recruiterOn a regular basis, I hear clients or candidates saying that they’ve been contacting lots of recruiters but they still haven’t got a job through them. The problem is that a lot of people have unrealistic expectations for the recruiter/job seeker relationship.

The recruitment consultants are working for the employers and not for you – this means that their motivation is to provide the employers with candidates which are a great fit for a specific job.  But there are still lots of people who treat recruiters as their personal career advisors – while advising you is part of a recruiter’s job, our primary job is finding candidates for a specific open vacancy. (By the way, I know there are a lot of bad agencies out there who don’t even bother getting back to candidates with feedback after their interview, but there are good ones out there too, and this article is how to build relationship with them).

In terms of how NOT to approach recruiters, I often get resumes of people who clearly haven’t bothered to read about what I do as they ask me to find them jobs in areas such as investment banking… when I look after recruitment for an online travel company across EMEA! Sending blank emails to lots of recruiters without doing any research is simply the quickest way for your email to get deleted.

While such an approach is a complete waste of your time, I’d always recommend to candidates and my interview coaching clients to source a number of recruiters who specialize in their area of expertise and keep in contact with them. Don’t just rely on job boards.

Here are the links that will provide you with some valuable information on how to build effective relationships with recruiters:

Jennifer McClure of Cincy Recruiter (@CincyRecruiter), listed as one of HR Examiner’s 2010 Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters, in her post, I Hate Recruiters: Why Do They Try To Pigeonhole Me? answered the question:

“How do you get a Recruiter to pay attention to you when you contact them because you want to make a career change, or change industries?”

My advice? (And it applies to anyone who contacts a Recruiter directly.) Treat recruiters like you would any other networking contact! It’s not likely that you’d pick up the phone and start calling other professionals that you don’t know, and expect them to “get” you or to go find you a job without knowing anything about you. So I would suggest choosing a few Recruiters (2 or 3) to try to build a relationship with first – before asking for their help.

Here’s a few suggestions on how you can start that process:

  • If possible, try to meet Recruiters “out in the wild” (i.e. networking/professional development events/volunteering, etc.) so you can introduce yourself in person.
  • Get an introduction or referral to a trusted Recruiter from someone in your network.
  • Interact with Recruiters and build effective virtual relationships with them via the various on-line professional or social networks they inhabit.
  • If a Recruiter contacts you about an opportunity that is not of interest, offer to assist them with referrals or to be a resource for them in the future.


Jeff Lipschultz of A-List Solutions (@JLipschultz) from his post, Recruiting Your Recruiter in the Job Search:

Stay in touch with your recruiter, but not too often.  He/she may not be able to follow-up as often with you as you’d like, but you certainly can keep the line of communication open from your end (especially when there is recent activity to follow-up on).  Many appreciate emails over phone calls so they can manage their day better.  Communication is essential when your situation changes (i.e., another job offer pending).

Consider a recruiter a life-long friend in your career process, not two ships passing in the night.  If you have a well-established relationship with a recruiter, he/she is more likely to go beyond the norms to help you (or a friend) when you need it most.  And, the recruiter will know you as a person, not just as a candidate. With this in mind, keep your recruiter appraised of all career changes.

The best way to return a favour to a recruiter is to network him/her to a new client you know is hiring.

In Recruiting Your Recruiter in the Job Search, Part II he polled several experts, including Jennifer McClure, who advised job seekers to:

“always ask the recruiter how their process works, what happens to their resume if they send it to the recruiter and what should they expect from the recruiter in terms of follow up or actions.”

She added that many recruiters do not operate the same way, and “if job seekers would ask these questions of each recruiter they interact with, it would go a long way toward eliminating some of the frustrations with recruiters.”

How have you built successful relationships with recruiters? What worked well? I’d love to see your comments below!

If you would like some help with your job search/career development, please  answer a few questions at to apply for your complimentary discovery session.


Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach who’s helped hundreds of professionals across Europe and the US to get the jobs and promotions they really wanted. Margaret also has 9 years of experience recruiting for a variety of positions at all levels across Europe and in the US, primarily in technology and e-commerce sectors. If you want to find out how recruiters read resumes, why you are not getting hired, how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview, and how to negotiate your best salary yet, you can download her FREE “You’re HIRED!” video course.



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