While a meeting with a recruiter is usually more relaxed than a formal job interview, it still pays to be prepared and treat it formally and professionally.
Also keep in mind poor performance with a recruiter does have ramifications.
Think about it: if you get it wrong in an interview with one company’s hiring manager, that’s one company you probably won’t have much success with in the future. In addition, if you perform poorly in an interview with a recruiter who looks after recruitment for a number of organisations in your area, there are now a number of companies where the recruiter may be reluctant to represent you.
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So, with that in mind, here are the top dos and don’ts when meeting and working with a recruiter:
What to do when meeting with a recruiter
Wondering what to wear when meeting a job recruiter? As a general rule of thumb, dress sharply and be well-presented. This means wearing something smart casual as a minimum.
You can dress down if appropriate after you’ve got the job, but it’s always better aim for business wear during an interview. Your clothes should be smart but also comfortable so you aren’t constantly adjusting or fidgeting.
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Show up on time
Being on time is a basic requirement. If you’re late, it’s a sign that you may do the same when meeting with a hiring manager as well. Obviously being early is better than late, but if you’re an hour early it can be awkward too – so aim to arrive five or 10 minutes early and leave yourself some time as a buffer for unexpected events, especially public transport breakdowns.
Keep a spreadsheet of your job search
Aim to keep a spreadsheet of all the jobs you’ve applied for. That way, your recruiter won’t be sending your CV to companies who have already seen it. This also shows that you’re engaged, organised and active in your job search.
Read over your CV
It’s important to be familiar with your CV so you can speak to your responsibilities and achievements for a particular role when asked to elaborate.
Consider it time well spent when you can come in and confidently explain your previous experience – not to mention you’ll then be more comfortable talking about it in job interviews.
Strong and easy-to-explain examples of aspects of your role are also crucial; you should be able to explain your role in one to two sentences. Check out our cover letter and CV advice for more tips on writing the perfect CV.
Research the recruiter
Before you meet with a recruiter, it’s imperative to first have a look at which companies they represent or are likely to work with. If there’s a particular company or sector you’re interested in, and your recruiter already has a relationship with them, it’s helpful for you to make that connection. If you’re unsure about which companies or industries your recruiter deals with, simply let them know you’re interested in certain areas in particular.
Come prepared with questions
When meeting with a recruiter, they will certainly have an array of questions for you to answer.
Don’t forget this is a time when you can ask questions too. This will not only have you feeling more confident about the potential work that will come of it, but also show your recruiter that you’re genuinely thinking about the role. Questions for your recruiter could be anything from “Is this a newly created role or an existing one?” to “What can you tell me about the workplace culture?”
Send a follow up email after the interview
Following up on a job interview can be a great way to solidify your personal brand and help your recruiter remember you. This is a place where you can thank them for their time, reiterate your enthusiasm for the role, and potentially ask any questions that you’ve thought of since your meeting.
What NOT to do when meeting with a recruiter
Job seekers will sometimes omit important information, or provide misleading information, in the hopes of securing a job quickly. But when it comes to meeting with a recruiter, doing so means you’ll be less likely to be matched with a job that fits your profile.
Simply put, the more you can tell us, the better. For example, if you’re worried that we will see that you live in Coffs Harbour and discount you for a role in Sydney, simply add a bit of narrative to your CV, i.e. “based in Coffs Harbour and looking to move to Sydney” or “based in Coffs Harbour, willing to relocate to Sydney”.
Be vague about your preferences
It’s good to be open to different opportunities, but don’t feel you have to say, “I’ll do anything and work anywhere”. In fact, having preferences makes it easier to target the right role for you
Have a plan and share it when meeting a recruiter, that way we can find you the job you really want. If you’re unsure of the exact role or position you’re looking for, even just detailing the types of roles you’ve been successful in or enjoyed in the past can be very helpful in finding your next job.
Veer off track
An interview with a recruiter typically lasts between 45 minutes to an hour. During this time, they aim to get to know your career story and where you’re heading. In this situation, being succinct and direct is your best bet to get through all the questions the recruiter will ask.
Make sure you’re really listening to the question and focusing your answer on what the recruiter needs to know, which is not necessarily the same as what you want to tell them. The recruiter will ask for more details if required. This is especially true if you are meeting a consultant who handles contracting or temporary roles, as the non-permanent job market comes with its own unique set of requirements and expectations.
Hide gaps in your CV
There’s no need to lie about gaps in your CV or short tenures. People take breaks for many reasons: to go on parental leave, travel, study, take a sabbatical, unfortunately impacted by the pandemic – the list goes on. Honesty with your recruiter builds trust in the relationship, which will help them feel comfortable about representing you.
There’s no problem with being unavailable or going on holiday, but it’s important for recruiters to be in the know so you’re not being put forward for interviews that you can’t attend. It doesn’t help anyone – you, your recruiter or potential employers – if you stop communicating.
Think of your meeting with a recruiter as simply a chance to discuss your experience and job preferences. If you’re worried about being nervous, try practising answers to some questions you’re likely to be asked.
You shouldn’t memorise prepared responses because you can’t know for certain how questions will be phrased or what style of interview it will be. Rather, practice answering questions in different ways so that you’re fluent and comfortable talking about yourself.
RELATED: 5 ways to handle interview nerves
One final piece of advice for meeting a recruiter
Let your recruiter give you feedback, listen to it and take it on board.
It might not feel nice to be rejected for a role, but your recruiter will be able to give you constructive criticism on why you missed out.
So take the time to listen and stop to reflect, and consider how you might use this advice next time.
Ready to ramp up your job search? Talk to a Michael Page recruitment specialist about employment opportunities in your field.
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