How a Tech Recruiter Can Help You Get Hired in Your Dream Job

Simple tips for success when working with a recruiter to land your dream job in tech.

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People say that if you truly enjoy your job, it hardly even feels like you’re working. But jobs like that don’t just fall from the sky, and I’m betting you’re already doing everything you can think of to get started on a career path that actually makes you happy:

You’ve sent out endless cover letters, tweaked and updated your resume to within an inch of its life, attended networking events, and sent out dozens of cold emails…

But have you considered working with a recruiter?

I know, it might seem like big step for a beginner in the industry, but working with a recruiter can actually be a great strategy for you if you are just starting out.

Perhaps you’ve just started learning to code through a coding bootcamp or other online program and are eager to get a job in your field, but you’re feeling overwhelmed about how to break into the industry. Or maybe you’re already working, but you’re filling a position that’s boring and doesn’t make use of your tech skills.

If you’re not working in tech just yet, you probably don’t have a network of people with useful contacts to help you land a position and get unstuck.

That’s where working with a recruiter could come in handy. The recruiter fills in for your lack of a network, using her connections to get you noticed.

And if you are reading this and thinking, “Great! But I don’t even know what kind of tech job I want,” then this is a great place to start: download Skillcrush’s free 30+ page ebook, The Beginner’s Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job. You’ll get a list of job titles for techie beginners, plus inside info on what skills you need to get hired.

Getting Assistance From Recruiters

Landing a job through a recruitment agency is more common than you might expect. According to the Ciett Economic Survey that was released last year including data from 2013 and 2014, 11 million workers in the United States, and a total of 60.9 million workers around the world, gained access to work through recruitment agencies in 2013 alone.

There are many ways you can get connected with recruiters. Social media is a top choice, with the majority of recruiters using websites like LinkedIn and Facebook to seek out candidates. With that in mind, be sure to keep your information updated and remove any details you don’t want made public.

Traditional methods like face-to-face interviews and resume submissions are still worth your effort, too. So it’s a good idea to take a multi-pronged approach to how you let recruiters know you’re in search of a new place to work. When looking for candidates, recruiters may focus on active job-seekers as well as people who are not currently seeking new work but may be willing to leave their employers if the right opportunities arise.

You can also be proactive and find recruiters on your own. Message boards, databases or directories, and social media profiles can allow you to connect with recruiters before they have a chance to cross your path.

Sometimes, your efforts may be so fruitful that you end up with the opportunity of being able to work with more than one recruiter simultaneously. In theory, taking that approach should give you even more access to the field. However, it’s important to be well organized and keep records of what each recruiter does on your behalf.

Keep in mind some recruiters use unconventional ways to sniff out talent, such as offering sample assignments, giving personality tests, and even doing video interviews if they are unable to meet individuals in person. That means it’s to your benefit to be as flexible as possible—whether you’re trying to attract the interest of a recruiter who seems worthy of your time or you want to prove your talent to a recruitment specialist who has you on their radar.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of working with a recruiter but feel worried it might cost a lot, don’t worry. In most cases, the recruiter is working on behalf of an employer that is looking for new talent. If a company hires you, a portion (usually 15-20 percent) will likely come out of your salary to pay the recruiter. That means you can benefit from the recruiter’s expertise without having to pay up front. However, it’s not illegal or unheard of for jobseekers to pay recruiters, so if you’re really eager to connect with one that seems especially skilled, and you have the money to spare, be open to that possibility too.

Tips to Try Today When Partnering With a Tech Recruiter

As a beginner in tech, working with a recruiter could help you compensate for a lack of contacts in your field. Once you land your first tech job with a recruiter’s help, it should be much easier to start building a strong network and getting your talents noticed, making it easier to find future work in the industry.

Let’s take a look at some actionable tips you can use right away when connecting with a recruiter to simplify your job search. Looking for a job can be hectic, but by taking the right approach, it can become much easier.

And before you dive into working with a recruiter, make sure that your online presence showcases your new tech skills. That might mean updating your tech portfolio (here are tips for building an impressive portfolio when you don’t have a bunch of projects yet), or tweaking your resume and LinkedIn. Protip: You can apply lots of resume advice to your LinkedIn profile as well!

1. Be available:

Answer the recruiter’s calls and be responsive when they leave messages or send e-mails. If possible, don’t let more than 24 hours pass before you return a call or answer an e-mail. This time-sensitive tactic shows you are motivated and interested. Also, keep your schedule close at hand in case recruiters want to immediately know whether you’d be available to meet in person.

2. Find out why a recruiter is interested in you:

Get to the heart of the recruiter’s reason for contacting you. Some recruiters are so desperate to find candidates they contact people without really learning about their backgrounds and level of readiness for certain positions. For example, if a tech recruiter has only successfully placed people who build websites, but all your experience is in app development, it may not be a good fit for you to work with that recruiter.

Digging deeper to discover why a recruiter wants to partner with you may seem a little intimidating, since you’ve never relied on this kind of specialist to find work before. However, taking your time to confirm the recruiter’s intentions should reveal whether it is really worth your time to build this relationship or if you should wait until another recruiter comes your way.

3. Learn about the recruiter’s background:

Ask the recruiter how long he or she has worked in the recruitment industry and the average associated success rate. This will allow you to gauge the likelihood of getting your own positive outcome.

Remember, companies hire recruiters to help them find top talent. If you can begin a relationship with a recruiter who has been bringing talented tech graduates to a firm for the past eight years with a 90 percent placement rate, those statistics paint a very positive picture about your own chances.

And this may also be a great time to assess if they have done much work in placing people in entry-level tech jobs that don’t require a degree.

4. Ask about the recruiter’s goals:

During your early stages of relying on a recruiter to find work, probe to see why the recruiter is trying to fill a given position. For example, is a company gearing up to launch a new smartphone app that’ll require a much larger development team? Or are they preparing to expand into a new segment of the market? Knowing what a company hopes to accomplish by hiring more tech workers makes it easier to discover whether you could see yourself in one of the open positions.

5. Check to see if the recruiter’s process Is confidential:

Keeping the recruitment process confidential is a must for your peace of mind. If a recruiter doesn’t keep things under wraps, you may run into unexpected hassles in your current job.

Imagine the questions you might have to answer if a recruiter calls you at work when you’re away from your desk, and a colleague in a nearby cubicle happens to hear the recruiter’s message or even takes the call. It’s best to simply insist you won’t work with recruiters who don’t make their practices confidential.

6. Retain control of where your resume gets sent:

It may sound surprising, but you should clarify with the recruiter that your resume will not get sent to a company without your permission. Your resume is your property, and you have the right to say it should only be distributed to tech companies where you truly want to work or those that genuinely have appropriate positions open.

To make the most of your recruiter’s efforts, keep your resume in tip top shape. Get our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Writing the Perfect Resume, for an easy checklist and downloadable templates to boost your resume.

7. Set expectations about your ideal job:

Although recruiters work for companies that need to hire more workers, they should also be attentive to the kinds of characteristics you’d want in a job. Before you enter into an agreement to find a job with the help of a recruiter, be very detailed about what you’re looking for in a position.

The specifics you give may describe minimum salaries, benefits, your desire to work remotely, the maximum number of business travel days you’ll agree to during a given period of time, and so on. Being clear about what you want and need ensures the recruiter only targets positions that match your expectations.

8. Inquire about the expected hiring timeline:

Being aware of how soon a company hopes to fill an open position allows you to understand whether you could feasibly accept a potential job offer. The hiring timeline is especially crucial if you are already employed elsewhere or would need to relocate to accept a new job.

Being upfront with your recruiter about existing obligations that would make you unable to take a new job right away should encourage them to speak openly and honestly about the expected timeframe.

9. Request periodic updates:

Tell the recruiter you’d like to get regular updates—weekly, for example—even when he or she has nothing new to say. Then, you won’t have to worry about going too long without hearing anything.

The job search process can be nerve-wracking enough as it is, and going too long without hearing something from your recruiter can cause your stress levels to climb. Even if you get a phone call that informs you the situation has not changed, at least that will keep your mind from going mad over the number of unknown variables you’re dealing with.

10. Aim for face-to-face interactions:

Meet your recruiter in person when possible, especially when deciding whether or not to work with him or her during your employment search. That’ll allow you to more clearly perceive whether a person seems genuinely committed to finding a job for you.

You’ll also be able to get a read on whether the recruiter will be able to place you in a job at your current skill-level.

11. Know before changes are made to your resume:

Request that the recruiter tells you—and gets your permission—before making any changes to your resume. When a recruiter examines your resume, he or she is doing so with a fresh perspective. That may make it easier for him or her to spot potential shortcomings that may cause your resume to get overlooked.

In some cases, the recruiter may want to make changes to the content on your resume. Also, if you’re looking for a tech job in a certain environment, such as at a military base, the recruiter might suggest sending your resume to a company that specializes in preparing applicant’s resumes for that line of work so the finished documents clearly convey capabilities.

12. Inquire about the recruiter’s relationship with a given company:

When you are aware of how long a recruiter has been finding talent for a particular company, you’ll be able to understand the strength of the existing business relationship. The longer the partnership has persisted, the more likely it is the company will feel confident about the prospective new hires a recruiter finds.

13. Get the scoop about the interview process:

If a recruiter has been working with a tech company for a while, she should be very familiar with the interview process that’s used to pick the standout applicants from the hiring pool.

Be sure to find out as much as you can about the interviewing approach. That way, if the job search progresses well, you’ll be prepared for what’s to come.

Interviews can be daunting, but the easiest way to do your homework besides learning about the company’s background is to see if your recruiter can offer inside information the other interviewees may not know.

14. Tell the truth:

Maybe you were fired from a previous job merely because of a misunderstanding from management and no fault of your own. Or perhaps you are staunchly unwilling to work past 6pm on a weeknight, even in emergencies, because you care about being able to balance time at the workplace with hours spent in the company of your family. These are two examples of things you might believe would impact your ability to get hired.

As much as it might be tempting to behave otherwise, always be honest and don’t withhold information you think may harm your chances of getting a job through a recruiter. Keeping your recruiter in the dark makes the hiring process more difficult and may present unexpected challenges if you do end up getting hired.

When you’re new to an industry, it can be tough to figure out how to get your foot in the door at all: What jobs am I qualified to do? What companies will hire me? How do I find the best jobs for my skillset?

If you are just starting out in tech, working with a recruiter can take some of that guesswork out for you, and give you more exposure to the industry and where your strengths and areas for growth lay.

And if you are still nervous about if you’re ready to start your job hunt in tech, then Skillcrush’s free 30+ page ebook is a great place to start. In The Beginner’s Guide to Landing a Junior Developer Job, you’ll get a list of the job titles available to you, plus inside on info on what skills you need to get hired.

woman in glasses with hand on face, thinking

Is Tech Right For you? Take Our 3-Minute Quiz!

You Will Learn: If a career in tech is right for you What tech careers fit your strengths What skills you need to reach your goals

Take The Quiz!