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 Educating the Recruiter on Your Candidacy

By Joe Stein

It may seem odd or curious to you (as a job seeker) when faced with a Recruiter who contains only a minimum level of knowledge regarding the position being sought. It may seem obvious that the Recruiter should be knowledgeable about the requirements or details of the position, but that is often not the case and probably for good reason.
If the Recruiter is just a collector of resumes, then this lack of knowledge may not be a big deal at all to you. If, however, the Recruiter is doing more than just collecting documents for the Hiring Manager and is actually going to make some candidate eliminations, then you need to be prepared to educate this person.
Let’s first examine why a Recruiter may not be as knowledgeable about an open position as you would expect:
• A Recruiter Is Typically Not a Technical Expert – There are some exceptions in areas such as nursing recruiting or perhaps in IT, but typically a “Recruiter is a Recruiter”. Their job is to fill open positions, usually in a variety of functional areas, without any specific expertise.
• Recruiters Carry a Heavy Workload – The typical Recruiter usually carries a pretty heavy requisition workload. They only have the time to learn about and look for basic items regarding the open position. A large number of openings usually means lots of Hiring Managers hounding the Recruiter for qualified candidates as quickly as possible. Each of these Hiring Managers are thinking that he/she should be the #1 priority. It is a difficult job.
• Tough for Recruiters to Get Information – In some situations, it is tough for a Recruiter to obtain needed information from a Hiring Manager, even when it is sought out. You would think a Hiring Manager would make all the time necessary to educate a Recruiter, but oftentimes that Hiring Manager is pulling double duty, making up for the open position.
You should expect that you will encounter a Recruiter who does not possess deep knowledge of the role. So, how should a candidate adapt his/her approach in order to connect with a Recruiter? Let’s examine some easy tips for you to consider.
• Write a User-Friendly Resume – A Recruiter has limited time to review each resume and is primarily looking for key words that match the basic requirements of the position. Consider taking the time to carefully review the job posting and tailor your resume to what is being asked for. Keep in mind that the job posting is what the Recruiter is using as a guide, so if your resume contains the same terms, then you have an advantage. Also, make sure that these key terms are easily found in your document, as a Recruiter will only do a cursory read of each Resume. If he/she does not quickly find the words being sought then it is easy to just move on to the next resume.
• Include a Cover Letter – For some reason, job seekers are declining (to a greater degree) the opportunity to include a Cover Letter. A Cover Letter provides a key chance for you to make a connection with the Recruiter in order to receive greater consideration. You can also include key information, such as a brief explanation for a gap in employment or when you are relocating back to the area that will save the Recruiter the effort of having to guess your situation.
• Speak the Right Language – If you get the opportunity to participate in a phone conversation or interview with the Recruiter, be sure to speak in a language understood. Just like in your resume, use the key words that the Recruiter is looking for based on the posting. Be wary of using too much jargon, acronyms, or slang that are tied to this functional area, as the Recruiter won’t understand. You can even politely check for understanding if you feel that the interview may be getting a bit technical in nature.
• Don’t Get Frustrated – It might be easy to start feeling frustrated by having to over explain what you feel are basic items, but you can’t allow this to visibly show. You will also need to suppress any (intentional or not) condescending attitude towards the Recruiter because he/she does not possess your technical knowledge. The Recruiter may not fully understand what you are saying, but will pick up if you are pandering to them.
It is not unusual to tailor your communication style and message based on the audience. We really do this every day, whether we are speaking to friends, a Manager, or children at home. The concept is really not any different in this situation, in that you have to connect with a Recruiter who probably does not possess your technical knowledge. The key is to find a common language, based on the job posting that will allow you to easily communicate your message that you are the best candidate.