Surprising Facts About Recruiters

One of the topics that frequently comes up in my work with job seekers is that of recruiters. Some of the more common inquiries I hear include:

  • How do recruiters find candidates?
  • What can I do to get recruiters to notice me?
  • Why didn’t that recruiter message me back?
  • How much do recruiters influence the hiring process?
  • Are recruiters actually an alien species that no one can ever truly understand?

Okay, so I’ve never actually gotten that last question, but I do see quite a bit of confusion and frustration regarding recruiters. Thanks to my extensive history working as both a recruiter and a hiring manager, I’m usually able to demystify the other side of the recruitment process and help my clients attract the attention of those in a position to make hiring decisions.

Because I want to see everyone land a job they love, I’ve compiled five key points you’ll want to know to understand how the job search process works from the perspective of a recruiter. I’m also going to give you targeted advice about how you can tailor your job search to get noticed by recruiters and ultimately get hired.

Recruiters Conduct Highly-Targeted Applicant Searches

Before LinkedIn and job boards, recruiting used to be about building personal connections, networking, and championing your contacts into roles—even though recruiters were paid by the employer. Recruiters had fewer ways to find people, so you worked with what you had. In recent times, networks have been blown wide open with technology.

The takeaway: you can reverse engineer the job search by leveraging technology to conduct highly targeted job searches. LinkedIn is particularly useful for this tactic. By using its advanced search features, like recruiters do, you can find specific people in specific industries and target companies that can help you move your search forward.

Recruiters Want Long-Term Relationships

When I was working as a corporate recruiter, I often knew about job opportunities well in advance of posting the role. Why? There is a strategic element that goes into staffing an organization. Part of the HR function is to assess the future demands of the business and determine whether the current staffing structure can meet those demands. If not, we build a recruiting plan.

The takeaway: consider every conversation with a recruiter an opportunity. While I hear some job seekers express concern about exploratory phone conversations with recruiters who don’t have a job opening, know that internal recruiters can be a valuable resource to have in your network. In my own search experience, I’ve started conversations with companies that had nothing for me at the time and then saw opportunities develop within a matter of a few weeks. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by. Timing is everything.

Recruiters Need You to Connect the Dots

During my time as a recruiter, I saw many confusing resumés that were difficult to follow. If I was left with too many questions about your experience in relation to the role I was filling, I moved on to the next candidate. Why? My main objective was to match your skillset to the job and understand how your contributions could benefit the organization. If that wasn’t clear, I had more resumés to review that clearly told that story. I would also scan for keywords and duties with my eyes—not an application system.

The takeaway: recruiters scan for information and keywords just like you’ve heard an ATS does. Ensure that your resumé clearly outlines your career story and the value you bring to the role. If you’re not sure how to do this effectively, a professionally written resumé is a great investment.

Recruiters Follow the Hiring Manager’s Lead

As a recruiter, I spent a lot of time chasing down hiring managers for feedback after interviews. Hiring managers struggle to make new hire decisions. Why?

Plenty of reasons:

  • They are unsure of their own ability to make a hiring decision, so they drag out the process by seeking a second, third, or even fourth (Let that sink in!)
  • They may seek alternative solutions other than hiring a new person.
  • Or, they are so busy covering day-to-day work due to a staffing shortage, they just can’t seem to find the time to move the process
  • Finally, they may simply want to continue to see what’s out (Insert heavy sigh.)

The takeaway: I know it can be frustrating when you’re left waiting for answers. Be patient while employers work through their internal decision-making process and know that recruiters don’t always have the answers. Don’t assume the lack of communication means “no” but don’t put all of your eggs in one basket either. You get to decide what you’re willing to tolerate in the process, so continue to pursue other opportunities until you have a written offer in your hands.

Sometimes There’s Nothing You Can Do Better

 When I was a recruiter, we left job postings up until the new hire started. Why? We wanted a database of candidates in the event something went wrong with the current group and we needed to start the search over again. Now some people will say this is deceptive.

However, the job is open until the new hire starts, and there are situations where the selected candidate did not start the job for a variety of reasons. Sound strange? Trust me, it happens more frequently than you may think.

The takeaways: There are job postings that are further along in the interview process than you may know. Your resumé could be in a file that is not reviewed simply because they already have a good selection of candidates interviewing. This is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done differently to your resumé to improve your chances. In some cases, it is simply a matter of timing and the employer’s process.

What’s the Bottom Line for Job Seekers? 

Recruiters and the relationships you develop with them are one tool in an entire job-hunting strategy. While cultivating these connections can lead to amazing opportunities, recruiters should never be the sole path you focus on in your career search.

Also, keep in mind that true networking goes beyond just applying to the job and reaching out to the recruiter who posted the position. Why?

Focusing solely on recruiters and hiring managers means you are just scratching the surface of networking and probably not doing anything differently from the next savvy applicant applying to the role. Instead, you want to develop relationships with other people in your target company or industry, especially if they work in a similar job. Not only can these individuals give you great insight into business, they can also give you a heads up about potential job openings or put in a good word for recruiters.