Working with Accounting & Finance Talent Acquisition Firms to Advance Your Career

Identifying the ‘Right’ Recruiter

Before you start submitting your resume to every job board and company website in existence, consider finding an external recruiter to help.  People often think that contacting a recruiter is the last step; however, it SHOULD be your very first.  A little secret – there are pitfalls to sending your resume out in mass droves.  I’ve highlighted two key aspects to consider in this regard:

  • You lose value in your brand. – Internal company recruiters will review resumes on Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, and many other sites to obtain resumes.  Most recruiters (internal and external) will find less value in a resume that is posted on multiple job search websites.  It leaves the impression that you are unsure of what you’re searching for, which ultimately weakens your brand.   
  • You only get one shot in the door. – If your resume has been sent to Company XYZ through Indeed (or other job board), chances are pretty high your information is stored within the company HR database. So, if you decide to pursue an external recruiter to help you get into a particular Company, the recruiters’ hands may be tied.  Why? Company XYZ will keep your resume on file for 6-12 months.  Once a Company has it, they will not work with an external recruiter to represent a candidate that whose information has already been acquired. From an HR perspective: Why potentially pay for someone that we have already ‘found’?  Also, the resume was passed over for a reason, so why would we want to discuss the resume with an external recruiter?

Getting the Right Person for the Job

As with any relationship, you’ll want to work with someone who is honest, professional, and knowledgeable in your area of expertise.  Here are some key characteristics of a long-term, professional recruiter relationship:

  1. Initial Focus on Understanding You – A good recruiter will take the time to fully understand your experiences and skillsets.  Often, they will ask you to summarize your background and dive into specific details for which  they seek more clarification.  Additionally, a good recruiter will always understand the motivating factors for a career change.  This is very important to ensure that the jobs presented to you are in line with your expectations!  Who wants to leave one ‘dead end’ job for another?  Or even better, take a pay cut for more work?
  2. Professional Honesty – A good recruiter will let you know up front if he/she is the best resource for your needs.  This is important because you do not need someone providing false promises or hope on jobs that they can’t deliver.  Their ability to help you depends upon their area of expertise, their clientele, and general market reputation.  Your recruiter should be able to give you general information regarding the size of the companies they work with, the specific areas of focus (tax, audit, general finance, etc.), geographical locations, and general market characteristics.  If your recruiter seems reluctant or unknowing in presenting this information – I would suggest finding another!  
  3. Fair Job Representation – Be very cautious with those that present only the good aspects of a position with no explanation of limitations, or other aspects that may be less than ideal.  Even worse, be wary of recruiters that ‘tip toe’ in describing the work environment.  The simple translation for ‘dynamic fast-paced work environment’ often means you will most likely work 60+ hours a week with potentially limited staff.  
  4. Market ReputationIf you can, seek out professionals that have used recruiters and ask them who they thought were the most helpful.  You’ll hear consistent patterns on those who are extremely helpful and learn about those you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
  5. Bait and Switch – Many job seekers have had the odd experience of being brought into a recruiting office under the guise of a potential job opportunity, only to find out that the open position is a role that exists as a recruiter within the recruiter’s very own firm!  Unless you have had previous conversations discussing this potential career avenue, and vocalized an interest in learning more, I would suggest that you graciously thank the recruiter for his/her time and end the interview.  Any person that uses a potential job to lure candidates in for their own business is not someone that can be trusted. Period.
  6. Talk Too Much – Good recruiters LISTEN to their clients and candidates.  They ask questions and seek to clarify answers to help enhance the understanding of information presented. How on earth will he/she know if your presentation style is a fit for the client, if you can’t even have a word in edgewise!
  7. Long Term Relationships – Often job seekers have ’15 minutes of fame,’ meaning recruiters contact candidates for specific roles and after placement, it’s as if the job seeker never existed.  The best recruiters maintain long-term relationships with their clients and candidates.  Good recruiters recognize that relationships are key to their business and seek to maintain those relationships beyond the hiring phase.
  8. Provide Assistance – Great recruiters will help their candidates prepare and ease the stress of interviewing.  Often, they will walk you through the interview process, help you understand the aspects that are key to the position, and help you prepare to present your skillsets.  At the end of the day, you aren’t thrown into the wolf’s den to fend for yourself!
  9. Are Not Pushy – Don’t let a recruiter push you into a role that you feel is not a good fit, especially if this is your impression following an in-person interview.  A good recruiter will try to understand your impressions and obtain follow-up information that may shed more light on other potential opportunities, or deciding to pursue other options.

Take Away

At the end of the day, most people will seek assistance from professional recruiters to find jobs in the market that will satisfy their career goals and personal criteria.  Good recruiters will focus on understanding your professional skillsets, criteria, and motivations for seeking a job.  Most importantly, they will listen to you and allow you to captain the ship’s course.  Be very cautious with recruiters that are dishonest, pushy, and not helpful.  If you feel that you have a bad recruiter, close the door and seek another!  There are many professional and capable recruiters that can provide you with the best consultation that you deserve.  After all, without great candidates, recruiting businesses would cease to exist!  Good luck!

Are you seeking to identify a ‘great’ recruiter?

Contact your local AAFA Affiliate.

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