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Some of your most frustrating experiences as a job seeker may stem from your interactions with third-party recruiters. Much of this friction occurs when job seekers mistake a recruiter for a job search “agent.” However, whether you like it or not, recruiters are often a necessary part of the job-seeking process. The truth is that a recruiter's first obligation lies in locating the best candidate for their client’s job opening. Most recruiters work on a contingency basis and only receive compensation when they make a successful placement. This type of incentive system means that the candidates with the most marketable skills will likely receive the most attention.

The close relationship between recruiters and employers means that they can often put you on the fast tract to an interview. Here are 5 sure-fire strategies that can make working with recruiters more successful:

  • Do not bury important information. Due to the sheer volume of resumes recruiters see each day, you have only seconds to GRAB your reader’s attention. Be sure that your resume clearly and effectively communicates your background in 5-10 seconds. You must customize your resume to each job that you apply to, in order to specifically show how your background fits each aspect of the job description.

    In addition, if a recruiter requests that you customize your resume and cover letter for a specific opening they need to fill, get on it right away. In today’s job market, any unnecessary delay could cause you to miss your window of opportunity.


  • Act as your own sales person. During a job search, you must act as a sales person and market your skills and experience to others. When you contact a recruiter, give them a sales pitch of your own so they can clearly understand how you fit the job and why you are a valuable candidate. Never assume that the recruiter has an intimate knowledge of your industry. Don't be afraid to briefly clarify a few aspects of your industry, as this little bit of education may help them help you.


  • Be persistent and regularly be in contact. Reach out to your recruiter on a regular basis, but always understand the fine line between being persistent and being a pain in the neck. Recruiter Tom Graumann of Integrity Search in Maryville, TN offers this advice: “Candidates need to pay attention to which companies the agency submits their resume. Too often, candidates get impatient and submit their resume directly to the company, or tell other agencies to submit their resume for the same job and it wrecks havoc on the hiring process. Some candidates feel that the more exposure they can get at a company the better, when in fact that tends to work against the candidate.


  • Learn to be a source of information. If a recruiter arranges an interview for you with one of their clients, let them know how things went. This helps the recruiter anticipate the next step with that client. Even if you decide you do not want the position, provide your recruiter with any additional insight you’ve gained regarding what skills and expertise the employer requires. This helps the recruiter in both the selection and preparation of future job candidates.


  • Do not take rejection personally. Recruiters have many reasons for not working with a job seeker; so don’t let this discourage you in your search. If possible, try to discover why the recruiter felt you were not a fit for the job. It may just be that your resume does a poor job of communicating your background.


RECRUITER TIP: Ed Freeman of Employment Atlanta encourages you to, “Make sure the recruiter handles your specialty and has been in the business for a while. There is a lot of turnover in our industry, so it's important to find a recruiter with experience.”

RECRUITER TIP: Jeff Goro, a recruiter for the printing and packaging industry, shares: “Candidates should send resumes to individual recruiters. When emailing your resume, do not "cc" or have a distribution list of recruiters. Nothing turns off a recruiter more than when they receive a resume sent to several hundred other recruiters. I know that candidates will send their resume to other recruiters, but I don't want to be part of a distribution list.”


By Mike Worthington, ResumeDoctor