I hope you enjoyed my last post on making the shift from fulltime employee to consultant, but many of you do not want to step out on your own. If that’s the case…this is the post for you. I may refer to project managers, but the strategy below will work for any profession.
As the economy begins to strengthen and innovation continues to evolve, many companies are being forced from pause mode. After several years of waiting, companies must invest in their computing platforms, governments must upgrade/fix infrastructure, etc. While the projects are kicking up, many organizations are hesitant to bring on fulltime employees (FTE) and have embraced the contractor. Couple that with part of the Project Management Institute’s definition of a project that each one has definitive end, and successful PMs essentially plan themselves out of a job.
If Project Managers are going to have a successful career, then they must learn how to work effectively with recruiters. I will cover the résumé and appearance items in a later post. Here are a few tips to help you out…
1. Respect The Profession – You must recognize that recruiters spend a large part of their time developing their client relationships. They have insight into hiring opportunities and understand the client environment. You may have a job today and you may have worked with a jerk in the past, but you should always return their calls and emails with professionalism. You will need them one day and this is your shot to make a lasting impression. Call them back, introduce yourself, and thank them for considering your credentials. Also, there are some really great recruiting professionals out there!
2. They Work For Their Client – Recruiters get paid by whom? The client. Therefore, you must recognize that they are not calling their clients and trying to FIND YOU a job. They have paying clients that are looking for a specific skill-set. It is a very competitive business and they must focus on their clients’ needs. So don’t get upset when they say you have a great skill-set, but don’t have a position for you. Remember number 1…respect the profession, their value in the marketplace, and this is a long race (your career).
3. Build The Relationship – When you find a recruiter that is open (provides honest feedback) and to the point, embrace that relationship. You may not be into sales or business development, but you could certainly use some of the same skills. You must consider the recruiter your client.
- After that first call, send them a handwritten letter and thank them for their consideration.
- Remember to contact them 1 week after the first call, 2 weeks after that, monthly for about 2-3 months, and then quarterly. Mix it up by sending an email and making calls.
- Schedule a lunch once or twice a year…yes, you pay.
- When you communicate, YOU add value to THEIR day. Send them an article on their industry, a job requisition you saw, introduce them to influential colleagues, or even share a solid candidate that you know is coming to the end of their contract.
4. Be Honest & Genuine – If they present a job that you really can’t be successful at…tell them! I know it is hard to turn down work if you are out of a job, but remember that this career thing is a long race. Don’t burn bridges. They will learn to trust you and when you call them to ask for help getting into client X, they will be more likely to help you.
By developing a relationship with a few recruiters in your market, you will shift from one of a hundred resumes on their desk (okay, in their database) to a candidate always top of mind in your respective position. Rather than hoping your résumé has the right keywords for their scanners, you position yourself as a premier candidate. Don’t get me wrong, this does require a lot of work on your part and it could be years until their client needs meet your profile but it is well worth it. Another benefit is that you can become a connector and help introduce a colleague or friend to one of the recruiters. Being able to pay it forward is a tremendous honor.