For job-seeking students and recent grads, a third-party recruitment consultant can be a valuable contact for prospecting career opportunities.
This is why it’s important to know what they can and can’t do for you and how to get the greatest value out of working with one.
Wait, What’s a Recruitment Consultant?
If you’re not entirely sure what exactly a recruitment consultant does, you’re not alone. These consultants spend most of their time working on intermediate and senior level roles so it’s not uncommon for entry-level candidates to be unfamiliar with them.
Third-party recruitment consultants work on behalf of employers to source candidates, administer the screening process, and coordinate interviews with well-qualified applicants for specific jobs. Oftentimes, it’s the jobs that employers find especially time-consuming and difficult to fill that they outsource to consultants.
But for recruitment consultants to be able to provide the best value to their clients, they need to have a pipeline of candidates already built up. This is why they spend a lot of their time developing relationships with candidates. They get to know candidates’ backgrounds, skills, and career goals and keep them in the loop about job opportunities within the consultant’s client base.
Why Use a Recruitment Consultant?
While recruitment consultants spend most of their time working to fill higher-level jobs, they do get the occasional entry-level assignment. They have to source candidates aggressively for these jobs because they usually don’t have a pipeline of entry-level candidates immediately available to them. This is the opening for students and new grads to pursue a specific job opportunity while initiating a relationship with a recruiter that can benefit them over the long-term.
So the short answer is, if you are interested in a job for which a consultant is recruiting, you simply have to enter their candidate pipeline. Doing this can give you access to the hidden job market and, in some cases, a trusted advisor that can help to guide your career decisions.
Entering the Pipeline: Meeting a Consultant
A first interview with a recruitment consultant can be different from one with a hiring manager. These interviews are often less formal and more of a get-to-know-each-other meeting. So feel free to relax and be yourself. But keep in mind that it is still a professional meeting and you should present yourself accordingly.
The consultant will bring your resume to the interview for their reference and will expect you to speak about your experience from memory. And definitely bring a pen. Most agencies will require you to fill out registration paperwork prior to the interview.
The consultant will want to accomplish three things in the interview. First, they will ask you questions about your resume to get a clear picture of your past experience. Then, they will discuss the job opening with you and determine whether you might be a good fit. If you are, they will discuss the next step in the process, which will likely be an interview with their client. Lastly, they will ask you questions to get to know your broader career objectives for future reference.
What Should I Keep in Mind?
There are three things that you need to keep in mind when you are meeting a recruitment consultant for the first time.
- Treat the consultant like a hiring manager. While they don’t make the final decision, they do decide whether you get the opportunity to meet a hiring manager. Remember, the candidates that a consultant puts forward reflects directly on them—so present yourself as professionally as you would in any other interview.
- Understand that you are not their client. A recruitment consultant or their agency cannot charge you a fee of any kind. The employers looking to fill jobs pay them. With this in mind, the consultant’s primary interest is in filling the client’s job and not in finding you employment.
- Be honest and ask questions. The more open you are about your experiences and career objectives, the more effective the consultant will be in determining your fit for present or future career opportunities. If you have the time, ask questions about the job opening. The consultant should be well informed about the requirements of the position and what the client’s workplace is like.
Also, feel free to ask questions about the consultant’s professional background. Your relationship with them will potentially be long-term so it is entirely fair for you to ask about their experience and the general makeup of their client base.
Stay in Touch
Whether or not you are successful in getting a job through a consultant the first time round, it is valuable to stay in touch with them. Check in on a monthly basis to update them on your status, inquire about opportunities, or refer colleagues. This keeps you on their radar and may motivate them to give you a call the next time a job that matches your skills and career goals crosses their desk.
If you are looking for a job and find yourself interacting with a recruitment consultant, be professional, be honest, ask questions, and take advantage of the opportunity to develop a productive relationship with a job-seeking expert.