You are at work, the phone rings. It’s a number you don’t recognize and you’re debating picking it up, but you do anyway. You hear an unfamiliar voice, saying they found your resume on a job board.
“Wow, I actually got a hit!”, you think.
The unfamiliar voice then asks, “Are you still looking for a new opportunity?” You eagerly say yes, but it’s not a good time to talk! You explain you’re at work and would love to continue the conversation, so you set up a call to go over what you are wanting in the new opportunity and seeing what they can offer.
This is usually how it goes.
A few months ago, I placed a Data Scientist with a well-known company here in Florida. The candidate was in high demand and was actively interviewing all over the country.
From the initial conversation, he was open and honest about each opportunity and the stage he was in. He shared with me his career goals, his feelings about each opportunity, why he was looking, and his timeline.
Knowing this crucial information, I was able to determine which current opportunity would be the right fit for him. Not only was I in a better position to help him, but also to manage my client’s expectations, speed up the interview process, and communicate the urgency of the candidate’s timeline and exactly where he was in his job search.
Let me be candid here, often times a recruiter will tell a client their candidates are actively interviewing to try to speed the process up, but if they can’t back it with proof it’s unlikely to happen.
The end of this story has a great ending. My candidate was placed in the job he was most interested and the client didn’t miss out on a rockstar candidate. No one could be any happier.
I share this story because my hope is to let you, the audience, know why you should be frank with your recruiter from the beginning. As we know the interview process is stressful as it is and being upfront with your needs, and wants is only going to help your recruiter determine what is a potential fit for you and your career!
The more information you can share with your recruiter the better position you put them in to help you! So let’s start with the basics, shall we?
What’s your number?
Of course, we are talking salary here. I cannot underestimate how important it is you are honest with your recruiter about this one!
- What is your current salary?
- What is your desired salary?
- What would it take for you to make a change?
These are all questions a recruiter is going to ask.
Many times candidates tell a recruiter some fantasy salary number when in reality they will take a lot less.
I’ve had a candidate tell me he wanted $200K for this new opportunity. So I submitted him for his desired salary. My client ended up not interviewing him because he was too expensive. After giving my candidate that feedback, he told me he would have gone down to $150K.
If he had been straight with me from the beginning, I could have got him a nice bump without missing out on the opportunity altogether. Believe me, when I say there is nothing wrong with wanting a higher pay, especially for a position that’s a step up from where you are currently are. But if your recruiter doesn’t know what you are making now and what you want for your next position. They can’t help manage your expectations.
Secondly, candidates will say, “I want market rate”. The problem with saying this is it’s irrelevant. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal skills, past experience you bring to the table, how well you interview and what you are willing to accept.
Knowing your number or the value you bring beforehand will make the process easier for everyone on all sides. Each person and their skills are unique to their experience in their career. I can help by giving you a general range, but ultimately what will it take for you to accept the offer.
Career goals! Where do you want to be?
Have you always wanted to work in a particular industry? Are you looking to climb the corporate ladder and go from a technical lead to management or do you love being hands-on technical that you couldn’t imagine not getting your hands dirty coding? This is important to share because the recruiter should have a good understanding of each job they are working on and what the client expects from the candidate they are looking to hire. What is your end goal? We want to push you in the direction you want to go. We wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we placed you in a job where you don’t want to be. So share those goals with us!
Technical skills, where do you lie?
I can’t stress this enough. 80% of candidates embellish their resume. Especially technical candidates, we see them list buzzwords and software they’ve touched one time or haven’t used in years but on their resume, they seem to be an expert.
Embellishing your tech skills may get you an interview, but clients will find out how sharp you are with those skills when it comes to the technical round.
Any candidate who doesn’t pass is disqualified. Scoring an interview gives you an opportunity to show that your skills align with what you said on paper, so make sure they align!
Where are you currently at in your job search?
Are you actively looking for a new position or are you only interested in your dream job opportunity? The last thing you want is to go through an entire interview process, that can take up to 2 months or more, all to turn it down and stay in your current position. Let the recruiter know why are you in the job market and how important a new position is for you. The niche tech area is a small community and you don’t want to get a bad reputation in the marketplace for wasting a company’s resources and the hiring managers’ time. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that everyone who goes through an entire interview process should just take the job, but you should have a good idea at the beginning of the process if this will be a good match and if you are really willing to leave your current position. Don’t just take an interview to see what happens knowing you have no intention of leaving your current job. This doesn’t work out for anyone.
On the other hand, if you are super active and have multiple interviews going on let your recruiter know! If you are a great candidate and the recruiter knows you are interviewing they will push even harder to get you a position because they know you are a hot commodity with a time limit. If you have an urgent reason for leaving your current position this is also important information to share. Maybe your current company is about to have a layoff or you feel stuck because there is no room for growth. Sharing your honest feelings lets the recruiter know you are serious and how to better help you.
Taking an honest open approach when speaking with a recruiter can only benefit you to help your recruiter better serve you. In my professional opinion the more I know about my candidate the better I can help them find their next opportunity!
Happy job hunting!
About the Author
Brittany Fox is a co-founder at Focus GTS and a market specialist in AI & Data Science. With speaking engagements at, The Stanford University “Women in Data Science, she is working with several well-known companies all over the country and helps them build out their world-class tech teams.