These are the questions clients ask me all the time about recruiters and the roles they play in the job search and market. I am not a recruiter but my friend and colleague Caroline Bates is. I sat down with Caroline to debunk the common misconceptions and answer common questions.
Ashley: Please tell us a little about yourself, the company you started, and how long you have been in this industry.
Caroline: My husband and I have a sweet, caring 3 year old girl, a 3 year old dog, and are excited for our little boy who is due this July. I have over 14 years experience working in HR and staffing. I will start with my first opportunity in the world of staffing. I accepted a short term, part time assignment with a staffing agency in the second to last semester at Clemson University at a manufacturing plant in Westminster, SC. I processed onboarding paperwork, completed references, fielded questions from on-site agency staff, and kept attendance records. This led to an opportunity in my hometown with the same staffing agency. I was responsible for the same types of duties, and also processed payroll for several 100 agency employees. I accepted my first job as a healthcare recruiter in 2006, shortly after starting graduate school. It truly felt at times more like an HR Generalist role, and I gained a lot of great experience during my 6 years there. Since that time, I have worked as a recruiter for a larger healthcare organization and a healthcare staffing agency. In October 2018, I left my position with the healthcare staffing agency and began to focus on Reflexa Staffing. I am currently focusing on healthcare positions; however, my future goal is to apply my years of experience for recruiting in other industries.
Ashley: Can you describe what a recruiter is?
Caroline: A recruiter takes what he/she knows about a job opportunity and finds ways to identify and attract the most qualified candidates. He/she may also be responsible for coordinating all or some of the communication between the candidate and the hiring manager and department. This can include one on one interviews, group interviews, travel arrangements and/or accommodations, salary negotiations, post interview feedback, and a candidate’s questions and concerns. A recruiter may also be responsible for all or some of the hiring and onboarding process once the recruiter has extended an offer to a candidate.
Ashley: What's the difference between an internal recruiter and an outside recruiter?
Caroline: A good internal recruiter, especially if he/she has been in the current position for any length of time, can provide valuable information on what it takes to be successful in that specific organization. The internal recruiter’s goal should be to develop a strong working relationship with the managers and directors he/she serves, learning a detailed amount about how each department is organized and functions. They may even physically be more able to reach out to these managers and directors. A successful outside recruiter may wear many hats. He/she communicates with multiple organizations, much like the internal recruiter communicates with various departments in an organization. An outside recruiter may also be involved in sales and business development in order to increase the number of client organizations and job opportunities.
Ashley: Is it important to use a recruiter who is familiar with your own profession?
Caroline: I would say, from the perspective of finding the right fit for an organization, most talented recruiters are skilled at doing this. It is, of course, in large part up to the organization to verify this fit through a solid interview process. Using a recruiter who is familiar with your profession; however, can have many benefits. He/she may be in a position where they only recruit for that specific profession, and are most likely more connected to jobs available in IT, healthcare, or another area of focus. They should be very knowledgeable of search methods and resources to find the candidate(s) with the right amount of experience.
Ashley: How do recruiters get paid? Do clients pay for their services?
Caroline: An internal recruiter is usually paid a combination of salary and commission, or possibly just salary. An outside recruiter is often paid in the same way, but may be more commission based. When working with an outside recruiter or staffing company, a company will typically pay a specific rate or agreed amount once a qualified candidate is identified for a position. For example, the company may pay a specific hourly rate if the decision is made to bring a candidate on as an hourly employee.
Ashley: Why should someone use a recruiter?
Caroline: Look at a recruiter as someone with the inside information you would not otherwise know about. He/she knows the organization(s) you are interested in and can provide you with advice that may help you decide if a job is right for you. A job you interview for is offered to another candidate? Keep in touch with the recruiter and let him/her know you are interested in future opportunities. Your next job could be just a phone call or email away.
Ashley: From your perspective, what do you look for on a good resume?
Caroline: A clean format, consistent font, and keywords that apply to the position the candidate is applying for are the top 3 things I look for.
Ashley: What are some of the common errors people have on their resume?
Caroline: Font/font size is inconsistent, inconsistent format (try saving your resume as a PDF to ensure format stays consistent when sending it electronically). Typos such as missing punctuation. Lack of specificity regarding job duties - and not emphasizing accomplishments at jobs listed on resume. Leaving off a job because it doesn’t completely relate to what you are applying for. Incorrect contact information, or a disconnected phone number listed.
Ashley: What advice do you find yourself repeating most often?
Caroline: Apply early and often. If available, set up a job alert so you are notified of jobs you are interested in as soon as they are posted. Do not hesitate to check in with me/the recruiter about the status of a position (a few check-ins a week, or one at the end of the week is sufficient). I am your biggest advocate and happy to relay any communication to the hiring manager.
Ashley: How important is a cover letter?
Caroline: It is one of the best opportunities you will have to produce a well written statement that tells the employer exactly why hiring you, instead of the other candidates, is the better decision. You can emphasize why you want to work for the specific company, tell specific stories about how you have performed in the past, and help the company and hiring manager see that your skills and/or expertise connect to the skills needed for the job.
Ashley: What other professional advice do you have for job searching?
Caroline: Always be thinking of what sets you apart from other candidates, because competition can be fierce. I was once asked this very question in an interview. The interviewer pointed to a stack of paper, which was presumably the application, resume, and interview information on another candidate for the job. He asked me what made me the better candidate. I received and accepted the job offer that week.
Also, listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t sound or feel right about a job, take this into account.
Thank you to Caroline for answering some very important questions and misconceptions about recruiters and what they do! - Ashley, Owner and Founder, Academy & Apothecary Professional Resume Services