Written by Nanette Hebdige

In a world where recruitment companies abound – not all recruiters are created equal.

The internet is loaded with articles on interviewing, what recruiters look for, their mindset and how they operate. Working with placement agencies is a good avenue if you are looking for a career change or need a new job.

Today with companies focusing on Human Capital Management (HCM), they avail themselves of recruiting sources, because retention in the marketplace is dicey and numerous employees think the grass is always greener over the fence. Companies will incentivize their employees and value them as they are the Human Capital bringing about the success of the company and they need recruiters to bring in new talent.

The same methodology should apply to the recruiting world, with untold placement agencies tackling their own specialized fields, recruiters should realize the importance of HCM and most don’t.

Recruiters – are they for you or against you?

As a rule, recruiters are at the mercy of the client, who make the ultimate decision for the hire, and many variables are out of their control. However, for a recruiter to stand out in their field, since selecting talent is what’s creating their paycheck, more professionalism should be awarded to the applicants and not be treated like a number at the deli counter.

There’s a tremendous lack of professional follow through. Without talent, placement agencies don’t exist – and without placement agencies candidates wouldn’t have other avenues of securing a job.

But how is talent acquired?

It takes a shrewd but personable individual to acquire the title of recruiter with years of experience under their belt. It requires evaluating a person’s capabilities to match them to the job and above all, being an extremely good judge of character with a great BS odometer.

Some recruiters blood-hound sites such as LinkedIn (matching your CV with your social persona is crucial, so have a solid presence on LinkedIn) and other sites searching for key talent prior to posting the position publicly. They’re ensuring they secure the very best to safeguard that perfect fit for their client. A recruiter can’t waste time, hence selecting the right candidate is key for them to retain the job posting, get future business and get paid for their efforts, as more than one recruitment agency has been retained to fill the job opening.

You’ve been noticed

After passing through the software algorithm gauntlet, if you are applying to an ad online, consider yourself part of the trillion other honeybees trying to partake of the nectar. If by some miracle your credentials look remotely good to match the position, you “may” be contacted and the laborious process of proving yourself to the gatekeepers starts.

Then, when you’ve finally secured that much waited call with the interviewer you think you’ve passed the tests. No need to get excited. That’s just part and parcel of the massive screening evaluation process to see if you are a good fit for the role. If by some miracle your credentials fit the expectations and parameters, the next step comes about – the dreaded face-to-face interview. And after that you are placed into that vast, black void waiting to see if you are part of the candidate pool that will be considered for the role, amongst all the others evaluated.


It’s a dog eat dog world out there so don’t think for a minute there isn’t a certain look and feel required. Even though discrimination is at an all-time low, there is still a vast amount of racial, ageist and gender discrimination.

We are at the mercy of placement agencies which for the most part, have hired young recruiters with hardly, if any experience. You’ll know you’re working with a professional with tenure when you aren’t asked the proverbial, bland cookie-cut questions out of a printout sheet.


Why did you answer the posting and why do you feel you are qualified?

Why was your reason for leaving other positions?

What are you wanting to make – salary expectations?

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

A seasoned recruiter will be grant you a more agreeable interview. Your skill set is delineated on paper already and the inquiry revolves around you as an individual and what you bring to the table with your experience, level of maturity and tenure.

And one other thing to remember. The recruiter is NOT your best bud, far from it. They are there to sort through and look for key behavioral patterns and innuendos in the tone of your voice, your assertiveness and knowledge. Don’t be overly chatty, ramble, stay to the point and don’t interrupt. Pay attention to them (you need to read them as much as they are reading you), listen, pause before you answer, be brief and concise with your responses. And take loads of notes.

Be one with your resume – know your dates of employment and also have questions regarding the position you are interviewing for. And don’t ask how much the position pays. That’s left for the last part of the process and if they ask you what your salary expectations are – the best answer is:

It depends on the whole package, what it offers. Such as medical benefits, 401K, discretionary bonuses, etc.

Familiarize yourself with what positions pay in your areas, as every job salary is commensurate to the cost of living in the area where it’s offered.

Final assessment

It’s rare that a recruiter will remain in touch if you haven’t made the cut for a particular posting. If they have integrity and follow through, they will place you on their “stellar candidate list” for any future jobs and not just tell you “will keep your resume on file”.

That’s the classic blow off-line because rest assured, you’ve been tossed into a large garbage pile, like an old shoe or better yet, like day old cabbage. No matter how good your rapport with the recruiter was, they aren’t interested in you, their primary responsibility is filling a job, getting paid and moving onto the next posting.

Senior recruiters with tenure will keep you on their radar, because they know talent when they come across it and make a mental note about you for a future opportunity. That is what makes for a brilliant recruiter; they’ve retained human decency and care and they aren’t looking at you as a means to an end.

You still have to do your homework and follow up with them though, without being overwhelming and appearing desperate. Let’s face it, we all want the job, but it’s not up to them to hire you, it’s up to their client. You have to leave a good impression behind, so if you come across that remarkable recruiter that realizes that you are a rare gem, they will keep you in mind for future positions.

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