This week I attended an incredible talk from recruiter Cheryl Bedard, who shared her thoughts on engaging properly with recruiters.  One of the things that struck me as particularly important is we often only think about contacting a recruiter when we are in-between jobs or thinking of making a move.  This is a very shortsighted strategy – active management of your career includes cultivating your connections with recruiters over time, along with the rest of your network, so that you have the support you need when you need it.

In addition to this top tip, here are some other thoughts on how to make a recruiter your best friend:

Be approachable and respond to emails and calls

This one struck me as a surprise, as doesn’t everyone have a current email on their LinkedIn account?  Evidently not.  Make sure your profile is current and correct and use an email that you actually monitor and will respond to.  If you’re actively looking for a job, answer the phone.  This one may take a bit of a mind shift change as we’re programmed these days to let everything go straight to voicemail.  But if I’m a busy recruiter, instead of leaving a message, I may just hang up and call the next candidate on my list.  And Cheryl pointed out a very interesting piece of info – that coveted call from the recruiter might be tagged as spam on your phone.  The only way to know for sure is to take the call and see.  You can always hang up if it’s spam.  Lastly, listen to your voicemails and make sure your mailbox is not full, with an aim to return messages within 24 hours.  You should call them back and not text and definitely leave a voicemail if they don’t answer.

Know what you want and why

I often speak about this ad nauseam with career coaching clients.  If there are 5 similar resumes, why would the company pick you?  You need to have an answer to this question.  And just in case you were wondering, “I’m willing to do anything” is not a good response.  Cheryl’s perspective echoed mine, that the talent market does not respond well to generalists.  You need to be a specialist in something, clearly understand the value you bring and be able to articulate it confidently.  To that point there are 5 ways to speak to value – increased revenue, increased profitability, decreased cost, avoided cost, saved time.  Think about the question – “What do you do to make your bosses life easier?” if you’re struggling to come up with an answer to this one.  And even if during the interview process they don’t ask the question, “Why should we hire you?” you need to close with this as part of your summary and make sure they know why they should hire you. 

Share, Share and Share

A brilliant way to cultivate relationships with recruiters is to be a source of information for them and share industry trends, upcoming conferences, information about your company that you can legally share which could include info about upcoming acquisitions, mergers, or splits.  Making referrals to other candidates is also super helpful.  Recruiters love this and you establish yourself as a trusted resource that is valuable to them.  One caveat to this is to make sure the referral is actually qualified for the role.  And when you’re making the referral to the recruiter think about whether you want your name mentioned when that candidate is contacted.  Referrals could include a person you’d think would be a great fit for an open role a recruiter has, but could also include helpful connections for that recruiter to have on their radar screen, e.g industry experts who recruiters could learn a lot from, decision makers in your organization and folks who are senior to you.

And if you’re wondering – How do I get started finding recruiters to connect with?  Find someone on Linkedin who’s in that coveted job you’re looking for, and ask them for a referral to a recruiter.  Cheryl mentioned this tactic is ace, as it’s a very small ask and someone you reach out to cold may be more likely to respond to an ask like this rather than a bigger one.

Coaching Questions for Thought:

  • Do I know what I want and why?  What is my compelling narrative that speaks to the value I bring?
  • How many recruiters do I have in my network?  What are a few simple steps I could take to establish some connections?

Shelley Pernot is a career and leadership coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their talents and step into their greatness.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!