Many clients engage a recruiter to assist in their search and selection process, particularly if they are looking to hire professionally qualified staff in the Legal or Financial Services field.
If you’ve never worked with a recruiter before, it might seem a bit confusing as to what to expect when working with them. As a rule of thumb, a meeting or phone interview with a recruiter should be handled the same as one would an interview with a potential employer. As recruiters work on behalf of their clients, you can think of this meeting for all intents and purposes as a screening interview – a chance for the recruiter to get to know you, see how you react and compose yourself in an interview setting, and also start to see what clients/positions you might be suited for.
So, what should you do to set yourself up for success while working with a recruiter? Follow these tips!
Prepare for the Meeting with your Recruiter
Prepare the basics
As with any interview, it is crucial to take the time to prepare for your meeting adequately. One such step is to make sure you know where you’re going to be meeting, and/or to ensure that the technology required for the interview is working and ready. Being late for the meeting can be the end of your relationship with a recruiter (no one wants to represent someone that isn’t punctual), so if for some reason you might be delayed, always provide as much warning as possible.
Prepare your answers
Be prepared for difficult questions or objections. A thorough recruiter will want to find out what attributes you have that would make the client hire you. They will also want to identify areas of weakness and reasons why the client might not think you’re the right fit. This might seem harsh, but it will benefit you, the recruiter, and the client in the end. Before the interview, you will need to identify these potential objections to be successful in your meeting. Your answers should overcome the objection without you appearing defensive. However, also be aware that some hurdles cannot be overcome. For example, the client may be looking for a specific number of years PQE for a role or a particular qualification, so if this is a stipulation of the position, don’t try to argue with the recruiter – they’re only doing their job! They may well have other opportunities to discuss with you, so you don’t want to start on the wrong foot.
Research the recruiter
Learn as much as you can about the recruiter you are meeting with or speaking to and do some research into the recruitment process. Knowing how the process works will aid you in being able to navigate your way through the meeting. At CML, we typically go over the process with our candidates upon meeting them for the first time, so they know what to expect from us.
Prepare any materials
Along with your resume, be sure to have contact details to supply of three to four professional referees who have agreed to provide a written and/or verbal reference. Also, if you have any generic references that have been prepared by previous employers or performance reviews, do have these to hand at your initial meeting as it will only help the process run smoothly.
Dress to impress
If you are meeting face to face or over Skype, proper attire is vital to a successful meeting with a recruiter. A professional business suit is a safe choice for either a man or woman, and a man should always complement his outfit with a nice, conservative tie. Clothes should be freshly cleaned and pressed, and shoes should be shined. Your CV and supporting documents should be carried in a folder or file, not screwed up at the bottom of your bag!
Set the tone
Remember, the objective of the initial meeting is to get an introduction to the recruiter’s client. Without meeting the client, there is no way you will get hired! Set the tone of the meeting with a professional greeting and, if possible, a firm handshake.
Small talk is a part of every interview, and this will be no different with your recruiter. Understand that they are merely trying to make you feel comfortable. Be cordial and friendly, but don’t over talk! Remain focused on discussing your skills, experience, and qualifications, but ensure that you engage with them; make them interested in what you have to tell them.
As obvious as it may sound, do not forget to turn off your cell phone before going into your meeting and ensure that no other interruptions are likely to occur. You wouldn’t leave it on during an interview with a client, and you should be treating this meeting as you would an interview with a prospective employer.
Showcase your interest
Before ending the meeting, ask your recruiter about the next steps in the screening process and the anticipated time frame for decisions in respect of any specific positions that you are applying for. This confirms your interest in the post as well as interest in working with this recruiter.
Say Thank You & Maintain the Relationship with your Recruiter
Thank your recruiter for their time
Before leaving or before your call comes to an end, don’t forget to thank the recruiter for the meeting. While it is the recruiter’s job to find talent for their clients, it is still common courtesy to say thank you and to recognize that they have taken the time out to meet with you.
Send a follow-up to your recruiter
You may wish to follow up on the meeting with a brief email, thanking the recruiter for their time, confirming any action points agreed, and asking if they would benefit from any additional information.
Close your email by reiterating your interest in working with the recruiter. Although you might not be the best fit for the particular job or opportunity that you discussed, if your meeting with the recruiter goes well, you are sure to be considered for future positions.
If the recruiter promises to call in a couple of weeks and you haven’t heard back, don’t be afraid to make a follow-up call after the two weeks have elapsed. There may have been no further news from the client that they are working with, but it shows that you are enthusiastic and keen to pursue this and other employment opportunities. Recruiters deal with many different candidates each day, so try to be patient when waiting for feedback.
Leave the meeting on a positive note
Most importantly, don’t forget that your recruiter will be key to you securing a new job. Ensure that you leave them with a positive impression, and they will do their utmost to assist you, and while you might not be successful in securing the role that you initially applied for, maintain a positive relationship, and they will continue to support you in your job search actively. Influential recruiters often have the ear of their clients, and a positive relationship with them will only benefit you in your job hunt and/or future career endeavors.
Keep your recruiter informed
And finally, remember to keep your recruiter informed of any other applications that you are making. They should have no problem with you making direct applications, or even working with other recruiters, but ensure that there are no conflicts and that you are open and honest about other processes that you are involved in. There is nothing worse than progressing to the final stages of a recruitment process and for your recruiter to communicate a job offer, only to be told that you have taken a job elsewhere that they knew nothing about. Remember, you may well need their help again in the future, so maintaining a positive relationship is key.