Did it ever occur to you that the job search is a little bit like dating? The similarities are pretty striking. If you are working with a recruiter, whether an internal human resources talent acquisition recruiter or an external Executive Search professional, on your search, bringing your A-game is especially important. In fact, as a recruiter, I often think of myself as a Match Maker (I know, it does sound a little lame) since I try to find the right cultural and personal fit between a candidate and company.
Here are 7 tips to make you more attractive to recruiters.
- Presentation.Take care with your appearance. When you come in to meet with a recruiter, you need to treat it like a job interview–or a first date. Making a good first impression is crucial. Even if your office is casual, you should dress professionally and conservatively when you meet with a recruiter. Don’t rush into the meeting sweaty and out of breath. Instead, you should plan to arrive fifteen minutes early. Stop into a Starbucks bathroom to double-check your hair, face, and makeup before you go into the recruiter’s office.
- Be aware of the way you carry yourself. Like your appearance, your behavior says a lot to a recruiter about your attitude. Be polite when interacting with administrative staff at the office. When you start the meeting, don’t just toss your purse on the couch and slam your coffee mug and cell phone on the table. Be clear with the recruiter on how much time you have allotted for the meeting. If you realize that you have to cut it short, be straightforward and polite–don’t just look at your watch every minute, which is rude and will make you appear distracted.
- Laid off? Avoid the desperation trap. If you’ve been laid off, you are naturally dealing with a range of difficult emotions. But don’t display them all on your face. It’s crucially important not to appear desperate. When speaking with the recruiter, try your best not to give the impression that you are shell-shocked, anxiety-ridden, or nervous. Confidence is your friend. Switching back to the dating paradigm, you wouldn’t go on a first date with your eyes red and puffy right after a break-up, would you?
- Trying to switch careers? Think again. If you’ve been on one career path for the past ten years and you want to dramatically change directions now, you might be out of luck. Of course, the opportunities available depend on the industry you are hoping to enter, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to move right into a totally different field at the same level of seniority you currently have without the necessary experience. Take a good look at the reason why you want to leave your current situation. Maybe you have misdiagnosed the problem. If you are unhappy, is it possible that a new work environment might improve your career? Why not consider moving to a different company, in a different location? Going from a small firm to a big firm (or vice versa), getting out of a dysfunctional organization with unsolvable problems, or getting away from difficult coworkers might be the solution you are seeking.
- Leave the bitterness and negativity at home. So you just got home from a first date. Thinking back, you realize that the entire date was taken up with your companion’s laundry list of complaints about his life, negative comments and victim stories from past relationships, and his general sense of dissatisfaction with his current situation. Are you going to call him again? Probably not. Just as it is in the dating world, negativity in the hiring world is a huge turn-off. In addition to the fact that it makes the interview unpleasant, a negative attitude says more about you than about your past companies and coworkers or bosses. It shows that you prefer to be resentful and angry, rather than change or address an issue; it also shows that you refuse to take responsibility for your own life. If you are dissatisfied with your current situation, simply communicate clearly to the recruiter that you feel you are ready to move on and you are actively seeking a new role.
- Don’t be pushy, don’t be annoying. Just like in dating, the same rules apply. No matter how wonderful your first date was, when you check your phone the next day and see 18 missed calls from that person, you are likely going to want to keep your distance. “What is wrong with him?”, you may think. It’s not so different with recruiters. If you call or e-mail every day, hounding them for a response, they may just start to tune you out. The reality is that recruiters receive such a high volume of correspondence each day that they simply cannot acknowledge or return every phone call or e-mail. However, you can rest assured that you will hear from a recruiter if they are interested in you. If they aren’t, they won’t contact you. Hounding them won’t change that reality.
- Communication is paramount. Be ready to speak candidly and clearly about your current situation and what you are seeking. You need to be prepared to give the recruiter a clear picture of your position. Of course the recruiter will need to know where you work now, and what your responsibilities are in your current role, but they also need to hear from you what you are looking for. What salary or responsibilities would entice you to leave? What dealbreakers would prevent you from accepting an offer? Think these questions over and determine your response to them before you sit down with the recruiter. It will save both of you a lot of time and headaches.