Now that we've discussed what a recruiter really does and the benefits of working with a recruiter, we want to discuss how to make the most out of the relationship between you and your recruiter. There are several ways you can maximize the value of a recruiter and what we can add to your job search.
1) Bring any materials you think will help qualify you as a great candidate for the jobs you are interested in. If your jobs had any metrics or testing scores, this can save time and ease the job search for both you and the recruiter in the long run. For the creative candidate, this may be a portfolio, samples, or any work you've done most recently that demonstrates your skills. If you think it is important - bring it with you. Don't tell us why you're a great candidate - show us!
2) Understand your job search. Make a map of your priorities - your wants vs. needs. What are your goals? Where would you like your career to go next? What triggers are prompting you to start looking for the next opportunity? What changes do you want to see in your next job versus your current job? It's important for you to consider aspects of your current job that you are dissatisfied with and what you want out of your next position.
3) Review the Staffing firm's website that you are visiting with and do your research! Reading the website will help you understand the types of jobs that the firm works on - and if they can assist you in your particular job search. Higher level jobs may not be a specialty of the firm, or the firm may not be able to help you if you're looking for a career change. This may also be a great way to generate any questions you have about the process or the company itself.
4) If the job description says 1-2 years of experience, the company is looking for 1-2 years of experience. When you present job descriptions to your recruiters, you must understand that clients are looking for an apples to apples fit when filling their requirements. A recruiter is a talent detective - they are paid to find a candidate with a background that is a perfect match for the job description and company culture - not any candidate that thinks they can do the job. However, when you add compelling pieces to your presentation like samples, scores, etc., it could be the extra "something" that could land you an interview.
5) Always - do your research. What companies are you interested in working with in your area? Recruiters are masters at networking. Chances are, they are more than willing to directly contact companies on your behalf. Print out job descriptions that you find interesting - even if the recruiter doesn't work with that specific company, it can help clarify your job search and identify opportunities that best suit your background and interests.
6) Be honest about your job search - as recruiters, we want you to be happy and fulfilled in your next position, so being honest can make a huge difference. Coming to meet with a recruiter and having a clear (and 100% honest) idea of what you are looking for will avoid any misunderstandings between you and your recruiter when it comes to your job search, where you want to be, and what your expectations are.
7) Don't be afraid to ask your recruiter questions that will help you better understand the process and what to expect. What's the best way to contact them? What happens once you identify an opportunity that will fit your background? Every recruiter has different preferences - understanding these preferences will help you make the most of the relationship.
8) Stay in touch! Keeping your recruiter informed about changes in your job search or your current job situation is vital to finding your next job. Even if the recruiter doesn't have the perfect position for you now, it might be right around the corner. Staying in touch can show that you value the relationship and are accessible when the job comes in. Appreciate however, that your recruiter is very busy getting opportunities for many candidates so determine a schedule with your recruiter on what contact method and how often.
9) Optional tip: Bring something that you can leave, this makes you memorable! I can remember a specific instance where a recruiter met with a candidate bright and early at 8:00am, and the candidate brought her recruiter a coffee to show thanks for the early morning meeting. Another candidate brought a pen with their name and number on it - an "on-call" receptionist looking for temporary work. Either way, you'll make an impression on the recruiter that is meeting numerous candidates on a daily basis.
These are all great ways to maximize the value of your face to face time with a recruiter. Remember, recruiters are only as good as the jobs they are recruiting for - the job search process can be long and arduous. Take the time to understand the relationship you should have with your recruiter and you're well on your way to your next position!