What recruitment consultants don’t tell you about job hunting

Can recruitment consultants help?

I mix freelance projects with longer interim posts so I’m a bit of a recruitment consultant connoisseur.  There are lots who specialise in placing interim managers .  Some are brilliant – finding out my strengths and skills, asking where I want to work and what’s important to me, keeping in touch.  The best one I’ve come across is happy to share my details with partner agencies if she feels they might have clients who can use me, knowing  they will reciprocate.

The bad ones are woeful.  “Never mind the quality, feel the width” they  cry, as they pitch CVs by the bucket-full at clients, in the hope that somewhere in the human mix is a round-ish peg for the round hole they’re trying to fill.  They’re generally easy to spot – they don’t return calls, give no feedback on  applications, suggest you exaggerate the rates you charged in a previous role so that “you’ll be taken more seriously” and NEVER counsel you that, on reflection, the role they’re filling doesn’t meet your needs (or that you don’t fit the client’s).  It’s disappointing to come across one of them, it shouldn’t be surprising.  Recruitment consultancies work for the companies that hire them, not the candidates they place.  We’re the raw materials.

Working your personal network

There’s loads of advice online for getting the best out of a  recruitment consultant and it’s worth working at – I say again, many of them are excellent and great sources of support and advice.  The web also bristles with job-hunting guides.  I liked the self-explanatory 49 Best Ways To Get A Job in Today’s Horrible Economy. But I’ve had more leads on actual, chargeable work through personal networking and recommendations from previous clients than  any consultancy. This makes LinkedIn and other social networks the most valuable job-hunting tools you can wield these days.  This classic advice still holds good, even though 2009 sounds as distant as the Middle Ages in communications now.