The recruiter is an often misunderstood role by potential candidates. If you are applying for a job and first have to speak to an external recruiter, it is a mistake to think of them as admin or a gatekeeper. They are the key to you getting that job and at the salary you want.
The moment you speak to a recruiter, whether over the phone or in person, you should be there with your game face on. So many people turn up to these first engagements as if it is the day before the race and they are collecting their bib. This is the first kilometer of the race, you need to be warmed up and ready to run. Strange running metaphors aside, making a good impression on your recruiter makes them think highly of you. If they think highly of you they will keep you top of mind.
A recruiter has one job, to fill the position with the right person. They don’t just want to fill it because the employer will likely not use them again. They want to put a great person in that job. If you convince them of your passion and skills they will help you convince your employer. Many recruiters have the first say on whether a candidate should be taken seriously.
They can also be your guide through the interview. You can ask them about the hiring manager, the qualities they look for, how the process will go. If you have won them over they will want you to succeed and will tell you everything they can. I was once moving from a job where I was underpaid to a job where I would receive a much higher payment. When I told the recruiter what wage I was on, he told me that would be improved significantly if I took this new job. This small nugget of information gave me a better idea of what salary to negotiate for.
The key is to treat your recruiter like a formal friend on the inside. Be respectful, grateful, honest, friendly, and most of all use their knowledge and their incentives to your advantage.