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Unique Lessons I Learned Going from Contractor to Recruiter

As a recruiter and a former contractor, I have a unique perspective on the candidate/recruiter relationship and what it takes to build a partnership. And, that’s exactly what it is, a partnership. Looking back on my career as a contractor, I can see some of the mistakes I made and how having a different approach with my recruiter would have made a big difference. Here are some of the lessons I share with my candidates to help them avoid missteps during their job search.

Lesson #1: Contacting a hiring company directly is a mistake

When I was a contractor, I worked with a recruiter here at WinterWyman (now Planet Professional). She connected me with a reputable company and I was excited to begin the interview process. Everything went well, and after my last round of interviews I was anticipating an offer although I still had some unanswered questions. Instead of contacting my recruiter about my concerns, which is the recommended protocol when using one, I emailed the company directly. Unfortunately, the wording of my follow-up email raised concerns about my commitment to the role, and the company decided not to extend the offer after all. My recruiter explained if I had gone through her, she would have relayed the information I wanted while keeping me in the best possible light. Today, I remind candidates to trust me with their concerns. I can either get their questions answered or suggest professional and positive ways to ask them during the interview process.

Lesson #2: Make time to talk with your recruiter

I had been so busy at work, I was mostly communicating with my recruiter through email. She encouraged me to connect with her over the phone, but I didn’t make the time and ultimately didn’t make her a priority. Unfortunately, this lack of direct contact interfered with the development of our relationship, and, in turn, with my job prospects. I now see how hard it is to build a relationship with a candidate exclusively through email. Yes, it’s more convenient for brief questions or factual information, but a recruiter can’t always read if a candidate is excited, hesitant or ambivalent about a possible job. As a recruiter, I need to get an accurate sense of what each candidate wants and needs to develop a plan going forward. So, commit to talking with your recruiter – the small investment of time will yield better results for your job search.

Lesson #3: Take full advantage of your recruiter’s pull

I interviewed for a job I was excited about, but I was slightly hesitant about the company culture. I was ready to nix the opportunity, but my recruiter pointed out my interview had fallen on Columbus Day and the office was unusually quiet. She then went out of her way to schedule another meeting for me to visit during a more typical day so I could get a better picture of the company, employees and the environment as a whole. I made the decision not to go back, and ultimately turned down the offer based on my one Columbus Day experience. I later learned a former colleague of mine ended up taking the job. She raves about the culture and is happy there to this day. I missed out because I didn’t lean on my recruiter’s advice and her ability to arrange a follow-up meeting. Good recruiters offer advantages, including the ability to advocate for your needs and arrange for special treatment. Cash in on those things, so you don’t pass on a stellar role or opportunity.

Lesson #4: Be upfront about your search activity

Candidates worry about sharing all aspects of their job search with their recruiter, including other jobs they are pursuing on their own or with other recruitment firms. I understand that mindset because when I was a contractor, I had not shared everything with my recruiters either. For example, while I was interviewing with a company through my recruiter, I didn’t tell her about an offer I had through my own network. Although I ended up taking the other offer, I kept thinking about the role with my recruiter and what could have been. Did I make the right decision? What if her role was a better fit for me? Had I told her more about my search, she could have tried to speed up the interview process, allowing me to compare both options at the same time and ultimately to make a more informed decision. We encourage candidates to search for jobs through a variety of sources. If you let us know, we can often orchestrate the timing of interviews and offers so you get all the information you need at once to make the right decision.

My experiences as a contractor and a recruiter have taught me the process is really about building a partnership with your recruiter. You need to trust your recruiter and rely on his or her experience, expertise and perspective. After all, we’re here to help you be that star candidate and land the job that’s best for you.

Photo credit: Canva


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