Job Search Etiquette: Best Practices for Communicating with Recruiters and Hiring Managers

Job Search Etiquette: Best Practices for Communicating with Recruiters and Hiring Managers

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In the last few years, an unfortunate trend from the dating arena has entered the business world: ghosting.

In a recent study, three-quarters of 1,500 workers surveyed from around the world reported that at least one company had simply ignored them after an interview. Employers admit to ghosting, as well – with 73 percent saying they’d ghosted a candidate in the previous year. 

Job-seekers also participate in ghosting – with 28 percent saying they’d cut off contact with an employer in 2021, up from only 19 percent pre-pandemic. 

Why is this practice becoming so commonplace?

“Digital hiring processes deluge companies with candidates, making replying to everyone hard, even as labor shortages give job hunters more options as employers scramble for talent. Is the inevitable consequence of this an increasingly discourteous recruitment process – or can steps be taken by both sides to avert a downward spiral?” writes BBC’s Alex Christian.

There are many reasons for this breakdown of communication – an overwhelming number of job applicants for open roles, online anonymity, burnout, and other factors. But isn’t there a better way to communicate during the hiring process? 

Here are the best practices for communicating with recruiters and hiring managers. 


✅ If a recruiter is searching for candidates, send them a message on one professional networking platform.

Make a strong first impression by connecting directly with the recruiter hiring for a role that interests you.

After all, recruiters receive an average of 250 resumes for every open position, so you should do what you can to set yourself apart. 

The first step is connecting with the recruiter on one social platform – and just one. Though they might use several platforms, it will only put them off if you write to them on multiple sites. 

“Don’t bombard them with messages and requests. Reaching out through multiple platforms will only annoy recruiters, placing you on their stalker list instead of their list of qualified candidates,” suggests the Undercover Reporter.

What should you say in your “cold email”? 

First, you might mention a connection you have, like a shared alma mater or organization membership. It’s always a good idea to search social media for ideas. Next, tell them that you’re interested in the position and offer a brief summary of your relevant qualifications. Finally, ask a question or two you might have about the role, like if there are specific qualifications or skills you should focus on in your application materials. 


✅ Before applying, ask hiring managers about the position’s must-have qualifications.

If a job is posted on a company website, then you might be overwhelmed with how many qualifications they request candidates have.

Luckily, most job postings consist of a list of “like-to-haves” on top of the essential qualities the organization is seeking in a candidate.

But how do you know what qualifications – usually three to four of the skills listed – are most important? 

Your best bet is to email the hiring manager and simply ask what matters most. 

“Ask for the role’s minimum requirements, ask about deal breakers, and ask about the soft skills needed to be successful in the role,” said independent recruiter Sarah Greer to SHRM.


✅ In crafting your application materials, first, understand what the employer is seeking and how you can solve their most pressing concerns.

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make when applying for jobs is in the most important communication you’ll have: the resume and cover letter.

While you should make personal connections with hiring professionals, the most important thing you can do is craft these materials effectively. 

Start by reading the job posting carefully. What problem does the company want the person who lands this job to solve? If you’re not sure, you can always write to the hiring manager and ask. 

“This is also a great chance to connect your application with a voice. You will be more remembered by being in touch like this, trying to understand first how you can help,” said researcher Elisabet Miheludaki.

The more clearly you understand what the company wants, the stronger your application materials will be. Make sure you center your materials on proving you can solve their problem. 

“Cover all the gaps, answer all the questions that can arise proactively. Enlist the help of your friends to spot these gaps and fill them,” adds Elisabet.


✅ Don’t write to hiring managers without a reason.

One of our impulses when we really want a job is to pester hiring managers and recruiters.

But this isn’t an effective strategy. Instead, connect with these professionals if you have an authentic question, not just to stay front-of-mind. 

For instance, if you’re asking a hiring manager a question you could easily find on the company’s website, you’re not making an effective impression, even if they do remember you. 

When you do write, ensure every communication is concise and direct. This demonstrates your purpose in writing and signals that you value the hiring manager’s time.

“Keep your email short and get to the point. Don’t ‘bury the lead’ with a lot of setups – a one-sentence setup and then the core of the message is best. The format should be simple, too. No elaborate fonts or format tricks. No emoticons,” said DePaul University’s Career Center.


Best Practices for Communicating with Recruiters and Hiring Managers


If we take a less cynical view of recruiters and hiring managers ghosting candidates, we might suggest they are simply overwhelmed by the number of applicants for open roles.

Many times, then, if you tailor your application to the employer’s needs, ask meaningful questions about a role, and use concision in conversations, you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd.

If you are effectively communicating with recruiters and hiring managers, then they’ll be that much more likely to view you as a strong candidate. 

Want more tips about one of the most important communication tools? Watch resume specialist Staci Collins’ webinar “Communicating Your Fit in a Cover Letter.”

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