Working with recruiters

When I decided that it's time for me to switch my focus on a permanent role at this stage in my career I had no idea how beneficial working with recruiters will be for me, my work and my experience.

As an experienced freelancer and advocate for remote work - I've been asked a lot  in recent months why am I transitioning from freelance to permanent. And it's a more personal story I shared in more details here. "Why I’m moving away from freelancing"

I must admit I had very little idea how recruiters operate and how the process looks like. I've heard of these people and their involvement within IT industry where the current demand for talent is very high, so I decided to contact them and offer myself as a prospect.

First came the cold emails

My first step was updating my CV, LinkedIn profile and my portfolio website with recent information, latest works and my product design process - thinking this will help recruiters and hiring managers get a better understanding of who I am, what is my experience and how I do things. Oh boy was I wrong.

Since my goal was to find a position in London, and not knowing how this works I typed "Design Recruiter London" and got tons of results. My idea was to add them to my network so I could be updated on their job posting as well as introducing myself with the goal of getting them to actively search for a position for me.

To every LinkedIn request I've attached a short note along the lines of:

"Hi Natalie, my name is Tom and I am currently looking for a perm role in London. I see that you specialize in design recruiting and I hope we can work together. Hope to hear from you soon. Cheers. T."

While I was doing this I found out that some people are working for the same agency, so I've applied to them as well trough their website. Overall response rate was well above 50%, and to be honest, some profiles might be inactive, so I thought I was at a good start.

Researching other designers I've seen that some of them have a Call to Action in their profile headline, so I added it to my profile as well.

Also I turned on "Recruiter beacon" on my profile letting them know I am actively looking. Nifty little option, located here:

After initial correspondence where I sent over my CV and explained my situation, what I am looking for and why am I moving to London - which I explained here - I never heard back from about half of recruiters after standard "thank you, let's talk soon". And to be honest, I do not blame them, it could have seem as a huge time investment to work with someone with diverse experience and colorful portfolio like mine, from all the way there in distant Croatia (hour and a half flight). But OK.

Then came the intro calls

Recruiters wanted to talk to me about my situation in more details, what kind of position I am looking for and what salary range I aim to get. This helped me to articulate my wants and needs in more detail and they could see where I would fit better. Initially this was great, but It got tiresome quickly.

Especially after I've put my answers to standard questions into email before our call hoping they will skip them and we could move more quickly, only to realise most of them have not read them, or my intro and CV for that matter, or in best case have just skimmed through everything. So my effort to save us both some time ended up with wasting it even more.

Scene from Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise

After bunch of these calls I've came to realise that very few recruiters actually care about the candidate or their career and are actually just into numbers game. It became painfully obvious with a couple of them when their emails would have wrong name, or where I would get email like "position we discussed today is great for you if you are interested" but we never talked about it, or they using clumsy CRMs that were just mass emailing everyone for the same position.

Finally came David

Then you meet a recruiter that actually wants to work with you. Not that some of recruiters I worked closely with didn't get me the interview, or weren't actively pitching me roles, but when I was introduced to Dave Sims from Salt agency by his colleague, we made an instant connection. I immediately felt that this guy actually wants me to succeed and find me a great next role.

Unlike most of recruiters I worked with, I felt that Dave actually read everything I sent over and went through my portfolio in details, and pushed me for more so he can just learn everything about me and represent me in best possible way. He found some roles that were great fit for me in terms of experience, responsibilities and salary. It did took a couple of tries to secure the position that I really like, but every time I didn't get the position I was passionate about, he went back to find me something better. And I feel that he presented me to every company in a way that I could never do on my own.

Recruiters job is not just to find you a position with desired salary. Their job is to find you a great next step in your career in terms of team, company culture, further development and everything else that will make you go to work excited instead of hating Mondays and longing for the weekend. And Dave sure did deliver.

You need to find a recruiter that can do exactly that, and accept nothing less! All you need to do is give your best to help them help you.

Quote of the day:

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. — Bobby Unser

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Tom Kozacinski
Tom Kozacinski
I'm a London based product designer, creative entrepreneur, freelancer and advocate of remote work with over 12 years in the industry. I also have 12 years of experience as a stand-up comedian and I love to share my experience.
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