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If you are looking for a job, chances are you are looking for a recruiter to help you find that job.

Staffing expert Gerry Crispin of CareerXroads in the New York City area says that candidates who are referred to an employer by someone in their network have up to a one in five chance of getting the job. Believe me, no recruiter can match those odds, but I know that some of you are repelled by networking, so for you, I will explain how to find a good recruiter.

First, ask other people in your line of work or industry for recruiters they recommend. Recruiters usually specialize, so if you work in banking and want to stay in Pittsburgh, skip the recruiter who specializes in manufacturing jobs in New England.

You can find recruiters listed in “The Directory of Executive & Professional Recruiters” (Kennedy Information BNA Subsidiaries, 2010), which lists recruiters by location and specialties. This directory is in the careers section of probably every library in America.

Contrary to what many think, recruiters do not have long lists of jobs to fill. They may have one or several jobs that they are working on, and if you happen to fit one of them, they will have plenty of time for you. If not, they will accept your resume and quickly move on. Don't take it personally. They will call you again if they ever have an opening that is a more suitable match.

Although it may seem like you are increasing your odds by getting your resume into the hands of multiple recruiters, that tactic can backfire. Most recruiters work on a contingency basis, meaning the employer pays them only when their candidate gets hired. That means that multiple recruiters could be trying to fill the same job, and by working with multiple recruiters, your resume could get submitted by more than one of them. Yes, Virginia, some recruiters do send resumes without letting you know in advance. To an employer, that makes you look like a cheap commodity instead of a prized candidate.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that recruiters work for you. The employer is paying the fee, so that's who they represent. If you say to a recruiter, “My last boss was a !%&*#, and that's why I lost my job,” they will not send you on interviews. Tell a recruiter only what you would want a prospective employer to hear.

Working with a recruiter does bring you a number of benefits, provided you have the background they need, which is usually hard-to-find skills or a unique blend of industry and job experience. If you match what they are looking for, they can position you as the ideal candidate.

Another perk is that recruiters will usually negotiate your salary for you, and they do it well because they know what the employer is really willing to pay for the job and for you. They can negotiate benefits for you such as additional vacation time or a leased parking space.

Once you are hired, maintain a relationship with recruiters. They will appreciate your referrals of potential candidates as well as employers with hiring needs, and they will call you about openings that may be of interest to you down the road. Considering that employees now change employers every few years, that's an important relationship to maintain.

But maintaining a network is even better.

Chris Posti is president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh. She can be reached at 724-344-1668.

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