Why It’s Smart to Take Recruiter Calls

Why it's smart to take recruiter callsA lot of busy executives don’t want to be bothered by recruiters.

Until they need them.

I always smile when a client says, “How do I get my résumé to an executive recruiter?”

If you want to play in the retained executive search game, you have to let them know YOU’RE willing to play.

And that means spending a few minutes chatting the next time they call, instead of ditching them to voicemail.

I say “retained executive search” because it’s an important distinction. Think Heidrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry, and the boutique firms that open when recruiters from the big firms strike out on their own. They will often use the same sophisticated recruiting processes and be just as valuable to your career.

The next time a recruiter calls you, be sure you understand their perspective, then consider these points. 

  • His or her research team will have identified you as a possible match based on the size of your current company and your title – and possibly other qualifiers they’ve found about you (LinkedIn, press releases, industry articles, pay-for-information services, Hoovers, etc). Otherwise, you wouldn’t be getting a phone call.
  • S/he will respect your time. If you’re not the right fit, s/he’ll end the call quickly and you can get on with your day. Qualifying you usually takes about 5-7 minutes. S/he’s on billable time, so s/he’s not going to waste anybody’s time.

An executive search consultant is doing a highly specific job with highly specific metrics. Next time one calls, think twice before having your assistant deflect the call.


  • Establish a connection. If nothing else, you’ll develop a “loose tie.” I’ll write later about Malcolm Gladwell’s findings on “loose ties” in The Tipping Point.
  • Offer names of other possible candidates. The conversation may begin with the recruiter asking whether you have ideas about folks who may be a fit for their search. They may be legitimately asking (assume they are), or they may be opening a door for you to say, “It might sound interesting to me.”
  • Send your résumé, if asked. It will be kept in confidence and you may end up in their database. Take time now to weave industry-specific keywords into your résumé copy so it’s ready when they call.


  • Nag if s/he determines you’re not a fit. S/he’s paid well to do the job. Suggesting otherwise by advocating your case too boldly will assure that you’re not included in future searches. It’s bad manners and smells like desperation. A good recruiter is looking for people who are happy in their jobs, for whom a next step is unexpected and might make them even happier. Actually, when you’re happiest and most productive is when you should consider new opportunities. It’s when you have the most leverage.
  • Generate unsolicited inbound phone calls. If you’re a potential candidate, s/he’ll let you know and share next steps.
  • Invest too emotionally, too early. If you’re identified as a possible candidate, you’ll be treated like a partner in continuing to identify your candidacy. Along the way, both you and the recruiter will be constantly assessing your fit to the opportunity. So relax. And don’t be afraid to let the opportunity go (politely) if it’s not right for you.

Want to get on a recruiter’s radar? Play the game. Introduce this quiet, effective career development tool into your life now. Take that recruiter’s next phone call.

Until next time!

Jared Redick
Visit: The Resume Studio.com
Follow: @TheResumeStudio
Connect: LinkedIn.com/in/jaredredick
Call: 415-397-6640

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3 Responses

  1. […] who are happy in their current positions, and for whom something new might be of interest. (This is why it’s smart to take recruiter calls.) In fact, those happy potential candidates are often so happy where they are, that they’re […]

  2. […] Define yourself, niche yourself, to the point where you not only command top dollar, but top dollar comes to you. It finds you. (Another reason to be on LinkedIn well ahead of any intention of leaving your existing company, and “Why It’s Smart to Take Recruiter Calls.”) […]

  3. […] Related post: Why It’s Smart to Take Recruiter Calls […]

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