There are many reasons why someone might decide to use a recruitment consultant to find a new management consulting job: but perhaps not always with great enthusiasm!
A good recruiter will provide a quality service and also earn both their fee and your respect by adding expertise and treating you professionally. But how do you identify the good amongst the mediocre?
Here are the key requirements which distinguish a good recruitment consultant:
1. Return of calls by the recruiter
You want to speak to someone before sending your CV: entirely understandable. You leave a message. Nothing. Sadly it happens all the time. Occasionally the message goes astray but often it’s because they can’t be bothered.
2. The recruitment agency acknowledges your application and follows up with an answer
You send a CV and hear nothing. Did they get it? Is there a problem with the email system? Has it gone into spam?
It is incredibly simple for a recruitment firm to set up a system and process for responding to applications yet the overwhelming feedback I get is that it doesn’t happen very often. There is no excuse.
3. Willingness to spend time talking to you if they consider you a potential candidate
If a recruiter doesn’t have a job for you, don’t think they can assist, or doesn’t work in your space then it’s understandable that they might not have time for a conversation. They are not career advisors or coaches. However, if they think they can help or have a great job then they need to talk to you. Typically it takes at least 30-40 minutes to get even a basic understanding of a candidate’s motivations, circumstances and skills. So if a recruiter gives you 10 minutes and then says they’ll send your CV to the employer how can they possibly understand what you’re looking for and how to sell you to their client?
4. Probing questions and honesty
You should feel they are really delving into your requirements and motivations and not afraid to ask challenging questions. If there are aspects of your aspirations that are a concern they should tactfully tell you. It won’t do you any favours if they think your request for a 25% pay rise unrealistic but don’t tell you. Similarly, if your CV requires some attention they should raise this. Or your LinkedIn profile.
5. The recruitment consultant should be attentive but not pushy
A recruitment consultant won’t call you every day to tell you they haven’t heard back from their client but should get back to you with updates and to let you know if it’s not going to go any further.
If they call you about jobs that are irrelevant then make sure they understand what you are looking for but if they persist or worse, try and persuade you to go for a job that is wholly unsuitable then show them the red card and make sure they confirm they have removed you from their database.
6. They should know the job market in your career area….
….and therefore readily understand you, your career, the employers you have worked for, the roles you have held and are looking for. They will also be able to give you advice and pointers too. They won’t be likely to admit any weakness in their market knowledge so if they are asking odd questions or few questions, that might be a clue: otherwise, the first indication might be that you are being bombarded with irrelevant jobs!
7. Professional manner
For executive and professional roles it is essential that a recruitment consultant, who is de facto an extension of your personal brand, represents you in a professional manner whether that be communication skills, appearance or integrity.
A recruiter doesn’t necessarily need a stellar academic profile but many professional and executive roles are complex and require the ability to understand and weigh up complicated candidate requirements. If the recruiter doesn’t seem “on the ball” and to comprehend the subtler aspects of what you are discussing with them there may be a problem and the result might be wasting your time with irrelevant roles or worse, wasting time attending interviews.
9. Attention to detail
For example if their emails usually have mistakes, how can you be sure they will get the time or address right when confirming the interview? Or get the salary and benefits right when presenting your CV to a potential future employer? Or when relaying details of the job offer to you?
Unfortunately, this is not always a feature of people in the recruitment industry. Of course, you want to be dealing with someone of integrity but how do you know? Do you inadvertently collude in poor practice? For example, would you use a recruiter that sends your CV to an employer without your permission? Many candidates do but it can cause you huge damage. If an employer sees the CV from two different agencies it can make you look bad but also means the employer might decide not to meet you for fear of facing a demand for two fees. Also if a recruiter does that what else might they be doing you are not aware of? Keep in mind they are dealing with your extremely personal and confidential information.
11. Thorough job briefing by the recruitment consultant
A recruiter should be keen to give you a briefing before the interview. In practice they may not know the interviewer well or how they interview but will still be able to give pointers about the role, employer and background which will help. In this way, you can prepare for the meeting, give it your best shot and in the process make us look good too! And if the result is you get a great job and we get a fee, then, candidate, client and recruiter are happy!
This is of course entirely self-evident and we are always amazed when candidates tell us how unusual it is.
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