By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman
Navigating the market for contract professionals can be tricky, so why go it alone? Adopt a team approach by developing an effective working relationship with an experienced and capable engineering recruiter.
Recruiters function as talent search agents for engineering firms and businesses that need a speedy injection of expertise. While they network with engineering managers and stay abreast of upcoming projects, most of their time is spent matching qualified engineers with appropriate contract opportunities.
Having a recruiter in your court can lead to increased assignments and income, but even the best relationships require ongoing attention, nurturing and work. Here are six characteristics of a successful working relationship with an engineering recruiter.
Find the Right Match
Identify one or two recruiters who specialize in your discipline and have established relationships with engineering managers in the firms for which you’d like to work. Engineering managers rarely advertise for contractors, so you’ll set yourself up to get the first shot at emerging projects by leveraging a recruiter’s market intelligence and contacts. Ask about the staffing firm’s placement process, communication practices and market specialization while assessing your chemistry with the recruiter and ability to work together. Your recruiter will be representing you, so you need to choose carefully.
Be ready to discuss your goals, travel preferences and salary requirements during your initial meeting with a recruiter. Articulating your strongpoints and goals upfront sets the tone for the relationship and helps your recruiter proactively market your attributes and technical expertise to engineering managers. Let recruiters know if certain firms, projects or geographic areas are off limits. Keep in mind that the more flexible you are, the more opportunities you’ll have.
Heed Your Recruiter’s Advice
Your recruiter is a valuable source of information about the contract labor market. In fact, they can help you shine during interviews by revealing an engineering manager’s hot buttons and valuable insights about the firm’s culture, hiring process and scope of work. They can also help you spruce up your resume, select value-enhancing projects and negotiate a competitive rate. So don’t be afraid to pick a recruiter’s brain.
Return Calls and Emails Promptly
Staffing is a competitive industry where time is of the essence. Always return calls or emails from your recruiter as soon as possible, keep him or her updated on your status and provide timely feedback during an assignment and after an interview. Update your resume and project addendum when you complete assignments and acquire new skills. Doing so will increase your marketability, which will benefit you and your recruiter.
If you work with multiple recruiters, keep them in the loop. For instance, let your recruiters know if you’ve already interviewed for a position or if you’ve worked for an engineering firm or manager in the past – so they can present your resume with confidence. A successful relationship hinges on trust, and being unaware of an engineer’s history with a manager can be embarrassing. For jobs that aren’t a good match, let recruiters know why. This will help them gain a better understanding of your immediate goals and preferences.
Invest in the Relationship
Great partnerships benefit both parties. Treat your recruiter like a networking contact by introducing him or her to your colleagues. If you can’t accept an assignment, offer referrals and touch base periodically. If your recruiter helps you land a plum assignment, send a thank you note or offer to buy him or her lunch or a cup of coffee. That way you’re not just another name in the database and your recruiter will think of you first when another opportunity comes along. Remember, the bond you build with a recruiter is an integral component of a productive partnership.
Other information of potential interest
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