Halfway through 2018, unemployment stands at its lowest rate since early 2000, and the total number of job openings is higher than it’s ever been — great news for the average job seeker, whether you’re currently employed and weighing your options or looking to join the workforce.
Contract labor is another major trend in the job market, but it isn’t getting as much publicity. Recent polls say the percentage of American workers on contracts is now around 20%, with that figure projected to grow to 50% in the coming years. As it stands, 66% of job openings in 2017 were posted through intermediary agents such as recruiting firms.
This means that a majority of the exciting new opportunities available through the current job market require establishing a professional relationship between a candidate and a recruiter. Bottom line: building and maintaining a positive relationship with a recruiter is now more important than ever.
To make sure you both get started on the right foot, we asked some Aerotek experts for advice on how to do it right.
Look for a relationship, not a transaction
Recruiters are in a difficult position in the current job market: Finding good candidates for available jobs is harder than it’s ever been. It can be tempting for some recruiters to forget about what’s in everybody’s best interest and just contact as many people as possible until they find somebody — anybody — who’s both qualified and willing to do the job they’re trying to fill.
But the “just find somebody” transactional approach to recruiting doesn’t lead to long-term success. It doesn’t help the candidate who ends up in a job that might not fit their goals, skills or interests. It’s not great for the company, who needs an employee who’s excited about being there. And it ultimately hurts the recruiter, who may have to start the process over again once the first person they found ends up leaving.
If you’re contacted by a recruiter and feel immediately pressured into exploring job opportunities that don’t fit your interests, see it as a red flag. And you should also regard it as a red flag if there’s no follow-up after an initial flurry of interest.
“A lot of people will meet with a recruiter, talk about one job and one job only and then never hear from them again. One of the most common complaints that I hear from candidates about working with recruiters is ‘they never got back to me,’” says Senior Recruiter Lead Kate Schendel.
Instead, the ideal recruiter should have a relationship-building mindset. According to Aston Carter Account Manager Michael Ternullo, it’s better to contact candidates to learn about their current situation and motivations. “Find out what might cause them to make a move down the road, rather than calling a bunch of people just to fill a role,” says Ternullo.
The first conversation you have with a recruiter should feel pleasant and relaxed, rather than a sales call. Says Ternullo, “I like to get to know people—talk about weekend plans, how their vacation was, just what's going on in general. Then later when you get curious about your options, call me up and we can have an easygoing but productive conversation about what positions are open and what the job market looks like.”
Find an advocate
“If the candidates I talk to aren’t comfortable with how I’ll be representing them to the job market, who I am as a recruiter or what my company does, it’s going to cause problems for both me and the candidate somewhere down the road,” says Schendel.
Your recruiter must be your advocate in the job market. If at any point in your relationship you don’t feel confident in their ability to represent your interests, you should feel free to consider other options.
Schendel also notes a strong relationship with your recruiter makes is easier to have conversations that would otherwise seem uncomfortable. “I know the relationship with a candidate is going well when they’re comfortable sharing career developments I have nothing to do with — what they're applying to, what other agencies they're working with, what offers or counter-offers they’re weighing,” says Schendel. “That information always helps me, and I can also use it to help the candidates I work with.”
To find out more about how open communication with your recruiter can help you get ahead, go to a previous article on the subject: Ask Aerotek: The Value of Open Communication With Your Recruiter.
Get ready to get noticed
If you haven’t been contacted by a recruiter recently, give it time. “With the employment rate being as low as it is, we’re challenged to become more creative in how we look for candidates,” says Account Manager Gina Conti.
Recruiters are looking to build relationships with qualified candidates, whether you’re actively searching for a new job or just interested to know what your options are. LinkedIn is a great way to boost your visibility — make sure you’ve built out a killer profile.
Another great way to get noticed by recruiters is to put out feelers in your professional network. Attend events and let trusted friends know you’re curious about what the market for your services might be.
How does that help? According to Joe DiBernardo, Director of Business Operations in Parsippany, NJ, “More than ever, we’re depending on recruiting people who are interested to hear what their options are but don't have their resume actively on job boards. We may only hear about them through a referral by somebody we already have a relationship with.”
When you’re contacted by a recruiter, remember that the conversation you have and the professional relationship you build together should be a two-way street. Be as vigilant vetting them as them as they do you.
If you’re curious about how developing a relationship with a recruiter can help you get on the right career track, reach out to Aerotek. Take a look at our job board for openings near you.Create a free career account and upload a resume to get started today.