When working with headhunters, talent acquisition managers, or whatever name you give to recruiters, it’s important to remember they’re working for companies, not individuals. Does this mean they can’t help you out?  Absolutely not! They have access to a whole network of information and clients that you don’t have, and with their help, you can gain admittance. But there are some rules to follow, and breaking these rules will almost always destroy your job prospects.

Rule 1: Don’t wait to work with recruiters.

It can be tricky, but you should be in contact with recruiters while still employed because there are a number of benefits. One, you’ll have leverage—you know that you’re valuable to a real company, right now. If unemployed, you have no such luck. Two, companies want to hire people who are meaningfully employed. Because of this, recruiters don’t typically work with unemployed people. Three, your job situation could change tomorrow. It’s best to be in touch with recruiters now, in the event you lose your job.

Rule 2: Don’t lie.

It might be tempting to talk up your skills and/or be dishonest about your situation and how it might affect your possibility of getting a job. But if you do lie, and happen to get a job interview based on a recruiter’s recommendation, the truth will eventually come out. You’ll either have to fess up at that employer interview (in which case they will definitely not hire you) or you’ll get the job and fail to do what’s expected of you (in which case you’ll be fired). Recruiters are good judges of character and skills—this is their job—and in order to find the right person, for the right position, with the right employer, they need nothing short of the truth.

Rule 3: Don’t be fuzzy on the details (an offshoot of rule 3).

Be prepared to show specific, measurable accomplishments. Don’t expect the recruiter to do this for you. Remember, they’re working for companies—it’s not their job to coach you and transform your vague mish mash of skills into a concrete and solid looking resume! Come to the table with the straight and detailed facts about what you can do for a company. This includes tailoring your resumé and cover letter for each job you apply for.

If you’re not sure how your skills and jobs translate into a job, seek the advice of a career counselor before you contact a recruiter. You don’t stand a chance if you come to a recruiter with the “I’m ready for anything” type of attitude.

Rule 4: Don’t rely on recruiters to find you a job.

Just because you meet with a recruiter doesn’t mean you’ll be entitled to a job. Remember, recruiters are looking to fill their client’s needs, not yours. If you’re skilled and would fit a job position well, they might call you. But it’s not a given. Make sure you’re diversifying your job hunt, or you’ll be let down.

Rule 5: Don’t waste recruiter’s time. This is a huge turn off.  Only apply for jobs that you’re qualified for, or you’re wasting their time. Be specific about what you want to get paid, or you’re wasting their time. Again, it isn’t the recruiter’s job to coach you. Have this info ready.

Rule 6: Don’t be inflexible about forms of compensation.

A lot of companies like to negotiate contract- to-hire deals. If you can’t compromise, it’s to your detriment.

Rule 6: Don’t let your online presence ruin your reputation.

What shows up on Facebook doesn’t just stay on Facebook. Be aware of what other people can see and read about you. Seems simple, but lots of people have trouble with this one. If a recruiter finds questionable info and photos about you online, don’t expect them to call you.

Tips: Google your name and see what’s out there. You can also create a Google alert for your first and last name.

Rule 7: Don’t harass recruiters.

There’s a difference between following-up with a thank-you call or card and calling back numerous times to ask recruiters about possible job leads. Refrain from being a bully. Don’t ever sound desperate, even if you are. It will ruin your reputation as a viable candidate.

There are other things that matter too, of course. But we hope these seven basic rules will guide you in your relations with recruiters here at True Source, and with any others you happen to work with in the future.