Let's Keep in Touch: Talking with Recruiters
What Recruiters Can Do For You
Let’s say you attended a job fair recently- online, of course- and you chatted with a recruiter from a company you’re interested in working for once you graduate. After talking for a few minutes about their programs for undergraduate students and the company’s recent successes, you thank them for their time and ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. You nailed the first impression, but now what?
Once you have made contact with a recruiter, it’s important to follow up with them if you are still interested in applying for a job at their company or if you would like to expand your professional network in your industry. Recruiters can be a great source of professional advice and can provide updates and insight into opportunities relevant to your career path. They’re also a wealth of information when it comes to hiring practices and industry knowledge. Sounds like a great opportunity, but keeping in touch with recruiters can seem a little confusing. When should you contact them? How many emails is too many? What should you talk about with them? We’ll try to answer some of those questions today, to make talking with recruiters easy and approachable.
Making the First Move
A good first step is to determine why you are reaching out to a recruiter. Many students tend to think that they should only do so if they are looking to apply for a job at a specific company. However, it may help to build relationships with recruiters even when you’re not job hunting. Reaching out to someone without expecting anything in return (i.e. a job) feels more genuine and puts you on good terms with the recruiter the next time you do have a question or a favor to ask. If you are looking for a job, then of course, reaching out to a recruiter to ask specifically about the job you’re interested in is appropriate.
After meeting face to face, try sending them a thank you email before hitting “Connect” on LinkedIn. Wait to make sure they respond positively to your email, which not only makes sure that you’re making a good impression, but also gives you some assurance that it’s appropriate to link up with them further. On that note, try to let the recruiter lead the way when communicating. It’s their job to find new hires, and there is likely a procedure or a timeline in place that they prefer to follow.
Facilitate the Process
The biggest threat to your relationship with a recruiter is letting communication die. It’s easy to let this happen, but there are ways you can make it easier for both you and the recruiter to keep a running dialogue. Keep in touch regularly. Send an email or reach out over LinkedIn maybe once or twice per month, if you have any updates in your career journey, any new skills or achievements, or any changes to your resume to report. Moreover, make sure that you are open and available for the recruiter to contact you. Try to make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch with you, and make sure to follow up quickly if you happen to miss a call or overlook an email. You can use social media to your advantage, if you’re able to contact a recruiter through those platforms, but make sure to come prepared and are respectful of their personal space. Refrain from spamming their profiles and posts with questions or asking general questions, like if there are any open positions. You should be able to find that kind of information on your own with some research.
On that note, be direct about your career goals, qualifications, and aspirations. This lets recruiters match you to the best possible job opening for you. While it is normally best to allow recruiters to provide you with relevant job information, it’s okay to reach out to them first if you notice a new opening at their company that looks like a good fit for you. Mix it up by asking about related topics, advice, and company updates to keep the conversation lively, but put clarity about career goals and plans first. Determining where it’s appropriate to push for the job you want requires you to read the mood in your communications with your particular recruiter.
What You Can Do For Them
Trying to build a relationship with a recruiter can seem like a one-sided effort. It’s helpful to consider your relationship with them as an opportunity for both of you to help each other. The more you give, the more you are likely to receive in return. Try to add value to the relationship. Refer other qualified candidates for other open positions, if applicable, or simply offer some kind of useful information or aid to the recruiter when appropriate. Referring other candidates and connecting them to job opportunities and recruiters at your company of interest can also help expand your professional network. You can uplift others, while improving your image in the eyes of the recruiter and the company as a whole. Making a few new friends is also a nice bonus.
There are also plenty of opportunities to connect with your recruiter on social media. Interacting with content they produce can not only help them gain more visibility online, but can help you practice good online etiquette, improve your industry knowledge, and keep your face fresh in your recruiter’s mind. You can like, share, and comment on posts your recruiter makes on LinkedIn from time to time. All comments and reposts should be positive and professional- nothing too personal! Sharing and reposting posts on topics that are a shared interest between you and the recruiter, such as industry news, is also ideal.
Keep Up the Good Work
Now that you know how to properly follow up with a recruiter, you can explore some ways in which you can go the extra mile. In your follow-up emails, ask about how the recruiter is doing or mention something you may have seen on social media that is relevant to the company or the industry, before launching into your personal objectives. Treat the recruiter not just as a resource, but as a real person. Be friendly and empathetic, and remember that recruiters are often busy with many other candidates every day. Keep messages brief and purposeful, and don’t get discouraged if it takes a little longer for them to respond.