Recruiters can be your ally. They can also be the key to successfully finding a great job. But too often, candidates come into the relationship with the wrong expectations. Here are five things recruiters wish you knew before you applied:

1. Your win is the recruiter’s win.

If you are a good fit for the position and the company and prove that you are a qualified candidate, a recruiter is your advocate. You are on the same team. Conversely, recruiters can’t push you for a job that is clearly outside of your qualifications. But if a recruiter sees that you have the criteria, they will help you impress the hiring manager, and advise you along the way. You’re well served to take that advice and seek the recruiter’s feedback.

Heidi Parsont, president of TorchLight, a DC-based search and staffing firm for marketing and communications professionals explains, “A good network is essential in today’s job market. It is just one element, but working with a reputable recruiter with established connections in your area of expertise is a great way to focus your search and build your network… we stay in close contact and counsel job candidates from the time of the first interview through negotiating an offer because we have a vested interest in making a successful long-term placement.”

2. It’s not personal. It’s business.

Because recruiters can seem so nice, and so helpful, candidates can falsely assume the job is theirs to lose. But even if you have the best interview and you seem like a perfect fit, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the job. All too often, the recruiter doesn’t even know why – miscommunication between a hiring manager, project manager and recruiter is common. Even if both you and the recruiter have done everything right, the position can still fall through. Also, keep in mind that some recruiters will be overly optimistic about your chances. There are often good reasons for this. First, you’ll do better in an interview if you’ve just had a confidence boost from the recruiter. Second, recruiters are optimistic by nature – they want you to get the job. Take it as a compliment, and accept the ego boost.

3. Be prepared.

This one might seem too easy. But it’s probably the biggest complaint recruiters have about job seekers. Do your homework on the company and the job. Have friends proofread your resume. Have friends do a mock phone interview with you. Yes, it may feel weird, but it will help you polish your interview responses. The key is to be as prepared as possible. You are responsible for giving the recruiter something to work with, so don’t be lazy. This also applies after the interview. Make sure you use an updated resume, and update your online profiles if you do find a position. Nothing annoys a recruiter more than reaching out to a candidate who looks available, but who has no intention to take a new position.

4. Know what you’ve applied for.

It’s really easy to forget what jobs you’ve applied for, particularly if job seeking is currently your full time job, and you’re applying for new positions every day. If you haven’t already done this, you need to start a spreadsheet or simple log that puts all your applications and contacts in one location. When you answer the phone, you don’t want to be searching the recesses of your brain or your inbox for any relevant information so you don’t sound like a stuttering fool.

5. Liars always get caught.

It may seem like a stretch to say it’s lying to apply for a job that you’re completely unqualified for, but recruiters take this offense seriously. It’s a major waste of time when they’re sifting through dozens or potentially hundreds of applicantions. You need to be up front – don’t misrepresent your skills, and don’t apply to a position that you might be a great fit for – in two years. Take advantage of networking opportunities to tell recruiters the kinds of positions you’re looking for – which jobs may be a stretch and where you can truly succeed today. If a recruiter sees you being up front today, they’ll be more likely to help you land that dream job down the road.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.