Archive for April, 2013

Respond to a Recruiter?

April 24, 2013

Nearly everyone receives unsolicited contact from a recruiter, sometimes multiple recruiters, touting new and exciting career opportunities.  Some of these positions sound better than they actually are while others don’t seem all that interesting to begin with.  Putting aside the apparent quality of the opportunity, not to mention quality of the recruiter, what do you do when a recruiter reaches out to you?

In the last decade, there has been something of a shift.  Whereas many prospective candidates used to reply to recruiters’ outreach, thanking them for the contact while basking in flattery, today it often brings a decidedly different sentiment.  Nowadays, many people don’t respond at all and when they do, they don’t necessarily view it as a mutually beneficial event.  Why the change?

Let’s look at some of the most likely reasons why individuals decide to forgo contact with recruiters:

  • Not looking to make a move right now
  • Distrusting of recruiters
  • The opportunity presented does not map to specific career interests and preferences
  • Since companies pay recruiters for placements, candidates presented to companies via recruiters must surely be deemed less desirable as they will be more expensive to hire
  • Too busy to engage with recruiters; not considered a valuable use of time
  • The best positions will come via network referrals

Granted, recruiters come in all shapes, sizes and levels of competency.  Some recruiters may not bring enough value to the table to warrant the time spent with them.  However, there are many high quality search professionals out there, some of whom even come from the space they now serve.  Along the way, many of these recruiters have themselves been candidates as well as hiring managers.  Although recruiters typically make contact because of a specific search they’re working on, these are exceptionally well-networked people who can help you now as well as potentially down the road.

Thus, if an individual is not looking to make a career move at the moment, there’s always a year or two from now when the situation may change.  By engaging with a recruiter, you’ve potentially planted seeds for later.  And even though recruiters are focused on their current searches, quality recruiters know when they’re speaking with a bright, talented individual who could become a highly sought after candidate when the time is right.

Some people do not trust recruiters.  Often times, they’re viewed as carnival barkers, spouting off at any length just to fill a slot.  True, such animals do exist.  However, search professionals worth their salt know that poor quality hires reflect poorly on themselves.  It’s in a recruiter’s best interest to ensure a win-win.  Of course, there are situations that go well beyond a recruiter’s control or vantage point.

Two years ago, I placed two highly intelligent and savvy senior sales individuals with an early-stage, well-funded SaaS-based software company that appeared to be growing and becoming true thought leaders in their burgeoning space.  Unfortunately, just a few months after placing them, the SVP Sales left the company and soon after, the CEO and CMO were ousted.  The company quickly became an insurmountable mess.  These things happen.  After all, when dealing with companies and careers, there are multitudes of variables that can impact the viability of a given position.

If a recruiter contacts you regarding an opportunity that doesn’t quite match up with your skills or aspirations, why give them the cold shoulder?  Instead, try engaging with the recruiter to learn of their areas of focus while discussing the types of opportunities that could be more relevant to you.  If the recruiter works in your field of interest and appreciates all you bring to the table, you will likely get on their radar screen for more appropriate opportunities as they crop up.

Everyone is busy.  We get that.  Yet, even if you gave a recruiter just 5 or 10 minutes to establish a connection, you’d be surprised about how that connection could pay off.  Given how well-networked recruiters tend to be, perhaps they can help you make contact with a company or individual.  As always, one hand washes the other and top tier recruiters keep this in mind when trying to engage.  If they offer to help you, perhaps there may be an occasion when you’ll be able to help them.

As for the increased expense of coming to a prospective employer via a recruiter, let’s back up a little.  In many cases, hiring companies have already tried to do the hiring themselves and are finding that they’re falling way behind in their hiring objectives.  They then make the conscious decision to partner with an external search professional.  By this time, the hiring company is happy to receive quality, well-vetted candidates.  The price a company pays a recruiter pales in comparison to the cost of either a bad hire or months of wasted time not hiring at all.

Finally, it’s true that many solid career opportunities can present themselves directly from your own network.  Yet, relying solely on your network to connect you with desirable positions represents the mere tip of the iceberg for relevant opportunities in the market.  The higher quality recruiters tend to work on more exclusive searches – ones that may not be posted or widely advertised.  Thus, your network isn’t even privy to many of the quality career opportunities.  Also, just like you, your network is populated with busy people.  As much as they’d like to help you, they’re consumed with their own affairs and are not in the business of career matchmaking.

Ultimately, it is in your best interest to respond to recruiters, even if you’re not looking to make a move.  They can help you from a networking standpoint, both now and in the future.  They can give you a helpful snapshot on current market conditions as well as an approximate valuation on you as a prospective candidate.  Recruiters may provide you with valuable feedback on your career track, resume and interviewing style.  They can bring to your attention relevant opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.  The next time a recruiter tries to contact you, think twice before discarding what could be an important and useful connection.


Action items:

1.  Recruiters are like other networking connections.  They may not be in a position to help you right now, but you may very well have a need for them and their expansive network in the future.

2.  Even if you’re not looking to make a move, talk to recruiters when they reach out.  They can provide you with a snapshot of your value in the marketplace, perhaps giving you some ammunition when negotiating your career track within your current employer.

3.  Getting into an opportunity via a recruiter is truly an advantage, not a drawback.  Recruiters can supply their candidates with valuable insight into the company, its people and their hot buttons.  Recruiters can also provide counsel on resume and interviewing best practices.