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When you rely on recruiters for your next job…

February 4th, 2019

You are setting yourself up for a longer, depressing, hard job search.

This is absolutely not bashing on recruiters. Ask many of them and they’ll tell you the same thing. If they even tell you anything at all.

We want to think that finding a job through a recruiter is like buying a car through a car salesman.  Here are our assumptions of how these things happen:

Buying a car: We come to them, we tell them what kind of car we want, they try to match the car that is closest to what we want and what we can pay for, we pay money, they get a commission, and then they go off trying to sell another car.

Getting a job: We send our resume to recruiters, we hope they figure out what we should do and how they can match us to a company they work with or the current openings they know about, they get excited because we are freaking awesome and a perfect candidate, they coach us through the entire process, we get the job, they help us negotiate the salary, and it is a win (for us), a win (for the recruiter, who gets a commission for bringing us to the table) and a win for the company (who gets a freaking awesome hire!).

When we buy a car, the salesman kind of acts as our agent. Yes, they represent the company, but a good car salesman wants to understand what is best for us, and then cater to that. They want to make a great match. From great matches come repeat customers and referrals. They really care about us.

However, when we are looking for a job, I’m sorry to say that there is no agent for us. Okay, I’ve met a small handful of people who are agents for job seekers, but just like with a real estate agent (when you sell your house) you have to pay the agent. For the most part, there aren’t hardly any agents out there.

And recruiters are most definitely NOT agents for job seekers.

It took me months to figure out that I was not a gift to recruiters. That my resume wasn’t going to change their lives. That in fact, they really didn’t care about me, and adding me to their database was about as good as having my resume thrown in the garbage can.

For months I tried to network with recruiters… over thirty of them. It’s what I thought you should do. I heard talk of this at job clubs and read it on blogs. “Find a recruiter in your space,” they would say. Someone who specializes in your title or industry. Then, network with them. Give to them. Open your network for them. They’ll appreciate you, and they’ll reciprocate with opportunities.

Nope, nope, and nope.

At least for me, it was a big fat nope. It was a waste of time. Thank goodness a recruiter finally told me that I’d find me a job a lot faster than he’d find me a job. That’s when I started to rethink the recruiter/seeker relationship. That’s when I stopped networking with recruiters for my job search.

Again, I’m not here to bash on recruiters. I just want you, the job seeker, to understand the nature of the relationship between you and them.

Having a recruiter-only strategy might be as effective as asking every car salesman you know for leads. Now that I think about it, perhaps asking every car salesperson you come across might be more effective than going through recruiters.

In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about “power networkers.” These are people who inherently network. Because of the work they do, they know lots and lots of people, and have some kind of connection or relationship with them. If I remember right, he talks about lawyers and accountants as power networkers. Recruiters should be power networkers. But I’ve found that if you are a job seeker, and don’t fit any of their openings, they are very, very busy and don’t have time to talk to, or help, you.

Bottom line: please don’t have a recruiter-centric strategy for your job search. It will likely be disappointing and drawn-out.

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