An experienced recruiter can be many things to a candidate they are working with: career counselor, resume writer, sounding board, confidant, negotiator, interview coordinator, interview coach, and sometimes even friend. One thing you should always expect from a recruiter as a candidate is honesty. Here is how honesty presents itself through the recruiting process and what you should expect from the search consultant you are working with:
The initial call. When you are contacted for the first time by a recruiter you should know how the recruiter got your name. Was it through LinkedIn or some other avenue the recruiter was researching on the internet, or was it via a referral from a previous supervisor, a client, a past subordinate, or maybe even someone in the peripheral on whom you made a positive impact. This is important to know, because if the recruiter does uncover a great opportunity for you, you will want to reach out and thank that referring source.
Resume critique. Poorly written resumes are often brushed aside and given little, if no consideration. If someone’s resume is not up to par, I let them know, and we work on reformatting it together. It is important that your recruiter share with you his/her thoughts, both good and bad, so that a properly formatted and laid out resume is developed prior to formal submission to any company. I’ve seen my fair share of poorly written resumes, in fact I just concluded brushing one up with one of my current candidates. The resume shipped over to my client in its original form may have not made the greatest first impression. Your recruiter should understand that you are a professional engineer, not a professional resume writer, so if it is something that you have not done often it can indeed be a challenge. A recruiter looks at resumes all day along, so they should be able to offer some solid tips.
Where your resume is going. Never allow a recruiter to haphazardly submit your resume to firms without your prior permission. Having a recruiter “spam” your resume to dozens of companies is perceived as an act of desperation and absolutely jeopardizes your confidentiality. You should be selective in who your resume is submitted to, and an honest recruiter will ALWAYS inform you as to where they would like to submit your resume and request your specific permission.
Qualifications / interview feedback. Submitting your resume and/or interviewing on your own without the guidance of a professional recruiter can be frustrating. Receiving any feedback in response to a resume submission or an interview can be challenging, and for many people that is an understatement. A good recruiter will provide feedback from the client. Positive feedback is positive feedback; it is easy to understand and easy to communicate back to the candidate. Often times, when a resume is not well received, or the feedback from the client in regards to the interview is less than stellar, the feedback can be a hard pill to swallow. A good recruiter will be honest with you in providing feedback, no matter how negative; they should NOT beat around the bush or sugar coat things. Discussing the negative feedback will provide value to you as a candidate and will help you better prepare for the next interview that arises.
Nothing available. After speaking with a recruiter, if they have nothing available, they should TELL YOU THAT. This will allow you to move forward with other avenues and will keep you from being hung out to dry. So often candidates submit their resume to a recruiter, have an initial conversation, but then never hear anything back. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with a candidate who has told me they submitted their resume to another recruiter who said they had an opportunity for them, but never heard back from them again.
Negotiations. An honest recruiter should be able to have a frank conversation with you when it comes to negotiating an offer. They are certainly looking out for your best interest and formulating an offer that you will be excited about, but they are working on behalf of their client, and if they feel as though your demands will “upset the apple cart” they should let you know ahead of time, because once the apple cart is upset it is very difficult to get it back on its wheels. A recruiter should let you know what requests are feasible, what current market conditions are, what others in similar roles are making, and they should have a good feel for their client as to what will and will not fly. From time-to-time I have worked with candidates who demand the moon when we arrive to the offer stage. A good and honest recruiter will be able inform the candidate that their expectations may be a little rigid, and if they really want the job they will have to back down a little bit. The goal of a recruiter is to hammer out a deal that will be a win/win for all involved.
I have seen many civil engineering recruiters come-and-go over my eighteen-and-a-half years in this business, many of them are no longer in business because they failed to be honest. When working with an experienced recruiter, make sure you feel comfortable working with them, and set expectations up front that revolve around some of the points I mentioned above.