If you’re single and use dating websites like Match or Tinder, you know what “NO HOOKUPS PLEASE” means when you view someone’s profile.
As a recruiter, I see and hear similar refrains from passive candidates, especially engineers and other technical professionals. Passive candidates have become jaded to ALL recruiters because of the “approach” of a sleazy few…OK more than a few, even those recruiters who want an LTR(“long-term relationship” for dating site neophytes) and who has your best interests in mind. That’s unfortunate.
Have you ever asked a happy couple how they met?
Often times one of them will say…”well, I wasn’t actually looking to meet someone at the time.” That’s actually how most successful recruiter/candidate relationships start – however, it’s where most recruiters muck it up and it’s why passive candidates became so jaded of the “typical recruiter.” Most of the people I place are currently in a role and weren’t looking for a job – I didn’t manipulate them into a role they weren’t a fit for but I did help them come to discover they wanted something more from their career, and I had the skills, expertise, and network to get them a new role.
Believe it or not, there are still some recruiters out there that a) have your best interests at heart b) want to build a relationship with you that spans your career, not just this one moment and c) know’s how to present and take care of you through the interview process.
Here are some warning signs and things to watch out for as you consider your job search and whether you should work with a particular recruiter or not.
1. How does the recruiter come across when they first introduce themselves by email, phone, or in person?
Pushy? Flighty? Evasive? Slimy? Trust your gut if you get the sense they’ll forget you in the morning. It’s probably true.
A lot of recruiters are so focused on the transaction(getting you placed) that they don’t spend any time “getting to know you”.
A good recruiter pays attention and learns what makes you tick so that they can represent you well in the recruiting process with prospective employers – they work on your behalf to make sure that you get YOUR needs met, not their own.
2. Are they hawking one job, or are they looking to build a relationship beyond just this opportunity?
Rarely does a first call from a recruiter to a candidate result in an interview with a company, much less a successful placement. If the recruiter isn’t looking at the long-term play – learning what the candidate does, understanding the candidate’s personal situation(kids in school, can’t move for 3 years, getting MBA – has to stay local), and what they want out of their next job, the recruiter is wasting the candidate’s time.
3. Are they a good listener?
How do you feel when you tell a new dating partner that you love seafood but they recommend a steakhouse for the next date? Bad recruiters do the same thing – they continually pitch opportunities that don’t match your criteria or worse yet, don’t even align with what you actually do.
A great recruiter has your personal preferences down, plus understand your industry and your skill sets and only discuss opportunities that align. Beyond that, if a recruiter’s expertise or customer base doesn’t match the candidate’s background or preferences, then a good recruiter is going to refer you elsewhere vs. staying in a relationship that doesn’t work for both parties.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a BLOCK button to ward off bad recruiters like you can on dating sites – just remember there are recruiters out there with your best interests in mind; if you feel like you’re in the midst of a PUA(pickup artist) masquerading as a recruiter, it’s time to move on!
Bob Pudlock is an executive recruiter and owner of Gulf Stream Search, an executive search firm that specializes in the placement of top talent throughout the US. He’s also the Managing Partner of ENGINEERING JOBS IN Florida, a search practice that places engineering talent with Florida-based employers.