|By Cameron McCallum, Branch Manager at Eagle|
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As an independent contractor, you probably work with any number of Recruiters whenever you need assistance in finding your next IT contract. The complaint I hear most often from contractors is that after having any number of discussions with an agent, the line of communication suddenly goes cold and they are left wondering what happened... were they really being considered for the job, was their resume submitted, has the client seen their resume, what are the timelines etc.
There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing the status. We hear about the concept of "closure" as being important for humans after traumatic incidents. It gives us the ability to move on, start anew and leave the past behind. Closing the loop acts in much the same way and is an important part of any business relationship. The following concepts are essential to creating an atmosphere of trust and continuity when dealing with the staffing industry:
Setting expectations is the key to setting the stage for the final step of closing the loop. What are the steps involved, what is the timeline and what will be the final outcome? When dealing with a Recruiter, you might ask them, when will you decide whether you are going to submit my resume to the client? What happens once you've submitted? When do you expect interviews to take place? Will you call me if I am not selected? Remember that the loop is an ongoing process and so not all of these questions may be asked or answered the first time you speak. As the process moves forward, other questions will be generated but the key is that clear expectations need to be set and ultimately, the final stage of closing the loop will take place.
Sometimes trying to set or negotiate expectations can be perceived as one party being demanding. This is especially true when speaking to a person who resists being tied to specific expectations. This might be because they fear they won't meet them or they don't want to be bothered having to meet them. That's why you need to constantly listen to what people say and confirm that you are on the same wavelength. Setting expectations with a Recruiter doesn't have to mean that you are being unreasonable or that it has to be a huge time commitment. It may mean that one or two emails are exchanged before the final step in the process... closing the loop.
The single most important action to take is to reiterate expected actions or timelines both by repeating it prior to the end of your phone call or in-person meeting. And to add strength to the process, you may want to send a quick email outlining your understanding of the process and expectations. This may seem like a lot of work but it creates a process map and helps you to manage your job search ie. Where you've been submitted, what was the role or what is the timeline for specific action to be taken. Sending out a meeting note creates a natural follow-up point that can then be leveraged to close the loop on various actions throughout the process.
DO UNTO OTHERS...
If you want your recruiter to follow up promptly and as promised, then you had better reciprocate. By demonstrating that you are on board with the process and a professional in your actions, you will help establish the protocols for your interactions with the Recruiter. Send required documentation as needed, respond promptly to email or phone messages. Nothing tells someone that it's important to close the loop like doing everything you can do make it easier for them to do so.
DON'T GIVE UP
Just because you believe you've reached agreement on a set of actions leading ultimately to a closed loop, does not mean that it will happen automatically. Repeating the above steps until you reach the resolution you want is essential to the process. And even if the other party is not cooperating, don't give up. But if it does happen that you don't gain closure and the loop is never fully closed on a particular opportunity or with a particular Recruiter, then you might want to re-evaluate your working relationship with that person. After all, it only makes sense to work with those whose goals reflect yours.
Closing the loop is the penultimate stage of any requested action. Whether it is a part of your professional business life, being a parent, a coach, it only makes sense that this final step in any request for action takes place.