At the beginning of a job search, most people start the process by going online and creating a resume. Then they get down to the business of searching job boards and postings for open positions.
If you’ve gone this route before, then your browser’s likely become decorated with work-at-home and online degree ads, and your inbox is flooded with job-related scams. You might be able to tune out these ads and spam emails and assume they’re just part of the minor hassles you face in a digital world.
Then one day you receive an email that’s formatted and worded much like the spam you’ve been ignoring. It appears to be from somebody you don’t know, pitching a company you don’t recognize, but instead of tossing it this time, you actually read it.
And the offer doesn’t seem quite so strange. The salary and demands of the job seem real, and the company appears to be in you own hometown. So you reply to the message, and as it turns out, there is a real person on the other end who’s actually sending you a real posting for a real job that fits your career goals.
What’s going on?
Recruiters are people (real people, sure enough) who work either for recruiting firms or for individual employers. These employers have open positions to fill and aren’t getting the candidates they want simply by posting job ads.
To give the candidate search some additional power and focus, these companies hire recruiters who actively go out into the world and find job seekers who might be interested. The recruiters do this either by attending job fairs and networking events, or by gathering resumes that have been released into the wilderness of the online world.
You have two choices when a recruiter contacts you: You can pursue, or you can ignore.
Ignoring emails from recruiters won’t harm you in any way. In fact, if the job they describe doesn’t suit your needs or qualifications, ignoring these emails will help everyone save time and trouble.
If you respond, then the recruiter (or her company) will know that your resume is still active and you’re still looking for work. So if this job isn’t for you, they’ll probably send more opportunities as time goes by.
The recruiter will likely want to call you to discuss your fit for the job. If you seem like a match, she’ll collect an updated version of your resume and then formally pitch your application to the employer on your behalf. Before she does this, she may also want you to complete a few more steps, like a written test or a person-to-person interview with her in her office.
If the employer shows interest, you’ll proceed with the standard process of submitting a formal application and attending an interview. Even if you aren’t selected for this job, the recruiter may happily keep you in mind for future offers.
You don’t have to respond to every recruiter who contacts you. But when you’re dealing with recruiters, present yourself well and recognize that they’re valuable gatekeepers to opportunities you may not have discovered on our own.
Treat recruiter interviews like job interviews – because they are. And leave a friendly, competent impression with everyone you meet on your job search journey. You never know when you might see these people again.