No Wukkas: Tips for Working With a Recruiter

By Matt Van Hoven 

Jamie McCann has more than 12 years of experience as a recruiter in the advertising industry, and 10 more working in agencies. Currently, he’s the Executive Senior Partner at the Lucas Group’s Orange County office &#151 the agency has been pairing advertising and marketing professionals with jobs for 38 years. We asked Jamie to put together a list of dos and don’ts about working with a recruiter in the current economic climate. Below are seven detailed guidelines for getting the most out of your recruiter(s).

As we begin 2009, many executives may be finding themselves looking for a new job…some by their own fruition and while others may be forced to do so due some unfortunate recent downsizing. Certainly the advertising industry has not been immune from the cutbacks hitting Corporate America. And while it’s never easy to find a job in tough economic times, it can be easier to undertake with the help of a headhunter/recruiter.


Work With an Expert
1. If you don’t take anything else away from this article, remember: work with a recruiter who is an expert in your industry. Every successful recruiter is just that, successful, because they focus all their energy in one niche. It doesn’t make sense to work with one who “brags” about working in advertising and accounting and construction and IT.

Why would you want to work with one who isn’t a specialist? You don’t call your plumber when your cable TV goes out, do you? And, if you find a recruiter that is dedicated and works exclusively in your area of expertise, you’ll be much, much better off. For example, I solely recruit for and with the strategic development minds, not the creative departments. Think of it this way &#151 when you’re re-doing your kitchen, you want the cabinet maker to build cabinets not install the sink. Sure, both are kitchen-related projects but…you get the picture.

Now let’s take it one step further: if you can find a headhunter who has had personal experience in the area you’re looking for yourself, you’re golden. Reason being, they have been in your shoes. They have either been the one hiring or the one looking for a job, so they should ‘get it’.

Focus on Your Niche
2. So, how do you find a recruiter who is so narrowly focused? Simple, just ask. Ask a trusted colleague. Ask your boss. You could even ask a recruiter. If that recruiter is not in your specific field, they should be able to refer you to one that is. Another way is to use one of the professional online social networking sites like Linked In. There are thousands of recruiters on that site alone. Also, you can Google keywords like: Recruiter, Advertising, Account Management.

Click continued to read on.

More: “No Wukkas: The Best Headhunters In The Business

Know Your recruiter
3. Before you start working with a recruiter, you should interview them as much as they interview you. Make sure you have good chemistry with that recruiter. You’ll want to have someone you feel you have mutual respect.

But, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind: a recruiter is paid to help a company find the right candidate for a specific job; we are not paid by the candidate to find a job. There’s a big difference. If you don’t understand, take the time right now to re-read that sentence.

Honesty, For Real
4. Be totally honest with the recruiter. Tell them everything. Good and bad. It’s not our place to chastise you, but we need to know the truth about everything. Whether it’s your base salary, your potential bonus, your education, your job description, your dates of employment &#151 be sure to share it all (even why you were let go). Recruiters are paid to find out, so we would rather hear it from you rather than from another source.

A good recruiter will double-check everything and if something doesn’t jive, there will be consequences. Also have your resume littered with accomplishments not just day to day job responsibilities. Tell about your successes and impactful differences you’ve personally made. And (important!) don’t take credit for someone else accolades. We’ll be checking those facts, too.

Exclusivity, No
5. No recruiter should demand exclusivity from you. In fact, I recommend that every candidate have two or three recruiters that they have complete trust in. I would love to be the sole recruiter in Account Management recruiting, but I would be severely naive to believe no other recruiters can do what I do.

The truth is, I cannot possibly know about every job in every agency. But, if I do tell you about a job, I would hope that you respect our partnership as much as I do and not divulge to the other recruiter of what position(s) we’re discussing. I, in turn, will not tell any company about your candidacy unless I get your prior authorization. Confidentiality is key for both of us, and it is a must in order for us to work successfully together.

Don’t Play Hard to Get
6. When we discuss an opportunity that is of interest to you, tell me. Don’t play hard to get. Believe it or not, ad agencies are paying more for candidates that show a genuine interest in their company. If you think by playing the “well, if the money is right, I’ll take the job” game is the way to entice them to pay you more, you’re sadly mistaken, my friend. Also, if you plan on accepting a counter-offer to stay at your current company, here’s a word of advice. Don’t do it. It won’t be in your best interest. Sure, you may get a few extra dollars today.

But, the next time a lay-off hits your company, the first people they will cut, are those who have shown any disloyalty. So, here’s what you do: if you truly feel you deserve a raise, just go to your boss and demand a raise. Seriously. If you get one, congratulations! Note, most raises are around between four and five percent these days.

If you don’t get one, you’ll know it’s probably time to start looking around. By the way, most salary increases for changing jobs these days is around 10 percent &#151 don’t be expecting to get 25 percent or more. Those rarely happen. Just pay your dues, and your rewards will come.

Once You’re In, You’re In

7. That leads me to my last point: once I place you in a company, I cannot and will not pull you out of that company. Ethics are of paramount importance to a recruiter. If a company pays me a handsome fee to hire you, I cannot take you &#151 or anyone else at the company &#151 out of there. However, if you should leave that company for whatever reason, I will be happy to work with you again. I have been successful in placing a number of candidates various times throughout their careers.

A Little About Lucas Group
For 12 years now I have been recruiting Account Management/Media/Strategic Planning personnel for leading ad agencies coast to coast. Prior to recruiting, I spent a decade in Account Management for FCB, Bozell, and other notable agencies.

Today, I work with partners who fill positions in CRM/Interactive, Sales Promotion, Public Relations, etc. We work together in the advertising industry, rest assured when you call the LucasGroup looking for a P-R Director position, we immediately have you talk with someone had a career in communications prior to recruiting in it. We walk the walk, and talk the talk.

A recruiter can be a valuable asset as you grow your career so you might as well find a good one that has a passion and knowledge in your industry. Here’s to a prosperous 2009.

Jamie McCann
Executive Senior Partner, LucasGroup
(949) 660-9450 ext. 138