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How to Respond When a Recruiter Calls You

admin | 21.10.2011

Recruiters or headhunters (as we are also known) work with hundreds of experienced and those “who think they are experienced” professionals every week. The MaquilaFind recruiting practice focuses on Mexico’s maquiladora industry which is one of the most culturally diverse industries in Mexico due to the diverse corporate nationalities. As such, we are sharing the following advice to help professionals from all backgrounds within Mexico to effectively work with recruiters for the combined benefit of the talent (you), the executive search consultant / recruiter, and their client (your potential next employer). Recruiters will always gravitate to professionals who understand the dynamics of the talent market and who are also empathetic to what the recruiter is tasked to do. Candidates that naively attempt to be arrogant or stand-offish in an attempt to mask their insecurity or lack of knowledge only serve to alienate themselves from the recruiter. The recruiter can be your ally throughout the life of your career if you understand how to interact with him or her. The following guidelines will help you in responding to a call from a recruiter:  
  1. Get as much information as you can about the nature of the position and the company they are promoting. Such information would include company size, industry, geographic location, why the position is open and what happened to the last two people in that job. Due to confidentiality restrictions placed on them by their client, the recruiter may or may not be able to answer all of your questions. If they can answer your questions, then you will be able to determine if the position is truly of interest to you and/or learn how your profile is aligned with the needs of their client.
  1. Under no circumstances should you go around the recruiter or search firm in order to contact the prospective employer directly. This will serve to alienate you from the search firm and will reflect poorly on you by the potential employer. They provided the search assignment to the recruiter for a purpose which is usually related to the recruiter’s industry knowledge, credibility and integrity. By going behind the recruiter’s back and direct to the employer you are implying that you lack professionalism, an understanding of protocol, and basic integrity.
  1. Be prepared to present yourself with the same professionalism, interest and enthusiasm as you would present directly to the employer. The recruiter needs to feel confident in his/her representation of you. You are a reflection of the recruiter’s value to their client which will ultimately reflect in whether you get introduced to their client and with what level of enthusiasm that they will represent you.
  1. Do not try to modify or retro-fit your skills to meet the requirements of the role you are being solicited for. If you know you are not a fit for the role you are being called about, don’t attempt to fake it, it will only serve to devalue you in the eyes of the recruiter. Instead, offer the recruiter names of colleagues or others that you believe would be a better match for the role. In this way, you become a resource to the recruiter and they will most likely remember you when they get a future search assignment that is better aligned to your profile.
  1. Learn from your relationship with the recruiter. If the recruiter is able to get you an interview with his / her client, then request that they provide you with feedback about how their client received you. Any information that you can gain can serve to help you as you continue with the interview process with their client or with other potential employers.
Warren Carter is the founder and Senior Managing Partner of QualiFind Executive Search and subsidiary search practices of AgriFind and MaquilaFind. Warren can be reached at (619) 921-1795 for comment or questions.