As the world continues to grapple with the ramifications of the pandemic, businesses need all the help they can get — and so do job seekers. Securing the ideal job was challenging even before the virus forced its way into our public consciousness.

In the wake of the pandemic, fresh graduates, seasoned executives, contractors and temps could engage external assistance such as a professional recruiter to reach the next rung of their career ladder, especially in the weeks and months ahead.

Aside from salary negotiations and providing a clear path to a hiring manager’s inbox, a recruiter is also the person who knows their clients best. This means that they will be able to give you insights into exactly what the company is looking for — invaluable information, considering our current economic climate. 

Related: 5 unmistakable signs a contracting career is for you

“While it was predominantly a mainstay hiring solution for low-cost employment previously, we have observed a huge demand for contract staffing solutions for different sectors. That demand has also grown across all employment levels,” explains Marlinda Zulkifli, Head of Page Contracting Malaysia.

Businesses are hiring for key roles as part of their post-COVID recovery plans, including hiring more specialised employees over those who are more generalist in their skill set. Knowing what employers need makes all the difference in the world.

If they are experts in specific fields, if they can add value or if they can at least get you an interview, I would still recommend someone like that. Focus on their relevance to you.

Here’s the tricky part: A quick Google search brings up many recruitment agencies. Where, then, do you start? If you have never worked with a recruitment agency before, how do you ensure that they will be able to serve your needs as a new or established contractor, temporary worker or specialist? What if your skill set is incredibly niche? Is this beneficial or detrimental? And ultimately, will the recruiter match you to the right company?

Related: How to calculate your daily rate as a contract professional

1. Check with your peers

Engaging a recruiter is a lengthy process, from the initial interviews to connecting you with clients keen to hire. As a contractor, temp or specialist, the likelihood of you working with the same recruiter is even higher since they connect you with companies throughout your career.

As such, recommendations from peers in the same industry carry a lot of weight. According to Nielsen, 84% of their survey respondents trust recommendations of friends and family, and the same applies to recruiters to work with.

Jon Goldstein, Managing Partner and Head of Page Executive for Southeast Asia, advises due diligence. “Often, people go to a company because they’ve heard of a big name, or their friend recommended it. However, if you’re an accountant and your friend is in sales, that’s not necessarily a match,” he cautions. “So do your homework, trust your gut, and rely on what their market expertise is. Ask about their track record. Interview them a little bit.”

Find out what PageContracting can do for you.

Related: How to prove your value as a contractor

2. Check the recruiter’s industry expertise

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. Instead, most individual recruiters will specialise in one or two sectors, with deep-seated knowledge and expertise in each one — but how do you know if they know what they are talking about? 

One of the best places to seek out such information is LinkedIn. As much as the social media platform is a hunting ground for recruiters and hiring managers, it’s a great way to find recruiters and see if they, and the agencies they represent, meet your needs.

This is critical if you have a very niche skill (like a data scientist) or if you are an interim manager.

Start by looking for recruiters from specific recruitment agencies and observe the kind of jobs they have been posting. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do they sound like the type of jobs that you are interested in? 
  • Do they fall within the realm of your expertise? 
  • Are they relevant jobs based on your seniority? 
  • Do they work with contractors? 

These are all tell-tale signs of whether an agency or a specific recruiter from the said agency can connect you with your next client.

“Chemistry is very important, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be just that,” Goldstein says, “If they are experts in specific fields, if they can add value or if they can at least get you an interview, I would still recommend someone like that. Focus on their relevance to you.”

Related: Contracting vs permanent job: Which is better for you?

3. Check the recruiter’s career movement

Speaking of tell-tale signs, you also want to see how established the agency is and how long the individual recruiter has been there. After all, like planting a tree, becoming a good recruiter takes a lot of time and effort before the specialities take root.

That’s why if you see a lot of movement throughout the recruiter’s career, it could mean that they are eager to find the next hot area and are perhaps less concerned about building long-term relationships with candidates and clients.

On the flip side, someone within the same company or speciality sector would have developed a critical mass of contacts to help you in your search. A deeper, wider net is what you need here as a contractor, temp worker or specialist, and these are the recruiters you want to reach out to.

Related: Starting a new contracting role? How to fit in at work fast

4. Check for professionalism

The final step is really up to the relationship you and your recruiter build. A job interview is not a one-way street. It is an opportunity for both parties — the interviewer and interviewee — to know each other. And the same applies to contractors and recruiters as well.

The first meeting often forms the foundation of the working relationship that comes after. Whether you put your job search in the hands of the recruiter is entirely up to you. 

“[The relationship] is a two-way street,” Goldstein explains. “Don’t expect your recruiter to do everything for you. They will expect you to come with good questions about the companies and jobs that interest you. Come with an open mind. Many candidates say, ‘I heard this about the firm’ or ‘I don’t want to try this,’ making it challenging for recruiters. Remember, you will be working as partners. When they see a motivated candidate who is sincere, it creates a whole new motivation.”

Ultimately, as a contractor, temp or specialist, the number of contacts you amass is more important than anything else, so forming a partnership with an active recruiter makes it that much easier. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, after all.

Aside from the skill sets you have acquired over the years, having an active recruiter working alongside your specialist path is another tool to add to the arsenal. “If you can get two or three recruitment consultants on your behalf and be your ambassador, that will work wonders for you,” Goldstein says.

Related: Contracting vs permanent job: Which is better for you?

4 steps to finding a recruiter for your contracting gig

01 Turn to friends and colleagues for their first-hand experience

02 Focus on the recruiter’s relevance to your plans

03 Target those with mass contacts in the market

04 Meet your recruiter halfway and keep an open mind

Are you looking for contracting roles? Here are the latest job opportunities for contract professionals. If you would like to speak with a recruiter, contact us here.

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