Third-party recruiters are busy, pragmatic people. They spend time developing relationships that they believe will reap benefits over the long term. Many recruiters typically make 25 to 50 connections a day, whether face-to-face, phone, email or text or social media. How does one turn a recruiter’s head enough to make an impact and achieve results? By marketing yourself to the recruiter. Done properly, you stand a much better chance to unearth that career opportunity that you’ve been waiting for.
Learn about Your Recruiter, Then Make a Connection
Firstly, realize that a head hunter is a person too. We respond to stimuli, positive or negative. We are driven by the desire to make a buck, yes, but many of us also enjoy helping people advance their careers and there is a certain thrill to consummating a good match. We prefer to work with candidates that we feel are marketable and that we enjoy working with. Take time to learn about your recruiter. What kind of roles does he/she work on? What kind of clients are they working with? What industry knowledge do they have? How can you build a mutually beneficial relationship? Is there any way you can help them find new clients or candidates for their job openings? Could you introduce them to other professionals in your universe? Is it possible to teach the recruiter about your experiences and skills so they will be better able to represent you & your accomplishments? Ask them how frequently you should check back with them to review their openings and be sure to follow that time-frame.
The Power of a Referral
Let me assure you, recruiter’s remember referrals and think positively of the referrer of quality candidates. If you put some serious thought into your referral and refer good matches to current openings, even better.
You MUST Follow-up with the Recruiter
Whether you have someone to refer you to the recruiter or not, send them your resume and cover letter and follow-up with a phone call. Recruiters typically get so many resumes, it’s conceivable that your email/resume may not be opened and digested properly by the person you need to reach. The follow-up call is crucial. It takes the contact to another level. If you don’t get a return call immediately, have patience. Recruiters have trouble returning all of the calls they get. It’s not for lack of interest; there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Wait a few days and send a second, gentle reminder that you’d like to chat, with the resume enclosed a second time.
Presenting Yourself (Realistically)
Assuming you are now in contact, you need to present your skills, experience and search objectives to the recruiter. These should be carefully thought out in advance and they should be realistic. If you have been a Manager for only a year or two and ask for a VP role, you’ll be wasting everyone’s time and your recruiter will be unlikely to help you. If your current job pays $100K and you apply for a job that pays double that, ditto. If you are applying for a job in an industry that you have no experience, you’ll need to explain how your skills are transferable. You might consider asking the recruiter’s opinion as to the feasibility of your goals.
Clearly, the best way to make an impression is to do a face-to-face interview with the recruiter. Many recruiters will only make time for candidates who fit a current opening so you may have to wait for that to happen to meet the recruiter. Most recruiters have “opportunity” pages on their websites. Keep an eye on those pages (set up an RSS job feed if possible) and, in the interest in building a relationship, if there’s no job for you, think about referring for one of the current openings.
Maintain the Connection
If you do get a call from a recruiter that you believe could be of assistance in your career development, but the job they were calling about is not a fit, take the initiative to stay in touch. Call them every few weeks (or months depending on whether you are actively or passively looking) to remind them of your interests. Send them an interesting article, a contact or a website to review. Re-market yourself by positioning your name and your career plan in the front of their minds.
You would be surprised how few candidates are working their recruiter relationships in this manner. I believe you can greatly enhance your chance of success with recruiters with these marketing concepts.
Stay tuned for some great ideas on presenting your skills, experience and career goals to the recruiter…
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