Job searching can feel like a never-ending quest. The seemingly unending polish of your resume and cover letter, and relentless searching for position postings that match most (if not all) of your career must-haves. It can be exasperating to not hear back from the companies you originally thought would call you within minutes of your submission.
So when a job recruiter calls you, it can be tempting to simply ask “where do I sign” without following the steps that will enable you to make a sound, effective decision for your career.
Qualify the Job Recruiter by Interviewing Him or Her
In case no one has ever told you this: yes, it is acceptable for you to ask questions. In fact, when a recruiter calls you, even as they are calling to interview you, it is critical that you consider (and ask) the following things during that call:
- The Who: Find out their name and contact information.
- The Where: Know what firm they are working for and how they found out about you.
- The What: Ask what it was about you and your background that makes them consider you a good fit for the open position.
It comes down to this: if you’re going to work with a recruiter, you want someone who is genuinely interested in you and how you will align with the position. But you also want someone who understands how the position will align with your best interests.
Listen to What is (and Isn’t) Said
Often when we ask a question, we forget to listen for the answer. Learn about the position they are calling about and determine if the job is actually a good fit for you. The recruiter’s main objective is to see if you are a good fit for the position, but you need to listen for answers to questions that will tip you off about the company culture, the goals for the open position, opportunities and challenges the company faces that may impact the position you’ve been called about, and what problems the company might be trying to solve that has driven them to seek a new hire.
Remember that sometimes, the best thing to listen for is what isn’t said. If the answers you get when a job recruiter calls leave you less than satisfied, you may need to delve deeper.
Consider the Compensation
Talking about the pay makes many people uncomfortable. But if you don’t know upfront what the compensation range will be, how can you know if this job is even a possibility for you?
In no way is this the appropriate time for full specifics on the salary package, but asking the initial question is completely within the scope of what is acceptable. Exude confidence when you ask. Don’t act like they are doing you a favor by answering your question. Instead, remember that the recruiter called you. When a recruiter calls you it is presumably because they believe you are a good fit for a position they are tasked with filling. This gives you the right to determine if the position is a good fit for you, including whether the pay being offered is in the ballpark of what you are looking to receive.
Other Points to Ponder
When a job recruiter calls you, some other points to consider to ensure you achieve success from the call are:
- Refer a Friend: Because you are looking for the best job for you, it’s ok to say no when a position (even a great position) isn’t the right fit for you. But a good policy is to refer the recruiter to someone you know who might actually be a great fit. This is helpful to the recruiter in a way that builds a relationship and helps them remember you. That way, if another position comes along that matches your needs, they will be more eager to reach out to you again.
- Get the Dirt: All companies have a reason for posting a position. There is a need in their business that must be filled and they are looking for an employee (like you) to provide the solutions they are looking to find. Your job when a recruiter calls you is to find out what that problem is and determine how you can show that you are the ideal candidate (assuming you are) to help the company achieve their goals. How can your unique abilities meet the challenge and deliver the solutions?
- Be Sure: A common mistake people make is to give references before they are certain the position being offered is what they want. Hold off on providing this information until after formal interviews when you are sure you’re interested enough to sign on the bottom line.
Be Prepared When a Job Recruiter Calls You
In the same way (hopefully!) that you wouldn’t send out your resume without proofreading it several times, don’t wait until the phone rings before considering what to do when a recruiter calls you. Be prepared. Organize your thoughts. Have a game plan. Ultimately, you’ll be paving the way to your job search success.