You want to know what recruiters think? If you work with them, you should.

OK...I'm not going to brag. Wait, wait. Yes. Yes I am. But after that I'm going to offer up some great nuggets of wisdom from one of the foremost experts on all things recruiter, so forgive me for a second here....

I totally had lunch with Lance Haun the other day. Yes, Lance Haun. The Community Director for ERE Media (which, btw, is the foremost association for all things recruiter) and voice behind the popular HR blog If you're not wowed by that, be wowed by the fact that we had the most magnificent reuben sandwiches in all of Portland AND extraordinary craft beer. On a regular old Thursday afternoon. (I'm veering off topic, aren't I? Sorry, blame the craft beer.)

Anyhow... Lance was a recruiter for several years. Today, he spends llllots of time with recruiters as part of his gig with ERE Media. He knows how they think, he knows what they want, he knows pretty much everything YOU need to know about how to best work with them. Here's what he had to say:

So, what are the biggest benefits a job seeker can realize when they work with recruiters?

One of the bigest would be that recruiters usually have very, very good networks. And that gives them a primary advantage. Even if they don't have a specific job available? If you have some good skills and they know of something, they may well know who you should connect with. Getting on the right side with a recruiter can be very advantageous. Also, they will usually have a lot of tips and tricks to offer... of things that are working and not working for job seekers right now.

What do you think is the most common misperception that job seekers have about working with recruiters?

I know it's cliche to say, but job seekers always misunderstand this: The recruiter is working for the corporation. The recruiter is on the payroll of the company, and so they are going to be in the company's camp. If your interests aren't aligned with the recruiter and his or her corporate alliances? Nothing personal, but you're not going to be a priority. Recruiters only have a finite amount of time and they have a large load of req's (job openings) on their plates. They work with a lot of pressure. Please, as a job seeker, don't take offense. But it's important to know where a recruiter's paycheck is coming from, and know that they just can't help everyone.

Give me some working with a recruiter dos and don'ts, please.

Well the best "do" is to treat the relationship as an exchange/networking thing. Give to get, a give and take. If you make it worthwhile for a recruiter to work with you, it's going to go a long way. A "don't" would be, don't just ask for a job. Don't come in assuming the recruiter is going to have or find a perfect job for you. We work in niche industries, so we can't necessarily help you if you're not in that niche. Another "don't" would be, don't call a recruiter just to get resume advice. It's fine to bring that topic up in the course of working with a recruiter on a position, but recruiters have time limits. We don't make money by critiquing resumes for the most part. Also, please, recognize that recruiters are all humans. We don't have superpowers. We absolutely will go to bat for you when we're representing you, but at the end of the day? It's the client's decision.

How can you impress a recruiter when working with one?

(laughs... Lance Haun actually laughed out loud at my question.) I don't think recruiters are all that difficult to impress! Have an easy-to-read resume, make sure you have studied the company and the industry and walk into the interview process prepared. Be conscientious about where and to whom you send your resume. As in, keep track. Pay attention. If you blast out a ton of generic emails and then forget that you even applied for this job? It's a major turnoff. And we recruiters will know within a couple of minutes of conversation. Also, have an awareness of your key offerings, and how/where you might best fit in to an organization. Help us best understand you so that we can best market you to a client.

And what's the fastest way to turn a recruiter off?

Oh, every recruiter has their touch points, but for me? It's the nagging. Mature candidates realize that recruiters are busy. They have a lot of candidates. If I'm working with a good recruiter, I'm going to be confident that, even if it's taking longer than I imagined (to get feedback, an interview, etc.,) I know he's out there doing his job and representing me. Nagging, pushing buttons, calling and emailing every day, or EVERY HOUR (yes, it's happened)? That's going to change my perception of you as a candidate, and it will negatively impact you.

Also, when I encounter someone who just wants to know about the salary, the benefits, the vacation? All that does is make me default to a "bad match" point of view right away.

Finally, how much should people rely on recruiters as part of their overall search efforts?

Not much. I know this may sound kind of harsh from a recruiter, but if you believe like I do that networking is where it's at? Unless your network is flush with recruiters that you're well-networked with? I'd make them a small part of the overall strategy. Recruiters are not on your payroll and they have no investement in you unless you're a good match for them. I personally, would spend limited time with them. And that's coming from a person who spends a lot of time with recruiters, and who thinks they do a very good job. Use your network. That's the most valuable advice I have.

Lance Haun is Community Director for ERE Media and blogger at His background includes seven years of HR experience (primarily as a recruiter, generalist and manager) and four years of social media and blogging experience in the HR/Recruiting sphere. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal,, Workforce Magazine, FastCompany, and Lance is also madly scrambling to pull of the major ERE 2011 Spring Expo, which will be held March 23-25 in San Diego. It's sunny there.