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11 Tips for Approaching a Recruiter Who Can Help You Land Your Dream Job

My name is Keirsten and I’m a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (shout out Rho Rho and Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapters) as well as a Recruiting Consultant/Career Coach. In the 18 years that I’ve been a recruiter, I’m frequently consulted to provide insight on career related topics. Overwhelmingly, there are two questions that come up time and time again.

You’re a recruiter; can you get me a job?
How do I approach a recruiter for assistance?

My response to the first question (if I don’t ignore it all together) usually falls somewhere on the Smart Remark Spectrum between sarcastic mocking and eye rolling annoyance. Contrary to popular belief, I am not the Keeper of ALL Jobs.

I do, however, respond very favorably to the second question. The person who asks me the second question as opposed to the first is showing they respect my time and value my input. Additionally, they are positioning themselves for thoughtful feedback by actually asking me (a recruiter) how I want to be engaged. I advise this person to prepare and plan, personalize their approach, and pursue with purpose.

Prepare and Plan

  • Over 90% of recruiters are using social media to find quality talent; so be discoverable. Your profile on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, Opportunity, and Jobcase should be up-to-date and consistent with your resume. The content should not only apply to your current and/or future career plans but also be consistent with the professional image you’re trying to project. These days the lines between professional and personal profiles are blurry. As such, I recommend cursory checks on your personal profiles and connections as well. Remember, you are the company that you keep.
  • For every five people that approach me for help, four of them start by asking me to review their resume. Of those, three are REALLY asking me to write their resumes for them. If you’re looking for resume help, please have something for the recruiter to review that, at a minimum, gives them an idea about the direction your career is heading.
  • Develop a job search plan and research the organizations and types of positions that interest you. Some job postings will contain contact information for the recruiter who is filling that role. If the job postings don’t contain the recruiter’s name, you can always do a search for recruiters at your desired organizations.
  • Create, practice, and be ready to deliver your value proposition/elevator pitch on-demand. Make sure it contains who you are, what you do, and how you can benefit an organization.

Personalize Your Approach

  • Blinding forwarding your resume, copying and pasting generic messages, using templates, and sending the same auto-generated messages to every recruiter shows a lack of preparation. Recruiters are more likely to respond positively and offer assistance to job seekers who personalize their approach with relationship building in mind.
  • Personalization is a two way street. Whenever possible, don’t come straight out of the gate asking for help. If you are emailing on sending a direct message, start with an introduction that establishes familiarity like:

“My Frat Brother/Soror referred me…”
“I have been following your posts and…”
“I noticed that you are a fellow alumnus/alumna of…”

before asking a question. You should also engage with them on posts, and/or show your interest in and knowledge of their organization.

  • Join and be an active participant in online professional groups. Recruiters often join groups as a way to find subject matter experts that can provide insight on the positions for which they’re sourcing and get a sense for how YOU, the job seeker, wants to approached.

Pursue with Purpose

  • Not all recruiters are created equal so resist the urge to use the, “You’re a recruiter; can you get me a job?” approach just because someone has “Recruiter” in their job title. To achieve the maximum return on investment for your time, approach recruiters who have expertise and experience in your desired field. If you’re unsure, or their social media activity is sporadic, try following for a while before sending a formal connection request.
  • Internal recruiters at your current organization are an excellent resource for job seekers who wish to advance and continue to develop their talent in-house. The recruiter that guided you through the hiring process is invested in your professional success. If your next position is outside of their area of expertise, they will connect you to a recruiter in the organization who can assist. They have established relationships with the hiring managers who will be evaluating you and can connect you to mentors and co-workers who can support your career progression and talent development efforts. Best of all, they are often aware of openings prior to the postings going live.
  • Look up from your device and get out and mingle where recruiters are expecting to socialize with you. Attend professional meet up and networking events, targeted career fairs/hiring events, and events sponsored by professional, alumni, and ESPECIALLY your BGLO. We are everywhere: at chapter meetings, churches, community events, sporting events, the grocery store, and living in your neighborhood. When approached politely, respectfully, and professionally, we are more than willing to talk.

Lastly, if you have established relationships with one or more recruiters, don’t wait until you’re fully engaged in a job search to reach out to them. Establish periodic touch-points to keep yourself at the front of their tickler file and use them as a resource to connect you to other recruiters.

Keirsten Greggs is Founder of a blog that explores the humorous tales of recruiting and workforce development through the eyes of an experienced Human Resources professional. Keirsten is a Talent Acquisition Consultant, Career Coach, Diversity Advocate, Blogger and Professional Relationship Builder focused on bridging the gap between the job seeker and organizations committed to attracting, hiring, developing and retaining diverse talent. A certified Jersey Jawn and Bourgeois Hood Rat, she loves God, trap music, DST, being churchy, graphic tees, code-switching, Starbucks, happy hour, anything fried, Cobb salad and bearded dudes.
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