Many qualified job seekers turn to recruiters for help finding employment. Recruiters' relationships with hiring managers can help job seekers find, prepare, and negotiate for that perfect position. However, some job seekers pester recruiters too much, and get themselves blacklisted. Where's the balance, and how should a job seeker approach a recruiter for help in a job search?
Do Be Proactive
Do a search of Google or LinkedIn to turn up a specialized recruiter in your industry or niche. Once you've done that, don't just email-- call the agency and ask to speak with that recruiter. Make an appointment to meet, or offer to take the recruiter to coffee to find out about the state of the market and to ask for advice. When you speak to the recruiter, establish up front whether you should contact them in the future, or if they'll call you if they find something. If they do want you to check in with them, make sure you set boundaries on how often the recruiter wants you calling.
Don't Be A Pill
Nobody likes being hounded at work, least of all recruiters. Calling a recruiter to check in every day for new leads can quickly get your name crossed off the "potential candidates" list. The recruiter isn't being paid to help you: they're employed by companies, and get their paychecks when they place great people in the right positions. Trust the recruiter to do their job. When the right position for you comes up, they'll call you. Until then, let them work in peace.
Do Follow Up
If a recruiter manages to get you in the door at a company and you interview, follow up with them later that day to let them know how the interview went. Recruiters are invested in knowing how every step of the process goes, and a recruiter can coach you through the interviewing process. Keeping the recruiter aware of how things are going on your end will help him do their job and place you in an ideal position.
Don't Be A Flake
A lot of trust is involved in recruiting. If you fail to show up for an interview, or turn down an offer, it damages your reputation with the recruiter, and damages a recruiter's reputation with a company. Follow through on your promises-- show up when you say you'll show up, be presentable when you do, and accept any offers that come your way. The worst case scenario is that you dislike the job and leave after a few months or years-- in which case, your departure is on the hiring manager, not the recruiter.
Whether your interview is face to face or an digital job interview, remember that you aren't just representing yourself: you're representing the recruiter who did you a favor and got you in the door. Keep the recruiter in mind when you're interviewing, and send him or her a thank-you card when you've got the job. Make it a point to stay in touch, too-- you'll never know when that connection will come in handy again.