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Guide to Working with Recruiters: Five Pitfalls to Avoid

I set out to write a user manual for working with recruiters. The past few entries have been about what to look for in a recruiter and how to navigate typical interactions. This final post is what NOT to do… how to keep your recruiter smiley, happy and on your good side. By avoiding these five common pitfalls, you can ensure you’re always on your recruiter’s Favorites list.

  • “You can make money off me.” My business is built on long-term relationships, not transactions. The idea that I’m only motivated by a placement fee makes me feel icky. There are two thrills I get out of this job: 1) Consistently delighting clients by delivering amazing and qualified talent, and 2) Getting to know people and companies I admire and orchestrating great matches. In the same vein, I secretly loathe being called a headhunter. It sounds so… primitive.
  • Not available to talk, only email. I love the unobtrusiveness of email and text for scheduling interviews, exchanging information, etc. But when it comes to discussing the offer, I really need to talk to you.
  • Not acknowledging that I have skin in the game too. My reputation is built on the candidates I represent. So when someone blows off an interview, takes a counter-offer, or otherwise behaves badly, it reflects poorly on me.
  • Not respecting my role or perspective. Sometimes I have good ideas about how to handle a tricky negotiation, what an employer is looking for, how to play multiple job offers, etc. And I’m usually dying to share my opinion.
  • Not keeping in touch. My involvement also doesn’t end once the offer is accepted. I like to be part of the onboarding process to ensure the marriage is working out. This means checking in with both the people I place and their new bosses. I want to hear how things are going.

A lot of this stuff happens unintentionally because people aren’t clear on the role recruiters play. Often times we’re ascribed to the same lot as real estate agents, used car salesmen and lawyers – nasty intermediaries you have to use to perform basic functions such as find a job, buy a house or car, or defend yourself. Vultures and opportunists — just in it for the money.

I see my job as closer to a Profiler, Biographer, Ambassador and Air Traffic Controller.

  • Profiler. I need to learn the DNA of a company, then go find talent with the same genetic make-up.
  • Biographer. I must make a compelling introduction to both sides, calling out all they have in common and why they’ll find each other interesting.
  • Ambassador. I serve as a spokesperson for the companies I represent. I need to convey a welcoming first impression and ensure talks continue amiably.
  • Air Traffic Controller. I have to keep track of all the moving pieces, pull planes out of noisy/endless traffic patterns and bring them in for landing.

I love my job. I earnestly want to help great candidates and companies find each other. This is more altruistic than predatory, and I’m grateful when the people I work with see it that way too!

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