Recruiter shaking hands with candidate

Working With Recruiters During Your Job Search

How to Work With a Recruiter – and How to Get Them to Notice You on LinkedIn


There are some serious misconceptions about recruiters. We hear this one a lot: recruiters only work for their clients, not their candidates. But we do work for candidates in the sense that when we have a position available, we do our very best to present them in the best possible light. We coach our candidates, we help them with their resume, we assist with painful salary discussions, and we advise them what to wear for their interview in order to fit in with the company culture. It’s not all about the client – and we really wish the world would ghost that misconception.

The truth is, working with a recruiter can be the best thing to happen to your job search. With our access to jobs that aren’t otherwise posted and our vast experience in our industries of choice, we will give you that extra push into success. So, how do you find the right recruiter to work with?

How to start a relationship with a recruiter

Recruiter interviewing candidateA relationship with a recruiter usually begins one of two ways. Either you apply to a job posted by a recruiter, or a recruiter finds you from a resume database (like Dice, CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed, etc) or on LinkedIn.

When you get contacted by a recruiter, it usually starts off with a message describing the opportunity at a very surface level to gauge your interest. From there, phone calls describing the job in more detail will happen, and so will discussions about salary expectations and interview availability. Your recruiter will then work with you and your resume. They’ll rework sentences in order to include action verbs and highlights that reflect hard numbers. They’ll edit sections of your work history to include specifics that are desirable to the client. They’ll rearrange your skills in order of importance. Think of a recruiter as someone who has an ‘in’ with the client, who knows exactly what the client wants, and knows how to present you in the best possible light. Working with recruiters is a win all around.

Now, remember a couple paragraphs above where I said a relationship usually begins one of two ways? That’s because there is a third, lesser-traveled road: networking. It’s totally ok to find some recruiters you want to work with and send them a connection request on LinkedIn, even if they don’t have a job you’re suited for at the time. Start liking and commenting on their posts. Build a natural relationship with them, so that when the time does come that they have a good opportunity, you’re first of mind.

The inverse also sometimes happen. A recruiter may connect with you, even if they don’t have a position available, because they love your profile and know that one day, they will have something for you.

How to get noticed by recruiters on LinkedIn

Make sure you turn on the “Open to new opportunities” feature.

I’ve run some tests on this myself: when I have this feature turned off, I barely get contacted by recruiters – in a test that lasted a few months, I only received three requests from recruiters / hiring managers. With the feature turned on, I get a lot more recruiters reaching out. This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone – obviously when someone knows for a fact you’re open to opportunities, they’ll be more likely to reach out. It’s a bit of a waste of time to reach out to people who aren’t actively looking.

Complete your profile

Line of candidates waiting for interviewsLocation, skills, relevant positions, education – it all matters. Ideally, your profile should be as complete as your resume and a recruiter would only need to take a quick glance to see if they’re interested in learning more about you and your needs.

You also should have a good headline. If you think about it, your headline is one of the first things anyone will see on LinkedIn – it’s what you use to hook someone into clicking on your profile. The default for LinkedIn is [current job title] at [company], so make sure you customize it. You do still want a couple keywords, of course, but the headline is meant to let a bit of you shine through: what value do you bring to a company? What makes you good at what you do?

I’m not an expert at writing headlines for other people, so I’ll leave you with a good article from The Muse on writing the perfect headline.

Use a good headshot

Down with grainy low quality photos! Down with selfies! Down with photos of people vaping! You might think I’m kidding on the third one, but nope – I’ve seen way too many profile pictures of people with huge vape clouds… which, unless you’re in the vaping industry, you shouldn’t do.

It takes only a few minutes to go outside and have a friend, relative, or self-timer take a good picture of you with a nice nature background. And you don’t need a DSLR to take a good picture – smart phones can produce great photos that are certainly professional enough for LinkedIn. So, invest in your profile and get a new, high quality photo up.

A warning about putting your resume in a database

InterviewHarnessing the power of a resume aggregator like Indeed can be helpful in your job search, but it can also have unintended consequences, should you make your resume public – which, if you’re trying to get people to find you, you have to do.

Think about it: if your current employer finds your resume, it might result in a very hard conversation about why you’re looking for new employment – and could potentially end with you losing your job. So, just be aware that these things can unfortunately happen. You just have to weigh the pros and cons. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it. I think it’s much more worthwhile to leverage LinkedIn since the platform is saturated with good recruiters that want to match you with the right job and company.

We’re here to help

Sometimes, recruiters might not be able to help you – for example, if you’re in an industry they’re less experienced with – but if you’ve built a good relationship with them, they might know recruiters in your industry that you can connect with, or even a hiring manager they can introduce you to. Be kind, be genuine, and be interested – those are certainly keys to building a good relationship with a recruiter.


About System One

System One delivers specialized workforce solutions and integrated services. We help clients get work done more efficiently and economically, without compromising quality. For more than 40 years, we’ve built our reputation on exceptional talent, flexible delivery, and full accountability. System One’s national network spans energy, engineering, IT, commercial, scientific & clinical, legal, marketing, and beyond. System One is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Back to News and Updates