5 Useful Tips on How to Work With a Recruiter

TSP • @myTSPnet


Even with low unemployment across the U.S. and Canada, the current job market can be challenging for applicants. Longer interview processes and an increase in online applications slow down the job hunt considerably. A 2023 study of over 170,000 hires found that it took the average applicant six to seven weeks to find a job, with longer timetables for senior positions.

The hiring process is difficult on companies' ends as well. Filling an important position requires a large investment of time and money. Many companies use staffing and recruitment agencies to streamline the hiring process. Learning how to work with a recruiter can be the secret weapon you need for a faster-than-average job search.

There are several misconceptions about professional recruiters, such as that the recruiter must contact you first, or that recruiters only work to fill high-level jobs. This isn't the case. You can actively reach out to recruiters and staffing agencies for entry-level jobs or senior roles.

Understanding What a Recruiter Is and Isn't
Recruiters are professionals who help companies fill open positions with the best candidates. They can work for companies directly or for a third-party agency. Their job is similar to that of a talent agent in film or TV; however, if a recruiter helps you land a job, they don't get a portion of your salary like a talent agent would. The company is the recruiter's client, so they pay the recruiter a fee equivalent to 20-30% of your first-year salary.

Finding a Recruiter
Recruiters specialize in various industries, such as finance, tech, marketing or consulting. To find a recruiter, you can ask any former colleagues who have landed good jobs. You can also search for recruiters and staffing agencies in your field online and set up a screening interview.

Navigating the Screening Process
Recruiters must understand a candidate's strengths, professional skills and personality to match them with the correct roles. They will conduct a screening process with an interview to get a sense of what jobs you're looking for and how they can help.

The first important tip for how to work with a recruiter is to prepare for this screening. Practice answers to common job search questions such as:

  • What roles are you interested in?
  • Why are you qualified for these roles?
  • What is your work experience and personal background?
  • What is your desired salary?

You should be able to answer these questions in a few sentences each. Rehearse your answers and delivery in a mock screening interview to make a great first impression.

Recruiters aren't only for those seeking high-level positions, and they won't take a percentage of your salary. Working with recruiters in your job search comes with many benefits.

Professional Connections
Recruiters know the hiring professionals at companies in their specialized fields. This means they know which companies are actually hiring and which are posting meaningless job ads. A new survey found that 43% of managers post ads simply to give the impression of a growing department.

Insider Interview Advice
Your recruiter can also give you advice targeted towards specific companies and interviewers. Recruiters only make their bonus if you land the job, so they're invested in seeing you succeed.

Salary and Benefits Negotiations
After you secure a job, your recruiter can help you with the tricky process of negotiating salary. Their fee is a percentage paid out by the company, so their goal is to get you the best salary possible.

Recruiters are always looking out for strong candidates they can send on interviews. Here are tips for how to work with a recruiter during your job search.

  1. Update Your Resume Before Your Screening
    If you haven't updated your resume in a year or more, make sure to tackle this before your screening interview. Add any projects you worked on or milestones you achieved in previous roles. Smooth over any resume gaps with one or two sentences explaining what you were doing during that time. A well-prepared candidate is easier for a recruiter to place.

  2. Practice Your Job Interview Skills Independently
    Interviewing is a skill set of its own. Make sure you have a professional setup for virtual interviews as well as in-person ones. A recruiter will help you land interviews and prepare for them, but ultimately your interview skills will impact the length of your job search. Prepare questions for the company you're interviewing for to show engagement.

  3. Treat Your Recruiter Like a Respected Colleague
    Polite, clear and prompt communication goes a long way with staffing agencies and recruiters. Answer all emails quickly and professionally as if the recruiter were a respected colleague at your job. It may take weeks or months to find suitable jobs for you, so remain patient and positive while learning how to work with a recruiter.

  4. Don't Embellish Your Professional Skills or Work Experience
    Well-meaning family or friends may give you the advice to embellish your resume with more responsibilities or a more impressive job title than you actually held. This can seriously hinder a recruiter's ability to find you a job. Be honest about your experience, skills and expectations.

  5. Be Open to Your Recruiter's Ideas and Suggestions
    When you work with a recruiter to find a job, be open to new ideas. While it's important to be honest about what jobs and salaries you're looking for, a recruiter may suggest you interview for roles that you may not have initially thought you'd fit. A staffing agency may place you in a temporary position that can open doors to full-time positions. Collaborate with your staffing professional for the best chance of professional success.

Staffing is a major challenge for companies. Necessary roles sitting vacant can put a strain on any organization. Following the best practices for how to work with a recruiter can give you crucial inside information and help you land those jobs. At TSP, we help both companies and job seekers navigate the staffing process. Contact us to learn more.