What’s the single worst thing you can do when a recruiter calls to tell you about a career opportunity?
I mean, aside from continuing to eat your sandwich in their ear. You know, the basic manners stuff.
No, this mistake is obviously not very, well, obvious. Otherwise, why would so many people make it?
The very worst thing you can do when a recruiter calls to tell you about a job opportunity, is to not ask anything.
To follow up the initial description of the job with nothing more than “Yep, sounds good. Go ahead and put me forward for it.”
To neglect to ask a single one of the dozens of questions that might naturally occur to someone who’s considering something as critically important and life-changing as a new job:
“So tell me a bit more about the company?”
“Didn’t I read something recently about their plans to acquire Company X? How’s that going?”
“I haven’t heard of them before. What do they do? How well are they doing?”
“Why has the role come up? Did someone leave? Why?”
“What’s the manager like?”
“How big’s the team? What kind of development opportunities are there?”
“How would you describe the culture?”
“What are the challenges?”
“What are they looking for in a candidate? Why did you think of me?”
The list is near-endless.
Maybe you’re thinking the recruiter’s already given you all the information they know, and there’s nothing left to ask. No way. If they’re a good recruiter, they’ll have a tonne of information that they’re just itching to impart to a curious, thoughtful candidate.
They would have asked all the questions above (and more) when they took the brief from the hiring manager. They’ve given you a synopsis of the most interesting bits, and now they’re waiting to see what kind of questions you have for them. They’re looking to get a dialogue started, and - make no mistake – the quality of that dialogue is what decides whether you make the short list or not.
If you don’t ask any questions, here’s what the recruiter’s thinking:
“They literally can’t think of anything to ask. I’m worried they won’t have the curiosity and smarts to succeed in this job.”
“This person’s not actually interested. They’ll end up pulling out of the running and wasting everyone’s time.”
“They’re too meek to ask any questions. How will they cope in an interview, or on the job?”
Or, perhaps worst of all….
“This person’s desperate enough that they’ll take any job that crops up, no questions asked. Why is that? Is there something about their work history I’m not aware of?”
The next time a recruiter calls to let you know about a job opportunity, ask yourself: Are those descriptions true of me? Am I totally lacking in curiosity, am I uninterested, or scared - or desperate?
If the answer’s no, then go ahead and let those questions fly. Curiosity never really killed the cat, and it might just help you land your dream job.