HOW TO: Work with Recruiters

This week, I’m going to miss one of my favorite Twitter chats, #careerchat due to my travel schedule.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.   If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m referring to when I say “Twitter chat”, check out this great post from Avid Careerist: Top 3 Chats for Job Seekers.  There’s no need for me to reinvent the wheel when people like Donna Svei and Anne Messenger have already done a fantastic job explaining it all (I name-dropped because they’re providing great resources with blogs and Twitter.)  It’s all about paying it forward, right?  #careerchat is held every Tuesday from 12pm-1pm CST and is moderated by MyPath, Manpower’s career management site, and BizMe.Biz, an online magazine for young professionals. 

While I can’t be there to participate live, I can do two things:

1. Encourage your participation.

2. Contribute to the conversation with this week’s blog post. 

The topic is “HOW TO: Work with Recruiters”.  As a job seeker, this is your chance to ask recruiters questions and learn how to work with them best.  It’s also a great way to get the inside look into a recruiter’s mind! 

Here are my tips for working with recruiters: 

Make it easy.  In today’s economy, recruiters are commonly understaffed and overworked.  Help them out on the front end and make the process move easily.  Do your research on the company, know what the common entry-level positions are as well as some general information (their brands, what they do, etc.)  This will help you understand the company better and have a better idea as to where you would fit in.  Sometimes, you might even find that you’re not a fit.  You’ll be glad you did a little research before you went any further. 

Complete the application.  After you have done a little research, go ahead and apply to those positions you’re interested in.  In most cases, no matter how the conversation goes with the recruiter at the career fair or at another venue, they typically can’t do anything until you’ve officially applied online.  I’m not saying that you should apply to hundreds of jobs (believe me, some people do – it’s not a good impression), but rather that you should start the process for those positions that you’re most interested in.  Keep in mind that some companies and positions have an extensive application process. Set aside 90 minutes to 2 hours.  You may have to create a profile, upload your résumé, and depending on the position, there may be an assessment that you’ll need to complete.  The goal is to get a job, right?  Make the job search your full time job until then!

Tailor your resume.  I can’t say this enough.  Cookie-cutter résumés won’t get you very far.  Don’t just create one résumé and call it good.  Read the job description and know what the hiring manager is looking for in an employee.  Make sure your experience listed is relevant. If you use objective, make sure it doesn’t say “ABC Company” when you’re applying to “DEF Company”.  This may all sound basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people apply for one job at a company with their résumé that was used to apply at a competitor!  Tailoring yours to each position will show that not only are you paying attention, but also that you’re being respectful of the recruiter’s time (and care enough to put in a little extra effort). 

Follow up and be patient, persistent, and kind.  This is quite possibly the most important step and the most overlooked.  Let’s face it – you’re not the only person that has applied, the only person the recruiter has met at a career fair, the only résumé on their desk, or the only interview they have scheduled that week (or even that day).  Be patient.  It may seem like an eternity since the application to you, but to a recruiter, that eternity can seem like mere seconds.  With hundreds, even thousands of applicants for each open position, recruiters need a little time to work candidates through.  But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t follow up.  Just remember to be nice about it.  20 phone calls or emails asking if there’s a status update on your application makes you look desperate.  On the flip side, a follow up phone call or email (whatever the preference is) might remind them that you’re interested and bring you back to top of mind. 

Each recruiter operates a little differently.  Like résumés, there’s not a cookie-cutter solution that works for everyone.  All you can do is remain patient, persistent and kind.  Your qualifications, experience and leadership will show through on your résumé, cover letter, and in the interview. 

Recruiters, did I miss anything?  Job seekers, do you have any additional tips?  I’m all about collaboration, so please feel free to leave your comments below.  If you prefer your comments remain anonymous, please email me at or send me a DM me via Twitter. 

Now go out there and land your dream job!


8 thoughts on “HOW TO: Work with Recruiters

  1. Some postings say that if you don’t hear anything it means they aren’t interested. Does this mean don’t follow-up or do follow-up?


    1. Christine,

      Great question! You COULD take their lack of response as a sign of disinterest and not follow up. OR, you could put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. Google received over 75,000 applications in 1 week for 6,000 job openings. The truth? Recruiters are overwhelmed with applicants. Just because you haven’t heard from them doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested.

      I would definitely find a way to follow up. If you were interviewed, ask what a good timeframe for follow up is and deliver on those expectations. If you just sent in an application through their website, check out LinkedIn to find a recruiter. Search “COMPANY NAME + recruiter” and connect with someone that matches as closely as possible to the position. Let them know that you’d like to connect and that you recently applied for job position ABC req #123. You’ll be top of mind.

      Just a few suggestions. Hope that helps. Thanks for the comment!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s