When you hear someone is a recruiter, what’s your first thought?

“Oh, so you’re a head-hunter.”

“Oh, like in that Justin Timberlake movie?”

“Oh, so you’re the person who gets my job application and never gets back to me.”

“Oh, a recruiter helped my friend get her new job!”

These are just a few of the responses we’ve gotten to this question, and while they’re certainly creative, we think the Google definition helps make things a little clearer:

Re·cruit·er : a person whose job is to bring qualified people into a client’s company and help ensure those people are properly onboarded, fitting into the culture and feeling engaged at work.

Okay, but how do they do that?

Keep in mind, every situation is different, but let’s dive into the basic recruitment process.

  • First, you’ll connect with a recruiter. This might happen through a job application, a LinkedIn message, a phone call, an email, a referral or a networking event. This is when the conversation starts.
  • Second, the recruiter will arrange a phone call, where the goal is to ensure that you’re speaking to the right person. You see, each recruiter has a specialty, so if you’re a CPA looking for a position as a Controller, an IT recruiter isn’t the best person for you to talk to. Instead, they can introduce you to one of their colleagues who is specialized in finance and can understand your experience and help match your skillset with new opportunities.
  • Third, the in-person (or video) interview. Once we’re certain you’ve connected with the best person to help you with your search, an interview will take place. This interview is all about you – you’re the star of the show! The goal here is to go over your resume, the positions you’ve held previously, your experience and career goals. Most importantly, we want to understand how your career has progressed and where you want to go.
  • It’s important you’re honest and open with your recruiter during this interview so that they can get a thorough sense of what you’re looking for (and what you definitely don’t want) in your next opportunity. A good recruiter will ask specific questions to ensure they get a really clear idea of your personality, skillset and strengths so they can create an accurate candidate profile.
  • And that brings us to step four, presenting the candidate profile to a potential employer and, if both parties agree, arranging an interview between client (them) and candidate (you).


How much should I tell my recruiter? Isn’t the information on my resume enough?

Your resume is a great start, but your recruiter is going to want to learn a lot more about you than that.

You say that you’re looking for a new job. Great – how come? It’s a recruiter’s job to figure out the why. What isn’t going well in your current position, or what didn’t you like about your previous role? Is it the commute? Your peers? The job duties?

Be candid about the reason for your job search, what you enjoy and what you don’t. Your strengths as well as your perceived weaknesses. The more insight you can give your recruiter, the better they can match you with an opportunity where you’ll be happy and successful.

Is it better to work with a recruiter than to just apply for jobs on my own?

Well, that’s really up to you to decide, but working with a recruiter does come with its benefits:

  • Got resume questions? Bring ‘em on. Should it be one page or two? Or more? Should it be Word or PDF? Should I call it a CV or a resume? A recruiter will be able to review your resume with you to ensure it looks great and reads in a way that highlights your skills and experience. Sometimes it just takes a few small adjustments to catch the attention of the hiring manager.
  • Confused about keywords and applicant tracking systems? A recruiter has the knowledge and experience to work with you on this. Maybe it’s adding a specific certification that you’ve left off, or getting more specific about a particularly transferable skill. Your recruiter can help you add certain elements to your resume that will make it more effective, while remaining concise.
  • Prepping for an interview? No reason to be nervous. Not only can you ask your recruiter for their best interview tips and tricks, but they also have the added advantage of knowing the client and the company personally. That means you’ll probably get the inside scoop on how the interview process will work, the company’s culture and their communication style.
  • Interested in exclusive opportunities? Many times, a company will reach out to a recruitment agency about a role before it’s posted on any job board. That means your recruiter can present opportunities to you that the public hasn’t even laid eyes on yet. Talk about an advantage over the competition!


How long will this all take?

In the recruitment industry, things can move really fast. And things can also move pretty slow. That doesn’t really answer the question, does it? The thing is, it truly does depend on the situation, the process is different for everyone and unfortunately there’s no hard and fast rule.

It’s a good idea to communicate the urgency of your search with your recruiter. Are you currently working? Looking proactively? Looking reactively? The more information you can provide to your recruiter, the better they’ll be able to help you and hopefully work with you to come up with some sort of a rough timeline.

So, can a recruiter just send my resume to whoever they want?

This is a great question, and a very important one.

Please understand that your information can not be shared without your explicit permission. A recruiter can not put your candidate profile forward to a client without getting the go ahead from you first.

There is a possibility that your recruiter will speak with one of their clients about an ‘anonymous profile’. In this case, they will explain your background and experience to gauge a client’s interest in arranging a meeting with you, without revealing your name or personal details. If the client would like to set up an interview, at that point the recruiter must come back to you and ask you if you want to meet with the company. It isn’t until both parties have agreed that the recruiter can move forward with next steps and begin sharing your resume and information.

If you have concerns about this, it’s perfectly okay for you to ask your recruiter directly how your information is going to be shared. A good recruiter will be clear and transparent with you throughout the process.

Okay, then how do I know I’m working with a good recruiter?

There’s no simple answer to this, but there are some questions you can ask yourself that may help:

  • Is your recruiter listening to you?
  • Do they understand your experience and what you’re looking for?
  • Do they understand your industry? Does their understanding go beyond what you could unearth after a quick Google search?
  • Are they willing to be honest with you?
  • Do you feel heard during your conversations, or are you often frustrated by these discussions?

Bottom line: trust your gut. Instinctively, you’ll know if you’re working with a recruiter who has your best interest at heart.

How can I help move along the process?

Once you’ve connected with a recruiter who understands you, your industry and your career goals, you may be eager to get things moving.

A good way to do this is to ask your recruiter about next steps. Before you end the conversation, feel free to ask them what happens next? When should you expect to hear from them? Is there anything they need on your end?

By asking these questions, you do your part to manage expectations. If you hang up without asking what the next step is, you’re left in the dark about what’s to come, and that can be frustrating. Make sure there is a clear next step, that you’re in the loop about what’s going on and aware of when you should follow up.

I’m looking for an internship or co-op position, can a recruiter help me with that?

A recruiter is always a great resource if you’re looking to have a conversation about the job market and your industry, but in terms of helping you land the internship of your dreams, there isn’t a whole lot they can do.

A company will reach out to a recruitment agency when they require assistance filling a role. For internship and co-op positions, the number of applicants is generally very high – meaning the organization is less likely to need help finding someone for the position.

Your best bet is to apply directly – and make sure you include a well-written cover letter! Cover letters may not be terribly beneficial in applications for senior-level positions, but when it comes to internships and co-ops, they’re a great way to ensure your application stands out and may give you an advantage over your competition.

Do I have to pay my recruiter if they find me a job?

Absolutely not. Recruitment services are always completely free for job seekers.

Then how do recruitment agencies make money?

Basically, when a company enlists the services of a recruitment agency, there are fees that are discussed up front. These vary depending on the agency and the needs of the client, but as a job seeker, you don’t need to concern yourself with those details – leave it to us. You just focus on landing your dream job!

Still got questions? Send them our way!

A special thank you to New York Tech: Vancouver for inspiring this blog. We recently partnered with them to host a webinar for current students and alumni, which opened our eyes to how many questions people have about what we do!