As a career advice writer and freelancer, you could say I’ve made a career out of job searching. (My longest search lasted 14 days.) Over the years I’ve worked with recruiters during my own job hunts, but I’ve also grilled them on how best to work with them.
If you haven’t worked with a recruiter before, the process may seem mysterious. It doesn’t have to be. Here’s everything you need to know.

The Process

Working with a recruiter can come about a few different ways. In my experience, recruiters reached out to me via LinkedIn after finding that my experience lined up with a specific job they were trying to fill. If you’re looking for a new job (or are just curious about what’s out there), you can alert recruiters on LinkedIn that you’re open to learning about new opportunities. Don’t worry; your employer can’t see this.
A second option is to reach out to an agency directly. Once, a recruiter reached out to me via LinkedIn about a role I wasn’t interested in, so I responded that while that role wasn’t a good fit, I’d love to be kept in mind for other opportunities. They added me (and my job preferences) to their database and when they found a job that was the right fit, they alerted me. You can work with a variety of agencies at once, which may help speed up your search.
The third option is to work with in-house recruiters, who work directly for a company rather than for an agency. These are especially common at big tech companies. If you have a list of dream companies you’d love to work for, try finding their recruiters and sending your resume via LinkedIn or email.

The Benefits

  1. Recruiters save you a lot of time applying for jobs that may not be the right fit. Often, you can skip the cover letter and only submit your resume.
  2. Companies that use recruiters take hiring seriously. If they’re spending the extra money, it’s a good sign they don’t take employees for granted.
  3. When working with recruiters, some companies won’t publicly post their job opportunities, which means you may not even know your perfect company is hiring.
  4. Even if you're not actively job searching, a recruiter can keep an eye out for open opportunities without too much work required on your end.
  5. Salary isn’t a mystery when you work with a recruiter, meaning you don’t have to waste hours applying, prepping and nailing the interview only to find out the pay is below your ideal range. Recruiters can even help you determine how high you can realistically set your rate.
  6. You skip the awkward moments. Worried about being put on the spot about salary requirements, or unexpectedly hearing from a hiring manager with additional questions? When you work with a recruiter, they’re your buffer. Often, they ask you not to contact the employer directly and vice versa, so you won’t be caught off guard.

The Etiquette

  1. When working with a recruiter, play by their rules. If they tell you to send a thank-you note to a hiring manager, send it. If they advise you not discuss salary requirements in a first-round interview, don’t. Your recruiter has spent hours trying to help you find a job and you want to respect their guidance.
  2. Always be honest. You may be used to adopting a no-complaints attitude when speaking to potential employers, but there’s no need to mislead a recruiter. If you’re uneasy about an interview or benefits package, run it by your recruiter. They’ll help you negotiate, politely decline an offer or follow up with an employer on any questions you may have.
  3. Don’t waste your recruiter’s time. If you know right away that you’re not interested in a role, tell them. Recruiters often work on commission and that depends on you landing a job. If you cry wolf with opportunities you never actually accept, then your recruiter may feel they’ve wasted valuable time and money on you.