Working with Recruiters

Working with a contingency recruiter (also known as “headhunters”) is a great way to circulate your résumé to different companies. Finding a knowledgeable one is a challenge.

Recruiters are usually retained by companies. They work for an employer and not for individual job candidates. That means that they're motivated to fill a specific job, not necessarily to find you the right job. The best route to identifying a good recruiter is to ask a colleague in your field to recommend one who specializes in chemistry and/or any other areas that are important to you.

You are not obligated to work exclusively with one recruiter. But, if you work with more than one, be up front about it. (More than one recruiter might submit you to the same company, which can cause problems.)

Tips for Working with a Recruiter

  • Be prepared to sell yourself to a recruiter just as you would to a hiring manager.
    The recruiter is a gatekeeper who rejects candidates who don't fit the bill. You should be able to clearly and concisely explain what makes you a valuable employee.
  • Be realistic.
    A recruiter likely won't get you a salary that's better than what the market is paying. Do your research about median salaries for your background and experience so you're not making unreasonable demands.
  • Do your homework.
    Ask the recruiter about other clients and how much experience he or she has in your area of interest. Is this someone you want to represent you?
  • Continue your own search, even though you're working with a recruiter.
    Think of the recruiter as a partner. Find out where they are submitting your résumé so your efforts don't overlap, and remember that getting you a job is not their primary concern.
  • Never pay a recruiter for his or her services.
    Recruiting professionals are paid by the companies that hire them (usually a percentage of the first year's salary) to find qualified candidates. If you're asked to pay a fee for services, thank them for their time and run the other way.
  • Trust your gut.
    Even though the recruiter works for the employer, you should feel that you are being treated professionally.

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