How to Work with a Recruiter to Find a Job

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Updated April 2024

While the American unemployment rate has remained under 4% since February 2022, that’s not an encouraging statistic if you’re one of the unemployed workers. However, if you’re looking for a new job, there’s always hope. Working with a recruiter or a staffing agency is one way to enhance your job search experience!

What is a Recruiter?

A recruiter, also known as a headhunter, is someone who finds people for open job listings. Since a recruiter’s primary focus is finding job candidates for companies, it’s helpful to develop a relationship with a recruiter if you’re looking for a jobthat great candidate could be you!.

What’s the Difference Between an In-House Recruiter and an Agency Recruiter?

An in-house recruiter recruits job candidates only for their direct employer. They are looking to fill a limited number of roles.

An agency recruiter works for a staffing company. They are often looking to fill jobs at multiple companies at once, usually in the same industry.

How Can a Recruiter Help Job Seekers?

An in-house recruiter offers varying degrees of support to job seekers because they’re only submitting candidates to a single company. Sometimes that means more focus, but it also can mean they are spread thinly when filling several positions. While they can advocate for you to get a job at their company, their relationship with you won’t extend past that.

An agency recruiter, however, improves the overall job search from start to finish. By working with a recruiter, you have a partner who will help you:

  • find open positions
  • refine your resume
  • practice your interview skills
  • offer feedback if you don’t get selected for a job
  • encourage you during your job search

Recruiters want you to succeed! Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback or to request career coaching. If they don’t offer that service, chances are they have contacts and connections who do.

What Does a Recruiter Cost?

Job seekers typically do not pay a recruiter for their services. Be wary of any recruiter who asks for or requires an upfront fee to work with them.

Check Out Insight Global’s Job Board

What is a Staffing Agency?

Staffing companies connect workers with jobs by employing a team of recruiters. Employment firms also usually maintain their own job board. In addition, staffing agencies have their own pool of contract workers who take on temporary assignments at other businesses.

How Do Staffing Firms Help Job Seekers?

Staffing firms can help job seekers in several ways.

First, as already mentioned, they employ a team of recruiters. These recruiters reach out to candidates directly. You may receive an email, a call, or a message on a professional networking site if you have made your information available.

Second, you can search for jobs on their own job board and apply directly to open positions.

Third, you can sign up to work through a staffing agency. When you do this, they will complete a general intake about your skills and experience.

From there, an agency recruiter will let you know about any open work that matches your skills. If these are temporary positions, you will be employed by the staffing agency while doing work for another company.

Finally, you can always apply for internal positions at a staffing company to join their team.

At the end of the day, staffing agencies and recruiters are great networking tools that can introduce you to job opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

Do Staffing Companies Only Recruit for Specific Industries?

For many years, Insight Global found a niche in staffing Information Technology (IT) positions, but we quickly came to realize that we could reach across several different industries to make a bigger impact.

Types of Jobs Available for Job Seekers

You don’t have to be a temporary worker in order to work with a staffing company. There are plenty of other opportunities available. For instance, at Insight Global, we also help place people in full-time, direct hire jobs, as well as consulting and temporary-to-hire opportunities.

But, don’t be too quick to dismiss the temporary contract positions. A temporary contract opportunity can often act as a stepping stone towards a full-time position at a company you otherwise could have struggled getting your foot in the door. Your recruiter will remain with you throughout your whole assignment to ensure you love what you do, and more importantly, to meet consistently with the client to advocate for you.

Here’s a quick overview of the different job options when working with a staffing firm.

Temporary and Contract Jobs

Temporary or contract jobs last anywhere from a few weeks to many months. Employers take on temporary employees or contractors to cover an extended employee absence, complete a specific project, or to support a busy season of work.

In this situation, a staffing agency will employ you directly, but you will work at the business that needs a temp. During your contract, your recruiter will stay in touch with you and with your on-site manager to ensure your ongoing success.

Temp-to-Hire Jobs (Contract-to-Perm)

Temp-to-hire or contract-to-perm jobs are an opportunity for companies to get to know employees on a trial basis. In this situation, if a company is satisfied with your work, they may hire you directly. Your recruiter will explain exactly what you need to do to succeed in the role to be offered a permanent position.

Typically, a staffing agency would employ and pay you during the trial or “temp” phase. But if you are hired directly by the contracting company, that employer will take over paying your paycheck. If you do receive a job offer, your recruiter can help you with reviewing the details, pay negotiations, and more as you move through the process.

Permanent Jobs

Agency recruiters also work to fill permanent roles. If they identify you as a potential candidate, they will talk to you about the open role and act as your liaison to the hiring company through the process.

Benefits of Working with a Recruiter at a Staffing Company

You’re a savvy job seeker already utilizing LinkedIn and Indeed to find a job. But working with a recruiter enhances your job search by providing an opportunity to network, support in landing the first interviews, and an advocate when it comes to negotiating pay, benefits, and more.

Consider these additional benefits:

Insider Access

The best recruiter will be able to tell you about amazing job opportunities before they are advertised to the public.

A recruiter may also have insider information about the companies you are applying for, including:

  • The names and roles of leadership or other prominent members of the organization
  • The needs of the role
  • Upcoming roles that may be worth considering during your search
  • Potential interview questions

A recruiter can send your resume directly to the hiring manager if you meet the job qualifications, potentially allowing you to bypass the standard online application experience.

An Expanded Network

Most professionals have a network of past employers, college professors, friends, family, and more. With a recruiter, your network expands to include their connections—and they know a lot of people! A recruiter can leverage their connections to help you find job opportunities you wouldn’t have uncovered on your own.

More Job Opportunities

Did you know that many jobs are never posted on job boards? Some companies post their jobs strictly on their own websites, or they only want to receive direct referrals for their openings.

A recruiter can help you find more job opportunities by:

  • Recommending jobs that you may not have considered
  • Offering insider opportunities to apply for jobs that aren’t yet public
  • Pushing your application to the top of the list
  • Opening your horizons to remote roles or jobs in other parts of the country

By working with a recruiter to apply for multiple jobs, you’re more likely to find the best fit for you.

Ongoing Support

Even if you aren’t matched to an opportunity right away, you will remain in a candidate database.

If there are future opportunities that fit your profile, a recruiter will let you know.

In addition, a recruiter understands the job market in your industry. They can recommend additional training to bolster your resume, based on hiring trends.

How to Find a Job Through a Recruiter or Staffing Agency

If you’ve never worked with a recruiter before, you may not know where to start. Let’s walk through the process:

How to Find a Recruiter or Staffing Agency

Both in-house recruiters and agency recruiters will often find you. However, if you want to work with an agency recruiter, there are a few things you can do to connect with one.

  • Update and share your resume on professional networks to increase your chances of a recruiter noticing you
  • Build a personal website with an online portfolio
  • Maintain a professional social media presence
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile with scannable keywords for your industry
  • Ask friends and coworkers for recruiter recommendations
  • Search “recruiting agencies” online
  • Reach out directly to an agency that fits your industry, location, and level through email, LinkedIn, or a phone call
  • Attend job fairs
  • Browse job boards
  • Reach out to top companies
  • Attend industry events

Once you’ve made initial contact with a recruiter, the next step is a screening interview.

What is a Screening Interview?

When a recruiter first talks to you, they are screening you and your skill set to see what you’re looking for in your next role and if they are the right firm to help you find it. If possible, meet face-to-face with your recruiter. It may be easier to articulate your interests and strengths in an in-person meeting rather than a phone call. However, phone calls and video calls are very common for the initial screening.

Tips for Working with a Recruiter

Here are some tips for establishing a beneficial relationship for you both.

  • Treat the initial screening like a job interview. Come prepared with an updated resume and questions. Dress professionally and arrive early. Remember they represent you to your potential future employer, so making a good impression is important.
  • Be honest with the recruiter. Your recruiter needs to know exactly who you are as a candidate and what you’re looking for in a job, or they can’t help you. Don’t exaggerate your skills or experience. If you aren’t sure how to rate a skill from beginner to advanced, share that with your recruiter and accept their advice. If you’re not willing to relocate, or you’re only interested in a remote job, be upfront about those needs.
  • Share your career goals. What kind of job do you want? What is your idea company culture? By providing more information to the recruiter, they can better understand you as a candidate.
  • Keep an open mind. Even if you want a full-time, salaried position, consider other options when they become available. Temporary and part-time work can help you land a full-time job.
  • Communicate. After the initial screening, send a thank you email to the interviewers at the staffing agency for their time. Always respond to any messages from your recruiter or staffing agency. If you haven’t heard from your recruiter in a while, take the initiative to reach out. Recruiters work with many candidates, so communicating often can help you stay top of mind. Finally, if you find a job on your own, reach out again to update your recruiter.
  • Be patient. The average job search typically takes 1-4 months according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you applied for a job through a staffing agency and haven’t heard back, follow up to check in on the status. The hiring process can be lengthy, even for the successful candidate who gets the offer. If it turns out you weren’t the right fit for a particular job, your recruiter can work with you to find an even better opportunity that fits your skills and interests.

If you’re ready to start working with a recruiter, connect with Insight Global today!

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