Do’s and Don’ts for Communicating with Recruiters On Your Job Search

Do’s and Don’ts for Communicating with Recruiters On Your Job Search


Job searching is probably one of the most stressful experiences we go through in our personal or professional lives. It’s an emotional rollercoaster mixed in with the ups and downs—the initial interviews, the canned rejections, and the eventual job offers—are succinct and often painstakingly cryptic emails from recruiters. Knowing recruiter speak can help reduce stress without reading too far into communications. Knowing how to respond is also important.

This blog outlines some guidelines for working with recruiters—not against them—and decodes some vague and sometimes unnerving messages.

  1. Don’t contact a hiring manager or company recruiter without an existing relationship or connection.

Thanks to LinkedIn, you can usually track down the hiring manager or recruiter who posted your position. It may be tempting to slide into their DMs with an InMail to try to make a splash. Don’t. While it’s great to share your enthusiasm about an opportunity in your cover letter (with your application) and in interviews, spamming hiring managers and recruiters isn’t a winning strategy. As the great reshuffle continues, more and more companies are re-hiring. While it’s a job seeker’s market, reaching out before you’ve had company contact can come across as desperate, tone-deaf, or, even worse, abrasive. Not to mention, recruiters are buried in work right now, adding one more unexpected message to their Inbox isn’t helpful.

Instead, focus on tailoring your resume and cover letter to be just right for the positions you’re applying for to stand out from the crowd. And do contact recruiting agencies like Staffing Strong to let them know you’re on the market?

  1. Do talk salary sooner than later.

Money talks! Recruiters will generally broach the topic of salary on their first phone call with you. They want to know your expectations early on, so they aren’t wasting anyone’s time. You don’t have to have an exact amount with bonuses and benefits, but it is vital to have a ballpark figure to ensure you and the recruiter are on the same page. You should ask for a salary range if a recruiter doesn’t bring it up in your first conversation. There’s no reason to jump through hoops and get midway through a process only to learn the job pays $30K less than your bottom line. And with so many jobs available, you want to ensure you set your sights on the right one with fair or even fantastic compensation.

If you receive an offer and you’re looking to negotiate, it’s best to avoid outside parties and go directly
through the recruiter instead. Most recruiters are knowledgeable of current market salary rates and are close
to the process and behind-the-scenes dynamics with decision-makers, relying on them is crucial to
keeping negotiations on track without making any waves with your new management team.

  1. Do keep your responses timely and concise.

TLDR is a great acronym to think of here (too long didn’t read it). It’s easy to get in your head with mental gymnastics and overthink communications with recruiters and responding to their requests. The truth is keeping your messages short and sweet with all the requested details in your response is the best way to communicate with recruiters. Most recruiters will schedule follow-up calls to see how you feel about your interviews and the prospective employers so that you can go into more detail then. When it comes to emails, keep them friendly and to the point. Your recruiters will appreciate it.

While you want to keep your responses timely to streamline the hiring process, try not to hover over your recruiters. Even if this new job is your primary focus, the recruiter is undoubtedly juggling multiple candidates and requisitions and dealing with other things—lag time on budget approvals and waiting for input from team members on PTO—be patient and try not to follow up too quickly or frequently while you’re waiting to hear the next steps.

  1. Don’t pick messages from recruiters apart.

You’ve been waiting a week to hear back about the next steps, and you get a cryptic message from the recruiter about moving things along from their end. Please don’t panic and try not to read too deeply into their updates. Getting feedback from the team means precisely that.

Do allow yourself some cautious optimism if the recruiter uses language like “the team is feeling very positive about you being a fit for this role” or “you are still very much in consideration.” Keep in mind that your recruiter intercepts communications from across the company depending on how many decision-makers are involved in title and budgeting. So, if they message you saying they are still waiting for feedback from their end, listen.

  1. Don’t ghost recruiters, no matter what. 

Even if you’re just an introductory interview into the hiring process, don’t ghost recruiters and hiring managers or related personnel under any circumstances. It is poor professional etiquette, even if you decide you don’t want this job, you never know where that recruiter could land next. It’s essential to close the feedback loop. If you’ve decided to pursue other opportunities, thank them for their time and let them know. They will appreciate it.

Have more questions? Staffing Strong has answers.

Our talent specialists are very hands-on and approachable and here to help you navigate the hiring process and what to expect. Submit your resume and connect with us.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s made her career about supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. In her free time, Evelyn sits on various advisory boards and enjoys practicing on her drum set!

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