Navigating career change can be a tough challenge. Telling contacts that you’re considering a career change is a solid first step, but may not lead to concrete opportunities. Combing through online job postings and resume submission sites, however, is time consuming and can feel like shouting into a void– will anyone even read your submission?

If you’re currently employed and interested in new opportunities, a recruiter can be a strategic ally that helps you land your next job. From keeping you in the loop on the latest openings to getting your resume in front of receptive hiring managers, recruiters play a critical behind-the-scenes role. Like any partnership, this relationship will work best when you come into it with realistic expectations and a commitment to transparency.

Rank your priorities.

Start with an honest assessment about what’s motivating your desire to leave. For example, are you frustrated with your company’s culture, ready to take on more management duties, seeking a more flexible schedule, or looking for higher compensation? Next, rank these priorities: would higher compensation be nice but the flexibility to work from home once a week offset this need? Finally, consider non-negotiables. If you live in the city and don’t own a car, would you consider a commute to the suburbs for your dream position, or is that a non-starter?

When I first start working with a job seeker, I schedule a short intake call to discuss the candidate’s priorities, needs and non-negotiables. This is the time to be honest and upfront about all your compensation details and priorities. I don’t want to waste your time (or mine) on opportunities that aren’t the right fit. Candidates who are open to these candid conversations benefit from a more efficient job search.

Be realistic about the market.

As a recruiter, it’s my job to help you set realistic expectations and understand what the market will support. Recruiters have a wealth of market intelligence at their fingertips. We know which companies are looking to hire, which skill sets and experience are most in demand, and how much companies are willing to pay for top talent. Just like the stock market, the job market ebbs and flows with what’s hot and what’s not. For example, right now there are limited senior level finance and treasury opportunities in the Chicago market but quite a few technical accounting positions. When candidates approach me about a new position, I know they may need to compromise on job priorities or wait for a more favorable market. While it can sometimes be hard to hear, remember any market advice your recruiter shares is truly in your best interest.

Be responsive.

When your recruiter reaches out with a job opening, be ready to make a move! You should already have your LinkedIn profile updated and resume prepared to share. When new job opportunities are available, recruiters often have a short turnaround time to present the client with a curated candidate list. If you wait a week to call a recruiter back, the job window may already have closed. Even if the opportunity is not for you, a prompt response demonstrates you’re serious about your job search and respect the recruiter’s time.

Think like a recruiter.

I know it can be disappointing to submit a resume and never hear back. While many different factors may be at play, one possibility is that you may be a great fit but your resume doesn’t reflect this. A recruiter can support your job search by tailoring your resume to highlight the skills and experience most important for the position to which you’re applying. However, if you’re simply not the right match or lack a required skill, resume editing can’t change this fact.

As a recruiter, it’s my job to ensure a client’s requests are met. Every candidate I present must match the client’s needs as closely as possible. If a candidate isn’t right for the job, I simply can’t submit their resume. Understanding these constraints up front will help you be realistic about the job search and what a recruiter can do for you.

Keep your recruiter in the loop.

If you’re searching for the perfect position, know that it may take while to find this opportunity. During this process, you may go for several weeks or months without speaking to your recruiter. Recruiters don’t want to waste your time, so they’ll only reach out if they have a “matching” search. If anything changes on your end – a promotion at work, a change in job search priorities – promptly let your recruiter know. This way your recruiter can adjust search parameters accordingly and be sure you’re at the top of the list when the right opportunity comes along.


Questions about navigating your career change? Please leave a comment below and we will set you up with a recruiter.