How to Talk to Recruiters

October 19, 2015

Probably the number one rant I hear is on recruiters. I see some of it personally every day.

“Hey Jay, I checked out your profile on LinkedIn and I think you’d be a great fit for our Junior Position needing 2 years experience.” Hard to believe you looked at my profile.

Then there is the bait and switch. You don’t want to relocate. “No problem. It’s a nice to have not a must have.” Of course it was a must have.

Here are my rules for talking to recruiters:

  1. Talk to Recruiters. Take every phone call. I wrote last year on the 3 Reasons to Take The Interview. The more you talk to recruiters, the better you’ll interview when you actually want the job.
  2. Be Honest About Your Intentions. If it’s not a good fit, let them know. If you’re not interested in leaving, let them know. Part of their job is to sell you on the position and assess whether it’s a good fit or not. One of the things I’ve realized is that written job openings never represent the true skills and requirements for the job.
  3. **Make Sure They Know Your Must Haves. **If your next job must have the ability to work from home one day a week, don’t want until the end of the interview process to clue them in. Be tactful but be clear on what the key things you’re looking for in your next opportunity.
  4. Don’t Talk Money. Yeah, you need to make sure you’re in the same ballpark, but don’t ask what the salary is on the first call. Let them ask you. Even the most junior recruiters can ballpark your salary based upon your LinkedIn profile or resume.
  5. **Stand By Your Commitments. **As a hiring manager myself, the worst thing is when a candidate goes dark. “Let me get some dates to meet.” And you never hear from them again. It’s ok to say “Hey, this isn’t right for me.” If you say you’re going to do something, follow through on it. (Side note, follow through doesn’t mean take an interview you don’t want. Follow through is closing the loop on the communications.)
  6. Make Them Stand by Their Commitments. Everything I’ve seen from candidates, I’ve also seen from recruiters. I consider a recruiter the face of the company. When they don’t call me back, that reflects on the company. If they say you’ll hear something on Monday, don’t feel like you can’t ping them on Tuesday.
  7. Develop a Relationship. If hiring was transactional, you’d apply online, use a web-based tool to schedule your interview and get hired without ever talking to someone in HR. Understand their job (they are compensated to bring new people into the organization) but also know that if you’re serious about making a move, they can help you.

For every 99 great recruiters, there is 1 bad one. And they ruin it for everyone else.

If you want to talk with a recruiter that you can actually develop a relationship with, check out Sean McFarlane. Go read his profile and you can see the difference. He recruits for Cigital along with others. At the very least, talking to Sean will help you next time identify whether you’re talking to the 99 good ones or 1 bad one.