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Convince Your Recruiter to Call You First

7 Ways to Get On Your Recruiter's Speed Dial! (plus 1 Bonus Tip!!)

Not to be one to bash the Canadian health system, but I believe every one of us has experienced the long wait times to see a specialist. In some cases it could be 6 months or more to get an appointment. Most doctors' offices have a "waiting list", where they'll call someone on the list when a cancellation happens. So, when there is a cancellation and the Doctor's admin needs to call someone to come in to fill the gap, is he going to call the person who told him that it can only be M/W/F and never over lunch or before 9am? ...or is he going to call the person who tells him, "Call me on my cell phone anytime of the day, and I'll drop whatever I'm doing and be there in 20 minutes"? Chatting with some of the doctors, I can tell you that in most cases -- all things being equal -- it is first come, first served. However, the Admins are busy, they don't want to spend 20 minutes on the phone searching for a replacement. Things are not equal... if they believe you will pick up and make arrangements to come in without any hassle, they are going to call you first. Working with a Recruiter isn't so different, except that there are more things important to them that can give you an edge over your contractor competitors. Recruiters are most often working under heavy time pressures to deliver the best candidates, as quickly as possible. If they know that you are reachable, available, motivated and qualified, they will want to speak with you asap. The following are 7 ways to convince your Recruiters to call you first!

  1. Be Clear - Your resume must be clean, concise and up-to-date. Contact information must be easy to access and correct. If it isn't, they will go looking for you on LinkedIn or other social media sources, but only after they've connected with the rest of the professionals that they know they can reach.

  2. Be Responsive - As mentioned above, Recruiters are on the clock to find/qualify/deliver candidates quickly. Make sure you keep your cell phone close and fully charged up; and answer the call rather than leaving it to go to vmail. Many Recruiters are now texting regularly as well... be sure to turn audible notifications 'on'.

  3. Be Flexible - This comes in a variety of flavours. Arrange to meet with Recruiters (or Clients) at a place and time that is convenient for them and on their schedule. Business moves fast... showing that you are highly engaged in the opportunity is the price for admission and not doing so will get you overlooked. Also, very important to your Recruiter is that you are open, willing and able to make requested updates to your resume. Your recruiter knows the client very well and, often, the resume needs to pass screening to move to the interview stage. If your Recruiter knows that you will make the investment in time and effort needed to get your resume "just right", they are going to want to work with you. Timely resume updates are also extremely important.

  4. Be Certain and Committed - As Yoda famously said, "Do or do not... there is no try". Either you are interested in the role being discussed or you are not. "Maybe" is a sure way to get yourself at the bottom of a call list. A quick "no" is a perfectly valid decision and any Recruiter worth their salt will not hold this against you, but being uncertain is viewed as a potential waste of time. If you do wish to pursue the opportunity, it is important for you to understand and clearly communicate your rate expectations. Stay away from rate ranges. It is our experience that when it comes to rate ranges, the contractor is thinking the top of the range while the client is thinking the bottom. This results in a painful negotiation process at the end. Certainty around rates simplifies the process... and Recruiters like simple.

  5. Be Specialized - This point can be counter-intuitive. If you can perform multiple jobs/functions, why not create a broad-based resume that showcases it all? Well, it has been proven time and time again that "generalists" rarely get selected by clients for interviews. Agencies' clients are most often looking for people who have "been there, done that and are ready to do it again". These are rarely generalist positions. If you have a generalist resume and you are competing against other contractors that are specialists in the desired skill/experience, you will not be requested to interview. If you do have experience across several solutions/skill sets, your best bet is to pick either your best or most recent skill and focus on that; or, you may create separate, custom resumes for each of your areas of specialization. Just remember that for industries such as IT, experience over a year old is ancient history and will also fail to excite your Recruiter.

  6. Be Loyal - It should go without saying that Recruiters expect contractors to stick with them throughout the hiring process; yet it is surprising how often contractors attempt to be submitted through multiple agencies for the same role... or try to end-run their Recruiter by going to the client directly. Neither of these tactics are particularly successful and they won't just put you down at the bottom of future lists... it will get you delisted completely which will significantly impact your future market success.

  7. Be Value-Centric - The most successful outcome for a contract placement opportunity is one that is a win for the candidate, the client and the agency. Win-win-win. When discussing a role with your Recruiter, always speak to the value that you will deliver to the client and to your staffing agency. This will come across loud and clear to your Recruiter and it will also help him/her build a sales message around your skills and capabilities. By hearing that you value what your agency is doing for you, it encourages your Recruiter to work harder for you.

Now, you will notice that all these points suggest a past relationship -- leveraging the "currency" that you've built up in your "relationship account" with your Recruiter. So, just howdo you get onto the top of your Recruiter's "top-candidates" call list when you don't have a previous relationship with him/her? That is the subject of the Bonus Tip below!

Bonus Tip - TALK about these things when you introduce yourself to a Recruiter. Be clear about recognizing the importance of these points and describe how you're committed to these. So rarely do contractors speak about any of these key aspects of the Contractor-Recruiter relationship that, by doing so, you will clearly differentiate yourselves from your competition. This may not seem like much, but I assure you this is "Gold" to your Recruiter. They will remember you and reach out when a suitable opportunity presents itself! Have you any tips for building great relationships with a staffing agency Recruiter? I encourage you to share these with other readers by commenting on this blog post. Good luck on your relationship building!