In 1999 I had my first real crush. I memorised his home phone number and we took turns calling each other each day after school. I would sweat so much about running out of things to say that I wrote lists of potential conversation topics, and at any hint of an awkward silence would scramble to The List and rejuvenate things. At some point one of our parents would need to use the internet, so we’d huff and hang up and sulk around while they waited seven years for the dial-up to connect.

It was sweaty palms and jitterbug nerves and total tween gawkiness, but it was, mercifully, just one means of communication.

Fast-forward almost 20 years and things are completely different. Not just for gawky tweens navigating their first horny moments, but for everyone. There are six different ways I stay in touch with friends, and off the top of my head, eight different ways candidates might contact me.

Eight.

Gone are the days of phone/fax/post. Gone, dead and dusted. Now, on any given day we could have candidates ring, text, email, WhatsApp, email again, message on LinkedIn or Instagram, @ us on Twitter, ring a couple more times, try Facebook messaging; and on the odd awkward occasion, friend-request. In the midst of which, of course, we are interviewing, meeting with clients, writing adverts, marketing, sourcing, administrating, swearing, drinking copious amounts of coffee, then wine, then crying…

No. Not really.

Well, not always.

So what is the best way to go about things? How do you best contact recruiters? Is it innovative, or annoying to try alternative channels? The ad says to apply now, call or email – but everyone’s gonna do that, right?

Here are some tips. First, approach with kindness. Anyone who frequents LinkedIn might think all recruiters are careless assholes Wolf-of-Wall-Streeting around smashing back craft beers and snacking on cash, but I assure you that’s not the case. Well, not always. Most of us are pretty decent folk, trying to do a difficult job with decency. If there’s one adjective I could attribute to all recruiters, with blind confidence it applies to everyone, it’d be Time-Poor. Recruiters. Are. Time-poor. Bigtime. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and so one of the first uncomfortable truths one must wrap their head around when learning this trade, is that you will never be done. Ever. There is always more, more, more work stacking up, and it all feels urgent. Hence we prioritise as ruthlessly as need be to get through what has to be done, and the result is that sometimes, people don’t get called back for a few days. Emails go unanswered. Our LinkedIn inboxes are flooded with interest from overseas candidates keen to move to New Zealand; all they need is a job offer … and then there are all the messages from local, hopeful, sometimes relevant candidates. And amongst all of that, yeah, sometimes we drop the ball. There are only so many hours in a day, after all, and a whole lot of people vying for that time. So follow up, by all means, but – you know – nicely. If you can. I promise there is no malice in our silence.

Of course, if someone has ignored you point-blank forever, you have full licence to go Super Saiyan on their ass.

Second, approach with smarts. Firing off a series of texts a little something like “hello dear I like job” won’t get you far. Nor will bombing our phones without leaving a single message. If you are going to call about a role you’ve seen advertised, have a reason for the call. If the reason is simply that you want to make your application stand out amongst many others, that’s cool. Say so. We’d rather hear that than have you ask questions for the sake of asking questions. You know the calls I mean – the ones that start with, “I’ve just seen the role you have advertised, I’d love to know more about it!” then follow with a series of questions asking for information that is clearly stated in the ad. “Where is it based? What kind of background are you looking for? What sort of experience do I need?” Duuude.

Third, keep work stuff in the realms of work accounts. Don’t hit recruiters up on their personal accounts. Please. But while you’re navigating work-relevant channels, remember, LinkedIn doesn’t have any kind of auto-reply function. If you’re getting tumbleweed there, try good ol’ phone or email. They could be on holiday, sick, injured, or one of the useless ones – you’ll find out soon enough.

Finally, be realistic. If you’ve applied for something your CV has zero visible relevant experience for, make it really clear why you think your skills would be transferable. I had an applicant earlier this week who was “shocked to not get an interview”, considering his “reputation among other assets”, but couldn’t articulate these others assets, or their relevance. Sadly, I’m not paid to source big reps. Soz guys. It’d probably make my life easier if I was.

Oh, and use the right name. For future reference – I’ll give you a clue – it’s not Natalie.

Natasha Foster

Natasha Foster

Recruitment Consultant at New Zealand firm Rice Consulting, shaking things up in the HR world. Photographer on the side, Te Reo student, rock climber and learner surfer. Most happy off the grid.

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