How to impress recruitment consultants

Knowing the tricks of the trade can propel you up the priority list of the busiest recruitment consultant, says Calum Robson

Finance professionals are in big demand globally. Even though recruitment agencies are investing heavily in candidate marketing campaigns, you won’t automatically be registered simply because employers are crying out for accountants. There will always be a substantial number of unsuitable applications, so you must ensure you are identified as an ‘A1’ candidate – one that your consultant will work on as top priority.

Be specific

Recruitment consultants like directness. When you call, be specific about the job you have seen and why you are suitable. If you are making a general enquiry, outline the area of finance where you have experience. Remember, although agencies are happy to offer career advice, they only make money by finding you work so it’s important that they can see a realistic chance of doing this. Save more wide-ranging questions for the interview.

However, don’t be too negative about your current job. Your consultant will have to tell their clients why you are good for this or that position. They’re not there to rescue you from a poor career choice or the boss from hell, so tell them what you are looking to get out of your next job.

Be accommodating

You would be surprised how many candidates call agencies from their desk, when it’s difficult or impossible to talk. Call from your mobile in a coffee shop or a quiet street, or make certain you are in a room which ensures privacy. It’s likely you will be asked to e-mail your CV – but given the number of potential candidates a consultant will speak to in a day, it’s imperative you do this straightaway so that the consultant is better able to mentally link your CV to your conversation. If you are not able to do this, say when you’ll next have PC access – and stick to that commitment.

If one of your motivations for leaving is that you feel underpaid, check what the going rate is for people in a comparable position to you. Look at similar jobs advertised but be careful to check for the experience and qualifications expected rather than relying on job titles which can mean different things in different organisations. Listen to your consultant. It’s not in their interests to talk down your prospects: the larger your starting salary, the higher the agency’s placement fee. If your consultant recommends that you lower your expectations, give it serious consideration or sound out a couple more agencies.

Finally, be prepared to compromise on interview times. Inflexibility spells ‘problem candidate’ to most agencies, who won’t want you messing their clients around. It’s not unreasonable to expect you to take time off at the start or end of the day – not everyone can be interviewed before or after working hours. 


"Listen to your consultant. It’s not in their interests to talk down your prospects: the larger your starting salary, the higher the agency’s placement fee"