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Candidate question: Find a recruiter for an entry-level position

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Q:

I am seeking my first full time job. I'm new to the whole headhunter/recruiter thing. Do you have any tips for how to go about this? I'm in Dallas, but I'm up for new places and adventures. Should I look for a national or regional recruiter?

My degree is in communications and I have two internships worth of PR experience at boutique and corporate agencies. Some of my work is on my blog.

A:

Since you are seeking employment in a specific industry sector, you should consider working with a recruiter who specializes in the communications industry. While there are several online directories, I find the best referrals come through experienced colleagues or professors who have some industry contacts.

It is important to understand though how a recruiter works. Search firms are contracted by the employer to find candidates who best fit an open requisition. This means a recruiter is not focusing solely on a candidate's job search. It's the other way around - the recruiter selects you as a candidate for the search. Contingency recruiters are only paid for their efforts when they successfully fill a position, so the first priority is their current work load and finding the best candidates for the job.

Keep your expectations reasonable when working with a recruiter. Recruiters will have positions you would never hear about through other channels and will be an extremely valuable resource and relationship for you to have throughout your career.  But realistically, the most your can expect is to get into their database and be considered for a matching position. You can secure your relationships more by taking their calls promptly, sharing information to help them recognize your talents, being cooperative, and representing their decision to put you forward well in an interview process.

You will find a mix of regional and national recruiters. Again, I think the most important criteria in selecting a firm to work with is its specialty area. I would look at both local and national firms.

By no means, especially this early in your career, should you base your entire job search strategy on one or two recruiter's leads. Unless the recruiter asks to represent you solely and that recruiter has taken quite a bit of time to understand you and your needs should you even consider it.

Companies and agencies usually come to my firm to introduce candidates with at least a year or two of relevant work experience (not including internships) and they invest in the relationship with a search firm to find candidates who have the exact experience they are looking for (from a competitor). At this point, you are looking for an entry-level job so a recruiter relationship should only be a small portion of your strategy.

Other relevant posts:

Recruiter relations: Help us help you

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- Lindsay Olson

Seven things you need to know about recruiters - Collegerecruiter.com

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