Why Recruiters Ignore You (and What to Do Differently)

    By Personal Branding Blog | Small Business

    Are you a job seeker who is contacting recruiters and being ignored? Have you called and left messages, applied for their jobs, or submitted resumes on their web sites … only to be left wondering if they got them? You are not alone. This is normal. It is what MOST people should expect. In this article, I want to help you understand some reasons recruiters may ignore you…and what you can do differently to get more attention from recruiters of value to you.

    Here’s the bitter truth: Follow the money – recruiters are paid by employers, not job seekers. They are the agent of the hiring organization. They have a process they follow for identifying qualified job candidates and your unsolicited call, email, etc. is a nuisance. I was on a panel presentation with a recruiter friend in late 2011 and I asked him if he returns voicemails from job seekers he doesn’t know. Here is what he said:

    Last Friday I was out of the office most of the day and returned to 15 voicemails of which 12 were from job seekers I didn’t know. Delete, delete, delete.

    Why Recruiters Ignore You (and What to Do Differently) image shutterstock 136773590 300x200Ignoring Recruiter from ShutterstockMore recently, I had lunch with a recruiting friend and he referred to unwanted job seeker inquiries as a “time suck.” Not a very positive personal brand to display with a recruiter who could help you, huh?

    So, what can you do differently to get more attention from recruiters and improve your personal brand with them? Here are a few things I recommend:

    1. For the long term, identify recruiters in your profession/industry/city and start developing relationships while you are employed. Try to help them with information, referrals of candidates they need, etc. If you do this when you don’t need them, many will help when you DO need them.

    2. Research and identify relevant recruiters who place people in your profession and industry. Conduct web searches, database searches with your local library, etc. Ask people you know in your profession and industry “Do you know any good recruiters? Who would you recommend?” You will have far more success if you approach recruiters who work regularly with people who have your background.

    3. For those recruiters you have identified via the previous item, ask for referrals. A referral will have a far higher likelihood of success. Strategize with your contacts so they refer you in a constructive way, not the typical “My friend is looking for a job and I thought you might be able to help her.” To the recruiter, this translates to “Time suck.”

    4. For recruiters you must contact without an introduction, read their LinkedIn profiles and web sites. Look for common factors that might be helpful in warming them up during an introductory conversation, such as hobbies, past employers, alma maters, etc. you have in common. “I see you are an Ohio Buckeye. What year did you graduate?” is likely to get your conversation going (or your voicemail returned) and allow you to get some mind share.

    We all know that person to person networking is the best job search tool available. Here is one of the 14 do’s and don’ts detailed in Chapter 7 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!):

    “DO use your most powerful tool for receiving help from recruiters and staffing professionals – mutually beneficial networking. Renew existing relationships and gain warm introductions to additional recruiters by utilizing effective personal networking techniques.”

    There are recruiters out there who want to talk to you. To be effective, however, you must rely on previous positive relationships, get referred to them by people who have such relationships, or pick up the phone and give it your best shot with a “pitch” that explains why they should listen to you. You are in sales and selling yourself. Act effectively, in ways different from 98% of your job competitors, and recruiters WILL notice you.

    Best wishes for your success!


    Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).

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