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How To Stop Recruiters From Ignoring You: The Ultimate Guide

Connel Valentine Jun 25, 2018
When a recruiter ignores you, it hurts.

If you've been on a job search for weeks or even months, those agonizing days takes it's toll on you.

And when recruiters ignore your requests for available opportunities and never get back to you, you start to doubt your skills and wonder if you are good enough for the job market.

This is especially true if you're moving to a new country - think of the times recruiters have told you to contact them after you land in Canada?

Don't be so hard on yourself.

First, understand what's in it for them. Contingency recruiters get paid around 25% commission by companies who use them to find candidates.

And they get paid only when a candidate is offered the job.

No job, no commission.

You might be thinking you are the recruiter's client and they should be bending over backwards to find you a job.

Big mistake.

The recruiter's clients are the companies (employers) that hire them to find candidates to fill a role.

The recruiter's job is to find the right candidate for the company they represent, not to give a job to every candidate who contacts them.

As such, what recruiters want are picture-perfect candidates who will look good both on paper and in person to the hiring manager.

You might also be thinking you don't need the services of recruiters if they're going to be such arrogant snobs who will only give their attention to job-attractive candidates and not care about your other skills and abilities.

Also a big mistake.

The right recruiter can be a strong ally in your job search because:

  1. They have access to the hidden job market, as they get first dibs on upcoming jobs available to employers who use them.

  2. They can be specialized in a specific market, as are you. So they are well connected with the people who have the authority and money to hire you.

  3. They know the hidden truths behind what employers want. This juicy info will not be advertised on public job descriptions.

  4. After an interview, they can be an objective middle-person getting honest feedback on how you did, feedback the employer may be uncomfortable to give you.

So what do you need to do to get recruiters on your side, instead of having them ignore your requests for attention?

That's what we will cover in this blog post.

If getting a job before you're big move into a new market is your priority, we will cover how you can network with recruiters to be well prepared for your job search..

Now you know what recruiters and headhunters care about - candidates they can most easily can be placed into jobs so they earn their commissions.

So let's talk about how you can make yourself irresistibly attractive to recruiters.

What you should NOT use a recruiter for

Recruiters and headhunters are not career counsellors.

Don't expect them to give you in-depth knowledge about technicalities of your job and prep you on interview skills.

Don't expect them to tell you what positions you should apply for.

Don't expect them to re-write your résumé for you.

At most, they may give you some feedback on your résumé, which you should listen to very carefully, because they know what their clients want.

That's about it. Anything beyond that is an added bonus.

It's still up to you to do the work it takes to be job-ready.

You must have clear goals in mind and know exactly what your target job title is, your expected salary, have a well constructed résumé and LinkedIn profile, and have sharp job interview skills.

If you need help with the above, seek a career coach or job search coach, not a recruiter!

Recruiters are useful contacts to have in your job search, nothing more.

What annoys a recruiter

Badgering a recruiter for an update on jobs and feedback from an interview.

They have hundreds of candidates under their belt, and their goal is to pursue the right one for the job.

If you are a right fit for a job, believe me, they will be pestering you!

Breathing down a recruiter's neck will not impress them, and moreover, it also shows character that you may not be the kind of person their client (the employer) would favour in a job interview.

Desperation stinks! Especially in a job search.

Don't let it ruin your chances.

Also, all the reasons we covered earlier on what not to use a recruiter for would also annoy them.

Think of a recruiter as a real estate agent you are using to buy a house.

A real estate agent's clients are the homeowners (the employers) because they pay them the commissions for finding buyers.

As a buyer (the employee) you need to be clear on what type of house you're looking for, what your budget is, have a good credit history, know what loans you can get after speaking to a mortgage advisor and be ready to buy a house right now.

If you've not done the work and prepared for all of the above, you're wasting the real estate agent's time.

Similarly, you will be wasting the recruiter's time if you've not done your homework to prepare a great product for them to sell - your professional self!

So now that you know the wrong approach, let's dive into the right way of doing it.

How do I find the right recruiter for me?

Go for the ones specialized in your industry. Always!

Do a Google search for "Recruitment Agencies for [Industry] [location]". For example, if you are in the marketing industry, Google "Recruitment Agencies for Marketing Toronto".

You will get a healthy list of recruiters to choose from.

Go through their websites and identify a couple of individuals from each organization you would like to work with, and then scout them on LinkedIn.

Your goal is to connect directly with these people and get on their radar.

How many companies should you select? Don't go overboard.

Be cautious that employers may be using more than one recruiter to fill a role, and if both companies pitch the same candidate (you), it could cause confusion and cost you the job.

Now that you've identified a couple of recruitment agencies and the individuals who work in them, it's time to reach out to them.

Before connecting to a recruiter

As stated earlier, a recruiter is not your career counsellor.

You have to have done your homework in advance - don't expect them to do it for you.

The knowledge-in-hand you need would be:

  1. A clear goal of the type and level of job you are seeking, your "target job title". Eg. Marketing Analyst roles. Take note if you have experience in a specific industry (like Banking or Telecom)

  2. A killer résumé you've constructed with extensive market research and/or with help from a career coach or professional résumé writer.

  3. Your expected salary range, once again based on the local job market research.

  4. A LinkedIn profile designed to perfection, once again with the assistance of a coach or LInkedIn expert.

  5.  A list of companies you will be targeting

  6. A specific date of when you will be "job ready"

The last point especially applies to soon-to-be newcomers to a country like Canada.

Many newcomers prematurely attempt to reach out to recruiters only be rejected with a "call-us-when-you-land" response.

This is not a brush off. Well, maybe it is.

But look at it from the recruiter's perspective. If you do not have a solid confirmed date of when you will be in Canada, ready to work, why would their clients be interested in you?

If an employer has approached a recruiter to find a suitable candidate for a position, they need someone right now!

Making the connection

Without a shadow of doubt, LinkedIn is you best option.

87% of recruiters state they scan LinkedIn before short listing candidates. I once had a recruiter state that she was reviewing my LinkedIn profile during my first phone screening call.

The biggest mistake an aspiring job seeker makes when reaching out on LinkedIn is connecting with the default connection request message.

You've already taken the wrong turn to rejection city.

Take the time and effort to customize your connection request by adding the 300-character note with the request in order to increase the success rate of acceptance.

Remember, 1st level LinkedIn connections are fuel for recruiters. If they have a healthy repository of 1st level connections in their bucket, they don't need to search far and wide for new hires.

But you must demonstrate you are a quality candidate right from the get-go.

Research on their companies and their profiles before reaching out and use that information in your connection request.

Do not be afraid to ask them questions to show you're confident enough to be assessing their skills as much as them assessing yours. It's a sign you are not desperate for a job and are willing to stick to your goals.

A sample of how that request might look would be:

Hi John. I am currently looking for roles as an IT Business Analyst in the telecoms industry.

ABCrecruiting caught my attention during my research as a leading recruiter for this industry in the Toronto area.

Your personal profile seems to fit perfectly for my area of expertise, as I have +10 years of experience in project management and business intelligence in the telecommunications sector in the Toronto region.

I am currently researching positions with [Company A], [Company B] and [Company C] and many others. The reasons I have chosen these organizations is because [your research insights from these companies].

I’m curious to know if you have had experience recruiting with these organizations or any others that you feel are a good fit for this industry and what your experience has been like.

Research is a habit I carry with me on my job applications and job interviews, and I believe it sets me apart from other candidates. I hope to enhance that research with a professional working relationship with you, utilizing your inside connections with your clients to improve my chances with the opportunities you currently have.

Rest assured I am clear on my goals and my résumé and LinkedIn profile are aligned with our target market. All I require is access to your client’s opportunities.

Looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Maintain the relationship

Touching base with your recruiter every now and then will keep you on their radar, which is important if you want to stand out of the crowd.

The last thing you want to do is keep pestering them by asking for updates on current opportunities.

They are on the hunt for opportunities all the time - it's how they earn their money.

So rest assured, they are on top of their game -the question is, are you on top of their list.

Here are a couple of options you have to engage with your recruiter every week or so to stay on their radar:

  1. Share relevant industry news with them. If you hear about updates from companies that has new hiring potential, such as new projects or company expansions, that's certainly newsworthy, commission-yielding information to a recruiter.

  2. If you are aware of an opportunity that you are unfit for, introduce them to someone on your personal network who may be interested in the role.

  3. Update them on your job search strategy. If you've found a new company you are targeting, informational interviews you attended and what you learned, updates you've made to your profile, send them an update along as it's substantially noteworthy.

Once again, don't badger them with constant messaging.

Use your better judgement to note whether the information you are sending them is worth their attention.

Opportunity Alert! What do you do?


Your recruiter found you an opportunity. Take advantage of it!

Your recruiter should have inside information about the company and what they are looking for.

Ask for a detailed job description that you can customize your résumé and cover letter to.

The most important question is to ask about the organization's and/or department's challenges and the hiring manager's personality.

This kind of information will not exist in a public job description and can only come from an insider - in this case, your recruiter.

For example, a recruiter once told me that her client was looking for someone who had the guts to stand their ground and not be afraid to say "No" when it mattered.

As awkward as that skillset was, I made sure I prepared an elevator pitch that incorporated the fact that I was not a "Yes-man" kinda guy.

Ask your recruiter for an opinion on your résumé as well. S/he would know if it contains all the fine details their client is looking for.

Finally, don't betray your recruiter! Nothing will sour the relationship that agreeing on one thing and asking for something else at the interview.

For example, if you agreed with your recruiter that you are looking for a salary of $50-60K, but you ask for $70K at the interview, you're asking for trouble.

After the interview

If the recruiter is doing their job well, they will follow up with the hiring manager on how the interview went.

Another benefit of working with a recruiter is that depending on their relationship with their client, they can come away with honest feedback about your performance at the interview.

Critical feedback the hiring manager may find awkward to give you in person may be passed down to you through the recruiter.

It could be positive or negative. Take this feedback very seriously and learn from it for your next interview.

As a human being, you are oblivious to where you excel in or where your faults are.

Once again, don't badger your recruiter for an update everyday. They want to get paid as well, and are doing their best to fill that position.

If the employer has selected you, they will make sure you will be the first to know the good news.

Don't be too disheartened if you don't hear back. There may be confidential reasons why you were not selected that are beyond you control.

For example, the department may need to recruit more female staff to avoid gender imbalance in the company. It's rare but possible.

Roll up your sleeves and carry on with your job search!

Building stronger relationships

After reading this post, you might be thinking "It feels like I'm working for the recruiter rather than the other way around. I'm the one that needs a job, yet I have to help recruiter?!?!"

You ought to know by now that networking with people in your industry is the most important strategy to a job seeker.

And networking means building relationships, not asking for jobs.

There is no better way to build a professional relationship with someone other than unconditionally offering value by helping them.

Why else would they help you in return? They don't owe you a damn thing.

And neither do recruiters.

Recruiters have a complete toolset of capabilities to find 100s of candidates for an opportunity under their belt. Why give it to you?

Building strong relationships with recruiters will not only help you with your first job, but for your future promotions as well.

It's very common for recruiters to "passively" recruit - they look for candidates who currently have jobs as they are more employable in the eyes of hiring managers.

Quick Tip: Joining LinkedIn groups in your industry makes you more discoverable by recruiters.

If you are currently unemployed, or soon-to-be unemployed because you are moving to a new country, it's best to engage with recruiters as early as possible.

I won't lie to you, if you're a new graduate or changing careers, or even a newcomer to a country like Canada, the odd are stacked against you.

The biased assumption that will be made is that you are "less employable" than someone else with experience. A job search is a competition after all, and recruiters like to work with the low-hanging-fruit employees that's easier to pick by their clients.

Also, a critical key performance indicator recruiters are measured by is called time-to-fill or time-to-hire, which is the time it takes for them to fill an open position.

So to them, you have to be employable right now!

But fear not. As the saying goes "It's hard to find good help these days."

If you are in touch with what makes you unique in the job market and are able to articulate your capabilities clearly to the recruiter, you will stand out of the crowd - always!

Volunteering experience will also increase your employability if you are currently unemployed and recruiters will appreciate that you're still professionally active.

While it's important to get a job you enjoy doing, don't annoy your recruiter by turning them down on every opportunity they present you.

If you're a newcomer to Canada, you may be unwilling to step down a few rungs on your career ladder.

But Canada has no shortage of opportunities, that's for sure. It's better to get a B job in an A company, rather than wait for an A job in a B company.

So don't wait!

Contact the right recruiter today! The first step is the easiest - Googling "Recruitment Agencies for [Your Industry] in [Your Area]".

Remember to have your résumé and LinkedIn profile polished to perfection. Your recruiter has to be able to sell you on paper to their clients, so make sure your digital footprint leaves their employers demanding an interview with you.

Make sure you give the impression that you are dead serious about what you want and what you're doing. You're not window shopping for a job. You  take your brand and your job search seriously, and you will throughly research your recruiter's clients and do whatever it takes to win that interview.

Should you work with multiple headhunters? By all means. But have the courtesy to let them all know the agencies you are working with.

But please, please, please don't put all your eggs in one basket and rely solely on the recruiter for all you job search needs.

The recruiter is one path in your job search, one ally in your arsenal of job search tools.

Nothing will ever be a substitute for personal networking with the people who have the authority and power to give you a job - those are the hiring managers in your industry, not recruiters.

If you've established a great relationship with a recruiter, that's great practice for establishing relationships with hiring authorities at your target companies.

Now hunt down those headhunters!