Enlisting the help of a recruiter in your job search can be a massive boost — if you know how to do it. With close to a million recruiters using LinkedIn as their base, it isn't just a matter of finding one and reaching out, but of finding the right one, and reaching out in a way that sets you apart from the throng. From handy search tricks to sample message templates, here are our best tips for making recruiters work for you.
How Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search
Career experts estimate that upwards of 70% of jobs aren't advertised openly. That's a lot of jobs you're potentially missing out on without the right connections.
The good news is, those connections aren't difficult to make. Some you might already have without realizing it, and others are only a few clicks away. More good news? Everything you need is already in one spot. You'd be hard-pressed to find a recruiter who doesn't use LinkedIn, which makes it the only place you need to search.
Internal vs External Recruiters
There are two types of recruiters — internal and external. Most companies will use one or the other, so it's important to know which one you're searching for.
Internal recruiters work directly for a company. This may be a single employee or an entire department. Generally, the larger the company, the more likely it is to use internal recruiters. But this isn't a hard and fast rule, so make sure you do a little digging of your own.
External recruiters are contractors who either work independently or for a larger firm. External recruiters are not employees of the companies they represent. Instead, they usually specialize in a particular area, which could be as broad as a geographical area or as specific as an industry or job function.
How To Search For Recruiters and Find Them on LinkedIn
If you already know the name of the recruiter you're trying to contact, finding them can be as easy as plugging their name into LinkedIn. Most people won't be quite that lucky, but don't worry — it's easy to find recruiters on LinkedIn even without knowing their name.
Finding recruiters using LinkedIn Search
Most recruiters will have a title like "Recruiter," "Recruitment," "Staffing Manager," "Staffing Specialist," "Human Resources," or "Headhunter." These are your search keywords!
Finding internal recruiters on LinkedIn
If you're looking for an internal recruiter, start with the company you're targeting. Make sure your search filter is set to "Companies" in the drop down menu. Once you've found the right company, go to the company profile, choose "People," and click on "See all employees on LinkedIn." This will take you to a complete list of company employees. From there, you can use the search function which will now search only within the company, or simply browse the list if it's a smaller company and you prefer to do things manually.
Finding external recruiters on LinkedIn
To find an external recruiter, skip the first step. Type your chosen keyword(s) into the search bar and make sure the filter is set to "People." You can further refine your search to target your industry or desired job function with relevant keywords (like "Sales," "Executive," "Technical," or whatever fits your particular search). From there, you can use filters including current company, industry, and location to narrow down your results.
Using Google Search to find recruiters on LinkedIn
Did you know that you can use Google to search within a specific website? This is a great way to get around the limitations of LinkedIn's internal search function and allows you to connect with more people.
To find recruiters on LinkedIn using Google, type "site:linkedin.com/in" along with your search keywords. For example, if you were looking for recruiters who could help you find a Creative Director position in New York, you'd want to type "site:linkedin.com/in recruiter creative director new york." Here's an easy link to that search query.
What to Message Recruiters Once You’ve Found One
You’ve put in the legwork and found a recruiter you want to message. Here’s how to reach out to recruiters and take that first step.
Never settle for the default LinkedIn message! There's no faster way to get your message sent to the bottom of the pile than sending out a generic, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn ..." Put in a little bit of effort, make it personal, and demonstrate to a recruiter why they should take the time to respond to you.
LinkedIn messages are limited to 300 characters, so make every word count. And don't sell yourself too hard; instead, focus on making a connection. If there's anything personal you can add to your message — like a professional membership or volunteer group you share in common with the recruiter or a particular company initiative you've been closely following — mentioning that could help you stand out, too.
Sample LinkedIn Message Template
Here’s an example of how to message a recruiter that you can copy and paste into one of your own connection requests.
Hi [Recruiter's Name],
I'm [Your Name], a [job title] [additional information, eg. where you're from or what you specialize in]. I was wondering if [Company Name] had any openings for a [job title] with [specific skills or experience], as I'm looking to take on a new challenge with a great company. Thanks!
When reaching out to a recruiter, you want to be friendly, memorable, and succinct. This template keeps the initial contact low-pressure while conveying all the important information — who you are, what you're looking for, and a sneak peek into why you might be a good fit.
Your first message may not result in much more than a "we'll keep your details on file," and that's okay. Keep in touch with recruiters in an organic way. For example, reaching out every couple of months with a piece of relevant industry news, or following them on another platform like Twitter can help a recruiter keep you in mind for future opportunities — without coming across as too sales-y or desperate.
If you need more templates, check out these sample LinkedIn connection requests.
Things To Keep in Mind
Search Your Existing Network
It's good to know how to search for new contacts on LinkedIn, but don't forget that you might have existing contacts who could be helpful as well! Your first step should be to search your first degree connections on LinkedIn for people with relevant job titles, like those listed above.
You might also consider pursuing networking opportunities with people you know who work for companies you're interested in, even if it's not in a recruitment context. This guide on How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job gives you additional tactics on how to search and reconnect with your existing network.
Search LinkedIn Effectively
Remember your Boolean search terms! You can search for more than one keyword at a time and avoid excessive or irrelevant results by adding words like AND and OR to your search.
Optimize your LinkedIn Profile
Finally, it's important to curate your LinkedIn so you seem appealing to recruiters once you've managed to connect with them. The easiest way to optimize your LinkedIn profile is to use a LinkedIn profile optimization tool like LinkedIn Review - it's free to use.
Make sure you have a complete profile with a good headline, relevant keywords, and a good number of recommendations and endorsements.
Build Your Personal Brand
Stay active by writing posts and responding to comments. And if you're looking to create inbound leads, maximizing your connections can be a good way to get your profile to show up in more searches and allow recruiters to find you, rather than the other way around. For more, see this guide on how to develop your personal brand on LinkedIn.