Considering contacting a recruiter to find out about jobs in your field, or had a recruiter reach out to you on LinkedIn? Many job seekers assume forging connections with recruiters will put them closer to lucrative, high-level positions that aren't otherwise advertised. However, a successful recruiter-job seeker relationship doesn't just happen.


It's important to understand the relationship among all involved parties (the recruiter, company, and you), get your resume in top shape, and to be ready to deal with potential objections.

These tips will help you prepare to work effectively with a recruiter—with better results from the relationship and a faster outcome for your job search:

1. Recruiters Often Source Candidates Who've Been There, Done That

Job seeker talks with a recruiter on the phone

Career professionals and executives who have followed a straight-line, traditional career trajectory (and very few job changes) are the best candidates for working with a recruiter. The reason? Recruiters are hired by companies to identify talent among leaders who can demonstrate commitment to a specific type of career or skill set, with steady advancement toward a senior-level role in their particular field.

If you've been job-hopping, recruiters may not reach out to you for this reason. But you can contact them if you're able to explain your career moves and experience, and market yourself as a great job candidate. With a well-optimized LinkedIn profile, recruiters will likely contact you if you have expertise and demonstrated success in the areas their clients are looking to hire.

2. A Recruiter's Mission Is To Focus On Their Client's Needs

Recruiter talks to her clients about finding job candidates

What many job seekers fail to grasp is that recruiter job orders often contain specific details on the background, education, career history, and competencies of the ideal candidate. Depending upon the recruiter's relationship with their clients, they may not be able to convince the company to take a chance on your background—especially if it's not in line with these requirements.

A recruiter must not only be comfortable with the strength of your credentials, but confident that you represent a true personality and cultural fit within their client companies. After all, the recruiter's professional reputation (and future commissions) are riding on their ability to supply the all-around perfect candidate.

3. Your Resume Must Be Ready To Present To Their Clients

Hiring manager looks at a resume that a recruiter gave him

Too often, job seekers send a resume to recruiters that undercuts their abilities—making it difficult for the recruiter to promote the job seeker as a viable candidate. If your resume hasn't been reviewed by colleagues, it's in your best interest to request a critique or ask for suggestions.

Some recruiters even refer their clients to career coaches who can elicit a strong personal branding message on the resume. Others can often see qualities in your background that you're too close to realize, and their recommendations can make the difference in the response you receive from a recruiter.

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As a job hunting method, working with recruiters can be very effective, but only if you go in with an awareness of your role, fitness as a candidate, and realistic expectations.


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This post was originally published at an earlier date.