Job hunts tend to involve a wide range of efforts, tactics and strategies for finding and applying to appropriate positions. Answering public job postings and locating opportunities through networking count among the most popular methods, but in certain industries and at certain seniority levels, job searches will likely involve a recruiter.
If you find yourself interacting with a recruiter to gain access to a particular position (or to gain inclusion to her database of candidates for future roles), you may wonder how to approach these conversations and how to increase your odds of maintaining a clear line of communication with these gatekeepers. These four suggestions will help you put your best foot forward during (and after) your first chat with a recruiter, thus boosting your chances of earning her recommendation when a well-matched job comes along.
1. Make a list of must-haves, like-to-haves and questions.
After you reach out to a recruiter (or she reaches out to you) and schedule a conversation, you need to begin the process by clearly delineating your hopes and expectations for both your own sake and for the sake of the upcoming dialogue. Take some time to think over your “must-haves” for a new job (the non-negotiable qualities that you’re seeking, which may include salary range, commuting distances, responsibilities, etc.), your “like-to-haves” (the incentives that would attract you to one position/company over another, but aren’t necessities), and any questions you have for the recruiter. This will allow you to guide your part of the conversation and help you ascertain whether this role and this recruiter make sense for your career trajectory.
2. Put together a solid “elevator pitch” to promote your candidacy.
In many cases, recruiters who are hiring for a particular job or a particular company need to present candidates to their clients in succinct terms that address that client’s needs and how each candidate exhibits those sought-after skills or traits. Of course, it’s ultimately the recruiter’s responsibility to compose that elevator pitch, since she has more intimate knowledge of her client’s criteria than you do as an applicant. However, if you can answer the recruiter’s “tell me about yourself”-style questions with brief and well-articulated descriptions of your experience, your job-related goals, and what you’re seeking in a new position, then you’ll offer her a valuable head start and will stand out positively in her pool of potential candidates.
3. Try to be as flexible as possible.
Recruiters need to be expert multitaskers; they’re regularly dealing with client schedules and candidate schedules, and they experience substantial, challenging demands on their organizational skills. For that reason, a little bit of flexibility goes a long way. If a recruiter tries to schedule a phone call with you and you’re able to offer some wiggle room on timing, the recruiter will appreciate that leeway. Any subsequent efforts you can make to exhibit respect for the recruiter’s time (like answering your phone promptly at your meeting time and sending along materials like resumes and cover letters in an expedient fashion) will also present you in a favorable light.
4. If you haven’t heard back from the recruiter after some time, send a courteous follow-up.
As the previous point states, recruiters are busy people, and occasionally, their response times suffer due to their workloads. After your initial interview, be sure to send a thank you email just as you would for any other interview. But if some time passes and you haven’t heard from the recruiter about next steps, feel free to send a polite follow-up to reiterate your interest. The timing of this message will depend on the nature of your conversation; if she’s hiring for a specific position and has already shared a rough hiring timeline with you, then you can send your follow-up at a time that makes sense in the context of that information. If the conversation was more general (i.e. if the recruiter plans to add you to her database of potential candidates without an immediate role in mind), then 2 weeks makes an appropriate benchmark for circling back.
3 sample email scripts to use before and after your recruiter chat.
1. When introducing yourself to the recruiter:
Hello [Recruiter’s Name],
I noticed your posting on [LinkedIn/Indeed/etc.] seeking a [insert position here] for [insert company here], and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to reach out and express my interest. I’m a [insert role here] with [X] years of experience handling [include job duties that line up with the position description in the listing], and I believe that my skills and work background strongly fit your needs for this position. I’d love to schedule a time to introduce myself and hear more about the role. I attached my resume to this email; please feel free to reach out with any questions or to set up a phone chat or an in-person meeting.
Thank you so much for your consideration, and I look forward to speaking soon!
2. When thanking the recruiter for your conversation:
Hi [Recruiter’s Name],
Thank you so much for speaking with me [this morning/yesterday afternoon/whenever you chatted]. I really appreciated the opportunity to hear more about [Company Name] and the [X] position, particularly [an aspect of the conversation that especially interested/excited you]. I’d absolutely be interested in speaking further about this opportunity; please let me know if I can provide any additional information or materials.
3. When following up:
Hi [Recruiter’s Name],
Hope you’re doing well! I just wanted to touch base about the [X] position at [Company Name], as I’m still very interested in the role. Do you have a sense of the next steps for the hiring process at this point? Any information you can provide would be so appreciated.
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me on [insert interview date here], and I hope to hear from you soon!