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How to get a good experience from your recruitment consultant

Posted on from Courtenay HR

It’s certainly not easy at the moment being a jobseeker. So in this tough climate, how can you get the most out of your recruiter?

Recruiters pressured in a dense candidate market

A job market like this puts a lot of pressure on third party recruiters, who have to balance the care and attention shown to candidates with the need to find new roles and keep the shortlists they present to clients relevant.

Recruitment agencies are still the first port of call for the majority of jobseekers, whether they are newly on the market, or have unfortunately been looking for some time. Applications tend to come in two ways; direct application to an advertised role or speculative application to be considered for a range of roles. Additionally recruiters will also approach candidates directly, either sourced through social media or candidate database, or by referral.

Most recruiters that I know, across all sectors and particularly in HR, are currently dealing with greater numbers of candidates than they are used to, which makes it much harder to give all of them a great experience, yet we know that in a job climate like this one, all our candidates are probably looking to us to provide them with exceptional service.

How should I approach my recruitment consultant?

It's not always easy to get the service that you want from your recruiter for many reasons. I’ve already mentioned the greater volume of applications, but there is also the fact that they quite often don’t have much information to give you.

In many cases, recruiters either don’t have the number of relevant roles to talk to candidates about, or are finding that the ones they are working on are progressing so slowly that there is little to update on.

I believe that the key to getting the candidate experience you want is to level with your recruiter when you first meet them and agree on a working arrangement that suits both of you.

Four key areas for a positive experience

This process begins with you, the candidate, and knowing what experience you want, what works best within the approach you are taking in your job search. There are four areas that you should focus on:

Clarity

If you’ve applied for a specific role, then you should want to know about the interview process, the timescale of the process and the decision (recruiters’ decision or clients’ decision), the selection criteria, and some indication of where you stand.

If you have applied speculatively then you should want to know more about the range of roles that your recruiter usually works on, and the volume that they get.

Communication

This is vital, as one of the biggest bugbears that candidates have is either not hearing anything - or hearing too much.

Decide what works best for you; do you want contact with your recruiter every few days, every couple of weeks, or only when there’s news? Do you want phone contact or are you happy with e-mail, text or messages through LinkedIn or other social media platforms? You may prefer to initiate the contact or be happy to wait for your recruiter to contact you.

Content

Another key one as in addition to wanting to know the detail around roles, the recruiter's view of the market and current trends, a lot of jobseekers also look to their recruiters for advice or help in a number of areas such as CV writing, interview presentation, building a social media presence and skill transferability. Is this something that you may want?

Closure

The all important expectation management. If you’re looking at specific positions then you will want to know if you are a good match. If not, why not, and if you are then what the clients' feedback on you is.

Should you be unsuccessful, you need to know why and whether there are any other roles, current or anticipated, that may be relevant. If you are using a recruiter on a speculative application, you need to know how long you stay ‘top of mind’ and how they go about keeping an active database of candidates.

Level with your recruiter about what you want

Once you’re clear in your own mind what you want, and what approach would best suit you in your job search, then you need to communicate that with your recruiter. Here there are three key steps:

1. Face-to-face meetings are crucial. If you don’t take time to meet your recruiter then you won’t be able to build the kind of relationship that will lead to you getting a good experience.

Whenever I hear complaints from candidates regarding poor experience from a recruiter, invariably it will be with one that they haven’t met. If your recruiter doesn’t want to meet you, then it's unlikely they will give you a great experience - they need to get to know you.

From the candidate's point of view, I know that there's the question of time, cost and, quite frankly, self-esteem. However, if you want to use a recruiter that has come recommended, or seems to have some very relevant roles, then you should try to meet. If it is logistically impossible, then there should be a detailed phone interview or, if possible, an interview through Skype.

2. Honesty. I know that to some people we’re little short of estate agents or salesmen, but seriously, if you choose your recruiter well then you should be dealing with a professional who has knowledge of their market and their clients, and who genuinely likes to help people find jobs.

Be open and honest about what you expect and they will be honest with you about what service they can provide.

3. If you establish ground rules then try to stick to them. 

Don’t start applying for jobs that aren’t right for you, and if you agree on a frequency and format for contact, then try to be consistent.

Communication is key for all parties

There are many communication platforms to use to keep in touch, from phone, text and e-mail, to using social media, particularly connecting through LinkedIn (and using the message facility), or messages on Facebook or Twitter, if your recruiter is both using them and has connected with you. Using a variety of these mediums will keep dialogue open and also show flexibility in approach.

Like most other recruiters, I recognise candidates as both future clients and ambassadors in the marketplace for my service and reputation. Remember this as you deal with your recruiter - you both want a positive outcome.

My blog - if you want to connect with me

Mervyn’s HR blog can be read at http://mervyndinnen.wordpress.com/

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