Handling cold calls from a recruiter

Cold callVery few people like getting cold calls.  It is usually your cable provider wanting to “review your bill” with you or a group wanting a contribution.  But sometimes it is a recruiter who has found you or been referred to you by someone.  Hopefully, if you are like me, it is a little flattering, unless you get these calls all the time.  If you do, I am sorry for this first world problem:)

The first thing to do is to ask if they are with a company or if they are with an agency.  Why?  Because this usually speaks to their motivation.  The fee an Agency receives is often equal to 30% of the new hire’s salary.  That can provide a lot of motivation and it some people to make poor choices.  If they work directly for the company with the opening their motivations have a better chance of being aligned with yours, making sure you and the position/company are a match for one another.

Think of this as dating.  If a dating service is being paid to set you up on dates they may set you up with some people that you are not the best match with.  After all they get paid for both good and bad dates.  On the other hand if a person asks you to go out with them, they probably think you might be a good match.

I am not slamming agencies here, I am just stating the obvious potential for a conflict of interest.

Either way, you want to be gracious when you get a cold call, even if you are not interested.  You never know what the future holds.  I have cold called people and been treated like like a punk only to have the person call me back in a month after being laid off.  Guess what?  I take notes, so it’s no bueno for you.

If the recruiter is worth their salt they will sell you on having a conversation about the position, not on the job itself.  They may say something like “let’s have a 10 – 15 minute conversation to see if the position might be a match.”  If you are available I say take the time.  You never know what the opportunity is and you might even think of someone else who is a good match.  Taking that call can be good for you, the recruiter and your friend.

If you are not interested at all I suggest that you just tell them.  Say something like “I appreciate the interest but I am not interested at this time.  Please send me your information and any information on the job.  I will let you know if I think of anyone who is interested.”  We understand that you are busy and most recruiters will respect your time.

If you take time to speak with a recruiter they will probably want to know about you first.  I know, this is a bit of a pain as you want to know some of the basics of the job to see if it is worth your time.  But most recruiters are trained to first see if you are a possible fit before they give you information on the position.  They also may or may not be filling a database with your information for future use.  It is a bit of a judgement call on how much information you share.


In order to succeed, we must first believe we can.
Nikos Kazantzakis

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