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Through my career as a recruiter, I have spoken to tens of thousands of candidates with all sorts of skills and with different levels of seniority.

I noticed most candidates didn't know what to say to position them as the best candidate for the job.

Or they wouldn't know what to ask to qualify if they were suitable for the position.

Basically, I realised that not many people really knew and understood how to effectively work with recruiters to get feedback, interviews or jobs.

And you see, not knowing how to work with them, can put you on the back foot.

So that's why I wrote this post.

Now some of you might think, "recruiters are absolutely useless and I don't need to know how to work with them. I avoid them like the plague", and I get it.

I really do.

You only have to check online to find millions of horrible stories of how recruiters have been handling applicants.

But here is the thing, yes you have bad ones - really bad ones.

But, you also have awesome recruiters.

Recruiters that really know their stuff and will go above and beyond for you.

So obviously, try to stay away from the bad ones and find a recruiter that you can build a good relationship with. (Download a FREE script that will make the whole process really easy!)

Ok, so let me break this down for you so you get an idea of how it all works.

More than half of the jobs are advertised by recruitment agencies and in most cases, the recruiter receives over 100 applications a day for each vacancy they are recruiting for.

So how can you stand out? 

Most recruitment companies have a specific positioning in the market; they could be vertical specialists, account managers or generalists.

A vertical specialist

A vertical specialist is a recruiter that specialises in a specific field, it's often niche and very targeted.

Example, if you have a recruitment agency specialising in IT recruitment, a vertical specialist would recruit solely in one specific technology.

An account manager

An account manager is a recruiter who focuses on recruiting for specific clients.

They mainly have vacancies with those clients.

A generalist

A generalist is a recruiter who recruits for a variety of positions.

They are mostly focusing on a specific geographical area and recruit for all different positions in this area.

Example, a recruitment agent might only recruit within a certain suburb and recruit in that suburb for accountants, marketing, IT professionals, sales etc.

The first thing to do before calling a recruiter is to research and to find out how they position themselves in the market.

If you can’t find out, ask them when you talk to them.

Recruiters will often advertise for multiple clients and finding the one that is specialised in your field will help you a lot.

So when you have identified the best recruiter, it's time to call.

Some of the reasons people fear calling a recruiter are:

  • They don’t know what to say
  • They think they are just wasting the recruiter’s time
  • Believing they are wasting their time and the recruiter doesn’t know what they are talking about
  • They are afraid of being rejected
  • Or they think they are not good enough

Because they don’t know what to say, when they call, they don’t ask the right questions, so they don’t get the right information.

When they hang up the phone, they think: “I knew calling was a bad idea!” and they feel stupid.

When you are actively job-hunting, you want to be aware of as many opportunities in the market as possible.

Building a relationship with a recruiter is one of the ways that will help you.

Unfortunately, you don’t build a relationship by just applying or emailing.

You need to call and meet them.

Here are some do’s and don'ts that will help you to make the right impression.

  • Call a recruiter that regularly advertises in your field of expertise. They are very likely to meet you or/and keep you informed of upcoming positions.
  • Don’t be all over the place. Don’t say you are looking for freelance, permanent and part-time work, all at once. The only thing a recruiter hears are alarm bells. The type of professional who is a freelancer is very different than the professional that is a permanent employee. You might think you're being flexible but the recruiter will think you will jump ship the first occasion you have!
  • Don’t apply and call 1 minute later, if you want to do that, just call before applying.
  • Don’t just say you are calling to follow up on your application, 99% of the time they will have reviewed your resume. If you were suitable for the job, they would have called you.
  • Don’t ask questions that are written in the ad.
  • Match at least 70% (if not more) of what is required. Make sure this is clearly outlined in your resume (download me FREE proven-to-get-interviews resume template here).
  • Don’t keep applying (in a short time frame) for roles that are advertised by the same person.
  • If they ask you: What do you want? Don’t just say: ”I want a job”. All the candidates a recruiter talks to want a job. Be specific.
  • Be humble, don’t open the conversation with:” I’m the perfect candidate for the job!”. A recruiter hears that at least once a day so it loses its credibility.


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