There are two kinds of recruiters. There are polite and professional recruiters, and then there are impolite and unprofessional ones. Because it is easy to start a recruiting business or start making calls as the newest member of a commission-only recruiting firm, there are more unprofessional and impolite recruiters than polite and professional ones. That makes things harder for the excellent recruiters who take great care of their candidates and their clients. These 10 questions will help you determine whether a recruiter who contacts you is worth your time and energy, or not.
- Are you calling me about a specific role, or collecting information for your database? (You can decide whether or not you want to donate your time to populate the recruiting firm’s database, if there is no actual, relevant job opening for you to explore right now.)
- Tell me about yourself. How long have you been recruiting? How long have you been with your current firm? (You can look up the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile while you are chatting by phone. Read their profile to get a feel for the recruiter’s experience, subject-matter expertise and credibility.)
- How many employees did you place with this employer client this year? (You want to determine whether the headhunter who calls you has a real relationship with the client, or is just tossing resumes at the employer and hoping they’ll become a client by hiring one of the recruiter’s candidates.)
- What is the job title and what is the salary range for the position? (If the recruiter won’t tell you the salary range, you can politely hang up the phone. Professional recruiters will tell you what the job pays. After all — they reached out to you! If they are coy and cagey with you about something as fundamental as the salary range for a position, you don’t have time to waste with them.)
- Where is the position located (downtown, west side, etc.)?
- What kind of background and which skills is your client looking for?
- I have certain requirements for recruiters who wish to represent me to their clients. I need to give you written permission every time you share my resume with a client or a prospective client of yours. I also need to hear back from you within two or three days after every interview that I participate in, whether the client has made a decision or not. Do those two requirements work for you?
- As you review my LinkedIn profile, how much overlap do you see with the job opportunity we’re discussing?
- If I send you my resume now, what will be the next step, and when will that next step take place?
- What else do you need to know about me?
Some recruiters will be happy to answer your questions, and some of them will try to wrest control of the call from you. They will be affronted that a lowly job candidate would presume to ask them about their background or their relationship with the client firm. They are used to treating job candidates like dirt, the way unprofessional recruiters have done for years. Those folks believe that candidates must be kept off-balance by being reminded that there are lots of qualified people out there (false), that they are a ‘stretch’ candidate for the job anyway (obviously false — why would the recruiter have time to include them in a candidate slate if they’re not clearly qualified?) or that their salary requirements are really pushing the envelope (if you’ve done your research, false again!). They are used to making job candidates feel dispensable and small.
Your career and your precious mojo are too important to entrust to someone who doesn’t value them! Save your time and attention for the recruiters — and employers — who deserve them.