When I was in my 2006 job search I thought that recruiters, headhunters, etc. would be my best friends. I thought I would get on their radar, they would be excited to know I was available, and hustle to get me my dream job while they were working towards some sweet commission. Talk about a win-win!
Turned out that there was only one friendly interaction with a recruiter, and that was the one who finally candidly said:
“Jason, you’ll get yourself a job before I get you a job.”
It was this recruiter who helped me understand that no, I wasn’t special to him, and no, he wasn’t going to get me my next job. It really was all on me.
I had a gross misunderstanding of how recruiters worked, and what they would “do for me.”
In yesterday’s Ask The Headhunter post titled My headhunter is competing with me!, Nick Corcodilos goes deeper into this relationship. I think it’s critical for us, as job seekers, to understand how we work with (and don’t work with) headhunters. Why? Because if we have the wrong expectations we will be working the wrong way.
Here’s insight that I needed to understand back in 2006:
“The [recruiter’s] goal is to fill the job, not to get you a job.”
Read that five times. Print it out and put it on your bathroom mirror and your monitor. You have to understand that recruiters don’t work for you. And unless you fit something they are looking to fill, they have already passed you over. There’s no “file” where they keep hot candidates like you. They’ll tell you they’ll file your stuff away, but I’ve heard more than one recruiter say their “file” got too big, so they just deleted everything so they could start from scratch.
This knowledge was unsettling to me at first. But then it became freeing. When I understood that I was going to find a job for me before any recruiter would, I realized that I had to do the right stuff in my job search. The wrong stuff was to get 30+ recruiters “working for me.” Because none of them worked for me. None of them even thought about me for more than 20 seconds (which was how long it took to think about their open jobs and whether I was a great fit).
It was all on me. Instead of me being a tool to the recruiter, they were a tool to me. And that tool was best left in the toolbox while I did a real job search.
I’m not saying recruiters suck, or are ruthless, or have no soul. They simply have a job to do. We, as job seekers, haven’t understood their job, and so we have expectations that are not only unfair but unrealistic.
Understand how that part of the job search world works and you can spend your time where you really should.