Part 2: Are you comfortable with being open?

Part 2: Are you comfortable with being open?

Blog post by Ruby Celine, Country Director, Malaysia

I’m back! Thanks for staying tuned. If you’ve been following our Salt blog, then you would have come across the first part of my ‘honesty mini-series’ last week where we discussed what the candidate-recruiter relationship should look like.

In case you missed it –> Part 1: Do you trust your recruiter?

If you’ve had the experience of working with an external recruiter, you would have likely come away with a perception of how it all works. Hopefully it’s a good one but unfortunately in this industry, an unsavoury experience or two could cause candidates to paint all recruiters with a broad brush almost by default.

It got me thinking about my approach as a recruiter and the importance of honesty and etiquette in building each candidate relationship. Trust makes all the difference, and it has to be reciprocal.

So, carrying on with our honesty theme from last week, I’d like to go over some common discussion points that come up during the candidate representation stage and stuff you should be comfortable talking to your recruiter about.

Now, let’s assume you’ve been approached with a career opportunity. You’re all for it and agree to have your profile put forward. At this point, your recruiter should be someone you can trust – at least enough to be forthright with even if it’s an uncomfortable truth. 

If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that we’re likely better off dealing with an uncomfortable truth than to be caught out on an untruth.

Your work history

This is an obvious one.

It’s not the end of the world if you have a gap or two on your CV or if you left your last job 6 months in. Your reason for looking out could be because you were misled into a scope that barely correlates with the one you were promised or you simply can’t see a step up where you are. You may still have the right experience for the job at hand and if so, recruiters often like to assume that there is a logical and sufficient explanation to any of these (hopefully inconsequential) inconsistencies. By being transparent about it, you’re giving your recruiter a chance and they can help you strategise an approach to put you in the best position possible.

Everybody knows somebody in the industry and anything omitted could easily surface from a reference check or through a mutual connection.

It’s okay to say no!

This one’s super important.

Any recruiter worth their salt will respect it if you tell them that you’re not or no longer interested in pursuing a role. Turning them down won’t bruise their feelings. It’s YOUR career and while they might be able to influence your direction, forcing square pegs into round holes is not on the agenda! If a role doesn’t feel right for any reason, give them your feedback. If you’re not comfortable with something, tell them your reasons and politely walk away. Not interested? No problem! They’ll stop contacting you and you can save yourself the awkward tension of dodging their calls. An MIA status is definitely not one you’d want to be associated with just because you didn’t want to deal with the uncomfortable truth.

Your recruiter would rather you decline an offer than commit to it and then pull out a week before your start date or quit two months in. If you’re clear on your motivations from the start, it should be easy enough to say no if it’s the better decision and keep your spot on their radar for future opportunities.

The money talk

Uh oh, here comes the slightly controversial one.

Even though recruiters work for their clients, they represent both sides and carry the responsibility of being in the know of both parties’ conditions and expectations to keep things moving smoothly. Keep them on the same page and they will go out of their way for you. Salary-wise too.

Now, I don’t mean full disclosure of your financial situation. You’re not actually obliged to share salary details but let me tell you why your recruiter may ask for it. It’s simply to align expectations and avoid disappointment.

Contrary to the common misconception, lowballing candidates for personal gain is not how it works and I can’t see how any (legit) recruiter could use your salary information to your detriment. Your last drawn salary doesn’t always dictate what you will be offered next and a good recruiter will know not to let it define your value. Look at what the opportunity has to offer, have that talk about what you’re comfortable with (stick to it!) and let your recruiter help you negotiate the best possible outcome. After all, recruiters are paid based on the candidate’s first annual salary so it actually works out better for them if you’re paid more!

Non-exclusivity isn’t a crime

Hang in there, this is the last one – promise!

Tell your recruiter if you’ve applied to a role before. It’s okay if you’re not working with them exclusively. Stellar candidates are expected to be in demand with multiple channels to opportunities. However, before representing you, your recruiter will want to know where you’re up to with your search and most importantly if you’ve applied to the same job online or through another recruiter. This information is vital!

Having your profile submitted twice doesn’t double your chances. At times, it might seem like an attempt to circumvent the process. Easiest way to put it, your recruiter will not be able to represent you if the company (their client) has already gotten hold of your CV from another source. This is a common oversight and while it might be an honest mistake, it doesn’t reflect well and could potentially torpedo your application.

Phew, that’s a whole lot of talk on trust and honesty! Look, they may be buzzwords but from a reputational standpoint, I’d say they’re pretty imperative, and these are qualities that recruiters will look for and appreciate in their candidates too.

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