How Can I Better Utilize Recruiters to Land a Job?

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Grant K. from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology asks:

“In my experience, one of the best ways to get in touch with potential employers is to leverage professional recruiters. I have tried to find some on LinkedIn with very little success. I’ve tried different keywords but have not been able to find any. Do you have any suggestions?”

Thanks for your question, Grant.  Targeting recruiters, both direct and third party recruiters, is a good idea and something you should include in your overall job search campaign.  However, remember that recruiters do not work exclusively for you so make sure to temper your expectations.  It is not the recruiter’s to find you a job.

Recruiters aren’t paid by you.  Direct recruiters are paid by their employer, while third party recruiters are ultimately paid by their clients.  As a result, they work for their employers and/or clients, not you.  The good news, however, is that recruiters need high caliber candidates, like you, for their openings or clients.

Working with recruiters is one of many job search methods to include in your campaign, not the only one.  Be sure to include many different methods within your overall job search efforts.

Below are some strategies for finding and contacting recruiters through LinkedIn and other sources along with some other important additional job search strategies.

Tap Into Your Existing Network

Most professionals have collaborated with recruiters at some point in their careers as a candidate or client. Target experienced professionals in your network to see if they can refer you to recruiters they know.

Additionally, conduct research to determine which recruiting firms that high interest companies utilize.  For example, if you want to work at Company A, then contact Company A to determine if they utilize recruiters and, if so, how can you contact them.  In niche markets, one or two major recruiting firms likely work with the leading companies in the field so you can focus your efforts on these firms.

A good way to stay top of mind with a recruiter is to provide candidate names of friends or colleagues for jobs the recruiter is looking to fill even if you don’t qualify.

Search LinkedIn Recruiter Groups and Individual Recruiters

A recent LinkedIn search using the keyword, recruiter, netted over 1,600 recruiter groups.  The group has over a million members.  Many of these groups have open membership so consider joining a few of these groups.

Once you are a member, I encourage you to contact recruiters who specialize in your field.  In some cases, you might contact a recruiter who doesn’t specialize in your area, however, they might be able to refer you to a recruiter who does.

Also, make sure to search for individuals who have a recruiter job title.  Through this search, you’ll likely find lots of individuals with whom you can connect with and contact.

Target Recruiting Firms Specializing in Your Field

Do some additional research to find recruiting firms that specialize in your field.  Through an internet search, you’ll find several local (or non-local firms who place candidate with local clients).  If you are targeting a career in psychology, then PsychPros may be a firm to contact as an example.  Contact these firms with your introduction to see what candidates can do to get visibility with their firm’s client opportunities.  You only need one job so don’t worry if a recruiter doesn’t get back to you in a timely manner or at all.  Follow up at least once, but beyond that keep moving forward by contacting the next one.

Having interacted with hundreds of recruiters over the last 10 years, I can tell you that recruiters will likely be willing to receive your resume.  However, they’ll only market it if they have an opportunity where your background matches the need.  Recruiters are just one piece of your job search puzzle, not the only one.

Make sure to keep regular contact with recruiters, but remember it is a two-way street.  Provide information, tips, leads, other candidates and more (value) to recruiters.  You’ll likely find these types of connections are longer lasting and mutually beneficial.

How to Message a Recruiter

Below is an example of an initial recruiter outreach sent as an introductory e-mail:

Dear <Recruiter Name>:

I recently began a job search in the <geographic> area and a colleague of mine recommended <Recruiting Firm Name here> as a highly reputable search firm in the market with emphasis on <X industry or X type of function/role>.

<Include your top-line value proposition here – Example:  With more than 5 years of advancement and achievement, I possess a valuable balance of sales leadership, electrical engineering expertise, and customer focus to deliver multi-million dollar growth that enables organizations to thrive in highly competitive market conditions.>

I attached my resume for your reference. I would enjoy the opportunity to speak with you and discuss how my knowledge and skills could contribute to the success of your clients. I will follow up with you within a week to confirm receipt, and to determine the appropriate next steps.

In the interim, should you have any questions, please contact at the number and email address listed below.  I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.  Thank you for your consideration.

<First Name> <Last Name>
<Phone Number>
<Email Address>
<LinkedIn Profile URL>

Before sending, carefully proofread and don’t forget to attach your resume.  Keep track of your submissions and be sure to follow up when you indicate you will.

Example LinkedIn connection request message:

Dear <Recruiter Name>:

I noticed <Recruiting Firm Name> has some exciting opportunities in <industry or line of work>.  I recently starting exploring my career options and would enjoy connecting.  Thank you for your consideration.

<First Name> <Last Name>

Proofread carefully before sending the invitation.

Example LinkedIn message to recruiter:

Dear <Recruiter Name>:

I hope this message finds that you are having a productive week.  Through my research for <industry> opportunities, I learned of your firm’s expertise.

<Value proposition paragraph – Example:  I am a seasoned business development professional in sport management field.  I have an MBA in Sports Management along with 10 years’ experience securing and implementing mutually beneficial corporate sponsorships for major league sports franchises.  I excel at working with multifunctional teams and with individuals at different organizational levels.>

<Goals paragraph – Example:  I am currently targeting opportunities where I can leverage my event sponsorship expertise in sports or entertainment environment as this is where most of my experience and success lies.>

Please feel free to review my LinkedIn profile, or if you prefer, I can send you my resume directly.  If you have any questions, please contact me at the phone number and email address listed below.

I look forward to hearing back from you and discussing how my skills set could contribute to the success of your clients.  Thank you for your consideration.

<First Name> <Last Name>
<Phone Number>
<Email Address>
<LinkedIn Profile URL>

Proofread carefully before sending the message.

Join Professional Associations

Another way to build your network, reputation, and circle of influence is to join a professional association in your industry.  There are several psychology professional associations including American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and others.  This is a great way to connect with leaders in your industry and learn of employment opportunity.  Most professional organizations post their available positions through the association’s website or possibly through word of mouth at meetings.  Don’t just become a member and do nothing either.  Get involved and volunteer for a board or steering committee.  This will provide you with the opportunity to showcase your skills and ability to produce results.  Lastly, you’ll likely be able to get referrals to reputable recruiters and recruiting firms as well.

Diversify Your Job Search Efforts

Most students targeting jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities mistakenly assume employers post all jobs online through various job boards and company sites.  Employers are competing for talent similar to the way you are competing for jobs with other candidates.  Current data shows that many employers find employee referrals as a great way to fill job openings.  Recruitment by referrals is utilized for over 25 percent of openings according to recent research.

Jobs will not always be found through online job boards.  As a result, I suggest that you reverse this thinking by targeting employers, rather than waiting for an internship or job to be posted.  Develop a list of 25-50 prospective employers in your area that may have employment opportunity in line with your skills, experience, education, and interests.  Do some additional research and determine a decision maker to whom you will address your letter and resume.  Next, be proactive and send off your marketing letter and resume to the decision maker.  This is a great way to get your value proposition into the hands of the person with the power to start a dialogue and ultimately hire you.  Recognize that companies are always hiring.  The downside is that they may not always be hiring on your timeline.  Introduce yourself to the employer before everyone else.

Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for internships to be posted.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.  Remember, you only need one job.

Target marketing as described above can be very powerful.  Consider adding other job search methods including:

  • Networking – Engage your network to build your own marketing army filled with individuals who can potentially provide tips, leads, referrals, introductions, job placement, and more. Additionally, ask your employed network connections if their company has an employee incentive referral program.  If so, humbly ask if your connection would be willing to provide your resume to the decision making team.  Employers love to hire employee referrals as the candidates are pre-qualified initially by their own employees.
  • Job Leads Via Job Boards Using Double-Hit – After applying online, most go into hope and pray mode as they hope and pray an employer calls them in for an interview. Be proactive with employers by following up on all your applications.  Additionally, target market your value proposition to the hiring manager as well.  Research to determine who the decision maker is and craft a strong message to this individual highlighting how you can help them.  This is a great way to get your resume into the hands of the person who is making the hiring decision.  The first step is to apply through HR, then target the decision maker / hiring manager – the double-hit.  Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for a response.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.
  • Contact Your Professors – Make sure to get to know your professors, especially those teaching your key psychology classes. These professors are likely to have connections within your desired field.  This is especially true at most community colleges as many adjuncts (and even professors or instructors) likely also still work other jobs too.  You likely won’t find any better individuals who can offer you meaningful guidance and assistance.  So, take advantage of their office hours by visiting occasionally as needed to ask for their advice and guidance.  If they get to know you, they might be willing to serve as a mentor, or at the very least, offer valuable insight and advice along with introductions that can be a springboard to landing an interview.
  • Invest Significant Time in SearchInvest as much time as you can into your search. While you might not have 8+ hours a day to dedicate to this effort due to work and school commitments, make sure to fuel your effort with as much time as you possibly can.

Contact Your Career Center

Most colleges and universities offer career preparation services to recent graduates for at least a year after graduation at no cost.  Simply put, students should leverage their career center as it is a student resource.  College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more.  Furthermore, they likely have a job site exclusively for current students and recent alums featuring jobs posted with the institution.  Lastly, these professionals may be able to refer you to recruiters who work with their office too.  Set up an appointment soon.

Putting It All Together

Targeting recruiters can be an important piece to our job search campaign.  Use LinkedIn to research and contact recruiters including direct and third party.  Additionally, include recruiting firms that specialize in your field.  Remember, recruiters don’t work for you, however, they do need quality candidates like you so find them to promote your value proposition.  Finally, diversify your job search efforts by not relying on any one job specific job search method.  Recognize that you only need ONE job so utilize various job search methods until you find the success you desire.  Good luck and best wishes!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon

About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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