Using your recruiter intelligently
If you're a bilingual software engineer, a bilingual senior manager, or a high-powered sales person, don't bother reading this. However, if you're one of the "rest of us", then listen up.
Like many people in the recruiting business, I've been getting calls on a daily basis from highly qualified people who didn't plan to be on the job market, but who now are. Many of these people have very specialized experience that was essential to their previous company, but which I, as a simple-minded recruiter, find hard to fully grasp. This is often true even if the person is from an industry I understand as a whole.
These calls are frustrating because I know in my gut that the very competent person on the other end of the phone has know-how that didn't come easy, and that they have to be useful to some employer somewhere. But who? As I mentioned in an earlier column, with the current technology recession, many companies don't want to advertise positions for fear of stimulating internal employees who may be on the way out. So unless the recruiter is the world's best networker or a psychic, you're not going to hear about many of the best opportunities out there.
To compound problems, many recruiters in the non-executive search market are finding that to make money they have to be customer-focused, rather than candidate-focused. This means that if you're not a software person, a senior manager, or a sales dynamo, then you're probably not going to get much attention because these are the three most in-demand job categories. Of course, there are other jobs going, but your favorite harried recruiter isn't going to spend time finding them unless a client steps out in front of his or her car...
This is where you, the candidate, can make a difference. If you really are serious about your job search, and if you get on well with your favorite recruiter, give that person some help. Do your own research (it's your job field after all, you should know who the players are) and get names and phone numbers of likely hirers. Of course, you'll need to know that the target companies are actually doing OK financially, otherwise you'll be wasting everyone's time. Then have the recruiter make the calls and do his/her thing.
Hmmmm, I hear you thinking. If I can get this kind of information, what do I need a recruiter for? Well, that's true. If you're already out of a job and through your personal network you can find an opportunity, clearly you don't need one. But, if you are still working for someone, and you don't want anyone to know that you're planning to leave, using a recruiter can be very convenient. It's a matter of self-preservation. Recruiters can give prospective employers the impression that they are "pulling" you from your current employer, rather than you "pushing" them to do it. That makes you more attractive (it's a psychology thing don't you know?) and keeps your current position safe.
Try this strategy, it might make all the difference...