Once you have made the decision to work with a recruiter, there are several key tips you should follow to give it your best effort. It is important to remember that a recruiter functions as an employment mediary – treat your recruiter exactly as though he or she were the employer.

Tip # 1: Dress to impress

Just as you would with an interview, dress to impress the recruiter. The recruiter is assessing you just as any company would. If you come in shorts with your hair unkempt, the recruiter will not want to present you to any of his or her clients. Remember – the recruiter is being paid by the employer to screen out unsuitable candidates. Not being presentable in your attire is a red flag to a recruiter that you are not serious in your job hunting approach.

Tip #2: Know what you want

Before meeting with a recruiter, you should spend time outlining what exactly you want from your next position or employer. For instance, if you are currently employed, the recruiter will want to know specifically why you want to make a change. Telling her your current boss is terrible does not provide any meaningful information. On the other hand, telling her your supervisor micromanages to such a stifling level it causes you heart palpitations every day is something she will understand. Your recruiter will also want to know a realistic salary range, your benefit requirements and what are your positive and negative traits. Be prepared to answer those questions.

Tip #3: Be honest and forthcoming

If you’ve had a negative work history, tell your recruiter. She can give you the best advice on how to approach any problems with the potential employer (if it is even necessary). For instance, if one of your “negative” character traits is having a disorganised desk, she can advise you how to tackle this during the interview when asked. In this example, my own suggestion would be thus:

“What is one of your least favourable qualities on the job?”

“I would have to admit that I have not always kept my work area well organised in the past. However, in recognising this, I have done some research on becoming better organised and I created my own system to help with that problem.”

Tip #4: Do not exaggerate!

Recruiters are experts in revealing exaggerations. We are paid by employers to be thorough and we will uncover any indiscretions with the truth. Think of us as your barrister: We need you to be honest to avoid surprises and problems and help advise you through it and tackle it head on. We are also experts on how to present your qualifications, skills and talents without the need for exaggeration or outright dishonesty. However, if you are not honest with us, we cannot prepare you, and this will simply lead to a disaster of your own making.