Marketers talk frequently about “customer experience” — the concept that a good relationship with clients goes beyond service during the sale, and extends from the minute the customer has contact with the organization to the second they decide they’ll never need those services again (maybe even after). Companies who strive for an exceptional customer experience recognize that every touch point with that customer must be positive and memorable. Done right, this can give companies a competitive advantage over their less-customer-experience-focused competitors.
When it comes to hiring, great recruiters also buy into this idea to ensure the entire “candidate experience” is positive for all who apply. They consistently reach out with opportunities, answer questions and help at every stage of the hiring process. Similar to the customer experience, the better the candidate experience, the better the relationship will be between the recruiter and candidate.
A strong relationship with recruiters is a valuable asset for any independent contractor who is always looking for the next gig. Given the benefits of customer and candidate experience, could independent contractors apply the same principles to create a positive “recruiter experience”? At first glance, the idea seems backwards — after all, recruiters should be the ones bending over backwards for IT contractors — but at the same time, what a unique way to stand out from your competition (other skilled job applicants)!
How can you go above and beyond to create a positive recruiter experience? Think of everything you would expect from a company when getting a positive customer experience. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Keep communication open. Return phone calls and emails, update them on your status, and be honest in what you’re seeking.
Always be polite. When a recruiter calls you at an inconvenient time, misunderstands your experience or doesn’t solve your problem the first time, your immediate instinct could be to get angry. Try to take the high road in these circumstances.
Work hard to resolve problems quickly, accepting responsibility when necessary. Situations beyond anybody’s control happen during a job search and a contract. Bad things also happen that were within somebody’s control — maybe the recruiter’s, maybe yours. Regardless, work with the recruiter to fix things and accept your share of the blame if that’s the case.
Be proactive to help them get what they need sooner. Recruiting is a fast-paced business. If you get your resume or return phone calls before any other candidate, a recruiter will remember you in a positive light.
Make it easier for them to do their job. There’s no need to go into their office and recruit for them, but simply being accessible, providing enough details to questions, or giving referrals will show that you care about the recruiter experience.
Give something free every once in a while. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you offer to work for free. However, you can turn the tables and buy your recruiter a coffee next time you’re together.
A valuable relationship is built when both parties recognize that it is a two-way street, with recruiters arguably having to contribute more to the experience than contractors. That said, all IT contractors have been in the unfortunate situation when the best work is on the other side of a terrible recruiter who doesn’t understand the definition of service, let alone experience. In these cases, it’s up to you to provide the experience, become memorable, and increase your chances of winning this job, as well as many future ones to come. In summary, the recruiter experience and candidate experience go hand-in-hand, and we all need to do our part.
Building a relationship with any colleague can be challenging, especially if you don’t immediately click. Even more challenging can be building a relationship with somebody more senior than you. There are many different scenarios that this may come about, and we scoured the internet to ease you through three of them: Getting to know a new boss, building a relationship with a CIO, and managing people who are more senior than you.
Getting to Know Your New Boss
Having a positive relationship with a new boss is crucial for a successful contract. This HBR article provides some helpful advice on dealing with a new boss coming into an organization that you’re already at:
Look for Common Ground: Try to find out who they are and what interests them before even meeting, using tools like LinkedIn.
Have some Empathy: Remember that they’re under a lot of pressure and, as much as they’d like to, getting to know you right away may not be possible. Give them space and it will be appreciated.
Don’t Lay it on Too Thick — or Too Thin: Good managers can spot a suck-up or political operator from a mile away, so don’t even bother.
Ask About Their Communication Style: Knowing how they like to receive communications and make decisions will prevent misunderstandings and help get work done faster.
Help Them Achieve Early Wins: Show you’re a team player by helping them get some wins.
Building a Relationship with a CIO
What about somebody who isn’t necessarily your boss, but the most senior in the organization. A recent Dice article provided 4 tips for building a relationship with a CIO which is a great start for building relationships with any C-level executive. Here’s a brief summary:
Have something to Say: Tech leaders are often looking for feedback and want to know those under them are thinking strategically.
Don’t complain without a solution: Refrain from armchair quarterbacking. If you don’t have a good solution, don’t bother the CIO with your complaints.
Keep Customers Happy: According to the article, “technology executives are paying increasing attention to how their department is perceived by end users inside and outside the company.”
IT is About More Than Tech: Show that you also bring business knowledge and soft skills to the table.
Managing Tech Pros with More Experience
It’s one thing to build a relationship with a senior technology professional who is above you in the hierarchy, but there are also times you need to manage people who have more experience than you. This provides more challenges. This Dice article helps with that task with these 3 simple tips:
Get Off on the Right Foot: Avoid throwing yourself at the team and barking orders, and watch out for “unintentional ego clipping.”
Ask for Advice: Older employees like to know that they are being consulted. Understand how the team works and don’t make any assumptions that can lead to a bad decision.
Share Knowledge and Context: Share knowledge with them so everybody can learn, and keep the in the loop to give context when things must change.
As a senior professional, these situations may seem simple and obvious; however, they can stress out junior IT professionals new to the work world. What additional advice would you give to them on this topic?
We understand. IT contractors would prefer not to have to work with recruiters at all. In a perfect world, clients would contact you directly and you’d arrange your own contracts saving everybody the fuss of using a middle man.
Clients prefer to work with recruitment agencies because it saves them money, risk, and hassle. Independent contractors also have plenty to gain from building a relationship with recruiters, including the reduced risk, as well as exclusive access to unlisted project opportunities and resume and interview advice. The key to building that solid relationship is understanding how to work best with recruiters.
Would you agree with Stevens-Huffman or argue that some of these rules shouldn’t always apply. Are there any rules you’d add for a successful relationship with a recruiter? Vice-versa, are there any rules of engagement you believe all recruiters should always follow? Leave your opinion in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!
By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle
A recruiter asks you to come in for an interview but you have so much on the go. What do you do? Should you blow them off? After all, you’ve already sent over a resume and had talked to them over the phone about what kind of work you want. What more could a face-to-face interview possibly do for you?
Face-to-face interviews with recruiters are more than you may think! Here are 10 reasons to take that interview and increase your chance of getting the next job you’ve been wanting.
Your Recruiter Will Remember You in the Future. Science shows that we remember faces far easier than we remember emails. 🙂
Face-to-Face is Second-to-None. There is simply no technological replacement for face-to-face interaction… including Skype/video interviews!
Get Across What Your Resume Can’t. Communication is over 90% non-verbal.
Your Recruiter Will Better Understand You. Inevitably an unknown skill or strength of yours is going to come out in a face-to-face meeting.
It Will Help Your Recruiter Sell You. Recruiters are not only interviewing you, but also working to provide the strongest presentation of your skills and attributes to the end client. You have a mutual objective.
Its great practice! In today’s business market, IT skills are not enough. We should use every opportunity available to hone communication and networking skills.
It’s Efficient. Relationships are built more quickly, strongly and efficiently in face-to-face meetings. Recent surveys have shown that it takes five Skype/video meetings to equal one face-to-face meeting. It’s a safe leap to surmise that the number of emails required to do the same would be incredibly high, and very likely still not reach anywhere near the same level of rapport.
Build Trust. Face-to-face meetings foster a greater sense of trust and commitment to honesty. People are able to “dehumanize” written email communication. Most people are committed to doing right by others, face-to-face meetings foster relationships which allow for the humanization of the communication, therefore resulting in more people doing the “right thing”.
You will learn something valuable. It is almost impossible for two professionals to communicate without learning something. Recruiter and contractor meetings/interviews offer a great opportunity for each to learn about the others profession and craft. We are working together in the end!
Meeting with people is FUN! Approach these sessions positively and with enthusiasm and hopefully it will be remembered as a very positive experience.
If given the choice, we hope that you would prefer to be awesome rather than annoying, especially in the eyes of recruiters and clients when they’re interviewing you for a gig. Of course, we all think we’re awesome, but are you really that great… or are you kind of annoying?
Don’t stay up all night worrying about what recruiters think of you. Instead, have a look at this video we created with input from our recruiters and confirm if they think you’re awesome or annoying. If you fall in the annoying category, perhaps it’s time to change some habits.
There are many benefits to working with staffing agencies. Topping the list is that we help IT contractors connect with the top clients and the best technology projects. Naturally, then, being able to build relationships and work with recruiters provides a major competitive advantage. The Talent Development Centre is all about growing independent contractors’ success, so 2016 was packed with inside information on how you can enhance your relationship with employment agencies.
The best position for you to be in is as one of your recruiters’ “top-of-mind” candidates. To provide insight on this topic and help you achieve this spot, we surveyed our recruiters to learn more about being top-of-mind. The result was a series of posts, including these:
If you were to invest 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week towards “self development” what could you do?
Health & Fitness
I have a weight routine that takes me exactly 20 minutes. When I do it, I usually do 20 minutes of cardio first but if pushed for time I just do the weight routine. There are 9 upper body moves that I execute one after the other as a circuit. I do a set of abs before the first set, a set of abs between the sets and again after the second set… it all takes 20 minutes! I can tell you that when I started doing this it had a dramatic affect on toning my upper body, and I only do it twice a week! In addition to toning your body, weights increase muscle mass which increases the amount of calories your body burns!
A 20 minute brisk walk every day burns calories, builds some muscle, exercises your heart and gets some “fresh” air into your lungs.
20 minutes exercise each day for 5 days a week is more than 85 hours of exercise a year!
I can read an 8 page summary of a business book from Executive Book Summaries in 20 minutes. If you read one book summary a week you can cover off the main concepts of more than 50 business books every year.
I can do a tough Sudoku or a crossword puzzle in about an hour… or 3 * 20 minute sessions. If I devote my brain to that activity three times a week I am spending 50 hours a year exercising my brain.
I can have a 20 minute conversation with my mom (sisters, friends etc) and we all enjoy it.
I can write 4 cards with hand written notes in 20 minutes . They might be to friends or clients, but they are always appreciated.
I can take 5 minutes to share a good business read on LinkedIn and enhance my personal brand as a knowledge expert. If I invest 20 minutes over the course of a week I can share 200 stories in a year and the Kevin Dee brand gets noticed.
I can spend 5 minutes sending an email to a friend or relative to let them know how I’m doing, and that I’m thinking of them. Again a 20 minute investment each week means 4 times a week (200 times a year) I am reaching out to people I care about.
How much time do you spend watching “mindless TV shows”?
How much time do you spend sitting on a bus or train?
How much time do you spend sitting in a hotel room while on business travel?
How much time do you spend sitting at the rink while your child skates?
There are lots of “20 minute opportunities” out there and you don’t need to cram them all with activity, but just maybe a small investment in 20 minute activities could give you a good return on that investment.
PS. This is just scratching the surface … if you really think about it there are a million high return ways to use 20 minutes!
The Best Way for IT Contractors to Stay Top-of-Mind to a Recruiter
Over the past couple months, we shared some posts with tips on how independent contractors can become a top-of-mind candidate to recruiters, as well as some things that get candidates into their bad books. The information came from the results of a survey we did among Eagle recruiters which revealed many interesting facts. One of reoccurring points involved communication. Connecting with your recruiter frequently and keeping them apprised of what’s happening is a great way to get yourself to the top of their list, but too much communication in a harassing nature could have the opposite effect. Fortunately, in that same survey, we asked questions on this exact topic.
You probably connect frequently with a variety of recruiters when you’re looking for a new contract. Do you keep communication open when you’re not looking, though? Even if you’re not on the market for a job, 70% of Eagle’s recruiters would love to hear from their contractors once every 1-3 months. The remaining ones were split between saying more or less frequently, but the fact is, 100% of them do want to hear from you!
Connecting with your top recruiters doesn’t have to be an onerous task. A simple email to check in and an update on your availability is all they need. If you’d like a more in-depth discussion, a phone call, coffee or networking event are also all great opportunities to catch-up. If that still seems like it could slip away from you, no need to worry. Half of the recruiters said they prefer to check in with you, either by phone or email. As long as you are in the habit of responding to emails or voicemails, you’ll be one step ahead of many other IT contractors who fail to take the two minutes to say hi.
Finally, perhaps the easiest way to keep your favourite recruiters up-to-date on what you’re doing is to connect with them on LinkedIn. A common marketing practice companies use on social media is to encourage customers and potential customers to follow their page, which shares product updates and value-added materials. The goal isn’t to sell anything specific, but instead keep the brand top-of-mind so when a consumer does make a purchase, they’ll think of that product. Your skills are the same! When you’re active on LinkedIn with profile updates, sharing interesting articles and interacting with others, it automatically shows up in your recruiters’ feeds. When a client requires skills that you possess, you’re more likely to be top-of-mind and one of their first phone calls.
How often do you connect with your recruiters? Do they call you or do you need to reach out to them? Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.
Get a summary of the newest posts every week. (Don't worry, we won't SPAM you!)