This is for you, job seekers! Trying to make the process less of a mystery and more clear, so you know what is happening as a job candidate and how recruiters work. Happy to hear from you about things that would add even more transparency to the process.
Remember, most recruitment agencies are paid for performance and that means finding the best talent for open positions. If you are not in the top 50% of those in your profession, your chance of being placed by a recruiter will be a long shot. Recruiters are looking for top talent in a niche. They also do not help candidates change professions. They are unlikely to help you move from a job as an accountant to a new role as a research scientist. They will be pleased to get you placed in a different accounting role.
Recruitment agencies can all be a bit different in their methods and the recruitment process followed, but there are some basic principles. Global recruiters might each have a variation, but are for the most part looking at the same end points.
Most recruiters on a global basis look for your resume or a CV to get entered into a tracking tool. These tools vary greatly in their sophistication, but the purpose is consistent…these applicant tracking systems (ATSs) are used to find candidates for recruitment agencies at some point in the future. Your resume/CV needs to be easily read by a machine, so avoid all the crazy custom fonts and wild bullets. Dumb it down; again, a machine is reading it.
Skills, Experience and Other Details
What you enter matters. If you have a chance to review the form you are submitting, make sure it is complete. Things like zip codes/postal codes matter. Your degree matters. Global recruiters all have different “deal killers” so if you are requesting a starting salary of $100,000 and the job they have pays $90,000 you may be knocked out by the filter used when they search their ATS database. If you would be pleased with $90,000 make sure that is what you submitted. If the job requires a masters degree and you do not have one, you will likely be knocked out. I have over-simplified for demonstration purposes, as many recruitment agencies are way more sophisticated and capable of looking for those on the boundaries of being a perfect candidate. I think you get the point…details are a big part of how recruiters work.
Old School Recruitment Agencies
There will still be a actual person reading and looking at your resume in some instances. This will certainly happen once you make it though the high-level filters. Make sure your resume has the keywords that are appropriate for the position you have applied yourself to. For example, if you have applied to a “Sales Manager” role, “manager” better be in your resume and work experience. Things need to align or your resume will not make the phone screen or whatever the next cut is.
Who Influences and Who Decides
Global recruiters can get you in a position to be considered for a position; however, in most cases the hiring manager or the selection committee makes the decision. While the recruiter appreciates what you do to impress them, if you do poorly on the interview with the hiring manager, the recruiter is going to have a tough time getting you an offer. It is a process and the recruiter’s role is to locate and present talent. The employer makes the hiring decisions.
Information Flow and Stalking
Recruiters are always working multiple jobs with multiple candidates. If they are not getting back to you there is typically a reason. The top cause is they have no feedback from the client company/employer. It is appropriate to show interest and follow up with a recruiter if they say you were being submitted or if you had a phone screening interview. Do not stalk recruiters, as I am certain you do not like it when a recruiter stalks you. Approach the recruiter for any feedback on the potential of a next step gracefully and with interest. Do not over do it.
LinkedIn is Ubiquitous
In the recruitment agency world, there are few that do not reference LinkedIn. If you think the only thing being viewed is your well crafted and fine-tuned resume, think again. Your LinkedIn profile is being searched. Make sure you spend similar effort to make sure LinkedIn is well written, spellchecked and covers the details of your experiences.
Recruitment agencies have a job to do. Their boss is the client because that is how they get rewarded for the work done and the time invested. Their service is free to you, so like most things you get more privilege to complain and to write the rules if you are the one paying for the service. This is not to excuse bad behavior by recruiters, but rather to have you consider how recruiters work and use that knowledge to your advantage. As a fellow human, you can expect fair treatment, but you cannot control the actions of others. Set your expectations at a realistic level and all should go well. Understanding how recruiters work will help you set realistic expectations. I hope to have added to your understanding!