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Guide to Working with Recruiters: FAQs

Think your recruiter works in mysterious ways? Often there’s a method to our madness.

1. Why should I work with a recruiter?

For the same reason you let your best friend fix you up rather than endure a thousand lame dates. It’s a quicker and less annoying way to achieve better results.

Good recruiters are dialed into the company and hiring managers. They can pass along insights about the role and decision-makers that wouldn’t otherwise be available. They can speed you to the front of the line and provide a narrative that brings your resume to life. They’ll navigate the tricky cat & mouse conversations, interpret cryptic feedback, and sprint ahead to diffuse any land mines at the interview and offer stages.

2. Should I work with more than one recruiter?

Sure. I don’t work with every single agency, so you may want to find a recruiter that can expose you to others. The best policy is just to be transparent about your other job search activity. For example, tell me if your resume has already been sent to an agency we’re discussing. I won’t be able to represent you there if you’ve been sent by another recruiter, or employee referral, within the past 12 months.

3. Can I trust that what I say to you won’t be passed along to employer?

Yes. I support honest interaction, but I recognize there’s ego involved so I try to be delicate.

4. Why do you need to know my salary history?

I don’t want to send you in for a job that will never pay what you need it too. When an employer asks for my recommendation on what the offer should be, they expect me to provide well-documented rationale. If you’re shy about your salary history because you believe you’re under-valued, I can help with a competitive market overview.

5. Why do you want to know where else I’m interviewing?

You don’t need to name names. I’m asking to get a sense of where you are in your job search and how much time I have to work with. For example, are you about to get an offer from a company you’re very excited about? Are you likely to have multiple job offers which may impact your salary considerations?

I also want to know how my client company stacks up against other job offers, so I’ll typically ask my candidates to rank/prioritize their job offers. I’ll ask them to take salary out of the equation because I want to know what opportunity most tugs at their hearts.

I don’t pass this information along to the hiring companies, but my clients do anticipate that I’ll be able to help them predict the outcome. That’s why I’m asking. If I think someone’s going to decline an offer, I need to already be working on a back-up plan.

6. We had a nice conversation and you never called me back. What gives?

It’s not intentional. I try not to be that recruiter that you never hear from. But sometimes work volume and profound ADHD prevent me from being as responsive as I like. At any given time, I’m working on 7-10 searches. I may need to call 15-20 people for each search, to net 3-6 qualified candidates to work with. So usually I’m juggling 25 people in various stages of the interview process. I need to establish priorities and these are driven by my client companies. If they have a sense of urgency about meeting you, giving feedback or extending an offer, then so do I.

Don’t be afraid to give me a nudge if you’re looking for an update. That’s very helpful, actually.

7. How many searches do you work on at a time?

7-10 searches. My personal success formula is to work with a small basket of clients I really like. They are local NYC/NJ ad agencies and I limit my focus to Account Management, Strategy, Analytics and Digital Project Management. That way I can deeply learn their business, client roster and hiring teams. Like most people, I’m more effective when I know what I’m talking about and aren’t spreading myself too thin!

8. Can you present me on an exploratory basis?

Yes, many clients I’ve had longstanding relationships with will allow me to do that. But with few exceptions, I find that it’s a waste of time. An in-house recruiter or HR person with 20 open positions is not going to prioritize someone that’s not a fit for any of them, and we won’t truly have the attention of the hiring manager.

I’d rather send you in when someone’s truly committed and interested in meeting you.

9. I’ve talked to the company in the past, but think I may have better luck with you. Can you get my resume to the right people?

Yes/Maybe/No. It depends on the situation. Companies generally won’t allow a recruiter to represent a candidate that has been referred to them within the past 12 months – by an employee or another recruiter, regardless of the original position they applied for.

10. I don’t know what I’ll do in a counter-offer scenario. Why are you asking?

I’m trying to get a sense of whether you’ve earnestly thought thru a job move and are committed to leaving. I want to know you’ve done everything possible to stay happy, satisfied and challenged in your current role. That way, anything your company throws at you as you’re leaving won’t affect your decision. We both need to get to this point LONG BEFORE the offer stage. If you aren’t truly engaged and invested in finding a new job, going thru the motions of interviewing will just waste time and burn bridges.

I do work with a lot of passive candidates, who aren’t sure if they’re ready to make a move. However, I encourage them to gain clarity on this early in the interview process and drop out if their heads aren’t in it.

11. Will you kill me if I don’t accept this job?

Not at all. You’ve got to do what’s right for you. But do me a favor and let me know as early as possible which way you’re leaning.

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