What Recruiters Are Looking For When They Contact You
Most successful recruiters do not waste a lot time with anyone who is not a fit for their clients. You were called (or emailed) initially for a very specific reason, either:
1. You have the skills or experience required for a job
2. You work for a client competitor
3. Someone gave your name as a reference, or
4. Your LinkedIn profile insinuates that you may be a good match.
That’s about it. Other than a few one-offs, these are the reasons you are being contacted in the first place.
When a recruiter calls you, they generally have a structured way of seeking the answers they need:
1. Does the candidate’s core competencies fit the client’s needs?
2. Are they successful?
3. Do they have any motivation to make a change?
What many candidates are not realizing is that everything you do and say and how you do and say it is being calculated: Here are some examples:
1. A Recruiter calls or emails you about a position and you immediately ask, “Who is the client?” because you’re too busy to speak.
What you should do: Set a better time to speak with the recruiter later that day. Tell them whether you are open or not to making a change and look forward to the next conversation if there should be one. If you have zero interest in making a career change, tell them this upfront, but let them know what type of opportunities you may be interested in down the road and a time frame to follow up. For example, “Thank you for thinking of me, but at this time I am on pace to make quota and have lots of irons in the fire and a great pipeline. However if you do come across an opening in Senior Management, I’d be willing to listen, but not until September when our fiscal year ends.”
2. A Recruiter emails you a description of a job opening and you reply only with…………..“What’s the comp package?” 90% of the time, the recruiter will not reply back with the figures. You’ve just told the recruiter that money is your only motivator and you only will give them your time if you know what the compensation package is first.
What you should do: If money is the biggest factor in making career decisions, you’ve probably moved around a lot or haven’t had much tenure in one place. It’s OK to be money motivated, we all are, but remember a recruiter needs to know certain things first before talking about compensation. Most clients give recruiters a fair range of base salary, commission structure, sign-on bonus, equity, etc. There is no way to determine what the actual package will be if the recruiter doesn’t get the information they need. If you are the ideal type of “A Player” that the client is looking for, this usually means you are paid higher than an average person in a similar role. Discussing your current salary and on-target earnings (with the recruiter) can only help you obtain the dollar amount you would need to make a change. And always remember to have your quotas and performance clearly stated on your resume, so it’s easy to refer back to them.
Retained search firms train recruiters to look for these signs and use their time wisely. It is important that you build a mutual trust and respect with a recruiter. This comes solely from good communication. Pick up the phone and call instead of sending one-line emails, you should know that you’re not the only person being contacted. Call back when you say you’re going to call back. Send your resume when you say you’re going to send it. And finally, if you want to show your ultimate respect to a good recruiter, give them a solid referral if you’re not interested in the opportunity personally. By doing this, you become a valuable partner to the recruiter and most likely will be put to the top of their list to contact should something open that fits what your looking for.
So think twice about how you respond to the recruiter next time she calls– it might be the call that can change your life!
Couldn't agree more! What I think candidates forget is that we are engaged by our clients, not them, and, if we are partnering with the right clients, we are an extension of their organization and are paid for our consultation on the search as much as we are paid for surfacing the right resume. On another note, I think clients need to realize this more as well and engage search firms that represent them the way they would want to be viewed in the market. The way a search firm treats a candidate can be a direct reflection on the client from the candidate's point of view.
Great article. With my practice area sometimes I don't know about a candidates educational background until I get into that part of my candidate data sheet and than I hear the GPA's and I know that the clients that I work with will not be interested in them. It is hard to know that I won't be able to help them. I do refer them to some other ways of getting a new position but usually not with me.
Hey Dan - great article. You could probably have a series of Posts offering suggestions like this to Candidates and to Recruiters.
Spot on article, Dan. Candidates still don't understand how their partnerships with recruiters work. I will definitely pass this information along to others. Thanks!
I also think that clients don't understand our relationship with not only them but with candidates as well. I remember the training videos and "how" it is supposed to work. How often do you get to talk with the hiring authority? How often do you get a good job description and interview time frame? When it comes time to debrief the client how often do you get to talk with the hiring authority and get there thoughts? I can not tell you the number of times that I have had a client tell me that we are not interested in either interviewing the candidate or moving forward but can not get a reason why and have even been told we don't give reasons. Of course I do not work those types of clients I source from them instead. : )
While I agree you are pointing out some obvious ways that prospects should conduct themselves professionally when approached, I also know that that isn't always their fault for reacting in a less than ideal way.
For example, many of my contacts forward me emails or inmails they get from search firms and I have to say some folks in the "hiring" realm could use a dose of professionalism themselves. No one is obligated to respond to your message or call. And, if it is not particularly enticing, informative or relevant they surely have minimal incentive to do so.
Just recently one of my pals (non HR - not at all close) rec'd an inmail from a search person seeking an HR exec in totally different region of the country from this person. It was completely out of context for their profession and not particularly well thought out enough to warrant even a "thanks, but not able to help" reply. These things are far too common and tend to reflect poorly on the entire industry and profession.
If you (recruiter) are the one initiating the contact, you should expect that the top talent you are targeting is probably also being targeted by your peers. Unfortunately, you could be the best of the best with an exceptional role to fill, but if that prospect has been repeatedly burned and had their time wasted dealing with the worst of the worst, they may not be so enthused to hear from you.
I always encourage people to take the call, reply to the email, etc. because you never know where that could lead even if the current situation is not interesting or appealing.
I love this, valid points indeed!
Lovely post Dan. Highly recommended for all Candidates . and recruiters too.