Building a relationship with a recruiter is important, even if you are not actively looking for a new position. A good recruiter can keep you informed of opportunities that would potentially interest you given your particular family needs and career goals. This is also a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry and to hear about new and emerging companies.
It is not unusual for a professional in the biopharmaceutical industry to receive 10 calls a day from different recruiters. It is impossible to call back every recruiter that calls you, but developing a good relationship with one recruiter who fully understands your experience, career goals, and personal interests is vital in this fluctuating and ever-changing industry. It is hard to predict where you might be in a year or even a few months from now. There are many things that can affect the stability of your position and if the time comes for you to start seriously looking at other opportunities you will be thankful if you have a recruiter you can turn to who is already familiar with you, your experience, your career goals, and your family needs. A good recruiter is aware of more positions than are posted on the web and they oftentimes have access to retained searches which are not advertised. This is someone who is an advocate for you, who will get your resume in front of the hiring manager and to the top of the pile.
So how does one sort through these recruiters to find someone they can trust and with whom they can build a relationship? There are 4 main areas that you will want to assess.
- Personality Fit
When choosing a recruiter your first impression is key, so go ahead and have a conversation with a few of them. Listen to his or her voice. Are they personable and easy to get along with? Are they someone you feel you connect with? Remember, this is a person that would potentially be representing you in one of your biggest career decisions. Also, try putting yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager and ask if this is someone you would want recruiting for you? Are they asking the right questions? Examples:
- What are you doing currently?
- Do you have management experience?
- What would your ideal position look like?
- Is there a particular company you are interested in?
- What companies have you approached in the past?
- Where do you want to be in 3-5 years?
- Are you open to relocation?
- Knowledge of Your Area of Expertise
Are they able to articulate an understanding of what they are talking about? A recruiter is not required to be a technical expert in your field but they should be able to clearly describe details of the job they are presenting and have insight as to what skills are most important to the hiring manager. You want to find someone who specializes in your particular area rather than someone who is a generalist. When the recruiter approaches you with an opportunity, you want to get the impression that the recruiter indeed has a good relationship with the hiring manager. Does he/she know details other than what is advertised on the website? Are they delivering sound bites from a conversation they had directly with the hiring manager? They should know how long the position has been open, why it is open, the structure of the group, who it reports to – name and title. This will give you a better ability to evaluate a position rather than having only what information is advertised on the company website.
A good recruiter will coach you through the interview process. When it comes to advice on what to do and, sometimes more importantly, what not to do, a recruiter can be very valuable. Most of us like to think that we do not need any help or guidance through the interview process but preparing for a phone interview or a face-to-face interview with someone who deals with them on a day-to-day basis is always helpful. They should be able to tell you about the hiring manager’s personality and phone interview style. They should be able to tell you what the hiring manager is looking for in the interview and what the hiring manager has already seen from other candidates that they did not like. You may think you know what to expect and what to say, but every interview is different and a few minutes of preparation is time well spent when you have already committed to investing a significant amount of your time for the interview. Why not give it your best?
When it comes to the offer stage, you want to be sure there is a free exchange of information. This time with respect to the particulars you will be looking for in an offer. The recruiter should help guide your expectations towards a package that would be reasonable for the position you are considering. Of course, you both want to be sure that the figure you come to is one that makes sense for you and your family. The recruiter will be able to help using the detailed information that has already been gathered on your particular situation. If it is a position that you want, you should be able to describe what you will need in the offer in order to accept it. The recruiter will be the one negotiating on your behalf and steering the company towards the best possible offer.
- Good Listening Skills
A good recruiter will listen more than they talk, especially in the initial conversation. They need to be absorbing information rather than telling you what they think would be best for you. Is the person a good listener? Do they seem genuinely interested in learning about your work experience and the unique situation you are currently in? Only after they fully understand your situation will they have the ability to advise you on positions and potential career moves.
- Your Role in the Relationship
It is not only important to choose a great recruiter to work with, but it is also important to be aware of how you work with that recruiter. You are partners and being an active participant in your job search is critical to the success of the relationship.
As we mentioned, be specific in your initial calls with your recruiter about your background and interests. Once your relationship has been established and the recruiter has a solid understanding of who you are, it is important to deliver any updates that may have changed your interests as time passes. A proficient recruiter needs to work with the most current information available and is only as useful as the feedback and updates that you share. Months could go by before the recruiter finds a position that may be worth talking to you about or calls to check in with you. A lot can change in this amount of time, such as job satisfaction, job security, things in your personal life that may alter geographical preference, etc. Any time you update your resume (best practice is every 6 months) you should make sure your recruiter has this new version. If you discover a company that sounds exciting and you want to keep an eye on them, let your recruiter know. Often times a recruiter will have a relationship at a company of interest and can make a call on your behalf.
In the end, you are in the driver’s seat of your career and it is important to apply that principle to working with a recruiter as well. You decide who to work with and if you choose wisely, you will no doubt be pleased with the opportunities that come your way.