Recruiters can expose job seekers to a large pool of job opportunities. As companies shift from hiring full-time employees to hiring contractors, there are more opportunities available through staffing firms and consultancies. I’ve been working with recruiters for almost a year and I’ve learned a few things I’d like to pass on.

It’s a numbers game. Recruiters have a long list of contacts and you should do the same. I have about 25 recruiters in my address book and I could easily work with 25 more. Have a good way to track the opportunities that each recruiter is working on. I use a home-grown CRM to record summaries of my conversations.

Be proactive. Help them help you by checking in periodically. If they have a website that lists jobs, take a look at the list on a regular basis (maybe every other week) and send a note to your recruiter with any new jobs that look like a fit for you. Include an explanation of why you think it looks like a fit. This helps the recruiter develop a sense of your skills and interests. Remember that a lot of jobs never get listed, or are effectively listed after the position is filled. Help them keep you in mind when they hear about other opportunities.

Be responsive. You will get the best results when you respond immediately. Remember that you are competing against other candidates for each opportunity; beat your competition to the punch. Also, be specific about your availability. If someone expresses interest in setting up a call or a meeting, give specific times when you are available – even if you are available all day, give them something specific to work with.

Be prepared. Have an up-to-date resume and references at the ready. I have this information stored locally on my phone so that I can send it off quickly. Preparedness extends to the interview, as well. You may be at the interview to represent yourself, but you also represent the recruiter that brought you in. Make sure they don’t regret their decision.

Get to know your recruiter. What kind of agency do they work for? What kinds of firms do they work with? Understanding this will help you position your skills and experience for potential opportunities.

Finally, and this should go without saying, be nice. Recruiters have no control over the decisions of employers – don’t risk your relationship with a recruiter just because one opportunity doesn’t go your way. There will be other opportunities in the future.

Keys to Remember

  1. Be proactive. Recruiters don’t work for you, but they can expose you to a large pool of opportunities; help them help you.
  2. Be responsive. Respond promptly and be clear and specific about your availability for meetings/phone calls/interviews.
  3. Be prepared. Have an up-to-date resume and references ready to send.