With an explosion of job seekers competing for fewer jobs, many people are turning to recruiters to try to tap into little-known opportunities in the job market.
If you're enlisting this strategy in your job search, it's critical that you understand the possibilities and limitations of working with a recruiter, as well as how to present yourself throughout the process.
Louise Kursmark, author of "15-Minute Cover Letter," says the most important thing to remember about recruiters is that they don't work for you; they work for hiring companies.
"They are not 'your' recruiter and will not try to 'find a job for you.' That said, recruiters can be your best friends during a job search -- provided you have the skills, experience and industry expertise their client is looking for," Kursmark says.
She suggests the following tips for making the most out of your relationship with recruiters:
Uncover a recruiter's specialty areas before contacting him or her.
Otherwise, you risk wasting his time and your own. To learn more about recruiters who work in your areas of interest, consult recruiter directories (at your local library); online networking Web sites, such as LinkedIn or Twitter; the Yellow Pages; or company Web sites of recruiters based in your area.
Remember whom you're writing to.
When writing to recruiters, refer to "your client" or "your client's organization" rather than "your company."
Follow up after sending a recruiter your résumé and cover letter.
This call should determine whether the recruiter is a good fit for you. Introduce yourself concisely and briefly share some of your career achievements with him.
Don't expect to hear back from recruiters unless they have a job that's a potentially good fit for you.
Understand the realities of recruitment.
Recruiters have been given guidelines about the ideal candidate. If the recruiter doesn't think you are the right fit, don't dwell on trying to convince him or her otherwise. Instead, move on and let him know you're interested in future opportunities.
Help recruiters to help yourself.
If you know of other individuals who would be a good fit for the recruiter's specialty areas, recommend them. It's a win-win for all involved.
Never work with a search firm that charges you a fee to get a job.
Don't confuse this advice with fees you'd pay to work with a private-practice career counselor, coach or résumé writer. These people will provide you with services, but don't promise you a particular job.
Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/).
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