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How Can I Leverage Recruiting Agencies In My Job Search?

Written by Samantha Moss

There are a few ways in which your crush and your recruiter are exactly the same.

  • You hate when they reschedule.

  • You seem to have intractable word vomit whenever they call.

  • And you’re always wondering what they say about you to their co-workers (or if they even bother talking about you at all).

recruiting agencies

I worked for one of Toronto’s premier staffing agencies.

As a former recruiter, former candidate (and amateur dater), I can appreciate the exigency to inform someone of all the ways your (somewhat generic) undergraduate degree has equipped you for greatness. Especially when that person could potentially hold the key to your future happiness. 

But unfortunately, much like that homeboy Justin you met last Thursday at Tequila Jacks (whose favorite things included: whiskey neats, something about capital markets, and telling you to smile more), your recruiter may not make you their first priority after you meet. In some cases, you might feel they’ve just ghosted you entirely.

jimmy fallon, ghosted

What does that mean for you?

Basically, waiting by the phone won’t make it ring. And spending time pondering your side of the conversation, or whether your last Instagram post was a potential deal-breaker is not worth it. The truth is, finding the right fit can be tough. It takes time, effort, and resources.

Here’s the good news!

There are several ways that you can benefit from your interview with your recruiter, regardless of whether or not they are successful in placing you in your dream job.

Recruiters often have access to jobs you may not have access to on your own.

Many of the fortune 500 companies do not post their job vacancies on job-boards because the process is time-consuming. Time is money, especially in the corporate sphere. Hiring Managers often do not have the capacity to sift through qualified and non-qualified resumes. So, it’s difficult to screen candidates that could potentially be a fit and then book/facilitate several-round interviews. Instead, some Hiring Managers will exclusively engage third-party staffing agencies because of their large network of available candidates who have the credentials to fill highly difficult and/or niche roles. In which case, sometimes the only way to gain access to those reputable companies is by working with recruiting agencies.

Candidates do not pay recruiting agencies a fee for their services.

Candidates frequently ask whether they have to pay a fee for recruitment services. This is absolutely not the case! Recruiters could offer a free avenue to assist you with your job search in exchange for your time, compliance, and professionalism. If a recruiter determines that you could be fit for an active job, they will typically do what they can to advocate for your profile. If the Hiring Manager chooses to interview and hire the candidate, the company will pay the staffing agency a fee for their service.

Recruiters can provide market intel and resume feedback that you can leverage in your own search.

Though recruiters tell candidates that they cannot guarantee them a job, they will always share valuable feedback on how to craft a resume – which may drive a better response from Hiring Managers. For instance, I would always recommend formatting your resume in chronological style as opposed to functional style. That way, the recipient of the resume can better understand which duties came from each role – creating better transparency.

Recruiters can also provide coaching about what the current market looks like for roles you’re most interested in. For instance, they can explain what the educational profiles look like for a certain job or what the work/internship experience required might look like. You’d also have the opportunity to ask questions that may not be appropriate to ask a Hiring Manager (ie. how to negotiate a salary).

Working a contract allows you to network while showcasing your talent, especially as an up-and-coming candidate.

Recruiters know that a two-week data entry job is not sexy. However, if you’re a junior candidate on the hunt for a permanent position, it could take a while before you find the right fit. In the meantime, recruiters may contact you about short term assignments. These assignments can offer opportunities to network and speak to professionals working within your desired industries while gaining practical experience using new software. Sometimes the skills you learn in contract assignments are advantageous when applying and interviewing for permanent roles.

Recruiters can sell your resume based on your potential, not necessarily your experience.

As a new grad, you may feel that meeting with a recruiter is a waste of time because you lack the tenure or hard-skills that certain hiring managers seek out. Depending on the role, this could be true. However, many companies see the value in training junior candidates to eventually move up within the organization.

Additionally, meeting with recruiting agencies can give you the opportunity to talk about the initiatives you took in school, the complexities of your courses and the skills you learned through your internships. All of which may go unrecognized if you were to apply to the job directly.

Recruiters can coach you on how to dress for the job you want. 

Showing up to an interview looking like Shia Labeouf circa 2014 won’t do you any favors. When you leave your home, you are publicly representing your personal brand. When you meet with recruiting agencies, you should dress to impress. Always. Recruiters typically put forth the candidates that they feel accurately represent the professionalism associated with their agency, and with the organization they are working with.

My advice? Go to an interview with a positive attitude and an outfit that reeks of potential and placability. Feel free to ask your recruiter about which threads to sport during interviews depending on the industry (eg. how to dress for an interview at a law firm versus a creative start-up).

Remember, presenting your personal brand as best you can goes a long way and could be the deciding factor between you and a competing candidate – that goes for Tinder too, you guys. 

Are you putting a resume together? Check out Cover Letters, Resumes, and Personal Branding: What’s The Difference? for more insights.

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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.