Tips for Working with a Recruiter

Even if you're not looking for a job, building relationships with recruiters might benefit you down the road.

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Lindsay Olson
When you need a job, it can be hard to get a recruiter to take your call. Yet when you aren't actively engaged in a job search, it seems like every industry recruiter comes knocking on your door.

Maintaining some key relationships with internal and external recruiters in your field is an important piece of your career management—whether you are looking or not.

Here are some ways to build those contacts and some of the most common issues you might face in working with a recruiter:

Respond to inquiries. You never know the source of your next career opportunity. Most likely, it will come from your network of contacts, including recruiters. Nowadays recruiters find and contact talent using all sorts of technology tools, LinkedIn being one of the more popular ones. In a high-growth field, you may get recruiter inquiries often and find it time consuming to take interviews, especially if you’re currently employed.

[See 21 Secrets to Getting the Job.]

But if you’re actively seeking new opportunities, it's important to make these contacts, especially if the recruiter reaches out to you. Find the time to respond to recruiter inquiries. If you’re not job searching, respond anyway, even if it's just to say you’re not looking for a job but appreciate the contact. You can also offer details on the types of opportunities you would like to hear about.

Understand the process. Unless you’re dealing with an internal company recruiter, most third-party agency recruiters will not reveal the names of their client until they feel confident they would like to present you for the search. It's natural to be curious about the name of the company they represent, but don't expect many revealing details until you've made the time to have a conversation.

Check in occasionally. Recruiters spend most of time making new contacts. While databases do help with the selection process, nothing beats a personal relationship. If you want to be on the top of their radar, check in occasionally. Every few weeks is generally a good rule of thumb.

Be upfront. When you have a conversation with a recruiter, be realistic and honest about your expectations and what you’re looking for in your next opportunity. If you want to reduce the noise, be specific with the recruiters who contact you, so they don't call to discuss opportunities you wouldn't consider.

[See How to Work With a Recruiter to Find a Job.]

Only work with one recruiter for each opportunity. Sometimes companies will contract more than one recruiter to help with a search. If you've been in contact with a recruiter about a position and another recruiter calls you to discuss an opportunity with the same company, you should disclose your previous contact with the first recruiter to the second recruiter. If you fail to do this, and the second recruiter presents you for the position, it may reflect poorly on you with the hiring company or the recruiters. You should also disclose to a recruiter if you have been contacted directly by the hiring company or have applied for an opportunity in the past.

Ask the recruiters you speak with for confidentiality. It should be a given, but if you’re actively employed and worried about your current employer finding out that you’re considering new opportunities, it's better to cover the recruiters’ confidentiality policy before sending your sensitive information. Make sure that the recruiter will not send your information to a third party without your consent.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.