7 Tips for Working with Recruiters

by Donna Timpone

1. Avoid working with too many recruiters…
Avoid the shotgun approach of submitting your resume to every agency in the area. Build a rapport with 2-3 recruiters that get to know you – your personal and business goals as well as your particular skill set. Check in with that recruiter via phone or email once a week to keep you name at the top of their list. When a recruiter suspects that you have submitted your resume to every agency, they are less likely to give you the personal attention you need to get the right position.

2. Select small niche specialists …
Work with small niche recruiters who are knowledgeable about the type of work you do. Often niche specialists are veteran contractors themselves with special insight into their clients’ needs. They know how to evaluate a contractor’s skill, and how to market those appropriately. Their professionalism leads to repeat business and enhanced loyalty by appreciative clients and contractors alike.

3. Ask about the billing rate…
If the recruiting firm will not tell you the billing rate then they cannot be trusted to manage your relationship with the client. You need a partner that represents you. When a recruiting firm refuses to tell you the billing rate it means that they don’t respect you. It also means that their primary loyalty is to the client, and this conflict of interest will work to your disadvantage every time. Disclosing the billing rate is the acid test because it is the best indication that you are dealing with an honest, trustworthy, professional service provider.

4. Protect the integrity of your resume…
Don’t let anyone modify your resume without your knowledge, review, and express permission. This is more than a privacy issue. A hyped-up or inappropriately modified resume can create unrealistic expectations of what you can do for the client, thereby damaging your reputation and hurting your ability to obtain gainful work.

5. Prevent unauthorized distribution of your resume…
Unauthorized distribution of your resume can result in multiple submissions to the same client, causing you to be removed from consideration for a qualified assignment. Insist that you are told beforehand precisely where your resume is being sent so that you can keep track via a spreadsheet where and when your resume has been submitted and by whom.

6. Protect your right to work…
Read the employment agreement carefully, and strike out or modify abusive language. Non-compete periods should not last longer than one year. They are only valid in those cases where the agency introduced you to the client, and only then for the specific department and physical location where the assignment is carried out. Do not sign away the right to work for your own client.

7. Ask for references…
When selecting your recruiter, be sure to ask for references from other candidates they have placed in staff positions as well as consultants. Consultants should ask about the reliability of getting paid on time, the flexibility in work arrangements (1099, W2, pass-through), and any benefits like 401K, health plans, etc. Also, try to ascertain the recruiters’ style….are they friendly and easy to work with? Will they pressure you to take a job that you are undecided about or make you stay at a job that you are miserable at just to get their commission? Do they respect you as a free agent or do they expect you only to work for them and take it personally if you get a job through another recruiter.