The latest Bureau of Labour Statistics report says the U.S. added 850,000 jobs in June, and who knows — one of those could be your dream job! Or your dream job could be one that hasn’t been made up yet, but might be, if the decision-makers at the right company only knew about you, your skills, and your goals.
Whether your ideal job is “anything else” besides your current one or something hyper-specific, you’re probably spending a lot of time trawling open position postings, lurking on LinkedIn, or even shelling out money for listservs and databases that can point you to roles that need filling.
Have you ever considered going straight to the source and advertising yourself instead of waiting for a hiring manager to post about an open gig? Sure, it seems like a ballsy move — but the employer might like ballsy moves and if they don’t, it can be a good sign that you and the company aren’t a good fit for each other anyway. Yes, you can hit up a recruiter and schedule a time to, as we say in the biz, “hop on a call.”
Here’s how, according to Tim Sackett, CEO of contingent staffing firm HRU Tech and author of The Talent Fix: A Leader’s Guide to Recruiting Great Talent.
Get the name of the right recruiter
Dedicate some serious time to figuring out who is the best contact person at the company you’re interested in.
“How do you find them? Probably LinkedIn and searching the company and employees who work at that company, then inviting the recruiters from that company to connect,” Sackett says, “or connecting with someone in that company that works in the type of job you want and asking them which recruiter supports their division/department/location.”
It’s time to start networking — even if only online. If you’re in the job-hunting zone, you’re already likely to be checking out GlassDoor reviews of companies and LinkedIn profiles of high-ranking employees. Go a step further and reach out to someone there, even if they have no ostensible hiring power.
Say you want to be an accountant at a big firm. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is already an accountant there. Sure, they’re busy living your dream and all, but they are a regular person just like you and they might be flattered — or plain old curious — if you pop up in their inbox looking for some direction. It could take you a while to work up the courage to ask a stranger for the name of a recruiter, but it really only takes them a few seconds to reply with it. Ideally, they’ll get some kind of monetary reward for referring a new hire, so they might be more inclined to help out a qualified job-seeker than you think, for reasons other than pure good will. Use that to your advantage.
Or, they really could be in it for the good will.
“Most people on LinkedIn are willing to help you connect if you’re in the same profession or from the same geographic area or — even better — an alumnus of their school,” Sackett says.
How to reach out to a job recruiter
After you get the name of the right recruiter, you actually have to reach out to them. This can be terrifying, so it’s best if you come prepared.
Make sure your resume is current, as are any other materials you might need to promote your specific skills, like a portfolio or reel. If you weren’t able to secure the recruiter’s direct number or you’re particularly afraid of phone calls, draft an email that includes the relevant attachments and links, but doesn’t overwhelm them with your life story. (And work on the aversion to phone calls, please.)
You want to get some one-on-one time with this recruiter to make your case, so you don’t need to furnish the initial note with a full cover letter, list of references, or desperate plea. Include just enough information to show that you’re qualified, then ask them to get back to you with their availability for a chat.
If you do get the phone number upfront, skip the scheduling email and save written outreach for the follow-up. Be direct. Show off how determined and ambitious you are by ringing them directly, but keep your resume and materials handy for reference.
“Be prepared to leave a message!” Sackett says. “Ninety-nine per cent of recruiters don’t pick up cold calls, not because they don’t want to talk or find great talent, but because they fill their day with scheduled screenings of people they’ve already found. Knowing that, your message has to get them interested in why they should make you one of those scheduled calls. Explain what position you are interested in and be as specific as possible since most recruiters are working 25-50 different jobs at any one time!”
Write a script for your voicemail message in advance. It’s easy to meander off-track, repeat yourself, or leave out key details when you’re recording on the fly — especially if you’re nervous and the stakes are high. Greet them by name, state the purpose of your call, ask them to return your message with their own availability for a chat, thank them for their time, and leave your contact details. Boom, you nailed it.
What to say to the recruiter
Once the recruiter responds to your email or message — or, in some cases, simply picks up your cold call and starts talking to you — it’s time to make your case.
From here, treat the conversation like you would any job interview, even though you did a little role-reversal and were actually the aggressor this time around. Use your resume and previous work for reference and make a clear, strong case for why you want to work at the company. Ask whether there are any open roles that your skills are a fit for, if the recruiter is aware of any jobs opening up down the line, and what they’d recommend as far as keeping in touch if there aren’t any jobs immediately available.
Even if there are no unfilled spots within the company, you’re on a recruiter’s radar now. Provided you have appropriate experience and skills, they won’t forget you — especially since you put in the work to find them, showcasing your tenacity while making their job that much easier.
No matter how the conversation goes, follow up afterward to thank the recruiter for their time and restate your commitment to getting hired at the company. If your initial outreach was a call, not an email, make sure your follow-up message includes the resume and materials you discussed on the phone so they can review them and, hopefully, forward them around the company.
If some time goes by without any communication from the recruiter, shoot them an email asking how they’ve been and whether anything has changed within the organisation.
Whenever you accomplish something new, get a promotion, or even switch jobs, let them know in a friendly note. The more current your materials are, the more accomplished you are, and the more communicative you are, the better chance you have of finding just the right fit there, but the recruiter needs to know all the relevant details to help make that happen.