Tips for working with Recruiters

With unemployment rates estimated to be as low as 2% or less for some IT professionals, it is easy for IT professionals to be complacent, but the following tips could improve your chances of getting or keeping the job of your dreams.

Always interview Recruiters who call you. All Recruiters are not created equal, as all Candidates are not created equal. The next time a Recruiter calls, turn the tables and interview them. Start with the following questions:

  1. How long have you been an IT Recruiter? If the answer is <2 years, respectfully decline, unless the Recruiter has experience as an IT professional.
  2. Have you ever worked in the IT field in any capacity? If the answer is no, proceed with caution. Recruiters who have slept in a datacenter, babysitting servers or slept at their desk during a Release will represent you like you would represent yourself.
  3. On average, how many Candidates at my level do you place in a month or year? If the answer is less than 12 in one year, pass because the Recruiter is not used to working on positions at your level. If you are a C-Level candidate, find a C-Level Recruiter.
  4. How often do you typically update your Candidates? If the answer is less than weekly, run in the opposite direction. Unless otherwise agreed upon, any Recruiter who does not check in with you at least once per week sees you as just a number or she/he has stopped actively looking for your next position.
  5. Other than my IT skills, what made you call me? Ideally, the Recruiter has reviewed your background and knows a few unique facts about you, like a hobbies or skill beyond IT.
  6. Do you have a specific position in mind for me now? Ideally, the Recruiter will have a specific position to present to you. If not, she/he may be adding you to their talent database for future opportunities. This is tricky. Trust your gut. If the Recruiter is a "fly by night" firm who will email blast your resume to everyone in town, do not add yourself to the ocean of resumes in the marketplace. Send your resume only if you trust the Recruiter.

Advice for managing Recruiters

  1. Don’t burn bridges. The market and circumstances change rapidly and you want to have a broad base of support when you need help finding positions in the future. Try to remember the days of a Client-driven market when the roles were reversed and IT professionals were inundating Recruiters with phone calls.
  2. Let Recruiters down easy. If you are not interested, politely thank the Recruiter and let them know that you are not ready for a move. Ideally, you want to take control of the process and tell the Recruiter when or if you want a call back. Smart candidates maintain a list of Recruiters and speak with them regularly to keep abreast of market trends.
  3. Give referrals. Everyone knows someone who is looking. Feel free to request to remain anonymous, but never hesitate to refer colleagues to quality Recruiters. Quality Recruiters will remember the favor and give you preferential treatment in the future.
  4. Keep a list. Save the contact information for Recruiters that you like. Rapport is valuable when you need a Recruiter in the future. And remember that EVERYONE needs a Recruiter at some point.