The job market is red hot right now and heavily favours employees.
The engineering and tech sectors have long struggled to fill their available positions. This situation has worsened in the wake of the pandemic. World-wide restrictions and lockdowns over the past two years shifted many white-collar workers into remote or hybrid work environments. This new way of work allowed people to re-evaluate their work/life balance, cut down on commute time and costs, and change the way that they perform their jobs, from the adoption of new tech tools to structuring their work days differently. With new insight into how work – and life – can be more fulfilling, many people are choosing to seek greener pastures.
With a high quit rate and near-record job turnover, the balance of power in the American job market has shifted from employer to employee. Desperate to fill their open roles, companies are offering higher salaries and perks like remote and flexible work arrangements, improved mental health supports, and better benefits packages. Even so, recruiters are scrambling to find qualified candidates.
In this job market, you are in high demand. If you’re open to the idea of a new job, why not just optimize your LinkedIn profile, adjust your settings to show that you’re open to new opportunities, and wait for the offers to roll in? After all, even before the pandemic, recruiters often reached out to “passive candidates” – people qualified for a position who hadn’t already applied.
But, if you’ve ever been a passive candidate yourself, you’ve likely received offers that were ill-suited to your personality, qualifications, and career goals. As the offers clutter your LinkedIn inbox, you need to weed through them, reading job descriptions, getting back to recruiters, and – if interested – working through the application and interview process, which can take an average of 49 days in the engineering field and 44 days in the tech sector.
There is an easier, less time-consuming way: work with a recruitment agency. A recruiter that specializes in your niche has a deep understanding of both the industry and the requirements of the jobs that they are working to fill. They are a tremendous resource when you’re seeking your dream job, assisting you in various ways – and, there is no cost to you.
Access to Unposted Jobs
Companies don’t always post their open positions, for a number of reasons. In some cases, they may work exclusively with a recruitment agency to fill their open roles and will rely on the agency to advertise their positions, if necessary. In other cases, they may need to hire quickly, such as when awarded a large contract and there is urgency to get a new project underway.
Additionally, a company may choose to hold off on posting contract or term positions. Contract work is well suited to the engineering and IT fields. Contract roles are becoming more prevalent. This type of work holds several benefits, including:
- A terrific way to explore new areas of interest and build skill sets;
- The opportunity to work on specific projects that highly interest you;
- The likelihood of remote or hybrid work, which can allow flexibility in how you spend your time and the opportunity for a better work/life balance; and
- An option to fill time between meaningful, permanent positions.
Working with a recruitment agency can lead to opportunities you might otherwise remain unaware of.
It takes considerable resources for a company to work through the hiring process. Time has to be spent reviewing resumes and vetting candidates; setting up interviews; preparing for and holding interviews (and many engineering and tech companies will have multiple interview stages); scoring and reviewing candidates; and extending and finalizing the offer. If, after going through all of that, the candidate is not a good fit, the financial cost to the company can be substantial and can lead to a toxic work environment and morale issues among other employees.
When working with a recruitment agency, it’s in a company’s best interest to provide as much information as they can to the recruiter, to expedite the hiring process and to find a good match for the company’s needs and culture.
That recruiter, in turn, can be a valuable resource for you. If the job is posted, you can glean details about the role itself and possibly your salary from the posting. But the recruiter can provide more information that can help you decide if the company would be a good fit for you. For example, a recruiter should be able to tell you about:
- The company’s growth projections;
- Projects the company has on the go or is bidding for;
- Internal and external opportunities for professional development;
- The company culture, including the work environment and office perks; and
- The personalities of key players, such as those on the interview team and project managers you might work with.
The last example can be especially valuable as you prepare for and navigate the interview process. Understanding how to approach and interact with the company’s key players will have a dramatic impact on the impression you make on your potential employers.
Perfecting Your Resume & Supporting Your Application
Because it’s in the interest of both the company and the recruiter to fill any open position as quickly and smoothly as possible, the recruiter will have in-depth knowledge of that position and a clear understanding of what the ideal candidate should look like. For that reason, the recruiter will be able to help perfect your resume, honing in on the skills and qualifications that the employer is most keen to match.
But beyond helping you look good on paper, so that your application moves through any initial filters, a good recruiter will pitch you to companies in ways that a two-dimensional single-page resume cannot do. They should be able to explain to the company’s hiring manager why you would be a good fit for the company culture, for example, or how your volunteer work has contributed to your soft skills.
A recruiter who understands your field is especially valuable because they will understand how your existing qualifications and skills can be transferred to a new position. Job titles can vary quite a bit from company to company, even if the function of the job is fairly similar. A recruiter who specializes in your niche area will be able to look beyond job titles in order to find your dream job for you and explain to the company’s HR team why you are that perfect fit.
Unmatched Interview Preparation
With their in-depth knowledge of the company and the role, as well as their desire to successfully place candidates (and get paid themselves!) recruiters are in a terrific position to prep you for all aspects of an interview. They should be able to give you insight into the types of questions that will be asked as well as into the personalities of your interview team. Being prepared for an unexpected question or an interviewer’s odd quirk can make you feel more confident walking into the interview and give you an edge over other, less-prepared candidates.
Job Offer and Salary Negotiations
It’s always a terrific idea to let your recruiter negotiate the job and salary offers for you. If you’re just entering the professional workforce, you may be unsure of your value. As well, in today’s job market, employers are constantly adjusting salary rates, hoping to attract and retain top talent. Don’t risk selling yourself short.
A recent Twitter storm erupted when an internal recruiter offered a candidate a salary that was about two-thirds of the hiring budget. The recruiter defended her actions by saying that it’s not her job to teach people about salary negotiations. While that may not be the job of an external recruitment agency either, it’s in their best interest to negotiate the highest possible salary – because their fee is most often a percentage of a hire’s annual salary.
Support for Your Career Goals
A good relationship with your recruiter means that they will keep you in their talent pipelines as a possible contender for other plum roles that fit your qualifications and career goals. Send a thank you note once you’ve been through the onboarding process and keep in touch with your recruiter as your career progresses. You never know what they may be able to come up with for you.