How does one speak with a recruiter?
January 2, 2017 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting ready to make a career transition and am looking at a lot of different options, but I want to make sure the next step I make is the right one. Recently I was contacted by a in house recruiter (not a headhunter) for a company who said they saw my resume and invited me to apply to a few jobs they have open. I'd like to find out more about the positions but would like to know more about how one works with a recruiter.

In my previous job lives I've usually found a job I was interested in, worked the networking angle intensely, finding someone I could talk to on the inside separate from the interview process to find out what they were looking for and sussing out the org. Those folks sometimes mightve put in a good word for me as well. From there, id be able to tailor my application and interview towards that.

Here I've been contacted by a recruiter and invited to apply, but not specifically one position. I asked to speak with them more before I officially applied. How should I approach this? Do I treat it like a job interview and be more protected in what I reveal and be careful about what I say, bringing my a game to show that ive researched and can be a good fit? Or can I be more candid in that I am genuinely interested but don't know the company culture and what they're looking for and how the organization works closely so I want to ask more?

I realize this is all company specific, but I'd be interested in hearing mefites experiences in how they discussed potential opportunities with in house recruiters with organizations they didnt know a lot about.

My main goal is finding out more for what the job position will require in terms of skill set and to ensure I'm what they're looking for, as well the work logistics like pay and benefits. Being able to learn more to bring my A game to the interview is great too.
posted by Karaage to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This one: I am genuinely interested but don't know the company culture and what they're looking for and how the organization works closely so I want to ask more. The recruiter has information you need, so ask good questions and use them as a resource. Ask where they think your skills would fit best and what in your background led them to contact you.

The only thing to be careful of is to not do anything overly weird... like no matter how nice they seem, don't ask them out (yes, happened to me*) or make weird jokes or otherwise get overly familiar.

*he invited me to a wedding no less
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't think the things you're suggesting are mutually exclusive at all! Yes, this is basically like an interview, but if you are treating this like an interview, you also should be asking about things like the company culture, what they're looking for, and how the organization works. That's exactly the kind of thing someone should ask during an interview!

IME in-house recruiters are going to be more on your side than anyone else in the hiring process, because, like hiring mangers, they are evaluated on how many people they hire, but unlike hiring mangers, they don't have to deal directly with managing personnel budgets or the consequences of hiring bad employees :-). So they are generally going to want you to get hired and will introduce you to people at the company, give you tips on the interview process, etc. The only way you can screw things up with the recruiter is by coming off as totally unqualified or uninterested in the company -- they don't want to waste their time with people who have no chance of getting hired or who they don't believe will accept a job offer.
posted by phoenixy at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2017


I think the recruiter is a great person to ask all these questions to since they're incentivized to get you to apply once they already have picked you out as qualified. They also have a good sense of how the company works overall. They'll be much more heavy and polished on the spin and selling the company and the corporate speak than in an actual interview with a regular employee. So just remember that they're salesmen and are trying to convince you to work there as much as possible.

This isn't completely relevant but I recommend if possible working with third party recruiters. I read many scary things online about recruiters but they were just so convenient that I worked with three different ones anyway. They were great at discovering opportunities for me! In my industry they get around 25% of the first year of your salary so they have an incentive to find you a job. I asked my recruiter things like, "Would you recommend sending a thank you note? Should I send it to the hiring manager or just send it through you? What should I expect in the interviews, do I have to wear a suit or can I dress more casually?" and they gave me very helpful responses. The areas to take what they say with a grain of salt is anything they say about salary, I ended up with a much higher salary at a job none of them suggested (my theory is they have an incentive to point you towards the lowest salary you'll accept since that makes it the highest chance that the job will accept you and then they get the awesome commission). They also will suggest some jobs which are a little bit of a stretch for your qualifications so depending how much time you have you should be more or less selective with going through with those reach jobs.

Overall though, I found them excellent sources for uncovering all kinds of jobs I never would have found on my own and for bouncing ideas off of and helping to clarify my pitch for what exactly I'm looking for and why. Every recruiter I worked with I had a brief (up to 30 minutes) phone interview to describe my background and what I wanted and with one group I came in person to describe myself in even more detail. They're also good job interview practice as they have an incentive to tell you if you could improve your pitch or anything else since they want you to do as well in interviews as you possibly can!

As someone else said, don't forget they're not you're friends and at the end of the day they want you to accept any job they refer you to as quickly as possible. So I would really not rely on them at all to help you in the job decision part once you have offers. One recruiter (I turned down job offers from every company he referred me to) told me that, "My transparency was refreshing and it was a pleasure working with me". I kept him informed within reason and didn't try to lie, telling him that company A he referred me to was not my top choice but I would consider it if they offered me a job. It's definitely a game that you're playing with them, but it's hard to lose too badly and I think most of the recruiters that work with real agencies with websites and linkedins are not scummy.
posted by aaabbbccc at 11:21 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


My internal recruiter was very easy to work with - she had a specific job in mind based on my online presence, contacted me, we talked briefly about the company and the position and then she sent me the job specifics so I could write a resume for it. After that it was all between me and the hiring manager, until they made an offer. At that point she came back in and handled the salary and benefits negotiation - she came in immediately at the top of our discussed salary range with no games and took care of getting me some perks.

They were great at discovering opportunities for me! In my industry they get around 25% of the first year of your salary so they have an incentive to find you a job.

That also means they're eating the budget that you can negotiate salary and a signing bonus from. There are some good third party recruiters out there, but in tech jobs at least, my experience has been that many of them will throw almost any candidate at any job in hopes of getting that sweet, sweet commission.
posted by Candleman at 5:44 AM on January 3, 2017


The bar for success in this initial meeting is lower than you might think. Yes, you should be more candid in that I am genuinely interested but don't know the company culture and what they're looking for and how the organization works closely. All employers want to hire people who are interested in their company. You really can't go wrong in showing that interest.

The only "don'ts" are those that apply to all interviewing situations: don't be late; don't forget to turn your phone off; don't chew gum, etc., etc.

That also means they're eating the budget that you can negotiate salary and a signing bonus from.

Please do not generalize like this. As a third party recruiter with over 25 years' experience I can tell you that while there are some employers who operate like this, there are others who pay recruiter fees from an entirely separate budget.
posted by John Borrowman at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


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