Your phone rings …
When you answer, you hear a fast-talking voice that sounds like a used car salesman. Eventually, you realize it’s not an insurance company, it’s a recruiter.
Wow – someone’s calling you about your resume! Happy Day! You might be anticipating that your job search is almost over and that you’ll start your new position in a couple of weeks.
Hold your horses, Zippy! Not so fast.
How do you know if this smooth talking recruiter has gained the trust of the employer? How do you know if this call is even about a real job? How do you know if this call is just a waste of your time?
Why would a recruiter call you without a real job – wouldn’t that also waste their time? Recruiters commonly call candidates without real jobs to offer. Recruiters consider this advance recruiting, so they have candidates in their inventory to match opportunities that might (or might not) arise in the future.
In addition, recruiters have minimum daily call requirements, just to keep their job. This is how rookies are trained, so even independent recruiters have likely been trained that the key to their sales planning centers on daily minimum calls. Since recruiters are trained to get job leads from candidates, calls without real jobs aren’t a waste of time to a recruiter … but they might be a waste of your time.
How can you recognize when a recruiter’s call is wasting your time? Easy, since I’ve developed a simple guide for you.
11 Ways To Tell If A Recruiter Is Wasting Your Time
- Ask for the employer’s name: A recruiter who won’t divulge the name of the company they are recruiting for, is likely recruiting for inventory. Even if a recruiter feeds you a line that they won’t divulge names until an interview is offered, the recruiter is probably either building candidate inventory or they aren’t being truthful. Either way, don’t waste your time.
- Ask for the job requirements: A recruiter that has a real job with a real company will have real job requirements … with details. During slow times, recruiters often call candidates about jobs they see on job boards, before they’ve gotten approval from the company to actually recruit candidates. It’s part of a rookie recruiter’s training, and how they build their book of business. A recruiter who doesn’t have these details, either isn’t recruiting for a real job or doesn’t have a relationship with the hiring manager. Both are bad signs that they are wasting your time.
- Ask the name and position of the hiring manager: While it’s a good sign if the recruiter answers your question, it’s not necessarily a bad sign if they won’t. Many recruiters won’t answer this, because they’ve been burned in the past by candidates who have gone directly to a hiring manager, bypassing the recruiter.
- Ask the history of this position: A recruiter with a relationship with the hiring manager should be able to tell you if this is a new or replacement position, and if a replacement … why is it open? A recruiter who won’t answer this question either doesn’t know or could be hiding a bad story.
- Ask for the salary range: Recruiters who have real jobs also have defined salary ranges. If a recruiter deflects this question or says that the salary range is still being determined, they either don’t have a relationship with the hiring manager or they are setting you up for negotiation games. Transparency about salary issues is a good sign that there’s a real job behind the call.
- Ask how many other candidates the recruiter’s presenting for this job: If you get a confident answer, you’re being presented as one of the last candidates. If the recruiter doesn’t yet know, you’re at the beginning of the search (assuming the recruiter has already passed your “real job” tests).
- Ask about the recruiter’s history with the hiring manager: There’s a big difference in how the hiring manager perceives a recruiter that has provided many great team members over the years vs. a recruiter who talked to the hiring manager once or twice. That perception also reflects on you, because it determines how much the hiring manager is likely to trust the recruiter. With no trust built, you have little chance, even if you’re the best candidate.
- Ask how many positions the recruiter has filled in the past year for the hiring manager? And for the company?: A recruiter who has filled dozens of positions for the hiring manager over the past year has gained the hiring manager’s trust – the hiring manager believes what the recruiter tells them, so the recruiter has actual influence over the hiring process. A recruiter who has filled many positions for the company over the past year, but not many for the hiring manager may have a contract with the company (offering discounted fees), but doesn’t yet have much influence over the hiring decision – because the recruiter hasn’t yet gained much trust. Recruiters who have placed few positions with the hiring manager or company are at the bottom of the heap in the employer’s eyes … so guess where the hiring manager will see you?
- Ask how urgent is this position? When the hiring manager wants the new person on board?: The key to this question is how confidently the recruiter answers this question. Don’t hold them to the answer, because they don’t control urgency, and a thousand other things can delay an employer’s decision process.
- Ask does the recruiter have an exclusive, or are other recruiters competing for this job order also?: This is more of a gauge to see if the recruiter has been telling you the truth. There’s always competition, unless the recruiter is a retained recruiter (flat fee paid up front) or the company has an exclusive contract prohibiting use of other recruiters (often ignored by hiring managers). A contingent recruiter who claims exclusivity is either lying to you, or too dense to realize the employer is lying to them.
- At the end of the conversation, ask what is the next step in the process: This is a closing question that can give you insight if the recruiter wants to present you to the client, or consider you inventory. A recruiter who wants to present you, will tell you that you’re being presented. If a recruiter tells you that they will consider all candidates after ___ happens, you’re not in the running.
Since successful candidates realize that so much of job search is time management, it’s critical to invest as much of your time as possible in the opportunities where your odds are good. This means you need to recognize the poor odds, so you can blow them off.
Now you’ve got a guide that can help you separate the wheat from the chaff …
Candidates – Do you have anything to add to this list? How do you tell when a recruiter is wasting your time?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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