Times are still tough, but the good news is hiring has picked up tremendously in the PR field in the past year. More employers are finding it difficult to source the right candidates for the job and are turning to recruiters to support their open positions. And as probably many agency PR professionals could attest, recruiter inquiries about making a job change are increasing at an alarming rate – especially for Sr. Account Executives, Account Supervisors, and Account Director levels.
If you are thinking about making a change, any edge you can use to get ahead in the job hunt is one well worth taking. And sometimes, even though hiring activity is increasing in the PR field, finding the perfect job isn’t so easy on your own. More job hunters are turning to recruiters now, because they have their finger on the pulse of the industry, and they often know about jobs you won’t find anywhere else.
Why do employers give recruiters secret access to jobs? Usually they want to fill a position quickly and keep the flood of applications from hitting the desk of the hiring manager who just doesn’t have the time to review every application. It could also be a case of a confidential replacement. The employer wants to be presented with the top few candidates who can fill the need, preselected and interested. This is a benefit to the candidate because you know the candidate pool is smaller and you are one of a few candidates being presented.
How to Find a Recruiter
Finding the right recruiter for your job hunt may take a little time up front, but it will be well worth it. Recruiters are either generalists or specialists, and they may focus on different geographical regions, so take that into consideration when searching.
Ask others in your industry (discreetly, if you’re not making it public that you’re looking to change jobs), and check Twitter to see other PR professionals’ recommendations or which agencies are posting interesting opportunities. LinkedIn is a good place to look up potential resources, too. Look for other people who have worked with a particular recruiter, and always ask their opinion. It’s a good idea to develop a relationship in advance – before you start looking for a job.
Building a Relationship
Consider the relationship with a recruiter part of your networking circle. Even if you’re not currently looking for a job, stay in touch, and make sure to update your information (contact info, job skills, etc) so that you stay on her radar when you’re ready to change jobs.
The key to getting help from recruiters is to be a good job candidate. Treat them the way you would a potential employer, and be open, up-front, responsive, and stick to your word. If your recruiter gives you advice, such as tweaking your resume or advice before an interview, listen. She knows what her client is looking for better than you do – it’s invaluable insight into the process.
Recruiters can give you a leg up during your job search, but they can’t help you if you’re not qualified for the position or cooperate during the process. Accept the responsibility of making sure you are an attractive job candidate, and the rest will be a breeze.
Recruiter A put me in for Position 1 at Company X. I met with Recruiter B to discuss a potential Position 2 at Company X (although I didn't realize it until our meeting that the job was for Company X). I explained to Recruiter B that Recruiter A had already put me in for Position 1 at Company X, so we decided I should try to confirm with Recruiter A that Position 2 was NOT the same job as Position 1.
Before I could call Recruiter A, I received a voicemail from her telling me that she knew of another potential position at Company X (it was Position 2).
So, the "original" recruiter ended up asking me if I wanted to also be put in for Position 2, AFTER I'd already met with Recruiter B to discuss it. Recruiter B has not yet sent my information to the client.
What do I do? Recruiter A has already been talking to Company X about me for Position 1, so I am already in the running there. Recruiter B hasn't even gotten to that point yet and the two positions are very similar.
This is a tricky and uncomfortable situation for all involved, but the best way to avoid any problems is to be honest with Recruiter B and tell her you have already been submitted to the company by Recruiter A. When companies utilize the services of search firms, the service agreements usually state that once a recruiter submits a candidate for a position, the recruiter is entitled to receive credit for the introduction, no matter which position the candidate is hired for a period of six months to one year.
In this situation, Recruiter A clearly discussed opportunities at the company with you first and deserves credit (he's likely to be compensated anyways for the placement). Do not allow Recruiter B to submit your information to the company. Just kindly let her know that you clarified the situation and you have already been presented to the company. Keep the door open to hear about opportunities with her other clients. She should be understanding to the situation. It's part of being in the recruiting business.
Problems arise when the same candidate is presented by two different search firms to the same company. Some candidates believe it is to their advantage to hide previous applications, past interviews, or discussions about the company with another third-party recruiter, so they deliberately omit this pertinent information. I imagine it's because many candidates are not well-versed on how the recruiter/company relationships works and they probably think the more people who put them in front of the company, the better.
This is not the case when working with recruiters.
The consequences of being introduced by more than one recruiter for a position will never result in a happy ending. It damages the relationship between the candidate and the recruiters. Most hiring companies will do whatever necessary to not be involved in a battle between two recruiting firms claiming credit for the candidate. The company will question the candidate's integrity or possibly decide that hiring the candidate will cause issues it prefers to avoid.
These situations can be easily avoided by keeping a few things in mind:
- Keep detailed notes of the companies and positions for which you have applied, including conversations with recruiters and the positions/companies they have presented. Include position and dates of initial introduction and follow through interviews.
- Be honest with a recruiter if you have sent your information directly to a company or if you have been presented an opportunity at the company by another recruiter. We don't like surprises.
- Not all recruiters adhere to the same standards of confidentiality. Make it clear to the recruiters you choose to work with that your information should not be sent to any company without your permission.
This post is part of an on-going series
featuring readers job search and hiring questions. If you have a question you would like answered in this blog, please send it to me here. Your information will be kept confidential.
Is it common for a company to have more than one recruitment agency working on a position for them?
Yes, it′s very common for company to use more than one recruitment agency. Recruiting firms come in two flavors - generalists and specialists. My agency is a specialist firm - we only fill positions in PR, marketing, and sales. Obviously, companies may have recruitment needs in other areas, so it makes sense to partner with several agencies with different specialties to cover the needs of the entire organization.
The issues arise when companies work with multiple recruiters though for the same position. This strategy tends to backfire.
Contingency recruiters firms only get paid for their efforts if they successfully fill a position. Many companies think there isn't a financial risk in using several agencies since they are only going to have to pay for the one candidate. After all, the more recruiters out there working for them, the quicker the position gets filled, right? Not necessarily. This is when the mess begins and it usually goes one of two ways.
Scenario 1: Multiple recruiters start calling the same people. The candidates are left with the impression the company is desperate and there must be something wrong.
If a candidate is interested in the opportunity and is contacted by a few recruiters, he may or may not know how to handle the situation resulting in duplicate resume submissions by different agencies. Here′s when it gets really ugly. The recruiter may blame the candidate for not being honest about working with another firm on the same position or the company may think the candidate is desperate and won′t want to move forward at the risk of a lawsuit by the fighting recruiter companies. Nobody wins.
Scenario two: The candidates tell the recruiters they have been receiving calls from others about the same position. Since the staffing agency is only getting paid for a successful hire, it must evaluate and prioritize its searches based on the realistic chances of filling it. Recruiters lose interest in searches that don′t seem like viable placements and the company ends up with an unfilled position and nobody working on the search. Most recruiters won′t bother telling the company they aren′t working hard on the search because someone might pop up they can submit with little effort and they can still look like heroes. The company thinks they have an army of recruiters working on their search when in reality nobody cares anymore and the company believes recruiters are useless.
It's a safe bet if you are receiving calls from lots of recruiters, this is what is going on. If you decide it is an opportunity you are interested in, it is common courtesy to let the other recruiters know you are already in the process with the company through another recruiter. Make it clear you do not want your information sent to anyone without your approval.
The rule is simple as a candidate: Work with only one recruiter for a position with the company.