Last week I wrote a piece called 5 Strong Reasons to Answer the Phone When a Recruiter Calls You in which I made a case for talking to recruiters when they call you, regardless of whether or not you are looking for a new role. In the week since it’s been out it’s safe to say that it has been one of my most polarizing posts to date! Now if some of you were expecting the push back I received after the post to be a surprise, well, then I have some bad news for you. As a recruiter, I certainly expected some people to have a strong reaction. Guess what, to all of you who bashed recruiters after you read that article, you weren’t all wrong. Some of the criticisms were very fair and as a representative of the industry, I accept them. However you were only partially right. While there are a lot of bad recruiters out there who unfortunately give us all a bad name, there are also some great recruiters out there as well. Like any professional you will find that the vast majority of people who do this for any length of time will fall somewhere in the middle. However you will also find some people who perform above average consistently. The opposite is true as well, there is certainly a group of recruiters that don’t so the profession justice. However this isn’t an apology post, far from it. As one of the recruiters in the industry who considers himself to be one of the good guys, let me tell you exactly what you need to know to avoid talking with those recruiters who will ultimately leave a bad taste in your mouth. Below are three dead giveaways you can use to determine if this is a recruiter worth engaging. For your convenience I placed them in the order they would happen.
They send you a terrible, generic message with a lame subject for a title
How many of you have received a message that was you were immediately able to tell was a template that was sent out to 100 other professionals just like you? How many of you have received an email with the subject likes saying “Great Opportunity” or “Job Opening”? Let me save you some time, if you receive an email that says job opening, you can probably delete it and not worry about you missing out on you dream job. Good recruiters don’t use subject lines like this and really good recruiters are going to write you a message indicating they have taken the time to look at your profile. If you want to maximize your time and talk to good recruiters, then this can serve as an easy way to determine if they are worth that time. Now, plenty of good recruiters will utilize templates however a generic subject line or messages that simply sell a role instead of asking if you have time to talk should give you an idea if that conversation is worth having.
They mention a role that is obviously not a fit
Another dead giveaway is when you receive an email about a role that would have made sense for you 5-10 years ago but at this point in your career is totally not a fit. What most likely happened is you were one of many people who received that same message and the sender wasn’t particularly choosy on who they messaged. If you get a message like this then having that conversation likely won’t be worth your time. I am sure this one is no surprise to many of you reading, in fact it was one of the comments I received the most of after my last post so I felt I had to include it on the list.
They have a very basic, underwhelming LinkedIn Profile*
Another tell is the recruiters LinkedIn profile. While not everyone value’s LinkedIn equally, for the most part recruiters understand what a valuable tool it is. I personally have worked very hard to build it out over the years and amass a large LinkedIn network (if we aren’t already connected add me here My LinkedIn Profile). So if you get a message from a recruiter, go check them out on LinkedIn. Once you arrive at their page you will very easily be able to gather a lot of helpful information. How long have they been in their current role? How long have they been recruiting? How many connections do they have (once you reach 500 connections it says 500+, if they have less than 500 they might be an indicator that they aren’t very well networked)? How many recommendations do they have? Do they have several roles on their page? Are those descriptions robust and well written? Do they have endorsements? If so how many? These are all things you can look at that will let you know if the recruiter who contacted you has good experience, attention to detail and is well networked. If they aren’t these things, do you really want this to be the person setting up your phone interviews and prepping you for your onsite interviews? One last thing, I added the asterisks because some of the best recruiters I have ever met had very basic LinkedIn profiles. Now most of them had been recruiter for 30 years and had reached a point where it wasn’t necessary for them to have LinkedIn in order to be successful. They are the exception, but I felt it was necessary to add this in.
They aren’t flexible with when they can speak with you
The best recruiters know that the best candidates are busy. If you get back in touch with them and they will only talk to you between the hours of 8-12 and 1-4:30 odds are they are not good recruiters. I have fielded many a call during lunch or after work or very early in the morning. If you are a recruiter who wants to succeed it’s the price of poker. A lot of your candidates are working and they don’t want to try and find a conference room at 10am on a Tuesday. They don’t want coworkers and managers wondering why they were gone for 30 minutes. I personally start my day at 6:30am so I am able to talk several calls before the traditional work day and I am always available to talk during the lunch hour. If you talk with a recruiter and they say you are going to have to make the call happen during the typical work hours you probably aren’t talk to an A player. My advice is to move on, you don’t want to work with someone who won’t be flexible for you anyway. If you want more advice on managing the recruiter relationship I have a few chapters on it in My eBook.
The conversation is absolutely about them
When you talk to a recruiter for the first time, pay close attention to the first couple minutes of the conversation. Who is it about? Is it about you? Are they saying “I” and “me” a lot? The fact of the matter is if the relationship starts being totally about them and a role they have then that’s the way the relationship will remain. A truly good recruiter will always make the conversation about you. What are your goals? What do you see yourself doing? Are you open to discussing new opportunities? What aren’t you being offered in your current role that you would like to find in your next position? What factors about an opportunity are important to you? Does that sound a lot better than, I have a role? My client needs. I am looking for. You get where I am going with this. It’s your career. If you take a new role, that recruiter doesn’t have to hand in his or her two week notice. They won’t have to box up their belongings. They won’t have to memorize a new route to work and traffic patterns. They won’t have a new boss, a new set of places to eat and a new team to assimilate into. This is about you and if the recruiter doesn’t get that, move on and find someone who will make it about you.
Well there you have it! Those are my 5 Dead Giveaways That a Recruiter Isn’t Worth Your Time. There are of course more than this but these are five really good indicators early on that will let you know that you can do better. So if you have read this far I have a challenge for you. What is the worst subject line you have ever received on a message you have gotten from a recruiter. These are always fun and since so many of you probably get messages like this all the time, I would love to see some examples below of terrible attempts to grasp your attention. It doesn’t have to be the subject line, any part of the message that was terrible will work too. For those of you who are feeling positive today please feel free to share the best subject lines you have received from a recruiter. Alright everyone, thanks again for reading and have an awesome day!