How to build a Win-Win Relationship with your Recruiter

When you are seeking your first professional position or a senior career move, you want as many people on your side as possible and that includes recruiters. So how do you build a win-win relationship with a recruiter?

I know that many professional job seekers have had mixed experiences when working with recruiters. With my own clients or candidates, I stress that recruiters are an invaluable resource in the process of searching for their next career position and that they have excellent contacts throughout a variety of industries. Recruiters generally know hundreds of different roles and job types and have numerous resources that can assist you to find your position of choice.

With the executive and senior professional job search process, recruiters usually provide a key role.

In this blog, I offer 12 strategies and tips to build a win-win relationship with your recruiter. If you want to ensure that you are in front of your employer of choice each time you make a career move, then it’s important that you build a strong and sustainable relationship with recruiters.

Essentially your interview begins when you first have contact with the recruiter, whether it is via a phone conversation, an email or a subsequent face-to-face meeting – (should you pass the initial recruitment screening process).

Assuming the outcome of your meeting with the recruiter is positive, an appointment will be arranged for you to meet with the employer or panel for an interview.

So begin with the end in mind. Treat the recruiter respectfully and act professionally in all encounters, imagining the recruiter to be as important as the employer. The recruiter is the gatekeeper of the interview.

Like any relationship, you need to identify which recruiters are the right match for you – ones who are the most helpful and who you can build good rapport with.

Also understand that the recruiter’s role is not to find you a job or position but to establish whether or not you are suitable for their client.

The recruiter will not look to secure a position for you. They are being paid to fill a gap in the organisation so their responsibility is to the organisation, not to you.

12 Key tips in dealing and meeting with recruiters

  • Establish a connection before sending your resumé. Always call the recruitment consultant before making an application (just to clarify a few key points and definitely not to ask about the position as you already should have read this thoroughly).You are then in a more informed position to send through your resumé and you have already commenced building the relationship. This is so much better than just sending in your resumé without establishing a connection.
  • Don’t try to get a meeting at this stage but when you send in your resumé refer back to the phone conversation you had with them. Address the letter to the recruiter by name with correct spelling and never “To Whom It May Concern”. If you do, that will be the end of the process!
  • Be sure your resumé clearly articulates your key achievements (Refer to our resumé book and that it’s tailored to the position you are seeking. To do this you will need to prioritise and target your achievement statements (or accomplishments) to the employer’s requirements. Look for the key words (must haves) in the advertisement and make sure you use these in your application.
  • Avoid clichés and unsubstantiated claims. Both recruiters and hiring managers get really turned off when they read words like “outstanding”, “results orientated”, “driven”, “dynamic”, “thought leader” and so on without any “proof”. The rule is to “show” rather than “tell”.
  • Remember that recruiters are usually very busy and that your application will be one of a large number. They usually spend 6-10 seconds to determine if they want to keep reading. So, in a competitive job market, they will be looking for reasons to put you in the “no” pile rather than include you in the “yes will look again” pile. You have to make your resumé a WOW so it will stand out from the rest (of the hundreds of others they may have to read).
  • Once you have submitted your resumé to the recruiter, follow up with a phone call a few days later making reference to your previous call, checking that your application was received and asking when they expect to short list for interviews. The key in all of this is to be professional and proactive without being pushy.
  • If you do all of this correctly, you put yourself in a stronger position to receive preferential treatment but it’s certainly not guaranteed.
  • If after all of this you get a ‘thanks but no thanks’ response from the recruiter, follow-up and seek some advice and feedback on what you could do better for future applications. You may even seek another meeting. You never know what position might be coming up next.
  • What you are looking to do in all of this is to create an ongoing relationship with recruiters who are the right match for you. Just as it takes 11-13 touches to gain a sale with a prospect in business, so too you need to look for lots of opportunities and ways of creating “touches” with your recruiters of choice to gain a “sale” for your position of choice.
  • Just a few final tips – when you meet with the recruiter, make sure you can clearly articulate your value proposition including your transferable skills and key achievements. Ensure that you know your career or position objective and have written this as a SMART goal for yourself. Be clear about the type of position you are looking for, the industry and organisation you are interested in and the type of remuneration you are expecting.
  • Remember that the recruiter is primarily a sales person so you need to ensure your relationship is built on professionalism and trust just like any other sales relationship.
  • Recruiters are human too. They want to be treated with courtesy and respect. Be polite in all your dealings and make it a pleasure for the recruiter to do business with you. If you do that, they will remember you and not hesitate to recommend you for future positions.

To find out more visit

Dr Edward Gifford

Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Diploma in Education (Dip.Ed.)

Diploma of Management
Cert. IV Training and Assessment
Cert. IV Coaching for Life and Business
Advanced Certification in ACT


About the Author

Edward is a professionally trained coach specialising in executive, leadership and careers coaching, as well as workplace and personal coaching. He is also a business adviser and mentor. Edward’s consulting services focus on leadership development, career transition, strategic thinking, team building, workplace engagement and work-life integration. He is a business skills mentor and coach for Queensland Government. Edward has been coaching full time since 2001 and has over 3000 hours of personal, executive, careers and workplace coaching experience. Edward has also developed a comprehensive and very successful outplacement and career transition program for executives and senior professionals.