The Right Way to Work with Accounting Recruiters

The main goal of any job hunter’s LinkedIn profile is to attract recruiters, get them to read your profile, and put you in touch with awesome companies who are hiring. The more recruiters you attract, the better odds you have of finding a great new job.

The one downside is that not all headhunters are ethical people with your best interests at heart. Some are incompetent (time wasters). Still others are downright shady (job search destroyers).

So how do you protect yourself from the slime-balls while still building relationships with the good guys? Here are a few tips for building mutually beneficial relationships with recruiters on LinkedIn.

What Is a Headhunter?

Did you know there are two main types of recruiters?

  1. Retained Search Recruiters – These folks usually recruiter for executive level positions. They’re paid a retainer by the company to fill one or more positions. Usually they are the only recruiters working to fill these positions.
  2. Contingency Recruiters – These are the most common type of recruiter in most industries. You’re probably dealing with Contingency Recruiters if you’re not at the C-Suite just yet. Usually there are many recruiters trying to get a company to use one of their candidates for an open position. Whoever gets chosen wins their recruiter a fat commission.

A headhunter differs from a corporate recruiter by the fact that they are not employed by the company doing the hiring. Today we’ll focus on contingency recruiters — you’re more likely to encounter them in the wild.

Key Points About Contingency Recruiters

  • Understand that you are NOT the recruiter’s customer – You are their PRODUCT.
  • You don’t pay their salary; they get paid by the company doing the hiring. This isn’t inherently bad, but it’s important to know where you stand.
  • A recruiter is not a magic wand – they can help you understand the job market, and connect you with a few companies. But at the end of the day you need the skills (job and interviewing) to land the role.

Keeping Track of Recruiters

Whenever you’re contacted by a recruiter, get their full name (and spelling) and the name of their company. That way you can look them up online and see if they look legit.

I used to get at least three recruiter calls a week when I was working at a Big 4 accounting firm in Chicago. Writing their names down helped me keep everyone straight.

Know Where Your Resume Goes

Remember to always send your most up to date resume to recruiters. It doesn’t look very professional if you couldn’t be bothered to spend a few minutes updating your resume. (I’ve created a cousre to walk you through this step-by-step. Watch the first lesson now: Accounting Resume Builder).

You need to tell all recruiters flat out NOT to send your resume to any company without your prior consent, preferably in writing. This becomes especially important when you’re working with multiple recruiters.

There are some less reputable recruiters who will just shotgun your resume out for any position for which you’re even remotely qualified. You don’t realize it at the time, but it can be a problem later on.

Whenever I email my resume to a recruiter I include something along the lines of

“Please do not submit my resume to any companies without my prior written consent.”

Let’s say you’re at an event and meet a friend’s mom who happens to be looking for someone to hire for your dream job. She invites you in for an interview and it goes great.

Then you get a call a few days later saying they can’t hire you because you ‘already applied’ and they aren’t willing to pay a recruiter’s commission for that position. That recruiter didn’t do any work for you, but they just screwed you out of a great job.

Should I Meet Headhunters In Person?

Don’t schedule an in-person meeting until they have a specific position they’re considering you for. Many recruiters I’ve worked with want you to come in to meet them right away.

  • They’ll say that they want to “pre-interview” you.
  • Or get to know you better so they can find the perfect role for you.
  • I’ve even had recruiters say that they won’t submit me for jobs until we’ve met in person.

There’s a couple of reasons for this.

  1. If you meet someone in person, you’re more likely to want to do business with them.
  2. They want to see how well you present yourself in an interview. You may look great on paper, but if your interpersonal skills are lacking they’re not going to send you to meet their clients.
  3. Recruiters want to know if you’re serious, or just window shopping. Taking the time out of your day to meet them shows you’re serious about your job search. Recruiters are more likely to spend time/energy on serious candidates.

So, of course recruiters want candidates who are willing to come in for a visit. But you only have so many hours in the day. And you can’t meet them all. It’s usually a good move to meet with your recruiter once you find someone you like working with. Until then agree to a short phone/video meeting, and tell the recruiter that you’re happy to come in for a pre-interview when the right opportunity comes along.

What if I’m Pressured Into Taking a Job?

Never let a recruiter pressure you into taking an interview or accepting a job you aren’t sure about.

Ever!

Recruiters get paid when they place people like you in a role, so they’re incentivized to talk you into taking a job if it’s offered to you. Most recruiters won’t push you into a job you hate, but they won’t knwo you hate it unless you speak up. It’s ok to say no and wait for something that’s a better fit.

When Should I Start Building Relationships with Headhunters?

Last Year… The golden rule is “Build relationships with recruiters before you need them.”

Reply to their emails politely and professionally. Ask them questions about the types of roles they fill, the companies they work with, and what type of candidates they’re looking for right now. And listen to this episode of The Abacus Show for some helpful tips about finding great accounting/finance recruiters.

If you like the recruiter, introduce them to your friends. Recruiters will love you for this, because it shows you’re interested in giving as well as taking in the relationship.