Job-Seekers v Recruiters (Learning to Sing in Perfect Harmony)

Since the beginning of time (well, since the recruiting profession began) there has been tension between those that find talent and those that are  talent. In our previous two posts we explored job-seekers behaving badly and recruiters gone bad and in a post from last year we discussed a survey where both sides picked at each other further.

In this post we wanted to look at some positive experiences that recruiters and job-seerkers have had working with each other and some ideas on how to help both sides sing in perfect harmony.

POSITIVE experiences working with RECRUITERS    

Fortunately most of the recruiters that I have dealt with have shown a lot of respect, consideration, and professionalism which I always give to them.  They are the ones that I’ve decided to work with.  It’s interesting that most of them are older, experienced recruiters who have been in the business for years and know how people want to be treated and are aware that some of their colleagues in the business are younger and focused on placement fees over the candidates.


I once spoke to a recruiter who explained that the hiring manager could meet from 3-5pm, however I couldn’t make the 3pm because I was coming from another employer.  I explained my situation to the recruiter, and asked that the recruiter speak on my behalf to the hiring manager.  The recruiter functioned as my advocate within the system and I was able to land the job.  I made sure that I always said hello to that recruiter and expressed my appreciation for their help.


A recruiter who specializes in pretty high-level placements agreed to connect with me on LinkedIn and then agreed to meet for lunch. We had a nice chat and he offered advice but it was clear he didn’t see a fit with anything he would normally be working on. Thought I’d never hear from him again … but months later I got an email inviting me to an event at Lipscomb where he thought I might meet some people who would be worth networking with. He was right and it was helpful. I thought that was a nice effort on his part since it really did not benefit him.


I met with a recruiter who spent a bit of time looking over my resume and explaining that even though I had global senior management experience, his clients required a college degree.  Most often they require a degree in the discipline for which they are hiring.  For this reason, he didn’t think he could be of assistance to me and he let me down carefully.  He then surprised me by giving me a daily devotional which is still on my bedside table.  That one act of kindness has stayed with me and that devotional has helped me through some very tough days.    

POSITIVE experiences working with CANDIDATES    

Hired a young engineer who knew several computer science designers looking for work at a time I was struggling to find qualified engineers for a new simulation department in northern MI. His recommendations saved me months of recruiting work.    


I love it when candidates do the research on the company, are very prepared for the position, and they speak highly of us at the interview with the client    


Had a candidate overnight me cookies even though I didn’t place them and others that have written thank you notes sent by mail (not email). 
I’m sure I’ve had more, but I tend to forget about the bad ones and the exceptionally good ones are rare.  Lots of thank you’s and excitement after the placement, but not many people go above and beyond.


The nice outweighs the bad for me.  I’ve gotten all kinds of Steelers paraphernalia over the years (I am a big Steelers fan). I’ve even gotten tickets to Steeler’s games before.

Ideas on how candidates can effectively work with recruiters

Have realistic expectations. Recruiters are not miracle workers and we do NOT find people jobs. Our client is the company (they pay the bills) and our job is to fill their opening, not find you work.

Don’t be a pest. It’s one thing to check in once a week or every other week but if you call every hour on the hour you become a bother. The only exception to the rule is if the recruiter asks you to check in daily, hourly, etc.

See yourself from a recruiters viewpoint. A recruiter is paid to fill a square hole with a square peg. Chances are, if you are not CURRENTLY doing the exact job that the recruiter is looking to fill then you probably not a good candidate for that recruiter to represent for that position.

Follow the recruiters lead. The recruiter knows the client a whole lot better than you do. If he asks you to update your resume or to stay away from a topic during the interview L I S T E N to him – he only makes money if you get the job so it is in his best interest to steer you the right way.

Interview the recruiter BEFORE you get deep in the process. Ask questions about how long they have been in their current position, how long they have worked with that particular client and hiring manager, how many people they have placed there, etc. Get an understanding of their expertise level. Your career is important to you – it is your job to research and understand who you should trust with it.

Set boundaries with the recruiter. You should develop an understanding with the recruiter that they are NOT to submit you to anyone before getting your approval. If they cannot do that you need to go elsewhere (check out this post to find out why this important).

Be courteous. If a recruiters contacts you at least have the common courtesy to call them or email them back.

Be understanding. A lot of time when there is no feedback it is the hiring managers fault, not the recruiters. Professional recruiters work very hard to get feedback – sometimes without success.

Get over it. If a you reach out to a recruiter and don’t hear back from them, NEXT! It is not worth your time to lose sleep over someone not calling you back. I promise you that if a recruiter can help you in finding a new job they will be all over you.

Ideas on how recruiters can effectively work with candidates

Be courteous. If you take the time to make contact with someone make time to follow-up with them to let them know where things stand.

Be honest. Let the candidate know where they really stand.

Be understanding. Looking for a job is a very stressful time, especially when the person is out of work.

Be realistic. You are NOT the only recruiter the candidate is being contacted by. If your client or hiring manager takes too long the candidate will probably be gone.

At RGttU we are always looking for feedback and look forward to hearing your POSITIVE experiences working with recuiters (if you are a job-seeker) or a candidate (if you are a recruiter.

Until next time, good hunting and good luck!



10 responses to “Job-Seekers v Recruiters (Learning to Sing in Perfect Harmony)

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  2. I know a lot of folks who should read the ideas on working effectively with recruiters. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the recruiters role. Thanks for the tip on setting boundaries with the recruiter. That was something I hadn’t considered.

  3. Very comprehensive article with realistic advice & observations. It’s hard to remember it is about relationship when both sides are under such pressure. It’s also important to know whether as a candidate you are dealing with a retained or contingency recruiter.
    Good job on this!

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  5. Sandi McEachron

    A very thoughtful and thought provoking post. We do need to see each other as people and not $$$. Singing in harmony requires singing the same song in the same key. A very interesting approach. I now see recruiters in a much different light and look forward to singing in harmony with a recruiter. Thanks!

  6. Matt – Two things to highlight – recruiters work for the company – not the individual. Starting out with that perspective will help immensely. And while recruiters may not respond, doing so will set you apart. It’s common courtesy. Love your blog.

    • Hey Nancy –

      THANKS for reading and for the kind words. I agree that the first things need to realize that recruiters work the company – it is a shame that not everyone realizes that.

      • Recruiters may work for the company, not the candidate, but candidates are the recruiter’s product. Many recruiters throw out vaguely worded job advertisements, disqualify candidates for not being able to read their minds, and then complain about too many poor quality candidates. Recruiters rarely communicate with candidates, and don’t do anything to help candidates become better job fits. Even if a recruiter contacts you, usually full of excitement and hype, it is likely that you’ll never get any follow-up. If they can’t make a quick buck off of you, recruiters think that you’re wasting their valuable time. Responding to recruiter’s advertisements is largely a waste of time. According to how recruiters claim to know all of the hidden job opportunities, know how to recognize perfect candidates within ten seconds of scanning a resume, and knowing all of the important players in their industries, why do they need to advertise at all? Well, recruiters can get away with being unprofessional while the job market is soft. But when it improves most of us candidates will remember how we were treated and the shoe will be on the other foot.

  7. As I read these articles and comments, and read between the lines, I think I now understand. They shouldn’t be called “Recruiters” – they should be called “Poachers”. They like candidates who are already doing the exact same job somewhere else, to lure to a new company. Now that I realize how picky they are, I’ll be very demanding when they try to lure me away again. It’s obvious that since they only contact “perfect” candidates, and they have trouble finding “perfect” candidates, and their incomes depend upon these few “perfect” candidates playing ball with them, that candidates have a lot more leverage than the poachers want to admit.

  8. Recruiting is all about relationship building. I have been recruiting for 18 years and ultimately your candidates become your hiring manager and your hiring manager becomes your candidate so be professional and as helpful as you can to everyone.

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