What to Know About Recruiters

Woman on Telephone

Being contacted by a recruiter is one of the best feelings you can experience, personally and professionally. The experience of being acknowledged as a possible candidate often comes with feelings of accomplishment, recognition and pride. But are all calls from recruiters the same? Not necessarily. What varies are the types of recruiters that reach out and how they function.

There are three main types of recruiters: executive, general and in-house. While they share the same goal, their audience and function vary.

Retained executive recruiters function at the highest level of search. They mainly focus on finding senior-level executives for high-level jobs, often C-suite roles. These recruiters can be specialists in specific industries or functions. They tend to network and reach out to individuals currently in an executive position with 15, sometimes 20-plus years of experience. Keep in mind, they are not looking for someone with 20 years of the same experience, but rather someone with 20-plus years of cumulative expertise, which makes them the most desirable candidates to recruit.

General recruiters find mid-level talent typically for director-level jobs. However, they play an essential role in identifying talent on the cusp of entering into an executive role, making them ideal for organizations willing to mentor and grow talent from within in preparation for internal promotion or preparation for executive level roles. Therefore, general recruiters screen candidates the same way executive recruiters do and source for talent similarly.

In-house recruiters work for organizations and typically report to human resources. They aim to screen talent that has applied directly from job postings and advertised jobs on their website. In-house recruiters do not normally recruit; their main focus is to screen and work with hiring managers to interview the most appropriate applicant for their open position.

Ideally, when a recruiter calls, you have several ways to respond. The best way to interact with a recruiter is to be as helpful as possible. If you are interested in the proposed position, share as many details as possible. Describe your experience, details of your current role and why the opportunity interests you. If the opportunity is not one you are interested in pursuing, think of individuals you feel comfortable referring. Remember, the quality of your referrals leaves a favorable impression of your network and willingness to help. Another tip is to think about diverse candidates you know and can refer. More than ever, companies are putting much pressure on search firms to present a diverse candidate pool. Recruiters appreciate your efforts and will likely keep you in mind for other opportunities.

An essential fact to remember is that the purpose of a recruiter is not to find jobs for people, but rather to find people for jobs. It's nothing personal; it's simply the reality of their role. This practice makes it challenging to cold call a recruiter in the hopes of getting interviewed or added to their database. That said, here are some specific tips on how to get a recruiter's attention that is practical and attainable.

  • Attend as many professional conferences as possible. Recruiters typically attend these sorts of events for a few reasons. First, they will automatically get the list of attendees. They use that list to look for talent associated with reputable organizations with titles closely related to their search criteria.

  • If invited to serve on a panel, do it! Recruiters often attend these sessions to scout talent; those serving as subject area experts are highly desirable. Serving on a panel makes you highly visible and more likely to be contacted.

  • Search firms will more likely advertise their assignments on various job boards and publications associated with the search. So take a chance and apply. If you're the right fit, they will contact you. If they don't and you have the right credentials to be added to their proprietary database, you may be included for future opportunities.

  • Finally and most importantly, make sure your LinkedIn profile is current. There is a feature that lets organizations know that you are available and open to new opportunities; make sure you check that box. Recruiters almost always start their search by scouring the database for individuals with certain titles from specific organizations similar to their clients'. For example, if the client has 500 employees and a budget of $10 million, the recruiter will look for people from comparable organizations.

The best advice is to always be prepared, friendly and helpful. Treat your interactions with recruiters as informal interviews that may eventually lead to a formal one. Stay professional, show curiosity and allow yourself to shine.  

The Career Engineering series features the expert advice of Amy Rueda, a 25-year veteran of executive search, who has placed CEOs and C-suite executives across multiple industries and functional areas. Her passion for leading diversity initiatives that focus on change management and employee engagement is reflected in her portfolio of accomplishments. Amy studied political science and was born and raised in Los Angeles.

Email your career questions to connectfeedback@alumni.ucla.edu and Amy will try and answer them in next month’s issue of Career Engineering.

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