you what positions you should apply for. Don’t expect them to re-write your resumé for you. At most, they may give you some feedback on your resumé, which you should listen to very carefully, because they know what their clients want. That’s about it. Anything beyond that is an added bonus.

It’s still up to you to do the work it takes to be job-ready. You must have clear goals in mind and know exactly what your target job title is, your expected salary, have a well constructed resumé and LinkedIn profile, and have sharp job interview skills.

If you need help with the above, seek a career coach or job search coach, not a recruiter! Recruiters are useful contacts to have in your job search, nothing more.

What annoys a recruiter

Badgering a recruiter for an update on jobs and feedback from an interview. They have hundreds of candidates under their belt, and their goal is to pursue the right one for the job. If you are a right fit for a job, believe me, they will be pestering you!

Breathing down a recruiter’s neck will not impress them, and moreover, it also shows character that you may not be the kind of person their client (the employer) would favour in a job interview. Desperation stinks! Especially in a job search. Don’t let it ruin your chances.

Also, all the reasons we covered earlier on what not to use a recruiter for would also annoy them.

So now that you know the wrong approach, let’s dive into the right way of doing it.

How do I find the right recruiter for me?

Go for the ones specialized in your industry. Always!

Do a Google search for “Recruitment Agencies for [Industry] [location]”. For example, if you are in the marketing industry, Google “Recruitment Agencies for Marketing Toronto”.

You will get a healthy list of recruiters to choose from. Go through their websites and identify a couple of individuals from each organization you would like to work with, and then scout them on LinkedIn. Your goal is to connect directly with these people and get on their radar.

How many companies should you select? Don’t go overboard. Be cautious that employers may be using more than one recruiter to fill a role, and if both companies pitch the same candidate (you), it could cause confusion and cost you the job.

Now that you’ve identified a couple of recruitment agencies and the individuals who work in them, it’s time to reach out to them.

Before connecting to a recruiter

As stated earlier, a recruiter is not your career counsellor.

You have to have done your homework in advance; don’t expect them to do it for you.

The knowledge-in-hand you need would be:

  • A clear goal of the type and level of job you are seeking, your “target job title.” Eg. Marketing Analyst roles. Take note if you have experience in a specific industry (like Banking or Telecom).
  • A killer resumé you’ve constructed with extensive market research and/or with help from a career coach or professional resumé writer.
  • Your expected salary range, once again based on the local job market research.
  • A LinkedIn profile designed to perfection, once again with the assistance of a coach or LinkedIn expert.
  •  A list of companies you will be targeting.
  • A specific date of when you will be “job ready.”

The last point especially applies to soon-to-be newcomers to a country like Canada.

Many newcomers prematurely attempt to reach out to recruiters only to be rejected with a “call-us-when-you-land” response.

This is not a brush off. Well, maybe it is.

But look at it from the recruiter’s perspective. If you do not have a solid confirmed date of when you will be in Canada, ready to work, why would their clients be interested in you?

If an employer has approached a recruiter to find a suitable candidate for a position, they need someone right now!

Making the connection with a recruiter

Without a shadow of doubt, LinkedIn is you best option.

Indeed, 87 per cent of recruiters state they scan LinkedIn before shortlisting candidates. I once had a recruiter state that she was reviewing my LinkedIn profile during my first phone screening call.

The biggest mistake an aspiring jobseeker makes when reaching out on LinkedIn is connecting with the default connection request message. You’ve already taken the wrong turn to rejection city.

Take the time and effort to customize your connection request by adding the 300-character note with the request in order to increase the success rate of acceptance.

Remember, 1st level LinkedIn connections are fuel for recruiters. If they have a healthy repository of 1st level connections in their bucket, they don’t need to search far and wide for new hires. But you must demonstrate you are a quality candidate right from the get-go. Research on their companies and their profiles before reaching out and use that information in your connection request.

Do not be afraid to ask them questions to show you’re confident enough to be assessing their skills as much as them assessing yours. It’s a sign you are not desperate for a job and are willing to stick to your goals.

See a sample of how that request might look.

Maintain the recruiter relationship

Touching base with your recruiter every now and then will keep you on their radar, which is important if you want to stand out of the crowd.

The last thing you want to do is keep pestering them by asking for updates on current opportunities. They are on the hunt for opportunities all the time — it’s how they earn their money. So rest assured, they are on top of their game. The question is, are you on top of their list.

Here are a couple of options you have to engage with your recruiter every week or so to stay on their radar:

  • Share relevant industry news with them. If you hear about updates from companies that has new hiring potential, such as new projects or company expansions, that’s certainly newsworthy, commission-yielding information to a recruiter.
  • If you are aware of an opportunity that you are unfit for, introduce them to someone on your personal network who may be interested in the role.
  • Update them on your job search strategy. If you’ve found a new company you are targeting, informational interviews you attended and what you learned, updates you’ve made to your profile, send them an update along as it’s substantially noteworthy.

Once again, don’t badger them with constant messaging. Use your better judgement to note whether the information you are sending them is worth their attention.

Opportunity Alert! What do you do?

Congratulations!

Your recruiter found you an opportunity. Take advantage of it!

Your recruiter should have inside information about the company and what they are looking for.

Ask for a detailed job description that you can customize your resumé and cover letter to.

The most important question is to ask about the organization’s and/or department’s challenges and the hiring manager’s personality.

This kind of information will not exist in a public job description and can only come from an insider — in this case, your recruiter. For example, a recruiter once told me that her client was looking for someone who had the guts to stand their ground and not be afraid to say “No” when it mattered.

As awkward as that skillset was, I made sure I prepared an elevator pitch that incorporated the fact that I was not a “Yes-man” kinda guy.

Ask your recruiter for an opinion on your resumé as well. They will know if it contains all the fine details their client is looking for.

Finally, don’t betray your recruiter! Nothing will sour the relationship that agreeing on one thing and asking for something else at the interview. For example, if you agreed with your recruiter that you are looking for a salary of $50-60K, but you ask for $70K at the interview, you’re asking for trouble.

After the interview

If the recruiter is doing their job well, they will follow up with the hiring manager on how the interview went.

Another benefit of working with a recruiter is that depending on their relationship with their client, they can come away with honest feedback about your performance at the interview.

Critical feedback the hiring manager may find awkward to give you in person may be passed down to you through the recruiter.

It could be positive or negative. Take this feedback very seriously and learn from it for your next interview.

Once again, don’t badger your recruiter for an update everyday. They want to get paid as well, and are doing their best to fill that position. If the employer has selected you, they will make sure you will be the first to know the good news.

Don’t be too disheartened if you don’t hear back. Roll up your sleeves and carry on with your job search!

Building stronger relationships

After reading this post, you might be thinking “It feels like I’m working for the recruiter rather than the other way around. I’m the one that needs a job, yet I have to help recruiter?!?!”

You ought to know by now that networking with people in your industry is the most important strategy to a jobseeker. And networking means building relationships, not asking for jobs.

There is no better way to build a professional relationship with someone other than unconditionally offering value by helping them. Why else would they help you in return? They don’t owe you a damn thing.

And neither do recruiters.

Recruiters have a complete toolset of capabilities to find hundreds of candidates for an opportunity under their belt. Why give it to you?

Building strong relationships with recruiters will not only help you with your first job, but for your future promotions as well.

It’s very common for recruiters to “passively” recruit — they look for candidates who currently have jobs as they are more employable in the eyes of hiring managers. Quick Tip: Joining LinkedIn groups in your industry makes you more discoverable by recruiters.

If you are currently unemployed, or soon-to-be unemployed because you are moving to a new country, it’s best to engage with recruiters as early as possible.

I won’t lie to you, if you’re a new graduate or changing careers, or even a newcomer to a country like Canada, the odds are stacked against you.

The biased assumption that will be made is that you are “less employable” than someone else with experience. A job search is a competition after all, and recruiters like to work with the low-hanging-fruit employees that are easier to pick by their clients.

Also, a critical key performance indicator recruiters are measured by is called time-to-fill or time-to-hire, which is the time it takes for them to fill an open position.

So to them, you have to be employable right now!

But fear not. As the saying goes “It’s hard to find good help these days.”

If you are in touch with what makes you unique in the job market and are able to articulate your capabilities clearly to the recruiter, you will stand out of the crowd, always!

Volunteering experience will also increase your employability if you are currently unemployed and recruiters will appreciate that you’re still professionally active.

While it’s important to get a job you enjoy doing, don’t annoy your recruiter by turning them down on every opportunity they present you.

If you’re a newcomer to Canada, you may be unwilling to step down a few rungs on your career ladder.

But Canada has no shortage of opportunities, that’s for sure. It’s better to get a B job in an A company, rather than wait for an A job in a B company.

So don’t wait!

Contact the right recruiter today!

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