Tips and Advice from a Professional Recruiter

Whether you're a design firm making a strategic hire, or a design professional looking to take the next step along your own career path, identifying the right recruiting resource is an important step. But what are the benefits of using a recruiter, and what do you need to know to work with them effectively? Here are some tips from both perspectives.

CLIENT PERSPECTIVE: Why use a recruiter?

1. Fresh Point of View
While in-house referrals and promotions are definitely a piece of the puzzle, it's not simply about who you know or the depth of your social media connections. An experienced and well-connected recruiter can provide an essential third party lens, introducing both fresh talent and a fresh perspective on your needs.

2. Brand Extension + Global Connections
An effective recruitment consultant serves as a virtual 'ambassador' of your brand to the design and creative community. For high profile, strategically driven positions—and despite the fact that there may in the end be only one hire—outreach efforts can result in conversations with a wide range of highly talented and sought-after individuals. It's their consistently positive experience with your company (and your recruiter) that may be of equal, if not greater, importance in terms of branding your organization as a design-friendly, humane and forward-thinking organization, with ramifications for the quality and success of near- and long-term hiring.

3. Strategic Investment
Transparency and open communication inspires a true client/recruiter partnership. Identify a recruitment consultant who you can bond with as an organic extension of your organization and, if required, is determined to seek out the proverbial 'needle in the haystack.' The time and effort at building and sustaining this relationship as a strategic investment will pay off over the long haul.

4. Experienced Facilitation
A good recruiter should be able to encourage and support open and clear communication with both client and candidate. Misread intentions by either party during the negotiating process can often derail an otherwise successful relationship. While keeping track of negotiating points, an able recruiter can play an effective role in managing emotion and ego during the process, and can offer nuanced perspective and a sense of 'choreography' through each phase.

CANDIDATE PERSPECTIVE: How to use a recruiter.

1. Know Yourself
A job search is an exciting opportunity, albeit often fraught with some transition anxiety. Recognize this for yourself, and manage your related interactions—including your conversations with recruiters—with respect.

2. Know Your Recruiter
Is this someone you trust to be your advocate, and do they employ a long-term approach to working with candidates? While you may work with more than one recruiter over the course of your career, try to honor your personal and professional sensibilities.

3. Client Consultants
Search professionals, while valuing candidates for all the obvious reasons, are not 'agents,' but rather work on behalf of their clients for a select group of searches. This means that despite the fact that most recruiters are looking to build long-term relationships with potential candidates, they are of necessity focused on relevant and pressing client needs...which may result in something less than a lengthy conversation with you at any given time.

4. Respect the Process
Get in the groove, and make it as easy as you can for the recruiter—whether submitting an updated résumé or presenting a digital portfolio. Try not to take things too personally if any given interaction doesn't lead to an opportunity or desired next step. If the recruiter's focus fits your profile (i.e., he or she is working at your level and within relevant area(s) of expertise), ask the recruiter about a reasonable schedule in terms of checking back in.

5. Long-Term Perspective
Always try to return a recruiter's call, and remember that every conversation counts. You never know how an interaction (and favorable impression) might pay off down the line, and it could be the start of a long-term relationship that proves crucial to your professional development.

Bonus Tips
+ Monitor your social networking presence and establish a respectable internet footprint. Remember that a resourceful recruiter (not to mention future employer) will know how to find all the pictures, status updates and online profiles you've posted over the years, so be discriminating in what you post!

+ Handle rejection with grace, and look to maintain a positive relationship with your recruiter over the long-run.

+ Avoid mass broadcasts of your résumé and keep a handle on which companies you have been in touch with to avoid overlapping efforts and counter-productive triangles.

+ Be diligent, but not pushy! And don't forget the power of a well-crafted, and well-timed, thank you note.

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