About a third of jobs are filled through recruiters, retained or contingent. If asked, most people think a greater percentage are filled from recruiters and are a little surprised when they find the actual fill rates are lower than expected. That said, when the recruiter calls, it’s important to know how to respond in the best way as recruiters are usually working on more than one job at a time. They are building a database for the future, and if you help them, most will remember. I believe what goes around comes around, and these conversations could prove to be very important. So, how do you talk to a recruiter?
- Accommodate as best you can. If a recruiter catches you and you have the time to talk, take the call. If you don’t have time or are in an awkward spot, ask them to name times that best work for them (or ask them to send you an email with times). Then, try the best you can to accommodate their schedule. While lots of people like to think they aren’t busy, they are and you could lose their attention if you are too busy to talk to them within a reasonable timeframe.
- Probe a little. Try to learn as much as you can so you can turn around and give them what they need. Find out the answer to two perfect questions “What is the ideal candidate for this job?” and “What is the hardest part, you [the recruiter] are finding about filling this job?” You can find the answers after you have heard the job spec, and work to boil down for them so you can get to the heart of what they are searching for. From those two questions, you should be able to play back exactly what you have and don’t have to be the perfect candidate for them. Being the perfect candidate means filling the requirements and also being a convenient candidate for them.
- Make your story simple to re-tell. Never more important than this phone call or meeting is having a structured, easy and ready-to-go re-tell story about you. Remember, their job is to go back and sell you to the hiring manager/client, and if they have the compelling and easy to re-tell story then they are going to feel more confident in taking your story forward to others. Just because a recruiter pitches a candidate, doesn’t mean the hiring manager is going to say, “Yes”. Giving the recruiter something they can repeat easily and readily is important. The best thing to happen after they get off the phone with you is that they are excited to tell the hiring company: “There is someone you just have to talk to”.
- Be generous. Offer not only time and calendar flexibility but also offer to help them build a profile on you. For example, you could offer to repackage your resume to help them help you better. Also, even if this is your perfect job, don’t hesitate to offer to put them in contact with others who you feel would be good for the position. It never hurts to show you have enough confidence in yourself to invite in the competition. Plus, you may not be the perfect candidate but one of your friends might, and that could turn into good for everyone.
And then, keep the name, number, email, date, and notes on what you talked to this recruiter about. You never know what the next job is that they are going to have. It may be your dream job and you want to be able to reach to them first on that one!