How to Work With a Recruiter

Build a Long-Term Relationship for the Greatest Value

By Published on .

Paul Gumbinner
Paul Gumbinner

A few weeks ago I wrote about what to do when a recruiter calls. The gist of it was that you should try to establish a long-term relationship. Many people mistakenly think that recruiters are a short-term solution to getting a new job now. They couldn't be more wrong. The current economy affords you an opportunity to find recruiters who can help you now and in the future. So you've answered the phone and made an appointment. What's next?

Here are 10 basic rules you can follow when dealing with a recruiter:

1. Work with a recruiter whom you like and trust.
Make sure your recruiter really understands what you are looking for in the short term and long term. A good recruiter can help you create a road map for your career.

2. Work with more than one recruiter.
You might consider having a close relationship with more than one recruiter. We all recruit for different companies, and even where there is duplication, different recruiters get different job orders.

3. The best time to see a recruiter is when you are not looking.
When you are not pressured, you will be more candid and honest, and your real personality will shine through.

4. Be honest with the recruiter about everything.
Reputable recruiters do not gossip or break confidences, so tell the truth. Don't exaggerate your salary -- you will get caught. If anyone knows exactly what companies pay for what job, it is the headhunters. If you exaggerate, you could price yourself out of a perfect job. If you are out of work or know you will be out of work soon, say so. It can only help you.

5. If a recruiter has you interviewing, keep him or her totally informed during the process.
You should be briefed before every interview and debriefed after every meeting. An effective recruiter can help you overcome hurdles or issues behind the scenes and can be an excellent advocate for your candidacy -- but he or she has to be fully informed.

6. Stay in touch.
A recruiter generally has way more candidates than jobs available, so if you want to stay top of mind when the right job does come up, it helps to check in every so often. In the long term, the more a recruiter gets to know you, the better he or she can help you.

Paul Gumbinner is president of the Gumbinner Co., New York. Before starting his executive-search firm in 1985, he spent 20 years in advertising, as an account person in categories including package goods, cosmetics, broadcasting, financial services, publishing, retail and fast food.

7. When you change jobs, move or change contact information, call your recruiter.
If recruiters can't find you, they can't help you.

8. When you are given new responsibilities or experience a major life change, call your recruiter.
Promotions, new assignments, raises and new titles can impact your career in big ways. Over the years there have been a number of perfect opportunities for candidates I have known, but I didn't know that they had acquired the background to match a client's job specs. Similarly, if you have just gotten married or had children, let your recruiter know; it can help him or her gauge your willingness to relocate or travel for work.

9. Join business and social networks.
Recruiters monitor sites such as LinkedIn to see what their candidates are up to. It's a great way to stay top of mind and to update a large group quickly with resume or contact-information changes.

10. If you need advice -- about anything -- call your recruiter.
The ability to talk with a smart, objective professional is invaluable. Recruiters can help you choose between offers (even if they haven't gotten them for you) and can help you evaluate people and places. If they really know you and understand you, that information can be truly helpful.

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