How do I approach a recruiter? And once I’ve talked to a recruiter at a company I’m interested in, what do I do next?

Recruiters are the eyes and ears of many companies. They are relied on to help fill positions with competent and fitting professionals! It would make sense then, to make your best impression when approaching them. You may find yourself approaching a recruiter in a variety of ways; at the upcoming Career & Internship Expo, through LinkedIn, at an on-campus interview, or perhaps a cold call for a job posting you’re interested in.

There are some very important things to think about before, during, and after you speak with a recruiter:

  • Think about your goals

What is the purpose of this contact? Is it to gain more information about the field for exploration, to seek out a potential job, or maybe to find an internship? It’s important to know the answer to these questions before you contact a recruiter so it’s not awkward if they ask (and they will ask)!

Think about what YOU are looking for in an employer. Speaking with a recruiter is a great way to determine if an organization will be a good fit for you. Think about why you are interested in this organization, and clarify beforehand where you can envision yourself within the company as well.

If you know there are specific companies that you are interested in before you attend a career fair or start making calls… Do your homework on those companies!! Read everything you can about the company’s mission and values, history, and goals. This way you can sound educated on the business and appeal directly to what the recruiter is looking for. Plus, if the recruiter asks you why you’re contacting them, you can then speak to how GREAT that company really is with specific evidence to boot!

  • Look for connections, and consider your approach

Think about HOW you’ll be contacting this recruiter. Sometimes it will be through a common connection (these connections are part of why networking is so important)! Other ways you may contact a recruiter are through: LinkedIn, E-mail, Telephone, and/or at a career fair. Carefully plan your approach before you dive in!

Make sure to have your resume fully prepared before approaching a recruiter. Your resume is not only a way for you to showcase your skills, experience, and education, but also to show that you are a great candidate for their organization. Visit your Career Development Center for help!

Before meeting with a recruiter, make sure you’re “dressed to impress.” Dress as if you were attending a formal interview. Be clean, professional, and conservatively dressed. Impressions (good or bad) are often made within the first few moments of contact, so make sure you’re presenting yourself in a way in which the employer can visualize you in their organization (See page 49 of the JOB SEARCH HANDBOOK for tips on your “visual effect”).

  • What to bring to a career fair: resumes (bring 20-50 copies on professional paper), a pen, a notepad, and of course your game face.
  • Now, I’m actually talking to one, what do I do?!
    • Start with confidence! Introduce yourself and stay confident. Maintain eye contact, have a firm (but not vice grip) handshake, and smile!
    • Sell yourself! Prepare a “mini-commercial” for the recruiter, highlighting your academic/professional experience. This little interaction is a time to SHINE! Make it clear to the recruiter that you’re interested and WHY. It may help to rehearse your mini commercial with a friend or advisor before you meet with the recruiter, to get rid of those last minute jitters. Keep your pitch short and sweet – especially at a career fair, recruiters may not have a lot of time to sit and chat as they would at an interview.
    • Ask questions: Then listen carefully to what they have to say, ask specific questions to make them feel like you really know the industry and that you’re paying attention to them.
    • Be professional: Make sure to bring your personality to this meeting, but also be mindful of your professionalism. This recruiter likely sees hundreds of candidates, so make sure you’re remembered in a positive way. Be on time, don’t chew gum, be mature, and be prepared. (Side note: It helps to have your cell phone on silent)
    • Ask for a business card and take notes immediately after: This will help you remember important contact info, small details, upcoming positions, etc. This will also help with your follow up, so you can jog your memory on what you talked about!
    • If at a career fair, take the reading materials: The “goodies” are always intriguing, but at career fairs it is more important to take the brochures and reading materials. They’re much more useful in your search than a handful of snicker bars.
    • Thank them for their time: End your conversation with a handshake and a thank you. The end of the conversation is also a good time to reaffirm your interest, give them a resume, and ask for a business card if you don’t already have one.
  • Ok, now I’ve talked to the recruiter, what do I do next?
    • Follow up! You have that business card, so send them a “thank you” note or follow up a week later to restate your interest in the company. Make sure to include any specific conversations you may have had to trigger their memory.
    • Be courteous and professional: Remember that this recruiter may receive hundreds of e-mails from potential candidates – spell-check your follow up e-mails, and don’t bombard them.

Contacting recruiters does not have to be a scary journey, it can be fun! Just make sure you’re prepared, you’re interested, and be yourself! Most of all, best wishes on your search!!




– Breanne Hiivala, Graduate Assistant, Career Development Center

2 Replies to “How do I approach a recruiter? And once I’ve talked to a recruiter at a company I’m interested in, what do I do next?”

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