Recruiters. The scourge of the professional world. Bottom-feeders, desperately slinking around in the shadows, listening out for the faintest scent of less-than-100% job satisfaction and then… they pounce, sinking their teeth into confused, vulnerable young candidates and sending them to work in data analysis in a wallpaper production facility outside Slough for a marginal wage increase and infinitesimal petrol allowance. This perception of recruiters is not without substance, as I have been on the receiving end of many dodgy recruiter calls and, crucially, was a recruiter myself. I thoroughly liked the people in my office and all were very amicable, sociable people, but the majority of them were very money-focussed (especially the successful ones). However, the very best of them were raking in fortunes by constructing a network of trusted clients and candidates by virtue of doing a good job – sending the right people to the right positions at the right time. Many of the recruiters you speak to in your twenties will be, like me, a gung-ho young salesman who is only really out for the placement, the commission and the respect of their peers. So, how does one in their twenties actually make the most of these (in my case at least) insufferable cretins?
- The Call
Nobody enjoys the call. You’ll be sat there, within three feet of your manager, working on your daily tasks, when the phone starts ringing and the red light starts flashing. You’ll pick up, a perky young voice on the other end of the phone will start to spout off their over-rehearsed pitch and the beads of sweat will start to form on your head. Hopefully, you are happy in your current job and won’t want to talk to them, so can say “No, thank you” and then laugh it off with your boss, demonstrating further how much of a valued asset to the team you are. However, if you are even remotely interested in hearing about other opportunities out there (see Point 2), then how does one begin to go about answering them without giving the game away? First of all, not one recruiter worth his salt will ever imagine that someone would want to talk to them at their desk unless they have their own office, which, aside from entrepreneurs, next to no-one in their twenties will. All you should have to do is tell them you’re at work at the moment, give them your mobile number and a time for them to call you back. If questioned about this by co-workers, tell them your mobile was on silent and the company was calling you on your backup phone number. Some fun fake excuses for you:
- Mobile phone provider asking for confirmation on excessive international calls to North Korea
- Electricity company calling about excessive consumption from basement
- Bank company calling to enquire about recent purchase of 400 inflatable sheep
- Home Office calling to confirm secession of your house or flat from the United Kingdom
- London Zoo calling to ask you to return their aardvark and zebra and everything in between
Be smart, but don’t panic – recruitment calls are a fact of professional life and everyone around you will have received one at some point. Just don’t take it at your desk.
- Get Closer
I was lucky enough to actually have very good recruitment training (though it was largely abandoned as I slowly started to panic at how bad I was at actually recruiting people) and the main point I learned was that recruiters, or at least good ones, are mere facilitators – they act as the middle men between hiring teams and suitable candidates and it falls to them to make sure someone is the right fit for the role. This means that good recruiters want to know as much as there is to know about their candidates before putting them forward for a role to ensure they are the right fit – if your recruiter makes no effort to try to get to know you, ask about your experience in more detail or, ideally, meet you in person, don’t bother with them. If they can’t be arsed to get to know you it’s because you are one of many that are going to be sent over en masse to the client – any client who hires in this scattergun approach will not be worth your time anyway. Your recruiter should want to get to know everything about you because then they will be able to represent you to the best of their abilities.
Following on, this means that even if someone gets in touch with you about a too-good-to-be-true position that is way too senior for you, don’t immediately write them off – this is just the hook to try and lure you onto the bait, you silly little salmon. Look at a recruiter’s credentials on LinkedIn – if they have numerous recommendations from previous candidates and a network of over 500 people, they might be worth talking to anyway. Even if the original position isn’t right for you or has already been filled (or didn’t exist in the first place…) there might be something on their books which might be perfect for you and they won’t be able to recommend that to you if they don’t get to know you. Take a punt on someone who seems legit (or works for a legit company – get to know the best recruitment companies for your industry) and take the time to talk to them – a few senior recruiters in my old company placed people in their first roles and then, every year, would check up on them and make sure they were still happy and help them out if they weren’t, further solidifying their relationships and doing a better job for them. A strong relationship with a good recruiter can be exceptionally useful for career progression.
The most boring of all social media, by an absolute country mile. Plus, you can’t even stalk that mega-hot HR rep without them being able to see that you’ve done it, so what really even is the point. Yes, LinkedIn is dull as dishwater but by the gods is it important to recruiters – while never taken as the whole truth, it is absolutely the first tool that recruiters turn to when prospecting for new additions to their database. Take half an hour out to update yours when you can and make sure you put your specific skills, certificates, responsibilities and successes on there – the more robust a picture you can paint of yourself, the more efficient your recruitment process will be.
So there you have it – three simple steps to improve your relationships with those dastardly scumbags that make money out of your career progression. Be smart and trust those recruiters who seem legitimate over the money-grabbing wide-boys and remember that it is in their best interests to see you do well – give the right recruiter the right ammunition and you’ll be shooting upwards in no time.