Advice for meeting recruiters

Recruiters tend to be the first human interaction stage in a recruitment process, so they wield the power to make or break your application. But they come in a lot of different shapes, sizes or flavours and one size does not fit all – so what are the key issues to bear in mind when you’re dealing with these sometimes canny and covert gatekeepers?


1. Keep your friends close…

Understand who you’re dealing with. If they’re an in-house recruiter – in other words, they work directly for the employer you want to join – then there is no real complexity here. Their agenda is to find the best employees for their business.

However, if you’re working with an agency, the waters get a little murkier. The only priority for an agency recruiter is their commercial imperative, which is probably a fee, but which may also be building new client relationships so that they can earn a fee later. Sometimes, the best way for them to earn their fee is to get the best candidates for their client, but sometimes it isn’t.

So while they may seem like your best buddy, they’re not there to help. Far from it. You’re mostly just a meal ticket – this has been drummed into them in by managers that make the sergeant from Full Metal Jacket look like the teacher from Good Will Hunting.

2. But pretend you’re on interview anyway

Never underestimate the need for professionalism with a recruiter. Often they will be informal, or perhaps unimpressive, or late, bored, and borderline sociopathic, depending on the agency you’ve chosen, but this is no reason to let your own standards slip. They’re assessing how you’ll perform for their clients and if you’re no good, they won’t send you on interview. So stay sharp.

3. Pick the good ones

It can be extremely difficult to do this, even for seasoned professionals. But there are a few clues. How long have they been doing the job? Candidates rarely ask, but you can do it in a softly-softly inoffensive way, and it’s a good indication of the quality of their client relationships. If they seem bright, credible and articulate, they’re probably good with clients, too. And it’s a slightly sad cliché, but the quality of their clothes counts.

4. Have an excellent application
Make sure you’ve got a great CV and a good cover letter, and have created a good LinkedIn profile. The City CV team of CV writers give a professional CV writing service backed up by years of HR expertise; they understand how recruiters think and create highly effective documents to sell your strengths.

5. Be excellent on interview
You may be a veteran of the interview process, but it’s always worth polishing and improving your presence and standard answers. Make sure you understand how to structure your responses. Perhaps consider professional interview training or expert interview coaching from City CV. Prepare for the obvious questions (strengths, weaknesses, ‘tell me about X’, etc). Keep your answers brief, you’re aiming at two minutes, tops. And always spin positive; for example, if you’re talking about weaknesses, pivot to how you compensate and point to strengths.

If you feel you need help preparing for future interviews, with or without recruiter involvement, City CV can help. Our talented team of professional CV writers and interview coaches have over 100 years of collective experience, across a wide range of sectors. To find out how we can better your chances of getting an interview (and nailing it!) give us a call on +44 20 7100 6656 or send an email to enquiries@citycv.com.