The Proper “Care and Feeding” of Your Recruiter

 In Career Tips, Job Search Strategy, Professional Networking

The Proper "Care and Feeding" of Your Recruiters


Beth Cohen Moore

Ed note:  This post was recently submitted to the CPGjobs Blog, and I think it contains some really good advice for jobseekers on working with recruiters. What do you think?

If you’re like most people looking for a job, one of your biggest frustrations is dealing with recruiters. This frustration takes many forms. Topping this list of frustrations is the lack of feedback; not hearing back after conversations or job application and receiving no feedback following phone screens with hiring managers.

A poll published by Resume Bear confirms this. In their survey of more than 10,000 respondents across all industries and job levels they found that jobseekers’ most challenging issues in their search were:

  • 15% Can’t find open jobs to apply to
  • 42% Not getting responses to resumes
  • 18% Having interviews but competing with so many other qualified people
  • 26% Staying positive in a longer job hunt


If you take a look at  the informal poll on the CPGjobs Home page, you’ll see similar results.

Now, I am not an expert in recruiting or job search.  In my work, I do engage with a lot of recruiters, but basically, I am just like you – looking to find a new opportunity in a tough economy. Over the past weeks I have learned a great deal about networking online and offline, and about working with recruiters, and I must say  it’s been an eye-opening experience.

Here’s what (I think) I’ve learned based on the conversations I have had with recruiters.

Choosing the recruiters you are working with is not a “hit or miss” proposition.  As you market your candidacy, your recruiters are your “channels.”  You wouldn’t try to sell cans of Turtle Wax in Nordstrom would you? Successfully reaching the companies and hiring managers you need to connect with requires that you do your research; that you choose your recruiters carefully, and that you have the courage to turn down that random call from a recruiter who doesn’t meet your criteria. Trust me here. The only thing that will happen is it will waste both your time and theirs.

Be honest.  I know this is hard, especially when you are currently unemployed. Many of us have a tendency to want to be things to all people just to be able to land. But if your recruiter asks you about the salary you are able to accept or whether or not you are comfortable within a matrix organization – don’t tell white lies. Your recruiter can’t possible do his/her job if they don’t know with whom they are dealing. You may be able to bullsh*t your way through a phone screen, but ultimately where will you be? Miserable, that’s where. You will have wasted more of your time and theirs. And you won’t get a pushed along in the process.

Share information and communicate.  Communication is the key to any good relationship. That’s a human being on the other end of the phone. (OK, some of them don’t act like human beings, but let’s put that aside for a moment.) Tell your recruiters specifically what you are looking for and be fully prepared to back up your qualifications for performing the job you want. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile is fully consistent and supports your conversations with recruiters. Your recruiter must communicate with the hiring manager at many different levels. Don’t assume that an employer will rely strictly on what the recruiter tells them about you. Make it easy for your recruiter to sell you. This is a cross-channel marketing effort folks.

The other side to communication is keeping your recruiters informed about where you are in your search process. If you are on your third interview at another company, let them know of your progress. If you have scheduling conflicts, make sure they understand the best times to reach you or to schedule an interview. The last thing a recruiter want to do is to be pushing for you only to be blind-sided in the process. It’s embarrassing and unprofessional – for them and you.

Ask for feedback. This seems to be one of the hardest things for us candidates to do. Perhaps it’s because we really don’t want to know. Ask for feedback after the initial screen. Ask for feedback after a conversation with the HR person. Ask for feedback after a meeting with the hiring manager. It’s OK to ask for feedback at the end of any of these conversations. A causal, “What’s your impression thus far about my fit?” can go a long way. It can also save your (and their) valuable time. Oh, and don’t be shy about expressing your enthusiasm for the position as well, as long as you’re being honest.

Pay it forward. As candidates we tend to be very locked in to our own (huge) challenges and needs in our job search. You know as well as I do that the quality and professional capabilities of recruiters vary person-to-person – just as they do in your own field. Use your EQ and some solid research to figure out where those high quality, long-term recruiting relationships lie.  Help these people out. With unemployment at all-time highs, I know you have people in your network that may be right for one of your favorite recruiter’s positions if you are not. Make that referral. It’s a way to show your appreciation and build meaningful relationships with those that can most positively affect your chances of landing a great new job. Plus, it feels good.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I am a total apologist for the recruiting industry. There are TONS of recruiters out there who are totally non-responsive, callous and quite frankly, unprofessional in their behavior.

So what? You’re not going to change them.

Don’t waste your time with these people! Move on and refer to number one above.

Here’s my final point. If your phone calls or emails are not being returned it’s most likely because:

  • You’re not qualified to do the job you are discussing with the recruiter
  • You are not effectively communicating why you ARE qualified to do the job
  • You are not actively asking for feedback and humanly engaging right from the start
  • You are dealing with an *sshole who will never change and you need to forget it and move on
  • You are restricting your efforts to online job postings and are not humanly engaging at all

Let me tell you, I’ve personally been guilty on all five counts at one time or another.

What about you? What have you learned thus far in your own job search process?


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