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One of the best things about being a third party recruiter is that we can have honest conversations with candidates about their prospective employers (our clients). Almost all healthcare service providers and managed care organizations have Case Management and Utilization Management roles, but they offer different cultures, goals, and opportunities. No employer has a perfect situation for every employee, much less every qualified candidate. There are tradeoffs we all make, certain compromises that are more advantageous than alternatives. If you don’t know anyone who works at your potential new employer, it can be difficult to find out what those tradeoffs really are. So what should you do if the only information you can find sounds like a commercial?

Thankfully, a recruiter can help you evaluate new job opportunities. (That’s right, we weren’t created just to interrupt your life with phone calls.) But to take full advantage of what we know, you must be prepared to ask the right questions.

First, create a list of the factors that led you to take your most recent job. It’s fine if “I was out of work” is one–many of us have been in that spot. Think about the interviews and the people you met; did they respond to your questions with rehearsed answers or give you thoughtful, personal responses? What stuck with you from those initial encounters, and did the first few months of work live up to expectations?

Next, create a list of reasons why you left the previous job, and then make a similar list for why you would leave your current job. These don’t need to be long laundry lists, just 2-5 issues you wish you could fix –some like to call them “the pebbles in your shoes.”

Now that you’ve got your lists, quiz recruiters about these factors. When we say the employer “has a relaxed culture,” or “environment rewards flexibility,” or “they are a metric-driven organization,” you have some easy follow up questions. It is our responsibility to know why this role is open, what the interview process is like, what our previously placed candidates have said about onboarding, etc. If we don’t know, assign us some homework. We should have a strong enough relationship with our client to get you an answer within a couple of business days.

Another way to get some feedback about what it is really like to work your target job at your target company (not just interview there) is to have your recruiter conduct an informational interview with an existing employee. Most likely your recruiter knows someone at the target location, perhaps someone they placed there in the past, or a recent job seeker who recently left there. Either way, here’s a chance for you to get some unfiltered feedback while seeing how invested your recruiter is in your application.

Most early discussions with a recruiter cover workflows and workloads, so you will get a sense of what a typical day or week should look like. You should also find out what an atypical week could look like… Use your lists of questions as a springboard for conversation about how things might get off track, and note if anything goes purposefully unanswered.

You’ll notice that GlassDoorIndeed, and other sites that rate employers are not mentioned. You’re reading a recruiting blog, so you have probably already checked them. They generally represent the best and worst 5% of employees’ experiences, not the 90% in the middle. Additionally these reviews are sometimes skewed by reviews clearly written by a manager or company owner, much like a restaurant might give themselves 5 stars on Yelp.  So be sure to take the online reviews with a grain of salt. You are better off getting inside feedback from people who don’t have something to prove. After all, most of the people who aren’t posting would also be your future coworkers.

In conclusion, a recruiter can provide a close, contemporary view of what life is like at your target employer. Taking advantage of what we know, and who we know, will help you better present your candidacy, perform in the interview process, and ultimately decide if this job is right for you.

Written by Erik Berg, Search Consultant, Baltimore Office.  For more great tips on hiring strategies and to discuss our current opportunities, reach out to one of CareNational’s top recruiters! Contact him at 1.800.974.4828 x128, or erik@dk0jw.hosts.cx.