How do you react when a recruiter calls? Do you clam up, nervous and distrusting? Do you assume your hushed voice and hurriedly push through the call? Or, are you energized and inviting, excited about the potential opportunity to connect with this agent of change?
Like most people you encounter, each recruiter who comes calling is unique in his or her personality, business practices and ethical standards. So, assuming you have come across one of the ‘good ones’ (and there are many!), then what do you do?
Following are three specific tips to guide your responses when a recruiter comes calling:
1. Listen, with Professional Inquisitiveness. If a recruiter calls you while you are at work, be professional and courteous. If it is not a good time to speak, then request a scheduled time to talk on your lunch break, in the evening, early morning before work, or whatever option is mutually better.
When you do speak, intently listen to the recruiter’s pitch and take notes. In other words, do not over-talk or talk over the recruiter’s opportunity message. Really ‘hear’ what he or she has to say about the open position. If compelled to know more, ask good reporter questions: the who, what, where, when and why, as in: “Who is the company?” The recruiter may not be at liberty to release the company name at this time, but you can still ask. He or she may describe in some depth about the company’s product, service, industry, market niche, competitive market place position, etc.
You can also inquire as to why the opportunity is available. Did someone quit? Is an underperforming employee being replaced? Is this a new position being created to fulfill an unmet revenue, profit or operational need?
Ask when the position will be filled; in other words, is there a sense of urgency to fill the spot quickly or will the search be ongoing, perhaps for weeks and months, based on a more extended approach? Bottom line: get a better overall sense for the open job.
2. Be Open Minded. If you are happily employed you may even find that by taking the interview, this opportunity (or future such openings) could, over time, lure you from the safe and happy confines of your current career walls. It may actually be just the career breakthrough you seek. You won’t know if you don’t take the ‘risk’ and expend the energy to dig a little deeper.
Moreover, if you are absolutely convinced you do not personally want to pursue the position, then perhaps you have a colleague in your network whom you can refer the recruiter.
3. Interact with Prompt, Consistently Polished Behavior. If a recruiter emails you to discuss a position, respond promptly, even if simply to acknowledge receipt. You can reply more meaningfully and thoughtfully later. Be sure to interact via your personal email address, and not your work email and respond when you are not on the ‘work clock.’ Be respectful of your current employer, but do not be so singularly focused that you do not take time – during lunch, during a break, or that evening, to respond! Recruiters, generally speaking are get-it-done folks who value prompt, professional communications.
Use business language, including a polished salutation. “Dear Lisa” or “Dear Ms. Brown” is much better than, “Hey Lisa.” Consider the recruiter your next boss; they are not your casual friend or your career sounding board, and your e-communications should reflect such. Ensure your email signature is updated and value-focused, including a tagline and/or links to your professional social media profiles.
To recap, if a recruiter comes calling, be meticulously responsive and continuously professional, at every stage of the virtual or face-to-face conversation. Recruiters, who are employed by, and working on behalf of the hiring company, usually have a sense of urgency to maintain momentum; and they are continually evaluating your fit, through each interaction.
A recruiter is part sales person, part hiring manager, and part matchmaker, among other roles. If you fall down in making a great initial or ongoing impression, you may very well be weeded from the candidate pool. You wouldn’t wear jeans and a t-shirt (figuratively or literally) to engage with the hiring manager, and neither should you with the recruiter. Keep your game-face alive and your polished professionalism consistent.