8 Ways to Virtually Strengthen Your Relationship and Credibility with Recruiters
The staffing industry is comprised of thousands of firms. Like any industry, some firms are more candidate centric and, therefore, better partners than others. As a technology job seeker, you might get called by 50 different Recruiters if you post your resume. Out of those 50+, how do you decide which call to return? Who should you work with? Which Recruiters/firms are worth building a relationship with? Who should you partner with while pursuing opportunities? How can you strengthen those relationships to ensure those Recruiter/s are being an advocate for you? How can you best utilize all the virtual tools and branding channels you have at your disposal to take that relationship, and their commitment in helping you?
One of the major discrepancies we continue to see is the expectations that job seekers have for Recruiters, and on the flip side, the goals of Recruiters and how they work with relevant job seekers around their staffing goals.
First and foremost, before you start working on the relationship building process, it's vital to find and work with the right Recruiters who have a proven track record. You can consult with Meetup/user group leadership, past co-workers and Managers, and any others you identify in your network who may have switched jobs recently and have a Recruiter recommendation. Do they have a good recruiter who supports your skill set? It's hard to build a relationship with 100 different Recruiters, so make sure you are identifying the right Recruiters to invest your time and energy in building a relationship with. Ask questions to understand how much potential they have. In this sense, potential means how many relevant opportunities do they get on a weekly or monthly basis that align with your background and interests? How many clients do they support whose environments match what you've done and what you want to do?
Second, before you jump into any conversations, have you worked on your professional elevator pitch (your 30-60 second summary of key skills, differentiators and interests)? If you don't have a strong and concise "opening line" with Recruiters, you will lose them before you even have a chance to win them over and build a relationship! Therefore, take time to outline and practice your pitch, which can include your recent relevant experience (last 3-5 years), primary technical competencies, description of the environment you have worked in, certifications & a snapshot of your interests/target career, company, etc.
Ways to Strengthen Relationships with Recruiters
- Make an effort to try to "meet" them. While in-person meetings dwindled considerably after the pandemic and will remain less likely, tools like Zoom and Teams enable you to put a face with a name, and are better relationship building platforms and opportunities than a phone call will ever be. When a Recruiter first reaches out to you, suggest a Zoom/Teams call vs. a regular phone call!
- Bring candidate marketing materials to the conversation that will help you sell yourself effectively. Do you provide Recruiters a full package they will get excited about (not just a resume)? Have you ever proactively provided non-proprietary examples of your work? Strong LinkedIn recommendation/s? A link to your website or online portfolio? Technical assessments you have completed where you have scored highly? Do you ever provide a cover letter or a summary of reasons why you are qualified for the position they are submitting you to? Put on your candidate marketing hat and provide a full picture of your skills and expertise by giving them a little something extra (on top of your resume) that helps them see your strengths/qualifications and gets them excited to work with you!
- Establish a commonality. Did you graduate from the same school? Know someone in common? Enjoy the same sport? Are fans of the same sports team? Play the same video games? Volunteer at the same organization? A member of the same tech community? A relationship is elevated whenever you uncover a commonality or shared interest(s).
- Connect socially. A positive trend we've seen from job seekers in the last year is an uptick in the quality of their LinkedIn profiles and their engagement and activity via LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most important channel since that's where the majority of Recruiters "hang out" professionally online. This 2021 Kinsta report found that "87% of Recruiters regularly use LinkedIn," and "40% of users access LinkedIn daily." Step one is to send a personalized invitation to a Recruiter to connect, unless they beat you to it! The key word there is "personalized." Take 20-30 seconds to tweak the message so it's not the standard, generic one. Reference a commonality, where you met them, a detail from your conversation (if you had one), or something simple from their profile and how that might relate to you. For example, most Recruiters will outline the types of positions they might support within their profile, so if they share that they "hire for data professionals," include that you read that and a brief couple sentences sharing you're in the job market for a data role and summary of your data background.
- Periodic engagement. Many Recruiters and other professionals will share articles, trainings, insights, etc. via LinkedIn, Twitter and other social platforms. If and when you see something you like, do you 'Like' the post? Do you 'Share' or 'Comment' on the post? Taking that extra measure can leave a small impression each time, and help keep your name fresh in their minds.
- Invite to attend, and then spark discussion, at relevant events. Many Recruiters are skill-set focused, which means they commonly support the positions their markets sees that align with your background. Many are also active in local technical communities, and would attend local technical Meetups and/or events like Code Camps, SQL Saturdays, Hackathons or other conference or community events that you might be at. If you are attending an event that might be relevant to them, send them the details and link to sign up. Then, if you are on the same Zoom/platform during a Meetup, take a couple seconds to send them a direct Chat to simply say hello!
- Be fully transparent and direct, even if it's not good news. What kills a lot of Recruiter and job seeker relationships? Going MIA, backing out of an interview the day of, and/or not starting a job after accepting due to concerns about the role or another opportunity you got an offer for that comes as a complete shock to the Recruiter. Honesty will always be the best policy for maintaining your relationships with Recruiters. If a Recruiter calls you about a position, be transparent if your resume has been submitted at a company, you've interviewed there before or even if you've worked there! If you accept another offer, or are expecting one you want to accept over theirs, give them a heads up. If you interview for a role and are no longer interested, tell them and share why you are no longer interested. Communication, even if it's hard information that you are dreading sharing, is part of any productive relationship and partnership!
- Have a regular check-in cadence that isn't overwhelming. "I talked to them once, and haven't heard back since" or "I called them and they haven't called me back." In today's job market, most of us don't have the luxury of waiting by our phones, emails or open LinkedIn inboxes to hear back on job prospects. Communication goes both ways, and if you aren't receiving the callbacks you want, take your follow up to the next level. Have you created a list of the Recruiters you have determined commonly support positions you'd be interested in? Are you reaching out to them via phone, email, text and/or LinkedIn message every one to two weeks? Own your communication, and if you don't hear back after an application or conversation, follow up once at a minimum, and potentially even a second time 3-5+ days later.
Best Practice Example – Applying Above Tips
Anyone that's previously been a Recruiter will no doubt have favorite candidate success stories from over the years. Here is one of my favorite candidate success stories that was two years in the making!
Joe was a Senior Programmer who was on a government contract in Hawaii. We talked about Hawaii (a trip I took there as a child swimming with sea turtles and biking down a dormant volcano is one of my favorite childhood memories) for the majority of our conversation, after learning he wasn't going to be in the job market until his contract ended. We connected via LinkedIn, and stayed in touch throughout the next two years. Every month or two, he'd comment on one of my LinkedIn posts and on a few occasions, he'd send a brief LinkedIn message to share something he had done, such as his favorite new snorkeling spot. He'd also ask about the status of the job market for Programmers and what technologies were hot/in demand. About 8 weeks prior to his contract ending, we spoke on the phone for a second time. Within a month, he was submitted for 3 different positions we had, and he secured an offer for one of them! This is a great example of how Joe exercised at least 5 of our above tips: he established a commonality/rapport, got connected via the best social platform, engaged from time to time, exercised upfront and direct communication on his situation and status, and had a check-in cadence that was right for his situation.
Not sure where to start to identify a quality Recruiter and initiate communication? We always recommend asking for referrals or checking Best of Staffing awards (there are many category options depending on what you're targeting). Once you've narrowed down the list to a few top firms/Recruiters, we recommend the following:
- Find an opportunity to meet "face to face" via a video platform. Meeting "face to face" is different now than in years past, but seeing someone still goes a long way for establishing a trusting, lasting relationship and partnership.
- Find common ground. What better way to build on to the above than finding something in common that you're both passionate about!
- Bring candidate marketing materials. What sets you apart? What are your key qualifications? What other neat things have you done inside and outside of work that add to your overall candidacy? Do you have powerful recommendations that will leave a Recruiter saying "Wow, I need to talk to them now?"
- Connect and engage socially. I always connect with managers and candidates on LinkedIn as soon as I've had a conversation with them! I love this because I've kept in touch with people I've placed 15 years ago, and vice versa. There's nothing better than seeing an old favorite pop up on your LinkedIn feed after they've commented on your post!
- If you're involved in your local community, invite them to attend events! I used to ask candidates if they wanted to attend a user group meeting with me. It's better having a buddy and also nice having someone that's interested and passionate in being involved in our local community.
- Be honest. It's ok if our job is your #2 or even your #5 choice on your list, please just tell us so and explain why your interest level in the other opportunities is higher, which can give us guidance on what else is crossing our desk that we should bring to your attention. Managing expectations on both sides is imperative for a productive relationship.
- Check in from time to time! Even if you're thrilled with your current job, it's wise to keep in touch with a few trusted Recruiters because you never know what can happen.
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Article Last Updated: 2021-07-15