The job search process is complex and requires engaging with several key stakeholders. Recruiters are a good example of this and play an important role in helping you research and secure your dream job. Understanding how and why to reach out to a recruiter is critical to accessing their support during the process. In this Expert Panel, we collected tips and advice from top-notch recruiters on how to effectively reach out to a recruiter, why you should, including recruiter outreach examples.
Being thoughtful and strategic about reaching out to a recruiter is critical to your success in the job search process. This includes both the contents of your communication and your approach to outreach.
1. Suf Baileche
Head of Talent @ Comma
Now, more than ever, candidates have the power to truly seek roles that they’re interested in. Since the ease of lockdown, there have been over 1 million roles advertised. My advice is to be specific – and that stems right from researching the roles/companies you want to apply to.
Research. Research is your friend. Recruiters are far more likely to progress a candidate if they can effectively portray their reasons as to why they’re excited about the prospect of working at said company. LinkedIn, company website, blogs, articles – make sure you’re hitting everything and note down key points. Use these points in your message to the recruiter.
Identify. What I mean here is identify who you should be reaching out to. Are you in sales, or software engineering? Depending on the size of the business, they could have a team of recruiters/HR professionals. You’ll stand out if you reach out to the right person (it also saves time so you’re not passed from pillar to post). If a super small startup, this could mean going straight to the exec team (CEO, CTO, COO etc).
Stand out. There’s probably a reason why you want to apply for a role at said company. Really ask yourself why that is. You’ll be far more effective at expressing your interest if you know yourself. Have you read a blog about a certain project? Mention it. Do you resonate with their values? Mention it. Do you find their product exciting? Why? Mention it. Generic cover letters simply won’t cut it – and it’s easy for recruiters to identify these, so steer clear! You have to be specific and concise.
Be confident. You know your own abilities and what you can bring to the table. Shout about it! Give recruiters a reason to think ‘we HAVE to speak to this candidate’. Study the job spec. Pick out key skillsets, competencies and experience required, then turn that around to your experience and competencies.
Persevere. If you don’t receive a response within 3 days, message again politely. Reiterate your want to join the company and ask for feedback if they say you’re not suitable. If you don’t have the required skillsets needed it’s important you receive this feedback so that you can work on them and potentially apply again in the future.
2. Bradley Forde
Head of Sourcing @ Motion Talent
Get your LinkedIn profile, CV or portfolio up to date. Share your successes, wins, developments and show value/impact in numbers (think money saved or money made).
If you have industry experience, search for recruitment agencies and companies that specialise in your area of interest or would benefit from your experience/ skill-set, this will minimise the chances of you not hearing back and the roles presented should be better aligned. Invite both agency and in-house recruiters to your network on LinkedIn. The more connections you have the more opportunities you will see.
3. Danielle Fitzsimmons-Elliott
Build up several relationships across Recruit agencies, they will all have a niche they operate best in doing your research.
Consultants get a lot of bad press, they are overworked often wearing many hats. You can also apply direct, be present on LinkedIn and similar platforms, join forums that match your skills, google search jobs using a Boolean search string, casually connect up with people and stay connected in a light-hearted way or share information.
For every application, you submit you are unlikely to not hear back, especially now where all Recruitment teams are overworked. Don’t hate the process, look for opportunities.
Apply to a lot and work with idea that you must generate 6 active conversations ‘in an interviewing cycle’ about a specific job, keep applying and doing the above daily until you reach this target. From the x6 active interview processes/conversations you are part of, 1 should pull off/come close.
Let your recruitment agent/agency know you are part of other processes (no further details needed), an update every 3/4 weeks is enough. Remember recruitment agencies form a piece of the hiring pie, build relationships over time.
4. Jason Tunney
Talent & Inclusion Manager at So Energy
Start a brag book and use this to provide tailored examples of how you can add value to a business. Use a notepad to document any value add work you have done during your career or studies so far. Each brag should include the problem, the solution you implemented, the outcome and the data to back it up.
For Example – The problem: managers are unhappy with the lack of consistency in the quality of their hires. Solution: Created an interview framework for every interviewer to follow that measures candidate equally. Outcome: The quality of good hires increased resulting in 38% more people passing their probation.
You can lean on this brag book when answering competency-based interview questions but you can also use it way before that. When applying for a business consider what work you have done in the past that is most relevant to the role and then highlight that in your application via a cover letter or in screening questions.
5. Zoe Sones
- Reach out directly – telephone if you can – a personal touch
- Don’t be over eager- ill take anything…. you are talented, smart and can contribute greatly. Don’t sell yourself short
- Be unique – don’t copy and past cv to questions etc
- Do your research before contacting – values history etc
- Don’t overuse terminology acronyms or keywords on CVs or emails.
- Ask the recruiter relevant questions not just relating to salary ie What are the company’s values? What characteristics do you look for in employees in order to represent those values?
- Always dress appropriately – especially on this day of Teams calls – no PJS
6. Ashley Cooper
Talent Acquisition Manager at Wonder
There is no solid formula because luck and serendipity play a big part. What you can do though is make sure you are showing the best most relevant experience for the role at the forefront of your application.
Make your resume is easily readable, 2 pages is a good guide. Plenty of white space is easy on the eye. I personally like column-based modern-looking resumes with some colour (nothing garish though).
If they ask for a covering letter make it short and super relevant to the role.
Try connecting with the recruiter on social this will bring attention to your application.
Remember sometimes no matter how good you fit the role you could be too slow. Often roles get so many replies that you are simply in a queue and the people in front are also good for the role. It is impossible for hiring teams to speak to meet everyone. Don’t be disheartened if you are unsuccessful. Of course, there are many reasons, the most common is timing, but hang in there sometimes because the early bird doesn’t always get the worm.
Do try and leverage any connections you have at the company, referrals and recommendations always get some sort of priority in processing.
Do some research on the company before applying.
Hope that helps.
7. Nigel Lawrence
Snr Talent Acquisition Specialist at Intapp
- Apply for roles for which you have at least 60% match to the job description.
- Don’t apply for dozens of roles at the same time, especially if you only have a passing interest – decent recruiters will read your CV. It is one of my sources of frustration that I reach back to candidates only to be ignored – we have limited time and long memories
- Don’t send out generic cover letters- if sending a letter, target it
- Read your CV, and then get it spell checked/read by someone else. Explain gaps in your CV and, if you have short stints at a company, explain why you have moved on.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or connect
- Be patient – if all recruiters are like me, time is precious and we do our very best to respond
- Don’t take things personally – if you get a rejection, it could be for numerous reasons It is not necessarily the case that it is down to anything you have done.
- Don’t lie on our CV or cover letter or LinkedIn – I have had a multitude of occasions where candidates preclude themselves
- Take your time. Moving jobs is frightening and exciting – be sure that you know what you are moving to, look at who your peers will be.
- Be positive
Best of luck!
8. Charles Martin
Partner at Signium
Before you contact a recruiter make sure that your documentation, CV, Covering letter and Linkedin profile are up to date and as good as they can be. Have a clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to work, preferably have a list of ten or so target companies. Do your research to find the Headhunters and find their contact details. Make sure to approach the correct consultant within the firm for your function and sector. Send a personalised email and then follow up with a phone call. Persevere until successful. Once contact has been made then try to arrange a coffee meeting to build the relationship. Get advice from them. Stay in contact every five weeks to monitor incoming opportunities.
9. Edward Jessel
Senior Executive @ MSI Pharma and MSI Group Inc
- Take time to find a recruiter that operates in your line of work.
- Never just send a CV for a job you are unqualified for or don’t have the right to work in the country. If you are looking for a step up, new career or a relocation send an email or give them a call and explain the background
- Never BCC multiple recruiters with a CV saying that you are available for XYZ
- Ask someone to recommend you to a recruiter they trust.
- Be transparent – trust goes both ways in a relationship
- Ask for advice and help
10. Greg Harmer
Partner Relationship Manager @ Stable Resources Ltd
Reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn, but also add a message on the invite highlighting their success /expertise. I.E Give a recruiter a reason to connect as they are usually inundated with irrelevances.
SELL YOURSELF to a recruiter.
Create a snapshot profile when they connect and ask for a phone conversation where we can dive deeper into the candidate situation, requirements, role and company in more detail.
The call is so important, certainly at the qualifying stage – so many candidates, and I’m not sure if this is a generational thing, just ask for salary and job spec to be sent over to them. SPEAK with your recruiter, build a relationship and commit to setting time aside to enable them to help you with your search. We are very flexible, committed to speaking out of hours if that’s the easiest option for the candidate.
Remember, we have the client’s ear and are able to talk, in great detail, about the candidate and what they bring to the table.
11. Kunjal Tanna
Director, LT Harper Cybersecurity Recruitment
Ask your peers and friends which recruiters they like working with for their job search or simply for keeping tabs on the market. Ask them to refer you to that recruiter. Recruiters love to work with candidates who have been referred to them because there’s a stronger level of trust in the relationship when the candidate comes recommended by someone they know
12. Ryan Kelly
Cyber Security Recruitment Consultant
However you choose to contact me, be that phone, email, Li etc, just be yourself – I need to know the real you, you wouldn’t try and be someone else when you’re not at work so just be yourself when you talk to me. Talking to people is the best part of my job, and I’d like to talk to the real you.
13. Ella Wickremeratne
Recruitment Consultant at LT Harper
Initiate the relationship with open and honest communication. An open line of communication creates a partnership of trust that allows your recruiter to go the extra mile for you.
Speak to your recruiter in detail about your goals or reasons for wanting to move on from your current organisation, in order to get the most out of the relationship.
14. Subhan Uddin
Business Manager, Peridot Partners
Firstly, don’t worry about being awkward. You’re contacting someone you don’t know and asking them for help so that’s just natural. My best advice would be to do your research first. Contact recruiters when you have a reasonable idea of a job you want to go for or a sector that you’d like to work in. This will help identify the right recruiter or recruitment company.
Take a look at the jobs they’re advertising, read the ‘About Us’ section. Are you sure these people that could help? It could be worth asking friends for recommendations and searching online and finding a specialist that looks after that sector. Recruiters are always looking for more candidates so will be happy to help. Give them a call, let them know what you’re looking to do and ask if they can help.
15. Ali Braid
Owner- The Recruitment Trainer
My number one piece of advice is- take their call!
Recruiters work incredibly hard to make sure they have the right opportunities to present to you. However they can only do this if they get to speak to you and found out what your career aspirations actually are. Your CV is only part of the story and by having an in-depth conversation they will not only get to know your experience and skills but will also get a deeper understanding of what drives you at work. This in turn helps them match you to an employer.
Let them know when you can speak freely and openly and allow them some time to organise things their end so they can give you this time.
If you are open to a conversation this not only shows you are serious about your job search but also creates a professional impression.
Work with your recruiter openly- tell them when things change and keep them updated on other interviews and offers. This allows them to present you in the most positive way to their clients. They are not being nosey!
If you can build an open and honest relationship with your recruiter- they will be your strongest supporter in your job search.
16. Lydia Headey
Head of Customer – Canda
The most effective and impactful introductions made to our team are always 1, or both, of 2 things:
- Future-facing: As impressive as it might be, we don’t want to sift through several paragraphs of your last 15 years’ of work experience and what you enjoyed most and least about it. Save that for a more in-depth phone call, or interview, to talk through your experience. We want to hear about the future – where are you heading, both personally and professionally? What value are you going to bring to this role? What positive impact are you going to have? Let’s talk about the opportunity ahead now, and the journey towards it later.
- Authentic: Showing an understanding of what the business is actually doing, where it’s heading and what it’s trying to achieve brings instant engagement from a recruiter. Showcasing a genuine passion for it and extensive knowledge of it is the way to go. It gives us so much more to go on with your immediate credibility and lots more to dive into detail on. More often than not, being funny or quirky doesn’t add value and is most likely to come across as awkward and highly igonore-able in a busy inbox!
17. Vanessa Barnes
In a market where there are lots of new jobs and you are up against quite a few candidates when applying look at the company and take note of the person that posted the job role. Then call them and maybe ask them a few questions you might have about the post if they can explain what the role is in more depth, build a rapport and then ask to send your cv directly to them and not to an automated system. This will get you a few steps in advance.
When looking at jobs that come through to your email, make sure that they are relevant for you as sometimes the algorithms of the website pick up buzz words from your cv and you end up applying for something that isn’t even in your remit of skills because of this one-click culture!
18. David Walsh
Essential Resourcing – Director
My first Tip relates to the age old saying “failure to prepare, is preparing to fail” – What I mean by this is in Lehman’s terms, just do a bit of research! I don’t think a recruiter exists which covers every single sector or recruits every single role (if there is they are the Clarke Kent of Recruitment) so if you are in Marketing, make sure the recruiter is a specialist in Marketing or if you are in Accountancy…and so on… This could be a single recruiter or a recruitment agency – make sure they are in the sector you are trying to get a job! You might think I am being daft, but you will be amazed at how many times I get approached by people, saying ‘David, I’m a world-class solicitor, what jobs have you got on?!”
The next is the actual approach – now this can be done by a lot of different channels.. Linkedin, Email, Phone (remember them), text message, Whatsapp, Letter (Nah on 2nd thoughts), walk-ins (high street agencies are they around still?) – us recruiters don’t really mind which – but when you do approach, a simple message saying “you are interested in a chat about a new role – attached CV – can we help? with contact details, salary expectations (we need to know this honestly – happy to chat further on this topic) and then leave it with us.
A decent recruiter should always respond to everyone even if irrelevant to them *even if a lorry driver approaches me as a Marketing Recruiter, I always reply – it may be a pre-written response but it is a response (just basic human courtesy), but just would urge a bit of patience, a couple of days in the grand scheme of things is not a massive thing, although in most cases it is a lot sooner (please remember recruiters are allowed holidays just as everyone else)
Lastly please remember, we are humans, so be polite, be courteous and if you find a decent recruiter they will definitely reciprocate.
19. Katherine McCord
President at Titan Management
I have worked in recruiting for a decade, and have spoken on these topics dozens of times. Jobseeker advice is so tricky because of so many variables.
However, utilizing these simple, universal steps will prove effective:
- Don’t be the “thirsty” candidate. This is not appealing in the dating scene, and it is no more effective in the professional realm. Do not come across as desperate. Confidence is everything.
- Be concise. Jobseekers often ramble, repeat themselves, and provide unnecessary information whether on a resume, LinkedIn profile or in an interview. Be direct. Be brief. Be specific.
- Narrow your search. This can be done in general, or just daily, but do not create a general resume or approach. Cater them to the industry, field, and level of the role which you are seeking.
- Put your ethics at the forefront. Do not go work for a credit card company if you don’t believe in debt. Do not go work for a company that pollutes the ocean if you are super into green practices. That makes no sense.
- Only apply to companies that speak to you, and share your passion or fascination in your application. Why? That means you are connected to them. You will succeed because you care. You can feel connected to the mission, the product, or a project. Connect to them. It works.
- Be personable. I recommend a video introduction (animated or of yourself), personalized LinkedIn messages, or Ecards. Make your first line captivating. This is crucial. You must captivate your audience. Sell yourself, and showcase who you are (professionally).
- Appear on a podcast, LinkedIn Live, or similar, and send the link of your appearance with your resume. This establishes you as an expert. Reach out to hosts via email or on LinkedIn after checking out the show to ensure that it is the right fit for you. They are almost always looking for guests.
- This is a big one… Only apply to jobs for which you are qualified. I do not know who started this ridiculous trend of applying to roles for which you are in no way shape or form a fit, but it is an utter waste of time. Now, you do not need to meet 100% of the requested qualifications. However, you must meet ALL of the mandated requirements (such as “licensed in ….”, “US resident”, or “experience working in this field”). Now, if you are a year (maybe two or three depending on the number requested) off from the required experience, that is fine, but you need to have the experience. Do not apply for a senior role when you are an entry-level candidate. Find a junior role and apply.
Outside of these basic tips and tricks, here is what matters: DO YOU. Do not hide yourself. If you do, you will come across fake, struggle in your search, and ultimately not be happy in your role. Be you, even if you dial it back a bit. That is how you land the right role with the right organization.