Advice: Maintaining Recruiter Relationships

Posted on January 29, 2010


By Alina Dizik, Wall Street Journal

Having good relationships with recruiters can make it easier to find a new role. But keeping in touch with a busy recruiter can be difficult. To continue the relationship, it’s important to convey the value of your experience, say experts.

“It needs to be a win-win relationship from beginning to end,” explains Jason Hersh, managing partner of recruiting firm Klein Hersh International, a member firm of the MRINetwork.

Here, Mr. Hersh gives advice on maintaining recruiter relationships.

How can a candidate begin to build a relationship with an executive recruiter?
Just like approaching an employer, make sure that you aren’t blindly sending resumes to recruiters who don’t work with candidates in your field. Unlike employers, recruiters often share resumes with each other, and a poor approach to a recruiter could have repercussions far beyond just that one submission. Candidates should do some due diligence to find executive recruiters that specialize directly in the industry and/or discipline that he or she currently works in. When a recruiter who specializes in your industry calls, there should be an open conversation regarding insight and referrals, even if the executive isn’t actively looking in the marketplace.

What common mistakes do candidates make when trying to build a relationship with a recruiter?
Sometimes candidates’ expectations on timing can be misaligned, especially if the recruiter doesn’t specialize in their industry or discipline. While you are working closer with a recruiter than you would a hiring manager, don’t cross the line. Don’t contact them just for an update; make sure you have more to contribute to the job search as well.

How important is the rapport that a senior-level job hunter builds with a recruiter?
One primary advantage you have from working with a search consultant is that you will have the opportunity to be more open and honest about your situation and seek advice for how to present it to employers. A recruiter will be able to help you better explain touchy subjects, like being laid off, leaving a job or extended unemployment.

What are some ways that candidates should continue to be on a recruiter’s radar without being bothersome?
Once there is an expectation that the recruiter and candidate can be a resource for each other, an email or a phone call on a monthly basis while actively searching is a good way to stay on the radar. When something important happens in a candidate’s career—especially if they are employed—like receiving a promotion or industry award, passing on that information is a great way to keep in touch with a recruiter.

What can candidates do to be a good resource for recruiters?
When candidates hear about opportunities in the marketplace, they should run these positions by their search consultant first prior to sending [materials] directly into the company. This will give the search consultant (who most likely will have a relationship with the company) an opportunity to qualify and capture insight and share detailed information and feedback with the candidate.