How to Talk to a Recruiter: The Do's and Don'ts

A candidate is shaking hands with a recruiter

Despite the prominent role recruiters play in the employment market, many job seekers don't know how to talk to a recruiter.

In some cases, candidates may not understand the true function of recruiters or how they can help in a job search. A good recruiter can be a valuable ally, but a successful relationship depends on both parties carrying out their respective roles and responsibilities.

Discover the benefits of working with a financial staffing agency.

If you're considering working with a staffing agency, it's helpful to have some pointers on how to talk to a recruiter so you can make the most of this potentially valuable relationship. Here are three key questions to ask.

1. How will our communication work?

Clarify communication expectations at the start of the relationship. Find out whether you should reach out to the recruiter periodically, or if he or she will contact you. Ask about the person's communication preferences as well, such as whether you should call or email.

Making good use of your interpersonal skills demonstrates to the recruiter how you would respond with potential employers. You need to know not only how to talk to a recruiter but also when. Although staying in touch is important — especially returning a recruiter's emails and phone calls promptly — daily contact is not usually preferred. There's a difference between being proactive and being a pest. Recruiters are working for multiple candidates and clients and aren't able to give all their time and energy to one person's search.

2. Will you help me improve my resume?

Recruiters can offer helpful resume advice, especially when it comes to improving its wow factor in the eyes of a hiring manager. But don't expect them to write your resume for you. You are the only one who knows exactly how to state your job duties and accomplishments accurately.

Do be sure, though, to take advantage of the suggestions you're given. Taking a recruiter's resume advice paid off recently for a job seeker we helped who was trying to get back into accounting after working in a different field. The candidate had dropped his accounting experience from his resume because it wasn't recent. The recruiter suggested revising the resume to highlight this background. Soon after acting on this advice, the candidate landed the type of position he wanted.

Curious about the ins and outs of working with a financial staffing agency? Get answers in our FAQs to working with a finance recruiter.

3. Can you assess my marketability as a candidate?

One reason it's essential to know how to talk to a recruiter is because he or she can offer an insider's perspective on the job market. You should expect a candid appraisal of your strengths as a candidate, including the recruiter's opinion on everything from your salary expectations, interviewing skills, professional appearance and the likelihood of finding a position.

You should be prepared to receive unvarnished feedback and not get defensive. Keep in mind that reputable and experienced recruiters will have a good understanding of what their clients are looking for and can offer an honest assessment of your qualifications for a particular role.

Recruiters are in a unique position to bring employers and candidates together. They make it their business to understand the needs and preferences of both parties and take pride in their ability to expertly match these interests. By knowing how to talk to a recruiter, you can pave the way for a productive relationship that enhances your odds of finding a desirable position.

Ready to explore working with a Robert Half Finance & Accounting recruiter? See how it feels to have an expert ally on your side.


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