How to work with recruiters

Careers - Road Sign
I returned to Australia after a two year stint in London almost a year ago. One of my first to-dos was to get a job. Part of the rationale behind coming home was talk of an ‘Australian digital boom’. So I thought it would be a good idea to contact as many recruiters as possible. Here are five tips on working with them.

Get recruiters to work for you

At the end of the day recruiters just want to fill their client’s available position. They get a commission for making placements. They don’t get paid for suggesting how you can improve your CV or career progression. Recruiters are in the box seat to provide this type of useful advice but you often have to push them a little.

Don’t be fooled

Be careful not to get sucked in when talking to recruiters about potential job opportunities. It’s in their interest for you to love their client and the job on offer. They will ‘talk up’ (much like a car salesman or real estate agent) any job they think they can place you in. Do your research. Work out if the job really is a suitable and worthwhile opportunity.

Use LinkedIn

As soon as you have found out the company that the recruiter is representing do a search in LinkedIn to see if you are ‘connected’ to anyone who has worked or currently works there. Ideally, you want some first hand insight on what it’s like to work there before you interview.

Be straight up

Don’t try and a be too tricky with recruiters. They have more experience than you in placements and negotating salary packages. Be direct with the type of role and salary you are chasing. Only go through one recruiter for each role – there is a first come, first served unwritten rule obeyed by the recruitment industry. They get really annoyed if they are guzzumped and some even try and get the client to pay the commission if they feel they had dibs on a successful candidate.

Get a second opinion

I met with a recruiter once who basically said I had no chance of getting a job at a big agency. He might have been having a bad day but he really laid into me. He doubted the quality of my work experience and the salary I was after. Needless to say, he was wrong. A year later he sent me an apologetic email and asked if I was interested in new opportunities. I didn’t reply.

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3 thoughts on “How to work with recruiters

  1. GrumbleRant ;0P says:

    I just had a recruiter tell me that “The roles we get are all in creative agencies, so we need candidates to have creative agency experience. If you can build up your creative agency experience, feel free to get in touch again in the future.”

    I understand the catch22 that applies when trying for a new role an a change in the direction of one’s career. But seriously? Would you say that to a potential candidate?

    And what of the previous roles that other recruiters managed to help me secure without me having any prior experience?


  2. GrumbleRant ;0P says:

    *and – whoops!


    • Peter Scobie says:

      It is indeed a catch 22. Some agencies lack the resources to induct staff without agency experience properly and therefore are only interested in candidates who can ‘hit the ground running’. There are, however, agencies who value skill set and passion over agency experience. They also tend to produce great work because they discover talent and maximize opportunities.


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