ask the readers: how can I work better with recruiters?

I’m going to throw this one out to the readers for advice. A reader writes:

I’m hoping you or your readers have some wisdom for me on this. I work in a creative field, at a senior level, mostly in the digital realm. Up until now, I have found jobs on my own—good jobs. But my last employer sold off the division I was working for as part of a financial restructuring, so I find myself in the position of looking for a job. For the last 6 months, I have been contracting at a previous employer, but that contract is about to run out.

By and large, creatives in my geographical area (San Francisco Bay Area) seem to get work through recruiting agencies, so, though I’ve never needed to before, I have started working with agencies. So far it has been an awful experience! They call frantically about openings, get miffed if I am not interested for a valid reason such as the commute, pay or my interest level in the company, then they forget about me for a few weeks until I remind them I exist, then the whole thing starts over again. Apparently no one in my field just hires a full time employee anymore, it appears to be all “contract with a “possibility” of going “perm.” The recruiters are flaky, don’t make appointments (say, for a phone screening) when they say they will, don’t return calls, and they get a lot of information wrong. I’ve been up-front, telling the recruiters that I am really looking for a good fit, what my areas of interest are, and what my starting pay needs to be. Today I was blown off by 2 potential employers for one month contract jobs, which might not directly be the recruiters’ fault, but all of my experiences have been with flaky, frantic recruiters so it’s hard to not somehow connect the two.

I want to know: How can I be a better client to recruiters? Is there a way to get them on my side, and to really care about what I want, and to treat me and my schedule with a bit more respect? And, also, is there such a thing as a recruiter who is really interested in helping you find a great fit, or are they just interested in cramming people into positions as fast as possible to make money? And, finally, I’m hoping some of your Bay Area readers might know of some great agencies that are not on my radar.

I should note that I am immaculate in my work and in my timeliness when dealing with the recruiters, and anyone they send me to. I have great experience, wonderful references, and a pretty great portfolio. I think I’d be a great employee!

Readers, what advice do you have? Have you ever cracked the code to working well with recruiters?

My overall sense is that if you get a good one, you don’t really need to crack any code … and if you get a bad one, no code will help. But feel free to refute that!

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