Working With Recruiters: What You Need to Know
Most job seekers I meet often lament about how they haven’t had much luck working with a recruiter. As a job seeker, don’t you wish you knew the best way to work with a recruiter?
Recruiters get paid by their clients, the employer, so their attention isn’t proactively looking for a job on the candidates behalf. It’s their job to fill an open position for their client.
I recently spoke to two recruiters who specialize in marketing roles — Lynn Hazan, president of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc., and Maricel Quianzon, business development manager for Paladin. Lynn has been an executive recruiter for her entire career, and has been leading her agency for the past 16 years. (For full disclosure, I am both a past candidate and client of Lynn Hazan.) Maricel began her career as a creative and moved into recruiting about 10 years ago. Since, she’s been in her clients’ shoes, she has an empathetic approach to recruiting.
The transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?
Lynn Hazan: They need to have passion, energy, creativity, a smart can-do attitude, the ability to empower others, curiosity, be deadline oriented and committed to continuous learning. I need to see a spark and how they can fit the company’s culture.
Maricel Quianzon: Most importantly, I am very interested in who is passionate and has a keen interest in what they do. The more focused a candidate is with their search, the more attractive they are. Many things actually go into it, the cultural fit and emphasis on certain skill sets. Lately, it’s heavy emphasis on digital, marketing automation and customer acquisition.
Q: Where do you like to find candidates?
LH: Everywhere. Literally, planes, trains and automobiles. I think every opportunity is a good opportunity to connect with good candidates. I also find candidates through professional associations and LinkedIn, primarily.
I am a relationship builder though, so many clients find me through my website, public speaking and articles. It’s common for candidates to introduce themselves to me after I speak. Recruiting is really a relationship building business. I like to know candidates as they grow through their careers. I track their progress over time.
I tell both my clients and candidates, I don’t hire resumes, I hire people.
MQ: I’ve been doing this for 10 years. The best candidates come from referrals from talented marketers. People that we have placed in the past often refer their friends and colleagues. I make time to talk to them right away because it is always great to know who you have in the candidate pool.
For the “purple squirrel” (very specific and unique set of requirements) jobs I do go to the job boards to source candidates.
It really boils down to networking. I always have my ears open to find out what people do for a living. When I meet someone, I always start trying to match them in my head.
Q: What is the most important thing you consider in assessing a candidate?
LH: Fit! I get a lots and lots of candidates applying for potential jobs, so the first thing I do is see how close a fit are you to my current clients’ needs and jobs. Then I can see potential fit for other jobs. I have an analogy I like to use involving ducks. In fact, if you come to my office you’ll see all my ducks. If you look like, walk like, talk like and sound like a duck, and my client is looking for a duck, the more duck-like you are the better chance you’ll have of being hired.
MQ: Each search is different, especially if it’s a direct hire. There is no one right way to be a good candidate. There is no playbook because we are people, we work for people and hire people. The universal qualities are responsiveness and follow through.
Right now it’s a candidates market, so we appreciate transparency. If you want us to do our best job for you, that’s really important. It’s frustrating when the offer finally gets on the table and the candidate says I just accepted another offer. I always honor what I say I will do and expect the same from my candidates.
Q: How important is a person’s resume in the hiring process? How about a cover letter?
LH: For a recruiter like me in the marketing and communications industry, a resume is a critically important. LinkedIn is your public persona. Your resume is your personal document that is quantified and tells your story of where you made a difference. The cover letter shows me how well the candidate can package themselves and how they fit. A candidate who can’t communicate clearly in a resume or cover letter should not be hired. Typos are inexcusable. I want to make sure the candidate can catch all the details.
I also look at how the candidate organizes the resume. Most candidates send me resumes that are more like job descriptions. In other words, what they did versus the results. In an industry like marketing, any time you can add measurement it will make your resume that much stronger.
MQ: Targeted resumes are key. They must be targeted to the role they are going after. Cover letters can be helpful for some, but often they are so generic they are irrelevant. If it’s a repetition of the resume, that doesn’t add value. It’s actually a turnoff. The cover letter needs to sell, not restate what is on the resume.
Q: How do you use LinkedIn for recruiting?
LH: LinkedIn has become an invaluable tool for me. There are pluses and minuses, though. For one-to-one outreach, it’s great. I encourage professionals to connect with me so I can reach out and add them to my candidate pool. When there were fewer users on the platform, it was easier to find talent. Today, I create content on SlideShare (owned by LinkedIn), which acts as a marketing tool because people follow my content. I couldn’t be a recruiter today without LinkedIn.
MQ: I actually go to LinkedIn after I look at a candidate’s resume. I want to see if the profile aligns. I also look at recommendations because it gives me a flavor of the candidate’s background. Since we’re a national company, LinkedIn is useful to post some jobs for a better catch as well as exposure. Of course, it’s a good networking tool. I actually use the “people have also viewed” sidebar on profiles to find similar candidates.
Q: What is your favorite recruiting story?
LH: Last year I got a call out of the blue from a CFO. They were expanding their business into South America and were looking for a marketer who could use all the tools and speak Spanish. The perfect candidate popped into my head at breakfast the next day. I reached out to her, and this was the only resume I sent them. They hired her on the spot, and my candidate says it’s the best job she’s ever had. It’s all about having the right candidate with the right skill set.
MQ: I have one funny one. I had a candidate looking for a VP-level position. He actually fell asleep while I was interviewing him. Then he acted like nothing happened and he still thought I would consider him for the role!
Q: What tips do you have for a job seeker looking to work with a recruiter?
LH: We’re in a partnership and we work together. The more the candidate understands I am working on behalf of the client, the better. It’s in both of our interests to work together as a team. So if I need the candidate to revamp their resume or improve their interview skills, they need to be coachable to succeed.
It’s also important to be honest. I need to know if there are any stumbling blocks that could affect employment. Lastly, if they don’t get an interview, know that it’s not personal, it’s just not a good fit.
MQ: It’s important to be transparent and specific on what you want. The more the recruiter knows, the better they can help. Job seekers should also ask for advice on the process. Recruiters have a lot of knowledge about the company and market and can improve their chance of getting the job.
Q: What advantages do employers have working with a recruiter?
LH: Recruiting and hiring can be an ordeal, and we try to make it easier so everyone can get back to their business. It’s also easier to place people for long-term clients because I have a better understanding of your culture and can find better matches. After 31 years, I have learned some things to make me a great partner for my clients.
The work I do is confidential. We guarantee our placement. There is a stamp that if the candidate doesn’t work out, we will replace that candidate for free. I also have a rule of three: When I present you with three candidates, one of those will be the right fit.
MQ: Recruiters save employers time. We are generally able to fill positions much quicker than employers on their own because this is what we do all the time. Paladin specializes in marketing, creative, communications and digital, and we have offices all over the country. Therefore we can source from a larger talent pool and present the candidate in the best way, creating a better caliber of candidates.
Look at recruiters as a partner, not a vendor. I actually enjoy getting involved in the planning stage with clients because it’s more strategic to be proactive versus reactive. Many times our clients become candidates and our candidates become clients.
For more information about Lynn Hazan & Associates, Inc. visit www.lhazan.com. There you can see current openings, get information on job search and join their weekly email list.
For more information about Paladin, visit www.paladinstaff.com. You can view current openings and find out more about their employer services. Thinking about getting into recruiting? Check out their internal job postings at www.becomearecruiter.com.
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Passionate about direct marketing and helping people find jobs, Michelle Robin has translated her extensive B-to-B marketing background into a career focused on her true love: creating powerful career marketing documents that lead to interviews at her clients’ target organizations. As Chief Career Brand Officer at Brand Your Career, she works with executive-level sales and marketing professionals across the U.S., and helps them discover their personal brand and fast track their job search.
An award-winning and dual-certified resume writer (NCRW and PARW), Michelle’s work has been published in the book, Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed...Get Hired.
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