Communicating with Recruiters vs Clients

For most of us communicating today is so much easier than “old school” methods. In the past, snail mail or a phone call were the primary methods and there was an etiquette associated with writing a thank-you note or making a call in a professional setting. However, in today’s environment of computer-based communications – e.g. email, twitter, snapchat, abbreviations and emojis – sometimes it can be difficult to know when to be casual or when to be formal.

Formal vs Informal

As a candidate communicating with your recruiter, whether via email or phone, you should always start out on the formal side. As you and the recruiter build a relationship you can become more informal in your communications. On the other hand, when communicating with a Client, especially when interviewing or being phone screened for a position, formality is always the way to go.

So, what exactly does formal and informal mean? Generally, formal communication tends not to be personal and has rules of etiquette. For example, addressing someone using titles to prefix their name is a sign of respect. This sets the tone of your conversation whether it is by email or phone. If it is a phone call, be sure to listen, don’t interrupt and pause before you respond. Think through your answer before you speak. If you want to practice, your recruiter can provide you with ideas for possible questions. In an email you can’t go wrong using the same etiquette guidelines.

Informal, or casual, doesn’t mean it is okay to use abbreviations or emojis. It means that once you have developed a professional relationship with a Client, you can be more casual in your language and in how you address the other person. If you are unsure, you can always talk to your recruiter for counsel on the best language to use. Remember, this isn’t your best friend or colleague that you know very well. Please don’t overshare your personal history or issues with the Client.


To get the best results from your recruiter, it is best to overshare. Make sure the recruiter knows if you have any work constraints, be transparent if your work references will highlight any issues or weaknesses that might impact your ability to do the job for which you are applying and be up front about any issues that may surface on a background check. All these items should be shared with your recruiter, so they can advise you on how to proceed.

Once placed, if you are having any issues at the job location your first call should be to your recruiter as the recruiter can help you navigate a path to resolution. Remember, your recruiter is your best advocate so communicating openly and clearly with them will benefit you.

About the Author

jennifer maxsonJennifer specializes in placing senior level accounting, finance and HR positions. Her passion for matching people with their dream job drives her to provide high quality work for each and every Client. She can help with any interim projects, contracts or direct hire needs you may have.

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