When candidates reach out to recruiters or apply to jobs on their own, they work hard to show their excitement for the opportunity. They put their best foot forward and show the recruiter or hiring manager how they can add value to the company.
But I’ve noticed—and heard from recruiters, as well—that the dynamic changes when job seekers are contacted by recruiters first. There’s something about receiving a LinkedIn message that makes job seekers feel a little ambivalent about the opportunity.
The vibe is, “Well, they must need me, so I can take my time or respond casually to this message.”
That assumption leads to replies like, “Hey, thanks. What’s the compensation?” or, “Sounds cool. What does your company do?”
I get it. I’ve heard the horror stories of candidates who get daily messages from recruiters pitching roles that have nothing to do with their background. So I’m definitely not surprised by how easy it is to get jaded as a job seeker. But don’t allow those bad experiences to taint your chances at future opportunities. Until you do a little research, you have no way of knowing whether a recruiter is reaching out about an irrelevant position or your dream job.
When candidates don’t take inbound opportunities seriously, they risk missing out on important connections.
You only get one shot to make an impression.
It doesn’t take much effort to respond—and putting together a professional, well-researched reply can pay off in the immediate future and the long run. The recruiting world is much smaller than you probably think, especially within your specific city. Chances are, the recruiter reaching out to you today will be at another company two or three years from now.
But LinkedIn messages aren’t deleted when someone moves to a different company, and that means your initial response to them will remain in their inbox. The recruiter may not remember messaging you a few years later, but it’s possible your profile will catch their eye again. And when they go to send you a message, the first thing they’ll see is your previous conversation.
It absolutely adds points in your favor if the recruiter sees you took the time to send them a thoughtful reply last time around. If they notice you blew them off in the past, then why would they reach out again?
You should always be thinking about your future and working to build relationships when you have the chance. Because an opportunity that isn’t right for you today may be the perfect fit two years from now. Or the recruiter may later join a company you’ve always wanted to work at.
You may not need to have a good relationship with this recruiter right now, but there’s no need to waste an opportunity to build a rapport and stand out in their memory as a professional who treated them well.
Whether you’re interested or not, there’s always a way to send a professional response.
It’s easy to put off responding to a LinkedIn message, especially if you’re happy in your current role. But you probably only need 10 minutes—tops—to do so. Block out some time in the evening or on your lunch break and get into the networking mindset.
First, look up both the company and the recruiter’s profile. Figure out what the company does, and what their product is.
If you’re not interested:
If you realize pretty quickly that this isn’t the opportunity for you, all you have to do is take 30 more seconds to send a message like, “Hey, thank you so much for reaching out. I appreciate you thinking of me, however, I’m very happy at my current position and I’m not looking for a new role right now. I wish you the best in your search and I’m happy to connect with you on LinkedIn to stay in touch for future opportunities.”
It takes hardly any time at all, but you’ve done something kind for someone with a tough job, and just as importantly, you’ve kept the door open for a job opportunity down the road.
If you want to know more:
On the other hand, if your research of the company has piqued your interest, then you should dig into their business a little more.
Your response can touch on compensation or the seniority of the role, it just has to be professional. So, a good response might look something like, “Hey, thanks for reaching out. Your company looks really interesting, and I’d love to know more about what you’re looking for. Just offhand, I’d say my experience in X, Y, and Z would be relevant to what you do. Are you currently looking for a junior, mid-level, or senior role? And just so we’re respectful of each other’s time, I’d love to know the compensation range.”
Notice, it’s completely fine to ask about compensation in the first exchange as long as your response is professional and shows you’ve done your research.
I know how tough the job hunt can be. I know it’s easy to get jaded and blow off a recruiter’s message as just another irrelevant communication in your inbox.
But ask yourself, “If I was applying to my dream job, how would I act?” If you respond with that level of care and professionalism, you’re investing in your future and keeping your options open.