Career Advice, Interviews

Win the Job Through Admitting Your Ignorance

I’ll say it over and over until you want to smack me around (I can hear you now “Too late!”): getting a recruiter on your side is critical to landing your dream job. And as we talked about last week, if you want to get a recruiter on your side you need to earn their trust. A recruiter is like your agent. You want them to use their credibility with a hiring manager to influence a positive outcome for you.

How do you build trust with a recruiter? We’ll review a number of tips over the coming weeks, but here is the way you need to start: ASK QUESTIONS!

First, please, take a risk and shut-up. It may be the hardest thing for a candidate to do, but talking too much is always a bad idea. I call it “Talking Your Way Out of a Job.” It happens all the time, with great candidates blathering away, boring the recruiter. The recruiter ends up convinced of one thing and one thing only: I can’t possibly put this person through to the hiring manager. I’ll look like an idiot!

In short, no trust!

Candidates think that they have to sell themselves by having a great pitch. But it is hard to talk your way to trust. Better to ask lots of questions, listen to the answers and then show you were listening by asking questions about what you just heard.

I advise candidate to ALWAYS start a conversation with a recruiter with the following question “Would you mind if I took a minute to ask you some questions about the job?”

Recruiters spend their days listening to people instruct them: where to look for candidates, what qualifications matter most, what the business needs and what is unique and special about every candidate. Most recruiters start their day expecting to be talked at constantly and rarely end up disappointed. So I guarantee that you will blow a recruiter’s mind if you ask them for permission to get their opinion.

Now that you have the recruiter’s attention, take the next step. Say the following: “I have read the job description, but I would like to know you opinion about what is the most important qualification for this job.”

Again, the recruiter’s mind will spin with delight “Wow! First the candidate wants my permission to ask questions, and then they want my opinion! I can’t believe it!” Step two to build trust.

And now, for the final killer stroke. Whatever the recruiter tells you, ask “Why?”  As in “Why does the recruiter think that that particular qualification is so important?”

This three step process (May I, What, Why?) will always build trust with a recruiter. At the very least the recruiter will believe that you are interested in their opinion. And a good recruiter understands that only engaged, intelligent people ask serious questions. Ironically, questions (an admission of ignorance) builds trust in your experience, confidence and intelligence.

So if you want to win the job, start by being ignorant.

Next Week: Study the bio.