As technology changes the hiring process and the global economy enlarges the pool of jobseekers, many companies are turning to recruiters to help them find the right person. This article is about working with recruiters.

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It can be very disconcerting for a jobseeker when the media reports that 80% of the available jobs are not posted online. This has become one reason that many people tout and believe that the only way to get a job is to network. Adding to this approach is the idea that applying online is like sending one’s résumé into the proverbial “black hole”. Incidentally, none of these statements are true.

Networking is important but it is not the only way to get a job, and it is not difficult to get through the online systems with an understanding of how they work. There is no way to determine or even estimate how many positions are posted through online job boards. Today, these systems serve hiring entities by taking care of regulatory reporting with regard to Affirmative Action and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Trying to bypass the Applicant Systems (ATS), is not a good way to make friends with Human Resources.

It should also be added that regardless of the approach, a solid résumé, solid skills, and a professional presentation, both on paper and in person, is still critical to finding employment.

Be Able To Be Found by Recruiters

Today, recruiters are the hub for the hidden job market. Independent recruiters and recruiting firms receive a majority of the job openings that are not posted on the standard job boards. Truly, they are the center of activity for these opportunities so it becomes important to understand their processes as they fill those positions. Every firm has its own specific process, however, most recruiters follow similar methodologies.

The task of the jobseeker is to build relationships with recruiters and clearly and succinctly educate them with regard to the jobseeker’s attributes, core competencies, skills, and experience.

Tips & Suggestions:

  • LinkedIn is THE critical business networking component for jobseekers. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates.
  • If your résumé profile differs from your LinkedIn profile, that raises a flag for a recruiter.
  • When you are active in LinkedIn Groups, it demonstrates that you are keeping current in your industry.
  • Take time to research industry-specific recruiter firms and apply through their online systems. Be meticulous with their application intake process.
  • When contacted by a firm, listen carefully to the recruiter’s understanding of your profile and what kind of position would be a good match for you.
  • When a recruiter indicates a concern, s/he is giving you valuable information. Your response should be to give them the information they need to better present you to their client and respond the any concerns that their client may have.
  • It is important to every recruiting agency and every recruiter that the candidate they present to their client should make the firm look good and build loyalty with their client.
  • Following an interview, if a recruiter presses you for every detail, be aware that they may use the information you give them to help another candidate.
  • Once you land employment, reconnect with your recruiter every six months, keeping in mind that in the current employment market, you will likely change jobs every two to four years.

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Working with Recruiters

Companies and other business entities hire recruiters to identify potential employees or consultants. When a recruiter contacts you, remember that they are not working on your behalf. Their livelihood is based on their ability to leverage what their clients (the companies, and other hiring entities) want compared to the candidates in their portfolio that they believe would be a good fit.

Many recruiters are paid based on the long-term success of the candidates that get hired. Further, a bad hire is a nightmare for a company in many ways, for the company itself, the recruiter, and for the jobseeker.

Considerations and tips:

  1. Recruiters frequently have their own templates and their clients are accustomed to that format. To bring efficiency to the process you may be asked to change your résumé.

    TIP: Rework your résumé to their exact specifications. This saves them time, creates good will, and demonstrates that you are flexible and adaptable. Get it back to them as soon as possible. Ask if you understood the instructions correctly or if there are other ways you can help.

  2. Prior to your interview, the recruiter will likely help you prepare. Listen very carefully to any insight they may have and integrate what they tell you into your interview strategy.
  3. A recruiter may have between four and five candidates that are being interviewed for the same position. If you are the first person interviewed and your recruiter asks about every detail of your interview – realize that they are asking for information that may help the next candidate.

    TIP: Ask the recruiter how many candidates will be interviewed. If possible, position yourself as the last candidate. Close to the interview, ask the recruiter if there is any additional information that might be helpful to you.

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Important reminder: The recruiter is not representing your best interests, but presenting your skills and experience to fill a specific need—the best interest of their client.

Additional considerations and tips:

  1. When a recruiter contacts you about a position and prepares you for the interview, you may hear advice that goes against best practices. 

    For example, a candidate was told that the company dressed casually and he was instructed to go to the interview in “business casual” attire. The candidate wore a suit and tie. During the interview, the conversation with the president went something like this: President: “Were you instructed to come in casual attire?” (Candidate) “Yes, I was.” “Then why are you wearing a suit and tie?” “Out of respect for you and the company. I wanted you to know that I take this very seriously.” “Good for you. I gave those instructions to the recruiter. It was a test. You passed.” 

    TIP: Remember, the recruiter was responding to their client’s order.

  2. A recruiter’s job is to present you to the company and s/he only knows what you have told them on paper, online (LinkedIn) and in conversations. They know what the company is looking for. So when your recruiter gives you any information about the company, listen very carefully. Your job is to help educate the recruiter on how to represent you.

    Example: if a recruiter indicated, “The company will not consider you because of ________.” Or “The company is looking for someone with _______.” This is your opportunity to make your case and help the recruiter present you as an exemplary candidate for the position. 

    TIP: Call the recruiter and help them understand that you do have what the company needs. Then follow up with an email so they can refer to it when needed. Remember that your job is to educate the recruiter on how you can be an asset to their client.

  3. When working with recruiters, you can help them remember you by connecting with them on a regular basis. If an opportunity is not in process, then connect once every two weeks.

    TIP: Keep your outreach brief, professional, and positive in tone. 

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I believe that working with recruiters is a going to become a mainstay for jobseekers. Identify two or three recruiters that you trust and build a relationship with them. If at all possible, periodically meet face-to-face with them. Connect with them regularly to find who they are looking for and recommend competent professionals that you know. Use your time in conversation to understand any trends that your recruiter notices in your industry.


Master these jobseeker skills to differentiate yourself, and stay ahead of the curve.

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2 thoughts on “How to enter the hidden jobs market and get hired

  1. Very helpful Marcia. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Karin, I hope you and yours are doing well. I appreciate the encouragement as well.

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