Recruiters reach out to potential candidates every day. It’s one of the main functions of their job. 

Whether you are a top-level executive, talented professional or up-and-comer, you could find yourself in the interesting position of being recruited by a company. It’s a good situation to be in; however, many professionals tend to be unclear about what to do next.

So, who better to get advice from about this situation than a recruitment agency with over 20 years of experience? I reached out to some of our Toronto headhunters to give candidates more insight into how to act when being recruited. 

young professional woman taking headhunter phone call

In this blog, you’ll learn:

  • What it means when a recruiter contacts you
  • What to do when a headhunter recruits you
  • Expert advice from experienced IQ PARTNERS recruiters 

What Does It Mean When A Recruiter Reaches Out To You?

Recruiters contact potential job candidates through social media platforms, email, phone or directly through a staffing agency. If a recruiter contacts you, it could mean they are hiring and looking to fill a role. It could also mean they are in the process of creating a new position. Or they may want to learn more about your experience to better understand if you could be fit for the companies they represent. Either way, it’s a good thing to have recruiters interested in you. 

The question remains how should you react? What if you are happy where you are? Who should you talk to? What is your next step? What should you do if you are interested in making a career move?

These are all questions that race through your mind when being headhunted. It is an exciting time, but it can also be confusing and stressful. You’re used to the more traditional recruiting process – you decide it’s time for a career change, you submit your resume to companies and recruiters and hope to generate some interest.

“But what happens when a conversation is started from the employer’s end? Meaning, that you receive the red-bubbled notification in your LinkedIn inbox, or you’re handed a recruiter’s business card and told to ‘be in touch.’ To say the least, it’s a feeling that’s pleasantly unexpected and flattering,” says Megan Santos on Financial Post.

When the shoe is on the other foot and recruiters approach you first (making you a passive candidate), it changes the job search dynamic.

What Should I Do When A Recruiter Reaches Out To Me?

A recruiter reaching out to you is a great opportunity, but you need to capitalize. John Trenholme, our Director of Client Services and HR/CPG Recruiter, says you need to take the call. 

“The reality is that the conventional process of applying to high-profile, high-demand job opportunities depends on an in-house recruiter highlighting your resume from a pool of (sometimes) hundreds of ‘qualified’ people. The odds just aren’t with you. Accomplished search practitioners aren’t managing applicant volume. They are working closely with their clients and key decision-makers to solve high-priority, high-value talent matters. If they’re reaching out to you, they have a specific need for their client, and the access to get you in front of that client if it’s the right opportunity for you,” he says. 

The ~30 minutes spent on the call can provide you with several positive takeaways:

  • An advocate for your background, experience, and desired next step professionally
  • Intelligence on the current market in your field, as well as compensation information for you to leverage
  • A resource to leverage for networking connects to organizations you might have on your radar
  • If you are a people leader with a talent issue, you’ve connected with a potential recruiting partner 

“Do not underestimate the intelligence you can glean from a conversation with a recruiter to help inform your career path, expand your network, and connect you with the leaders and companies you may wish to be with in the future,” Trenholme adds. 

1. Respond to the recruiter

Always respond when a recruiter reaches out. You have nothing to lose and a lot to potentially gain. We asked one of our recruitment consultants, Cristiann Kannen, for her advice. Here is what she suggests:

  • Don’t be afraid to respond. “I encounter many people who feel afraid to answer the InMail,” she says. Many don’t realize that any conversation that takes place between the recruiter and the candidate is confidential.”
  • There is NO obligation: It’s just a conversation.  As a candidate, you can always say “no thank you” at any point in the process.
  • Network: Always great to expand your network and make new connections for the future.

2. Hear the recruiter out

Even if you are completely happy with your current position and have no intention of leaving your current company, take the time to hear out the recruiter. You never know what they are going to say. They may have a finance job or a career opportunity that could change your mind. At the very least, they will give you something to think about, and you can learn more about why they are contacting you. This is all information that you could use to advance your career down the road.

We asked Kayla Vangorkum, a Director, Client Services and Healthcare Recruiter, for her advice. 

The suggestion to hear out the recruiter resonates with me even if you’re content with your current job. The job market is constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay open to new possibilities. You never know when a promising opportunity might come your way,” she suggests.

3. Make a sound decision

Whether you are interested or not, avoid making a knee-jerk decision. Think about the situation before you agree to anything. Give it some time to think it through and weigh the pros and cons of the situation. You may also want to consult a trusted mentor or business colleague to talk through your options.

“Take your time before making a decision. Rushed choices can have lasting effects, so a thoughtful approach is something I believe in too. The recommendation to consult a trusted mentor or business colleague is a good one. Seeking guidance from experienced professionals can provide valuable perspectives and help with decision-making.  They even may bring forward questions, market insights, and other valuable information to help you make the decision,” says Vangorkum.

4. Make a great impression 

Even if you are not interested in what the recruiter has to offer, ALWAYS make a great impression. 

During a first call with a recruiter, it’s also essential to make a good impression. “Establish a positive connection from the jump,” says Trenholme:

“The best search practitioners aren’t trying to force things. They are advocating for their clients in their sector, and looking to learn as much as possible about the top performers, change agents, and people leaders that are driving their organizations forward.”

“Establish your reputation with them, and you are far more likely to be introduced and connected to other champions in your field of expertise. It might take the form of an exciting job opportunity, sure. But it might also mean an introduction to an exciting new customer prospect, a speaking engagement, a potential mentor or mentee, or just a fruitful conversation that gives you renewed perspective or energy around a business problem you’ve been struggling with.”

5. Make a new connection

Take this as an opportunity to create a new connection and open the door for future opportunities. Thank the recruiter for their time, and make it known that you are open to future opportunities.

“Be open, make that connection. Even if this one isn’t your dream job, it might land on their desk next week and now they’ll have you at the top of their mind,” says Marisa Capozzi, a Director, Client Services and Legal Recruiter. The idea of making a great impression, even if you’re not interested in the current opportunity, is excellent. Networking is a key aspect of career development, and every interaction can potentially open doors for future opportunities.

A Final Word About Working With Headhunters

Recruiters will reach out to you out of the blue. Our team is always on the lookout for top talent. So, be receptive, hear us out, and put the effort into making a strong connection in your industry. If you are looking to take your career to the next level, be receptive when our Toronto headhunters reach out. We promise that only good things will come of it. 


Read More From Our Toronto Headhunters

Check out more insightful blog posts from our recruitment team in Toronto

What You Should Know About the Canadian Job Market in 2024

Is Your Employer on the Latest Glassdoor “Best Places to Work” List?

What’s the Difference Between Executive Search and Recruitment?

Bruce Powell Executive Search

Bruce Powell

Bruce co-founded IQ PARTNERS in 2001 and currently operates as Managing Partner. His personal background includes hands-on management experience in sales, marketing and marketing services. He has built management teams for a wide variety of marketing, communications, media and technology companies. He has also participated in several M&A transactions for service-based companies and is frequently called upon as a resource in the planning and negotiation of such deals.

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