Contacting and Following Up With Recruiters

by Beverly Harvey

following up with recruiters

Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. No one right way exists to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important. Here are some basic tips from recruiters:

  • Have a perfect resume and cover letter. The resume and cover letter should be concise and crisp, allowing the recruiter to immediately grasp your profile and expertise.
  • Send your materials with care. Check with recruiting firms to verify if and how they want resumes sent. Call the receptionist or other gatekeeper or check websites. Marking materials as “personal and confidential” may be helpful. When e-mailing your resume, be aware that fear of viruses and unsolicited blasts from resume mills may cause recruiters not to even open unsolicited mail. Make your subject line personal, specific, credentialed, and targeted; for example, “Resume: John Smith, IT Executive, Excellent Candidate for CIO position,” will get you further than simply “Resume.” The same is true of file names for your resume. As you might imagine, recruiters get hundreds of resumes with the file name “Resume.doc.” Personalize your resume with a file name such as “JillKelly_CIO_Resume.doc.”
  • Use the phone or e-mail, but sparingly. Hounding recruiters is never appropriate, but a brief follow-up phone call or two may help direct attention to your resume and credentials. Recruiter opinions are divided on this issue. Consider a short introductory phone call or voicemail message after hours to advise that your resume has been sent, and perhaps another phone call two weeks later to ensure that the recruiter received, read, and filed it. Touch base with your recruiter with a simple, “Just to let you know I’m still looking,” after a month. For a less urgent search, it’s OK to call your recruiter every 4-6 months. E-mail is also an option; you can check in monthly by email with the recruiter, just so he or she will keep you top of mind and let him or her know you are still available.
  • Keep your information up-to-date. Federal employment laws require organizations (excluding very small recruiting firms with a headcount of less than 50) to maintain resumes and application for three years, so you should have few worries that yours will be tossed out. The resume may, of course, become out of date; thus, some recruiters recommend follow-up phone calls stating your desire to keep your information updated and correct. Resubmitting a resume is less important than reestablishing connection with a phone call or email to update the recruiter on your newest accomplishments. Recruiters are open to receiving an updated resume, as long as it truly reflects new information.
  • Don’t expect acknowledgment, and don’t take it personally if you don’t get it. Recruiters receive hundreds–thousands–of resumes. No response simply means, in most cases, that no open position fits your qualifications.

Final Thoughts

With these tips in mind, your goal is to obtain an in-depth interview and to start a working relationship. Depending on their business model and situation, recruiters may or may not be interested in your resume; they may wish to search and contact you instead. Nevertheless, planning a recruiter-contact strategy, in which you target recruiters by identifying and contacting them to build a working relationship, is still a good idea.

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