Some guy in Sydney Australia
A cloud over the Sydney Opera House

Handling recruitment agents

Don't give out your resume for free.
  1. Talk to the agent personally

If you can’t get the agent to talk to you on the phone, at all, then it’s unlikely you’re going to get the job. I’ve found that submitting my resume to a website is not only ineffective but soul destroying. You’re not just another piece of paper – you’re a living person. Resist the temptation. Read, reread the job description, find the phone number and dial it.

I get vastly more satisfying results when I speak to the agent. Talk to them about what they’re looking for and whether I qualify. Email my resume to them – whilst both on the line – and talk through it right there and then. To be fair on agents who can’t stomach to tell candidates that they’ve no hope – don’t call unless you’re genuinely qualified. Bow out gracefully if it becomes clear you’re not a great candidate.

  1. Where are they in their hiring process?

What arrangement does the agent have with the prospect?

I tend to get rather disappointed when agents are all super happy before they get my resume and agree that I’m super ideal for the job etc, but I never hear from them again!?

This happens when I don’t set my own expectations correctly.

Hiring an employee can be just like any other shopping: you need to explore a number of paths to work out what you’re really looking for. Not every job advertisement ends in a hire. I think we’d be surprised just how few actually do.

So, in handing over your resume – and price tags – it is very important to sound out where in the sales cycle the employer currently sits. Are they “ready to buy”, “kicking the tyres”, or just “putting out feelers”. They may not even be thinking about hiring – the initiative is generated by the agent.

To avoid disappointments set your own level of expectation by extracting from the agent – in exchange for your jewels – an accurate idea of where this prospect lies in the sales cycle. Shocking but true – sometimes unscrupulous agents post ads just to keep their resume databases up to date – you weren’t rejected – there was no job in the first place!?

You’re a valuable person. Don’t just give yourself away to every Tom, Dick, and Harry: start the relationship by quantifying your chances.

Created December 2012