Episode #4 – How To Work With A Search Consultant

How to Work with a Search Consultant Podcast #4

Teresa: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about how job seekers and other professionals should work with a recruiter to help grow their career. Hello, Stacy.

Stacy: Hello, Teresa. I’m glad to be here.

Teresa: Before we dive in and start talking about how professionals can work with a recruiter or search consultant, can you talk about why employers use search consultants to help fill their open jobs?

Stacy: I certainly can. There are two main reasons why organizations use recruiters. The first one is obvious, and that’s talent.

You have to remember that typically, the best and most qualified candidates are already employed and highly regarded by their current employer. Companies want the best candidates to work for them, but unless these candidates are miserable with their current employer or unemployed, they’re more than likely not even looking for a new job. In fact, these candidates are probably content where they are. They’re being compensated well for the work they do, and they’re kept rather busy.

That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be open to considering a new opportunity. But companies find it difficult to identify and recruit these people, especially in today’s candidate driven marketplace where top talent have choices and many of them. It’s not easy to hire top talent and it can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have the expertise or experience. That’s why companies hire search consultants to find and recruit these types of candidates, especially when they want “A players” on their team.

The second reason is confidentiality. From an employer’s perspective, there’s only one thing better than hiring the best candidates, and that’s hiring the best candidates when nobody knows they’re doing it. They don’t want their competition to know what they’re doing and sometimes they will hire under the radar. Or other times they have to replace an underperformer and they don’t want to advertise the job as being open because there may be an incumbent in the job and the company doesn’t want this person to know they are being replaced until they identify the replacement.

This is where search consultants enter the picture. Not only do they typically have more access to the top candidates, but they also have the time, energy, and resources to conduct the search in a confidential way.

Teresa: Now that we’ve discussed why employers use recruiters, what about candidates? Why should candidates use a search consultant?

Stacy: Well, before we get to that, I’d like to set the stage a little bit and talk about what’s happening in the current marketplace. That will provide a good backdrop for answering your question.

The first thing that people have to understand is that there are more and more people in the workforce competing for the best jobs.

Teresa: Well, wait. Isn’t the unemployment rate back to a low level?

Stacy: Yes, but once again, I’m talking about the best jobs, not just any jobs. Everybody wants a great job. People don’t go to college for just a mediocre job, and every year more people graduate and enter the workforce looking for great jobs.

The second thing is that many of the most sought-after jobs are not posted online. These are the high-level jobs that employers want to fill and often times on a confidential basis. That means people aren’t aware of them and don’t have access to them. Often these jobs are filled before they are ever posted and they are often filled by search consultants. I’ve read statistics that 64% of executive level positions are filled by search consultants.

Teresa: But there are still plenty of jobs available online, right? On job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder or places like Indeed or LinkedIn?

Stacy: There are. However, when you see a job posted online and it’s been there for two weeks or more, there’s a good chance that the position is already close to being filled. You have no idea at what point you’re entering the process. In many cases, you’re going in blind and probably behind.

Teresa: So why should a job seeker, or any professional really, work with a recruiter?

Stacy: There are two good reasons why you should work with a recruiter and build a relationship with one. First, they have more contacts with hiring managers. In fact, they’ve worked with some of these hiring managers for years and already have working relationships with them. Job seekers don’t have those types of connections.

Second, as we’ve already addressed, the very best jobs aren’t necessarily posted online or anywhere else, and I have an example that illustrates this. There was a major company within my industry that wanted to build a sales force, but they didn’t want their competitors to know what they were doing. So they hired our search firm to build a nationwide sales force for them. We had to secretly recruit these individuals. These positions were not posted anywhere, and they could only be found by working with our search and recruiting firm.

Teresa: When should a professional reach out to a recruiter and start building a relationship with them?

Stacy: Long before they need one! I like to use the phrase, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty,” which is also the title of a great book by bestselling author Harvey Mackay.

When you’re thirsty, you need water now. You don’t want to wait. By most estimates, you can only live three days without water. So in a literal sense, you would have to dig your well before you were thirsty or you run the risk of death.

In the figurative sense, when you need a job, you want a job now. However, just like digging a well, it takes time to find a job. One just isn’t going to fall into your lap because you’re suddenly unemployed. This is where a recruiter can help you “dig your well.”

I firmly believe that the relationship a professional has with a recruiter is one of the most critical relationships they’ll have in their career.

Teresa: So if somebody wants to “dig their well before they’re thirsty” and build a relationship with a recruiter, what should they do?

Stacy: There are a couple of different ways to get noticed by a recruiter. The first one is to be known in your field. You can do this by joining industry associations, writing articles for trade journals, and participating in social networking sites. If you’re a well-known entity, recruiters will seek you out.

The second way is to seek a recruiter out yourself. You’ll want to find an experienced search consultant with a proven track record of success in your niche industry. You can also ask your colleagues and friends to provide referrals of recruiters they’ve worked with. If you are a veterinarian or animal health professional you should be working with a search consultant who has a good reputation and years of experience in the veterinary or animal health industry. Why would you use a recruiter who places accountants or engineers or IT professionals if you are a veterinarian or professional working in the animal health industry?

Teresa: That’s good advice Stacy. Let’s say that a person has started a relationship with a recruiter. What things should they do to maximize that relationship?

Stacy: There are a LOT of things that people should do when working with a recruiter. The most obvious, of course, is sending an updated version of your resume. Then you should present yourself in a credible manner. If you present yourself this way to a search consultant, that will help convince them to present you to their client company.

Recruiters can be your doorway to a better opportunity, just like a hiring authority would be. So it makes sense that you should treat them in the same way.

Another thing that you should do is practice full disclose. This means share important facts about your situation, including what you’ve done to this point with your job search and the real reason you would make a move. There are a couple of reasons why you should share this information.

It helps the recruiter match you to appropriate job opportunities and helps to avoid potential misunderstandings down the road. The recruiter wants to arrive at a win-win situation for both the client and the candidate. It’s in the recruiter’s best interests to help negotiate a fair package for the candidate and to build a long-term relationship. Good recruiters want a successful outcome for all parties involved and they are typically in the recruiting business for the long haul. Relationships are everything to them and trust is key.

These might be considered “no brainers,” but you should always tell the truth when working with a recruiter and you should always follow through on your promises. You can’t brand yourself as somebody who is untrustworthy or unreliable. Remember that hiring managers rely upon the judgement of the recruiters they hire. Even though the employer ultimately makes the hiring decision the recruiter has the employee’s ear and has input on the decision. You want to make a great impression with everyone, the recruiter and hiring officials throughout the entire process.

The last thing that people should do when working with a recruiter is add value beyond just being a good candidate. You won’t be a fit for every single position that comes across a recruiter’s desk. But if you refer the name of somebody you know who would be a good fit, then that recruiter is definitely going to remember you first when the right opportunity comes along for you.

Teresa: That is certainly a lot to keep in mind. What about things that professionals should NOT do when working with a recruiter? What are those things?

Stacy: First of all, you should never pay a recruiter to find a job for you. The best, good and reputable recruiters are paid by their clients. I wouldn’t recommend a search firm that would charge the candidate a fee.

Second, you should not expect to know how the recruiter got your name and it’s best to not ask the recruiter how they got your name. Instead be flattered that they called you. Someone thought highly enough of you to give the recruiter your name. Keep in mind that recruiters are looking for the best people and they wouldn’t be calling you if they didn’t think you were good enough. Recruiters deal in confidentiality. If you didn’t contact the recruiter yourself, where they got your name is really not important. What is important IS that they have what is potentially a better opportunity for you. Keep an open mind!

Third, don’t accept an interview with a company unless you’re genuinely interested. If you say that you want to interview, make certain it’s because you’re interested in the opportunity. What you do NOT want to do is accept an interview to get a free trip to a city where your relatives live or to take a free mini-vacation. This has happened before. It will reflect poorly on you and your potential candidacy for future opportunities with the recruiter’s firm. Don’t waste people’s time if you are not truly interested.

Lastly, don’t circumvent the recruiter and call the employer yourself. This has happened before and reflects poorly on the candidate and the recruiter. Candidates think to themselves, “If I could only speak directly with the hiring manager, I could convince them of what a great candidate I am.”

Once again, companies rely heavily upon the judgment of the recruiters they hire. If you go around the recruiter and contact the client yourself, you will likely no longer be considered for the position. The recruiter will also likely take you off their list of candidates to contact for future opportunities. You will lose everyone’s trust and it is unprofessional and could border on unethical.

Teresa: I imagine you have plenty of stories where a candidate gained the inside track to a job because of their relationship with your firm.

Stacy: Absolutely. I once sent a candidate’s resume to one of our clients. Then I called the hiring manager to tell him how excited I was about the candidate, and he agreed to interview them. The hiring manager was so impressed with the candidate during the first interview that he set up a second interview with her.

He later told me that he would not have interviewed the candidate if I had not encouraged him to do so. That’s because he wasn’t able to tell from her resume all of the great things she had accomplished. However, when he actually spoke to her, he was blown away by what a great fit she was for the position.

Just a few days later, another candidate thanked me for setting her up with two interviews within the past week. She said that she had been applying directly to companies for open positions, but she wasn’t able to get any interviews. However, once she partnered with our recruiting firm, she was able to land two interviews.

Teresa: So it’s not enough to just have a relationship with a recruiter, you have to have the right type of relationship.

Stacy: That’s right. When it comes to your career, “It’s not what you know, but it’s also who you know.” That sums up why building a relationship with a recruiter the right way is so important. In fact it is one of the most important relationships you will have throughout your career. They can be one of your most trusted advisors.

Teresa: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Teresa. I look forward to our next podcast!