What do recruiters look for?
Recruiters are looking for candidates that are a close match to what an employer has outlined as the hiring requirements for the position. In essence, they are looking for square pegs for square holes. If your work history and accomplishments meets their current or future needs, they may add you to their database. Recruiters may contact you if they have a position that fits your profile — or they may make contact to ask you to recommend other people who might be interested in an opening they are recruiting for.
Finding a recruiter
There are many ways to connect with a recruiter. Sometimes, a recruiter will find you. This is particularly true if you have specialized, in-demand skills. If you post your résumé to an online job board, you are likely to receive contact from recruiters. Others may identify you through a professional association you’re a member of, or through mentions of your work that appear online (for example, blogs, articles, and publications).
LinkedIn is also one of the most common ways to be “found” by a recruiter. Recent surveys indicate that 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to identify candidates. You are more likely to be found on LinkedIn if you have a complete profile that is optimized with specific keywords and accomplishments. Recruiters are always looking for good candidates to add to their database.
But you don’t need to wait to be found to work with a recruiter. Proactively making a connection with one or more recruiters can be a good strategy, even if you are not currently looking for a new position.
LinkedIn can be an effective way for you to make a connection with a recruiter. Use the “People Search” function on LinkedIn to find recruiters in your field or specialty.
Search the “Keywords” or “Title” field for recruiter and keywords and industries relevant for your field, like “engineering,” “manufacturing,” or “technology.” You can then narrow down the search by other criteria, like location. You can continue refining the results until you come up with a few names to contact.
Google can also help you find recruiters. Search Google (http://www.google.com) using a search such as “IT Recruiter Las Vegas” or “Engineering Recruiter San Antonio.” You can also search Google and job boards for jobs posted by recruiters. If you find postings for positions similar to the one you’re interested in, you can contact the recruiter and present yourself for other opportunities.
You can also use a résumé distribution research firm to identify targeted recruiters to contact. For example, Profile Research (http://www.profileresearch.com) can research and develop lists of recruiters that are looking for candidates with your qualifications and expertise. For a fee, they will identify the recruiters and distribute your résumé and cover letter to these individuals (either via e-mail or offline).
You can use free and paid online directories to access recruiters as well.
Custom Data Banks (https://www.customdatabanks.com/) maintains an online directory of recruiters.
Online Recruiters Directory is another resource that you may want to explore here:
One free directory option is SearchFirm (http://www.searchfirm.com). Designed to help executive search firms connect with corporate clients, jobseekers can search the database by specialty, geography, and recruiter name.
NPA (The Worldwide Recruiting Network) - Jobseekers can also search the online directory of The Worldwide Recruiting Network (http://www.npaworldwide.com/DIRECTORY/) to find member firms.
The NPA website also has a job search to tool for jobseekers to view listings posted by recruiters within their network. Search the NPA Job Board by job title, keywords, and/or specialties (https://npaworldwide.com/for-job-seekers/ ).
Often the best way to find a recruiter, however, is through a referral from someone you know. Talking with co-workers in your field to see who they have worked with is a great way to find a recruiter. If there’s a specific company you want to work for, you can also make a connection with someone in their human resources department and ask if there is a specific recruiter or recruiting firm they work with often. Learning proven networking strategies will always help you be more effective.
Research your recruiter. See if he or she has been involved in any high-profile searches in your industry (these are sometimes profiled in industry publications). Google your recruiter’s name and see what job postings he or she has listed online. You are trusting your personal information and reputation to your recruiter, so trusting him or her is essential.
Ace the job interview!
Accomplishments demonstrate your skills and experience. It’s one thing to claim you can do something — it’s another to prove you’ve done it.
When collecting accomplishments for a job search, consider the key areas of competency required for success in the position you are seeking. What are the key components of your job? You should be able to identify accomplishments directly related to this expertise.
To think of your accomplishments, take a look at your past performance reviews and think about any awards or recognition you’ve received. It may even lead you to start building your own professional portfolio.
The most important part of the accomplishment is outlining your results. To be most effective, however, you also need to provide context for your accomplishment. There are several different formats to do this.
Here are three common formats: STAR, CAR, and PAR.
Recruited to revitalize an underperforming sales territory characterized by significant account attrition. (Situation) Tasked with reacquiring accounts that had left the company within the last six months. (Task) Developed contact list for lapsed accounts and initiated contact with decision-makers at each company. (Action) Reacquired 22% of former customers, resulting in $872,000 in revenue.
Manufacturing plant recently had its third accident, leading to a line shutdown. (Challenge) Updated internal safety plan and instituted new training program for production employees to reduce accidents and injuries. (Action) Plant has been accident-free for the past nine months — the longest it has been without accidents in plant history. (Result)
Nursing home employee morale was at an all-time low, and long-time employees were leaving in droves. (Problem) Identified that new scheduling system was not well received by either new hires or long-time employees, resulting in significant dissatisfaction with employee schedules. Instituted new “employee choice” schedule system that increased employee cooperation in determining ideal staffing schedule and improved employee satisfaction as a result. (Action) Reduced turnover by 15%, saving more than $12,500 in hiring and training costs in the first three months after implementing new system. (Result)
Quantifying your accomplishments also helps you stand out from others who do the work you do — whether you’re using the information for a raise or promotion request, or when seeking a new job opportunity.
Job search planning tips
Many jobseekers have no clue about the research and statistics when it comes to their job search. Research indicates that in today’s market employees spend an average of 4 years per job — and most people have up to 12 to 15 jobs throughout their career.
Here are 4 planning strategies that jobseekers can implement for a successful job search. Remember, you only need one company to hire you. Instead of focusing your efforts on making dozens or hundreds of contacts with prospective employers, be selective!
Five Most Effective Job Search Strategies
1. Applying for Job Postings Online
This is where most jobseekers spend their time, but most people won’t find their dream job by applying for posted positions. Research suggests that only 2-4% of jobseekers land a job using Internet job boards. Most large companies receive between 200 and 10,000 résumés a month — the majority of these come from online applications for jobs they’ve posted.
There are many places where jobs are posted online. These can include the hiring company’s website or LinkedIn Company Page, niche websites (like Dice.com for information technology jobs, or JobsInLogistics.com), aggregator sites (such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, or Indeed.com), social media (some companies will post job openings on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), or even Craigslist. Many companies try running an employment ad on Craigslist first, simply because it is not expensive; so they try it first, before spending more elsewhere.
The aggregator sites — also known as the “big boards” — aren’t as effective as they used to be. Listing fees have increased while success rates have declined. However, you shouldn’t discount them entirely. If you see a job posting on a big board, go directly to the employer’s website and see if the position is listed there as well. By applying through the company’s website, you’ll not only get the chance to research the company, you might be able to identify a hiring decision-maker directly. And if you are able to find the hiring manager’s name, follow-up your online application with a résumé and cover letter by mail. Remember, once a position is advertised, the competition for it can be overwhelming. Use all your resources to compete.
2. Responding to Newspaper Ads
Most jobs posted in newspapers are for lower salary positions (under $30,000/year) but that is not always the case, so it can be worth your while to spend some of your time finding and applying for jobs you see advertised in print publications. You may find jobs advertised in your local newspaper or in a trade journal for your industry.
Newspaper advertising is expensive for employers. That's why you’ll find a lot of companies with openings aren’t advertising them in the newspaper.
However, the newspaper can be a useful tool in identifying job “leads” — companies that hire people to do the kind of job you want. You may find you get more mileage by reading the newspaper or trade journal to find companies that are expanding and growing. You’ll also find these kinds of companies profiled in the Business section of the newspaper, in magazines like Inc., Forbes, and Fortune, and in local business journals. (Locate local business journals here: https://www.bizjournals.com/)
3. Employment Agencies/Recruiters
For certain kinds of jobs, companies pay third parties (recruiters or employment agencies) to screen and recommend potential employees.
These jobs usually fall into three areas:
In exchange for finding candidates, screening them, and recommending the “best fits,” an employer will pay a fee that is negotiated from about 10% up to 25% of an employee’s base salary for the first year to the recruiter or search firm (employment agency), upon a successful hire.
The most important thing to recognize about working with recruiters is that they work for the hiring company, not for you. They only get paid if they make a successful placement. Because you’re not paying for the service, sending a résumé to one of these companies is a good idea, but it won’t always result in success — or even a return phone call. They are not obligated to call you back, if your résumé does not match their search criteria. In that case, they may keep your résumé in their database; or not.
You can find recruiters in the phone book (under “Employment Agencies”) or online. Use Google to search: Recruiter and [city name] and [job title].
Or look in the newspaper classifieds or your industry trade journal for recruiting firms advertising for candidates in your field. You can also make contact with recruiters or employment agencies at job fairs or through LinkedIn.
Remember, the employer pays the recruiter fee, so you should never be asked to pay a fee to work with a recruiter. Don’t be fooled by people claiming to be recruiters who ask you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to work with them.
It’s fine to work with multiple recruiters. The more recruiter contacts you have, the larger your network, and the greater the number of opportunities that will present themselves. Recruiter relationships are generally not exclusive. Start with 2-3 and expand your contacts if you’re not getting results. But be honest if you’re asked who else you are working with.
There are also variations of the employment agency you may come across. For example, if you are employed in a union trade, your union hall may function as an employment agency, offering connections to union jobs. And if you are between jobs and want to be hired as a day laborer, there are certain employment agencies that specialize in extremely short-term positions (usually one day, or a few days at a time).
And, don’t discount the resources offered by CareerOneStop (https://www.careeronestop.org/) or (https://www.usa.gov/job-search). Local or state employment agencies can also help connect you to employers in your area.
Networking remains one of the best job search strategies you can use to find your next job — or your dream job — but it’s probably the least understood method. Many jobseekers think networking means alerting the people you know that you want a new job. But it’s more than that. Your network is most valuable when you can ask for help in identifying job leads, obtaining information, getting advice, and/or making referrals. For example, if you want to work at a specific company, ask people in your network if they know anyone who currently works for — or used to work for — “Company X.” Then, ask for an introduction to that person, and ask them about the company, culture, and hiring practices.
It’s important to actively develop and cultivate your network. This can include: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents of your friends, relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, your doctor, financial advisor, attorney, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, clients, and community contacts (civic leaders, clergy, etc.).
Here are some more opportunities to develop your network:
The single biggest mistake most jobseekers make is not asking for help from their network. People want to help you — so let them!
5. Direct Contact
Tap into the so-called “hidden job market” by using the direct contact job search method. Remember: Companies hire people to solve their problems.
In her book “Résumé Magic,” author Susan Britton Whitcomb suggests jobseekers target what she calls “employer buying motivators.” These include the company’s desire to:
It’s estimated that anywhere from 30 to 75 percent of jobs are not advertised. How are these positions being filled? Through networking and direct contact. How do you make direct contact? Call, use your network for an introduction, send an email, or write a targeted cover letter and send it with your résumé. You can also use résumé distribution services — like ResumeSpider or ResumeRabbit — to send unsolicited résumés to targeted contacts.
But the real key to success is following-up. When using direct contact, persistence is the key!
Do your homework about companies you are interested in. Always research the company. The basic information you need is: Who to direct your résumé to within the company and whether the company has jobs (or job possibilities) that match your area of interest, education, and/or expertise. You can’t just send a general letter to “HR” or one addressed to “President, ABC Company.” You have to send it to a person. The best people to contact are managers and executives.
Every unsolicited résumé you send should be accompanied by a personalized, targeted cover letter. You are simply “spamming” potential employers when you mass mail 10, 20, or 100 résumés without researching them individually and customizing a cover letter. Even if you have the most creative résumé, without supporting documentation, you’re probably wasting your time.
Instead, take the time to develop a customized cover letter listing how your specific skills and attributes can be an asset to the company.
Next, make sure you keep a record of the résumés you’ve sent, using a follow-up log. When you send out a résumé, mention what your next step is — for example, “I will be contacting you within the week.” Make a note in your calendar and then follow-up as promised. When you’re “spamming” employers, you lose the ability to closely follow-up on the résumés you’ve sent. Ten résumés and cover letters that you follow-up on are better than 100 résumés with no follow-up.
Follow-up on letters by making a phone call. If you call and don’t get a response, send an email. Leverage your network to get personal introductions. Your efforts will yield interviews. You can dramatically increase your chances of being interviewed and receiving a job offer by following-up with both your network and the person with the power to hire you in an effort to positively influence the selection process.
In your job search, you shouldn’t rule out any job search tactic — just consider how effective it is, and spend more of your time on high-impact tactics like networking and direct contact.
Visual CV for job search?
Visual CV's have a different purpose than a standard resume. They are not exactly the same thing... A Visual CV is an effective tool for networking purposes. It is a step up from just handing out your business card while networking. It is a step towards branding your name, your service, and all that you have to offer.
Visual CVs are NOT ATS-friendly (Applicant Tracking Systems). There are over 40 attributes one can unwittingly build into a resume that will cause ATS difficulty reading. Some will cause ATS to not be able to read anything at all.
A major contributor to problems is graphics. But that is not the only problem. In fact, it goes beyond graphics. File types such as PDF's, font choice, mixed fonts, how certain information is laid out, even section tiles, can cause problems depending upon who the ATS software vendor is.
With over 200 ATS software providers and no standard to uphold, it's no wonder people fail to get responses or are rejected regardless of qualifications.
Visual CVs are fine IF, ... IF you can hand the resume to a human. The computers that read them are blind. That is why a Visual CV is best used only for networking purposes. A more classic resume is still your most powerful tool to navigate through the job search process.
Classic resume vs Visual resume
TRADITIONAL RESUMES WIN EVERY TIME
No visual resume has “perfect fit” formatting for most people and it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel to make visual resumes bend to your wishes. Visual resumes ARE slick to look at. Use them for networking at a job fair where somebody has already met you and you just want them to remember you.
Visual resumes are usually created with complex formatting features such as images, graphics, text boxes (most ATS systems can't read information in a text box or in the header or footer), columns, etc. Images, color, and "fancy" elements on a resume just interfere with the ATS and are visually distracting for most people reading and comparing Visual CVs to a normal, easy-to-read classic resume.
Visual CVs with a picture of the jobseeker are considered automatic disqualification by most HR Managers. In fact, it is close to illegal for an HR Manager to even have talents’ photo(s) on hand (on one's computer).
What to do about References on a resume
Should I or shouldn't I include a "References" heading at the bottom of my resume?
A professional resume writing service can only be provided by an expert resume writer who can easily explain every strategy that is implemented in writing a new resume. But there is much controversy when it comes to including or not including References as a heading at the bottom of your resume.
The truth is that reference-checking is still a widespread practice and there are effective strategies to professionally handle the reference checking process.
I see time and time again, in various articles, that the line "References available upon request" is outdated. I find the advice so wrong that I like to search and learn more about the professional backgrounds of the writers who spread this futile advice online. Often I find that most of them have not worked A DAY as a Recruiter! But I have! In fact, I have been a Recruiter for more than two decades. I have called on countless jobseekers' references, and have heard all kinds of details from employers, communicated verbally, or otherwise. So, you must believe me when I say that not everybody has shiny references. Employers have their ways of letting Recruiters know that.... And recruiters are professionally trained to dig for details; that's what they are paid for, among other things.
In my recruiting days, whenever I came across a resume that did not include the clause "References available upon request", at the very least, I would frown. I could not help but wonder if this person has bad references, otherwise "what would it take to just include that clause in the resume for us????? How hard could it be???" And that is why I would insert that resume at the BOTTOM OF THE PILE.
Considering the number of resumes I had to review on ANY given day which would actually offer me the information I needed, I wasn't going to call "Mr/Ms Mysterious" to find out the thought process behind not including that simple clause about References at the bottom of their resume. I would just call the resumes who made it clear that if I need to check references, it "WILL BE" available upon request.
I have not only applied this rule to those resumes that have crossed my desk, but over the years, I have also trained many other recruiters to do the same. Needless to say, they all found this internal strategy to be an efficient one, in terms of time management.
My 2 cents comes from first-hand experience, from the other side of the interviewing desk... Only because I have been there, COUNTLESS times... Today, I share that with you, here.
I see time and time again, in various articles, that the line "References available upon request" is outdated. When I do a little search online for theseI see time and time again, in various articles, that the line "References available upon request" is outdated. When I do a little search online for these authors' backgrounds, I see that most of them have not worked a day as a Recruiter. But I have! In fact, I have been a Recruiter, for more than two decades. I have called on countless candidates' references, and have heard all kinds of details from employers, communicated verbally, or otherwise. You must believe me when I say that not everybody has shiny references. Employers have their ways of letting Recruiters know that.... And recruiters know how to dig; that's what they are paid for, among other things. In my recruiting days, when I would come across a resume that did not include the clause "References available upon request", at the very least, I would frown. I could not help but wonder if this person has bad references, otherwise "what would it take to just include that clause in the resume for us????? How hard could it be???" And that is why I would insert that resume at the bottom of the pile. I am sorry to say, but considering the number of resumes I had on ANY given day, to go through, which would clearly offer me the information I needed, I wasn't going to call "Mr. Mysterious" to find out the thought process behind not including that clause. I would just call the ones who made it clear that if I need to check references, it "WILL BE" available upon request. I have not only applied this rule to those resumes that have crossed my desk, but over the years, I have also trained many other recruiters to do the same. Needless to say, they all found this internal strategy to be an efficient one, in terms of time management. My 2 cents comes from first-hand experience, from the other side of the interviewing desk... authors' backgrounds, I see that most of them have not worked a day as a Recruiter. But I have! In fact, I have been a Recruiter, for more than two decades. I have called on countless candidates' references, and have heard all kinds of details from employers, communicated verbally, or otherwise. You must believe me when I say that not everybody has shiny references. Employers have their ways of letting Recruiters know that.... And recruiters know how to dig; that's what they are paid for, among other things. In my recruiting days, when I would come across a resume that did not include the clause "References available upon request", at the very least, I would frown. I could not help but wonder if this person has bad references, otherwise "what would it take to just include that clause in the resume for us????? How hard could it be???" And that is why I would insert that resume at the bottom of the pile. I am sorry to say, but considering the number of resumes I had on ANY given day, to go through, which would clearly offer me the information I needed, I wasn't going to call "Mr. Mysterious" to find out the thought process behind not including that clause. I would just call the ones who made it clear that if I need to check references, it "WILL BE" available upon request. I have not only applied this rule to those resumes that have crossed my desk, but over the years, I have also trained many other recruiters to do the same. Needless to say, they all found this internal strategy to be an efficient one, in terms of time management. My 2 cents comes from first-hand experience, from the other side of the interviewing desk...
Here is a list of tried-and-true strategies to prepare yourself for your job search.
Job Search Preparation Guidelines
1. Update your résumé.
While ideally your résumé is customized for a specific job, having an up-to-date Master résumé is the next best thing. So if you are continually doing more at work, or if you’ve changed your career direction, or obtained additional credentials, now is the time to review the various options available at www.market-connections.net, as listed on the Start Here page. (And if you don’t have a résumé at all, now is definitely the time to put one together! Market-Connections Résumé Services can help!)
2. How solid is your LinkedIn presence?
There are distinct differences between a LinkedIn profile and a résumé… While they are not the same thing, your LinkedIn profile complements your résumé. Hiring managers and recruiters routinely conduct searches on LinkedIn and find suitable candidates for almost any and all kinds of professions. Or, someone in your network might be interested in recommending you and forward your LinkedIn profile URL. So make sure you have a LinkedIn profile — and make sure that it’s updated. (Yes, this is something Market-Connections Résumé Services can help you with.)
3. Know what you’re worth: conduct salary research.
One of the most often-cited reasons to consider a job search is to increase your salary. But how do you know what you’re worth? There is more salary research data available than ever before. Websites like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can help you see how your current salary and benefits package stacks up.
4. Build your network.
It’s estimated that 40-80 percent of jobs are found through networking. Networking effectiveness is not just about quality — although that’s important. It’s also about quantity. It’s not just about who you know. It’s about who your contacts know. Many times, it’s the friend-of-a-friend who can help you land your dream job. Grow your network both professionally and personally. Learn how to network your way to your next job. You never know who will be the one to introduce you to your next job opportunity.
5. Manage your online reputation.
More and more hiring managers are checking you out online before they interview you. What will they find when they type your name into Google? How about if they check out your Twitter profile? Or find you on Facebook? Now is the time to audit your social media presence and clean up your online profiles.
6. Define your ideal job.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” That line, from Alice in Wonderland, is important to remember in your job search. This is when a career roadmap is essential. If you don’t know what your dream job looks like, how will you know how to find it? What job title and responsibilities are you interested in? Do you want to work independently, as part of a team, or both? Do you like short-term projects or long-term projects? Who would you report to? Who would report to you? Answering these questions can help you define your ideal position.
7. Create a target list of companies you’d like to work for.
Like your ideal job, you probably have a preference for the type of organization you want as your employer. Things to consider include: company size, industry, culture, location, and structure (public, private, franchise, family-owned, nonprofit, etc.). Once you’ve made your list, look for companies that fit your criteria.
LinkedIn for Job Search
Why have a LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn is the top professional networking website for jobseekers. As Reid Hoffman, co-Founder of LinkedIn told Charlie Rose in an interview: “Post a full profile and get connected to the people you trust. Because if you’re connected to those people and you posted a profile, then when other people are searching for people, they might find you.”
LinkedIn has more than 400 million registered users as of 2017. The site adds two new members every second, and more than 200 million people visit the site each month. With so many members, the rate at which your network expands on LinkedIn can be truly amazing. A hundred strategic contacts could mean access to millions of people in a short amount of time. You’d have to attend dozens — or hundreds — of in-person networking events to equal the reach you can get on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn allows you to leverage the power of your network — the people you know, and the people those people know — to help you connect to the person (or people) who are in a position to offer you a job.
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, put it this way: "LinkedIn’s core value proposition is to connect talent with opportunity at massive scale.”
Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn. Recruiters from every discipline and industry are on LinkedIn. More than four million companies have profile pages on LinkedIn.
But author Guy Kawasaki puts it best in his book: “I could make the case that Facebook is for show, and LinkedIn is for dough.”
Having a LinkedIn profile is crucial to job search
Once upon a time, attending networking mixers, industry events, and Chamber of Commerce meetings were the best way to make new connections and build business relationships. Now, these activities have moved online within the LinkedIn community. Much like networking in person, professionals interact on LinkedIn with the explicit intention of making business connections.
With LinkedIn, you get all the benefits of networking in person, with less of the hassle. Instead of going from business lunch to business lunch hoping to meet people, LinkedIn provides a platform for you to specifically search and research individuals who you know will directly add value to your job search.
Employers and recruiters use LinkedIn to locate both active jobseekers and those who aren’t necessarily looking (passive candidates). They also use LinkedIn to vet job candidates before making an interview invitation or extending a job offer. LinkedIn also allows candidates to create an online portfolio of their accomplishments, has a strong visual emphasis, facilitating embedded video, links to content posts elsewhere on the Internet, and the ability to create highly shareable, long-form content in the form of LinkedIn’s “Publishing” feature.
LinkedIn allows you to identify, research, contact, follow-up, engage, and maintain your contacts in one place. Its ability to facilitate business networking is unmatched by any other social network. Essentially, your LinkedIn profile is a résumé, business card, and elevator speech all rolled up into one.
However, your LinkedIn profile is not your résumé. LinkedIn is a personal branding page. You need both a résumé and a LinkedIn profile, and they should be in sync with one another, but not be exact copies. The information on your résumé should match your profile (in terms of positions you’ve held, your educational credentials, etc.), but the content you include on your LinkedIn profile must be different than what is included on your résumé.
I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Recruiter with three decades of experience in assisting jobseekers, working with employers, and writing effective resumes. I am well-versed with Applicant Tracking Systems. I use the right keywords so my resumes go through ATS successfully and without complications