Connecting with professional recruiters is good for your career. You shouldn’t be apprehensive about doing it. By connecting with a recruiter, you can build your personal brand, look for a new opportunity and research career paths. But like all things, there’s a right way to do it.
Start by putting yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. “It’s great for recruiters to have an expansive network, so when jobs open up, they’re able to search their network first, rather than unknown mediums,” explains Ruchi Kaushik, director of talent acquisition and diversity for Unum.
If you’re looking for a job (or even if you’re not), it’s okay to accept a connection request from a recruiter. However, it’s important to understand accepting a connection request doesn’t mean the recruiter is going to offer you a job. He or she might think you’re an interesting person and they can learn from you.
If you want to initiate a connection request, there are a few ways to go about it:
Connecting, following and liking on social media
With more than 530 million users in more than 200 countries, chances are LinkedIn will be a logical place to connect. Kaushik says the key is having a reason for connecting.
“On LinkedIn, you can be introduced by a common connection, or send an inMail offering why you’d like to connect with the recruiter. For example, you can note a specific job you’re interested in, or that you’re relocating to the location in the near future and want to expand your network for future jobs, or for knowledge-sharing.”
If you’re not ready to initiate a LinkedIn connection request, remember you can also “follow” a person without connecting. If the recruiter is good about posting articles and information, start by following him or her and then decide later if you want to become a “connection.” You can always include in your connection request how much you like the information the recruiter shares.
But LinkedIn isn’t the only place valuable connections with recruiters can take place. Some platforms, such as Twitter and Google+, don’t require reciprocity. That means you can follow a person and he or she doesn’t have to accept or confirm the connection. This might be a good option when you’re trying to learn about a company or a particular career, but not necessarily looking for a new opportunity.
Speaking of learning about companies and careers, many organizations have career pages on Facebook. Users can “like” a company career page, which allows them to stay in touch with what the company is doing. Given that people spend on average 35 minutes a day on Facebook, this can be a good idea when you’re actively looking and you know this organization is one of your preferred places to work.
Give recruiters time and respect
Connecting with recruiters is perfectly acceptable. And for the recruiters, it’s part of their job. They’re in the business of finding talent. The key is explaining why you want to connect with them.
And as Kaushik mentions, not coming across like a stalker! “If you don’t hear back from recruiters, don’t feel bad. They’ve received your message and if accepted, you’re part of their network. They’ll contact you when they feel there’s a job match. It’s okay to periodically reach out regarding specific roles, but just be aware of how many times you’re reaching out them.”
Be respectful and patient. Recruiters will notice.