Some job seekers ring a recruiter before applying for a job. Considering most job advertisements contain a phone number and a contact name, it’s not surprising they do. Sometimes people want to check the salary level if it’s not published, or they may be after some specific additional information, the outcome of which determining whether or not they’ll apply.

As looking for a job can be a fulltime exercise in itself, it stands to reason potential applicants want to save themselves time by asking a few precursory questions in case a role isn’t right for them.

But what do recruiters think about candidates ringing them? Is it considered good or bad practice?

We canvassed views from our network of experienced HR professionals to get some perspectives on this issue.

Do your research before calling 

Geoff Mitchell Burden from Recruitment Partners told us he thinks it’s a good idea to ring a recruiter but only if you have something specific to ask. A general or ‘wishy washy’ phone call is not helpful to the candidate as the recruiter may see it as the candidate wasting their time. Recruiters expect potential candidates to do their own initial research before calling, for example, to find out basic information such as the size of a company, its structure or who’s on the board.  On the other hand, job ads are sometimes ‘blind’, that is, the company is not identified. In this case, a phone call to ascertain basic details about the company would be warranted.

If, however, a person is seeking specific information on the team or on the culture of an organisation for example  ̶  information that’s not always depicted on a website  ̶  he would consider that an informed and valuable call.

In addition, Geoff says if a person has a different pitch that could make them stand out in a recruiter’s eyes, that is definitely worth a call.

“Those calls are often remembered when sorting through applications and can pique some added interest. If the job seeker is sufficiently capable, it can also allow them to quickly develop a level of rapport with the recruiter so they are remembered.”

Geoff warns however, if done poorly, this can also have the reverse effect.

Another view of whether or not to ring a recruiter is that is depends on the type of role.

Recruiters expect and welcome calls for senior level positions especially if the role is relationship based. It can be difficult for a recruiter to qualify the skills and experience required for a role and sometimes, advertisements don’t always capture everything an organisation is looking for. A phone call to a recruiter can help them ascertain whether a candidate possesses those hard to qualify skills.

Ringing a recruiter can show you are proactive and can lead onto to other things.

Making a call to a consultant with some specific questions can show a consultant you’re proactive, and again, can make you stand out from the crowd. Conversely, from a candidate’s point of view, the phone call may reveal the role is not right, however the consultant may know of other roles that may be more suitable. A conversation may lead on to other things whereas an emailed job application may not.

In summary, our respondents are generally of the view that ringing a consultant before applying for a job can be a good idea particularly if the role is senior and relationship based.

The take away messages here are:

  • Do your initial research on a company before if you know who the company is
  • Only ring with specific questions, or if you have something different to offer. If you have a relevant ‘sales pitch’ the recruiter may be impressed and remember you
  • Ringing can lift you off the paper, differentiate you, and position you ahead of the pack
  • It can establish rapport and sometimes lead on to other opportunities.

Author: Justine Oxley