How to Reach Out to a Restaurant Recruiter the Right Way

Developing strong ties with restaurant executive recruiters can pay off for you professionally. Many growing restaurant concepts rely on management recruiters for help in finding management talent and negotiating job offers. Following are some questions to ask yourself about how to initiate and nurture lasting relationships with search professionals throughout your career.  

At what point in your career should you contact an executive recruiter and how?

It’s beneficial to build relationships with restaurant executive recruiters throughout your entire career. Start online. Most search firms have websites where candidates can submit their resumes for consideration. They can make updates as their careers progress — if they get new responsibilities, join a professional organization or change jobs — with a simple email or phone call.

You also can ask people in your network if they know any restaurant recruiters who could be helpful to you and make an introduction. If you don’t know anyone who has relationships with recruiters, research various search firms to determine which ones would be most beneficial to you and introduce yourself. Make sure they specialize in your field. You can reach out to their recruiters via phone or email. You may not always get an immediate response, but you have at least introduced yourself to the firm.

How often should you follow up with recruiters?

Get in touch with management recruiters whenever something significant has occurred in your career. If you relocated or can relocate, made a job change, received a promotion, these are all good reasons to get back in touch with recruiters, versus just calling to say hello.

Should you approach more than one recruiter at a time?

Yes. It’s always beneficial to have a broad and robust network, so you can get different perspectives and feedback. There will be different opportunities in different places. Be targeted about who you’re reaching out to, though. It’s important to build relationships with those who specialize in your area of expertise, because they will be working on searches likely to interest you the most.

How do you stand out among others when contacting a recruiter?

I’m always impressed by someone who is clear about what they want in their next career move. Candidates who have a high level of confidence and energy generally stand out. They know who they are and what they bring to the table and they show that they’re really interested in the next opportunity and what the next step might be. Full disclosure, feedback and returned calls are musts if you expect a recruiter to work diligently with you.

Should you tell the recruiter how much you currently make?

Candidates who are unwilling to share their current compensation with me or the hiring company will not have my attention for long. It isn’t helpful to withhold this information because compensation is a key component of receiving an offer. You want to have an open and honest dialogue with your restaurant executive recruiter, because that’s how he or she can best support you and their client.

What’s the best way to talk about your pay expectations?

As you talk about what you’re looking for in your next role, it’s OK to share your expectations. That’s important for executive recruiters to know, because the last thing we want to do is take up your time or our client’s time if we’re not all on the same page. Share what your expectations are and add to that why you think they’re warranted based on the skills and added value you’d bring into the new position, not just because you “want to make more”.

If you’re not happy with a salary offer, what’s the best way to indicate this?

This is why it’s important to build relationships with recruiters, so you can be comfortable with being candid and straightforward about pay. Recruiters are there to help you be successful in the negotiation process.

What are some other things to avoid when developing a relationship with a recruiter?

If you say you’re going to send additional information (references, etc.), then follow through. Not following through can be a deal-breaker, because it can give the impression that you’re not interested in the opportunity and that’s how you conduct yourself in business. Restaurant managers can be extremely busy, and we understand that. What you need to do in that case is drop a quick note to say you’re not able to get to it today, but will ASAP. Recently it took a restaurant manager candidate several weeks to follow up on an opportunity, and by that time it had already passed to another candidate who did make the time. Meanwhile, someone who was very interested in a different opportunity called and said he wouldn’t be able to follow up on a client’s request for three weeks because he was busy working on a training program rollout. The client was so interested in learning more about the candidate that he offered to wait until the candidate could resurface.

Another turn-off is when I call a manager about a search I’m working on, and the manager doesn’t return the call. Maybe it wasn’t the right opportunity for them, but it’s important to call back, because you show that you’re responsive and interested in building a relationship with the recruiter. If you’re not interested in the opportunity, the conversation will probably turn into one about you and your career. It’s just another opportunity to strengthen the relationship between you and the recruiter.