During my high school days I wanted to be a sports agent, long before “Jerry Maguire” ever glamorized the profession. I had already come to the realization that I probably didn’t have the size or skills necessary to become a professional athlete, but because of my love of sports, I wanted to be involved in a profession with ties to sports. As I researched the profession of sports management, I realized that virtually every professional athlete has an agent.
As we fast-forward to the present, for various reasons my career took a detour from sports management to business management. Instead of representing professional athletes, I represent business professionals. Being a recruiter is not much different than being a sports agent. Maybe not as glamorous, but the roles are very similar.
That led me to think again about the fact that in sports almost every athlete works with an agent. However, when it comes to business and employment, not everyone works with a recruiter. Being a recruiter, this may come off as biased, but as I see it, everyone should build a relationship with at least one recruiter, whether you’re in the market for a job or not. Having a recruiter on your side is like having your own personal career advocate.
First of all, you don’t have to pay a recruiter anything. Recruiters are paid by client companies, so there is no financial risk to you. A part of the recruiter’s job is to build relationships and network with as many people as possible. They may not be able to find you a job instantly, but most recruiters I know are more than happy to help you in other ways.
The nature of the job puts the recruiter at the forefront of the economy. Recruiters will have access to jobs before the general public does. They’ll know which companies are doing well, which industries are hot, and which jobs are most in demand in the market. This is all valuable information for any business professional.
By the time you see something on the Internet or read an article in some publication, it’s probably old news for a recruiter. Working with a recruiter can help you stay ahead of the curve.
After reading this, you might be thinking about finding a recruiter right away. However, keep in mind that this is a two-way street. As I mentioned earlier, a recruiter doesn’t collect a dime from you directly, so he has to have a reason to want to work with you. Building a relationship with a recruiter is no different than building a relationship with anyone. It takes both sides to make it work.
The number one pet peeve for most recruiters is a lack of direct, open, and honest communication. When a recruiter asks you about your compensation, where you have interviewed, or who you have reported to in the past, don’t be cagey and hesitate to disclose this information. A recruiter’s job is to help you, and they can’t help you if you don’t provide the necessary information to put you in the most advantageous situation possible. They will never use that information against you. Recruiters want to build long-term relationships; they can’t accomplish this by hurting you.
As “Jerry Maguire” so famously states, “Help me, help you!”
Song Woo, an employment and career management expert, is the President and CEO of Lighthouse Management Group.
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