How To Reach Out to a Recruiter on LinkedIn

Entry level person searching for dream job
•••

Carla Teteris / Getty Images

LinkedIn is a global professional network with over 756 million members in more than 200 countries. More than 57 million companies use its platform to advertise tens of millions of job postings.

But LinkedIn is more than an ideal space for job seekers to build professional relationships, network, and find job opportunities. It also serves as an outlet to connect with recruiters who can help you forge your career path. 

Below, we’ll explore the roles and significance of recruiters and how to effectively reach out to them on LinkedIn.  

The Role of a Recruiter

If you are job hunting, you need to cultivate relationships with recruiters. Recruiters are primarily tasked with filling positions for businesses, but they play an advisory role for job seekers in the process. They can work with you to make sure you are ready to face employers. For example, they might provide guidance on interview etiquette, salary negotiations, workplace culture and expectations, and proper work attire.

Types of Recruiters

Before deciding to work with recruiters, it’s important to understand these three major types: 

  • Retainer-based recruiter: This recruiter serves as a third-party consultant and charges a business a retainer fee up front in order to find a candidate. Often, the candidates they seek are senior-level business people who meet specific job requirements. 
  • Contingency-based recruiter: This recruiter can be a staffing or temp agency hired to conduct a specific search to fill temporary roles. Usually the roles they seek to fill pay below $100,000 per year. Contingency-based recruiters compete with other firms to present the right candidates for job openings, and are paid only if their candidate gets hired.
  • Corporate recruiter: This recruiter works internally. They are responsible for distributing the job posting, sourcing candidates, screening resumes, and shortlisting candidates to be presented to the hiring manager. 

Why Reach Out to a Recruiter on LinkedIn?

According to Jobvite’s 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey, 72% of recruiters plan to use LinkedIn for their recruiting efforts. The platform also continues to be a primary recruitment investment focus for larger companies. So whether or not you’re actively pursuing job opportunities, learning how to use LinkedIn effectively to stay on recruiters’ radars can be valuable. 

Who Should Reach Out to Recruiters?

If you have been laid off or are looking for a flexible work schedule, working with recruiters may  benefit you. They know which companies are hiring for permanent and temporary staff in your industry. Additionally, they are usually aware of the salary and benefits that companies offer, and they can inform you on how to proceed with negotiations. 

Working with a recruiter can increase the visibility of your resume for a given type of role.

Strategies To Reach Out to Recruiters

“Job seekers can reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn using both a passive strategy and a proactive strategy,” said Dean Kulaweera, a Toronto-based IT recruiter, in a Zoom interview with The Balance. The passive strategy takes effect when the job seeker has a fully completed, SEO-focused profile that is available to be seen at any time. “Recruiters are heavily driven by keywords,” Kulaweera added.

With the proactive strategy, meanwhile, the job seeker identifies recruiters who specialize in their industry, develop a clear message, and reach out to them. This way, you can immediately get the recruiter’s attention and begin the process of relationship building.

Passive and Proactive Tools

One of the notable passive ways to reach out to recruiters and leverage your LinkedIn profile is through the platform’s #OpenToWork function. This tool includes a “Share with Recruiters Only” option. This notifies members who have paid for access to the “LinkedIn Recruiter” service that you’re open to new job opportunities. A LinkedIn member with an enabled #OpenToWork function is easy to spot, as  their profile photo will be enveloped by a green circle.

Job seekers who are currently employed should approach this feature with caution. LinkedIn provides safeguards to prevent recruiters at your firm and related companies from seeing the open-to-work status on your profile. However, it cannot guarantee complete privacy.

From a proactive perspective, LinkedIn announced an enhanced search experience. This allows members to discover people, jobs, posts, companies, and groups in one organized, blended, and filterable search results page.

Using LinkedIn Filters to Find Industry-Specific Recruiters

When preparing to reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn, carefully select five to 10 of them. Don’t randomly send connection requests to those who might not have any openings in your industry or jobs that match your skills. Your smartphone might not offer all the options you need for this process, so use your laptop or tablet instead.

Here's how to use LinkedIn's filters to find recruiters:

  1. From the home page, click on "My Network."
  2. Click on "Connections" at the top left-hand column.
  3. Click on "Search with filters", then select the "All filters" box (highlighted in blue at top right).
  4. In the pop-up box, choose 1st, 2nd, and 3rd connections.
  5. Scroll down to the "Industry" section (a couple of sections below in the pop-up box) and click your industries of interest. You can also add industries. This is important because you want to choose a recruiter that works with people in your fields of choice.
  6. Scroll down to the “Keywords” section at the bottom of the box. Under "Title," type in “Recruiter,” “Headhunter,” “Talent Acquisition,” or “Hiring Manager”
  7. Click “Show Results.”

Within your search results, click on the "Connect" button of each recruiter  you want to reach out to. Then, choose the option “Add a note” and send them a customized message. In addition to your first-level (1st) connections, these search results will offer the names of other people in your network who you may be familiar with. Don’t be afraid to ask your connections for an introduction.

How to Message Recruiters on LinkedIn

Kulaweera gets messages every day through LinkedIn, but most are short and vague. “As recruiters, we get messages every day, but your message should be similar to an email and not like a WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger message,” he said.

According to Kulaweera, your message should explain what skills you have, what tools you use, and what projects you have worked on. Your message must also point to the specific job posting you are referring to and its requirements. “This tells the recruiter that you have done your research and know what the requirements are and how you match the requirements,” he said.

When designing your message, make sure it is intentional. Are you connecting to build a relationship? Or are you reaching out because you know there’s a position to be filled and you would fit that role? 

A Template for Messaging Recruiters

Jennifer Tardy is one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices of 2020 and diversity recruitment trainer. In an email to The Balance, she offered her perspective on how to structure a message that will appeal to recruiters and help ensure they give it a second look. In addition to briefly introducing yourself, Tardy said you should add the following in all InMail messages to recruiters:

  • I recently applied to the [NAME OF POSITION] with respect to requisition number [ADD NUMBER]. (This makes it easier for recruiters to find the role in their applicant tracking system.)
  • I meet all of the qualifications for the [NAME OF POSITION] including [NAME THE TOP QUALIFICATIONS].
  • Based on my research, I believe this may be a position you are working to fill. If you are not the assigned recruiter for this position, would you be open to connecting me to the recruiter? (This helps to keep the conversation moving forward. Because the recruiter now has the requisition number, they can find the recruiter assigned to the role and pass the information along.) 

What Your Message Should Not Say

Hi Dean

I notice you are an IT recruiter and I would like you to help me find a job. I have wide experience in IT and would fit any role that you might have.

Please call me, and I would be happy to discuss my extensive experience with you.

Thanks,

Bob

The Bottom Line

LinkedIn continues to be a go-to professional social media platform, and one used regularly by recruiters. If you are a job seeker,complete your profile fully, and use LinkedIn tools like #OpenToWork so recruiters can find you more easily when conducting a search. 

However, job seekers need to have realistic expectations when reaching out to recruiters. If a recruiter is not looking for someone with your skills, they likely won't treat you as a priority. This may leave you feeling rejected, but don’t take it personally. Instead, consider it a part of relationship building, or as an investment where you don’t receive immediate returns, and continue moving forward.