Job Search Tips

10 Steps to Building a Relationship With a Job Recruiter

Written by Peter Jones

Chances are, at some point in your career, you’re going to need a recruiter. It’s best not to attack them out of the blue when you’re at your most desperate. Instead, try to keep in mind that recruiters are human beings too. Try building a relationship that way, rather than being a job-sucking vampire.

Also keep in mind there are different kinds of recruiters. Figure out first if you’re dealing with someone salaried who does this all day every day, or whether you’re dealing with someone who works only on commission. Tailor your needs to match theirs, and vice versa.

Here is your 10-step plan to building a good relationship with a recruiter.

1. Start with “the talk”

Your recruiter should open your working relationship by asking you a bunch of questions: who you are, where you are, what you’ve been doing, your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals, etc. The more they know about you, the better they can help put you in a good position—both for you and for the company.

2. Know thyself

Don’t recruit a recruiter if you don’t already know what you want and need. Figure out what you want to do and be when you grow up before you start soliciting the services of a professional. Make sure that every job they put you up for is one you’d be glad to take.

3. Have all your documents ready

Get your ducks in a row before making the call. Up-to-date resume, updated LinkedIn profile, a tasteful and professional headshot, a website, samples of your work, etc. And then go in with the list of companies or titles you’d like to aim for.

4. Don’t be needy

You’re not in a position to make demands. The recruiter is not “working for” you. Hopefully you’ll both come to a mutually advantageous outcome, but your chances of this go down the more you play the diva. Know your place in the food chain, make life easy on your recruiter, and things will turn out right.

5. Ask for tips

If your recruiter knows a company well, feel free to ask for tips before you interview. There might be some very valuable information to be gleaned that you couldn’t get from the usual pre-interview research session. 

6. Think about your salary history

You aren’t required to share this with your recruiter. But they can (and should) ask. And it might be useful for you both to be on the same page when it comes time to figuring out which applications fit you best.

7. Know the ins and outs of industry salary

If you want to go for a pay increase, make sure you’ve done your homework and know exactly what the range is for your position or your field. If you’re really being underpaid, you can walk into a meeting with stats.

8. Don’t be a pushover

Some recruiters do work entirely on commission. If they don’t place people that month, they don’t pay rent. Don’t let yourself get shoe-horned into a position that isn’t right for you just to please your recruiter. It is okay to say no and push for something more appropriate.

9. Hold onto the good ones

A good recruiter, with whom you have a fruitful working relationship, is a thing of beauty. Hold onto this relationship with both hands. Trust and goodwill are not to be taken for granted. And they aren’t always the norm.

10. Give back

If you get the job, make sure to thank your recruiter. A thank you card goes a long way towards showing your appreciation and bolstering good will all around. And keep in touch! You never know when you might need your recruiter’s services again.

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About the author

Peter Jones

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