5 Strong Reasons to Answer the Phone When a Recruiter Calls You

Before I start I do want to take a minute to point out the obvious here, yes, I do have a horse in this race. Obviously it behooves me to influence as many candidates as I can to pick up the phone when I call them about an opportunity. So yes, this post might come off as a little self-serving but I promise you it’s not because I follow this advice as well. So this post is aimed at all of us who have a job currently, aren’t looking for a new role but receive a call from a recruiter. Now some of you might skip into work each day and others of you might curse out your alarm clock and  dread coming into the office with every fiber of your being. However the vast majority of you fall somewhere in between. For those of you who dread Mondays because you have to go back to work, I imagine this is going to be a pretty easy sell. For the rest of you, this post is aimed directly at you with the intent to influence you to pick up the phone when myself or one of my contemporaries calls you. Some of you are thinking, thanks but no thanks Ben, I hate interviewing and I am happy with my job. WAIT!!! Do me a favor and read to the end of this post. If you make it to the end and you still have no desire to have a conversation with the people who do what I do then that is perfectly fine. However I have a feeling many of you will be more open to this call by the time we are through. In fact, if I have swayed any of you, feel free to comment below and let me know what made you change your mind. If I had no impact on your reasoning here and you feel so compelled to share why I welcome that feedback as well.

The fact of the matter is most of you will be contacted by a recruiter at some point in your career. When that happens you have two options. You can have the conversation or you can choose not to have the conversation. Now, there are several different ways you can decline. You can call back and say no thanks, you can send an email or you can simply delete the voicemail and move on with your life as if the initial call never took place (by the way, this seems like a good place to mention that this could be a call or an email). However, no matter how you choose to move forward you have only two real options here. Let’s get into the reasons why you should have that conversation.


Maybe the recruiter has a role that is a fit for a former colleague


Let’s start with the appeal to Karma. So you may be one of those people who rejoices when you alarm clock goes off and who cartwheels into the office every Monday at 6:55 am. If so, that is awesome. Consider yourself very fortunate because not everyone has this. In fact, I’ve talked to many people who are in constant search for a role that would add this type of utility to their life. So if this is you and I call you, what incentive do you have to invest the time in having this conversation with me. The answer is that I might have what turns out to be the perfect opportunity for a friend or former colleague. I don’t know about you but I like helping people. If you like making a positive impact in people’s lives there are few ways you can have more impact than helping them find a great move for their career. You spend so much time working and what you do bleeds over into so much of what you are that if you are able to help someone by putting them in touch with a company they end working for then you have found a way to make a huge lasting impact in someone’s life. That in of itself should be a great reason to consider having that conversation.


Recruiters are a great source of market intel


Recruiters are more than just people who cold call and conduct interviews. We also happen to be a great source of market info. Ever wonder if there is a lot of action going on for your industry or for people who do what you do? Ever wonder if the people getting hired today to do the same role as you are making more than you? Ever wonder how your benefits stack up compared to other companies? Well these questions and much more can be answered by taking a call with a recruiter. Now you don’t answer the call and immediately launch into probing for these answers, that would be rude and ineffective. Instead let the conversation happen organically, then when you decide the role isn’t exactly up your alley you can ask questions. Maybe start with asking, what other roles do you have similar to this one that you are working on? Follow that up by asking what the market looks like in terms of activity and ask what the recruiter has seen in terms of salary etc. I can tell you personally, I don’t mind answering a few questions on what I am seeing in the market, especially if the candidate and I have had a good conversation up to that point. In addition to spending all day talking to candidates and hiring managers, recruiters have other ways of acquiring market data. In many of my roles I have had access to market data that gives me an idea of salary for a role, the amount of available candidates as well as the volume of similar roles that are open and various other data points. I always believe it’s better to have more information than less information, this is a good way to get some free market intel.

You can make the recruiter aware of roles you would like to know about


The fact of the matter is most candidates I talk to about the role will not get the job. Sometimes you may interview six or seven candidates and have informal conversations with many others just to hire one of them. With that being said, I know that everyone I talk to wont take my roles however that doesn’t mean the conversation doesn’t have value. The same can be said for the candidate. Say you take the call and the recruiter tells you about the role. You listen but ultimately, it’s not the right role for you. Conversation over, right? Wrong, if you hang up after this likely conclusion then you are throwing away valuables opportunities. Once you have thanked the recruiter for presenting the opportunity to you and politely informed them that you aren’t interested, that’s when you can let them know what kind of roles would interest you. Good recruiters will love this. As a head hunter when a candidate would tell me that my role wasn’t a fit but I should reach out to them for XYZ I thought it was great. What that does for recruiters is it basically gives them an immediate potential fit for a role that they had already gotten a chance to get to know. So the next time they get a role like that they can call you immediately. The key is to be specific and let them know that you are more than willing to entertain any role that fits within that criteria. So now you have someone with access to many roles (some aren’t even posted giving you a competitive advantage) who knows exactly what you wanted to hear about and is motivated to call you when one of those opportunities arises. I can’t stress this enough, if you are serious about your career, do this. You can always say no and it’s better to know about these potential career moves than to not know about them. Can you imagine if you can establish this kind of mutually beneficial relationship with three or four really good recruiters? You may never have to apply to go on an interview again. If you are interested in how to do this check out this post I wrote on it a few months back,3 Essential Tactics to Automating Your Job Search. This post wasn’t as popular as many of my other posts but it is one of my favorite and most useful posts I have ever written.


You never know when you can find yourself out of a job


Everyone knows someone who has been affected by a layoff or a downsizing. In today’s corporate world they are an unfortunate reality for many people. If you have been there then you know exactly how it feels to without notice suddenly not have a job. It is not a good feeling. There are so many things to do. File for unemployment, upgrade your LinkedIn, upgrade your resume, call your husband and wife. How long can I survive on my savings? Are companies hiring with people with my skill set?  The questions go on and on. The fact of the matter is, in this situation, it sure would be nice to have a few established relationships with good recruiters with access to several roles that are a fit for your background. Even if none of the other reasons make sense to you, this one should. Things change so fast today and in virtually no time you can find yourself in a situation like this. In my opinion, you want to make sure that if this ever happens to you, you have invested the time to build relationships that can help you land on your feet.


They might be calling you with an amazing opportunity you can’t say no to


Three of the last four roles have been roles that I didn’t apply to. Someone like me reached out to me and pitched me an opportunity and I ultimately ended up saying yes. In all three of those instances I wasn’t actually looking for a new role. In fact, I was happy in those roles and each time it was a really tough decision. However each time it was the right decision for me. These opportunities found their way to me because I am always open to having that conversation. Just because you are happy doesn’t mean you can’t be happier. Just because you are appreciated doesn’t mean you can’t be more appreciated. Just because you are in a role that is great for your career doesn’t mean the person calling you doesn’t have an amazing opportunity that will end up being the perfect thing for you at this very moment. Take the call.


Well there you have it! Those are my 5 Strong Reasons to Answer the Phone When a Recruiter Calls You. So what do you think? Have I changed any of your minds? Feel free to answer below, I always love getting the feedback. If you liked the post I always appreciate my posts being shared on  social media. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

PS. Fellow recruiters, feel free to share this with your networks on LinkedIn, maybe they will be more inclined to pick up your next call!

7 thoughts on “5 Strong Reasons to Answer the Phone When a Recruiter Calls You

  1. I am not saying you personally do this, but I feel that most recruiters haven’t taken time to read my LinkedIn before spamming my email. I already worked on a Help Desk and I am a Developer now. Why would I want to go step back down to a Help Desk? Please stop offering me jobs that I have already had, or aren’t even IT related. Those are the worst from recruiters.

    1. Hi James, yes that is a total amateur move. I wrote a post regarding ways you can tell a recruiter is not worth your time, that was included in the ways you would be able to tell. Its important to make sure you reach out to people and learn about them and what they are looking for before you just pitch an opportunity and obviously it makes sense that at a minimum that the move would make sense for the person. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I really liked your comments “just because you are happy doesn’t mean you can’t be happier. Just because you are appreciated doesn’t mean you can’t be more appreciated.” This is good information that applies to everyone.

    1. Thanks Jonas! I am glad you agree. I think that line applies to everything and it definitely applies to your working life. Thanks for the comment!

  3. What ir really needed in the employment world is a “Rate the Recruiter” site like Resellerratings.com.

  4. This was a very well written article and I wish you much success in you recruiting career. Below are my professional guidelines.

    Firstly, I NEVER answer the phone for an ‘unknown’ recruiter. This is because at least 90% are recruiters from India who have an opportunity somewhere in Kansas or Oklahoma and I live in L.A. Also, many recruiters will just call to ‘get to know me’ and I don’t feel like spending 1/2 just chit-chatting with no opportunity being presented. Thirdly, I know that if there is a opportunity that is a good match, professional recruiters always send an Email. I do answer almost all Emails with either a yes, I am interested or No – I am not interested.

    Many recruiting companies insist that a candidate come in to meet the team. My rule of thumb is like above – if there is a possible good match, I will make the trip and if it is just to meet the team, I just refuse.

    1. Hi Jon! It can be very frustrating dealing with people who send out mass emails and assume you are interested in just any role. It is right of your to comb through opportunities carefully. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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