The recruitment industry in South Africa (and the world over) is increasingly coming under fire for its unprofessionalism. Hands up – who’s worked with an unreliable, money-grabbing recruitment consultant who never thought about your well-being? I bet the hands flew up.
But this need not necessarily be so. There are good, caring recruitment consultants in our industry; people who do this for the pleasure of making a difference in others’ lives. One needs to scratch a bit to find them, but they are there. These are the people who really do care about working with you to grow your career within the right organisation. They are the people for whom the money is secondary. Their primary concern is to work with you to find you that great next step in your career path within an organisation that will fulfil your growth aspirations or help you work with the latest, greatest technology. Yes, just like technology turns you on, this is what turns them on!
For me, relationship is always key. When I work with a person it’s important the he or she wants to work with me and respects me as a professional. It’s near impossible to find every single person their dream job, but if there is mutual respect it makes for long lasting relationships and possible collaboration down the line. So my advice would be to speak to people you know or work with when looking for a recruitment consultant. Find out who they worked with in the past that made a real difference, was efficient and really cared.
If there is not one single recommendation and all you get from your friends are expletives when you mention the words ‘recruitment consultant’; well, that’s a tough one. In that case you’ll have to do a bit more homework. Look at the recruitment companies in your industry sector. It’s generally better to go with a company that specialises in your particular industry for obvious reasons. Look at their LinkedIn or other social media recommendations. Why are they good at what they do?
But treat your search for a new job as a sort of employment contract in itself. You’d want to work with someone you can trust, right? Why give your life’s work to someone you don’t trust? Sometimes you don’t feel you have a choice as you’ve answered a job advert and you’re stuck with a particular consultant. It might, in this instance, be even more important to let the consultant concerned know that your skills are worth a great deal of attention from them.
Sell yourself like an American
Americans are notorious for their aggressive, hard core sales techniques. I’m not suggesting you bully anyone into believing you’re the best in the west, but remember, you’re selling your skills, knowledge and experience when looking for a job – so remember to pull out the most succinct points when talking to a consultant. It’s important to impress from the word go. And that goes for your CV too. If it’s a mess you’re likely to get a lukewarm response. Spend time on your CV!
So, if you’ve read the specification and you’re happy that you fit the bill, make the call. Before you sit in the traffic for an hour to visit a recruiter though, you’d want to know you’re making the right decision to entrust your world to them. Hopefully the consultant you’re going to work with understands that time is of the essence and has learnt to use Skype or interview effectively telephonically.
Ask the hard questions
So from word go ask the right questions. If you’re serious about finding your next dream job then whoever works with you to find it should be worthy. Here are a few you might want to start with.
Will you communicate with me regularly?
How many of you hear back from a recruitment consultant when you know your CV has been referred to a potential employer? The flip side, of course, is that if you want a consultant to work with you, then you in return have to commit to work with him/her. That means answering their calls and emails. If the consultant doesn’t feel your commitment you can hardly blame them if they move on.
Will you contact me before you send my CV to any company so I can give you permission to do so?
This is a biggie! How many times have you heard that your CV was referred to company x without you knowing about it? You get called out of the blue by a recruiter to say you have an interview with company y when you didn’t even know your CV was sent there… A recruiter worth their salt will always discuss the available options with you and give you the opportunity to do your research on the particular company before making a decision to be referred. Sometimes things do move fast, but you should always be informed.
Do you understand my career aspirations in-depth or are you going to send me for interviews that will be a waste of my time?
You need to establish whether the consultant can really assist you and not just spread your CV through a sieve into the industry to magically hope to make a placement? I.e. you want to know your CV and information will remain confidential and not end up on your manager’s desk because some incompetent recruiter didn’t even check where you’re currently working!
What is the turn-around time in getting feedback from your clients?
Will you have to wait a week or a month? What is the process? Will you go for interviews and never hear back from either the recruiter or the company? Get a commitment that the recruitment consultant will get back to you. If he/she doesn’t, tell them to drop dead. They clearly don’t appreciate you or take their career seriously.
What is the interview process?
If you know a company does one interview and makes an offer then you’ll be prepared when things move fast. If there are 3 to 4 interviews plus an assessment you know you’re in for the long haul, but if you really want to work with that company you will similarly be able to prepare yourself adequately and hang in.
Will I need to do a technical assessment? What will this involve?
How long will it take? Is it a written or online assessment? Ask whether there is any information that the consultant can share with you regarding the assessment. Is it purely theory or will you have to write code? Will it test your thinking processes? That way you can at least prepare yourself properly.
Do you understand my salary requirements?
Most of the time it seems prospective employees leave it up to the recruitment consultant to negotiate their final package with the new employer. I believe you should be intimately involved in this process. Ensure the consultant understands exactly what your net (take home) requirement is and exactly what benefits you get. Benefits differ from company to company and you don’t want to end up on a medical aid hospital plan when you and your 5 dependents are currently on a comprehensive plan. Check whether you can transfer your pension fund and whether there is a difference in the percentage contribution. Some companies don’t pay overtime, but give you time off. Some have no benefits at all which means your net package needs to be higher so you can take care of your medical aid and investments yourself.