07 May Leveraging professional staffing firms to advance your job search
With unemployment on the rise and a corresponding decline in job openings across the board, many information technology (IT) professionals are turning to staffing firms to aid them in their job search. But it is not enough to simply provide a recruiter with your qualifications and hope they will find a match. To be effective, the recruiter-candidate relationship is one that must be cultivated and proactively managed by both sides.
The first step is identifying the right professional staffing firm. There are a number of firms to work with—each of them promising employment—but they should be carefully vetted to ensure they offer a depth of expertise and track record in your specific area of interest. This will increase your chances of being placed in the best possible position for your qualifications.
Be wary of any staffing firms that do blanket submissions for open positions without carefully matching a candidate’s qualifications to the job requirements. This practice severely limits your chances for success.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of prospective staffing firms, set up face-to-face meetings with recruiters at each to better acquaint yourself with their work. During these meetings, gain a clear understanding of how each firm and recruiter approaches the job search to ensure you are comfortable with their process and know what to expect in terms of support and communication.
Look for a recruiter who will stay in contact with you, even after your first conversation, especially about submitted resumes. This includes getting your approval before submitting your resume to a particular company or for a specific position, as well as communicating any specific requirements for the position and the expected hiring process timeline.
Find out if the firm offers benefits, too, even if the positions are only hourly or project based. Though it is not common, the better professional staffing firms do offer benefits. This can be an important value-add and also tells a lot about how much the firm values its candidates.
These initial in-person meetings are also critical for establishing a connection with the person you’re relying on to help you find a job. They put a face to your resume and show initiative, demonstrating that you are responsive and dedicated to your job search. Being ready and unafraid to work goes a long way in the eyes of a recruiter and potential employer.
Once you have selected the professional staffing firm that’s the best fit for your needs, it is important to stay engaged in and proactively manage the search process in partnership with your recruiter. This is particularly important if you are working with several staffing firms to prevent your resume from being submitted multiple times to the same prospective employer. From the employer’s perspective, this is unprofessional and can result in your being eliminated from consideration by that company.
That is also why it is important that you receive proper notification about where your resume is being submitted. Use the information to create a master list of the staffing firms you are working with, and the companies and positions for which you are being considered. Make sure your recruiter notifies you prior to submitting your resume to a client company, if they do not already, so you can verify that it will not be a duplicate submission.
Also useful in keeping the lines of communication open with your recruiter, and further demonstrating your initiative, is making frequent visits to the staffing firm’s Web site. Monitoring the site to identify new positions as they are posted will keep you in the loop about available opportunities. It also helps ensure you’re not overlooked for a position that requires skills you have but that your recruiter may not be aware of.
Your recruiter should also help you polish your resume so that your qualifications are being properly presented, and be available to help brush up on your interview skills. In some cases, you may want to conduct mock interviews with your recruiter so you can be completely comfortable with the process.
Prior to any interviews, the best recruiters will share their insights on company expectations and preferences. They will also advise you on the appropriate actions to take after you have met with a prospective employer.
Cultivating a strong relationship with your professional staffing firm and recruiter will garner the best results from your job search. Establish upfront your expectations, and keep the lines of communication open. If your resume has been submitted to an active position, weekly contact is not an unrealistic expectation. If there is not an active position, you should still expect some form of communication at least once a month, even if it’s just to let you know that the recruiter is still working on your behalf.
Success will come from treating your recruiter relationship as a partnership. Keep your recruiter informed about any updates in the status of your job search, and expect them to do the same. The more your recruiter knows about you, the more effective they can be at placing you in an ideal employment situation.
There may not be an immediate opportunity, but if you keep an open mind and strong lines of communication, success will find you.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.