How Recruiters Can Pay It Forward

Ask a recruiter why they do what they do, and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers. Among them may be:

  • “I sort of just fell into recruitment”
  • “I’m an extrovert, this was a good fit”
  • “I didn’t want to do sales”
  • “I like helping people”

The fact is, most of us got into this business because deep down we love helping people, just as much if not more than making money. Yes this is true. Fortunately, we’ve picked a profession that allows for both. Career choice FTW!

A few years back, a great colleague of ours, Gail Glassmoyer and I were talking about what to do with people who reach out that we can’t help.  She mentioned that she keeps a list of recruiters who she knows and trusts, and they all share resumes of people they can’t immediately help. She was emphatic about the great successes this list produced. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and would serve two purposes: It would help people who were job seeking, and it would help me develop deeper relationships with my colleagues in the area. I was equally inspired by recruitDC legend and sourcing goddess Kelly Dingee’s take on paying it forward. So I began my “recruiter distro” list in 2008.

Almost 6 years later, it’s still going strong, and there have been great successes:

  • We’ve helped people who were just laid off get in touch with teams that were actively hiring
  • Our returning heroes have been put in front of recruiters, and not just another ATS asking for their application. Real people, who can translate their military skills to the civilian world.
  • Just last week, I had a resume of an aspiring recruiter sent to me. It was sent by a recruiter friend who I haven’t worked with since my agency days. Within 3 days of forwarding it along, he had an offer, and the recruiter profession grew by one more.

I’m a big believer in Karma (it’s on the internet, it must be true) and quite frankly, the idea of being able to pay it forward can turn a bad day into a great one. However, it still remains true that deals cure all ills – am I right? So how do you do this? How can you jump in and help out?

  • Assemble a list of your close recruiting colleagues. Be sure to ask them if they want to be on the list. Some people may just feel overwhelmed by this. And always offer people an easy out if they decide to opt out of it.
  • Use trust as your gage.  If you get a resume from someone you trust, pass it along. But if there are serious issues, don’t feel obligated to pass it along. Instead tell the person who sent it what your concerns are. At the end of the day, what you ultimately control is your own reputation, so you have the right to not send the typo-filled resume or the resume with the poorly chosen email address of This is likely to hurt them in the job search anyway
  • Be sure to BCC your list.  No need to create hard feelings among competitors, and in the event someone responds to you, 50 people don’t have to get yet more email.
  • Give direction on what people can do. That they can feel free to reach out directly, or just pass it along if they choose. and only give a personal recommendation or tell them to drop your name if you have a relationship with the candidate. This also helps the candidate to know how the recruiter got their information. We’re not in it for the glory, just to provide help.

At the end of the day, it’s completely unrealistic for us to think we can help everyone. But we can all do our part to make the world a little better, to impact someone’s life in a positive way, one resume at a time.

What do you do to pay it forward?

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