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Recruiting Relationships: What Consultants Should Be Looking For

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Consultants know, recruiters look people up online before they decide whether or not to call them. But what consultants should also know, is that they have a choice of who to work with when it comes to having someone represent them in their career.

More often than not, I hear of consultants accepting projects through a recruiter they barely know, let alone like, through a company they’ve never heard of before and they end up getting burned after short-term engagements. Getting project assignments through ‘the wrong’ companies can absolutely contribute to things like how long projects last, how much consultants get paid and even affects onsite relationships. Hint: If you don’t like them, the companies hiring you through them probably don’t either.

The 5 Qualifying Factors Consultants Should Have for Recruiters

Recruiters, like consultants, should have a reputable personal brand that is demonstrative of their expertise, qualifications and professionalism.

Before deciding whether or not to allow recruiters to represent you to their clients, here are a few things you should look for:

  1. Are they specialized? Like consultants, recruiters come highly specialized – and they don’t. The chances of finding the level of engagement – depending on what that is – that aligns with your past experience, expertise and qualifications will largely depend on how specialized the company is that’s representing it. If the recruiters are generic, the jobs will be generic, which means consultants will be pushed into projects as they become available. My advice: Find a specialized recruiter and treat that relationship like a partnership, because it is. Without a doubt, the right recruiter can be a career gamechanger.
  2. How long have they been recruiting? Another factor to consider is how long it appears they typically stay with their employers. The ‘big-box’-style agencies tend to have quite a bit of turnover, or shuffle people around when they’re underperforming. All of this will not prove to be of any value, especially during an active job search for a high-level consultant. My advice: Partner with professionals who have an understanding for your business – and for theirs. A good recruiter will ask a lot of questions without trying to pretend to know everything about what it is you do. The aptitude of their questions will give a good gage of their skill level and professionalism and how they will go about representing you to their clients.
  3. Do they have recommendations? When looking at recruiters’ LinkedIn profiles, it’s a good idea to check to see if they have any recommendations. It’s also a good idea to check review sites for the companies where they work – sometimes recruiters will have consultants leave them reviews there, too. I know we do. A few of the most common review sites I would recommend checking include: Glassdoor, Yelp, Facebook and Google.
  4. How is their communication? If they’re brazen and unprofessional on the phone with you, how do you suppose they are when they speak to their clients? Their communication style will tell a lot about them, but will also predict a lot about the type of clients they’re most likely working with, too. At LABUR, we’re all about setting precedence and a good communication cadence right off the bat. Follow-up is important to us, and we expect it in return. Find recruiters with strong communication skills – verbally and written – and trust knowing when you’re in good hands.
  5. What is the first thing they say to you? And, I should add, how often are they following up with you? If you get called once by a recruiter and there is no precedence set for follow-up, it should be a red flag. A good partner to you in your consulting career will be someone who reaches out to you beyond just for a project need. Are they contacting you for referrals? This will also indicate the level of trust and respect they have for your judgement. Do they remember conversations with you? If you’re having to repeat everything every time they call, how are they representing you to their clients? If they don’t know the basics, they’re certainly not relaying them to the right people on your behalf.

Recruit, Retain, Redeploy

This is our mantra at LABUR: Recruit top talent, court them throughout their career, retain them and their expertise now and for future projects, and redeploy them to clients in need of their skill, professionalism and aptitude. A well-manicured recruiter-consultant relationship is what leads to career success and opportunity.

Admittedly, LABUR is different in the way we recruit, attract and retain consultants. Fundamentally this difference stems from our leadership where, as recruiters, we are not measured by the number of consultants we speak with, but by the quality and the depths of those relationships. We’re not one-hit wonders who only reach out when there are openings we’re trying to fill. We know our consultants on a first name basis; we live in the same communities; we know what people’s favorite sports teams are, their families and where they spend dinner on Sundays – probably because we’ve called them while they were there a time or two. We’re here for the long run, and we look to know the people we work with beyond the skill set summary at the top of their resume.