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Engage the Recruiter


The focus of my practice is not search but I do partner with several clients each year as they look for the best person for a particular role.

Here’s your challenge:  Switch out of employee or job search mode and put on your recruiter hat.  Each of the following baker’s dozen examples are ones I’ve dealt with recently!  What would you do?

  1. The candidate addresses the cover letter “To Whom It May Concern” although the recruiter’s name is in the recruiting brief. 
    • If at all possible, personalize your letter.
    • You can use the recruiter’s name (it’s usually right there!) or you can  or easily find the name of the HR Manager or Hiring Manager on the organization’s web site.
    • Paying attention to a detail like this gives the recruiter an idea of how you handle customer service.
  2. The candidate’s cover letter doesn’t clearly say what’s in it for the employer to consider the strengths she brings to the table or why she’s interested in this role and/or organization at this point in her career. 
    • Tailor your cover letter to the opportunity by mirroring back the key competencies from the recruiting brief and showcasing how you offer them.  A  generic motherhood-and-apple-pie paragraph just doesn’t cut it!
    • And don’t forget to highlight what’s in it for you to make a move at this point in your career.  How does this role fit into your longer term career plan and what do you hope to learn from it?
  3.  The candidate uses his current employer’s e-mail and phone number in his resume. 
    • Use your own e-mail (consider gmail, outlook, etc. rather than hotmail to present as professionally as possible) and land line (check it during breaks) or cell phone.
    • I’ve had candidates ask why I’m phoning them at work.  It’s because that’s the only phone number or e-mail they provided!
    • The recruiter may wonder what other  of your current employer’s resources you’re using for personal not professional projects.
  4. The candidate applies within the first or last hour of posting.
    • People who apply within the first hour (or day) can be perceived as desperate, applying for anything, and often haven’t taken the time to research the opportunity and tailor their application.
    • People who apply within the last hour (or day;  or days or weeks later) can appear to be disorganized, unable to meet deadlines.
  5. The candidate attaches a long list of references, transcripts, etc. to his application.
    • The employer will specify which documents it needs and when to present them. 
  6. The candidate emails or calls (or both) to follow up receipt of her resume.  If her resume has been acknowledged, she e-mails or phones to thank the recruiter!   
    • It’s not unusual to receive hundreds of applications for a role.  If half or even a third of the candidates made either of these calls, let alone both, the recruiter would never get to the real job at hand.
    • Don’t take it personally if the recruiter doesn’t respond.
  7. The candidate e-mails or phones within one hour (or day) of the closing to confirm (not ask!) that he will be brought in for interview.
    • Some recruiters read resumes as they arrive, others read them as a batch once the posting has closed.  Still others are computer scanned.  If you want recruiters to read your resume, give them time!
    • Confidence and competence are good.  Cockiness and high maintenance?  Not so good.
  8. The candidate e-mails or phones for feedback on her cover letter, resume, references.
    • Recruiters are retained by the client not the candidates.
    • Again, if even one third of candidates asked for feedback at 15-30 minutes a call, that’s a huge obligation for the recruiter and not his responsibility.
    • Consider working with a career coach before submitting your application.
    • In these highly competitive markets, it’s hard to accept that someone else is perceived to be a better fit for a role but that’s often the case.  That’s not necessarily a commentary on your ability to perform the role, just a reflection of the market.
  9. The candidate uses a cell phone for the telephone interview and/or accepts other calls during that process.
    • Most telephone interviews are 30-45 minutes long;  cell phone reception can be unpredictable so find a land line if at all possible.
    • Candidates who accept a call while they’re in a scheduled telephone interview, won’t likely find the recruiter there when they return!
  10. The candidate schedules his interview over his lunch hour…and brings a snack  to munch on because that’s when he’d normally eat.
    •   What can I say?  The interview was brief and there was no second chance.
  11. The candidate isn’t prepared to answer the question:  what’s your current salary range?
    • I recently posted several newly created Director level roles with not for profits, having researched competitive base salaries using appropriate surveys.
    • Several candidates applied from the private and public sectors but were coy about disclosing their salaries.  When I disclosed the hiring range, less than they were currently making, they insisted they were still interested although it’s been my experience that’s not likely!
  12. The candidate doesn’t thank the Recruiter or Selection Committee for the interview and either confirm their interest or withdraw if it’s not a good fit.
    • Candidates often comment on the bad manners exhibited by recruiters and they may be warranted in some circumstances.
    •  Candidates can set themselves apart just by showing common courtesy;  send a thank you e-mail with 24-48 hours to each person with whom you met (and spell their names correctly!) 
  13. The candidate invites the recruiter to connect on Linked In when they’ve never met before.
    • Some people have been miffed that I’ve not accepted their invitation but unless someone I know (and trust) refers you, I’ve worked with you or met you in some other capacity, I won’t connect.

 The prime goal of sending a cover letter and resume is to get called in for an interview.  Engage the recruiter.  It’s a competitive-comparative process and you want to score as many Brownie Points as possible.