Working With Recruiters: The Experts Speak!

At a recent networking event that we hosted, we had the privilege of being joined by two local recruiters who were kind enough to volunteer their time to discuss today’s job market, share some insights on current hiring trends, and educate the audience on how candidates today can work most effectively with recruiting and staffing professionals.  The insights of these two individuals — Gina Peckman of Dynamo Recruiting and Dave Hardwick of Hardwick Technical Recruiting — were so good, in fact, we decided to summarize a few of their key points below for the Career Horizons community at large!

Q:  How do employers today feel about candidates with choppy, non-conventional career paths?
A: Seattle in particular is a very tolerant city and employers have become a lot more accepting of periodic employment gaps and other eclectic work trajectories, as long as the candidate can explain them and the story behind them makes sense.  Job hopping, however, is still a big concern, and individuals who have jumped around frequently will continue to have trouble gaining serious consideration.

Q:  If a candidate was fired at their last job, how should they handle this?

A: Without exception, we’d advise people to always be honest and up-front with recruiters about these kinds of unfortunate issues, since it’s far better to come clean right off the bat than to have these concerns surface later in the process — where you’ll not only have to deal with them, regardless, but will then face the added stigma of appearing dishonest, to boot.  Most professionals have at least one skeleton in their closet they’re worried about, but as long as there’s not an obvious pattern of red flags, and the person deals with the issue directly, the issue usually doesn’t turn out to be a deal-breaker.

Q:  Is it realistic for a mid-career professional to change industries, and if so, can recruiters help?
A:  Absolutely.  There are many candidates who successfully transfer their skills to new industries, but a lot depends on the person’s specific discipline and experience.  When trying to make a significant career shift of some kind, the most important thing is to radiate confidence, be ready to push back gently but firmly against doubters, and most importantly, to have a crisp message and a crystal-clear story to tell about what you’re trying to do next and how it relates to your skills, strengths, and experience.

Q:  How often are candidates rejected due to age discrimination?
A:  Great question, and while age discrimination definitely exists, good recruiters don’t put up with it in their corporate clients and will call them on any suggestion that they’re looking for a candidate of a certain age, gender, ethnicity, or anything else — as opposed to the most qualified person, overall.  At the same time, however, it’s amazing how many people blame age discrimination, gender bias, or a variety of other factors when they don’t get selected for a particular job.  In the vast majority of cases, these decisions aren’t the result of any sinister conspiracy; the candidate simply isn’t the best available fit in terms of corporate culture or in terms of their skills, experience, or qualifications for the job at hand.

Q:  How often should candidates follow up with recruiters?
A:  While it may surprise you, most people don’t follow up nearly enough, and I appreciate those people who are persistent enough to follow-up regularly and keep communicating with me about the skills they have to offer and the kinds of jobs they are looking for.  This being said, there’s certainly a fine line you don’t want to cross, and no recruiter wants to be “stalked” by a candidate who refuses to take no for an answer or who is simply bugging them constantly for the sake of it, with no new information to add.

Q:  What else can candidates do to work with recruiters effectively?

A:  Give them a break, first of all!  Recruiters often receive hundreds of resumes a day and can only follow-up with a small fraction of these individuals.  So while follow-up is still encouraged, and the best recruiters always try to circle back around to everybody who contacts them, be patient!

Oh yes, and one other thing.  Dave (Hardwick) also pointed me to a great web link focused on helping people “jazz up” their LinkedIn profiles for increased marketability.  Here’s the link for those who might be interested in checking it out: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/01/linkedin_profil.html.

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