As a recruiter representing many organisations, I have come across all types of candidates.  Some are impressive.  Some are not.  Needless to say, the ones that impressed were the successful ones.  

If you are planning to reach out to recruiters as part of your job search strategy, knowing how to approach them and what to say are the key to getting a positive outcome.  In today’s article, I share some tips on how to deal with recruiters.  These tips can help you secure that valuable connection you need as an initial step towards your career goals.  Let’s read on.

What is recruitment etiquette?

Etiquette is a set of behaviours according to societal conventions.  For example, in a restaurant, you eat properly.  You don’t throw food around.  If you are with others, you talk conversationally but do not shout out other patrons.  You are polite to the wait staff.  You compliment the meal, pay the bill, and thank the staff before leaving. If you have a complaint about the meal, you are polite and aware of other diners. 

Likewise, if you are in the job market, you will be actively pursuing recruiters whether it’s networking, pursuing LinkedIn or sending emails. The way you speak or write can influence how the recruiter responds to you. 

What recruiters ignore

As a recruiter, I receive countless unsolicited requests from job seekers every day.  What type of messages do recruiters respond to? And what messages make them cringe reach for the ‘delete button?

Here’s are my shortlist of ignore:

  • Unsolicited resumes

Unsolicited resumes are either ignored or downloaded into a file with no notes.  They are seldom read.

  • Generic content

Mass email in any form is unattractive to a recruiter.  We can easily spot one.  Take some time to draft a personal email if you want to reach out electronically.

  • Obvious questions

Questions like: ‘Are you hiring?’ ‘What jobs can I apply for?’ ‘How do I apply?’ These are obvious questions that a quick search of their websites can answer.  If you ask the obvious, you are sending a wrong signal that you are not willing to put in the effort to do some simple research.

  • Inaccurate information about the recruiter

Get your facts right before you reach out.  Find out what you can about the person and their organisation and use this information to start a conversation.  When reaching out, it is important to do your research on the recruiter’s area of expertise.  Recruiters who specialise in certain industries are likely to have connections in these industries.  They cannot help you in a generic job search so be specific and target the right recruiters for your field.

  • Lengthy communication

Keep your communication short and sweet.  Recruiters are busy people and do not have time to read lengthy emails or listen to long speeches.  Be concise and to the point.

  • No basic information

Some basic information about yourself is important.  Say who you are, where you work, and what you are looking for. 

  • Demands for a meeting or an immediate response

Don’t make demands on the recruiter by forcing a meeting or a response.  Be polite. You can suggest a meeting but leave the ball in their court.

What recruiters respond to?

Now that you know what to avoid, how about what to impress?  Here are some useful tips on how to solicit a response from a recruiter:

  • Be clear with your request or call to action

Don’t beat about the bush.  Don’t be vague on why you are getting in touch.  Be clear about your objectives.  In LinkedIn, you can send a connection request then follow this up immediately with an ask or a pitch.  In emails, include a call to action with your first message.

  • Be polite and humble

Humility and politeness can go a long way in getting a positive response from a recruiter.   Leave your ego out of the communication.  On platforms like LinkedIn, you can include your accolades for recruiters to read.  The important point here is to sell your value add to them not boast about your achievements.  Stick to the facts, describe what you did and how you did it if you want to earn their respect.

  • Be personal, accurate and specific

Write with a personal tone to let them see your human side.  Be accurate with your information.  Don’t make things up because recruiters will do a background check on you if they are interested.  Be specific about the job you are interested in and why you feel your background and experience would benefit the organisation. 

  • Be professional

Your initial outreach has one shot to impress so make sure it has no typo, punctuation, or grammar mistakes.  Proofread the communication carefully before you press the send button.

  • Be consistent

Information you provide across all mediums must be accurate and consistent.  Update your LinkedIn profile and spring clean your social media accounts before you reach out to a recruiter because you know they are going to cross-check your information.

Recruitment etiquette for different mediums

There’s no avoiding technology these days.   With enforced social distancing, new forms of communication have started to dominate business communication.  In this section, I would like to briefly discuss the popular mediums and how to behave in each.

Emails and text

Always address the person by name.  Spell their name correctly.  Gayle will not appreciate it if you call her ‘Gale’.  Write in a professional tone.  Avoid emojis, stickers, SMS language or slang. Ask any questions you have but be sure to ask all the questions.  You want to avoid a back-and-forth scenario. Always end the communication with a ‘thank you’ and your signature. You can add a positive like ‘Hope to hear from you soon’ if you like. 

Video calls

First impressions are important.  Follow all the rules for a face-to-face interview including:

  • Be on time
  • Dress for the occasion
  • Choose a quiet location to talk
  • Speak slower and clearer
  • Look at the screen
  • Acknowledge when someone else is talking
  • Answer questions
  • Keep notes of important things you want to say
  • Take notes during the call

Zoom meetings

  • Test your connection and speaker before the meeting.
  • Choose a good backdrop
  • Use filters
  • Follow all the tips from video calls
  • Establish eye contact

In-person interviews

  • Be on time
  • Speak clearly and to the point
  • Establish eye contact
  • Watch your non-verbals
  • Answer questions
  • Keep your phone on silent inside your bag or pocket
  • Bring supporting documents – resume, references, certificates
  • Ask questions

Manners open doors so the next time you have the opportunity to connect with a recruiter, make sure you be the best you can be and make a good impression. And don’t forget, practice makes perfect so practise, practise, and practise!   Good luck with the job hunting. 

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