I was asked recently for my advice on how to approach a face-to-face meeting with Recruiters… I guess I was asked since I never seem to be overly stressed about changing jobs (in fact, I quite like the new environment, new people and new challenges). As a result, this makes it seem like I know what I’m doing (which I probably don’t!) when it comes to dealing with Recruiters.
However, I am a cynical person by nature(!) and so I’d like to suggest 2 pieces of advice to anyone thinking about getting in touch with Recruiters, especially if you’re planning to meet up face-to-face. Incidentally, I highly recommend a face-to-face meeting if at all possible since Recruiters become your Agent / Representative when dealing with Employers:
1. You should try to meet one or more Recruiters while you’re not actually looking for work but actively considering doing so in the next few months. This seems like a waste of everyone’s time but I think not. Why? Well, two main reasons:
First, you will not be in a desperate panic, trying to convince the Recruiter that you’re perfect for the Job(s) they currently have available. As a result, you are likely to be much more relaxed about whether it goes well or not. In fact, if it doesn’t go well, that’s a very useful outcome as well, at this stage. This non-committal meeting will allow you to judge the Recruiter rather than worrying about them judging you.
Second, it will give you a very good idea of how the Recruiter views their clients and potential clients (that also means you, not just the Employer). If a Recruiter will take the time to meet you and get to know what you want before they have some role they think they can squeeze you into – that’s a very good sign, in my view. If they’re always “too busy”, what chance have you got if they place you in a role and you need to talk to them after you discover it’s not perfect for you (or vice versa) but they’re also “too busy”…?
2. Another thing I’d suggest is aimed at Recruiters as much as it is at candidates: make sure both sides – recruiter and candidate – know what is required by both parties. Recruiters tend to know what the Employer wants (although this seems to be less common, hard as that is to believe) but rarely know what the candidate wants. candidates tend to know what they want (although, I understand this is also not as common as you might expect!). Unless the Recruiter knows what the candidate is looking for, why waste time with a meeting? A simple phone call or email will soon get the answer. Then a meeting will probably prove unhelpful.
Please don’t ask to meet candidates (and, by this, I mean ‘me’!) unless you have the perfect job available – especially if you’re head-hunting and the candidate is already in a role. For me, that means there should be at least one call / email that has given you the opinion that I’m likely to be very interested in one or more of your open roles.
Also, whether we meet or not, don’t be surprised, annoyed or pretend-offended if I tell you I’m also talking to other recruiters. After all, I won’t be offended if you tell me you’re also talking to other clients about the role that’s perfect for me 🙂
Remember, candidates, that (most) Recruiters get paid to place PersonA in RoleB. If a Recruiter (or any commission-rewarded Sales-person, frankly) was asked “Would you like to be able to tie up a deal on the first attempt?”, everyone will say “Yes… where do I sign up?”.
The problem (although maybe ‘problem’ is too strong a word), is that Recruiters desperately want to place you, assuming you’re acceptable to the Employer. That seems like a good thing, but it means they’re most likely to spend time scouring the world for a candidate they can place quickly, rather than scouring the world looking for a job that’s perfect for you. This is, of course, to be expected – the Employer pays them, after all, and you don’t! The end result, though, is that (some) Recruiters are happy to squeeze a square peg into a round hole, even to the extent of telling the potential candidate that it’s really a square hole, perfect for the [square?] candidate…
I’m continuously getting calls from cold-callers who tell me that they saw my LinkedIn profile or my CV and think I’m perfect for the role they’re currently placing. Recently, I even had a recruiter tell me that I’m the ONLY person they’re calling (nice compliment but… yeah, right!).
As it happens, I’m lucky because I actively like change and I actually don’t mind the recruitment process. I see both as opportunities to re-evaluate and perhaps re-invent myself. However, I can see how modern Recruiting practices can be very off-putting for people who are less masochistic about it than I am – especially as some candidates might see it as a spotlight on the perceived ‘inadequacies’ in their CV / Career.
Maybe candidates should treat a meeting with recruiters like a first-date: if you both like each other, you can arrange to keep seeing each other and, if you don’t, then there’s no need to continue. Unless, of course (in either case!) you just want a one-off ‘quick win’ – and you don’t have to even like each other for that 😉