Episode #63 – What You Should Do When a Recruiter Contacts You

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about what you should do when a recruiter reaches out to you or contacts you. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: Stacy, as a recruiter, you contact candidates all the time, don’t you?

Stacy: I do. Every single day that I’m in the office, and even on some days when I’m not in the office.

Sharita: What happens when you reach out to candidates?

Stacy: That sometimes depends upon the type of candidate. If they’re an active job seeker, there’s a good chance they’ll welcome my call and be prepared to talk. However, if they’re a passive candidate, there’s an equally good chance they’re not expecting my call. As a result, they are not always prepared to talk, which is certainly okay.

Sharita: Stacy, I bet you have a story that goes along with this. Maybe even more than one story?

Stacy: You know me well, Sharita. Yes, I have more than one story, and these stories serve as the basis of today’s podcast. In the first story, someone from my office reached out to a potential candidate about a job opportunity. The candidate, in short, was offended by the fact that a recruiter reached out to her.

In fact, the candidate said that she thought it was wrong to call someone at work and try to recruit them.

In the other story, someone from my office emailed a potential candidate about a job opportunity. That candidate was also offended, this time because we sent an email to her personal account. They thought it was wrong for someone use a personal email address to communicate about something that was related to her professional life.

Sharita: So you have two candidates, and they were both offended? One was offended because you called them at work, and the other was offended because you emailed them at their personal email address?

Stacy: Yes, and let me point out that we did not have the first candidate’s personal phone number and we did not have any other email address for the second candidate. We simply used the information we had at the time.

Sharita: Wow, it seems like you were in a no-win situation.

Stacy: Yes, it does seem that way sometimes. But that’s why I wanted to address this topic in today’s podcast, because apparently there is some confusion about what recruiters do and what is appropriate and what isn’t. There is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. Even if you are not interested in considering or pursuing another employment opportunity, it’s recommended that you do things the right way. In fact, I always recommend that a person does things the right way.

Before we go further, I’d like to reference a book. I’ve referenced it before in blog posts and presentations, and I think it relates to what we’re talking about today. The title of the book is The Recruiter is Your Friend: This Ain’t Your Granddaddy’s Job Search, and the author is Kristen M. Hallows. Here’s the passage I’d like to reference:

“Unlike a military raid, recruiters don’t take hostages; they simply offer better opportunities for potential candidates to consider. Employees are not owned; they choose what is best for them and their families. If they opt to take advantage of a new opportunity, the shame should not be on the recruiter, but rather on the former employer for taking them for granted and not insuring that the best opportunity was being delivered!”

Sharita: That certainly seems to explain that recruiters are not in the business of stealing employees.

Stacy: No one steals employees, Sharita. No one walks into a company, knocks an employee unconscious, stuffs that employee in a large duffel bag, and then drags them across the street to work for another employer. It sounds like I’m trying to be funny, but there are some people who think that recruiters steal people for a living. Everyone decides whether or not they want to work for a particular organization. No one forces them to do it, and the recruiter definitely does not. A candidate’s spouse or significant other has more influence over them than a recruiter does!

Sharita: And when you think about, a recruiter is really just doing their job when they reach out to candidates, aren’t they?

Stacy: That’s right! Animal Health Recruiters and Veterinary Recruiters work for organizations and companies that want them to identify and recruit top candidates. In many instances, those candidates are passive candidates. Because they’re passive candidates, the recruiters must reach out to them and not the other way around. That’s what their clients want. They want their recruiters to reach out to top passive candidates in the marketplace.

Sharita: So what’s the problem, at least in the minds of some of the candidates that you contact?

Stacy: In a word, fear is the problem. These candidates are afraid that their employer will find out they spoke to a recruiter on the phone. They’re afraid if that happens, then their loyalty might be called into question, even if they have no immediate plans to leave their employer.

Sharita: So it really is fear?

Stacy: Yes, and that does not have to be the case. I’ve said this before and I want to say it again right now: just because you speak with a recruiter does NOT mean you have to consider the employment opportunity they present to you. It also does NOT mean you are a disloyal person.

All it means is that you are open to hearing about another opportunity. That’s all it means. It doesn’t mean you’re disloyal. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean you have to pursue the opportunity. All you have to do is listen.

Sharita: So just because you talk with a recruiter does not mean you’re agreeing to anything, is that right?

Stacy: That’s absolutely right. In fact, if a recruiter contacts you about a possible opportunity, you should be flattered. That’s because the recruiter considers you to be a top candidate for one of their client’s open positions. Every Animal Health and Veterinary professional should want to be considered a top candidate in their field. If a recruiter contacts you about a position, then you’re a top candidate. It means your skills and your experience are in demand. You should consider that flattering.

Sharita: So what’s the correct way for a candidate to react when a recruiter reaches out to them?

Stacy: There are a lot of things involved in reacting the right way, and I’ll go through them one at a time.

First, be respectful. The recruiter is not trying to be disrespectful by reaching out to you, so don’t be disrespectful when you react. The recruiter knows that confidentiality is important to you, so they’re going to handle everything in a discreet manner. After all, they want to build trust with you. They’re not going to do anything that would conflict with that.

Second, be willing to listen to what the recruiter has to say. I can’t stress this point enough. Just listen. Once again, just because you listen to what the opportunity is, that does not mean you are obligated to do anything.

Third, tell the recruiter either yes, you’re interested in exploring the opportunity or no, you’re not interested in exploring it. That’s pretty simple and straightforward. However, you’d be surprised by how many people say no to an opportunity before they’ve even learned what the opportunity is.

Sharita: Stacy, why is that? It seems counterintuitive to me.

Stacy: Studies have actually been done that indicate people’s brains are programmed to say no before saying yes. Unfortunately, this type of brain wiring is not helpful for growing your career. The fact of the matter is that some of the most successful people get ahead because a recruiter contacts them with a better opportunity than the one they have.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s next on our list?

Stacy: If you’re not interested in the opportunity that a recruiter presents to you, then communicate to the recruiter the opportunity you would be interested in. This way, the recruiter can keep their eye out for such an opportunity. Recruiters talk with employers all day long. They know where the opportunities are.

Fifth, if you’re not interested in the opportunity and you know someone who might be, pass that name along to the recruiter. You never know: you might help someone else land a new job and also build some goodwill with the recruiter. When that happens, the recruiter will be more likely to remember you.

And finally, answer any follow-up questions the recruiter might have to the best of your ability. This is another way to be courteous and respectful.

Sharita: Stacy, we’re almost out of time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap things up?

Stacy: There is, in fact. Even though I’m a recruiter, I get calls from recruiters, too!

Sharita: You do?

Stacy: Yes, a recruiter recently called me twice about a CEO job at another recruiting firm.

Sharita: And did that recruiter call you at work?

Stacy: They most certainly did, and in case our listeners are wondering, I did take my own advice. I listened to the opportunity, but then I told the recruiter that I was not looking to make a move at the present time.

So the next time a recruiter calls you, don’t be offended. Be flattered. And just listen to what they have to say. After all, what they tell you could change your life for the better. I can say this with confidence because of all the letters and cards I’ve received over the years from candidates who have thanked me for calling them and changing their life.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today and for sharing your story with us.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!