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Recruiters vs. hiring managers: what you need to know to ace the job search

What does a recruiter do, exactly, and how can they help you in the job search?

What does a recruiter do, exactly, and how can they help you in the job search? You may have gotten recruiter messages on Handshake (if you haven’t, complete your profile!) Some job postings on Handshake also give you the option to contact the recruiter yourself. Read these tips to make a great impression, ask the right questions, and help you land that internship or job.

What is a recruiter, anyway?

First, the basics: a recruiter works for a company to help match qualified candidates with open positions. They search for and reach out to candidates on Handshake and other platforms. And they serve as a link between the candidate and the company during the interview process. 

You may also be contacted by third-party recruiters from an agency that is paid by an employer to help find candidates. 

I got a message from a recruiter at Epic saying that [I’d be] a good fit for this Technical Services role you should apply for. So then I applied, obviously, and here I am with the job and loving it. —Caiti, ​​University of Utah ‘20

Hiring manager vs. recruiter: who does what?

Hiring managers and recruiters work closely together to hire for open positions. 

The hiring manager will be your direct supervisor if you are hired. They are the final decision maker on job offers. Your earliest interviews (after the recruiter screening) will likely be with the hiring manager.

The recruiter is usually the first point of contact, and the main point of contact during the interview process. They help keep the interview process running smoothly. They also (hopefully!) deliver the offer, and run background and reference checks.

What do I do if a recruiter reaches out to me?

A typical message from a recruiter says something like this: “Hi there! I saw on your profile that you’re interested in data analysis and that you did a digital marketing internship last summer. I think you might be a great fit for Acme Corporation’s open Digital Marketing Specialist role. I hope you’ll consider applying.”

Before you reply, take a look at the job and company that the recruiter is representing. Does it seem like a fit for you and your goals? If it’s a clear no, you can politely decline. 

If you’re not sure and want to find out more, reply to the recruiter and ask some questions! That conversation may open a new opportunity you haven’t considered before. 

A recruiter reached out to me [on Handshake]. I was a little confused, but I went with it, because what do you do when Nike contacts you? I didn’t know what global operations was, but applied anyway. So I interned with Nike over the summer and then I got my full-time offer with them. —Dyani, Pepperdine University ’21

What questions should I ask my recruiter?

Once you apply for the role, the interview process begins. The recruiter will check in with you, answer questions that come up, help you prepare for interviews, and tell you the timing of next steps.

Megan Malcolm, an Early Career Recruiter at Handshake, says that it’s great to ask your recruiter general questions about the company and role, compensation expectations, process, and how to prepare for interviews. She says, “We’ll tell you if we can’t answer a question – I would lean on asking whatever is on your mind!”

She also encourages candidates to ask for tips on how to best prepare for interviews at each step of the process. Think that makes you look unprepared? On the contrary! Megan says, “I love when I see this type of engagement from candidates!” 

Red flags to look out for

Handshake screens employers to make sure they are legitimate. But if you come across these red flags, take a step back: 

  • The recruiter is pushing you to take a job or salary that doesn’t fit your goals. A good recruiter wants to see you land a job you’ll be truly happy in—it makes them look good, too!
  • The recruiter asks you to be dishonest in your interviews with the hiring team—this is a big red flag, and a clear sign to walk away.

On the other hand, a recruiter who follows up consistently, offers support and advice, and is clear about compensation and expectations is a great sign that you’re interviewing for a company that really values their workers.

Image courtesy of Cottonbro on Pexels.

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