About a third of jobs are filled through recruiters, retained or contingent. So when a 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?
1. Accommodate Their Schedule 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.
2. Probe a Little
Try to learn as much as you can from recruiters so that you can, in turn, give them what they need. Find out the answer to two questions in particular: “What is the ideal candidate for this job?” and “What is the hardest part about filling this job?” You can find the answers after you have heard the job spec, and get to the heart of what they are searching for. From those two questions, you should be able to play back what you already have and what you still need to be the perfect candidate for them. Being the perfect candidate means filling the requirements and also being a convenient candidate for them.
3. Make Your Story Easy to Repeat
Having a structured, easy and ready-to-re-tell story about you is important. Remember, their job is to go back and sell you to the hiring manager, and if they have a 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 manager, “There’s someone you just have to talk to.”
4. 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, send them a few additional portfolio pieces, share references or go above and beyond to write a personalized cover letter that explains why you’re so excited about the job and why you’d be a perfect fit. And then, keep the name, number, email, date, and notes on what you talked to this recruiter about. Being able to reference previous conversations will score you big points, and if this particular job doesn’t pan out, your courtesy and thoughtfulness might help open the door for future opportunities.