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What to Do When A Recruiter Calls You [Guest Post]

If you’re valuable and visible, it’ll happen to you. Recruiters will call. (And you’re more valuable and visible than you may realize.)

When the call comes, you may be taken off guard. Unless, of course, you take time to prepare in advance.

My friend, executive recruiter Diane Fennig, has dialed thousands of people over the years, and offered to give us the backstage view of what she’s thinking when she hits those digits. I’m honored to share her perspective so you can learnwhat’s happening in her experienced recruiter’s head as she makes that call. Enjoy her guest post here.

(FYI–In addition to being recruited, I know many of you are also recruit-ing for people to hire. If you’re working hard to understand how your recruiter can get you the perfect person you need, don’t miss this guest post, “Five Things Your Recruiter Wants You to Know,” by CamdenDelta consultant Mark Lotz. )

What to Do When A Recruiter Calls You

by Diane Fennig, The Human Capital Group

You are minding your own business when the phone rings.

Diane Fennig, executive recruiter at The Human Capital Group
Diane Fennig, executive recruiter at The Human Capital Group

An executive recruiter is interested in talking to you about your potential candidacy for a new leadership role, and wants to know if you could talk for a few minutes.

In all honesty, this call has not come completely out of the blue . . .

You must admit, you did receive the advance e-mail that I had sent with the full job description.   You regret you that had not yet read the entire document, but you have not yet deleted the message.

From the first read, you were impressed with the salary rage posted; the position is in line with your goals for your next career step and it seems to be a good fit and match for your skill set.

I am following-up as I promised I would. I am on the phone wanting to talk to you about your interest.  So, what do you do?

If you are remotely interested in continuing a conversation, please agree to chat, or offer to schedule some time to do so in the near future.

(Darcy’s note: For most of us, we’re better off scheduling a time to chat in the next day or so, saying, “I’m so glad you called, Diane, but you’ve caught me in the middle of a project.  I’m available tomorrow between 11 and 2. Is there a slot in there that works for you to talk further?”  If you’re at all interested, you want to come across focused and prepared, and the odds are you’re not going to be at your peak when you pick up the phone by surprise.)

If you have specific questions about the search and/or process, please ask these upfront.  Candid conversations are the most productive.  You can ask for some time to consider the opportunity, and I will be transparent about the timeframes in play.

I read playing “hard-to-get” as not interested, but I will give connecting with an interesting candidate the old Girl Scout try!

If you are not interested in pursuing the role, please let me know of your decision.  If you are willing, also share some perspective as to why this is not a good fit/match within your career timeframe. This is helpful information that is often key to a search.

I have been graced with many great colleagues who are willing to “pay-it-forward” sharing nominations and referrals of other potential candidates.

If this is not the right next leadership role for you, this is a great time to help me understand what might be your next career step.  Do not be shy–I am in the networking business and I might not clearly understand your next career aspirations from your résumé (Darcy’s note: or from your LinkedIn profile, where Diane likely found you in the first place!)

If this role is one of interest, I will share next steps, timeframes and deadlines.  In turn, I promise to keep you posted of the search and search process.  I owe you this courtesy and I honor this commitment.   As a finalist candidate, you deserve to know the next steps and any learnings from this process.

So, please take my call.  Connect with me, as I am in the networking business.  I continue to believe that my life is richer with some of the most interesting connections.  I love to make introductions and continue to pay-it-forward for others.  I do hope we can connect!

YOUR TURN: What else would you like to know when a recruiter calls? Share your questions in the Comments below, and we’ll get the answers for you!

Diane Fennig is a passionate architect at the intersection of opportunities and talent.  She brings more than 25 years of career development and management experience to Executive Search.  Diane joined The Human Capital Group in 2009 to incorporate her network with her keen sense of talent search for a new role in Retained Executive Search.   She believes there is an art and science to a life well lived,and she works to find joy daily in her life.  Diane is passionate about her connections and career related work. She especially enjoys facilitating discussions around career success and will share her Top Ten Tips if you e-mail her directly at  

Want more tools to help increase your networking with recruiters and others? Click here to download my free planning guide, How to Network While You Work.