At a career management workshop for experienced professionals, one attendee lamented that he used to get a healthy stream of recruiter calls. He didn’t return the calls, and now the calls have stopped. How could he revive interest?
I posted recently on how to rekindle a lost connection, but recruiters are a different breed of connection and require special handling. Typically, recruiters prefer to seek you out – hence the term head-hunter. Unsolicited calls to recruiters are mostly ineffective. Here are four more effective ideas to revive job market interest if there are few or no recruiters calling you:
1 – Return messages – via phone, email, and social
Of course the best way to cultivate recruiter interest is not to let it wane in the first place. Return recruiter messages, and be vigilant across all media – phone, email and social media. Respond in a timely fashion, ideally within a day or certainly within the week. If you come across a message older than that, you can still refer to it as you revive the connection even if you respond even at a much later date. Apologize profusely for the tardy reply, assume the position has been filled, but ask how you can still be helpful.
2 – Make helpful introductions
In general, you will make the best impression on a recruiter if you focus on how you can be helpful to them. The best way to help is to provide introductions or ideas for other candidates. In order to understand which candidates might be relevant, you need to understand what the recruiter is working on – in general but also the specific roles open now. If you’re not looking, this does mean extra time on your part, but the few minutes it takes to hear about what the recruiter is working on is still time well spent. You learn about the market. You nurture that recruiter relationship. You provide a benefit to your network when you refer someone, thereby nurturing that other relationship.
3 – Provide useful information
If you don’t have specific names to share (and really you should if you’re doing enough networking!), you can still be helpful by providing useful information on the market in general or brainstorming ideas for where the ideal background might be found. For example, when I was recruiting a CFO for a non-profit, one prospect I contacted wasn’t interested for herself but mentioned a program she recently attended for experienced finance professionals interested in social enterprises or non-profits.
4 – Stay relevant
Even if you let some recruiter relationships lapse, others should continue to call on you if you stay relevant. This means your skills and experience are marketable – e.g., you’re getting measureable results, you show a track record of progress, you’re lucky enough to be in a growing industry. This also means you’re staying active in your area of expertise – e.g., speaking at conferences, publishing or getting cited, curating insights on social media, playing a leadership role in your professional community. As I stated at the outset, recruiters like to find their candidates. If you stay relevant, recruiters won’t stop calling.
Even if you’re not looking to switch jobs, you should still care about recruiters calling you. Recruiters are one of the ten types of people you want to have in your professional network. Recruiters give you a pulse on the market, as well as an outside calibration of your value to the market. You always want to know what your options are and how competitive your background is.
This post originally appears on Forbes.com.