Much as lawyers at a dinner party invariably get legal questions, often well outside their own field of expertise as well, so recruitment consultants get asked about why someone would work with us and how to identify a good recruiter.
Lawyers often understand why you would use a recruiter as they are in the role of trusted advisor themselves and recognise the value of working with someone who has more access and information than themselves. And who doesn’t love a bargain? All that knowledge and help comes for free. The question of how to find a good one is more difficult, but it is crucial part of finding the ‘trust’ in that trusted advisor relationship.
The most obvious piece of advice is to ask around and get a recommendation from a friend who has changed jobs recently and ruling individual recruiters or companies in or out as a result of what you hear. Although obvious it is often not as straight forward as that because making it known you are looking for a new job can be a sensitive issue, even amongst good friends and colleagues. So in the absence of a good recommendation these would be my top tips:
1. Identify which recruiters seems to have the kind of roles you are interested in. This could be in terms of the type of organisations, the kind of work, geography, PQE level etc. The reality is that in the New Zealand market this will not narrow things significantly but there are specialist in-house recruiters for example, or those with better overseas links.
2. Don’t just send your CV. In the first instance I would advise against just sending through your CV to jobs you like the look of interest because you have no idea about the person or organisation at the other end of that email. Confidentiality should be a given, but you never know. Best to find out who you are dealing with first.
3. Call them. Talk about yourself, ask lots of questions and get a feel for their knowledge and approach to finding you a job. You are potentially putting a very important process in their hands so you need to feel comfortable with that person. My approach tends to be quite direct and straight forward without much sugar-coating of the truth. That appeals to some people, but not others and means I might not be the best choice for everyone. Luckily Christina is much nicer than me so we have a good balance.
If you are responding to a particular advert you have seen then don’t be frustrated if they don’t reveal the employer straight away. Bear in mind that the information they have has a value, just as your skills and knowledge have a value, and so there needs to be give and take in terms of commitment to moving a process forward.
4. Be honest and open. This is the only way to expect the same in return.
The person to work with should be the person who combines the knowledge and access you need to ensure the very best opportunities, with a personality and attitude you feel comfortable with. Remember that you will be discussing things you might not even entrust to friends and family including your ambitions, salary expectations and even your disappointments, so it is important that you feel able to be totally honest. That is the only way to get the most from your job search.