Why Your Recruiter’s First Impression Matters

Shaun Enders

When you go into a professional recruitment meeting for the first time, you’re usually performing a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, you’re trying to be upfront about who you are and what you’re looking for. On the other hand, you’re trying to exhibit your best professional behavior.

Your recruiter is more than a gatekeeper to your next job. If you play your cards right, the recruiter can actually become your job search secret weapon. Here’s how leaving a positive impression can give you an edge.

Yes, we’re sizing you up—but not in the way you think

Professional recruiters are tasked with creating a complete picture of you in a very short period of time. We’re quickly checking out all the things that we know would matter to our clients: your attire, your speech cadence, whether or not you exude confidence, or if you seem unprepared. Most candidates arrive for their interview looking polished—that’s a no-brainer. So, discovering what makes you stand out requires deeper digging.

We’re not always looking for the person with the most experience or best alma mater. Sure, those things are part of the equation, but what really catches our attention is someone who thinks strategically about the direction of their career. If you haven’t given your overall strategy much thought, be open to working with your recruiter to develop it. When we know your strategy, we can think big-picture about where you want to end up and make sure that the position we propose will help take you there.

Your job search is all about your story

Your resume is like the trailer to your own professional movie: if it’s not engaging or doesn’t make sense, no one will want to take the time to go see the full movie. Make it easy for others to connect the dots between your career moves by remembering what’s on your resume and becoming comfortable recounting the story of your professional history before you walk into the meeting with your recruiter.

If your story is unconventional, don’t worry—it doesn’t necessarily rule you out. It just means you need to determine how to best tell that story in an interview so we can help present you to clients in the best light.

Tell us the truth. Seriously.

Remember: the goal of professional recruitment is to help you find a position that fits your experience, skill set and desired career path. To do that, recruiters need to get to know you in a limited period of time. Your interview with your recruiter is not the time to play coy. Come in fully prepared to discuss specifics like your background, the reasons for your various career moves and your desired salary range. The more we know about you, the easier it is for us to find a lasting career fit for you.

Move beyond the superficial and add depth to your answers. Avoid giving canned responses (i.e. “Work/life balance is important to me”) and share the “why” behind your answers (ex. “Spending time with my family in the evenings is important to me, so I’d prefer a position with standard working hours.”) Keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to show your personality and share personal details that are relevant to your career choice. Withholding important information about how your profession fits into your life will only waste time finding your ideal position.

Turn your recruiter into your personal coach

Great recruiters know that their job is about more than placement—it’s also about discovering your strengths and helping you to enhance your interview abilities. In this way, good recruiters are like career coaches. One way to stand out from other candidates is to ask questions. Use the recruiting process to learn more about yourself and polish your interview skills. Ask about the recruiter’s perception of you: What can I work on? What was your first impression of me? How would you enhance my chances?

It may seem counterintuitive, but these questions actually demonstrate confidence. A confident candidate knows that a professional recruiter is an expert in the field of career advancement. Feel free to take advantage of that expertise. Asking questions about the process tells the recruiter that this is important to you and that you’re engaged in the process. Questions also open up the door to more relaxed, informal communication. Remember, when you walk in the door, you’re both strangers. Whenever you can expose more of your true self in a professional sense, you break down barriers that allow the recruiter to get to know you personally and drives progress in your career search.

A final checklist

Before heading into a professional recruitment meeting, mentally review this checklist and make sure you’re fully prepared:

  • Dress to leave a lasting positive impression that fits your industry
  • Bring a fresh copy of your resume that you can speak about confidently
  • Prepare at least 2-3 questions regarding the process or your interview performance
  • Be ready to take the recruiter through the story of your professional background

Recruiters aren’t focused solely on the immediate placement transaction—they’re looking to build a connection with candidates. By making a positive impression on your recruiter, you’ll develop a longer-lasting relationship and gain the benefit of their insight into market trends, competition and upcoming openings. This edge can make a huge difference in the trajectory of your career.

Ready to move up in your career? Our expert recruiters can help you plan your next move. Contact us today!