Using a Recruiter: Tips for Getting the Best Results

Many people have misconceptions about using a staffing firm or recruiter to aid them in their quest for the perfect career. Sometimes these misconceptions prevent people from taking advantage of a staffing firm or recruiter. Let’s get one thing clear: The firm and/or recruiter’s job is to find you a job and help companies fill positions. It’s a win-win for companies and you, the potential employee.

When you decide to put the misconceptions aside and work with a recruiter, there are a few things you should know before diving in. First, recruiters are professionals at reading people. They have to be; the success of their company lies in them finding the perfect match. That being said, a recruiter is going to analyze your attitude right off the bat. When you first meet your recruiter, be professional, courteous and make eye contact; in short: be yourself (but the best you can be). Be open, answer their questions and show them that you are the ideal candidate for a position they are trying to fill. Treat this as you would an interview with a company because IT IS.

When answering questions from the recruiter, be as specific as you can be. Let them know the tasks you handled at your previous job, even some of the more mundane ones. Play yourself up while still being honest; sell yourself. Opening up your work history and tasks you’ve managed plays an important role in the recruiter assessing your abilities. You may not think that a certain, everyday task you handled previously is important to the job you’re applying for, but it could very well be.

While the relationship with your recruiter should be maintained as a professional relationship, also realize that they are there to help you. Ask them any questions you have regarding the process, hiring companies, etc. Follow up with your recruiter on a regular basis to keep yourself fresh in his mind (not that he will forget you, but this also helps your recruiter keep your details in the forefront).

Working with a recruiter can be an excellent way to find your dream position. The recruiters know where the jobs are, and they are often privy to jobs that aren’t posted elsewhere. In today’s world, networking and making contacts can go much further than what’s listed on your resume, and the recruiter is a great contact to have on your side.

Speak Up: Learning How to Properly Answer Interview Questions

You’ve sent in your resume and received the call scheduling your interview. Chances are, you’re pretty excited about the interview, but also nervous about the meeting. The interview is a make-or-break instance that thoroughly increases or decreases your chance of getting the job.

Not everyone is a pro at speaking during an interview or important meeting. For some, it’s difficult to even talk on the phone with a stranger. If you have issues speaking up or are nervous about the interview, don’t worry! You’re not alone.

Learning how to speak up and properly answer questions not only makes you look more professional, it also shows confidence and allows you to more thoroughly explain your skills and experience. Here are a couple of tips to practice for your next interview:

TIP 1: Write It All Down

There are a few standard interview questions that are almost always asked. These include questions about your strengths and weaknesses; an explanation of a time you went above and beyond for the company; and what your experiences are and what they can do for the company. Start by writing down your answers to these questions as thoroughly as possible. Get detailed. Think about the answers. Practice saying these answers over and over in your mirror, even though you may feel silly doing so. Take the paper with you to the interview if it will make you feel more comfortable; however, make sure it is a clean and presentable piece of paper with just the questions and answers on it.

TIP 2: Do Your Research

Researching the company and position you are applying for is incredibly advantageous – the hiring manager will be impressed by your detailed knowledge of how the company works, what products are offered and why you will be a great fit, as described by you. Being able to mention how you might fix something or do something better takes this even further. Take time and think about what experiences and qualities you have that will be a great benefit to the company.

Conclusion

As they say, practice makes perfect – practicing your interview answers is a simple and efficient way to help you ace your interview. When you are prepared for the questions and have thoroughly thought about your answers, and you have taken the time to evaluate your own valuable skill set, you will answer more precisely and with more confidence.

Interviewing Protocol: A Refresher on the Dos and Don’ts

While it’s something pounded into the minds of most jobseekers, the list of interview dos and don’ts is extensive and always worthy of re-mentioning. The interview is one of the single most important aspects on landing the position, second to your resume. The interview, whether a phone interview or in-person, gives recruiters and hiring managers their first true impressions of you. It’s the time when you can make or break an opportunity.

DO:

Dress professionally. Unprofessional attire, including your hairstyle and accessories, can lead an interviewer to the wrong conclusion (or right conclusion, depending on how you look at it). In short, dress to impress. This is your golden opportunity to shine. If you’re unsure of the business’ dress code or standard, kick it up a notch. A safe bet for most positions is a shirt and tie for gentlemen, slacks or a nice skirt and top for females. Wear closed-toe shoes and keep costume jewelry to a minimum (for many positions, but certainly not all).

DON’T:

Chew gum or bring in a drink. Chewing gum just prior to the interview is an ideal way to freshen breath, but be sure to dispose of it before you meet your interviewer. This goes for phone interviews, as well. Even if you’re not actively chewing the gum, there is a distinct difference in your annunciations and speaking when you have something in your mouth.

DO:

Listen intently to your interviewer and be sure you understand all of the questions. They have important questions for you and your answers could make or break your opportunity.

DON’T:

Interrupt your interviewer. Wait until he is done speaking to bring up any concerns or ask for further clarification. If you’re participating in a phone interview, never put the interviewer on hold or ask for them to “hold on for a moment.”

DON’T:

Bring your cell phone into an interview. There are some instances when a cell phone may be needed during an interview, particularly if you are going to be filling out paperwork and need specific information that is stored on your phone. If this is the case, ensure your phone is on silent (SILENT, turn off the vibration, too).

DO:

Remember the interviewer is a person, just like you, but one that is playing an integral part in your future. Smile, indulge in their small jokes (if they offer them) and be friendly, yet professional. This is a relationship-building procedure, even if you won’t have contact with the interviewer after you’ve received the position. This is your chance to show off your personality (professionally) to help you build a relationship with your potential employer.

The goal is to impress your interviewer and land the job. This means being professional throughout the entire duration of the interview, making eye contact, smiling and showing the interviewer that you have what it takes to be part of their team.

Phone Interviews: Ace the Call

In today’s job market, phone interviews often serve as the first true interaction between recruiters or hiring managers and potential employees. It’s a true interview, not simply a phone call to schedule an in-person meeting. Unfortunately, many jobseekers don’t understand the ultimate importance of the phone interview.

Time Matters

When you schedule your phone interview with the recruiter, make sure you will have the time and quietness this phone call deserves. In most cases, the recruiter will give you an estimate of the call duration, allowing you to better schedule the interview. Ensure you will have more than enough time for the call; give yourself an additional 20-30 minutes than the estimate just to be sure.

Get Ready

Treating this like an in-person interview may mean getting dressed and ready; for some people, dressing for success helps put them in a more professional state of mind. Prepare a notebook, pen or pencil, or a word processing application, and your resume so you can quickly jot down any information during the phone call. Having your resume handy will allow you to scan over what the recruiter has in front of them about you, as well.

Quiet, Please!

It’s not always easy to find a quiet place. However, when participating in a phone interview, it may help to be in a secluded room with the door closed. For many job seekers, phone interviews may have to happen during a work day at a current job. Schedule the interview for your lunch break and find a quiet place to speak without interruption.

Tips and Tricks

Refrain from having food or drink (besides a handy glass of water in case you’re prone to dry throat when nervous), don’t chew gum and refrain from smoking. Again, treat the phone interviewer as if they were the hiring manager sitting right in front of you. As in an in-person interview, address the interviewer by name and smile while you talk. If the interviewer doesn’t offer the next steps, make sure to ask when your interview is over.

Cover Letters: Do They Matter?

Your resume is amazing (you’ve crossed your “t”s and dotted your “i”s; no spelling errors to speak of; and it’s professional). You’re ready to send your amazing resume out to potential employers, but what about the cover letter? The cover letter is sometimes an enigma to job seekers. What is it? What’s its purpose? Why do I need one if I have an amazing resume?

What It Is and Its Purpose

The cover letter is a letter of introduction. It allows potential employers to get a feel for who you are while also getting to know you a bit. Yes, many cover letters regurgitate some of the information found on the resume, but it’s much more than putting your resume into paragraph form: it’s selling yourself.

Think of it this way: The resume is the formal outline of why you’re great; the cover letter lets your personality shine a bit so that employers can see the you behind the words. It’s a great way to let your voice be heard if even on paper.

Like the resume, your cover letter needs to be short and sweet and to the point. However, you get to expand a bit on your skills and qualifications while injecting a bit of your personality into the text.

Also like the resume, it’s important to be factual in the body of your cover letter. It’s great if you have amazing skills and qualifications, but don’t mislead the potential employer into thinking you’re something you’re not. Represent yourself truthfully and you’ll get to skip some of the problems that come with misleading an employer.

Tips and Tricks

Be specific in your cover letter. Don’t say “your company,” say the company’s name.

Expand on your skills by telling the short stories about how you got them/used them.

Explain how your skills and experience will help the position.

Ask for the interview.

Be bold and truthful.

Conclusion

The cover letter may remain slightly mysterious to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. A well-executed cover letter could very well mean the difference between getting an interview and being overlooked by a potential employer. Allow yourself to be seen through your words in the text of the letter while portraying a level of professionalism that screams to potential employers that you’ve got what it takes to take this position into the future.