Developing a Strategy for Contacting Recruiters

by Beverly Harvey
email marketing

Once you’ve decided that it makes sense to contact recruiters, the next questions are …

  • how many?
  • which ones?
  • how to contact?

Today’s computer and Internet-aided tools accommodate 5,000-resume mass mailings, but focused, targeted searches are much more effective than resume “blasts.”

Some determining factors relate to you, your situation and objectives. Some relate to the recruiter landscape–how recruiters are structured and how they do business. In general, a recruiter-contact strategy consists of three parts:

  1. Identify. Identify which recruiters offer the greatest potential to work with you, based on your field, background, needs, and geographic location.|
  2. Contact. Contact selected recruiters by sending a resume and cover letter.
  3. Follow up. Keep in touch with most promising recruiters, nurture the working relationship.

Identifying Recruiters: How Many?

The decision to do a mass versus a targeted mailing depends in part on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish. Combining a mass search with a targeted search can be highly effective. The targeted search–requiring networking and outreach to make contact and establish mutual interest before blasting off a resume–is much more time consuming but typically yields better results.

Sending out resumes broadly can generate competition and a sense of urgency among recruiters. But some recruiters say that it doesn’t take mass resume distribution to create competition: Using no more than three recruiters to help in a search can still create the sense of competition without getting you labeled as overexposed or high risk. Candidates who are loyal to a given recruiter will typically get that recruiter’s best efforts. Good qualifications will also generate competition and urgency. When a candidate’s resume reflects a solid work history and highly sought-after skills, any good recruiter should definitely have a sense of urgency to contact that particular candidate and begin to develop a plan to help them find their next position.

If your skills and credentials, level, or geographic preferences are specialized, your search, of course, will be narrower. Those in a niche industry will want to consider selectivity with recruiters. You want a recruiter who truly understands your needs from a career perspective as well as his or her clients’ needs. The more specialized a candidate is in his or her particular job, the more a specialized recruiter can help.

Most recruiters recommend a narrow search. Good recruiters will decline to work with a candidate who is shop-worn or over-represented. One recruiter advises candidates to “work with your own network and a maximum of 2-3 recruiters that you trust in your chosen industry. Working with many recruiters may saturate your candidacy in the marketplace. A strategic and calculated approach is the most efficient and successful method for securing your dream job in a timely expeditious fashion.

Whether you choose to search widely or narrowly, communication is key; if you deal with many recruiters, you must communicate with them about submittals and interviews. A candidate can make himself or herself look bad quickly if multiple recruiters are submitting them for positions and they are not communicating and controlling their own job search.

Generally, the following factors can influence the breadth of a search:

  • Confidentiality. The more you circulate your resume, the more your desire to look for a new job becomes known. Networks work, and the “buzz” spreads. Some recruiters are more careful than others about to which clients they send resumes. It happens–a candidate’s name shows up on a list at his or her own firm! Working with one recruiting firm closely and carefully is the best way to cover your tracks.
  • Urgency. If you need something to happen fast–either because of your personal situation or a situation at your employer–a broader search may yield faster results. If you anticipate a downturn in your company or your industry and want to hit the exit before others, casting a broad net probably won’t hurt. Recruiters also know about these downturns–and your early response shows your awareness of the situation and enhances your candidacy. However, even in launching a wide search, don’t waste time and energy with recruiters that specialize in industries that aren’t yours.
  • Active vs. passive. Activity relates both to urgency and confidentiality. If you wish to be active in your search, pursuing all possibilities, a wider search is the ticket. If you prefer a passive approach in which you simply wish recruiters to inform you of new opportunities when they come up, select one recruiter or perhaps a handful. A wide search may bring more interviews and discussions than you can handle while still functioning in a current position.
  • Your value in the market. Don’t commoditize yourself. Launching a broad campaign can make you appear as a commodity. The law of diminishing returns sets in; sending resumes to twice as many recruiters probably results in only 5 percent more interviews. Many recruiters recommend a more personal approach. You tend to appear more valuable if you position yourself as the one sought rather than the seeker, one who values the contact and relationship with a recruiter or limited set of recruiters, and one who wants only that special, coveted position.

Final Thoughts
Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. There is no one right way 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.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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