Stay in touch: Five non-annoying ways of using recruiters, even if they have no jobs for you

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Recruiters are busy people; even in the current depressed job market they’re pitching for scarce new business or dealing with a deluge of CVs from often desperate or irate candidates.

The fact is that they may not have a position you’re suited to, but this doesn’t mean you should ditch the relationship.

After all, when the market does pick up, more candidates are likely to venture into the job market and people will be vying for their attention. At the same time, however, you don’t want to harass them with constant phone calls or irritating e-mails.

Here are five ways of ensuring the relationship remains a happy one:

1. Ask for intelligence: Don’t assume you know everything about the market. If your recruiter is competent, they’re not just going to be pitching for jobs, but also keeping in touch with employers about the long-term prospects for a particular sector or hiring strategies of individual firms.

“Recruiters should offer insight into where the current opportunities exist and perhaps offer additional market intelligence, news articles or reports to highlight which areas are currently hiring,” says Andy Dallas, director of Robert Half Financial Services.

2. Be available: Obviously, this to some extent depends on your position, but if you’re flexible (or unemployed) then a recruiter is more likely to think of you when an opportunity arises. Having a more long-term relationship – ie, more than simply putting yourself forward for a single opportunity – will aid this.

“You will also be front of mind for any opportunities that do come onto the consultant’s radar,” says Graeme Bradley, director, Marks Sattin. “These advantages are magnified in temporary markets and at junior levels, where timing is essential and the broad level of skills may be secondary to team fit or even availability.”

3. Seek advice on what additional skills you might need: The fact is, you might know everything there is to know about your individual sector, but you may not be as clued up about what employers are asking for in the current climate. Skill-sets might be evolving, requiring tweaks to your expertise. A good recruiter should advise on this.

“If there are things that a candidate can improve on then we work with them to identify practical steps to improve their performance next time – whether they need to adjust their interview technique or brush up on some technical skills,” says Geoff Fawcett, director, Hays Financial Markets.

4. Be sympathetic: The fact is you might think that a recruiter is there simply to service your needs, but at the moment they have their own concerns on the client side. It’s more common now for banks and financial services firms to pull roles, or suddenly revoke headcount that was previously signed off. Obviously, this can also be frustrating for the candidate, but placing blame purely on the shoulders of the recruiter won’t help your relationship.

“The proverbial elephant in the room is that sometimes recruiters don’t get any feedback, even after several rounds of interviews,” says David Leithead, Managing Director, Michael Page Financial Services. “Sometimes even the human resource liaison and the recruitment consultant aren’t even told the candidate is rejected.”

5. Stay regular: As a general guide, getting in touch with your recruiter once a month is frequent enough. They won’t appreciate a call every other day, particularly in a tepid job market. Obviously, neither will you.

“An experienced consultant will indicate throughout the process how the frequency of communications will change,” says Bradley. “But if your consultant is looking to catch up for coffee every five minutes I would be concerned.”

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