Tired of applying to jobs, but getting nowhere? According to career experts, it may be because you’re not going out of your way to network. But if you’re dreading the thought of going to another industry meet-and-greet or grabbing coffee with your former coworker, you can relax — networking can be much simpler than that. In fact, you don’t even necessarily have to leave home. A gesture as small as shooting over an email or LinkedIn message to a recruiter can end up making a big difference.
Of course, if you want to make the best impression possible, you can’t just say the first thing that comes to mind — you’ll have to be a little more strategic. To learn more about the dos and don’ts of reaching out to recruiters, we chatted with three career experts. Here’s their advice for sending a message that puts your resume to the top of the pile.
The Case for Outreach
You might be wondering: Why exactly is reaching out to a recruiter so beneficial?
“The most important thing you’re trying to do in reaching out to a company recruiter is getting them to like you and consider you further for the position,” says April Klimkiewicz, career coach and owner of bliss evolution. “You may also have questions and want to gather information, but that should be secondary to being polite, kind, enthusiastic about the position and respectful of the recruiter’s time” — these are all guaranteed ways to get on a recruiter’s good side. And when you establish a personal connection with a recruiter, it can do wonders to help you stand out among the dozens, hundreds or even thousands of other applicants all vying for the same job.
It might feel a little strange to reach out to a recruiter at first, but you shouldn’t be shy. Really, you’re doing them a favor.
“If you're nervous about reaching out, think of yourself as assisting the recruiter in doing their job. If you're a great candidate, you might be just the right person they're looking for, and you reaching out can help you stand out from other applicants and help the recruiter get the position filled sooner,” Klimkiewicz points out.
What to Keep in Mind
So when exactly should you reach out to a recruiter?
“The best approach is to research the company's open positions on their website, apply to said positions and then contact the recruiter with details pertaining to your experience and the specific job opening that is of interest to you,” says Jamie Warfield, Career Specialist at Ama la Vida. But “if you do not have a specific position in mind, it is perfectly fine to brag [about] yourself a little bit and let the recruiter know you are a rockstar candidate in the job market and actively job seeking.”
Remember, though, to think about things from a recruiter’s perspective. Rather than focusing on doing what’s most valuable for you, put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes to figure out what would be most valuable for them.
You want to “make them feel that you are filling a need they have, not just sending an unsolicited resume,” says career coach Mary Warriner.
For example, you shouldn’t reach out regarding a position you’re totally unqualified for, or bug a recruiter by calling their cell.
“Starting with an email or LinkedIn message and escalating to a phone call if you don’t hear from the recruiter can be seen as pushy,” Klimkiewicz says.
Sending an email regurgitating the information already found within your job application can also be frustrating for recruiters since it adds nothing new to the conversation.
“A follow-up email shouldn’t be a copy and paste of your cover letter. Let the recruiter know that you’ve done your homework and you know something about the company, the job and maybe even the recruiter” themselves, Klimkiewicz continues.
A Strong Sample Message
Having trouble thinking of what exactly to say? Warriner suggests using this message as a template, customizing the different areas as appropriate:
Hello [Name of Recruiter],
I just applied to the XYZ position posted on your website and wanted to be sure you received it. I am very interested in working for [Company Name], as I have 10 years of manufacturing management experience. I am just starting a search for a new company as I am moving back to the Chicago area next month and [Company Name] is the first that I’ve looked at. This position aligns with my previous experience, but I’m also impressed with [Company Name]’s drive to innovate and give back to the community.
I will be traveling to Chicago several times over the next month and would be happy coordinate my trips to accommodate an interview with you.
I don’t want to take up any more of your time, as I can see from the job listings that you are very busy, but I’m really excited about this opportunity and look forward to speaking with you. If there is anything you need from me, don’t hesitate to reach out: 555-555-0000.
The worst that can happen is that the recruiter doesn’t respond — and in the best case, they’ll appreciate your thoughtful note and enthusiasm for the opportunity. So really, what have you got to lose? Go out there and network!