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How to succeed with recruitment agencies

Are Recruiters the Enemy?

I spend a big portion of my workday talking to clients experiencing career transitions. Many are out there applying for jobs and it’s not uncommon to leam of their less than satisfactory experience with agency recruiters. I commonly hear things like: “They don’t retum calls”, “I’m just a number”, “I keep getting rejection letters”, “I never receive any feedback” and so on.

It’s no secret that agency recruiters seem to have a bad reputation in the industry. Having worked in it myself, I know there are some good and not so good players. The reality is, like many industries, they are doing it tough at the moment. Having fewer staff, tighter budgets and challenging financial targets, plus pressures of competing with other agencies in a tight market that sees a large number of organisations cost-cutting by keeping recruitment in-house where possible, it’s no shock to hear these stories about recruiters.

We all know that applying for an advertised position means you can be competing with up to 200 candidates for just one role. It’s highly likely that half the CVs are not even examined. This is caused by recruiters being under the pump to get candidates across their client’s desks within tight timeframes. They are also usually recruiting for an average of between 6-10 permanent positions at a time. So when you do the maths, that’s a LOT of documents to read. Plus so many things can happen behind the scenes; their client could withdraw the position, or fill it intemally.

So what is the best way to handle agency recruiters to increase your chances of success?

1. The Call – Don’t follow the crowd and be another CV in an already large database. Find a good reason to call the recruiter and use your’30 second grab’ (A snapshot of who you are, what your value add is and what makes you different), then ask an intelligent and specific question. Sometimes you need to be a detective to track down their name and number, but your tenacity may pay off in the end. Whatever you do, do not leave a voicemail, as recruiters are busy and don’t have a gteat track record in returning calls. Instead, be persistent and keep trying until you get through.

2. Know your brand – Know your unique strengths and value add and how to articulate them both on paper and in person. Ensure your CV doesn’t use the same generic sounding jargon you see on so many CVs. Eg. “Excellent communication skills”. This may be the case, but what is it about how you communicate with people that makes you different? Ensure your story is consistent on your CV, Linkedln and in person.

3. Know what you want – There’s no point meeting with a recruiter until you have clarity around what you want. Recruiters are not there to dish out career advice (save this for a career coach). Be very specific on the type of role, salary and industries you are targeting.

4. Keep in touch – Once you’ve met with a recruiter, don’t rely on them to remember you. They meet good candidates on a daily basis. Instead, ask what is the best way to keep in touch? Example: A fortnightly call or email to update them on your availability. This will ensure you stay front of mind when a suitable position arises.

Aside from talking to recruiters, you should also be tapping into your networks, so you are not just relying on the advertised job market. You should see it as another of many avenues in finding a new position.

Happy hunting.

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