Whether you're currently looking for a position, or just planning your future career development, recruiters are valuable people to know. Here are a few tips for a more successful recruiter/candidate relationship.
Understand areas of expertise.
Every recruiter or firm has an area of focus— even within general firms people tend to specialize in some way. This may be by profession (IT, legal, healthcare), level of expertise (mid-level manager, executive, C-suite), location or other factors. Define the type of position you're looking for, and then research to find which recruiters specialize in those areas. Keep in mind that recruiters in one field often have connections in others, so if they aren't right for you, ask if they know anyone who might be.
Build an open and honest relationship.
Recruiters need to find out as much as they can about you and what you're looking for, in the shortest time possible. The more they can understand your experience, wants, needs and desires, the more successful they can be in connecting you with the right opportunities.
Realize the limitations.
Recruiters have a lot of connections, but there are limitations to what they can and will do for a candidate. While they may approach it in many different ways, the recruiter's role is to help their client find the right people to fill certain needs within their company. If there is a fit between you and something one of their clients needs, great. But the recruiter generally is not in the position to create an opportunity where there is none, nor can they help pursue positions that they're not working on.
Working with a recruiter is often an intense, short-term relationship. They genuinely want to help their clients find the right people, and vice versa. By building a long-term relationship, even if the right position isn't there now they'll think of you in the future and THAT could be the perfect position.
Utilize multiple resources.
A great relationship with one or two recruiters in your field should just be one item in your job-search and career development toolkit. Other recommended tools are an excellent professional resume, strong interviewing skills, a portfolio of top-notch work, and your own networking efforts. While a recruiter is primarily working on behalf of the client, a career coach works with the candidates and can be a very valuable resource in your search as well.