The Change Manager's Guide to working with recruiters for easy magical roles

career progression change management job hunting Mar 10, 2024
Lata in blue top smiling; text: change manager's guide: working with recruiters

Working with recruiters is one of the best kept secrets of a Change Management career, and doing it right can result in magical roles flowing easily and effortlessly to you. If you've only ever been employed directly with a company as a Permanent or a Fixed Term and gone straight through via a job ad, LinkedIn ad, or your network, then you might not know how to work with recruiters. 


Recruiters get a bad rap. There are some bad players out there who never keep their candidates up to date, who lowball on offers, who never give any feedback, who just ghost their candidates. There are those horror stories of recruiters out there. And before I moved to Change Management, I didn't even know what a recruiter was or how to work with a recruiter. But over my 8 plus years in Change Management, I’ve developed great strategies, tips and hints for making recruiters your new best friend and paving the easy path to amazing roles.


Here’s how to make the most of those magical recruiter relationships.


Change Management recruiters are da bomb

Projects are short, sharp pieces of work that often need to build a team from scratch for a set period of time, so it’s heavily reliant on recruiters. So I've personally found that in the Project and Transformation space, and especially in Change Management, they are savvier. They're often on the ball because they know that their bread-and-butter is not putting somebody into a Permanent role for two years and getting the commission intermittently. Their bread-and-butter is getting more contractors into project work, and projects are springing up all the time. So they tend to be more savvy, move more quickly, provide resource, and give feedback. And then I've found that Change Management tends to attract genuinely nice recruiters who are “people people” and work well with clients and candidates who are also nice and personable (so it’s no surprise I’ll often see Change recruiters making the leap to work in Change Management, especially given the high salaries and day rates.)



Always take recruiter calls

If any recruiter ever calls you, take the call! It's their job to place you and find you a role, whether or not you're looking. And really good recruiters will keep you on their books and keep you in mind if they know who you are, what you’ve done, what you like to do, how you do it, and what your career aspirations are. Some of my best contracts came to me because recruiters called me out of the blue and said, “Hey, I've got this role and I think you'd be perfect for it.” And I've gone, “Okay cool, let's go for the interview and let's try it out.” They’ve always been great roles for me and my career.


Now, you’re probably like me and avoid picking up unknown numbers, which may be the case if a recruiter found your details on Seek or LinkedIn or in their agency’s database, due to FOTM (Fear of Telemarketers). The more active you are on Seek and LinkedIn, the more you’ll pop up in recruiter search and the more likely you’ll get their unsolicited (but always welcome) phone calls. Always take the call even if you're not actively looking because you never know what they might have and you also never know what the job market might do. Simply share your experiences, rate expectations and career aspirations with them, then save their number to your phone, so when they call again your FOTM can take a break. They’ll keep a little note file on you and when they have something that might suit you, they'll reach out. Or when you apply for something that sits under their portfolio, they'll remember that they spoke to you. 



You don’t pay the recruiter

You don't pay a recruiter; the client pays a commission of your day rate. You get whatever is your agreed day rate, but your employer pays a little administration/commission to the recruiter for placing you. There's a win in it for the recruiter to get you a role. And there's also a win in it for the recruiter to get you a higher salary or a higher day rate because they may get a higher commission for the length of your contract.



Leverage them for market rates and insights

Ask your recruiter about what the market rates are doing so you know what’s appropriate or possible at any given time. There are times when rates are lower (such as during when COVID first hit or the latter half of 2023), but other times (usually a few months later) when rates bounce back and boom. Recruiters will tell you what's available in the market, and then it’s up to you if you want to accept that rate or not. At least they can give you guidance and awareness of the trends, and you can let them know what your day rate or salary expectations are. 



Get feedback on your CV

You can also ask your recruiter for feedback on your CV for the role - they usually won’t rewrite your whole CV for you (but you can grab my Change CV Template for $49 - click here to buy it). But they’ll often be more than happy to provide feedback or ideas on how to optimise it. I've done that since the very start of my Change career where I just listened to the feedback that the recruiters gave me and tweaked my CV over time.



Get the low down on the project and hiring managers

Your recruiter will also really help you understand what the project is, because they've already had a briefing from the client. They'll tell you what to ramp up in an interview and what is not as relevant. They'll also often give you some good insights on the people who are going to be interviewing you, because often they've already met them. Ask them, “Are there any insights that you can give me to build rapport with this person? Do you know what they're looking for from somebody who's successful in this role?” 



Share feedback after the interview

After the interview, often the recruiter will call you almost immediately for your feedback with questions like, “How do you think it went? What do you think of the role? Do you have any feedback for me?” Then they'll call the client (or vice versa) and ask the same question. Just share how you think it went. Sometimes with job hunting you want to show how eager you are and go and contact the client directly. If you are working with a recruiter, that's their role to do that. Do respect their client relationship and their role and let them liaise with the client, especially as there might be process nuances you don't know about.



Use your recruiter to negotiate better salary or rates

You can have an open and honest conversation with your recruiter about the job offer. You can absolutely say, “Look, that rate/salary is not enough for me. Can we negotiate a bit higher?” Again, it's literally their job to find you a role and get you the best offer possible and the best talent possible for the client within their budget.



Keep your recruiter relationships strong

I enjoy working with recruiters. I think that they're fantastic and even as an independent Change Consultant now, I still take recruiter calls. I'll chat with them. Sometimes I'll coach some recruiters who aren’t from a Change Management recruitment background on the type of talent they should be looking for (for example, over the years I’ve explained to several the difference between an IT Change Manager and an Organisational Change Manager - read my blog post here. But I'll just talk with them and be like, “If you've got short-term work, maximum 12 weeks, definitely get in touch. If you've got something really urgent, definitely get in touch. Otherwise, best of luck.” And I'll usually say to recruiters, “If you post the job on LinkedIn, shoot it to me in a DM. I'm more than happy to pop a comment on it so that it goes to my whole network of 8,000+ people, most of whom are in Change Management.” 


I keep really good strong relationships with recruiters. They know the market, they know the project, they know the client, they know you, and their job is to bring all of that together.


If you’ve got questions about working with Change Management recruiters, or anything else about a career in Change Management, come along to the Live Q&A Session I’m hosting tomorrow Wednesday 13 March at 6.00pm AEDT (Sydney time) || 7.00am GMT (London time). It’s part of my free Change Tools Masterclass.


CLICK HERE to join the Live Q&A Session of my Change Tools Masterclass


Lata xx

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