The job search can be distilled to a single task – persuading one person to say yes. Thinking like a recruiter helps you stand out by throwing the right signals.
The secret of success is to understand exactly what they’re looking for. So let’s treat this as an engineering problem: we’ll examine the hiring process from their perspective, see how they’re going to evaluate you, and figure out how to maximize your appeal at every stage.
A CareerBuilder survey of 2000 recruiters provides excellent insights into the way they perceive both job applicants and the hiring process. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their perceptions don’t always match the way many jobseekers see themselves. That’s important for one simple yet subtle reason – it doesn’t matter what qualities you have if your recruiter can’t see them.
Jobseeking is a performance art. You need to make sure that your target audience actually sees what you do, and you need to draw attention to what you want them to see.
So, for example, it’s not enough to research a company before applying. You need to demonstrate this in your cover letter and in your interview, and mention something that proves you’ve found out something about them. Keep in mind that although most of what we’re saying may be nothing new, you need to consider whether you’re doing enough to give the recruiter the right impression and be that one stand-out candidate who gets the job.
Recruiters Think Reputation Guides Job Search
88% of recruiters believe that jobseekers apply to them because of their company’s reputation: you want to work for ABC Corp because they’re awesome.
The reality is that, frequently, you’re applying because they have a vacancy that sort of fits your skill set, is in the right place, and is better than your current job. You might not have even heard of them until you stumbled across the job listing half an hour ago.
Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to hear that. They don’t want to be just another place you applied to. They want to feel special.
Flattery will get you a long way. Decision makers prefer candidates who are familiar with the company and who’d consider it an honor to work for them. Research your target company through their Web site, press releases, Twitter feed, and everywhere else. Make sure you know the name of their CEO, their main clients, and their recent products or projects. Be ready to show you’ve taken an interest.
Recruiters Expect a Professional Online Profile
Your network presence makes a huge difference in job search outcomes. Consider:
- 76% of recruiters said a strong professional profile online was an important factor in the decision-making process.
- 58% will check out candidates online before even deciding whether to interview them.
- 42% will check LinkedIn before an interview.
- 76% will use LinkedIn at some point in the hiring process.
- 49% will check Facebook.
- 58% will look to see if the candidate has a personal Web site or blog.
Your resume is only the beginning of what recruiters will see. The rest of your online presence is an equally important part of your professional profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one. Gather as many endorsements and connections as you can, and make sure it’s on your resume and cover letter. Build a professional Web site or blog, and use it to demonstrate your knowledge and experience.
Finally: Clean up your personal social media. Make your profiles private if you can’t keep it professional.
40% of Recruiters Don’t Think You Prepare for Interviews
This bears repeating: 40% of recruiters think candidates don’t prepare properly for interviews. That’s frequently a sufficient reason to reject an applicant. They want to be impressed, and they want to see that you’re taking the process seriously, especially if you’re meeting senior management.
From another angle, adequate preparation will put you ahead of 40% of your competition.
We really can’t stress this enough – do your research and be ready to ask relevant and interesting questions.
Recruiters Think Your Job Search is Only About the Money
67% of recruiters believe that the main thing candidates are interested in is the salary and benefit package. That’s significantly different to the data from job seekers, for whom the most important considerations are a fulfilling role (70%) and work/life balance (18%). In fact, 74% of people say they wouldn’t take a job they didn’t enjoy and didn’t allow them a satisfying personal life.
Flipping this narrative will put you well ahead of the pack.
Steer the conversation away from compensation. You need to establish that what they’re offering will be sufficient, but spend more time talking about the company culture, opportunities for promotion, and what role you could play. Show that you’re not just a mercenary who can easily be lured away with a bigger pay check, and that you have other, more important reasons for being there.
Follow Up or Don’t Bother
58% of recruiters say they regard an email or phone call from a candidate after an interview as an extremely important part of the process, while 24% say they won’t consider hiring someone who doesn’t bother with that follow-up message.
Less than one hiring manager in ten said follow-up communications don’t influence their decision. That’s terrible odds — Write that follow-up email. Every time. No matter how well the interview went, you probably won’t get hired if you don’t bother.
It’s your job to get yourself hired and it’s up to you to prove yourself worthy. Don’t expect anything to happen unless you’re continually pushing. Don’t be a pest, but you can’t afford to sit back and wait for a reply to your email or an offer to fall into your inbox.
“I never heard back from them,” doesn’t show that they’re not interested in you. It shows you weren’t interested in them.
Whether you’re just starting your job search, or you’ve already started and are getting frustrated with the lack of progress, step back and approach the problem from the other side. Put yourself in the recruiter’s place, and ask yourself this: “What would I want to see from a successful candidate if I was hiring for this role? Would I hire me?”
That simple change in perspective, and the resulting change in attitude, may be enough to generate the spark that launches your new career.