ALC Consulting

April 23, 2009

Boutique Recruiting

Filed under: Contracting — Anne Cloward @ 8:49 pm
Tags: , ,

When I lived in the Twin Cities, there was a grocery chain called Kowalskis. They have nine stores, and shopping there is an unforgettable experience. They carry only the best in local and imported groceries. They have an in store deli, an outdoor café, a spa, a floral department and more. Fresh seafood is flown in daily. If you are so inclined, you can schedule a massage, and while you are being pampered in the spa, one of their personal shoppers will select your groceries for you from your shopping list. When you emerge from your massage, invigorated, you may sign your charge slip, and drive off with your groceries neatly packed in your car. Their stores are only located in the upscale suburbs. Nothing ever goes on sale there.

At the other end of the scale was the local Safeway, who just sold plain groceries with none of the frills. I shopped their specials and stocked my pantry with the basics at their stores. The fancy place could be more expensive for my every day needs. Each had their place in my life and budget. They knew their niche customers needs and met them.

Recruiting firms also run the spectrum from very fancy to down to earth shops. Each has their strengths, but you may find yourself working with both kinds depending on your circumstances.

First of all, understand that one size does not fit all. No firm can place you at any company in town. For example, one of the largest chip manufacturers is located in my town. They have a large complex operation. They hire thousands of contractors each year. In order to streamline their process, they have a preferred list (Tier 1) of recruiting firms who get their job requests and submit candidates for these positions. Likewise, the large athletic shoe manufacturer nearby has its Tier 1 contracting firms that they work with. The two lists of firms are not the same. None of the local recruiters do both of them. So they can’t represent you to the chip company and the shoe company.

What if their client lists overlap and they both can submit me for a job at a company? Wouldn’t my chances double if both of firms could submit me for the same position?

Nope. It doesn’t work that way. If two different recruiters submit you for the same job, when your name hits the client’s system. your application is kicked out so fast and NEITHER firm gets to submit you. Don’t ask me how I know this unpleasant truth.

So, how do you work with a number of contracting firms and still be fair with all of them?

As I build relationships with contracting firms, I ask them for a list of their main clients, (their niche). I keep track of them on a spreadsheet. When an opening comes up at the chip people, Company A can submit me. For the shoe guys, Company B can do it. Most recruiters understand this and will work with you, if you are honest with them. Some of the firms are great at finding positions for tech writers and trainers; others are big on placing developers and project managers. They know how to talk the tech talk with the IT managers, but don’t have a clue as to the skills needed for documentation. I have done a lot of educating of recruiters on what makes a good tech writer and what to look for in a trainer or instructional designer.

There have been times when I have found a job listing on my own for a particular firm. I will ask my recruiters if this firm is one they work with. It may take some time, but I can usually find one from the major contracting firms in town. I could just submit my résumé online, but having a recruiter representing me often gets my résumé read and then the interview.

When I have worked with a client for a contracting agency and there is an opening there again, I owe that firm the courtesy of having them represent me. For example, I had a wonderful contract at a health insurance company that a local staffing firm found for me. If another position comes up at that client, I will definitely go with my original company.

When I am looking for a contract and visit with a recruiter, I am also honest about which jobs I have been submitted for and by whom, so that everyone knows what is going on. The recruiters in my town know each other, and often have worked together in the past. It’s a small community and I try to maintain positive relationships with all of them. A relationship based on honesty and respect is the best way to keep working and have recruiters working for you.


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