Working with a Recruiter

Counselors seeking employment opportunities should consider working with a recruiter. Recruiters actively identify and interview qualified candidates to fill job openings. They usually work for recruitment agencies, which contract with various employers seeking hiring assistance. Recruiters screen candidates before providing employers with a vetted list of candidates to consider.

Most recruiters seek applicants for high-level jobs, and may even specialize in a particular industry. For example, some recruiters only hire executives, information technology professionals, or lawyers. Large companies and organizations often use in-house recruiters. These full-time staff members work in a company's human resources department, and only recruit for their employer.

While recruiters report to employers, job candidates can contact recruiters directly and submit their resumes for consideration. Applicants can connect with recruiters on social media sites, like LinkedIn. This provides a win-win situation for both recruiter and applicant, as the recruiter gains a previously unknown candidate, and the applicant can gain access to new employment opportunities.

When recruiters determine that applicants hold the necessary qualifications, they work to match them with appropriate job openings. This can significantly shorten applicant job searches. The following information will help you understand the various aspects of using a recruiter to secure a counseling position.

How Do You Find a Counseling Job with a Recruiter?

Finding Counseling Recruiters

Recruiters often contact candidates after finding their resumes online. It's important to maintain a robust LinkedIn profile, including a professional summary and endorsements, to stand out in a competitive candidate field. Also, focus your resume on achievements and post it on multiple job sites like Monster and Indeed. This will increase your chances of being noticed by top recruiters.

If you can't wait for recruiters to contact you, take control of your job search and identify the best recruiting partner for your counseling specialty. Develop a short list of qualified professionals by conducting online research and seeking recommendations from peers and professional counseling organizations. In addition to Google and LinkedIn searches, use recruiting directories like Recommended Recruiter and Online Recruiters Directory. These sites offer free search access. Remember to look for online reviews of recruiting companies on career sites, including Glassdoor and Vault.

Find out as much as possible about each recruiter's track record. For instance, how long have they been recruiting, and what is their placement success rate? Do they have connections in the counseling field that could prove useful to you? Also, do they take phone calls from candidates or do they only communicate through email?

Remember that recruiters do not typically charge you a fee, as the hiring company pays them. Ask if they're paid on contingency or on retainer, which may indicate their approach to job placement. Not all of this information can be obtained online, so arrange for a phone conversation to determine the likelihood of a mutually beneficial working relationship.

Initial Interview with a Counseling Recruiter

As explained above, a phone interview with a recruiter is crucial to deciding if you would work well together. Your vetting of the recruiter is equally important as the recruiter's review of your qualifications. This mutual screening process ideally happens over the phone to respect both of your schedules.

During this conversation, the recruiter determines if you hold the necessary experience and qualifications for the open counseling position(s). Approach the conversation like a job interview, as the recruiter represents an employer. Discuss the type of position you seek and share details about your short- and long-term career goals. Specify your salary, benefits, and work environment requirements. Ideally, the organizational culture should align with your values to ensure long-term job satisfaction.

Keep in mind that recruiters are not confidants or friends -- they're essentially prospective employers. Don't share certain details that could hurt your negotiations, like the lowest salary you'd accept, the other job interviews you've gone on, information about your finances, or how much you need a job. Don't act too eager, which may be construed as desperate. Present yourself in the best possible light, and the recruiter will likely recognize your value as a viable job candidate.

By the conclusion of your conversation, you'll know if your job search approach aligns with the recruiter's. If you feel comfortable with the recruiter's experience and you successfully established a rapport, move forward with a partnership. Otherwise, interview the next potential recruiter on your short list.

The Job Interviewing Process

After determining your qualifications during the initial interview, your recruiter will begin inviting you to specific job interviews. The recruiter typically coordinates all aspects of the process, from selecting the interviewers and providing the questions, to reviewing feedback, checking references, and making hiring recommendations to employers.

While recruiters work for your prospective employer, they often provide resume tips and interview coaching to job candidates. This can include an overview of the employer's ideal candidate, or recommendations about how to best engage with the employer's hiring staff. Prior to your interview, the recruiter also advocates for you by outlining your qualifications to the employer. However, your ultimate success depends on your experience -- and how you handle the interview -- compared to the other candidates.

You should always thank your recruiter after an interview, and then follow up within a reasonable amount of time (within two weeks) to check in. This reinforces your interest in the position, and helps to develop your rapport with the recruiter.

Should You Look for a Counseling Job with a Recruiter?

Advantages of Working with a Recruiter

Recruiters work to fill job vacancies, so they have an inherent interest in your job placement. Their pay is usually commission-based, and determined by a certain percentage of the candidate's annual base salary (usually around 20-25%). The higher your salary offer, the higher their commission. This incentivizes recruiters to work diligently to help your secure the most high-paying position possible.

Recruiters also want to keep employers satisfied with their services in order to maintain long-term working relationships. This motivation ensures their dedication to matching appropriate candidates and positions. You can trust that recruiters are committed to positive job placement outcomes.

As recruiters and employers often enjoy a long partnership, recruiters have a thorough understanding of the type of candidate employers seek. They know the employer's organization, culture, goals, and client base. This insight is invaluable, and can steer job candidates toward success through pre-interview conversations and coaching.

Working with a recruiter can significantly lessen the time you dedicate to your job search. Recruiters complete many of the tasks you would undertake on your own, including identifying open positions and submitting resumes, and discovering information about the company and their hiring goals. Recruiters are also successful networkers, and can connect you with other counseling professionals and organizations to assist you in your search.

Potential Disadvantages of Working with a Recruiter

Some benefits of using a recruiter also become drawbacks. As mentioned above, recruiters work on commission, meaning if they don't place you in a position, they don't get paid. While this can serve as an incentive to help you land a high-paying role, it can also mean that some recruiters may give bad advice just to close a negotiation. For example, a recruiter might recommend you accept a low offer, or advise you to take a job that won't match your short- and long-term goals. This can lead to candidate confusion and a lack of trust in the candidate-recruiter relationship.

In addition, recruiters ultimately work for the employer. The employer's needs will always outweigh yours. It's important to remember recruiters are essentially contract employees of your prospective employer. This means certain details about hiring decisions, and factors that affect them, cannot be shared with you. You might grow frustrated by the lack of information you receive when you're not selected for a position.

Unless they specialize in counseling job placements, recruiters won't fully understand every aspect of your role. This can create difficulties for you in the interview preparation and follow-up phases of your search. The recruiter discusses your skill set with the potential employer, but might not be knowledgeable enough about counseling to adequately represent you.

Tips for Working with a Recruiter in Counseling

  • Don't Take a Shotgun Approach: Do your research! Ask other counselors for recommendations, conduct online searches on recruiting agency directories and social media platforms, and interview potential recruiters by phone -- just like they interview candidates.
  • Dress Professionally: Don't show up to recruiter meetings in casual attire. Wear formal work clothing to assure the recruiter you understand how to present yourself in professional settings.
  • Send Thank-You Notes: Serious job candidates typically send thank-you notes to interviewers, but you'll impress your recruiter if you send one to them after your initial meeting.
  • Develop a Rapport with Your Recruiter: Keep in touch with your recruiter, and inform them when you're job hunting. You'll build a stronger relationship as you continue to work together, and your mutual trust will have positive outcomes.

Recruiter FAQs

How Many Times Do You Meet with a Recruiter, on Average?

You can expect to have an initial phone interview and usually one in-person meeting before the recruiter starts arranging interviews for particular positions. You might also meet in person to negotiate offers, though many recruiters prefer to do so over the phone or through email. It's acceptable to email your recruiter once a week to check in.

What Kind of Qualifications Do Recruiters Typically Have?

Many recruiters have more than ten years of work experience, often with backgrounds in sales, communications, or psychology. Most recruiters hold a bachelor's degree and have excellent strategy and leadership skills.

Can You Work with Multiple Recruiters at the Same Time?

Yes, as long as you make sure to inform each recruiter that they do not represent you exclusively. This eliminates duplicate resume submissions, and improves your chances of quickly securing a job.

What Are the Signs of a Good Recruiter?

Good recruiters take the time to listen to you, understand your goals, and give you sound advice -- even if it means they won't get their commission. They have excellent referrals from previous job candidates.

What Are the Signs of a Substandard Recruiter?

Substandard recruiters blindly distribute your resume, don't spend much time getting to know you and your goals, or ask you to dishonestly represent your qualifications or experience to land a job.