Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Contact a Recruiter on LinkedIn

So, you are in the midst of your job search and want to increase your chances of landing an interview by contacting a recruiter directly.  Let me clarify that your goal is to connect with a Corporate Recruiter or HR person, not an agency recruiter or headhunter.

Here are some tips from a Corporate Recruiter:

  1. Leverage the LinkedIn Advanced Search.  In the keywords section, type the following:  "human resources" OR recruiter OR "talent acquisition" OR recruiting OR HR.  [If you are not familiar with boolean and would love to dominate Google search, then you might want to look into this.  It's a great skill to have in any role.]  In the company section, type the company you are interested in.  Select current.  Submit your search.  This should return a list of possible people to contact who will either be working on the open requisition you want to apply for or at least know how to put you in contact with the person who is responsible for the role you are applying.
  2. Connect with the Recruiter and include a short message in your LinkedIn request.  You only have so many characters available so make the most of it.  I would recommend something like, "I recently moved to San Diego and am interested in your open Sales Manager role.  I am also interested in networking with you for other possible opportunities."  I always select "We've Done Business Together" if I don't have any other options.  The note explains the rest.  Another option is to look at the Groups the recruiter belongs to and join one of them.  Then you can select the "Group" option in your connection request.
  3. Follow Up.  Once the Recruiter has accepted your request, follow up with a more detailed message.  Make this your "cover letter".  See my previous post on How to Write a Cover Letter for some tips to employ.
  4. Be Positive.  In many cases, your best efforts are just going to get the Recruiter to take a 1st or 2nd look at your resume.  If you are not what they are looking for and they let you know that, then please do not argue.  Politely thank them, let them know you are very interested in the company, are open to future opportunities, and wish them the best of luck in their search.  You can try to ask for feedback, but in most cases, legal liability will not allow them to give you any.  Plus, now that you are connected to them, you will be more likely to see any new job openings they post.  And since most recruiters are extremely connected in the community, you might be able to leverage that connection in your job search.  As an individual on LinkedIn, you are limited by who you can see by the number of people you are connected with, but when you add a recruiter, then all their contacts become 2nd connections.  You gain more visibility to other recruiters and HR professionals which can only be a plus.
  5. Put Yourself in the Recruiter's Shoes.  When in doubt, put yourself in the recruiter seat.  This will give you insights into whether or not what you are asking or saying is appropriate or inappropriate.  I have had candidates argue profusely with me about the fact that they are the perfect person for the role, to the extent that they leave me a voicemail every day and curse my incompetence and yell at me.  While this may be extreme, you can only imagine how scary and threatening this behavior can seem.  I am trying to find the best employee for my jobs, and this kind of scenario only confirms to me that I was right in believing this person was not a good culture fit for my company.
  6. Think Strategically.  Sometimes, when I meet new people and they find out I'm in HR, I can get some mixed reactions depending on people's personal experiences with HR professionals and recruiters.  I have been at a party before, when a guest found out I was in HR and immediately went into a rant about how HR is the reason why she did not have a job because hiring managers always want to interview her and then HR puts a stop to it.  Now, I recruit and interview for a living.  No one knows the recruiting and interview process better than a corporate recruiter.  If she had asked, I probably could have told her that perhaps the hiring manager did want to interview her but did not have approved budget, and then we could have brainstormed together how she could approach this situation if it were to come up again or look at strategies for any other future opportunities.  If you have the opportunity to meet someone at your ideal company, step back and think strategically about how you want to approach the conversation.  Many times, I cannot give feedback to someone applying to one of my company's open positions, but I am usually open to giving general advice and feedback to candidate's applying to other jobs.
Remember that how you approach a recruiter online or in person is a reflection of the type of employee you are.  Make sure you are representing yourself and your personal brand in an intentional way.  Think of the words you would want the recruiter to use when describing you to the hiring manager.  I personally like the words "Polished" and "Successful".  Make sure you ask yourself "Does my profile or my message seem like the reflection of someone who is polished and successful?"  This way you are managing your personal brand and representing yourself in a purposeful way.  

What do you think?  What two words would you use to describe your personal brand?

You Might Also Enjoy:

Salary Negotiation
How to Ask for a Raise
How to Interview
How to Prepare for an Interview

Online Profile Social Media
Why You Need an Profile

Human Resources
How to Figure Out Company Culture


  1. Such excellent advice. I never thought to join a group a recruiter belongs to. Also love the words polished and successful. So much better than the overused term professional.

  2. Thank you Savvy WorkingGal! I've been reading your posts on Lean In. We read that in our employee book club. I really enjoyed it.

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