Job applicants need to check their egos at the door

As the economy improves and more and more jobs begin to get filled, it is more important than ever for job applicants to listen and learn through the interviewing process.

“Job seekers have had lean years and very little movement on the jobs front, including at the higher levels,” says Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company, a leading North American recruitment firm.

“Some people who’ve survived the recession with their job intact may think they hold all the cards if a company or recruiter calls. But now, more than ever, the best advice is to check your ego at the door and understand the ‘buy and sell’ process when presented with dream job opportunities,” Rosenzweig says.

“One of the most fundamental rules in this business is to know when to talk and know when to listen. In first-round job interviews, employers are looking for suitability and compatibility.”

Here are some key points that people should keep in mind when they get recruited for a job opportunity.

The headhunter works for the employer, but can also be your friend

While recruiters cannot coach candidates, they can provide general advice and help. Use the recruiter as a sounding board. Allow the recruiter to act as an intermediary between you and the client. You can approach recruiters with issues, comments or concerns prior to speaking to the client.

Retainer vs. contingency

Ask recruiters whether they have been retained for the project. While some contingency recruiters are motivated by achieving a mutually beneficial result, others are simply interested in making a placement and receiving commission contingent upon closure. In other words, they could push you toward a job that is wrong for you. Retainer-based recruiters tend to be less focused on short-term financial gain because they receive payment regardless.

Sell yourself

While overstating your accomplishments can backfire, it is also important to promote your skills and experience. When working with recruiters, help them present a positive representation of your candidacy.

Be yourself

Recruiters and their clients can see through insincerity. Don’t try to adapt your background or personality to a specific role.

Do your homework

Once you have begun your initial discussions with the recruiter, begin researching the respective company. Learn about recent financial and operational developments, but don’t expect to become an instant expert on the organization. Know enough to speak on a conceptual level without being too presumptuous.

Try to relax

While preparing and doing homework is good, don’t try to memorize answers to anticipated questions and don’t appear over-anxious or too eager.

Be honest about other opportunities your are considering

Both a recruiter and potential employer will understand if you have other options and may even work around your situation. But nobody likes to be blindsided, and it could come back to haunt you.

Come clean

Acknowledge any potential past issues, problems or indiscretions that could affect your future employer. Use the recruiter as a buffer, but be honest.

Accept constructive criticism

Again, don’t let your ego get in the way. When a recruiter or client provides constructive criticism, even in the context of turning your candidacy down, don’t get defensive and combat the feedback. Use it to your advantage; if not for this opportunity, then for the next.