A recruiter is likely to be your first point of contact when you’re interviewing for an opportunity and will remain in touch with you throughout the process. Their opinion of you matters, and they can help move you along in an interview process or hold things up.
Many job seekers unknowingly discredit their chance at a job because of their communication style. Every impression you make on a potential employer counts and influences whether they will want to continue to interact with you, move you along in the recruiting process, invite you for an interview and eventually, make you a job offer…or not.
Make it a priority to build a relationship with your recruiter using these tips.
Show you are a respectful person by promptly responding to recruiters and hiring managers. Do not make a recruiter wait more than 24 hours. Same day replies are ideal (whether that is a response to a call or an email). Since recruiters talk to a LOT of candidates daily, your speedy replies will convey that you are a serious and interested candidate, helping you get ahead of your ‘competition’.
If someone introduces you to another person via email (for either an interview or a professional networking conversation), it’s always your job to respond first because you’re the one looking for a job.
If a recruiter emails you directly to arrange an interview, be proactive by providing the information the recruiter needs in as few email exchanges as possible. Two examples of how to do this:
Have your phone number in your email signature so employers can contact you easily, without having to take time to find it on your resume.
Instead of waiting for a recruiter to ask you for your availability, give your availability, cutting down on unnecessary back-and-forth emails. Help them to help you!
When giving your availability, offer broad windows of time (e.g. 2-5 hour blocks) across multiple days in a week when you can talk/meet. Avoid scheduling early Monday mornings and Friday late afternoons (recruiters are people too).
If a recruiter cancels your interview at the last minute, do not take it personally. Respond promptly and indicate that it’s “not a problem” and you’re happy to reschedule, then offer a new set of days/times when you’re free. Recruiters manage numerous schedules and processes and sometimes need to cancel interviews. It doesn’t mean the company isn’t interested. It doesn’t mean the job is filled. Do not scold the hiring manager or use negative language. You’re the one looking for a job.
Voicemail: Is your voicemail a concise, articulate and professional message? Is it recorded by you and not your friend, mom, or child? If not, re-record it and listen back to ensure it is acceptable.
Email: Are you using an appropriate email address? email@example.com is a simple, smart email format to use, whereas firstname.lastname@example.org is not. Avoid @aol, @hotmail. or @yahoo domains because they may be perceived as “out of touch” with technology.
When answering the phone from an unknown number (that might be an employer/recruiter): Smile and say “Hi! This is [NAME]!” instead of a suspicious “Hello?” The conversation will get off to a better start if you sound happy and enthusiastic to be taking the call.
Ideally, you will answer calls when you can speak audibly and comfortably, but recruiters understand that you might not be able to speak if they call you unannounced. If you answer a call from an unknown number and you happen to be in a loud place, it is okay to politely ask the recruiter if you can schedule to talk at a time when you can speak freely.
When composing emails, make sure you:
Don’t use slang language like “hey”, “what’s up?” or “yeah”. That’s too casual, even for the coolest of tech startups.
Do open each email with a greeting like “Hi!” or “Hello!” and close each email with a “Very best,” or “Warm regards,” followed by your name. Don’t address anyone by their last name (i.e. don’t say “Hello Mrs. Smith”), that is overly formal and not a modern way that job applicants communicate.
Proofread your emails before sending. You don’t want to accidentally send an email addressed to the wrong person, that contains typos or that uses the wrong company’s name.
Get into the habit of saying “thank you” frequently. Thank recruiters when they offer to meet you, when they compliment your app or when they offer to forward you to a hiring manager. After a technical phone interview with an engineer, email the recruiter to update him/her on how the interview went, and thank them for scheduling the interview.
Appreciation is classy, good etiquette, and critical to the impression you are making on employers.
You want to sound energized and excited when talking to companies. Employers don’t want to hire someone who just wants a job. They want to hire the person who genuinely wants this job, who wants to contribute to the mission and goals of their company, and why they want to do so. After all this is the person who is the most motivated and who will do the best work.
Here is an example of using a reasonable amount of enthusiasm and appreciation in an email to a recruiter, while also clearly communicating their availability for an interview:
Thank you very much for your email.
Being an avid follower and user of [X Company’s] [Name of] product line/apps for [X amount of time], I am excited to talk with you about what you’re looking for in a developer and how my background might be a fit.
I can be free to speak by phone Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 12pm and 4pm next week. You can reach me at [xxx-xxx-xxxx]. What day and time are best for you?
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
Best, [Your Name] [Phone Number] [Email]
Be mindful of how much enthusiasm you show [and exclamation points!!!]. Don’t overdo it because it can make you look immature, too informal, or lacking general business etiquette.
Here is an example of using an over-zealous, excess amount of enthusiasm in an email to a recruiter:
Wow! Thank you, thank you for your email! Being an avid follower and user of [X Company’s] [Name of] product line/apps for nearly my entire life, I am super excited to contribute my unique background in [X] and [X] to the [Name of] position and help further drive your amazing innovations forward!
I will be available anytime Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm to speak by phone or meet in person. Please let me know which is most convenient for you, or if there is another time you prefer!
Again, I'm so looking forward to meeting you.
Thank you so much! I look forward to your reply!
Sincerely, [Your Name] [Phone Number] [Email]
Recruiters are not impressed by candidates who lack personality or who use canned/robotic language in their written or verbal communications. People who speak like that may be thought of as inexperienced, poor communicators, or out of touch with how to search for a job and therefore, probably not a good “fit”.
Examples of phrases to avoid:
“I possess many of the qualifications that a world class company like yours values.” “I look forward to hearing more about the position with your company.” “My skills and enthusiasm make me a perfect match for the role at your company.”
Speak in your own voice.
If a recruiter includes small talk in their emails (e.g. they share their plans for the upcoming weekend), it’s appropriate to engage and perhaps share what you are doing over the weekend in addition to sharing your availability for a next interview. Doing so makes you sound like a real person and builds a deeper connection with the recruiter. However, you don’t want to cross the line between personal and professional. If you’re sharing personal details, keep it short.
Keep any emotional, health, political, or religious topics to yourself (e.g. “My boyfriend just broke up with me!”, or “I can’t believe what [X politician] said in last night’s debate!” )
Such topics are not relevant to your qualifications or important to a recruiter, and therefore shouldn’t be part of your communication.
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