Dear Candidates, Use Targeted Recruiters as Your Ally

A while ago, I wrote an article defending candidates and expressing concerns for how (some) recruiters don’t necessarily treat candidates with the respect they deserve. Well, I think it is now time to write an article defending the recruiter and explaining to candidates how they are alienating themselves from the recruiting process and potentially missing out on future job opportunities simply by ignoring a recruiter’s attempt to reach out to them (i.e. not using a recruiter as an ally).

Reference link to old article here:

Here is a typical scenario. A recruiter reaches out to a potential candidate for a position they feel could be a great fit for the candidate and for their client. Note: I am referring to a very targeted candidate approach and not the blanket recruiter messaging (spam) sent to multiple candidates at once as highlighted/addressed on my previous article – which of course, is part of the original problem, leading to candidates not responding. But, let’s ignore that type of approach for now and get back to our example.

The initial contact with the potential candidate can come in a variety of ways (e.g. email, text, phone, LinkedIn messaging, etc). Many of these messages are ignored by candidates and in certain cases a candidate might express some interest by acknowledging the message in some way. From there, the recruiter will typically provide additional information. But this is where it all could still fall apart. The candidate goes silent after his/her initial acknowledgement. No response, no feedback, nothing. So, the recruiter and/or their team follows up once, then twice, then three times and at some point needs to give up as they need to focus on candidates that are actually in communication and interested. Hence, it is a lot of wasted effort by the recruiting team. What candidates don’t realize is that each follow up (times the number of candidates that are non-responsive, times the number of search assignments ongoing) is taking away an enormous amount of precious time that the recruiter and/or team members will never get back. Work efficiency is very important in the recruiting process and this wasted effort is enabling an enormous amount of inefficiencies in the entire system for everyone involved (i.e. the recruiter, the candidate and the hiring company).

Can’t we all just get along? This should and can be a win-win relationship for all if there is some common respect and courtesy. This is true of course for both sides (candidates and recruiters), but the focus of this article is on the candidates. So, why do you (candidates) do this? In a way, I get it, you receive way too many unsolicited “job opportunity” messages from recruiters that have nothing to do with your background (again, reference my old article). However, if you generalize ALL recruiters in the same bucket, you are missing out on establishing longer term relationships with recruiters that could truly help you find that next role even though this immediate opportunity might not be of interest to you.

So, the advice is, take a quick look at the profile of the recruiter that is reaching out to you. Is that a recruiter or recruiting firm likely reputable and/or might be a good match with your career goals? Would it be worthwhile staying in touch with them longer term? If so, use them as an ally for your career growth and do not ignore them. A simple courtesy response saying you are not interested because…, or suggesting the job opportunity is not a good fit because…, would go a long way to not only establishing a strong link between you and the recruiting firm, but also helping with recruiting inefficiencies and preventing us (recruiters) from having to send you multiple emails or messages further contributing to the chaos, which could feel like spam. Believe me, we don’t want to send multiple messages either. We would rather hear from you that you are not interested, then having to follow up multiple times and not know for sure if you are truly not interested or just never got our message. It is also important to note that, due to multiple no responses, you could be labeled within the recruiting database as “non-responsive” or something similar. Meaning that, when labeled, there is a high likelihood that you will not be contacted in the future for ANY opportunities, independent on whether it is or not a match. So, not really a desirable outcome for you either, unless that is what you want.

The bottom line is that recruiters and candidates are not helping each other in the manner in which they are communicating. Recruiters (in general) need to be more targeted and candidates (in general) need to be more responsive. So candidates, be wise, use “targeted” recruiters as your ally. Help them out with referrals even if the job opportunity is not of interest to you. The recruiters will remember the kind gesture and will also help to establish a strong, lasting relationship that could potentially lead to your next role. So, let’s all just get along and focus on strengthening the relationships between both recruiters and candidates. After all, we need each other to be successful.