Like many of you, including the lovely founders of this blog, I’m currently working through an unemployment patch (which sounds cuter than it actually is). I’ve tried just about everything: not looking, looking half-heartedly, looking for reals, asking friends to hire me, applying for temp jobs, crying in the shower, networking, yelling at my pets to earn their keep, more crying, and ordering the internet to give me a job. But! I have just recently added a new tactic that you may want to consider: using a recruiter.
There are a lot of names for this service (employment agency, headhunter, staffing firms, search firms), but I’ll use the word recruiter for simplicity’s sake. Basically, they are individuals and companies whose sole purpose is connecting applicants with available jobs. Large cities like mine have an overwhelming number of recruiting firms, many of which specialize in a certain industry, such as publishing, finance, or law.
So why would you want to use a recruiter? It’s a solid win-win situation. The recruiter often only gets paid once you have been placed, so they have a strong motivation to get you employed. Not to mention that the task you find daunting ““ finding a job ““ is something they do several times a day, every day, for other people.
Since you may have many recruiters choose from, you’ll want to do a little research before you pick one (or perhaps a few). If you want to stay in your field, you can focus the groups that work with your industry. It’s also important to ask around for recommendations, especially if you know anyone who works in Human Resources (HR). A good family friend is an HR director, and referred me to a few agencies he has worked with that he thought did the best job.
I met with one of these recruiters the other day. It’s a pretty fast-paced environment, so be prepared for an experience that’s not quite like a regular interview. There isn’t a lot of subtlety to their questions, because they want to be as efficient with your time (and theirs) as possible. They cut right to the chase; I was asked a few rapid-fire queries about what I would be willing to do, my pay requirements, and what my technical skills were. After spending time in a world of “where do you see yourself in five years?” and “what is your biggest flaw?” it was jarring but kind of refreshing.
Using a recruiter could be a good option if you end up in a situation like mine; looking for a job on your own just isn’t going quickly enough. I’m not sure how the recruiter tactic is going to work for me, but I suspect they will connect me with a job that fits my requirements, and nothing more. It may not be my life’s work. But few people looking for work right now, including me, have the luxury of waiting for the perfect job. I need a job, for reasons that are both financial and psychological. I’m still demanding that the internet find me a job, but I feel a little more confident knowing I’ve got my recruiter looking as well.