The job search process is always a challenge! Many of us aren’t sure what to expect unless we’re in the middle of job searching: scrolling through job postings, debating how to network effectively, and puzzling over messages from recruiters.
Recruiters can actually help cut down the time you spend job searching by quite a lot–if you know how to communicate with them the right way. As many as 77% of recruiters are using LinkedIn regularly to find and source candidates. If your LinkedIn is up to date and optimized, you’re likely to get a few emails about job opportunities.
In general, recruiters only have one goal: to find the best candidates for the positions they’re trying to fill. As a result, the messages you get from recruiters tend to fall into some common categories. Knowing this, you should be able to properly prepare for those contacts and provide a prompt, confident response to any message or email you receive.
Here are several possible requests, and the proper way for you to respond to a recruiter.
How to respond to a recruiter (correctly)
There are six broad reasons a recruiter will reach out. We’ve categorized them by the basic question each message seeks to answer.
1. Are you available for a phone interview?
This question might not seem like it would throw you for a loop, but you’d be surprised how many people get caught up searching for just the right words to use in their reply. Look, if someone wants to talk to you on a scheduled call, chances are that you’re in the running for a job. Keep your response simple and to the point.
“Hi [Name], Thank you for reaching out. I’d love to speak with you, and I appreciate your consideration for opportunities that may be a great fit. Please be sure to let me know if there’s more information that I can provide between now and then. Thanks again, [Your Name]”
If the email asks for times that you’ll be available, just include a quick line that provides those details. Yes, it sounds simple–but that’s really all that you need!
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2. When would you be available for another interview?
Don’t be alarmed if you’re asked for a second interview. This is a requirement for some companies that use tiered interviewing processes–not a sign that your first interview wasn’t good enough.
Just reply with something short and sweet:
“Hi [Name], I look forward to the opportunity to meet with your team. I’m available (insert the best days and times). Please let me know which time works for you, and if there’s anything else that you need from me between now and then. I look forward to speaking with you again soon.”
These days, many recruiters use tools to schedule interviews. If you schedule a time through a link they provide, it’s still polite to send an email noting the time you have selected.
3. Do you have time for a chat?
This question is usually not the prelude to a formal interview on the phone, and could be indicative of just about anything. That uncertainty could make you anxious, but take a deep breath.
The fact is that the company might want another interview, could have questions about your resume, or may simply want to hand down its decision on your application. You won’t know until you make time to chat with the recruiter.
Regardless, your response should be simple:
“Hi [Name], I appreciate you following up on our earlier contact. Would it be possible for us to talk (insert the best time), so if that works for you then let me know. Otherwise, I’m open to other dates and times to meet your scheduling needs. Looking forward to speaking with you. Best, [Your Name]“
This response shows that you’re flexible, open, and accommodating–not anxious or desperate!
4. Can you send your resume again?
This message seems confusing at first–shouldn’t the recruiter already have your resume? Do you need to send an updated version of your resume? What’s going on?
There are any number of reasons why your resume might get lost or damaged. Digital systems can be unreliable, and even traditional filing systems are fallible!
Your electronic resume may have been accidentally deleted, lost, or damaged. Paper copies may have been misplaced.
Whatever the reason, just resend it with a short message:
“Hi [Name], Thank you for reaching out to me again. I’ve attached my resume to this email. Please contact me if you’d like to send other materials as well. Best, [Your Name]”
This message is a polite response, indicates you’ve complied with the request, and invites further conversation. However, like all the response templates on this list, it is short. Recruiters tend to deal with huge volumes of applicants, so it’s important to communicate clearly and succinctly.
5. You didn’t get the job. What next?
Finally, a recruiter may send you a message with tough news: you didn’t get the job. Even if there isn’t a question included in the message, you can reply with a polite message and inquiries of your own.
“Hi [Name], Thank you for letting me know. Is there anything about my application or interview that I can work on? I’ve enjoyed talking without throughout the process and would love to be a more competitive candidate should there be a change in the future. Best, [Your Name]”
If you can learn something, that’s great. Otherwise, be polite and brief. Keep the line of communication open in case a similar job needs to be filled–your friend the recruiter might just think about you and your good manners.
6. Are you interested in a new position?
Sometimes a recruiter you’ve interacted with before will message you again about a new opportunity, often similar to a job you were close to getting before.
Be wary of an unprompted, out-of-the-blue message that say you’d be a “perfect match” for a certain role. There are job scams that are trying to get personal information out of you. However, if the offer looks legitimate to you but you are not interested, here is a good response:
“Hi [Name], Thank you for your message. I’m happy in my current role so I’m not looking for a new position at this time. Best, [Your Name]”
What else do you need to know to respond to a recruiter?
Before you become paralyzed with anxiety about how to respond to a recruiter, keep one thing in mind: every single one of these contacts represents an opportunity to reinforce that positive first impression you’ve made with the company’s hiring personnel.
Most of these messages provide an opportunity to continue your conversation with the company’s representatives. All the questions on this list can all indicate that you’re still being considered for a job that’s a great fit..
With those things in mind, try to maintain your optimistic outlook and simply respond in the most straightforward manner possible. Above all else, respond promptly. Don’t worry that an immediate response might be seen as a sign of desperation–it’s much more likely to be perceived as interest.
Quickly respond with the requested details, thank the recruiter for the contact, and then wait for the next reply. Once you learn how to communicate with a recruiter in a simple and clear way, you’ll wonder why these types of contact ever made you nervous in the past!
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Responding to a recruiter doesn’t need to be scary! Recruiters are just people…albeit people who can open doors for you. Once you’ve identified why a recruiter is contacting you, the email templates on this page will help you respond quickly and correctly.
Good luck with your job search!
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Caitlin Proctor, Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW)
Caitlin joined the ZipJob team in 2019 as a professional resume writer and career advisor. She specializes in strategic advice for executives, career pivots, and remote workers. Read more resume advice from Caitlin on ZipJob’s blog.
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