Candidate: How to Use an Agency
05.21.09 | Job Search & Career | Amanda Musto, Marketing Manager at Treeline Incorporated
Head Hunter...such an ugly term that I have never embraced but seems to be the going phrase that people often use to describe our profession and industry. Granted, we are hunting for top talent on a daily basis, but "head hunter" makes it sounds like we're running rabid around the streets looking to chop people from their companies with conniving tactics, which is not the case.
Utilizing an executive search firm can either be an amazingly successful experience or it can be a bit disappointing. I can't tell you how many times I've sat across from a candidate or a client and they have told me that they've had terrible experiences with recruiters in the past. Treeline turns that misconception around on a daily basis and we provide our candidates and clients with what they're looking for because we're really digging in deep to find out their real wants and needs. We have had a great deal of success over the years but it's not because we have all the answers; it's because we form partnerships with our candidates and clients and work together. Working with an agency is a two-way street, the more you give, the greater you'll get. Therefore, what are the things that you should know about working with an agency?
Two things you should know:
1) What you're looking to get out of the experience
2) Who should I utilize?
Finding a great executive search firm can be a daunting task. There are many out there, all of them cater to a different audience. There are temporary staffing firms, IT firms, medical firms, administrative firms, etc., etc. Do your homework, ask around and chose a firm or firms that cater to your specific career path or who you're looking for in a candidate. For example, Treeline specifically caters to permanent placement of sales professionals. We have clients from all verticals (medical, financial, technical, general business, etc) with the common goal of building top sales forces, therefore if you're looking for a sales position at any level, Treeline is one of the best agencies to call. Once you've found the firm(s) you wish to utilize, here's what you should know:
Searching for a job, especially in this marketplace, can be difficult and exhausting. People often look to search firms to find them the amazing job that they've been searching for their entire life, but didn't know existed. That can, and does, happen but not if the candidate does not expect to do any of the leg work. A relationship between a recruiter and a candidate needs to be a trust worthy one, if you are not open to sharing information about your previous employment or compensation structure, chances are a search firm is not for you. You cannot walk into an agency with a "show me what you can do" attitude and expect a great experience. In order to find maximum success with minimal frustration, you need to work with your recruiter and not expect them to do all the work. An important fact to remember: recruiters are compensated by their clients to find top talent, therefore it's in your best interest to work with your recruiter and create a strong relationship so they will push for your candidacy to their clients.
In order to maximize your time with a recruiter, you should come to the table with a few things:
1) A full knowledge of your background
I know that this may sound ridiculous, but it's extremely important to have a full knowledge of your background. I'm not talking about knowledge of what you've sold or who you sold to. I'm talking about numbers! What your average size sale is? What is the average sales cycle is? What was your quota and what was your percentage to that goal? These are important pieces of information to share with your recruiter because they need to understand how to sell your background. Take a minute and make sure you know this specific information. Bring a brag book if you have one and look at your W2's for confirmation on what you've made. It's also crucial that you are honest with this information. Falsifying your numbers or your salary information will only hurt you in the end and taint your reputation with staffing professionals.
2) A general idea of the type of position that you're looking for
You want to treat your job search in a similar manor as you did when you started looking at colleges. Your guidance counselor told you to pick a few safety schools, a few match schools and a couple of reach schools. The same applies for a job search. You always want to have a diverse pipeline of job opportunities but be realistic about the positions that you're applying to, especially in this marketplace. So before applying to jobs, it's extremely important that you have some idea of the direction you want your career to go in, whether it be by industry, job responsibilities or job growth: have an idea of what you're looking for. Do you want inside sales or outside? Are you looking for a hunter or a farmer role? Do you want to have a team quota or an individual quota? These are things your recruiter will ask you, so be prepared to answer them.
3) An open mind!
This is the most important thing you need to bring to a recruiter! Be open to the experience and collaborate with them on your job search but be open to receive feedback regarding your resume, your background or your interviewing skills. They also may be able to open your eyes to different positions and industries. You maybe presented with an opportunity that is not in your direct wheelhouse but take their suggestion and go on an interview. You may get in there and hate it, but you may interview and find that you really enjoy the company and the job. Be open to different roles and take a look at them yourself. Your friends are sure to influence you about companies and positions you are looking into but they typically don't know any of that information first hand, they've just heard it through a massive game of "telephone". Also, just because one of your friends didn't like the company doesn't mean you won't. It's like restaurants or movies, not everyone is going to like the same things. There is a lid for every pot but you won't know if you've found yours until you try it on for size!
For any other questions prior to your interviews with a recruiter, feel free to reach out to us. We're here to help you...
COMING: How to use a agency if you're looking for sales reps