Cheerful office staff working on a project

When you’re looking for a job, you can spend hours navigating the internet surfing for opportunities that match your skill set that are in the salary range you’re looking for.

Good luck.

Or you can work with a recruitment agency that streamlines everything about the job hunting process for you and introduces you to opportunities and hiring trends you might otherwise not have known about.

Candidates should never pay a fee to a recruiting firm, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t follow professional etiquette and courtesy rules when agreeing to work with an agency, says Eric Kean, Principal of The Lee Group and head of the Lee Group Search division.

Before you approach a recruiting firm as a candidate, make sure to assess your own expectations. It’s a lot like dating, Kean says. You could juggle several firms at the same time taking a noncommittal approach to each of them. That doesn’t go over well unless both parties understand that from the start. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised if none of the firms takes you all that seriously.

“You don’t want to use somebody and play on their emotions in a personal relationship, and you don’t want to do that in business, either,” Kean says. “If you want someone to commit to you, you’ve got to commit to them.”

Ideally, you’re a candidate looking to tap into a recruiter’s expertise. You want to partner with someone who has your best interests in mind. Before agreeing to that partnership, “Interview them,” Kean suggests. “Ask them for examples on working with companies you’re interested in. Don’t let them get away with saying something is confidential because that usually means they’re hiding something.”

Find out how long they’ve been a recruiter. Do they work with chief financial officers or human resources departments? “Listen to their answers,” Kean says. “If you hear hesitation, it might not be somebody you want to work with. People are always quick to tell the truth.”

For the relationship to succeed, both parties should share a mutual trust in each other.

Don’t ghost. If you’ve agreed to work with a recruiter and then have a change of heart, communicate openly. Don’t dodge calls. “Don’t be that person,” Kean stresses. “Get back to them. Even if the answer is no, get back to them.”

It’s best to call, but a text beats ghosting.

If a random recruiter solicits you on LinkedIn or via voicemail, you are under no obligation to respond. “But if you’ve had a conversation with that person and established rapport, you owe them a follow-up if you’ve decided to change your mind,” Kean says. “Have a backbone.”

It’s no secret that today’s job market favors candidates but even elite candidates can benefit from working with the right recruiter.

“The top recruiters work with the decision makers at an organization,” Kean says. “You’re going to get answers. Working with a good recruiter can save you lots of frustration, heartache and time.”

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