Recruiting Guide 2018: How Best to Work with a Recruiter [The Candidate Edition]

David Vigliotti, Vice President
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Business is booming, and so too is the battle for top talent.

[We’re hiring sales professionals, start your job search here.]

But, 2018 is going to be a recruiting year unlike any other. The perfect storm has formed – where there is a tremendous need for skilled professionals, and HR and recruiting platforms are becoming more and more sophisticated every day. All of which has led to an elevated – or elevating – candidate and recruiting experience.

The onset of job boards, which debuted right around the last time we saw unemployment numbers this low, revolutionized the way positions were created, searched for, applied to, and ultimately won by candidates. Between now and then, tremendous headway has been had and technology continues to advance the way recruiters post their jobs and the way candidates apply for those jobs. Enter 2018, and everyone – on both sides of the recruiting transaction – is both more aware and skeptical of the process. Those same job boards that undoubtedly transformed the way we all do business today have become a convoluted place of shell job postings, or jobs that are strictly posted for recruiting purposes but that are not representative of actual job openings, and candidates spamming their resume to every job they see. It’s a mess. But we’re getting there.

This year, as advances continue to be made in artificial intelligence and the more applications there are within AI to staffing and recruiting, coupled with more companies wrapping their arms around the Big Data unique to their businesses, and it’s clear to see how big of a precipice the job search process is standing on.

Luckily, this increase in technology is surprisingly making job searching for candidates and candidate searching for recruiters more targeted, and even more human again.

To make the most of recruiters this year, and how best to partner with them on your 2018 job search, read these five tips.

The 5 Tips to Best Work with a Recruiter This Year

1. Authenticity is more important than ever before – for both recruiters and for candidates.
In a 2018 job search it is important to build relationships and rapport with recruiters. Given the talent landscape, more companies are willing to be flexible on hard skill requirements and put off the witch hunt for “the perfect candidate,” but a recruiter can only vouch for you if they know you. Be authentic and deliberate in who you partner with on your job search.

2. Open, honest and genuine communication matters.
Candidates have spoken, and the industry has listened – well, some of us have anyway. Just like potential and current job seekers do not want to be blindly solicited, neither do recruiters.

Here’s the thing, once everyone has peeled back a couple of layers of technology they realize the people they’re reaching out to on the other end are human, just like them. Gone are, or should be gone are, the days of canned responses and generic methods of outreach. Communication is owned at an individual level, so while I can’t promise every recruiter out there will abide by these principles, as a job seeker in 2018 you can control your communication to recruiters and it’s important to be real.

3. Demonstrate an ability and want to learn.
As the market continues to hold fast and put up some pretty impressive numbers – like the fact that unemployment is at a near 20-year low at 4.1 percent (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of December), and it’s even less than that here in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts, at 2.6 percent and 3.5 percent respectively – a widely accepted prediction in staffing and recruiting this year is that employers will train up their current staff instead of hiring out for all of the positions they need filled. This presents tremendous opportunities internally, but also to outside consultants who are being called upon to help train in the key areas businesses have identified as being important, and/or to help with current workloads while full-time team members receive this training. Either way, it’s a win-win.

As an outside consultant it will be important to have a clear area of expertise, and as an internal employee it will be important to demonstrate an ability and want to learn – but, both are applicable to each other. Be clear about what you know and what you can be called on for, but map out areas you’re interested in and want to learn more about. You never know who’s willing to teach you what, and it’s a good soft skill trait to have. Plus, as a 2018 candidate, it is critical to always be learning.

4. Be proactive and responsive.
There are a lot of passive job seekers out there – a direct product of the state of the job market – but you never know when you’re going to need a recruiter. Regardless of whether or not you’re currently and actively job seeking, you should continue networking and building relationships with recruiters. You don’t know what you don’t know and they could very well be holding the keys to your next office. Plus, they have a great pulse on the business landscape and you will undoubtedly learn a little something from these professional networkers.

In this same vein, do not blow off recruiters who send you over a note on LinkedIn or shoot you an email to check in. You don’t have to engage with them every day, but it’s good for them to know you and vice versa.

5. When in doubt, do your research.
One of my favorite trends I’ve seen at the onset of 2018 is the level of knowledge candidates are entering their job search with. In the spirit of this, it is important to know who you’re entrusting your actual search with.

As someone with over 25 years of experience in the staffing industry, I like when I see candidates research the recruiters representing them. Nothing is more important; know the company, know the individual and know exactly how their process is going to work. Ownership is with you and you alone on who you place this power with. Do not be a candidate for every recruiter, but rather be targeted and deliberate in who you build this critical relationship with.