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Journey to landing your first job Part 3: Reaching out to recruiters

How to land your first job: reaching out to recruiters

In the first two parts of this series, I talked about making a resume and how you can write a cover letter for the job you want. In this part, we’re going to focus on how you can become a step closer to landing your first job i.e., reaching out to recruiters. 

And to get started, you first need to know the kind of recruiter you’re reaching out to and the kind of positions they hire for so that you position yourself in the right way.

Understanding recruiters

Even though recruiters are employed by organizations, they provide numerous benefits to those looking for a job. For instance, they share details about the job openings, conduct interviews, and even make job offers in some cases. They also help save time by giving you information that you might only obtain after extensive research.

Plus, they have inside information about job openings that isn’t public yet. For instance, while you’re speaking to a posted position, they might suggest you consider a different opportunity at the same company – one that hasn’t been posted yet.

There are three kinds of recruiters: executive, external, and internal. 

Executive recruiters

As you might have guessed from the term, executive recruiters usually hire for VP-level or higher roles (even confidential roles not posted publicly). Since you’re just starting out, there’s no need to reach out to executive recruiters. 

External recruiters

External recruiters specialize in certain business areas (like some only recruit lawyers) and don’t work for the organization that has the job opening. The tricky thing about external recruiters is that they sometimes compete with internal recruiters who are also working on filling the same role. So, if an internal recruiter is able to find a good-enough candidate, you might lose out just because you’re the candidate of an external recruiter.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad news. External recruiters are usually hired because internal recruiters have completely exhausted their search and it’s time to bring in an expert. Plus, external recruiters usually keep a database of potential candidates since they might be recruiting for the same position at multiple companies.

Internal recruiters

Internal recruiters cater to a certain part of the company, like finance, marketing, and engineering. So, for instance, if you want a marketing job but you reach out to a finance recruiter, you won’t likely get any response.

When it comes to internal recruiters, a referral from an employee or someone close to the recruiter will increase your chances of success compared to just a generic email.

How to approach the recruiter

You now know the kinds of recruiters and the one you should be targeting. Now comes the most important part: approaching a recruiter. When doing so, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is asking recruiters to help them. The problem with this is, the recruiters don’t know you, you’re not paying them, and it’s not their job to help.

For this reason, you should only reach out to a recruiter after you do your research, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and ensure that you’re ready to sit for an interview. Also, make sure that you reach out to the recruiter for only one of two reasons: you can help them fill up an opening and you’re sure that they recruit for the industry or role you’re interested in.    

Helping them to fill up an opening

If you see a job opening but can’t find the name of the recruiter, head over to LinkedIn and search for the company name and the word “source,” “head hunter,” or “recruiter.” Then, go through the profiles that come up to know their areas of focus. Finding the recruiter who recruits for your field increases the chance of getting a response. 

When reaching out, make sure you include the job opening, add the link to the posting, list your capabilities and skills, and explain how you can be a valuable asset to the company. When doing so, make sure you use the keywords used in the job description. If you’re a good fit for the role, there’s a high chance that you’ll get a response. But if you don’t get a response, don’t worry too much; it could just be bad timing or you might just not be the right person for the job. 

You’re sure they recruit for the role you want

If you’re not sure if the recruiter is recruiting for a particular role, but you’re sure that they’re responsible for filling the role you’re interested in, then you can try your luck here. And if the recruiter does have a role that you could fill, then there’s a good chance of you getting a response. Otherwise, they’ll just store your information for later for when they have an opening. 

However, keep in mind that while recruiters do want to fill up openings with the right candidates, they don’t work for you; they work for companies. Don’t think of them as roadblocks; instead, think of them as gateways to your next role.

Tips to contacting a recruiter  

To be truly successful in landing your first job, you need to have a good strategy, which includes communicating with the recruiter in the right way and the way you reach out to them. To get you started, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Be precise

Recruiters are responsible for multiple listings in addition to other duties, which means they only have a limited time for a candidate’s inquiries. By being specific in your communication, you increase the chances of you getting a response. 

But what exactly does it mean to be specific? Some examples include information about the hiring timeline, a request to be connected to an individual on a hiring team, and confirmation of an application you submitted. Compared to generic inquiries, such inquiries give you a point of entry.

Show that you did your homework

While recruiters can share information that isn’t publicly available, you should still show that you did your own research. Doing so demonstrates your dedication and helps assure you that your experiences and goals are aligned with the jobs you’re inquiring about.

Keep it short and sweet

Recruiters have a lot on their plate and they prefer communicating with prospective employees in a very concise and straightforward manner. This is why you should keep your initial communication simple and clear. There’s no need to give them extensive details about your work history or even yourself just for a screening interview. 

Instead, clearly state the purpose of your outreach. Include a request for support or a list of specific questions, ideally yes or no questions, so that recruiters can easily and quickly get back to you.

Be mindful of who you’re talking to

Even though recruiters are there to help, you shouldn’t forget that they’re still prospective employers, which means you should be courteous, make reasonable requests, and be accommodating of their schedule. Avoid using casual language, following up numerous times, or sending messages without proofreading.

Remember, they’re close to the hiring manager, and making a good first impression is important. The way you interact with them hints at your interpersonal and communication skills, so how you communicate with them is key to landing your job.

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