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I know this is one of the major complaints by candidates. I hear it all the time, “I send them my resume and they don’t reply. Most won’t even return my phone call.” As difficult as it is to say, for the most part these candidates are correct. That doesn’t mean it is right, it just means you are correct.
Similar to most at the manager level and above, when you are working, you are generally overwhelmed with things to do. So you have to prioritize. Some things are high priority and some things go on the low priority list. The low priority items may never get done, or may get done in the next few months. Generally, this depends on what other higher priority items trickle in.
Recruiters are really no different. We have to prioritize our day. Some things are high priority and other things are low priority. If you want to engage recruiters, your job when working with or contacting them should be to move up the priority list. Knowing how I, and many other recruiters prioritize, might help you do this.
Here is how I set priorities regarding the basic duties as a retained recruiter. Contingent recruiters might vary slightly, but when I was a contingent recruiter it wasn’t a whole lot different.
- Clients always come first. So some might ask, “Who is your client?” The company paying my fee is the client, not the candidate. Therefore, the company has first priority on my time. That means I will return their phone calls before a candidate’s, I will meet with them prior to a candidate, reply to their emails first, and screen resumes they send me first.
- Candidates on an active search. These are candidates that I’m actively working with on an existing retained search. They could be at any stage within that search which includes, recruiting ones I have identified, interviewing them, returning their calls or emails, reviewing their resume, meeting them, scheduling interviews, following up after an interview, compensation discussions, reference checking, or basically anything I need to do to move the candidate and the search to the next phase.
- Marketing. The next priority for me is marketing. This is meeting with clients and potential clients, attending networking meetings, and making sure I’m out in the market so that when a search comes up I’m the one that gets the call. When that call comes, refer to number 1 above.
Important but not a high priority. These I try to get to by the end of each day. Sometimes they spill over to the next day, but I usually try to complete these within 24 hours.
- Returning emails not related to a search from people I know or have worked with in the past. These are generally people updating me on their search, prior clients with a question, a request unrelated to an active search, general emails, and clearing SPAM. Sometimes I don’t get to these until the afternoon. I scan down the “sent from” and subject lines, and when I see someone I know I will read the email and then reply appropriately.
- Reply to emails and return calls that are a referral. If someone is referring a person to me, I will always reply. I respect the fact that they have taken the time to do this. I feel I owe the reply out of respect to the referring source.
- Return voice mail calls. Basically the same as above. I listen to them and clients get an immediate call. Anything to do with an active search gets a call. Others I evaluate and make a decision on what to do with them. Refer to low priority below for many, not all, of these calls.
- Return emails from those I don’t know. This is one of those low priorities that tick many candidates off. The good news is that you have a much higher chance of getting a return email than a phone call. I often try to catch up on these on the weekend or at night. Because of the large volume of these, I’m often two weeks behind.
- If you are just sending me an unsolicited resume, I may or may not reply to you. Generally not. I may take a look at the resume to see if it fits an active search. Probably less than 50% of the time I reply. This is why I preach, tweet, and blog, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON A RESUME SERVICE THAT WILL SEND YOUR RESUME TO 1,200 RECRUITERS. Save your money as most recruiters don’t even look at them. I doubt more than 5% of retained recruiters do.
- If the email is just to introduce yourself to me with no referral, I will probably just delete it. What else can I say? Like me or hate me, that is what will happen. (If it makes you feel better, then “yes” I spend hours late at night reading the hundreds of unsolicited resumes I receive on a weekly basis).
Lowest priority. So low that I have to be bored and/or very lonely to take action. I’m desperate to just talk to someone and my wife and kids are all busy. I have probably already called every person in my contact list, any tech support that I can possibly think of, and if it’s the only way to get out of having to watch Driving Miss Daisy or The English Patient, I will claim I have to return these phone calls.
- These are the voice mails that simply say, “Hi Brad, this is (fill in the blank) please call me at (fill in the number. I probably don’t even recognize the area code).” or “Hi Brad, this is (fill in the blank) I just want to introduce myself to you. Please call me at (fill in the blank).” I will apologize now to all of those I have offended. Sorry, if I didn’t return your call. It is just that I don’t have the time, and I rarely can help you. I know each call is going to take 5–10 minutes, and in the end, I can’t do anything for you. I used to make a list of these calls. When time permitted, I would work my way down the list but over time the list just got too big. For every 3 calls I returned, I added 5 or 6. I stopped adding to the list when it exceeded 100 calls to return. Sorry, but this many calls to return just isn’t possible. Heck, it is hard enough to reply to that many emails.
It isn’t personal, and please don’t take it personally, when recruiters don’t get back to you. Most recruiters are not trying to be rude, but as I said in the first paragraph, we only have so many hours, just like everyone else, and we have to manage our time too.
My guess is that most managers, when working, don’t have time to return calls from all of the sales people that call. My guess is that you also don’t return unsolicited calls you receive at home.
My hope with this article is two-fold:
- The most important of all is to save you money by discouraging you from using a resume blasting service. They are easy to find and often may even call you. When they do call you, do me and yourself a favor, DON’T RETURN THEIR PHONE CALL.
- Give you a path to getting to recruiters. Knowing the path of least resistance should help you. If you can’t get in the highest priority group, you may be able to move into the important but not high priority group. All this takes is some time and getting a referral. Most candidates are capable of getting a referral given all the networking tools available.
You can download for free many tools and resources from our Web site. For example, you can download a sample thank you letter. CLICK HERE to download.
If your search is stalled, you can download an 8-Point Job Search Assessment Scorecard. Use this to identify the areas in your job search that may be causing you to be stalled. CLICK HERE to download.
Finally, if you are a member of LinkedIn, you should join our Job Search Networking Group. Over 4,400 people have. It provides an extensive amount of resources and articles for you to take advantage of. CLICK HERE to join.
I welcome your comments and thoughts.