First- I want to apologize for my hiatus from posting on this site! The new job, getting married, getting a house, having the house flood 3 weeks into ownership, writing blogs for a careers site outside of my own personal page, my wife and I having our first child… it all played into my vacation from writing.
I’m now coming up for air and this morning as I was responding to an email it dawned on me that I have a great topic to write about. The email I was responding to was an inquiry from a recruiter from a large tech company that wanted to know if I was interested in a recruiting job for them. While I’m not currently on the market, I still wanted to take the time to network with the recruiter. In fact, I try to take the time to respond to each and every job inquiry I get. At first I thought this was just professional courtesy- kind of like how I typically will over-tip the bartender or a waitress/waiter since I started off in the service industry and I know their pains. However, as I was connecting with this individual, I realized that I wasn’t just doing it as a professional courtesy. Recruiters send out hundreds of inquiries a week and I’d be willing to bet that less than half of the candidates they reach out to respond to their inquiries. So me not responding wouldn’t hurt this recruiter’s day, and they’d find plenty of other candidates to talk with about their opening. So I wasn’t responding to this recruiter just because I felt obligated to, I was responding to them for my own personal gain.
I realized is that I always respond because I am building my own professional network. I don’t just mean adding another contact to my LinkedIn connections either. I found myself also going out of my way to refer individuals to opportunities I wasn’t interested in, and trying to help the recruiter who contacted me. Subconsciously I think I felt that helping them out would give me some good professional karma. At the very least, if I ever found myself in a position where I needed them in the future I could leverage the fact that I networked with them and possibly referred one or two candidates to them.
This is the type of networking that I’m always preaching about on my site. Now, before I get too deep into this post I want to clarify something. The title states “why candidates should act like recruiters”, and you’ve probably already deduced that I’m going to use responding to inquiries as the act that candidates should follow. Before I receive all the comments, tweets, and emails about how recruiters NEVER respond to inquiries- I want to put in this disclaimer: I don’t group applications to job postings and inquiries into the same bucket. They are fundamentally different. When a candidate clicks ‘submit’ on a job board, there isn’t really a personal touch there. However, if they talk to a recruiter in person, via email, phone, text message, social media, etc. that is where the personal touch comes in. That is the type of inquiry I’m writing about. That is the point in your relationship where great recruiters, and great candidates, should keep in touch.
Great recruiters rely on their network to fill their openings first, before they rely on job postings or having to source through job boards/social media, etc. While most recruiters receive more applications than they could possibly respond to, the great ones make sure to keep a file of all the candidate’s they’ve spoken to. Some people call these hot books, leads, tickle systems, silver candidates, etc. Whatever the terminology, they represent those individuals that you have some sort of a professional knowledge and relationship with. The reason recruiters pulse their networks first before sifting through hundreds of resumes is because it’s faster, more reliable, and has a much better success rate. The familiarity with the individual, or the person that referred them, makes the process go a lot smoother.
In the same sense, as a candidate, you should work to be as responsive as you can. Granted, you may become frustrated when a recruiter reaches out to you for a particular job that either you’re not interested in or aren’t the best fit for. Or maybe it’s a job you are a fit for, but now isn’t the best time. Or maybe it’s located in an area you can’t relocate to. Regardless of the reason that this isn’t the job for you, don’t let it sully the potential of a future professional relationship for you. Just like a recruiter’s greatest tool is their professional network, the same can be said for a job seeker. Whether you’re currently on the market or may be in the future- your professional network will be your greatest tool for employment. Keeping those interactions professional and friendly will ensure that you can revisit that well in the future. When you are entering your job search, pulsing your network first before you systematically begin to apply to dozens of jobs online will save you a lot of time. Just like this is faster, more reliable, and has a higher success rate for recruiters it has all of the same benefits for you as the job seeker.
A savvy candidate will create their own network file, with all of the recruiters or hiring managers that they’ve spoken to over the years. Having built up this book of business, they can always reach out in their own time of need. Additionally, if they have a friend or colleague who is looking for work- they can refer them to their network. People won’t quickly forget when you’ve helped them out professionally or took the time to build a working relationship with them.