Searching For a Job? Don’t Call a Recruiter – Think Like a Recruiter

Jobsearchnewspaper If you’re currently searching for a job, I can relate to you in many ways. I’ve been a job seeker, a hiring manager who’s interviewed candidates, and now I’m a Recruiter and active networker who interacts with people at all stages of career transition on a daily basis.

In my current role, I come in contact with many job seekers who believe (or hope) that the answer to their current situation is to contact a Recruiter and turn over their job search to them. They need a job – and the Recruiter needs to place someone in a job in order to make money.

Sounds like a win-win for both right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works with most Recruiters, and my concern is that many end up frustrated with us because we aren’t finding them a job, or they don’t feel that we’re interested in helping them.

The straight scoop is that it’s highly unlikely a Recruiter will personally take on your job search, provide you with contacts that are hiring, make calls for you, or (shocker) even place you in your next job.

Typically, individuals placed by Recruiters are identified in one of two ways. They’re either found out of the blue (cold-called) by a Recruiter searching for someone that specifically matches their skills and experience, or they were top of mind for a Recruiter when an opportunity came along (specifically matching their skills and experience) because they had developed a relationship with the Recruiter through regular interaction and/or providing referrals in the past.

While that may be disappointing to hear for those new to the job hunt, it’s true.

The reality in today’s economy is that most Recruiters are very much in the same boat as job seekers right now. If jobs are harder to come by, so are “job orders”, and the majority of a Recruiter’s time and energy is devoted to developing new business.

So what’s a job seeker to do if Recruiters aren’t the answer?

My best advice to you – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Make like a Recruiter, become your own Headhunter, and create opportunities for yourself by doing the following:

1. You must get out and network.

You knew this would be number one right? The simple truth is that there’s no way to get around it. And it will take time. No one magically hands over new clients to Recruiters – they have to actively seek them out and find them.

In my case, in addition to working with current clients, I spend a good portion of every day in some sort of networking or relationship building activity (i.e. business development). I attend networking and professional association meetings, make regular phone calls, schedule meetings with key relationships to keep in touch, etc. etc.

As a job seeker, you MUST be actively networking to secure your next job. In fact – networking IS your current job!

2. Focus on helping others.

Take advantage of every opportunity to connect or help other people where it makes sense.

As a Recruiter, I’m always on the lookout for ways to provide referrals or to connect my clients and relationships to people or resources that can help them.

By adding value to our relationship and helping them with their needs, they typically also want to help me. (Note: 100% of my current clients were referrals from someone that I helped at some point and expected nothing in return.) Those in career transition who do this well tend to land sooner and develop armies of people interested in helping them.

Call it Career Karma, Givers Gain, or whatever fits, but it works and I see it in action all of the time.

3. Develop and communicate your “Brand” effectively. 

Just as there are an overwhelming number of people out there today searching for jobs, the competition among Recruiters is fierce to secure clients and opportunities. As a result, each of us must work to distinguish ourselves from the pack. I personally do this by ensuring that my key relationships know what I do (Executive Recruiting, Executive Coaching, Consulting, Speaking/Training) and the types of people that are most beneficial for me to connect with (decision-makers, business owners and C-level executives).

Unfortunately, many frustrated job seekers are branding themselves this way – “I’m open to any opportunity where I can utilize the many skills I have in any industry”. This type of statement does nothing to make them memorable and unfortunately gives the people that they interact with no idea (or initiative) to help them or refer them.

4. Research companies and opportunities to “position yourself to be lucky”.

Recruiters must have a hand on the pulse of what’s going on at all times in the industries and communities where their target clients are. Many an opportunity is uncovered by reading newspapers and industry or professional publications and keeping an ear to the ground.

Recruiters read between the lines of growth, restructuring, new hire, promotion and even layoff announcements and rumors to identify opportunities. We then tap into our networks to connect with the right individuals in these companies to explore how we can add value. Job seekers who do the same thing often identify un-posted or not-yet-created opportunities for themselves as well.

“Luck” typically happens to those who have placed themselves in a position to be successful.

For the record, I truly wish I could help each and every person that reaches out to me to find the perfect job. Also for the record, finding jobs for people is not what I (or other Recruiters) do. It’s actually the opposite – I find specific people for specific leadership and key individual contributor roles at my client companies (who are the ones who pay for my services).

The good news is that you – the job seeker – can employ the exact same tactics that I (and other Recruiters) use to develop new business towards developing your next great career opportunity.

Now, let’s go get ’em!

President & Chief Talent Strategist

Jennifer McClure is a Keynote Speaker, Talent Strategies Expert and Executive Coach who works with clients and companies in the areas of leadership development, communication and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and empower business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

13 thoughts on “Searching For a Job? Don’t Call a Recruiter – Think Like a Recruiter

  1. Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for the link to my blog regarding authentic personal branding and for this wonderful post that dispels the misconceptions about recruiters.
    My C-level job-seeking clients often tell me they need to “get their executive resume together to send to a couple of recruiters” — and then they expect to sit back and wait for the offers to pour in.
    Thanks for providing the true scoop on how you folks work and what’s happening in your world today. I’ll pass along the real skinny to my clients and blog readers, directly from the expert.
    And your strategic action plan is right on the money, and just what job-seekers probably know they should be doing, but sometimes aren’t motivated enough to buckle down and actually do.

  2. @Stephanie @Paul & @Jessica – Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate your comments, support & retweets!
    @Meg – Thanks for your comment on interacting with executive level job seekers. While many of them may be uniquely positioned to gain a recruiter’s interest, 99% of them will never be able to completely turn over their job search to a recruiter. Nothing in life is “free”, and a well-executed job search isn’t either. It requires personal work and effort!

  3. This is a great article. Espically about the getting lucky part. My last two positions where started with the luck factor. It got me the interview…..I got the position.
    Thanks Jennifer
    Rod Mayo

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom. I’m beginning to see what it is all about. One big hurdle I can’t get over is how to make a branding statement about myself that really describes the best thing I have to offer, without sounding arrogant and superior. It takes a skillful writer to come up with an effective branding statement about what makes them special and unique without sounding like an idiot.

  5. I write a column on job hunting and careering for the Dayton Daily News and appreciate your comments. The thoughts are directly in line with the market. It’s unfortunate that people looking for work have a totally different concept of the process and follow more myth and hearsay than what practitioners in the field advise.

  6. Jennifer –
    This posting is spot on !! The points on networking and helping others truly ring true with me. I think that Recruiters would be so much more successful both short and long-term if they remember that they’re dealing with people and not products !!
    Also, I think it’s key to note that EVERYONE has a “brand” whether they are intentional or not, so they should strive to be intentional !!
    Thanks again for this. Loved your insights. – Steve

  7. Really enjoyed reading your post. As a person looking for that next great opportunity, I found it very revealing about how headhunters really work. Nice to have practical, tangible advice on how to help my own situation.

  8. Great blog, Jennifer. I love your post, especially the part about helping first with the expectation of nothing in return. You practice what you preach and hopefully it will rub off on others!

  9. Hi Jen,…nice blog post..n I guess I came across it no time too soon..especially since I’m in-between jobs..n to make things tough I’m searching for the job in a new country..but I guess what u had to say explained the rationale behind the job recruitment trend…so networking..tit-4-tat…branding..doing the homework are the ways to go.Gottcha!


    Deepak Damodarr
    London,UK

  10. Pingback: Executive baan zoeken? Denk als headhunters, bel ze niet | Experteer Blog

Comments are closed.