Candidate-Recruiter Relationship Counselling: 12 Tips for a Happy Connection


This year’s relentless winter has left many Canadians with a major case of the blues.  Every winter, about 15 out of 100 of us get hit with weather-induced doldrums, aptly known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), according to studies.  But this year, experts say more are suffering from SAD as spirits plummeted with the temperatures.

In his recent Maclean’s column, Scott Feschuk captured the feeling of many of us this winter when he wrote, “On Thursday, Environment Canada forecasts a 90 per cent chance of freezing rain, an 80 per cent of chance of being sprayed with slush…and a 100 per cent chance of regretting the life decisions that have kept you here.”

So it’s not surprising that at the first hint of this year’s spring, even more people than usual are anxious to shake up their lives and shake off the blahs. Employees who feel they’re in a rut are especially eager to make changes.

With 40+ years in the business, The Bagg Group recruiters don’t need a calendar, or a thermostat, to tell when winter is drawing to a close.  We know by the surge in people looking for opportunities that will put a new spring in their step.

The latest international poll of employees by the Gallup Organization shows that Canada and the US have the highest proportion of engaged workers in the world at 29%.  But the bad news is that 54% are less than excited about their job, and 17% are really miserable at work.

Recruiters at The Bagg Group family, which includes Bagg Professional, Bagg Managed Resources and Bagg @ Your Service are dedicated to ensuring the people they place are among the happy 29%.   That’s our speciality — making matches that are right for candidates and their employers.   That’s why TBG scores over-the-top satisfaction ratings with our candidates and clients.

We’re proud that we attract high-achievers who enjoy working to their personal best. But nothing happens on its own.  Productive relationships between recruiters and candidates require some work –and mutual respect, fairness and honesty.

If you are a candidate who wants a great professional relationship with your recruiter, follow these 12 relationship counselling tips from the experts at The Bagg Group.

Be open about what you want, but keep it real:  A recruiter can’t place you based on what you think you might be great at, if don’t have related experience.  Recruiters must provide evidence to their clients as to why you’d be a good fit. Sure, all of us The Bagg Group are renowned for our finely-tuned instincts after years of interviewing thousands of candidates, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also delve into skills and experience before making a referral.

Read the posting and believe it!:  You may not realize how much care goes into writing a job posting – the job requirements are real, and they matter.  It’ll frustrate you and your recruiter if you keep going for jobs for which you don’t have the specifics that the employer wants.

Don’t ask recruiters to do your work for you:  Recruiters are swamped with resumes, so don’t send a generic covering letter and hope the recruiter will troll through to find relevance.  Instead, make it easy – right off the top, give the three most relevant bullet points based on the job you’re applying for, and include your last employer, position and tenure there

Relationships are a two-way street:  If you can help a recruiter by referring someone you think may be perfect for a posting, you’ll earn their appreciation.

Keep in touch, about once a month:  Update your recruiter with a short email.  Mention what types of positions continue to interest you, full-time, contract or temp, and offer a short line about what you’ve been doing.

Keep contact to the point, and positive:  Talk about job-hunting activities and info.  But don’t try to turn a recruiter a therapist.   When looking for a job, you need to show everyone who could help you along the way that you’re motivated, and positive.  Despair, bitterness, or anger won’t sell you. Optimism and enthusiasm will.

Give pertinent info in your subject line:  Recruiters get hundreds of emails daily.  Don’t put Hello from … in your subject line, but instead reference the position you’re applying for. If it’s an update, say so and include the type of position you’re seeking.

Present yourself to a recruiter as you would to an employer:  Don’t ask or expect recruiters to imagine how you’d be on an interview, act and dress to show them.   Never forget that our job is to consider how your skills, experience and attitude would fit in with jobs that are open now, or may open.  We need to see you as an employer would.

Have a few STARS up your sleeve:  When meeting with a recruiter, be prepared to tell stories of achievements.  Use the STAR method to show an achievement. (1) Briefly describe a Situation, a challenge.   (2) Explain the Task you had to complete and mention any constraints (ie. budget, timeline).   (3) Tell the Actions you took –highlight initiatives, problem-solving, etc.  (4) Close with Results of your effort, and if possible, quantify with figures (ie., % increase in sales).

Recruiters are matchmakers, not Hollywood agents:  It’s important to understand recruiters are not like creative agents.   An agent is someone who knocks on doors on your behalf to try and get you, say, an acting role, or a book deal.  In exchange, you give them typically 10 % to 15 % of your earnings.  The recruiter’s clients are employers who have a position now — or in the future — to be filled.  Our job is to find the best candidate for the company’s needs and culture.  Employers pay for recruitment services, not job candidates.

Don’t take it personally — no contact means no news:  If a recruiter doesn’t get back to you, it’s not personal, it’s logistics.  Recruiters would love to respond to everyone, but every contact takes time. Imagine how much time it would take you to write and call back dozens of people every day — and you have nothing new to tell them.  Instead, you can be sure that your recruiter will contact you when they have cause.

Remember, your recruiter wants a positive result:  There is nothing that thrills us more than placing someone in a position that makes them happy.   We know that an engaged employee makes their employer, family and community happier, and us too.  Recruiters don’t always have the right position at the right time for you, so keep networking, keep flexing your skills, and think of a recruiter as a contact who cares.

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