You are here


Ask the Recruiter: How to pursue a job opening without being too aggressive

Review position description and send cover letter, resume showing how you are right for job; but don’t pester search consultants

Zaniello, Hudson
Jim Zaniello, left, and Bill Hudson

Feb. 16, 2018

Question: How do recruiters learn about the talent pool for positions once they open? What’s the best way for candidates to let recruiters know they are interested? How aggressive should they be, and can being too aggressive backfire?

Jim Zaniello
President and Founder
Vetted Solutions
Associations retain search firms to find candidates who best fit the skill set, experience and culture of the organization. This is not an easy task, and the primary reason associations decide to use a recruiter’s expertise.

The recruiter’s role is to survey the market for these individuals. Sometimes this means surveying the options within industry-specific or industry-related organizations. Other times, industry knowledge is a secondary consideration, so we focus more on relevant experience or background. This is all driven by the client’s needs.

If you are interested in an opportunity, first review the position profile carefully to understand how closely your qualifications match with what is being sought. If the position profile isn’t available online, ask the recruiter for it. If you decide to apply for the position, remember to tailor your cover letter and resume to the specific requirements of the job.

Applicants need a balanced approach when pursuing a position. Certainly, they should enthusiastically express their interest and should follow up with the recruiter if they receive no reply to their application. However, they should be mindful that over-aggressiveness usually will not leave the best impression. A complete lack of response likely indicates either the client or the recruiter isn’t interested in pursuing someone as a candidate. Although each search is client-specific, recruiters remember applicants from search to search. Structure your outreach and manage your pursuit accordingly.

Bill Hudson
Partner, Associations Sector
Heidrick & Struggles
The best way for a candidate to “enter the market” and demonstrate interest is to lead with experience and strengths. All recruiters keep a database of available, talented people. Individuals interested in a posted position can always send the recruiter a professional cover letter and current resume. Both should be tailored for the specific position to give the recruiter the best insight about fit with the organization. A follow-up call or email is appropriate, but repeated calls may backfire.

Give the recruiter some time, because there are typically many candidates at this stage. Recruiters for CEO or other executive positions are looking for people who can pursue important matters diligently but appropriately.

CEO Update asks readers for questions to pass along to executive recruiters. If you have one you would like us to pose, email