Updated May 1, 2021
Have you ever wondered how to reach out to a recruiter on LinkedIn?
It’s such a nice idea, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if opportunities just came to you, if you didn’t have to send out resumes, and you could just get a job?
It is possible, but it might not be as straightforward as you think. So in this post, I want to give you a really easy guide for reaching out to recruiters.
Four steps to reach out to a recruiter on LinkedIn.
Step 1: Understand What Recruiters Do
Step 2: Figure Out What Kind of Recruiter You’re Contacting
Step 3: Know What Your Value Proposition Is
Step 4: Send the Message
Step 5: Stay Connected
1. Understand what recruiters do
First of all, it’s really important to understand what recruiters actually do. Recruiters get paid to find talent.
Companies know that human capital is one of their greatest assets. And it is really hard to find good people. So, they are willing to spend a lot of money to find the right people.
When they do recruiting with an outside firm or consultant, they will often pay the recruiter 15 to 20% of the employee’s annual salary to find the right person.
This means that, if you would be starting at a job that makes $100,000, you would be worth $15-20,000 to a recruiter (the company pays this, it’s not taken out of your salary).
Needless to say, it is in a recruiter’s interest to find you.
But there’s a problem. Not every employee is great, and recruiters know that the vast majority of people they see will not be people they recommend to a company. Their reputation is on the line, so they want to find the very best talent.
Recruiters often work to find people who have either unique skill sets or unique experience. They’re not usually trying to recruit people who have English degrees and no experience, although sometimes recruitment programs target new grads or entry-level candidates.
They might recruit for a specific skill, for example, an advanced software engineer. Alternatively, sometimes companies need specific competencies and experience, for example, somebody with at least 15 years of experience in change management at major organizations.
In each of these cases, the recruiter is looking for somebody specialized who can solve a very clear problem that employers have.
2. Know what type of recruiter you’re reaching out to
Not all recruiters are created equal, and they don’t all work the same way. In general, there are three types of recruiters:
- Companies have recruiters on staff, often in HR, whose job it is to search for people. They are usually salaried.
- Companies hire recruitment firms who will go on a search for them. They get paid by the role, but often will fill multiple roles at once.
- Freelance recruiters work on a one-on-one basis to find talent, sometimes because the company has asked them, and sometimes they will find somebody interesting and pitch them to a company. They are paid per candidate they place.
It’s important to know which of these you’re dealing with when you approach them. Also, you should check the industry they recruit for and at what level.
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3. Know what your value proposition is
When reaching out to a recruiter, you need to show them that you are a fantastic candidate for them, you need to show them that by recommending you to a client they will look very good, and you need to have a clear idea of how you will add value to their client.
Don’t reach out to a recruiter because you are a new grad who is searching for a job. That’s not usually what recruiters do, although many companies do have entry-level recruitment programs. Remember, the recruiter doesn’t work for you. They work for their client, the company. You are the asset, the product. If they can’t sell you to a company, they can’t place you, and they can’t make money.
Define your value proposition. If you have a really in-demand skill-set, make sure it is really prominent on your LinkedIn and in your message to the recruiter.
If you don’t have an in-demand skill set, you will have to work harder to show a recruiter that you are valuable to them. This might mean creating projects, being a thought leader and communicating well, and presenting like somebody who is either a current or future leader that they should take notice of.
I have some advice on how to use your LinkedIn to be a thought leader here.
Make sure your LinkedIn is really polished, and that you have an excellent profile picture. Make sure you are headline and summary reflect a clear value proposition that you bring. Then, you are ready to move to the next step.
Pro Tip: DO make sure your profile matches the skills and competencies of your chose industry. Look at the recruiter’s profile and and sample postings they share, and create a profile that reflects these–including the vocabulary.
4. Send the message
If you’ve done the above work, reaching out is actually really simple.
You don’t need to write a ridiculously intricate message or continuously bother a recruiter. All you really want to do is get on their radar. This can be accomplished through a connection request, a short message explaining who you are and your value proposition, and you can leave it at that.
Sample messages to recruiters
If you want to know what to say to a recruiter, here are some short sample messages to a recruiter you could try:
Sample message to an in-house recruiter
Hi James, my name is Sandy Clark, and I just graduated from UC Santa Clara with a degree in software engineering. I have followed Shopify for a while now, and both the company culture and vision to empower business is inspiring. I love to be considered for open roles or recruitment programs. My resume is attached. Thanks!
Sample message to recruiting company
Hi Sally, My name is Ted Charleston. I have a PhD in history and I recently completed an internship in research management with the state government. I’d like to be considered for open policy and research roles that you’re recruiting for. I’m a creative thinker who thrives in a fast paced environment. My resume is attached. Thanks!
Message to a freelance recruiter
Hi Ruth, my name is James Fredericks. I have just graduated from the University of Chicago with an advanced specialty in machine learning algorithms, specifically for forensic work. I am looking for a place to apply my 5 years of research and project management skills, ideally working in digital crime-fighting. I’m hoping we can connect and that you’ll keep me in mind for roles you are currently recruiting for. My resume is attached. Thanks.
5. Stay connected and be proactive
Just because you make initial contact with a recruiter doesn’t mean you have to never speak to them again (nor should you, ahem, write them every week).
Reach out when recruiters post programs or job postings and express your interest. If you’ve got your eye set on an industry they recruit for, update them when you add a skill or experience to your resume that increases your value to them.
Likewise, if you are following or connected to a corporate recruiter who is posting, say, a new grad program, you can also reach out to them.
Often these type of messages will even say, “Message me if you’re interested.” They are totally fair game. Don’t think to yourself, “They know I’m here. They’d find me if they wanted me.”
You don’t need to be shy about reaching out to recruiters.
You have something they want, talent. If you look professional and have a well-defined skill set, they will connect with you every time. Because they never know when they might have a role that you need to fill.
You are potential money to them. You both need each other, and for this reason, recruiters might be your friend.
Let me add one caveat. If you are waiting for a recruiter to come and change your life, you might be waiting a while. Even if a recruiter does approach you, does that mean that you’ll love the job they have?
Focus on finding your path, network as hard as you can and hone your LinkedIn and resume towards industries that are interesting to you, and it’s way more likely you’ll either be discovered by a recruiter, or that you’ll create your own opportunities.
For further reading, Four Truths About Working with Recruiters (Forbes)