There are many misconceptions about recruiters and what they do.
Some see them as magical, job-finding elves, who will solve all their problems. Others consider a recruiter as the bottom feeder of the HR world, who will staff any position for a buck.
Regardless of your opinion… we have all the jobs. You need us. You need to learn how to make us work for you. You need us to say your name.
Understand The Different Types of Recruiters
Internal Recruiters: These people work directly for the company you could be working for. They often have direct access to the hiring manager and are probably the most well versed in the position requirements and the corporate culture.
They likely also work in other areas of HR, which means if you’re hired, they will have to work with you. If they determine you are unpleasant at any point during the recruitment process, they will have to think very hard about whether you will be submitted to the hiring manager or end up in the “not qualified” pile.
A Recruiter from an Agency: Depending on the Agency’s relationship with the company, they could have any level of knowledge about the position and the company. A good recruiter will do their research and be very knowledgeable.
Some companies have no interest in engaging in the recruitment process, they will outsource it to an agency, and provide very little information. Regardless of how skilled a recruiter is, they may not be able to answer your specific technical questions about a position. However, they are still the gatekeeper between you and the hiring manager… so play nice.
Also, the quality of the candidates they put forward is a direct reflection of how effective they are at recruiting. They’re depending on you to be impressive to make them look good. When you suck, it’s embarrassing for everyone. Don’t take your interactions with these people lightly… because they’re not.
How to Talk to Recruiters
You should already know that when you apply to a job ad, you should tailor your resume to that position. Sift through the ad and the company website and make sure you fit with that company and that position. Many people are very good at this, but when they don’t have those tools to guide them, they flop.
Think about how recruiting works. Clients contact agencies, who specialize in recruiting, to make sure they choose the right candidate. Recruiters talk to a million people per day. You need to make an impression with your skills and experience and your personality in order to stay out of the Applicant Tracking System “Black Hole.”
To do this, you need to make sure that several key messages stick in the recruiters mind:
Your Area of Expertise: We understand that being unemployed is difficult, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by telling us you can do anything… because you can’t. When we staff a position, we want to have a perfect fit between the employee and the employer… We’re not interested in finding you something to tide you over until the next position comes along.
Your Marketable Skills and Relevant Work Experience: What job would you be perfect for? Which skills make you perfect for that position, and what relevant, real-world examples can you tell me about where you exhibited those skills? These are the most important details to have recruiters remember. Terrible recruiters may not actively ask you for these specific tidbits of information, so you may need to work them into the conversation on your own.
Your Name (or Personality… or Both): There is something about you that’s memorable. Find out what it is. For some people it’s their work experience, personality or even just their laugh. You can go as far as to develop a tagline for yourself that helps the recruiter remember who you are.
Keep Your Leads Warm
Job hunting is essentially just selling yourself. Keep in touch with a recruiter the same way you would a sales lead. Any recruiter could have an opportunity for you at any time. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Congratulate them on new positions (especially if it’s with another recruiting agency), and find reasons to engage with them on a regular basis.
When the jobs come in, you need to be already known to the people handing them out and they need to know you well.
Before speaking with a recruiter, picture this scenario…
A new position has come in. Several recruiters are sitting around a table discussing the qualifications. The lead recruiter asks “does anyone have any candidates for this position?” If you were successful in your interaction with the recruiter, they automatically say your name in this meeting without having to consult the applicant tracking system.
About the Author: Scott Keenan is a twenty-something recruter with a uniquely cynical view on everything. Scott specializes in Human Resources and Marketing, and he “shares the awesome with you as often as he can.” Check out Scott’s blog, and connect with him on Twitter!