Getting the Most from Recruiters

A recruiter calls you two days after posting your resume online at a big job board. You chat briefly and he says “Your have a good background. I’ll be in touch.” Three weeks later, you haven’t heard from him. What do you do?


First of all, you should have been back in touch with him before three weeks had passed. Recruiters are busy people and they don’t work for you. They are middlemen who get paid by the employer to find candidates that meet very specific qualifications. Recruiters generally don’t present “maybe” candidates to employers. Employers can find “maybe” candidates on their own without having to pay a whopping recruiter fee. More than likely, you were a strong “maybe” candidate but after talking with you, he realized you didn’t have all the qualifications the employer was seeking. He’s not going to call you back and tell you this little bit of information. You need to call him and chat.


Don’t expect every recruiter who calls you to set up an interview. The purpose of that first chat is to find out more about you and to discuss some of your goals. The recruiter may also be fishing for certain qualifications that you may have but that you either didn’t list on your resume or downplayed. He is fishing for clues to your goals and what level position you are seeking. Are you willing to make a lateral move? Are you willing to take a chance with a small company? Not every recruiter call is a prelude to a job interview with an employer.


That said, is it a waste of time to talk to recruiters if they are not necessarily looking to hook you up with an employer right now? No! Just because you don’t fit the parameters of a certain position today doesn’t mean a new position won’t land on the recruiter’s desk tomorrow that fits you to a T. Don’t cut off contact with recruiters just because they don’t always produce results. Recruiters can be a valuable asset to you in your job search.


Talk to the recruiter about your qualifications. Most recruiters don’t want to burn bridges with candidates so they give a standard “You have strong qualifications” reply to candidates. This is equivalent in weight to “have a nice day”. It really means nothing but is a polite saying. Don’t ask recruiters open-ended questions to which open or vague answers can be provided. Instead, get specific. Ask the recruiter questions such as the following:


–“What qualifications are you seeing most in demand by employers today in my field?”

–“What am I lacking that you feel would make me more competitive in the market?”

–“How much weight does my MBA really carry with employers searching for candidates at my level?”

–“Would you advise that I go back to school to pick up an advanced degree to make my next career move easier?”

–“How long is the average job search lasting these days for people at my level?”

–“What do you see as my weakest area?”

–“What is my biggest hurdle in the job market right now?”

–“What do you see happening with salaries for people in my area within the next year or so?”


Most recruiters will gladly provide feedback and answers to specific questions such as these because they are easier to answer than “What do you think of my resume?” These specific questions do two things: they place the recruiter in the position of “expert” being asked for advice which elicits better responses; and secondly, they establish a stronger communication bond which makes you a stronger candidate against your competition.

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