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The Value of a Good Recruiter

Admittedly, in the past, I've been a staunch critic of the majority of recruiting practices at work today. Thanks in part to the .com boom in the late 90's, recruiting became one of the fastest growing industries. Now, with a steady unemployment rate, the future of recruiting is a big question mark.

Like anything else, only the strong will survive (hopefully). As a job hunter, you need to do everything in your power to make sure that you work with only the best connected, most respected, and ethical recruiters on the market. This isn't always easy to do, especially when you see a great job listed by a recruiter you've never heard of. Do you apply anyway? Do you look around to make sure another, more visible recruiter doesn't also have the job listed? Such is the quandary.

On the bright side though, membership is growing among associations such as the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment and the National Association of Personnel Services These associations and their members are committed to working within a "code of conduct" concerning Recruiter-Candidate, Recruiter-Client, and Recruiter-Candidate-Client relationships.

Basically, the code of conduct, or ethics if you will, among the members of the associations consists of the following (paraphrased):

  1. Confidentiality - They don't share information you don't want them to share.

  2. Better communication both during and after the placement process - What's the status of the job? Has it been closed yet? Is the employer still looking?

  3. Professional and ethical representation - They don't list jobs that don't exist yet without specifying it. They don't mine candidates away from past clients.

  4. Thorough information regarding the position, company, hiring manager, working environment, etc. - Is the hiring manager hard to work for? Are the hours overly demanding? Are the company's financial numbers tumbling?

It all comes down to better communication and a higher level of ethical responsibility on the part of the recruiter.

"So how does this affect me?" you ask. Well, this means that now you have a choice. Finally, the job hunter gets a little more control over whom they work with, and how they are treated as a candidate. It is very rare these days to find a recruiter who has exclusivity over a particular job posting within a company. Usually, the listing is mass posted and picked up by anyone with the right access. This means that just like shopping for an automobile, you can now pick a recruiter that you feel can best represent you and your skills.

When looking for a particular recruiter to work with on a continual basis, or if you simply see the same job listed by several different recruiters and want to know which would be the one to contact, here are few indicators to look for in order to assure you are working with the best.

  1. If possible, view the recruiter's website and see what associations they belong to (if any), and whether or not they have a "code of conduct" concerning how they treat their clients (both you and the employer).

  2. Find out if they have recruiters who specialize in your field. You don't want a recruiter who specializes in the "healthcare" field, representing you, a programmer. Odds are, they won't understand half the "jargon" or technical terms that your resume contains. How can someone like that represent you to a client? Answer is, they can't. When it comes down to evaluating apples to apples, an industry-relative recruiter is much more valuable to their client, than one that simply forwards on a resume based on a few relevant keywords.

  3. Do they have a website or can you find them in your local phone book. If so, can you reach anyone at his or her office? The last thing you want is to apply for a job through a recruiter, and then not be able to contact them to find out the status. Meanwhile, you see the job listed through a more popular recruiting firm and you're left wondering if you should have applied through them instead. Do a little homework up front and save yourself some anguish down the road.

If you have already applied for a position, or are already working with a specific recruiter, how can you be sure they are good for your career, and not just pulling you along? Take a look below:

Finding a good recruiter is all about good customer service; something that has been lacking among the majority of today's recruiting force. A good recruiter understands that the better they know you, the better they can represent you. If you are happy, then you are less likely to submit your resume to a competitor. Also, if you are a contractor, you are far more likely to continue working with a Recruiter who you feel treated you well, than you would one that maintained a blasť relationship at best.

Granted, the best recruiters probably have more candidates than they can manage right now, however, a good one should tell you so and refer you somewhere else. It's a sellers market out there, which puts you the job hunter, at a disadvantage. While you may not have much control over the actual hiring process, you can at least make sure you're working with the best agent on the market.

Christopher Souther
Freelance and Technical Writer in Atlanta, GA.
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