Career Report
June, 2008 — Issue 100

Bob Larson, CPC
Bob Larson, CPC

Make the Most of a Recruiter

The higher you move up in business, the more attractive you are likely to become to job recruiters. But no matter what level you’re at, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the odds of getting a job through a recruiter can flounder if you don’t understand how the search business works.

Case in point: some up-and-coming business people withhold critical information, like their salaries, because of privacy concerns, even though recruiters work on a confidential basis, said Wes Richards, a senior client partner and managing director at Korn/Ferry International Inc. But job seekers need to keep in mind that recruiters are “like your doctor, your priest or your lawyer,” he said. In other words, the more information you give them and the more forthright you are about yourself, the better job they can do for you.

The Wall Street Journal article advises the following tips to help job seekers forge strong relationships with recruiters. They may be helpful to any job seeker–whether they’re senior-level, middle managers, or younger professionals relatively new to the business world.

Be sure. Offer yourself to recruiters only if you’re serious about changing jobs, warned Dan Cahill, president of Hobson Associates Inc., a boutique search firm in Cheshire, Conn. “Don’t call a headhunter because you had a bad day, or you’re bored or mad, “ Cahill said. Carefully assess your situation. Because if you turn down a recruiter’s interview offer, chances are he or she “won’t work with you again,” he said.

Be specific. Let recruiters know if you’ll work only in a certain area, geographically or industry-wise, and keep in mind the narrower your parameters, the fewer your options. Cahill added. Also, avoid saying you’ll move anywhere for a job if you don’t really mean it. “Any time you renege on an opportunity or change your mind, you create problems,” he warned.

Provide references. Include three names and their contact information when you send recruiters your resume, Cahill recommended. These can be from bosses, colleagues or people you managed. This will bolster a recruiter’s desire to represent you to his or her clients, he said.

Ask smart questions. If a recruiter approaches you, show your savvy by inquiring about the size of the employer, its culture, the competencies needed and whether you’re the first candidate considered, Richards said. Also, request a copy of the job’s specifications. “The recruiter will say this is somebody who understands the bigger picture and is digging deep to understand what the job is all about,” he said.

Explain rejections. For jobs that aren’t a good match, let recruiters know why, Richards said. This will allow them to clear up false impressions you might have or gain a better understanding of what you prefer. It also may prompt the search professional to add you to his or her tickler file for consideration down the road. Richards said about three-quarters of the candidates he places are people he’d previously tried to place.

Meanwhile, recommend someone else for the jobs you turn down. “Headhunters are quid-pro-quo people,” Cahill said. “They keep score.”

Stay involved. Check in with recruiters about once every two weeks to stay on their radar, unless you have something to report, such as feedback on an interview or progress you made on your own. “A headhunter doesn’t want to be embarrassed calling a company you already had an interview with,” Cahill said. Act as your recruiter’s assistant by researching companies and offering a list of ones you consider a strong fit. “Those are the people I work hardest for,” he said.

Suggest moving on. If a recruiter hasn’t secured you a substantial interview after 90 days, ask for a reference to another search professional in your niche, Cahill advised. The request might motivate the recruiter to try harder. “Headhunters are competitive,” he pointed out.

News from BLK

The retention of talented employees has become a crucial issue for employers in today’s volatile economic climate. We have developed a survey which addresses various corporate retention issues, and we would appreciate your feedback. Please accept BLK’s invitation to respond candidly to this questionnaire. Everyone who responds to the survey, found on our homepage at, will be entered in a drawing for an iPhone.

Ted Angelos, National Association of Personnel Services Credentialing Chair, has announced that Berman Larson Kane is one of the first four staffing firms in the country to be accredited under the new Robert P. Style Firm Accreditation Program established by the association. Firm accreditation is reserved for those recruiting and staffing firms who demonstrate a commitment to certification, education, profession, free enterprise and the community and agree to abide by the NAPS Code of Ethics.