by Meridith Levinson

How NOT to Piss Off a Recruiter

Feb 19, 20093 mins

Job seekers need recruiters more than ever. But in their efforts to nurture their networks and stay at the forefront of recruiters’ minds, some job seekers are frustrating the very people they need to help them land a new job

Executive recruiters tell me that job seekers are inundating them with calls and e-mails to inquire about the job market and seek advice on how to land a job in a recession.

The recruiters tell me that they want to help everyone who’s contacting them, but they don’t have time. The economy has made their jobs much harder. Drumming up business, hunting for candidates and convincing them to take a new job requires much more time and effort in a recession. As one recruiter put it: “Spending 30 minutes with somebody to give them career counsel is not always going to be feasible. If we accepted every request we got, it would kill our day.”

What the recruiters are telling me—though not in so many words—is that some job seekers are really pissing them off. In their efforts to get time with headhunters, over-aggressive job seekers are actually alienating themselves from the very people they need to help them find jobs.

If you’re looking for a job and you want to stay on good terms with recruiters, heed the following advice they shared with me:

1. Be respectful of recruiters’ time.

Realize headhunters can’t devote a half hour of their day to answering your questions about the job market and your résumé. Ask them for five minutes, and don’t exceed that five minutes. Have a specific question for them, and if possible, have something you can give back, whether it’s a contact or information about the market or one of the recruiter’s clients.

2. Don’t send bland e-mails.  

E-mails that simply say ‘Hi. How are you? Do you have any new positions?’ don’t endear recruiters to job seekers. Cut-and-paste e-mails rub recruiters the wrong way because they’re not personal. Recruiters are relationship people. Recruiters say job seekers may have a better chance of building a relationship with them if the job seeker catches the recruiter on the phone. Phone calls are inherently more personal than e-mails.

3. Don’t call the recruiter at the same time every week.

Calling a particular recruiter at the same time every week makes them feel like a cog in your call cycle. And routine calls aren’t very personal. Rather than calling them every week, stick to every couple of weeks, and vary the days and times you call.

4. Don’t send recruiters your résumé every time you update it.

Recruiters say they are generally happy to give job seekers advice on their résumés. Just don’t send your résumé to them every time you update it, expecting feedback. They don’t have time to give you feedback on every version, and they don’t want to see every iteration.