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IT Recruiter Q&A

IT Recruiter Q&A

Sooner or later, you're going to call a recruiter or -- if you've got in-demand tech expertise -- find yourself on the receiving end of such a call.

IT professionals often find it fruitful to work with a recruiter during a technology job search, but they don't always know what to expect from the relationship. Before you decide you want a recruiter on your side, review these answers to common questions about working with recruiters.

Should I work with more than one recruiter?

In general, it's best to work with several recruiters, as each recruiter works with specific companies, and you want access to the broadest range of options.

What if two recruiters submit my resume for the same job?

Don't let it happen. As the job seeker, you need to keep tabs on where your resume is being submitted. Be sure recruiters get your approval before submitting your resume. That's important for everyone involved. If your resume arrives at a company from two different recruiters, it may disqualify you straight off. Why? The hiring company has no interest in a battle between the recruiters over who represents you, says Karoline Hough, assistant branch manager at the St. Louis office of IT staffing firm Bradford & Galt.

What if a recruiter asks for an "exclusive"?

If you're a candidate with the right combination of experience and expertise, a recruiter may ask for an "exclusive." That means the recruiter would represent you for a period of time -- a week, let's say -- with the understanding that you wouldn't be working with other recruiters during that period. "If you want to be a recruiter's top priority, give them an exclusive," Hough says.

Can a recruiter help me sort through my options?

Look to a recruiter for advice on your technology career. But remember, it's your career, not the recruiter's, and the ultimate decision about which jobs to seek is yours. Recruiters can help you determine where your skills fit into the marketplace, Hough says, or if you need additional training. They monitor the pulse of the technical talent market, and that's a valuable asset for you. But remember, recruiters earn their fee by placing you; don't rush to take a position just because a recruiter knows you'd be a sure thing.

Do I need a certain amount of experience to work with a recruiter?

As you would expect, the more experience you have -- and the more in-demand your skills -- the better off you'll be finding a recruiter. If you're just getting into the industry, you may have a rough time getting a recruiter to talk to you; companies don't want to pay a recruiter to fill an entry-level job when they may have stacks of resumes and prospective candidates available to them. Still, if one recruiter tells you he's not interested, that doesn't mean another one won't want to work with you. Just as finding a job takes time, so does finding the right recruiter.

Are there risks in working with a recruiter?

Just because you get a call from a recruiter, don't assume he is the one for you. "There are shady dealers out there," says Jason Berkowitz, chief operating officer at Hyrian, a recruitment outsourcing company. "It's important that you find someone who's on your side and who isn't just going to fax your resume all over town." To guard against shady dealers, ask for references from two or three people the recruiter has placed. Call those people and quiz them on their experience with the recruiter.

What qualities should I look for in a recruiter?

"Look for a recruiter who's honest," Hough says. Meet with the recruiter, she advises. You want someone who's a good listener and who will respond to your phone calls or emails. Consider whether the recruiter knows your particular industry segment, too. "Be open," Berkowitz says. "And be honest about what you want."

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