Careers advice

Working with recruiters when job hunting in NZ

How to get the most out of this relationship.

As you’ve been scrolling through job listings on Trade Me Jobs, you’ve probably come across a whole bunch posted by recruitment agencies. If you’ve never worked with a recruiter before, you might be wondering whether this should be part of your plan of attack for finding your next job.

While we can’t tell you what’s right for you, we can certainly give you some tips on how to make your interactions with recruitment professionals as productive and straightforward as possible, allowing you to maximise the potential gains of this relationship for your career advancement.

Below, you’ll find some useful tips for finding and developing a great working relationship with a recruiter, what you should look for, and what they’ll expect from you.

Using a recruiter to find a job: top tips for success

1. Seek out the right recruiter for you

There are a lot of recruitment agencies out there, and it’s important you find the right one. Few agencies cater to all professions – some specialise in specific industries such as IT or accounting, so it’s worth doing your homework before sending them your CV and cover letter.

A few good avenues for recruitment agency research include:

  • Your network: it’s definitely worth checking out whether anyone in your professional network has experience with recruiters. They can give you reviews of their experience, and ideally point you towards who they found to be most helpful.
  • Recruiter bios: recruiters tend to be very active on digital and social media platforms, as this is where they find a lot of their business. Online bios detailing their experience and where they believe their strengths lie, can be good indicators of how much they may be able to help your career.
  • Testimonials: read testimonials from people who have worked with a recruiter in the past to get an idea of what their experience was like.

But perhaps the most important piece of advice when looking for a recruitment agent to help with your next job hunt is to make sure you’re picking sector specialists. What we mean here is that there are certain recruiters who will focus solely on one industry, or several related industries. In other words, if you’re in marketing, you’d want to go to an agency or recruiter who specialises in media, journalism and marketing. There are a few reasons why this is important:

  • They know the market: a good recruiter has their finger on the pulse of the sector they service, and will be able to give you pointers about what employers are looking for right now, and therefore how you can tailor your application to put you in the best possible position.
  • They have the contacts: as well as knowing the broader goings-on in the relevant sector market, they’ll also have heaps of contacts among hiring managers. This means that if your CV matches a position one of their contacts is looking to fill, you could find yourself in front of an interviewer much faster than if you chose to go it alone.
  • They understand you: successful recruiters don’t only understand what businesses want, but they also grasp what motivates people in their specialist sector. This means they can have a meaningful discussion with you about what it is you’re looking for, and tailor the opportunities they present you with accordingly.

Recruiters can help get your job application firing on all cylinders.

2. Put your best foot forward

Each recruitment agency has different processes, but it’s very common to be asked to supply an up-to-date CV and cover letter during the early stages of your onboarding.

There are two really important things here. Firstly, we really mean up-to-date CV and cover letter. While you might be thinking that the recruiter will just be taking a preliminary glance at these documents, they may already have a role in mind, so make sure you’re giving them the full picture.

Second, write a CV and cover letter that are as good as anything you’d submit to a ‘normal’ job application. Recruiters are very busy people, so if you send in a rushed CV or cover letter riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, you’re not going to be top of their list to call.

3. ...but be honest

We hope this one goes without saying, but don’t exaggerate your skills and experience to the recruiter in the hope that this will improve your chances of finding a job.

You might think that, because recruiters are keen to place candidates, they may be willing to exaggerate your skills to employers. This is rarely the case, and if that happens, they’re probably not a good recruiter. The best ones develop close relationships with the employers who they recruit for, meaning it’s not at all in their best interests to make candidates seem better than they are. And, ultimately, this wouldn’t be in your best interests either – getting a job that you’re not equipped for will quickly lead to stress and imposter syndrome.

Working with recruitment professionals can be an awesome way of boosting your job hunt, but you need to be honest with them in order for them to help you.

Recruiters will listen to what you want from your next career move, and help you get there.

4. Develop a relationship

It’s common for recruiters to set up a meeting (either physically or digitally) early in the onboarding process so that you can chat more generally about the type of role you’re looking for, as well as your overarching career goals.

Even if you don’t end up finding a job with this recruiter, we highly recommend doing some serious prep before this meeting. How many times do you get the chance to sit down with someone who’s trained in careers advice to talk about your career? This is a great opportunity!

Among the things you should expect them to be interested in are:

  • Why you’re changing roles: if you’re particularly looking for a certain challenge (or to avoid a certain role), your recruiter needs to know this.
  • What salary you’re looking for: this will help them narrow down the range of roles you might be interested in. If you’re unsure what ballpark you’re in salarywise, check out our salary guide
  • Your desired career trajectory: while you might currently be just thinking about the next step, recruiters will help you think long term about where you want to go, and which route will get you there fastest.
  • Your cultural fit: company culture is becoming more and more important to job hunters, and recruiters know it. Therefore, don’t be surprised if they ask you about what you’re looking for from the company’s culture and values.

5. Deliver on your end of the bargain

While working with a recruiter can definitely make your life easier, don’t expect them to do all the work. Holding up your end of the bargain means:

  • Delivering quality: if they ask you to submit a cover letter to a given employer, give it the necessary care and attention.
  • Be prompt with communications: this is perhaps the most important. Things move very fast in the world of recruitment, and it will be very frustrating for your recruiter if they’re working hard to set things up for you, and are simply not hearing back.
  • Sticking to commitments: it looks bad for the recruiter as well as for you if you agree to, for example, a job interview, and then don’t show up, or don’t give it your all.

6. Stay true to yourself

This shouldn’t be a problem with high calibre recruiters like those you find advertising roles on Trade Me Jobs, but it’s still worth remembering that you shouldn’t feel pressured into taking a role that isn’t quite right for you.

Remember, you’ll be the one heading to work every morning, so it needs to be right. If you feel that your recruiter is pushing the wrong types of things your way, it might be an idea to have another chat with them to get things back on track. If they’re not listening to you, look for someone else who will be more mindful of your specific goals.