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Hear By the time you find yourself in front of a recruiter, they already know you’re serious about finding a job that’s a better fit and have a clear idea of your skills and accomplishments. That’s all well and good, but what can you say to keep them in your corner—not just during your current job search, but over the course of your career? There’s no one thing. Recruiters want to hear about “passion” and “enthusiasm,” but they also want to see you’re taking a serious approach. For example, they want to know that you research companies before you go into interviews. Still, the question remains: What are a recruiter’s hot buttons? Here’s what they say.

Be Ready for Change

Tracy Vistine, a veteran recruiter for the Chicago-based Messina Group, likes candidates who know what they want and have considered a time frame during which they’d like to proceed. She’s always happy to hear something akin to, “I want to make a career change, and am ready to make the transition to a new employer within two months.”

Know Who You Are

Have a real, honest sense of your strengths and weaknesses, “as well as the humility to share that information,” says Eric Sullano, co-founder of Park City, Utah’s JumpSearch. Because his firm specializes in building teams for startups, it’s critical that he knows what his candidates can and can’t do. He likes it when candidates say flat-out something like, “I’m strong at project management, but not so strong at presentations.”

Express Interest

This might seem obvious, but recruiters want to hear that you’re interested in specific opportunities, says Jon Heise, senior technical recruiter at Instant Technology in Chicago. Getting a desirable candidate on board is one of the most challenging aspects of recruitment, he notes. “Our job is so heavily based on research, timing and luck, that once we have a person’s attention, their interest is the most important thing. That starts it all.”

Know What You Want

With over 15 years of experience, Rebecca White, area director for staffing firm Kavaliro in Orlando, Fla., doesn’t want to waste either her time, or her client’s. “A recruiter wants to know that the job we are offering someone is their No. 1 choice,” she says. Yes, she’s more than aware of how competitive the market is for experienced technologists right now. That said, as she works with clients, it’s important for her to feel confident that her offer is the one a candidate will accept.

Say ‘Yes’

David Knapp, metro market manager for Robert Half Technology in San Francisco, says that,“I accept the offer,” are big impact words for him, but not for the reason you might think. Surprisingly, they mark the beginning of another phase of the recruitment process. After a candidate has accepted a position, the recruiter’s commitment often continues: They may help with everything from handling resignations from the candidate’s current jobs to working through the new position’s agreements. Knapp emphasizes that his staff works hard to maintain contact and wants to work over the long term with both candidates and clients. “We follow up with our candidates at regular intervals to ensure the job is going well and it’s a good fit,” he says. “We also speak to our clients often and obtain feedback on how the candidate is performing, as well.”

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