How much do you like surprises? 

Sometimes we love surprises like opening up the mail and finding our tax refund is higher than expected. Let’s book that dream vacation! Or finding out you won a client bid; you were competing against multiple competitors. Better yet, your lottery numbers hit the jackpot! Other times, surprises are not as enjoyable. Like finding out you have been charged a bill you weren’t expecting or that you owe a lot more taxes this year than you were planning. I’m sure we can all readily think of surprises we don’t want. 

The enemy of surprise is preparation. 

While it is virtually impossible to avoid unwanted surprises, just as we can’t, and wouldn’t want to prevent welcome surprises, we can do as much as we can to prepare in advance for the unexpected. As it relates to the world of recruitment, there are, of course, pleasant surprises – like finding out you secured your dream job on a tropical island. Unwanted surprises include going through an intense gauntlet of interviews and finding out you didn’t get the job you wanted or receiving a ‘low-ball’ offer, far less than you are currently making. What a waste of time!  

A recruiter’s role in the process is to mitigate the chance of unwanted surprises (here are five ways): 


Compensation

First and foremost, the salary and other aspects of the compensation should be clarified upfront. Not necessarily an exact amount, but a range that both the candidate and the client will entertain. 

Too often, companies leave compensation discussions to the end of the process, and candidates are disappointed with an unsuitable offer after hours of wasted time interviewing. Compensation surprises are not enjoyable for either party. Clarifying compensation fit at an early stage, saves both parties from wasting their time interviewing and evaluating each other. 

Check out our free salary guide for more details on what pay scales look like in our core industries. 


Job Descriptions

Finding out a position that appeared to be a step-up in your career was no more than a lateral move, if not a step back. 

Job titles and job postings can be deceiving. Both are designed to attract and keep candidates and may have less to do with the actual job description and tasks required in the position. Good recruiters will provide a detailed job description as well as an RJP (Realistic Job Preview). What will a typical day entail? What are the challenges of the role? Sure, the title includes ‘Manager,’ but are you managing anyone? A frank discussion about both the rewarding and challenging parts of the position is a must. The reason the job exists is to solve a problem for the company. What is the extent of the problem? A good recruiter knows she needs to get you to succeed by being transparent about the challenges you will be facing, not just paint a rosy picture, so you take the job. 


Company Culture

Recruiters who have built strong, lasting client relationships will know the company culture through their experience, placing multiple candidates, and dealing with various hiring managers and Human Resources. 

Culture does not show up on the job description, so working with a recruiter who knows the client well will be invaluable. Recruiters can share past experiences and will typically have several key relationships at the company, both hiring manager relationships and relationships with employees as well. Knowing the company culture helps the recruiter determine culture fit between the candidate and the client beyond the core technical skills required. 


Hiring Process

A good recruiter moves the hiring process fluidly and keeps the lines of communications open along the way. 

The more senior the role, the slower the hiring process, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as time and interaction reveal both the candidate and the company more, and both parties want to know they are making the right decision. Good recruiters know this and will stay transparent with both parties moving along the interview process at a speed that is comfortable for both parties. If there is a delay, the recruiter will communicate the reason and ensure that neither party is left in the dark, which can lead to anxiety, confusion, or false assumptions.  


Offer Time

A good recruiter is a great listener, and there is no more critical time to use your listening skills than during the offer phase. Understanding what’s essential to the client and candidate is vital, and this is done by listening to both parties’ needs and finding the middle ground in the negotiation. 

Many offer negotiations have fallen apart when miscommunicated, or actions of one party appear to lack empathy for the other party. A good recruiter’s job is to bridge the understanding and take the emotions out of the equation. Changing jobs, or hiring, particularly at the executive level, is a high-stakes venture for both parties and full of potential pitfalls. A good recruiter helps to smooth out any rough edges and help move things toward a logical conclusion based on both parties’ needs. 


Do surprises occur when good recruiters are involved? Yes, but not as often than when they’re not. The reality is, we are dealing with people on both sides who can make their own decisions, whether it is in their best interest or not. While recruiters should be excellent communicators, very few are mind readers. You can’t always know what others are thinking. 

A recruiter’s role is to guide, not control. It’s not enough for a recruiter to help a client find a candidate, or to help a candidate land a job, she must also help ensure the candidate, and the client are a good long-term fit.  

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