Search Professionals (i.e. Recruiters) should be a vital tool in a professional’s career strategy. Too frequently it is only when your job is in trouble that you even think about a recruiter; it is “Oh my God I am going to be out of a job; I need a recruiter!” You call a recruiter and say “find me job; I need a job!” People spend a lot of time on resumes, on networking or Web sites, but when it comes to recruiters they have a very rudimentary approach. Few people are really leveraging recruiters, except for immediate need.
Over 90% of job seekers use job boards as a tactic to seek a new position; however, surveys indicate that less than 4% of hires for management-level jobs currently occur through any Internet site. Most jobs, approximately 70%, are secured through networking with their personal or business network and about 20% of management-level jobs are obtained through recruiters.
Recruiters can become an integral part of your professional or even personal network and can provide you a competitive advantage in your career advancement. Recruiters are well educated and trained professionals. You should value their counsel and advice, and listen to their guidance. Unfortunately, the industry is not viewed this way. The typical attitude is “you call the recruiter up; if he is interested in me, he will talk to me; if not, he won’t even bother to call me back!” If you look at the relationship, that is not surprising. You are an unknown person calling someone up saying “I need your help, I need you to find me a job, I need you to do this or that for me,” but you have not taken the time to develop any relationship! In essence you are asking help from a stranger. It is not uncommon to receive little response. Recruiters tend to place people they know first.
On the other hand, if you take the time to develop a relationship with a network of recruiters, your results will be much better. Many successful professionals have learned the value of the art of networking, as expressed by such authors such as Thomas Stanley in his Networking With the Affluent and Bob Littell with his philosophy of NetWeaving. Bob Litell summarizes this strategy/philosophy as “good things happen to those people who make good things happen.” When you perform acts of kindness and generosity for others without immediate expectation of reward, you build lasting and valuable relationships that ultimately reward you. You may consider this the professional implementation of “The Golden Rule”, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
So, how do you develop a relationship with a recruiter?
The first step is to meet the recruiter. It is always better when someone can place a face and a personality with a resume, but few people go beyond this basic first step to develop a relationship. When a new job-seeker calls a recruiter, most recruiters will go through the process of trying to match the skills of that candidate to available positions, but the reality is that recruiters get thousands of resumes, so a new candidate is just a pool of skills. What is much more effective is to build a relationship with a recruiter or network of recruiters over time. Doing so will allow you to be treated much better and provide more opportunities, since people will likely try to first place and give priority to those they know.
You can make a lasting impression by working to help recruiters before you need them. As an executive, take calls from recruiters even when you are not seeking a job and use that as a starting point to build a relationship. Simply ask the question “what can I do for you?” Help source talent for your recruiter contacts. Notify them of placement opportunities within your firm or associated firms. Keep in touch with your network of recruiters over time via phone, email or even greeting cards. In addition to applying this strategy to recruiters, you may also nurture a relationship with personnel in an HR department of companies in which you have interests.
Networking has been proven to be the most effective means of building a successful professional career. Recruiters should be an integral part of your networking strategy.
Tactics in Summary
• Meet your network of recruiters.
• Keep in touch with recruiters even when you do not need one.
• Assist your network of recruiters with locating talent.
• Assist your network of recruiters with notifying them of open positions in your company or others.
• Take calls from recruiters and discuss their needs, not just yours.
Jerold Recht is Vice President of National Personnel Services and Chapter Leader for the United Professional Sales Association. National Personnel Services has over 30 years experience in executive search, outplacement, and career coaching.
A special thanks to my old friend Jerry Recht of NPS for serving as our guest blogger this week. Great job, Jerry! Maintaining strong relationships with executive recruiters should be a key focus of all management professionals. I never tire of hearing him groan when I call him up and shout “have you found me a job yet?” ;)
Have an opinion on a topic relating to technology, leadership, venture capital, entrepreneurship, business networking, or the Atlanta business scene? If you or someone from your organization would like to participate as a guest blogger here on The Pothole, by all means let me know! This is a great way to get your message out into the blogosphere without necessarily having to create and maintain your own daily blog.