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What to do when a recruiter calls?

You received an email, LinkedIn message, or a phone call from a recruiter.

She / he is looking for candidates to fill a position and your professional background (found on a job site or in a private database) and experience fits what is being sought for in that job.

Recruiters also reach out to build a contact database and network with future potential candidates. The LinkedIn “invite” is one of the most popular ways of doing this.

A message from a recruiter to become a professional connection

You probably get these frequently from strangers and this one is no different.

Assess the source. Is it a reputable company / working in your industry / for jobs relevant to you / a thought or opinion leader? Is the person reaching out a well-placed representative of the company, will be a credible source of information, and hence a good connect to have? If it is, certainly worth consideration.

On the other hand, if it’s a blank (or bland) invite or from a less relevant source, someone on the other end has not made much effort to tell you why he/she is reaching out and wants to be in your network. Is it the kind of person you want to be connected with?

It’s for a job search

When pinged by a recruiter for a job search, the first question to ask is whether you are looking to make a change?

You could be, or maybe not at the present time. Sometimes however, you are not sure. The role may sound interesting, and you may want to know more to help make up your mind.

Not looking for a change / not the right fit role

If not looking to make a change or the role shared does not look a good fit, one option is to disregard the message. One option is to think of it as another cold call similar to one trying to sell extended warranty or reduced interest rate credit cards and ignore it.

On the other hand, if the recruitment firm which reached out works on roles which you could have an interest in the future, might be worth responding. This could be an opportunity to expand your network and add a source to learn of new job openings.

Let the recruiter know that you are not looking today or this role is not the kind which you would be looking for. Adding what would be your roles of interest will help them refine what they reach out to you for in the future.

Looking for a change and interested in knowing more

If you are, ask for any additional information required to assess if the position fits what you are looking for.

What information to expect from a recruiter

Recruiters work with job descriptions given by a hiring manager. These job descriptions include information about

· The company

· Broad goals of the role

· Work experiences required

· Compensation range

· Location

· Reporting manager

This is what is available with recruiters. Some may be able to shed additional light if they have been with the company for a while or done similar role searches in the past. For the most part though, the detail available with recruiters is what is stated in the JD and that is what they can share.

This information can be exchanged via an email or if something which requires discussion, a phone call.

Use the inputs and discussion(s) to assess if the job / location / compensation range / company fits what you are looking for in your next role.

While there may be some latitude in the compensation, most of the other specs of a JD tend to be quite firm.

If it feels like a fit, say so. If it does not, this is a good time to shake hands and move on.

If it feels like a fit

The role described feels like a good fit, you are interested, and want to throw your hat in the ring.

Be prepared now for an assessment conversation with the recruiter. Have a resume available which details work experience and accomplishments. (Pro tip – Take a look at the content and ensure that experiences and accomplishments relevant to the role are clearly outlined. Check out The art of writing a resume)

The recruiter will want to walk through the work experience and accomplishments relevant to the position to be filled. If these make the cut, the conversation will then move to exploring the genuineness of your intent to make a change, interest in the role, comfort with the company, location, and compensation range.

Reciprocally, ask for any additional detail to gauge if the role fits what you are seeking. Be aware though that the recruiter will mainly be able to respond to questions for which answers and details are outlined in the job description.

You have some additional questions

There may be questions important for your decision process and the details may not be available in the job description or with the recruiter.

· Details of financial benefits like health plans, 401K, or PTO

· How the role will be measured

· What account / territory / project will be assigned

· What support / enablement is available to make the incumbent successful

These are questions to which the answers lie with the hiring manager or an HR group.

Ask the recruiter if she/he can get the answers. Details of financial benefits / HR policies may be more readily available than specifics on role deployment / enablement & measures. The latter are questions for a hiring manager or for those who are already working in the organization.

To get to a discussion with a hiring manager, there needs to be a meeting of minds with the recruiter first.

She / he needs to feel confident that your skills, work experience, location and compensation expectations match what is required of the role. Equally importantly, your intent to take up the job is genuine.

And so do you.

If it seems the right one, say it - that having read / heard what you have about the role, its one which seems a good fit and one you would seriously be willing to take up.

If there is a meeting of minds, then the candidature goes to a hiring manager for review and feedback.

The recruiter now becomes a facilitator

She / he will provide assessment inputs and details to the hiring manager and to others who will get involved in the hiring cycle.

Will also be the steward of the hiring process, and the touch point for input on timelines, interview feedback, and likely next steps.

And if all goes well and an offer is made and accepted, then the recruiter again becomes primary; ensuring background checks, onboarding, and joining.

A valuable ally to have.

In closing

A call or email from a recruiter can be yet another spam call or one which can lead to a good professional outcome.

If it is about a role which interests you now or could be in the future, let the recruiter know. She / he can provide insight into the role scope, location, compensation, benefits and the hiring process.

She / he will also be the one to make the initial assessment of the fitment of your candidature and the genuineness of your intent to take the role and work for the organization. A positive assessment by the recruiter opens the door to further discussions with hiring manager(s) and others involved in the hiring cycle.

The recruiter will be an ongoing touch point through these later discussions, can be a valuable source of feedback, and occasionally even coaching. An ally to have on your side.

A ping from a recruiter from a company or about a job which you might be interested in working for now, or in the future, worth a response. It can open an avenue for information on relevant positions and to a new role now or in the future.

Keep swinging!


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