A quick outline of things that will help you work with an Recruiting firm!

1. Understand the recruiter’s specialization.

My areas of expertise are software application development, web technologies and IT infrastructure. Within that, I work with people in the full range of the SDLC (software development life cycle) from business/system analysts and project/program managers to software, web, database, BI developers/test engineers and system/network engineers.

If I’m not the right recruiter for you, I’ll tell you that so you don’t waste your time and I’ll try to refer you to somebody who can help. I promise not to be brutal about it, but you need to know where you stand with me.

The sad truth is if you’re in finance or marketing or sales or manufacturing or anything outside my small scope of expertise, I can’t help you. I’d like to, but I don’t have an in depth understanding of what you do. I won’t understand the points of your resume that should be highlighted, and I might give you bad advice. That scares the heck out of me. It’s your life and your career we’re talking about here.

2. Don’t enhance your resume.

If I don’t figure it out, my clients and their teams of interviewers will. And then we both look bad.

I don’t think most people intentionally enhance their resume. You don’t write resumes for a living, so it might just be where you put the emphasis. Or you thought that bit about your 2 months experience with C++ or Java might be important, so you put it on there, right up front. You’re trying to show that you’re well rounded – I get that. If what you’re telling me doesn’t match up with the verbiage on your resume, I will point out the differences and help you try to get the right words on paper.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know horse feathers when I hear it. Because I’m not engineer or a program manager, I have to be able to tell, to some extent, whether or not you know what you’re talking about. If I think there might be a little intentional enhancing going on, I’ll poke around until I get it settled in my mind what the real deal is. I will warn you that anything on your resume is fair game in front of the client, and they will tell me what you said after the interview.

3. Understand that you’re the product.

Every agency recruiter is paid to find exactly what their client is looking for. If you’re not what I’m looking for at the moment, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to work with you. It just means you’re not quite the product my client is looking for in this particular position. But I might get a new job request in an hour that you’re perfect for and I’ll pick up the phone and call you.

You can be a good product or a bad product. Your skills and experience are only some of that. Your personality and potential match to my client’s culture and environment are 60% of the package. My clients know I’m not a software developer, what they’re paying me to find is the right people to help their company grow and be successful. And they trust my judgment. If you only have half the skills they need, but you’re a great personality and cultural fit for them, I can usually get you an interview. The flip side of that is that you could be the best Java UI developer on the planet, but if you have the personality of a cactus, you probably won’t get sent to my client. Ditto if you act like horse’s behind with me – you’ll go to the bottom of the stack.

4. Have patience.

While I have a decent understanding of what you do, I’m not an engineer. I may ask you questions that you think are amazingly dumb, but there are a couple of reasons for that. First, I’m fascinated by what you do- I LOVE technology and I want to learn. The more I know, the better job I can do for you and the client. Second, I’m testing you. Do you fit my client’s culture/personality profile?

Do you explain yourself well? One of my favorite candidates told me that his professor in college said

“You have to be able to explain what you do in terms that your grandmother understands.”

I’m the grandmother – if I don’t’ understand what you do, I can’t sell it to my client.

5. Communicate with me!

This is a huge point. I expect you to be working with at least a couple of recruiters if you’re actively looking for a job. We don’t all have the same clients and you need to maximize your exposure. But please tell me which clients you’re already interviewing with so we don’t waste each other’s time. Keep a spreadsheet of the positions, and the position numbers if they exist – usually the larger clients will have a position ID number. If I have a job with Microsoft and you’re already interviewing with Microsoft, it will be helpful to know which position you’re going for. If you’re interviewing with A Tiny Startup, and I have a job requirement from A Tiny Startup, it’s probably the same position. You won’t double your exposure. If you’re going out of town, if you had an unexpected something come up and you’re not available, or if you get a job in the middle of the interview process – WOO HOO! – tell me. I’m happy for you, and I need to manage my client’s expectation. I promise to communicate with you too!