Building a Relationship with a Search Firm – The Candidate Viewpoint
My previous three columns in this space were devoted to personal branding. Now that you have created a positive view of your brand, another way to spread the word that you are seeking new career challenges is to make a connection to a reputable security recruitment company. Placing accurate details of your background, experience and credentials on file with a search firm means they can easily find you when they are engaged to work on roles with requirements matching your expertise.
One persistent myth surrounding recruitment is that a recruiter represents you, the candidate. Unfortunately, that is not the role of a search firm. Recruiters are hired by organizations to fill positions, therefore their clients are the companies that hire them.
That said, a good recruiter will have fostered relationships within the security community that go beyond a single engagement. Seek out someone who understands your industry and with whom you can build a long-term professional relationship. You want them to keep you top-of-mind when they are looking for a great candidate.
Be aware that not all recruiters operate transparently. There is a chance your information may be sourced and submitted to a client without you having built a relationship with that recruiter. The numbers are not in your favor in this scenario, and transactional recruitment serves neither the client nor the candidate well. New privacy laws already in effect in quite a few countries mean an eventual end to this practice.
So, how do you build a relationship with a reputable security recruitment firm that will yield good results? Here are some suggestions:
- Make sure they are actually a recruitment firm. There are some unusual business models online that intentionally masquerade as placement firms when they are not. Additionally, job boards may be collecting and reselling your information to firms other than what you believe them to be.
- Select a firm that matches your goals. There are likely a very small number of search firms that specialize in your particular area. Research the focus of a firm and determine what areas they actively work in. For instance, a firm that primarily does staffing in war zones or guarding company marketing executives may not be the best place to register your details if your goal is to manage a regional program for a biotech firm.
- Get to know the recruitment firm, their reputation, philosophy and ethics. This is even more critical with today’s privacy concerns. Ensure you understand how they maintain your information. Who will have access to your personal data? Will you know when they send your information to a client, and will you know who that client is?
- Once you have identified a firm or an individual, work consistently to build a relationship. Stay in touch. Call, email and keep your details current.
- Etiquette suggests you not apply to every job the recruitment company advertises. Key must-haves for a position are generally front and center in an advertisement. Do not apply if you are not a match, however, do consider referring someone who may be. It offers you a conversational opportunity to continue to build your relationship with the recruiter even though you are not a fit for the role.
While organizations work hard to diversify their talent pool and use many methods of sourcing candidates, recruiters remain valuable partners. Nurturing a relationship with a specialist recruitment company can be another valuable tool in your security job search. It is an opportunity to have a career-long conversation with an industry expert.
About the Columnist
Jerry Brennan is CEO of the Security Management Resources Group of Companies (www.smrgroup.com), the leading global executive search practice focused exclusively on corporate and information security positions.