CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

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Ode to Recruiters (Day 3 and 4)

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Peter Fitzgerald is chronicling his process of navigating from losing his job to a new and brighter tomorrow. To read other posts from the series, see “Job Transition: A CareerSherpas’ Odyssey”.

In lean and good times, the strongest bellwethers of what is available in a job market in the digital age are the job boards. Whether you’ve had success with them or not, the number, type, quality and relative salary or rate of the positions posted represent a nice snapshot of what to expect in your job search. Where they fall down is in the quality of the interactions you can expect.

For me, that’s where recruiters have always come in. A good recruiter is, sometimes quite literally, worth their weight in gold.

Recruiters fill the gap left between the job boards and the overwhelmed human resources personnel at companies who need to fill a position. Their talent is in assessing a candidate, considering their needs against all the available opportunities, and having the split-second timing of a ninja needed to make the connection with the employer.

Think I’m kidding?

Your job search successes and failures are both reliant on timing. The cross section between your availability, the opportunity being available, and your ability to find, communicate with and convince the hiring manager (and the HR filters in front of them) that you are the ideal candidate. What a recruiter’s fee buys you as the candidate is the extra manpower (or womanpower) and connections to help you bridge the gap faster than the competition.

What a good recruiter buys you is additional insight on the position. Information is crucial and without it you’ll never know if you’re likely to be successful chasing one position or if there is another pursuit that would be a better place to spend your energy.

Recruiting is about getting the right person for the right job and nobody is happy if it isn’t done well. So how do you find a good recruiter?

  • Word of mouth: If a recruiter is good, it’s likely they’ve placed someone you know and that that someone will talk about them. If you need ideas on where to find a good recruiter, ask around first.
  • Filter out body shop recruiters: This is a tough one to do. The vast majority of recruiters work for large conglomerates with a lot of throughput. The risk of working with the conglomerates is that they often do not have the time or interest in working with you to find something for you. What makes filtering out these recruiters hard is that there are truly amazing recruiters inside the larger groups so it’s important not to dismiss anybody out of hand.
  • Talk to a series of recruiters: Like any employment discussion, having someone you connect with is important. Getting a feel for how they view candidates and what kind of background information they’re looking for gives a pretty solid indication of whether they’re working for you or whether you’re a body to fill a hole.

Having spent the last couple of days talking to and emailing with recruiters, I’ve been reminded that it’s really nice to have a little of the pressure taken off the job search. Having extra eyes and ears working for you is never a bad thing either!

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, looking for a new day job, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.