How to Work With a Recruiter

Back when I was just starting my career, I received a few calls from recruiters and didn’t know the proper way to handle the situation.  I would usually simply ignore them and not return their calls.  Why bother?  I already had a good job and wasn’t interested.

One particular recruiter was very persistent and eventually convinced me to interview with a Regional Director for Target Corporation, a company expanding into the Seattle market at that time.  I took on the attitude that I was pretty hot stuff because this recruiter was pursuing me so aggressively.  I simply wanted to know how much money Target was going to throw at me.  Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit I thought this way – I was a 23 year old Department Sales Manager with about a year’s experience in the workforce – big deal, right?  So I arrived at the interview, sat down with the Regional Director and proceed to act like I was a big shot high school football prospect talking to a college coach wanting me to play for him.  It wasn’t long before the Director stopped and looked me in the eye and said “Can you tell how angry I am right now?” to which I replied, “Hey, you guys called me.”  Well, let’s just say the interview ended there and I left.

From that embarrassing experience, I began to learn some valuable lessens about what recruiters do and how to properly work with them.   Currently, I am  regularly contacted by recruiters and have developed a procedure I follow which has served me well throughout my career.

First of all, there are basically two types of recruiters – contingency and retained – which I will leave to the link to define.  I will just focus here on my recommendations on how to work with them.

  • Always return their calls – the same day – and find out what opportunities they are offering.  You never know!
  • Before you call them back, have a name of somebody you know to recommend.  After they tell you that you were recommended by somebody, they will tell you about the opportunity and whether you know of somebody who might be interested.  You should give them your recommendation and also say that you are interested. Remember the interview process begins with this phone call so be professional and enthusiastic. 
  • From there, they will ask for a resume and if they determine your skills and experience meet the needs of their client, they will schedule a formal face to face interview (with the recruiter). You should always have a current resume ready to go at a moment’s notice (future topic for this blog).
  • If you make the ‘cut’ with the recruiter, you will be scheduled to interview with the client company. There may several interviews with different members of the client company as you progress.  I’ve gone through up to four interviews over a month long period with a company.
  • Always mail a thank you note to every individual with whom you interviewed.
  • Follow up once a week with alternating phone calls and emails until you are offered the job or told it went to another candidate.
  • If you don’t get the job or decline the offer, follow up with one last thank you note to the company and request a “debriefing” with the recruiter.
  • Remember that the interview process begins the second you return the recruiter’s call and that you are being evaluated with every interaction and communication along the way.  Be professional and enthusiastic throughout. It is important to build a positive professional relationship with them because they may help you find your “dream job” or may be able to help you if you are laid off and need a job.  Being able to contact a recruiter who already knows you and what you can do is extremely valuable.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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