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How can recruiters help your job search? Here are eight steps to working effectively with recruitment professionals.

Although you will have been contacted by recruiters from time to time, you may or may not have been interested in what they had on offer. Most people should have realised by now that recruiters are not only useful when you are changing jobs but also when you are perfectly happy within your position.

Over time, your relationships with good recruiters will prove mutually beneficial as long as you nurture them. Keep track of the good recruiters out there, just like they keep track of you on their CRM system. And although you may be very safe in your job today, all it takes is new management or an outsourcing deal and you will need that recruiter as soon as possible.

First off, you need to understand how recruiters operate and what their agendas are. Just like they like to provide value when calling you, from your side you can think of what will be of value to them apart from the obvious value of you being interested in one of their positions.

Contingency vs. retained recruiters

There are two types of recruiters out there; contingency and retained. They are both keen on placing you into a position but the way they are remunerated are different. The contingency recruiter works on a fee for success only, so their job is to find brilliant candidates that their clients will hopefully be interested in. The retained recruiter has been formally instructed by the client to fill a particular role and they take a fee to start their assignment as well as a fee on completion.

How does this matter to you? Well, the retained recruiters tend to have the better jobs and obviously work closer with the clients. The contingency recruiters tend to work with a plethora of clients and are typically more pro-active. So if you think that you will move at some point in the foreseeable future, stay in touch with contingency recruiters. If you are very happy with your position and would only move for the dream job, chances are the retained recruiters will be handling the vacancy. In any event, the fees are charged to the client and you will never have to fork anything out, apart from your time.

1. Stay in touch

You will want to stay in touch with recruiters that are local or have a local client base, if possible you should even meet them to further cement your relationship. Please be aware that if you are not going to be interested in any positions, communicate this clearly so that you don’t get the recruiter’s hopes up too much.

2. Same field, same geography

You also want to make sure the recruiters you stay in touch with are specialised on your sector/industry and cover the same area that you are interested in. There is little sense in having regular contact with generalist recruiters as they won’t be able to fill you in on industry gossip and they are not likely to have the relevant opportunities for you.

3. Give and get the inside news

Exchange information with recruiters. A decent recruiter will tell you what they have on at the moment and will expect you to tell them what is happening at your company/department/team. Remember that some of the recruiters you deal with will have a direct access to very senior people in your field. You would be surprised how liberal with information senior hiring managers can be, only because they are speaking with a recruiter and not a peer. This means you can access top level industry gossip very conveniently.

4. Giving referrals

Whether or not to give out referrals of colleagues and people you know in other companies is up to you. All I can say is that it is very much appreciated by the recruiter and they will return the favour when the time comes. Make sure to agree that this give and take of information stays strictly confidential.

5. Knowing what you want

Be clear about what you want and what you don’t want. It is a source of frustration for recruiters when candidates aren’t sure what direction they want to take their career. When you are clear, the recruiter will respect this and will only ever bring up jobs that fit the bill; thus saving you both time. Furthermore, operate on a ‘no surprises’ policy, meaning if something (a promotion, another job) comes up please make the recruiter aware of this early on. Again, your honesty will be appreciated.

6. Your salary

Be open and honest about your current package, as recruiters can sniff out a liar a mile away. By being open, the recruiter can actually tell you if you are being fairly remunerated or not. This is basically a free salary benchmarking straight from the expert.

7. Common courtesy

Always be courteous and return calls from the recruiter. Although the call back rate for voicemails can be low, most people will drop an email or text saying when they are available to speak again.

8. The tables might turn

Last but not least, you might find yourself in a hiring position one day and this is when your recruitment contacts can be very handy. Your contacts will be more than happy to work with you as a client and as you have been in regular contact over time, your new business relationship will hit the ground running.

Any other ideas for getting the best out of recruiters?

RELATED: Why a Recruiter is Necessary in Your Job Search

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About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, an employer branding agency.

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