Why should you work with a recruiter instead of going the traditional job-hunting route? Find Your Dream Job guest Brad Near says a great recruiter can help you find a job quicker, and with more of what you’re looking for than you can on your own. Brad explains the broad connections that recruiters typically have, which can lead to many more open positions than you could ever know about. You can be more honest with a recruiter than you might be with a hiring manager; a recruiter will have your best interests in mind and will take the time to learn about any negative past experiences. Brad suggests trying a recruiter and seeing what they can do for you.
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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 419:
Tips and Tricks for Working with a Recruiter, with Brad Near
Airdate: October 4, 2023
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.
Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.
Get a free review of your resume today.
Go to macslist.org/topresume.
Recruiters can be invaluable when you do a job search.
But how do you find the recruiters in your industry and make the most of their services?
Brad Near is here to share his tips and tricks for working with a recruiter.
He’s the CEO of Rainier Recruiting. It’s a boutique agency that represents hundreds of openings across North America.
Brad joins us from Seattle, Washington.
Well, let’s get going, Brad. We’re gonna start by talking about what makes recruiters different from other HR professionals. You’re a recruiter. You run a boutique firm and help us understand what a company like yours does. Who do you work for, for example? An employer or the applicant?
Great question, Mac. Thanks for having me.
Recruiters are a bit different critters than your typical corporate or HR professional. So, I think this is perhaps a good starting point. There are different types of recruiters, usually falling into three buckets.
You’ve got your traditional corporate recruiter. You’ve got an internal human resources professional. And then you have people like myself. We call ourselves agency recruiters. So, I guess, first, it’s important to understand the differences between those three, and then perhaps how each one of them operates, or how we’re compensated and what our goals are.
So, a corporate recruiter usually works for one company, say Microsoft, or Amazon, or whoever. That corporate recruiter, their sole job is to fill positions within that company. They have goals. They have quotas. And their job is to get you to accept their offer alone. They’re not necessarily always in it for the candidate’s career benefits. Although, if the opportunity for the career is right for the candidate, they can be your best ally.
The second bucket is a human resources professional, and not every corporation has an internal recruiter. Those responsibilities usually fall to an HR professional. Their job is to do compensation and benefits and human resources duties in addition to recruiting. So they’re a little bit different than somebody like myself who’s an agency recruiter.
In some way, I’m kind of viewed as a mercenary. I represent thirty to forty different employers at a time. I’m only paid if I place people, and my biggest teammate in the process is the candidate. So I think it’s, first, helpful to know that a candidate never pays a fee to an agency recruiter like myself. The corporations pay all of these costs. So let’s remember that, first off.
And why is that important, Brad? Why is it important for an applicant who is working with an agency like yours to understand that fact?
Yeah, I talk to candidates all of the time that have never worked with a recruiter before. They’re not familiar with the fees, or they’re not sure- when you sell a home, who pays the closing costs and things like that? A career transition can be as expensive or as stressful as changing physical locations or selling your home. So, I think having a professional in your corner and understanding that corporations pay the fees; I’m the ally with the candidate a lot of times, is just helpful to know.
So, if there is ever a cost to a candidate, you should not work with that recruiter. That is a hundred-year-old philosophy, and let’s charge the greedy corporations for all of my fees, please. I think good recruiters are passionate about their candidates. The best recruiters are also great middlemen. We advocate for both the client, who is the employer, and the candidate, who is looking for a new position.
I’m curious; for an agency like yours that is being paid by the company, can you still function as an ally for the applicant as well?
Absolutely. I think it might help if I was a good steward of my industry and I didn’t dispel a few myths or misconceptions about how candidates and recruiters are paid.
First off, it’s important for a candidate to know that this fee never comes out of a candidate’s salary. I’m here with a separate contract with the client, and the bigger my candidate’s salary becomes, the bigger my finder’s fee is. So, a lot of times, when it comes to the negotiation process, I’m able to help candidates perhaps get a bigger offer or a better offer than they would on their own.
I’m glad you brought up that point. Other facts about candidates working with recruiters: I sometimes meet candidates who think that if they can find a recruiter like you or an agency like yours, they can just get their resume in front of you, and then they can sit back and wait for the offers to pour in. What would you say to someone who thinks that, Brad?
Well, look out your window. There’s challenging economics all around, and post-global pandemics, and a lot of employers are demanding candidates return to offices and things. Offers just aren’t hanging on trees like they used to. So, having a recruiter in your corner can be an incredibly beneficial opportunity.
For example, I lead a team of ten recruiters. These are all senior-level recruiters with years and years of experience, and this is my nineteenth year of recruiting. I have over thirty thousand connections on LinkedIn with hiring managers exclusively.
So I think that really helps a candidate maybe understand that if you could tap into a recruiter’s network that perhaps recruits in your industry, you’ve now got a force multiplier of opportunity. Yeah, sure, the best candidates can probably go get a job whenever they want. But can they get a twenty, a forty, a one hundred and fifty percent increase in their base pay like Rainier Recruiting just did for a candidate recently? That’s part of the opportunity of working with a recruiter.
Now, I can’t promise that. But if you were considering a career change, why wouldn’t you tap into an opportunity like that?
Well, what are some common misconceptions that candidates have about working for the recruiters if you can’t just get your resume in front of someone and wait for the offers pour in? What are other misconceptions you run across when you hear from applicants?
Yeah, I mean, recruiters are weird critters sometimes because you never know who we’re necessarily representing. I don’t go around and advertise who all of my clients are. So, if you’re a candidate, you don’t know if I’m representing large publicly traded companies or small family-owned businesses, or anybody in between. You have to connect with me first, and we have to have a conversation human to human, as crazy as that sounds these days.
But once a candidate introduces themselves to a recruiter, that’s when we start to understand if we’re a good fit for each other, if my network overlaps, if I’ve got employers that might be appropriate for that candidate’s experience, and the best recruiters are very hornets. If I can help you, I’d love to. That’s how I get paid. If I can’t help you, I’m gonna try to maybe give you either some resume advice, some networking introductions, maybe even a gratis referral over to an employer that I haven’t spoken with in a decade, something like that.
So, in terms of misconceptions, we’re not necessarily only here to make money. If a recruiter is more than three to five years experienced in their field, and I don’t mean to knock junior recruiters. I was a rookie at one point, too. But our professional reputation is at stake if we’re only in it to make money, and the best recruiters never joined this industry to make commissions. We joined this industry to help people.
I consider myself a salesperson. But I never wanted to sell stuff. I always wanted to help people. That’s why I volunteer on nonprofit boards, and all of the things that I like to do that help other people. Well, I got to do that in my career as well.
So, a recruiter is a really good fit for me because you’re not just helping people, you’re also helping businesses. So it’s a good fit, and I think that’s maybe a misconception that candidates have is, well, they’re just in it to make a buck. Not the good ones.
You mentioned many of the benefits of working with a recruiter. For example, a good recruiter can help you in conversations with an employer increase your salary. You talked about how recruiters might provide, even if they don’t work with you, introductions or career advice. What are other benefits to an applicant of working with a recruiter, Brad?
Well, let’s think about the employer. What kind of company do you want to work for? Would you rather work for a company that throws an ad on Craig’s List and hires the first person with a pulse that shows up, or would you rather work for an employer that invests in their employees? So if you’re a candidate, you’re thinking, well, you know, this company is spending ten or twenty or forty thousand dollars on a recruiter. What’s in it for me?
Well, let’s first recognize that that employer has deep pockets. They’re willing to hire a pro like myself in order to find the best candidates. Two – that means they want the best people on their company’s team. That means the colleagues and the coworkers that you might interact with once you go to work at a company that a recruiter introduces you to are also of very high quality. And no offense to Craig’s List, but there’s a clear difference.
And then it also shows to a candidate that if an employer is willing to pay a recruiter’s fee for the chance of hiring you, that means they want to invest in you. That means they want you there for the long term. So, whether you take a job through a recruiter or not, you should be impressed by that company because that company is willing to invest significant amount of resources, not just money but also time, into making sure that they have the right people at their company for the long term.
We’re gonna take a break, Brad. Stay with us. When we come back, Brad Near will continue to share his tips and tricks for working with a recruiter.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Brad Near.
He’s the CEO of Rainier Recruiting. It’s a boutique agency that represents hundreds of openings across North America.
Brad joins us from Seattle, Washington.
Now, Brad, before the break, we were talking about some of your tips and tricks for working with a recruiter, and we talked about how candidates can benefit from working with recruiters, why companies hire recruiters like you. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the candidate, and let’s talk about how to work in different ways with recruiters.
So you’re a candidate. You get a call, maybe a text, or a LinkedIn message from a recruiter. How can you tell as an applicant if that recruiter is a reputable one?
Yeah, we’re good at that. We can find people’s cell phones and email, and Facebook groups, and everything in between. So we’re not hard to find.
But you’re right, it is a large industry. There’s no college for recruiting. There are professionals in our space who have been doing this for a week. There are professionals in our space, like myself, who have made an entire career out of it. There are professionals in entirely different countries that might not even be familiar with your employment market.
Nothing against them. They’re trying, too. But I think it’s helpful for a candidate to understand, well, who is this person? Who is this company? And what industry or niche do they provide services within?
So, if you’re a candidate, and especially if you’re a good one, you’re probably getting messages from random recruiters all of the time. Congratulations, I suppose, that’s nice to feel wanted. But if you’re not necessarily needing to feel wanted, these might be a burden on your inbox.
So, the first thing I would do is I would look at the person. Where is this person located? I’m initially hesitant about recruiters that won’t list their physical location, whether it’s somewhere like LinkedIn or where they say they’re calling or emailing from. Are they in your industry? Are they in your geographic field? If I’m reaching out to somebody in Miami, Florida, I might not know that employment market as well as a local recruiter. So, I would think that maybe a recruiter in Seattle, Washington, might know their backyard a little bit better than others.
So, if you’re a candidate, you should look at that person. Has this person been a recruiter for a week, or a year, or ten? You should look at their company. Does their company describe an area of specialty? Or are they some random catch-all kind of agency?
Remember, too, that there are different types of employment contracts. My company mostly places people into permanent full-time positions. So I don’t represent temp or temp to perm kind of jobs very often, if ever at all. Very often, we represent mid-career and executive full-time carer opportunities at my shop.
However, that might be a good thing for a candidate to investigate. What kind of positions does this recruiter represent? Are they contract jobs? Are they full-time? Is that even something I’m interested in?
You mentioned in the first segment, Brad, that you should never pay a recruiter a fee if you’re a candidate. Just want to touch on that again. Why is that? Are there any reputable recruiters out there that would charge a fee? And why do companies try to get these fees?
Yeah, back in the sixties and seventies, when the recruiting industry was originally born, it was an applicant-paid market, which is a very old-timey type of way to charge for your services. The companies are the ones with all of the money. So, let’s not charge the individuals; is the more of a modern recruiter’s perspective.
If you are ever going to pay a recruiting service, you might want to pay for something like a resume service. That’s completely different than what a recruiter does. Resume services are predominantly exactly that. They’re gonna make you look great on paper. They’re gonna make your LinkedIn or your digital marketing portfolio look great.
But a recruiter is gonna be the one that will actually shepherd you through multiple interview stages. And actually, that’s something I didn’t mention before, but ninety-three percent of my clients are repeat customers. I’m very appreciative of that. And so, thank you to my customers that might be out there.
However, to a candidate’s benefit, I know these companies’ cultures. I know what their interview style is like. I know when they’re gonna ask about salary expectations, and I know what you should say when that question comes up. So, when you get to work with a recruiter, you should also ask that recruiter, have you worked with this employer client before? If the answer is yes, you’re going to have a tremendous advantage because if I could show you all the pitches before the employer got to throw them, you’d probably hit more home runs.
You’re a candidate. You talked about how to identify reputable recruiters. Now, you’ve decided to respond to a message, one of those texts or LinkedIn messages. What kind of expectations should you have for that relationship as an applicant who’s starting to work with a recruiter?
Yeah, it’s usually a bit of an investment at times on both parties. Because you don’t know who that recruiter is representing unless they’re willing to tell you upfront in a message. Most won’t because they want to get to know you first. I’d rather get to know a candidate before I told them who all my customers were.
I also want to make sure I’m representing the employer in a correct way. I don’t want to go telling a hundred unqualified candidates about a certain client because they might go beat that client’s door down, and now they don’t have time to interview all of the best ones because that’s what I should have been doing for them.
So, a recruiter’s job is to vet both sides. I’d want to know from a candidate what your career interests are. If you’re a salesperson and you want to get out of sales completely, you should tell me that because I might be trying to pitch you a sales job. I might also have forty other openings that you don’t even know about that might be highly appealing to you.
So, working with a recruiter is a lot more of an honest conversation. When you interview with a company, you kind of have to tell them everything you want them to hear. But when you work with a recruiter, you get to be honest.
Tell me what your concerns are. Tell me why you’re actually looking. Sometimes, it’s a faux pas to say something negative in an interview about your current employer. But, when you interview with a recruiter, you’re not in a real interview. You’re just having a career conversation. So, it’s a little bit nicer in that way.
So, be candid. And from the candidate’s perspective, what questions do you like candidates to ask recruiters about not only their agency but about the customers they represent? What makes your job easier and makes a candidate stand out for you?
Yeah, a really good question to ask a recruiter is, what is your motivation here? If a candidate asked a recruiter, what is your motivation by doing this call? You can really tell a lot about that recruiter’s interests and motivations by their answer.
If they completely fall apart by trying to answer what motivates them, the answer should be something like, I want to help people find good jobs. I want to help my client find a great employee. And if that ends up being you, Mr. or Mrs. candidate, I’d want to help you because maybe we’d get the chance to work together again. You might get promoted to manager or director and call me back to hire more people from me. Satisfaction like that is my motivator. So maybe an answer like that might be something you’d look for.
Two other questions I want to get to. One is, what do you do if you get ghosted by a recruiter? Say you’re contacted, you respond, you have that conversation, you ask about motivation, and then you never hear from the recruiter again. What should you do as a candidate?
Classic ghosting. Great question. It is a scenario in which recruiters are sometimes juggling a lot of opportunities, a lot of candidates, a lot of positions, and if I’ve ever ghosted anyone, I apologize. But I’m sure it’s happened in twenty years.
If you get ghosted by a recruiter, you should ask them for direct feedback. Am I still a candidate for this job or not? Do you have anything for me or not? Please let me know.
How many attempts do you recommend, Brad? I mean, the recruiter contacts you, you don’t hear back. How often should you follow up?
Give them one. I mean, if they don’t get to back to one call or email, then they’re probably too busy or not interested in working with you, and you maybe shouldn’t be interested in working with them. I mean, I get a hundred emails a day. I respond to every single one that I can, and if I don’t respond to it today, I’ll get to you tomorrow. So, I think one, maybe two max.
But just remember that we are an advocate for the employer and the candidate. We don’t get paid unless we place people. It is our entire motivation to make sure that we get great candidates great offers, and if we can help with that, we absolutely will. But, I think you might get ghosted in your lifetime by a recruiter because maybe they are embarrassed by telling you they don’t have anything for you in this moment.
Recruiters, you should be honest with your candidates. You should say if you have something for them and if you don’t, be honest and wish them luck. That way, they’re not wondering what happened.
Last question, and it’ll have to be a quick answer. A question I get a lot from candidates is, I want to find a recruiter in my field, and our listeners are in all kinds of different professions. Quickly, Brad, what’s your best advice of finding the best recruiters in an occupation?
Yeah, good question. I would say find recruiting agencies in your geographic area that are small to medium-sized. No offense to the big shops, but I know that in my career, so many candidates have great experience working with more boutique agencies. So, start small. Don’t start big.
And how do you find them, Brad? What do you do? Do you sit down at LinkedIn? Do you talk to people in your field? What is the shortcut for doing that?
Yeah, I wouldn’t start with Google. That’s a great question. I would probably start either on LinkedIn or with people in your professional network that are in your same industry. Ask them if they know a good recruiter, much like a real estate or other service professions. The good ones will stand out. But we don’t always choose to spend all of our money on Google. So, we tend to network with professionals in our field. So, network and ask a friend.
Terrific. Well, Brad, it’s been a great conversation. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?
More of the same, Mac. I run a recruiting agency of ten senior recruiters. We’ve got over fifty or sixty full-time positions open. We are desperate for good referrals right now. So our service is to provide great candidates with a good candidate experience and to help employers find great people. Check out our website if anybody’s looking for a new position or if they’re maybe just curious for a change in the next one to five years.
We have lots of hybrid and remote roles that are still available. I know that less of those are available by the day. But we’ve got a lot of good employers that are still hiring remote and hybrid employees.
Terrific. Well, I know listeners can learn more about you and your company, Rainier Recruiting, by visiting your company’s website, rainierrecruiting.com. Of course, we’ll include that link in the show notes and the website article, and that you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and as always, if they do reach out to you, I hope they’ll mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.
Now, Brad, given all of the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a lister to remember about your tips and tricks for working with a recruiter?
Last takeaway, I would say, two words: test me. I think I said a lot. But if we don’t deliver, then we’re not really performing the services we promised. So I talk to candidates all of the time who have never worked with a recruiter before, and it’s just shocking considering just two weeks ago when we got a saleswoman a hundred and fifty percent increase in base salary. That is life-changing. So, even if we can’t place everybody, you should tap into a local recruiter’s network and test him. You just might be surprised.
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Next week, our guest will be Karla Rockhold.
She’s the director of alumni career engagement at Oregon State University.
Her office connects graduates with the campus community and its career services.
When you walk into a job interview, you may think the employer is in charge of everything.
In fact, says Karla, you have the opportunity to shape what happens next – if you plan ahead.
Join us next Wednesday when Karla Rockhold and I talk about the two parts of a job interview that you control.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.
This show is produced by Mac’s List.
This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.