Trying to find jobs through a recruiter or staffing agency can be an appealing and productive avenue to meaningful work. Recruiters often have inside access to highly coveted positions–including many that are never listed publicly.
But partnering with a recruiter isn’t an instant panacea to your career woes; success requires patience, dedication, and hard work–both by the recruiter and (more importantly) the job seeker.
Steve Potestio is partner and CEO of Mathys+Potestio, the largest staffing agency for creative professionals in Portland, Oregon. He has decades of experience in the staffing business and his client list includes many of the region’s largest employers.
Here are Steve’s seven tips on how you can best leverage the expertise of a recruiter to find your next job.
1. Understand the role of the recruiter
In most cases, recruiters work for (i.e. get paid by) organizations looking to hire talent. Their primary professional responsibility is to find the best candidate for the employer, not to find you a job. As such, there is no guarantee that you will get a placement through a recruiting agency.
2. Find a recruiter that understands you and your field
There are many recruiters and staffing agencies out there. Often firms will specialize in specific markets or niche industries. Take the time to research different agencies and find the one that best represents your professional interests. A niche firm may well have more insider access to jobs within your field. Moreover, a recruiter that can articulately describe your skills and abilities will be your best advocate with potential employers.
3. Know yourself and your goals
Of course, to find the best recruiter for your professional goals, you need to know what those goals and aspirations are. Before your first meeting with the staffing agency, take some time to identify your own strengths and interests. What is your personal brand? Having clear professional objectives will help the recruiter find the right opportunities for you.
4. Treat the recruiter like a prospective employer
In essence, a recruiter is doing the initial application vetting for their clients; they are sifting through a large pool of applicants in order to present only the top 2 or 3 options to the employer. As a jobseeker, you need to impress the recruiter just as you would the actual employer. You can do this by expressing your passion for the opportunity and staying engaged with the process.
5. Have a realistic timeline and plan
You should know that even in the best circumstances, finding a placement through a recruiter can take a long time–sometimes many months. Make sure you have fallback options to stay afloat during this time.
6. Don’t rely solely on the recruiter
Working with a recruiter is just one avenue for searching for a job, and it shouldn’t keep you from exploring other options. If you’re serious about finding a new job, you should also be looking independently from whatever the recruiter is doing.
7. Stay in contact with the recruiter
Recruiters can become valuable members of your professional network. Even if they can’t find a placement for you today, they may have an opportunity for you at some point in the future. Maintain a positive, professional relationship with your recruiter, just as you would with any other professional contact. This is a wise investment of time and energy.