So, you just updated your LinkedIn and have caught the eye of several recruiters via your inbox. Phrases like “Great Opportunity” and “Exciting Prospects for Developers” are getting tossed around.
It can be time consuming to schedule calls with each of them or to even reply individually. But you don’t want to skip over the right opportunity simply because you’re overwhelmed. (And always remember: This is a great situation to be in!).
The good news for you is that there are six steps you can follow to weed out the spammers of LinkedIn from strategic tech recruiters who are looking for you. After all, the way this person interacts with you can be say a lot about the company itself.
1. Decrypt Their Message
You can typically spot emails that are clearly copied and pasted. And just like you know you need to tailor your materials, good recruiters know the same. So, when you get that message, double check that the person took the time to read your profile, research your experience, and cite specific employers or projects.
For example, “I wanted you to be the first to know” is pretty suspect if you’ve never spoken to this person before. Flattery’s awesome, just make sure that it’s written for you—and not hundreds of other candidates.
2. Ask General Knowledge Questions
Think of getting to know a recruiter as if you were interviewing a realtor in a competitive city. You want someone who understands market trends, is working on your behalf, and knows which employers are lemons. This type of individual can also be a top negotiator for you. Reply to their LinkedIn message with some fair questions:
- Thank you so much for the message. Can you tell me a little bit about the growth of developer jobs in [city name here]?
- Has the salary level for this type of position changed in the last three to five years?
- How many software engineers have you placed into new roles in the last year?
Their answers should be detailed and measureable—if not, steer clear.
3. Measure Their Communication Skills
Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. Sometimes issues can pop up that leave you feeling uneasy. Are they being pushy about scheduling a time to talk or not willing to work around your current work schedule? When you speak a second time, did they forget that you had kids or were not willing to relocate?
These can be negative signposts of a recruiter looking to pass on a high quantity of candidates rather than quality ones to the company. Considering changing jobs is a big deal—and the person on the other end of the conversation should treat it that way. You can be both polite and firm at the same time when responding to negative indicators.
4. Check That They’re Concerned With Culture Fit
Finding a qualified candidate who also meets the work style of the company brings us to culture fit, a crucial component. Are you going to work in an Agile environment? How often do they meet for team meetings? What are the company’s core values and mission? Can your recruiter discuss these factors in detail with you?
Beyond the job duties, this person will also consider the atmosphere of the company and how your work style meshes with it. If they’re not asking you questions in regards to this aspect of the job, then you may be working with someone who is not concerned with you thriving in this potential new role.
5. Confirm They Can Share the Right Details (Without Sharing All the Details)
Often times, the recruiter and employers do not want the company name revealed to potential candidates for fair reasons. However, a recruiter with your best interests in mind can explore the role with you without revealing the company. Find out if they can answer any questions that are not on the job description.
- Why did the last person leave this position?
- Are they a .NET or Java shop?
- Do they provide any training? Will they pay for any future training?
- What types of projects are they building right now and with what tools?
Even if they can’t tell you what you really want to know—What company is it?—they should be able to answer some of these basics.
6. Scope Out Their Company and Their Profile
The fact is, some recruiters throw all the resumes they get on the wall just to see what sticks. A quick search on Glassdoor.com can reveal what past recruiters of the same company have shared about their protocols and practices.
Consistently negative reviews and high turnover rates can be a sign of impersonal recruiting. It also doesn’t hurt to do a quick scan of their LinkedIn profiles for endorsements and stellar recommendations.
Receiving a notification that there’s a message from a recruiter waiting for you can be exciting. But before you rush to set up the first available interview, pause and do your research. Remember that your time’s valuable and you don’t want to make the costly mistake of investing it into several hours of phone calls and interviews that you can determine are a pass early on.
So if you do determine there are too many red flags to ignore, just send a short follow-up to the recruiter to let the person know you saw his message but are not interested. It’s as easy as saying this:
Thank you for reaching out. At the moment, I’m not looking for any new opportunities—but I’ll be sure to reach out if anything changes.
Talented people, especially those with in-demand skills, may experience recruiters contacting them on a regular basis. Be proactive and weed out the strategic recruiters from those who are contacting everyone who pops up in their search results.