Help A Recruiter Help You

good eggs and bad eggs


Recently, I have noticed a bit of recruiter bashing. I will be honest, there are some recruiters out there that deserve the unkind words and vented frustrations. Another point of honesty – I know more who do not; in fact, they are outstanding professionals and people. Unfortunately, they suffer from the actions in the first group.

A bad experience can certainly taint your view; I completely understand that. Yet give me just a few moments of your time and lend me your ear (or eyes) to give you a different perspective.

There Are Good Eggs & There Are Bad Eggs

When I say I understand the bad taste in your mouth after encountering a bad recruiter, I really mean it. When I was in my mid-twenties, a single mom looking to improve her lot in life, I met with a bad egg. He told me, and I remember these words verbatim, that I would not get a job without him and my son would starve, but if I paid him $5,000 he could get me a job.

Seriously?  Can you say sleazeball? To add insult to injury, he did not even talk to me about skills, career goals or talents. Just pay him the money or my kid would starve. Get outta here!

Luckily, I later met a good egg. She took the time to sit down with me, review my resume, talk with me about skills, responsibilities, strengths, ambitions etc. She hooked me up with a great company for an interview. She helped coach me and debrief after the interviews. She negotiated on my behalf and it wound up being an amazing experience and a great launch for me.

You are Not the Only One

I had to have my car worked on a month or so ago. I do not like being without transportation so having the old girl sit in the shop was hard for me. It took a bit longer than they anticipated. I wanted to get frustrated and angry, I wanted her to have her zip back and at my disposal, but there I sat, waiting impatiently, until she was ready. At home, car-less.

I had to remind myself, I was not their only customer. I was not the center of their universe.

No matter how much you should be, remember, you are not a recruiter’s only client.  If they do not respond to you within five minutes, do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

They are Not the Only One

When my car was being held hostage (ok, not really, but it felt like it), part of the reason was that the mechanic had to order parts. Unfortunately, the vendor was not communicating promptly. They called and called the vendor and finally got a response.

The recruiter may very well be working really, really hard for you but they cannot make someone respond. If they could, trust me, they would – it would make their life a lot easier. Some companies use internal and external recruiters, while others really stink at responding.

Unfortunately, sometimes a recruiter gets a gig with a company who is clueless as to what they need and become completely scattered about requirements, salary, duties or even expected start dates.

Give them a break, they are dealing with a lot of frustration on both ends, all while really trying to help you.

They are Only Human

Sometimes it happens, mistakes are made. They are human. If they do not call you back when they said they would or you are waiting on information – call them. Make sure you had the time and date right. Don’t stew. They are they to help you, keep that communication open. If a mistake was made a good recruiter will apologize and make sure it doesn’t happen again. A bad egg will ether blame you or shrug it off.

Anne Sullivan they are Not

Recruiters work a balancing act. Their clients have needs and expectations and their candidates also have needs and expectations. Oh, if only both parties would be clear and communicative… but they are not. My mom had a saying, “if ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, oh what a wonderful Christmas we would all have”.   (I honestly never thought I could work that into an article, and yet, there it is – my mom will be so proud.)

From the candidate’s side, help them out. Yes, they should be talking to you about your skill set, accomplishments, talents, abilities, career goals, education, certification and all other factors that impact your candidacy. However, the onus is not only on them.

If you market yourself in person or on your resume by simply gives titles, companies, time periods and brief description of your job duties, you are making their job more difficult. How can then sell you when they don’t know what value you have to offer? Value is the key. What can you bring to an organization, what can you do for them? That is the most important question to be answered – supply it to the recruiter.

They cannot read or hear a cliff notes version of your career and immediately whip up these value selling points. They are not miracle workers. Help them out.

Their Time & Talent is Valuable

Most recruiters I know do not do resumes. That is not odd. I do not do recruiting. I specialize in personal branding and dipping my toes in the recruiting side would deflect from that. Recruiters, good recruiters, are specialists. Their time is valuable and spent cultivating relationships, leads and matching great candidates with great companies.

In short – they do not have time to redo your resume. Redoing a resume that is a cliff note version is not a quick and easy fix. A resume done right takes time. Time you do not want them to take away from finding you the right fit. They can tell you if you need to revamp your resume – but do not expect them to go through line by line to debrief you and tell you what to do. Remember, you would rather have them using their time finding your happy career place.

Ask for recommendations or do some research. Head their advice on your resume – they know. Yet do not get upset if they do not offer to redo it for you.

Another time consideration – the relationship building aspect of their job. Good recruiters have great relationships. The best have relationships with exchanges like:

Client: “we want this”  ~ Recruiter: “you need that”

You see, they cultivate these relationships to be able to know their client’s culture, values and important factors of positions, departments and the company short and long term. In other words, great recruiters partner with their clients to determine exactly what they need so when they fill it – the fit is like a glass slipper. This type of rapport, research and communication take time.  Time that does not impact their candidates, but hey, these good eggs work hard and this is an aspect I do not believe most people even consider.

Make It Easy to be Found

LinkedIn is an amazing tool utilized by recruiters. If you want to be found, you have to put out there what is important.

Hello keywords!

Yet, instead of throwing out a bunch of keywords; integrate them into your heading, opening sentence, summary and career section. Demonstrate you know what those things are and why they are important. Do not assume that having a specific title will communicate all there is to know about you.

Titles are can be a hindrance. If you are looking for a sales position, be general. The more general the term the more likely it will appear in a search. If you use, for example, Client Representative, that will not score well in a search for Sales Representative. Bring in the broader search terms to make sure you are covered.

Tell recruiters or those you want to read your profile what you want them to know about you – put it right there in your summary and career section! If you don’t say it – how are they going to know? Do not let them assume, as my dad used to say, “never assume, it makes an a$$ out of you and me.” (wow, look at that, a saying from both parents in one article!) 

If you are in between jobs, put in there that you are looking or interested in what you want.

If you are making the case that you have a strong strength in a certain skill, industry or capacity – demonstrate it. Listing it over and over as keywords is not enough. For example, if you are a rock star Project Manager, give examples, tell a story demonstrating why you are a rock star. Help them find you in order to sell you.

The other wonderful thing about LinkedIn is it is a great resource. Search for articles or  career professionals in your network or just beyond to help you get on the right track with your profile. There are an amazing amount of articles and thoughts on making the most of your LinkedIn profile!

Participate – It Goes Both Ways

If you are thinking about working with a recruiter do your due diligence. Participate in the process. Interview them. Ask them questions. This is your career here, would you take a job without asking any questions? Talk to a couple, search LinkedIn, ask your network if they have used a recruiter or if they recommend anyone in particular – then ask why.

You still might come across some bad eggs, but by remembering the points above, you will find that there are some amazing professionals out there who really work hard to make sure their candidates and clients are happy. These are the ones that love what they do – and that, you will spot a mile away. That is the kind of professional you want in your corner.



A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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