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How to Optimise the Consultant-Candidate Relationship: Dos and Don’ts for Candidates

  • Publish Date: Posted over 3 years ago
  • Author:by Alexis Phillips

​Building strong and productive relationships with candidates is a key part of any recruitment consultant’s work. It allows them to build their network and ensure that they are always placing the right person for any given role. In order to nurture these relationships, there are certain things that a recruiter should always do: they should genuinely learn about their candidates and try to match them with the perfect role for their skill-set. However, there are also various things that a candidate should bear in mind to increase the productivity of their relationship with the consultant. We asked some of the MERJE team to share what they consider to be the most important steps that a candidate can take to this end, and here is what they came up with.

1. Always be honest

When speaking to a recruiter, be honest about your professional experience and your capabilities from the get go. If you say that you have far more experience than you do, this will inevitably come out at the interview stage and when it does, not only will you have wasted both the client’s and the recruiter’s time, but the latter  will also appear as though they haven’t listened to their client’s needs.

Similarly, you should ensure that you disclose any information that an employer may need to know, such as any potential conflicts of interest or extenuating personal circumstances. Even though you may think that this will make you less attractive to potential employers, honesty is always viewed as a positive trait by employers. It will also ensure that the recruiter can sell you in a sincere and comprehensive way.

This honesty should extend to the disclosure of your current salary and package, too. Sometimes, candidates exaggerate their current salary in order to try and achieve a higher-paid role. Remember, though, that recruiters will always try to secure you a higher salary anyway as it is in their best interest to negotiate the most lucrative package possible. Being dishonest about your salary is counterproductive as seemingly unrealistic expectations will only lead to less potential opportunities.

2. Be transparent in your needs

Following on from the last point, you should be transparent about what you actually expect from a role. Just as you shouldn’t market yourself as only willing to take a higher salary than you are on, neither should you pretend that you would settle for a salary that you would ultimately be hesitant to take. Often, a candidate will say that the salary of a proposed role is sufficient but when it comes to the next stage, they will reveal that they were actually looking for more. Unless the salary is flexible depending on experience, which is typically highlighted in the initial job ad, you will only have wasted the consultant’s time.

So too should candidates be transparent about anything else that they have in the pipeline other than the role being discussed. Letting the consultant know about any other interviews you have planned or other companies that you are speaking to ensures that they know exactly where they stand and how likely you are to take the role. On the other hand, when candidates are offered a role and decline that offer for another, of which the consultant was never advised, this can be highly frustrating for the recruiter who could have pushed the client to tailor their offer or provide a more attractive package.  

So, if you do receive an offer from elsewhere that you are seriously considering, let the recruiter know so that they can alert their client. This will benefit both sides: you could receive a more attractive offer and the reputation of the recruiter will not be tarnished.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

The key to a lasting and productive partnership between a consultant and candidate, as the previous two points have touched upon, is communication. This should apply during the placement process, when candidates should communicate their specific criteria and flexibility.  

It should also apply after a candidate has either been placed or dismissed for a role, though. If the recruiter has placed you in a position, you should keep them up-to-date once you have started in the new role. Let them know whether your first week has gone well; this will not only either confirm or negate the recruiter’s ideas about their client’s office culture but will also allow them to provide feedback

If the recruiter did not end up placing you, you should still keep in touch as you may be a suitable candidate for another role. If you get a job elsewhere, you should let the recruiter know so that they know not to contact you about these roles.

Further to this, a recruitment consultant will always appreciate any effort you make to refer them to potential future candidates. If you have friends or family who are job-seeking in the areas in which that consultant recruits, orchestrate an introduction. Yes, this will help the recruiter grow their network, but it may also lead to a job for that person!

4. Demonstrate your commitment to the job hunt

When a recruitment consultant is working with a candidate, they want to know that they are committed to finding a role and will not drop out of the process without warning at the last minute. 

So, you should ensure you are certain that you want to move on before proceeding in the recruitment process. A good way to determine this is to consider how you would react to a counter offer by your current employer; would you be inclined to stay?

Either way, make sure that the recruiter you are working with is aware of precisely how determined you are to find a role. Ultimately, to go through the entire recruitment process for a candidate to decide that they want to stay in their current role would be a waste of both the recruiter and the client’s time, and hugely frustrating for both. Moreover, it may prevent another deserving candidate who is genuinely interested in the role from being given the offer.

5. Be organised

A key way to demonstrate your commitment to your job hunt is by maintaining stellar organisation throughout the process. Yes, recruiters know that any one candidate will be applying to multiple jobs at any one time, but they will still expect you to remember the role that you discussed with them and to follow through on their emails in a timely and specific manner. 

Akin to this, a recruitment consultant will expect you to have all of the relevant documentation for the recruitment process available and up-to-date. If you have any relevant qualifications related to the role, ensure that the recruiter knows about these and that you have the transcripts. You should have an in-date passport or a copy of your birth certificate to prove your right to work in the UK, as well as a utility bill or bank statement addressed to you within the last three months as proof of address. Not having these documents is a frustrating hindrance in slowing down the entire recruitment process.

This applies to your CV, too. Your CV should be thorough and up-to-date, detailing all relevant employment history with the specific dates that you worked that role and, if applicable, your reason for leaving. That said, a CV should never be too long, so feel free to adapt the document depending on the role that you are applying for and which parts of your experience best demonstrate the relevant skill-set and industry knowledge. Having a strong CV will allow a recruiter to sell you to a client as best as possible, increasing your chances of securing a role.

6. Manners maketh the man

A recruitment consultant may speak to dozens of people in just one day and it is always the people who are polite and personable that stand out. Treat a recruiter in the same way that they treat you and you’re more likely to stay on their radar for future roles. 

If a recruitment consultant does not think that you are appropriate for a role, try not to take it personally. We know that it is frustrating to have an application rejected when you believe that you have the experience and expertise required for the role. However remember that recruiters are specialists in the area and will have good reason for believing that you were not the perfect fit. Typically, this falls down to market conditions; when the market is saturated with strong candidates, as we are especially seeing in the current climate, a recruiter may have several candidates who tick every box. Because of this, someone who would have otherwise been a strong candidate may not be offered the role on this occasion and under this set of particular circumstances.

If you are wondering why the recruiter did not think that you were the right candidate for a certain position, do not hesitate to ask for feedback. Asking for constructive criticism as to why you were not successful can help you identify potential areas for improvement.

7. Trust the recruiter

It can be tempting to want to follow up constantly to find out what a recruiter may have you in mind for. However, this can actually hinder the recruitment process; if a recruiter is spending all of their time updating candidates, they will not have the time to source relevant opportunities and follow up with clients. So, trust that the recruitment consultant will be working hard behind the scenes to find vacancies that could be of interest. If they have a role that they think you may be interested in, they will not hesitate to get in touch.

Overall, communication, transparency and honesty are key to ensuring a positive working relationship between recruiter and candidate.

If you are looking for a new role and are interested in hearing of any opportunities that we may be able to offer you, please contact our recruitment consultants at