Recruiters are your best friends when they see you as a potential fit for a job. They also can be as elusive as a yeti when youre trying to get their attention because you believe youre the perfect fit for a job.
We usually think of recruiters as people who reach out to potential candidates, not the other way around. But considering the U.S. Labor Department reported that 531,000 new jobs were added in October, with faster growth predicted in these final months of the year, recruiters cant hire fast enough. If theyre that busy, how can you get their attention and when should you try? Here are three steps to approaching a recruiter in a way thats mutually beneficial.
Step 1: Know How Recruiters Work
A recruiters job is to understand each role deeply enough to a) find the right skills and capabilities for a job theyve likely never done themselves, and b) sell you on the position so youll accept an offer if youre the best final candidate. Recruiters are part salesperson, part cheerleader, part coach, part therapist, and part strategist to both candidates and hiring managers.
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Now picture a recruiter doing all that for multiple job openings at once. Lets say they have five viable candidates per job opening and are managing 10 openings. Yes: Most recruiters are managing more than 50 candidates at a time, some of whom may be passive candidates who need convincing to consider new opportunities. If recruiters responded to every random inquiry, they wouldnt have time to fill jobs. Thats why its so critical to reach out to them with a targeted approach.
Step 2: Know What Type of Recruiter Youre Targeting
You need to understand exactly which type of recruiter internal, external, or executive youre reaching out to and what types of roles they recruit for so you can position yourself properly.
Internal recruiters are assigned to a specific area of their company for example, engineering, marketing, finance, etc. So, if you reach out to a finance recruiter for a marketing job, youll most likely be ignored. Also, a referral from a current employee or someone who knows the recruiter will garner more attention than a generic email. Internal recruiters dont tend to have databases of past candidates, so you should keep their name and email in case you find another applicable job at their company.
External recruiters dont work for the company with the job opening and specialize in specific business areas. For example, some external recruiters only recruit lawyers, while some specialize in industries like entertainment. Many external recruiters dont get paid if they dont find the candidate who ultimately accepts the job. In some instances, they may be competing with an internal recruiter whos also working to fill a role, and if the internal recruiter finds a top candidate, you may lose out if youre the external recruiters candidate. But dont ignore external recruiters many are hired because an internal recruiter has exhausted their search and needs an expert in the field. External recruiters generally do keep databases of candidates because they may be recruiting for similar roles at numerous companies.
Executive recruiters can be internal or external and mostly hire VP-level and higher roles. They do a lot of sourcing for the right candidate and may even seek candidates for confidential roles that arent posted publicly.
Step 3: Know How to Approach a Recruiter
This is the most critical step. Never approach recruiters asking them to help you. They dont know you and you arent paying them! Their job isnt to help you; your job is to help them do their job and fill roles. Approach a recruiter only after youve done your research, your LinkedIn profile and resume are updated, youre ready to interview, and you understand whether the recruiter is internal or external and what types of roles they recruit for.
There are two reasons to approach a recruiter:
You can help them fill a current opening.
If you cant see the name of the recruiter who posted a particular job, search LinkedIn using the name of the company plus the word recruiter or sourcer, then read through recruiter profiles to determine their areas of focus. If you can find the one who recruits for the field youre interested in, youll have a better chance of receiving a response to an inquiry.
Include the job opening youre interested in, provide the link to the online posting, describe your applicable skills and capabilities, and describe what value you can bring to the role and company using keywords from the job description. For example:
Hi [Recruiter Name],
Im reaching out to you directly to express my enthusiasm about the [job opening/link] at [company name]. My extensive experience in [industry or skill] combined with my [hard/soft skills] and unique ability to [unique applicable skill] would make me a tremendous asset to [company name] in this role.
I hope you will seriously consider me for this position and give me an opportunity to explain further how I can bring outside-the-box value to the company.
If you could be right for the role, you may receive a response. If you dont receive a response, it could be a matter of bad timing (i.e., the job may be close to being filled), or youre not as right for the role as you think you are.
Youre certain the recruiter recruits for a specific industry and function.
In this instance, you dont know if the recruiter is recruiting for any specific role, but you do know the types of roles and industries they specialize in. If the recruiter has a role you could fill now, then you may receive a response. Otherwise, they may enter your information into their database for when theres an applicable opening. So, make it easy for them to figure out which roles may be applicable:
Hi [Recruiter Name],
Im reaching out because I am in the market for a new opportunity, and I understand you recruit for [types of roles]. Here is the type of role where I can bring the most value:
Position Full-time employee. Open to contract work with conversion potential.
Title Director, Sr. Director, or VP of brand or consumer marketing, B2C.
Location Greater DC Area, no farther west than Fairfax County or east than Prince Georges County. Open to relocation to West Coast.
Industries Technology, SaaS, AI, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, med-tech. Not interested in ridesharing/self-driving auto companies.
Company Prefer startups to under 5,000 employees but open for the right opportunity.
Compensation Negotiable, minimum $100K total comp including equity. Must provide equity.
My resume is attached for your review and my LinkedIn profile can be found here [link]. I look forward to hearing from you when you have a position where you think I could bring the most value.
Finally, its important to keep in mind that all recruiters want to fill job openings quickly and with the right people, but they dont work for you they work for companies. They are the gateway, not the roadblock to you securing your next role. If you help them do their job, then youre not only helping make them successful, but you may also land your dream role.