Recently, someone commented that they’ve never met any of the recruiters they’ve worked with and couldn’t believe that we would happily traipse all across the South to meet candidates for coffee. After further discussion though, he completely saw the benefit and questioned the commitment of those past recruiters.
So why should you meet a recruiter for a coffee, a beer or even lunch? It’s a balance, meeting 10 recruiters for lunch probably isn’t worth your time. But meeting those one or two recruiters that specialise in your industry area, know their market inside out and have a geographical focus in the area that you live – now they’re worth spending time building a relationship with. Here’s why:
A candidate recently mentioned that my job is very much like matchmaking, each practice candidate of mine has a lot of firms they could choose, but which ones are worth considering? Audit is audit and tax is tax - no matter where you go, the difference is in the culture and team atmosphere of the firm. Meeting a recruiter is a great way for them to get to know you better and understand where you would and wouldn’t fit in, thus ensuring your time is not wasted interviewing for a traditional firm when really you’d fit in better somewhere loud and modern!
A couple years ago a candidate came into the office to meet with our Director and I met him for 5 minutes briefly before David came in. What I noticed in that first 5 minutes is that he absolutely couldn’t look at me whilst he talked, he had appalling eye contact. I noticed this and gently mentioned that he should look David in the eye whilst speaking. An hour later, David hadn’t seen an issue with eye contact at all. We can give you all the interview prep in the world over email and telephone but meeting one another is the best way for us to tell whether there is anything immediate we might not need to cover.
Meeting a recruiter can also be an indication of how committed you are to each other. I know this may not feel relevant if you’re not looking to change jobs or would consider yourself a passive candidate (open to something perfect but not actively looking), but it’s worth thinking about.
Meeting demonstrates commitment on both sides of the table – the recruiter is taking time out of their day to meet with you specifically, this shows that they are interested in seriously working with you rather than throwing your CV in with 7 others on the off chance their client likes one of those. They also won’t chance meeting you if they’ve made up a fake vacancy or simply wanted to know your Manager’s name for business development purposes. You can determine their motivations right there!
On your part, we know you’re not going to meet 10 different recruiters, so meeting us shows that you’re serious about your job search and understand that the ‘desperate’ approach is not the most productive approach. This can still be the case if you’re passive – it just demonstrates your commitment towards your career goals and that future all-perfect opportunity. (We know they’re like gold dust).
No, I don’t mean it’s a good opportunity to eye each other up! Recruiters, like candidates, come in all shapes & sizes. Some more sales focused and perhaps pushier and others gentler and more likely to tiptoe around you. Neither of those is particularly bad, they’re just different approaches and you need to find out what works for you.
This is probably most important of all the reasons. If you meet that recruiter once or twice a year for coffee, you gain their loyalty. This essentially equates to having your own long-term resource, for the remainder of your career. It means you’ll get the help, resources and insights of the recruiter, even if they don’t stand to gain anything. Examples for us include spending 30 minutes preparing you for an interview with one of our clients, even though you applied directly; or, your biannual call with a salary benchmark for your level. Getting to know you, your history, your social life, your family life - it all helps us paint a picture. Good recruiters don’t pick you up and drop you, they spend time getting to know you, in preparation for that perfect opportunity.
We’ll also be keeping an eye out for the perfect role for you before everyone else even knows it exists. A seemingly unknown secret from the recruitment world is that we don’t advertise every job, we don’t need to! Sometimes we just know a name and we can mentally fill that role in seconds and you know what? That name we probably thought of, I’ll bet you we’ve met them.
There you have it, reasons to meet a recruiter, not just any recruiter though – read our 200 words on ‘The Bad, the Good and the Excellent’ to determine which recruiters you should and shouldn’t waste your time with.
Alice Hardy is a Senior Consultant in the Accountancy Division at Harvey John.
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