How to Find & Keep a Recruiter
Six tips for a long-lasting relationship with your favorite headhunters.
Between 80 and 90 percent of accounting and finance professionals will work with a recruiter at some point in their careers, according to John Bullock, practice manager in the Finance Division of Chicago-based Advanced Resources. “In today’s market, a talented candidate may be one of thousands applying for the same job,” he explains. “If you partner with a recruiter, there’s a greater likelihood that you’ll have a direct line to the hiring manager.”
“A good recruiter can help to identify appropriate openings and work with you throughout the hiring process to eventually land that great new job,” adds Marilyn Bird, district president for Robert Half in Chicago.
Not only that, but they can get you post-interview feedback that’s difficult to get on your own. “The hiring process can be daunting to the average applicant. Often candidates don’t even know if their resume was received by a company,” Bullock explains. “Others may go on two interviews and then never hear back. Recruiters work closely with hiring managers, which ensures you’ll get the feedback you need.”
So how do savvy finance pros find the best recruiters? Here are six tips.
1. Cast a wide net
Don’t limit your search; rather, take a broad strategy that calls on multiple recruiters to build and leverage multiple professional networks.
“I’ve worked with many different recruiting firms. As a candidate, you can’t attach yourself to one recruiter,” says James Miranda, vice president of corporate finance and accounting operations at AIT Worldwide Logistics in Chicago. “You need to focus on multiple recruiters, because some search firms specialize in particular industries.”
2. Target your industry
“Just as you would research any employer you plan to interview with, you should research recruiters before you contact or meet with them as well,” says Bird. “Look for a recruiter with a proven track record in placing people in the kinds of jobs in which you’re interested.”
By targeting recruiters that specialize in placing accounting and finance professionals specifically, you’ll be able to tap into the expert industry knowledge and professional networks necessary to find precisely the right jobs.
“In addition, look for a staffing firm that provides access to online training and other career resources,” Bird suggests.
3. Tap into your own network
Network with friends and colleagues to get word-of-mouth recommendations. If you’re a member of a professional association, get in touch and ask if recruiter referral services are available. Also take advantage of social media to find the most highly rated firms and to read “user” reviews. Take a look at Glassdoor.com and HeadhuntersDirectory.com for starters.
4. Make yourself the priority
Narrow in on a recruiter that really takes the time to understand your motivations and career aspirations, rather than viewing you as part of a recruitment production line.
“A good recruiter understands the industry and the subtle but important differences in different positions,” says Bird. “A good recruiter should take the time to talk to you and really understand your experience, skills and career goals. Job opportunities presented to you should match your skills and interests. You shouldn’t be connected with jobs for which you’re under or overqualified, for example.”
A good recruiter will not try to “put a square peg in a round hole,” Bullock adds.
5. Nurture relationships
Regular contact with recruiters is important to long-term success. “If a candidate can be responsive and communicate regularly, that’s half the battle right there,” says Bullock. Regular contact might include updating the recruiter on any new skills or certifications received or any changes in career goals and priorities.
6. Go in prepared
Once you have a meeting with a prospective recruiter scheduled, take the time to prepare for your interview. At the very least,
- Update your resume.
- Create a customizable cover letter summarizing your skills.
- Prepare a list of references and make sure you have their permission.
- Prepare answers to common interview questions.
- Research salaries for your current position or the position you aspire to.
If you’ve taken all the necessary measures to find just the right recruiter and establish a relationship for the long-term, the next most important step is to take their advice.
“Remember, they’re experts at finding finance professionals rewarding employment opportunities,” says Bird. “They do it every day, so job seekers are smart to listen to their guidance and follow it.”