Recruiters and hiring managers are the traditional gatekeepers of employers. You will likely want to reach out to them to submit your application, follow up or emphasize why you’re the perfect candidate for a specific position. Unfortunately, you may not always get a response. If you do, it may not be the one you want.
In fact, one of the most common complaints I hear from job seekers is that their messages to recruiters and hiring managers go unanswered. If this has happened to you, I can guarantee that you are not alone.
While there is nothing anyone can recommend that will guarantee a response, there are a few steps you can take that will increase the odds of a recruiter or hiring manager replying to your message.
Don’t take silence personally
One of the most important things to address before we dive too far into this topic is that you shouldn’t take a lack of response personally. Recruiters and hiring managers have a lot on their proverbial plates. Like any professional with an overflowing inbox, they may not always respond to each message.
“No one is on the other side thinking, ‘what a loser to reach out to me. How dare they!’ No one’s thinking these things,” said McCarthy, who previously worked in recruiting and human resources.
Instead, she said recruiters and hiring managers likely read the messages, plan to get back to you when they have more time but then work and life get in the way.
Get to the point
Once you accept that you’re not guaranteed a response, it’s time to think about the actual message you plan to send off to the recruiter or hiring manager.
McCarthy says it’s important to remember when writing your message that the person who receives it is very busy. Writing a long message with broad or general questions is likely not a good strategy.
The recruiter or hiring manager may be checking LinkedIn or their email during a short coffee break or between meetings, she says. Sitting down to write a response to a long message that asks general and broad questions can feel overwhelming if you need to add it to your already long to-do list.
McCarthy said it’s best to be direct — especially with recruiters — and address these points. “You’ve got this role open. You need it filled. I think I could do an amazing job at it. And then a call to action.”
She suggested that you be specific when making your case for the job. Don’t just say you’re motivated or a good communicator, she said. Recruiters want to know what specific skills will make you succeed in that job.
Additionally, she said it’s important to end with a specific call to action, such as a question that won’t take too long to answer. For example, you can ask something about the company’s culture or even for a 10- to 15-minute call. “It’s just an excuse to start the conversation,” she said.
Once you send off the message, she said it’s OK to follow up twice.
Always try reaching out
McCarthy said you should always try reaching out to the recruiter or hiring manager with a well-craft message. It can help bump you into the top-tier of candidates for the job.
Of a job with 300 applicants, she said maybe only 10% are good candidates. “Out of the big pool of candidates, only some are great, only some are excellent and it doesn’t take much to get there.”
Then, if you get into that top tier of candidates, she said you’d be competing with 30 people instead of 300.
Reach out to others
You don’t have to limit yourself to hiring managers or recruiters, said McCarthy.
“A lot of people shoot straight for the top and actually there’s a lot of power in internal referrals,” she said. You could try reaching out to people who are doing a job similar to the one you want or people who are a couple of years ahead of you.
If you can make an impression on them, McCarthy said they may forward your application or documents to their contact in talent acquisition or human resources.