Tips On Getting a Job as a Recruiter

It’s no secret that, with the downturn in the economy, almost every firm has reduced its hiring. As a result, there is a decreased need for recruiters. If you happen to be one of the many recruiters who are currently looking for a recruiting position, here are some admittedly aggressive tips for those of you who are willing to try an out-of-the-box approach.

Show Them Your Ideas

  1. Analyze the target firm’s current recruiting strategy and those of its direct talent competitors. Send suggestions on how to improve it (in comparison with its competitors) to the director of recruiting and the VP of HR at the firm you are targeting.
  2. Analyze the current recruiting tools used by your target firm and send suggestions on how to improve those tools to the director of recruiting at the firm you are targeting.
  3. Do the same thing for their recruiting website, showing them how you would improve it while minimizing expenditures.
  4. Identify the top performers at the chief competitor firms and outline a strategy on how to lure them away. Send it to key managers.
  5. Forecast when the economy (or your target firm’s industry) will make an upturn and make a case for the need for preparing for the upturn (by hiring new recruiters).
  6. Propose a set of metrics that the firm could use to increase their recruiting effectiveness and to ward off internal budget cuts.
  7. Show the firm how they can make their recruiting global by demonstrating where they can get talent from around the world.
  8. Answer questions and post your ideas in recruiting, management, and industry chat rooms and list servers.
  9. Write articles in industry journals and make presentations to industry groups about your “new” approach to recruiting.
  10. Design a system to increase the internal movement and redeployment of talent within the firm. Demonstrate that your recruiting skills can be used internally (even when there is little external hiring).
  11. Design an effective employee referral program (because it’s cheap and effective).

Show Them Your Work

  1. If you’re really bold, send them the actual resumes of five highly qualified individuals that fit their “toughest” open job.
  2. Develop a model “business case” that demonstrates to senior management why the recruiting function should get increased resources. Send it to the director of recruiting at your target firm.
  3. Identify firms that have recently lost key talent and contact the manager directly with your recommended plan to fill the positions. Remember that managers of rapid-growth divisions are much more likely to have the resources (and be decisive) when it comes to hiring a new recruiter during tough times.
  4. Offer to do a “free” search (for a key position) to demonstrate your ability (Why not, you’re not doing much anyway).
  5. Offer to do a free training seminar to teach your target firm’s managers how to recruit better (in order to get exposure).
  6. Assess your target firm’s current use of technology in recruiting and recommend ways in which they can improve it.

Demonstrate Your Skills

  1. Be sure and include in both your resume and your cover letter that you have advanced skills and that you know how to use the latest tools in recruiting. Remember to tailor your resume to the company and the industry. You also need to repeatedly test your resume with other recruiters and polish it. Some of the things you might highlight and put in your resume and cover letter include:
    • A demonstration of your knowledge of your target firm’s business and industry
    • Your knowledge of web crawlers and spiders
    • Your knowledge of the industry’s best niche job boards and sites
    • Data to prove you know the most effective recruiting sources
    • Effective poaching techniques
    • Effective “closing” and selling approaches
    • Proof that you can do other non-recruiting work (generalists, training, or compensation)
  2. Remember to include all of the key recruiting and industry buzzwords to ensure that computerized resume scanners pick out your resume.
  3. Consider sending them a “portfolio” (or develop a personal portfolio website) which highlights your work and provides actual samples of what you have done.

Identify Where the Jobs Might Be

  1. Search websites for companies with numerous job openings. Then sort through those to identify the firms that take a long time to fill positions. These firms are likely to need recruiting help.
  2. Identify firms that are heavily using executive searches. If you have the talent, propose to them that you do their executive recruiting internally, in order to save them money.
  3. Ask your executive search and other recruiter friends who are currently working to look out for you and to let you know who is still hiring.
  4. Even in tough times there are growth industries. Be sure and look at biotech, healthcare, security, and military vendors for recruiting positions. Search the want ads and the web constantly to see which firms have a large number of vacant positions.
  5. Look in your address book for senior people that you have helped to recruit. Ask them to look out for positions for you, or ask them to hire you directly.


You already know the basic approaches to a job search. But as recruiters, we often get too close to the job search process, and as a result, forget to even consider aggressive, out-of-the-box approaches. With the ratio of applicants to openings increasing everyday, it’s important that you try new and alternative approaches to the job search. It’s time to think back on all the ways that applicants have in the past circumvented the system (to get around you and HR) – and adopt some of them for yourself!

Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, please take a minute to follow and/or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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