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Is It the Recruiter, or Is It You?

Is It the Recruiter, or Is It You?

Some job seekers love to hate recruiters. They’re the middlemen (and women) who never call, never explain anything, don’t present you in the best light and may even keep you from getting the job you want.

As in any profession, there are some bad apples. But most recruiters are good at what they do, and they tell us that if job hunters fully understood what they can, can’t and shouldn’t do, the relationship would be much smoother.

When a recruiter seems unprofessional or annoying, how can you be sure the problem is with the recruiter -- and not with you? Here are five behaviors to consider.

They charge a fee.
It’s them.

Charging fees for interviews is a bad business practice. Unfortunately it’s more common than you might think.

“You should never pay a recruiter, for any reason, to be in their candidate pool,” Lindsay Olson, a partner at Paradigm Staffing tells Monster.com. If a recruiter tries to justify the fee by updating your resume or offering other “services,” run away, Olson adds. “That’s what career consulting agencies do, not recruiters,” she says.

They don’t call back.
It’s probably neither you nor them.

Recruiters are busy. But that doesn’t mean you should leave the ball in their court either, according to Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Massachusetts-based Matuson Consulting and author of Suddenly in Charge.

“Be in control, but don’t be a pest,” Matuson says. “It’s OK to tell them if you haven’t heard back from them by a certain day, you’ll call. But don’t be calling twice a day. It won’t get you anywhere.”

They don’t submit you for the jobs you want.
It’s probably you.

The job of a recruiter is not to find jobs for people but to find people for jobs,” says Greg Bennett, a North Carolina-based executive recruiter for The Mergis Group (a division of Randstad).

“I’m not an employment agency,” Bennett adds. “If I didn’t submit you for the job you think you’re qualified for, it means that I submitted several people who were more qualified in some way, but I’m not going to send everyone who might be a decent fit. I’m going to submit those who would be the best fit.”

It’s not in the recruiter’s best interest to make a bad match. Recruiters know a lot more about what the client wants -- including the temperament and “fit” of the ideal employee -- than you possibly could.

They submit you for jobs you’re not qualified for.
It’s probably them.

This spaghetti-against-the-wall tactic is desperate and amateurish, says Olson. “It means the recruiter doesn’t understand your unique skills and qualifications, or they don’t care.” Even worse, Olson says, is when the recruiter submits a job seeker for a job without informing him. “It makes us and the candidate look bad when we learn the candidate’s already been submitted for a job and didn’t know it,” she says.

They demand too much personal information.
It might be them.

There are scams out there. You can sometimes identify them by super-short job postings, in all caps, with no email addresses. The big red flag is an immediate response asking for more personal information. Chances are it’s just your information they’re after.

“One common thing that freaks people out is when [an] agency [asks] for their [Social Security number] or the last four digits of it,” says Megan Pittsley, a San Francisco-area recruiter. However, to prevent duplicate referrals, many large corporations now require agencies to provide this information when they submit a candidate, she says. “It's becoming a more common practice,” she says. “My best advice there is just to know who you're working with.”

How to Work Effectively with a Recruiter

Third-party recruiters suggest several ways to make your working relationship with a recruiter more positive and productive:
  • Play the Numbers Game: The more agencies you register with, the more opportunities you’ll have and the less time you'll spend worrying about why one recruiter didn't call you back. You can usally get a good list of agencies from a local college or your local One-Stop Career Center.
     
  • Be Flexible: If you're overly specific and extremely picky regarding commute range, pay, schedule and job title, it’s less likely that a recruiter will call you back, especially if you've been out of work for an extended period.
     
  • Be Friendly: “Positive, easygoing people get to work faster, even if it is just a stepping-stone or a temporary role,” Pittsley says. “Show them you're someone they would want to work with and they'll be 10 times more likely to present you to their clients.”
     
  • Don’t Let Them Do All the Work: “A third-party recruiter is just one of many resources, and you shouldn’t off-load your job-hunting duties onto them,” Matuson says.

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