Individuals enter the job market for a variety of reasons: maybe your company was recently acquired, you just obtained a degree and want to see what career paths have opened, or maybe you no longer feel challenged in your current role. Whatever the reason, the job-seeking process can be overwhelming, and it certainly doesn’t help when you have been contacted by multiple recruiters for a position that, “you would be an amazing fit for”.
Regardless of how long you have been looking for a new opportunity or the time that has passed since your last foray into the employment market, determining if and how to respond to a recruiter can be challenging.
Before disregarding all recruiter outreach, keep in mind that not all recruiting firms operate with the same “churn and burn” business model.
If you’re still on the fence about working with a recruiting firm to supplement your job hunt, below are 7 questions to ask yourself and employment agencies when determining if they are the firm for you:
Is your recruting firm more interested in hitting a production goal than matching you with a role best suited for your talents?
Do they specialize in a specific industry or particular positions?
Recruiters who specialize in a niche industry, business or geographic region are more likely to have a better understanding of what it takes to be successful in those areas. Additionally, the quality of candidates they have delivered to their clients over the years is going to be better than someone who isn’t specialized in what they do. If you find yourself speaking with a recruiter who has an area of expertise, their strong relationships and industry knowledge means you’re more likely to hear yes on that interview by applying through them.
What do the recruiting firm’s online ratings say?
For businesses in the staffing world, online reviews can provide a ton of insight into a staffing agency’s process and what working as a field employee will be like. When reading a company’s reviews, look for trends, but be mindful of the dates the reviews were posted.
You don’t need to look for reviews on the specific recruiter who reached out to you, but if you are able to find any, that’s a bonus! Collectively, reviews should be used to gauge how successful, efficient and professional a staffing firm is overall.
What does the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile summary say?
Some recruiters who have gone the extra mile will have a summary section of their profile filled out. If their summary is simply boilerplate about the agency they work for, that’s ok! However, if you are able to find a recruiter with a summary that specifically mentions their background and industry expertise, check to see if it aligns with your career goals. A relationship with this recruiter may get you one step closer to obtaining your dream job.
How much do they know about the position and company?
Think back on the days in school where you had to give a book report to the entire class. Getting an A was a lot easier if you had read the book. The same principle applies to recruiters and their ability to match candidates with positions that are right for them.
How can a recruiter expect a successful candidate placement if they aren’t experts on the job that they are sourcing candidates for?
Think back on your first contact with the recruiter you were working with: Were they able to answer specific questions about the position and the company?
If your recruiter struggled to answer questions beyond what is easily researched about the company and the open position, this is a HUGE red flag.
At best, it shows the staffing agency may not have a great relationship with the company they are working with, which means they could be shooting in the dark trying to find candidates to submit to this role. In some instances, this style of applicant submittal comes with a reputation that precedes the firm. In which case, you may be wasting your time with a firm whose submitted applicants are pushed to the bottom of the pile.
At worst, it could mean the agency or client (or both) do not care about finding the right person for the role.
Agencies who take the time to understand candidates have higher placement rates because they don’t try to fill every position with every candidate that comes across their desk.
Were you asked surface questions?
If, during your download, a recruiter only asked generic questions like, “Tell me about a time you had an issue with your manager and how did you resolve it?”, or, “What are your responsibilities at your current role?”, this could be another red flag your recruiter doesn’t understand the position they are working on or doesn’t really care about finding a good fit for it.
A few broad questions are typical of any interview process, but if your conversation never touched on the specific responsibilities of the position in question, how can they expect to deliver qualified applicants to their client?
How long did they speak with you?
The time a recruiter spends with you on the phone can be an indicator of where their priorities lie. If your recruiter only spoke with you once for 10 minutes, how well do you think they are able to gauge that your experiences and personality are the right fit for their open role and vice versa?
If your recruiter seemed more interested in pushing you to the next steps in the process, this is a flashing neon sign they are only worried about hitting a production goal and are not really interested in matching you with the role best suited for your talents.
Did they take the time to learn about you?
Regardless of how long you spoke to your recruiter, take time to reflect on the types of questions they asked you. Did they seem interested in your professional needs and career goals? Did they inquire about what you want in your next role/company? Did they ask what professional challenges excite you, and what is it that makes you tick? Where do you want to be in the next 5 years? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Get the idea?
If your recruiter hasn’t made the effort to understand the types of roles where you would be most happy, this is another sign their primary focus is on filling their client’s open position with any warm body and they may not have your best interests at heart.
Sure, your experience may fit what their client is looking for, but vetting applicants to determine if they will be a good cultural fit is an equally important aspect of a recruiter’s job.
Putting the pieces together
Too often indifferent recruiters reach out to candidates, and the sheer volume of this sourcing style gives more selective and compassionate staffing agencies a bad rap.
But not every recruiting firm is the same. Agencies who don’t take the “spray and pray” approach have higher placement rates because they don’t try to fill every position with every candidate that comes across their desk.
When you’re trying to determine if you should move forward with the recruiting assistance being offered to you, don’t be afraid to do your research about recruiting firm or the position. Generally speaking, however, how invested a recruiter is in your professional goals, and how much time they are willing to spend finding the right fit for you, will be apparent the instant you make your needs and expectations about the job search process known.