Establishing Partnerships With Recruiters

by Phaedra Brotherton, CPRW, JCTC, CDF

Partnerships with Recruiters

Recruiters seem to hold a certain mystique for jobseekers, who know they can play a key role in connecting them with companies. On the other hand, clients have complained about getting contacted by recruiters who seem totally clueless about what they do, and try to get them in front of employers for opportunities that they aren’t  interested in or qualified for.

Luckily, this is not the case for all recruiters, who, if you understand how they work and for whom they work, can be excellent allies in your search. Two key points to remember: (1) Recruiters work for the company not the jobseeker. (2) There are two main types of recruiters that executives and professionals should know about:

  • Contingent recruiters (66% of recruiters) who get paid a commission only when their candidate is successfully placed. They are often competing with other recruiting firms as well as the hiring company’s own internal recruiters.
  •  Retained recruiters (also known as headhunters and executive recruiters) who work on retainer, sometimes have exclusivity for a search, and are paid whether a successful placement is made or not. They handle senior level and executive positions.

Because all recruiters work for the hiring company, they are looking for professionals who have a stable and a clear history of promotion in a particular industry and meet the company’s criteria to a tee.

The best way to get on the radar of executive recruiters--who often favor passive candidates or those not actively looking--is to do a great job at your company and get known for your expertise and achievements. Recruiters rely heavily on their networks to learn about industry “stars.” They also look for potential candidates among bloggers, article authors, speakers, panel participants, and professional association leaders—all activities that demonstrateexpertise and thought leadership.

If you’re interested in finding industry recruiters to connect with directly, networking and special directories and websites that list recruiters by industry, professional specialty, and geographical scope, such as, are two good ways. In the case of networking, get names from friends and colleagues who have worked with industry recruiters in the past. You can also contact companies of interest to find out which recruiters they work with. And finally, recruiters are often open to connecting with you on LinkedIn if you reach out to them.

Some other tips to keep in mind when working with recruiters:

  •  Be straightforward. If you decide to approach a recruiter, state in your cover letter the reason you’re looking to change ( without badmouthing your employer, of course), what you’re looking for in terms of salary, responsibility, and geography. Keep in mind that you are presenting your qualifications in the event that the recruiter is working on a relevant search or assignment.
  • Make requested resume changes. Recruiters often standardize the resumes of all candidates they submit to a company, so it’s fine to make the changes, but do it only for use with that recruiter. No need to change the resume for use in your own job search to conform to the requests of one recruiter.
  • Bring up confidentiality issues. If you are happy in your current job, you may not want your resume widely distributed. Be sure the recruiter agrees to check with you before submitting your resume for any opportunity.
  • Share salary information. Be honest with your recruiter about your current compensation--and what you want to make. Recruiters can often tell you if you are underpaid or are making above the average for your experience and skills.
  •  Carefully read any agreements. Some recruiting firms want “exclusivity” with your job search, meaning that if you end up getting hired for a company they’ve had contact with (even if they weren’t involved in your specific job search), they may make a claim for a commission, and use the signed contract as proof of what they are due. This can result in unnecessary hassles for you and your new employer.
  • Build good relationships. A recruiter in your industry can provide valuable information, and you can be a good source of information for the recruiter as well--particularly about colleagues who might be good candidates for some of their searches.

Working with recruiters should be just one strategy in a comprehensive job search campaign. However, having recruiters in your network and on your side can only be a plus and a nice competitive advantage.

Copyright © 2015 Resumes and Career Strategies. All rights reserved.

Did You Know…

Pictures on resumes, changing salary requirements, poor quality resumes without accomplishments are among the top 12 issues that annoy recruiters the most about jobseekers, according to, “Recruiter Pet Peeves: 12 Mistakes Job Seekers Make,” an article for ZipRecruiter, a job board aggregator. Other mistakes include candidates with unclear goals and those who are not prepared for interviews. Click here for the rest of the list.


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