The Branding Muse sat down with a recruiter from Ruder Finn, Inc. to talk about how to connect and make initial contact with a recruiter. In this interview, you will learn how to reach out to recruiter contacts, introduce yourself and set up informational interviews at companies. Unlike conversations with alumni from your school or another personal contact at a company, emails and connections with recruiters must take a different approach.
1. HOW SHOULD ONE INTRODUCE HIM/HERSELF TO RECRUITERS HE/SHE HAS NEVER MET?
An email is often the best way to reach out to recruiters because it allows for a reply on their own schedule during busy times. I would suggest being relatively brief and writing the body of the email as a short cover letter. If you have a connection to the company, be sure to state that near the beginning of your introduction.
First sentences tend to be tricky, and there is nothing wrong with starting an email with “My name is ___ and I am very interested in working at ____.” Take the time to cater your email to the company to which you are applying and express what you will bring to the company, not just what a job there can do for you.
Proofread the email several times before sending and don’t rely on spell-check alone. Typos make applicants look lazy and unconcerned with details, both of which are qualities you never want to exhibit. Always attach your resume to the email so that the recruiter may look at it immediately. Once an initial email has been sent, it is then appropriate to follow up with a phone call after about a week of no response.
Check out the company’s career website and apply for open positions online. Once you have applied online, send an email to the recruiter introducing yourself and stating that you have already applied. This saves the recruiter time since you are already in the electronic database and, more importantly, it makes you seem particularly proactive.
2. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO EXPRESS INTEREST IN A COMPANY OR POSITION WITHOUT EXPLICITLY STATING IT?
The best way to gain employment is to be direct with the recruiter or point of contact.
If a company offers an internship, that is certainly the best place to start. Coming out of college, applicants expect a full-time position, but many companies, including Ruder Finn, source entry level employees from an internship program. An internship essentially serves as a very long interview, which should be perceived as an advantage. You have months to prove yourself, instead of 30 minutes. Similarly, look for entry level training programs like Ruder Finn’s Executive Training Program. The goal of programs like the ET Program is to find and keep promotable talent.
Know something about the company to which you are applying. Learn what distinguishes that company from others and make it known to the recruiter through your talking points that you have done your research. A recruiter wants to know you’ve invested time into learning about the company, or at least the industry. Many companies host events or offer ways online to interact. Social media is obviously a big part of business and the first step would be to follow the company on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and through blogs; the more you put your name out there, the more dedicated and knowledgeable you will look to an employer.
3. WHAT ARE SOME DON’TS?
Never send an email with no body text and only a resume attached. Always use the subject line.
Don’t address the recruiter with ‘Hi,” especially in an introductory email. You always want to be professional, respectful, and mature.
Don’t stalk the recruiters. A follow up phone call is fine, but constant nagging has the reverse effect. Following up and keeping contacts is a skill. The best way to keep the door open for further dialogue is to ask the question right away: “What is the best way to follow up with you?” Recruiting is networking, and networking is a discussion.
Don’t indicate you are willing to do “anything.” Be specific about your goals and what you’d like to do professionally. It is understandable that applicants think the willingness to do anything makes them more hirable, when in fact it makes them seem unfocused.
Be aware of your qualifications. Put forth your strengths and what you have to offer. Understand that there is a lot of grind-work to get anywhere that’s worth getting.
Don’t emphasize your weaknesses. Confidence and competence! Present yourself in the best light and demonstrate your talents. Everyone has areas of strength and weakness, so know them.
Don’t take the recruiter’s lack of responsiveness as rejection. Recruiters are contacted constantly throughout the day. Your objective as an applicant is to introduce yourself politely and keep your qualifications top of mind to the recruiter.
4. WHAT WOULD BE SOME APPROPRIATE THINGS TO ASK A RECRUITER’S HELP ON?
Whenever asking for help from a recruiter, remember his or her time is limited. It is appropriate to ask the recruiter’s help exploring any future job opportunities at his or her company. It is also appropriate to ask direct, specific questions, but the recruiter is not there to edit your resume or answer vague questions such as, “what are your thoughts on entering the business of PR?” When you do contact a recruiter, there needs to be a distinct point to the contact, and it needs to be done intelligently.
The important thing about working with a recruiter, and networking in general, is that it needs to be a relationship. Of course contacting recruiters is done in hopes of securing a job, but if no job is available, you can still cultivate a relationship.
It is more common in smaller companies to interact with recruiters on a more personal level. That personal contact also makes it easier to keep in touch. The hiring process is certainly different depending on size of a company and industry, but it never hurts to put a face to a name and humanize your application.