How to best work with a recruiter to get a job you love, with 8 dos and don’ts

Recruiters are the key to getting job opportunities you are missing out on. Getting ready to work with a recruiter for your next career move can be nerve-wracking and ridden with questions and challenges, or seem as routine as wearing your best interview outfit and chugging coffee on the way to the next opportunity, but you should always be prepared. Research shows first impressions are made within a tenth of a second! So the main liaison between you and your next career move should be impressed with you as soon as the door to their office shuts.

This is a great year to jump into a better-paying job, and recruiters can help you best find them if you’re prepared. Here are some best practices from someone who’s worked with recent college graduates to government security advisors to find their best job opportunities, April Saige, Senior Recruiter at the Addison Group in Washington, D.C.

How to best work with a recruiter: dos

  • Do: be humble

Recruiters are your partners. When you interview, be willing to listen. At Addison Group most interviews are conducted in person the first time a recruiter meets you, and they’re looking to see your attitude and if you’re willing to work hard. This is true for data entry to government security work. Walk in with the understanding that most of the time you aren’t paying this person, so they’re helping you. Respect them even more than you would a colleague who passed along a tip on a place that might be hiring. These are professionals, and they know how best to fit you into a role if you’re willing to listen to their guidance.

  • Do: prepare questions ahead of time 

Ask to see how you can be successful in the role, and if you should be pursuing it. Recruiters like Addison Group take the time to help you sort through pay, advancement and culture at companies or contractors, and determine whether you should jump on an offer right away. Ask good questions. Question the recruiter on their practices of fitting people into roles. And for jobs, of course, ask about pay, but also ask about how people feel when they walk in the door, ask if your skills will be made stronger, or ask if the recruiter thinks you’ll be best positioned to advance in an overall career track. 

  • Do: have insights about yourself prepared for the recruiter

Be ready to talk succinctly about your strengths, so they can know how you’ll match a role. Recruiters need to know how you’ll overcome obstacles in the first week, the first month, and moving forward at certain job placement. The recruiter is watching to see if you’re resilient in answering their questions and being prepared to offer solutions. 

  • Do: follow-up

Send a thank-you note! Recruiters are a free service to a candidate. Let them know you’re grateful. If you are waiting to hear about a certain job, send a ping. Ask the recruiter about a certain role and why you may or may not be matching it in the review process. Put in the effort to communicate and it will go a long way.

How to best work with a recruiter: don’ts

  • Don’t: sit during a greeting

“I had a candidate that didn’t stand to shake my hand. We note that” said Saige. When you’re working with a recruiter to see their history, their success rates. When you’re a six-figure candidate you can be a little pickier. It’s not always about the agency, it’s about the recruiter know you’re a trustworthy person.

  • Don’t: be prideful

“A lot of people forget being prepared. We had someone in communications making $150k talking over my other recruiter; being self-absorbed. It’s a turnoff to employers,” said Saige. Coming to the interview doesn’t always mean being prepared with materials, but also your attitude. Respect your expertise, but don’t take it for granted. Going in arrogant and rubbing the recruiter wrong will make sure they will not consider you for roles.

  • Don’t: start with soft questions

Don’t ask about company culture right from the start. Read the job description the recruiter sends you ahead of time. Look through it and ask questions about the work first. Ask any hard questions on time at the office first if it wasn’t included in a job description the recruiter sent you. Ask first about how often you’ll be given responsibilities or freedom to complete a task. Ask if you’d really be great at a whole new place, be it a government agency or assistant to a corner office. 

Don’t say, “I like house music and walking my dog.” You’re selling yourself as an asset to a career that will pay you and probably change your life, not having cocktails with friends. Know the difference. Don’t overtalk, mention special requests or ideas at the start of an initial interview or even a phone call about a role. Leave all that for the end. You’re going in to speak with the recruiter about how you can help the job, be prepared with a one minute spiel on how. 

Finally, Saige said, “We know when you care and when you don’t. Be honest and be willing to give up something that isn’t the best. We will work with you as you work with us.” Like any relationship, what you put in helps build trust. Trust leads to respect and maybe even your next bump up into a better role.