When I was looking for a job last year, I applied endlessly (online) to positions that seemed to fit perfectly with my skill set. Even with inside referrals, I found it very difficult to get a response from hiring managers, especially with large companies. They were most likely overwhelmed with the volume of applications that they received. It’s very easy to get discouraged in this type of situation.
I realized that I got more fruitful leads through my campus career website, but there were quite a few non-responses even with this method. However, in the midst of this personal job searching and networking, I stumbled into the nebulous world of recruiters.
I highly recommend working with recruiters. Fortunately, I had great experiences with the recruiters that I worked with, including the one who connected me with my current position, which was a great fit for all parties involved. The first point to keep in mind, however, is that the recruiters work for the companies. Not the job seeker. You may have heard this before, but I’ll reinforce the thought. The recruiters get their commissions from the company (the ”client”), so their primary interest is to make the hiring managers happy by delivering great candidates. This means that they may have several candidates in mind for a particular position.
Another thing to keep in mind is that usually (at least in my experience), the recruiter contacts you, not vice versa. However, after initial contacts, I was pleased with how they made things move so quickly. The relationship starts with a phone call so they know that you can speak coherently, as well as to judge personality (to see if you would fit in with the company culture). This is followed by a more in depth phone conversation, reviewing your skills, experience, and expectations, with respect to the job requirements.
If you make it past this round, the next step is usually a phone interview with a hiring manager at the company, in-person interviews, etc. All correspondence between the candidate and company goes through the recruiter. In my case, the recruiter followed up regularly with “advice” and feedback, which I greatly appreciated. The recruiter also helped me to negotiate my offer, which was quite helpful (who knows how I would have fared in negotiations independently).