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Why Recruiters and Job Seekers Often Need the Same Advice



It’s a frustrating world out there for job seekers.  There are thousands of websites offering advice, resume writers, career coaches, and resources galore, but the entire process can be intimidating knowing which to use, and which to trash.

But, what makes it all the more frustrating is dealing with recruiters and hiring managers who don’t heed the same advice you see their side of the table giving to job seekers.

Shouldn’t everyone be held to the same level of accountability?  If a job seeker is going through all the efforts, shouldn’t they get the same respect in return.  The truth is it’s never a fair playing field, but a good recruiter or hiring manager will always look to improve their process.

Here are just a few examples of why recruiters and job seekers need the same advice to make the job search/recruitment cycle easier on everyone:

Editing & Proofreading

As a job seeker you are told to proofread everything you send out, the slightest spelling or grammatical errors could have you in the black with some nit-picky hiring authorities.

And then there’s the resume that you are constantly editing, trying to show the best version of yourself, taking out irrelevant details, re-wording sentences to make them more meaningful and shifting the format to highlight your key identifiers.

But, as a job seeker, how many bad job postings or company career pages have you seen?  Whether it’s typos galore, a confusing job description, no identifying information as to where the job is, descriptions that are too short that make you uneasy emailing your application off to a potential phishing site, or too long and boring you to death with the details, where is the person who looked at this before it went out into the universe and said that it’s OKAY?

As a the person responsible for putting your company out there as a career brand, shouldn’t you take a minute and put some pride behind the work to make sure you’re putting the company in the best light, just as a job seeker is trying to do for themselves?

Avoid the Spray & Pray Method

It’s all about targeted selection, on either side of the table, right?  We tell candidates, don’t just send your resume out in mass in hopes you’ll get a call back.  Target the companies you want to work for, find positions that fit your background and be targeted in your approach.

Yet, how many mornings do I open up my email to find at least a half dozen form letter emails from recruiters asking me about my interest in an entry level job that has nothing to do with my background.  It’s obvious you sent this same email to hundreds, maybe thousands of passive and active jobs seekers hoping a handful would bite.

Unfortunately, some of this is all setup by electronic systems and keyword searches, but way to make a candidate feel like a commodity and not a human being.

Research

Here’s the kicker for me.  It’s so important for a job seeker to be prepared in the interview and research the company, the job and everything they can in order to make a good first impression.  But, shouldn’t the company/hiring manager/recruiter/etc. also want to make a good impression?

How many times has a recruiter happened to find my resume from who knows when, who doesn’t bother to look up my LinkedIn profile to see what I’m currently up to, inundate me for days on end with emails and phone calls thinking I’m the perfect match for their position?  (It happens about once a week, maybe I should feel fortunate I’m in demand.)

The recruiter obviously hasn’t done their homework, they’re pitching a position that has very little in line with my career progression or interests and they’ve already turned me off with their lack of readily available information on me.

Stop wasting valuable energy!  Do your research.  It would take a recruiter less time to open up my LinkedIn Profile and/or make one inquiry based on the real data in front of them, than wasting 10-20 phone calls, leaving voicemails trying to convince me how this is the job for me when they could move on to another candidate, or ask for a referral.

That’s the bonus round to the research portion: candidates–always keep your eyes open for opportunities, recruiters–why do you forget to ask me for a referral!

Know the Job/Culture

An add on to the research portion, job applicants are always advised to know everything they can about the job and the culture of the company.  But, often, as outside recruiters get stretched thin or try to take on larger req loads they’re not as engaged in the companies they’re working with.

If you can’t tell a job seeker the basic duties of the job or what it’s really like to work at the company in non-generic terms, aren’t you doing a disservice to your employer and the candidate and wasting a lot of time in finding the right fit?

Get back in the game and re-engage with who you’re hiring for.  You may be strapped for time, but taking time to focus on those details is going to save you time in the long run and help you to more quickly identify who is the right fit for the job instead of sending over a handful of ill-suited or misinformed candidates.

Follow-up

Oh, the black hole of interviewing, where job applications and resumes go to die.  As a job candidate, you write thank you notes for everything: a thank you at the bottom of the cover letter for consideration, a thank you after the phone screen, a thank you after the interview, etc.

But, what’s a job seeker do when they hear nothing back during the process?  Recruiters, hiring managers, you do know that candidates are also customers and bloggers and friends of friends, they have voices and they talk, right?  You do know you’re potentially hurting your company brand by keeping them in the dark, right?

Find a system to follow-up!  Even a form letter, while impersonal and disheartening at least gives a candidate something to go on.  The job search is frustrating enough–put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand how they feel never knowing where they stand.

Yes, we all need a little advice, on both sides of the table, and perhaps before we open our mouths to give it, we need to make sure we are taking that advice.  But, for every person out there who needs it, there’s an outstanding person who really is doing their part.

So to the recruiters and hiring managers out there who keep striving to improve and remember what it was like when they were once job searching and go the extra mile, I tip my proverbial hat to you.

And, job seekers, as difficult and arduous as the process may seem, keep your heads high and keep up the hard work, it will pay off.  There will be that one day, that one interview, where everything will click and you’ll find that job you’ve been searching for, despite all the pitfalls along the way.

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Robin Rayburn

About Robin Rayburn

Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Interviewing.com. Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog, RestlessPillow.com, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.

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4 comments
Ingrid Mariano
Ingrid Mariano

Thank you for the amazingly detailed advice! I need to be aware of these "disclaimers" in the future, on company websites. I also need to be a little more patient.

Ingrid Mariano
Ingrid Mariano

Hi Robin! Many of my applications have been sent in online, via the company's internal website. If a response isn't heard within 2-3 weeks time, do you assume that your resume / CL went to a "black hole"? It's not relevant to send a thank-you note if no contact has been made. Do you have any suggestions on a tactful way to find out if they have received it?

Robin Rayburn
Robin Rayburn

Ingrid, It really depends on the company/position/etc. There can be a number of reasons for not getting a response. 1) The company already has an internal hire they plan to promote into the role and are posting as a formality 2) They are overwhelmed with applicants and your application didn't fall into the first few hundred they scanned 3) Some companies will post in advance of when they are ready to interview applicants, and it could be a month or two before you hear anything back 4) They pivoted in their needs for the position and never took the posting down The list can go on and on.... You might try to sleuth if they are actively posting this position in other places on-line. (Chances are if they are spending money to post in many places, they're actively trying to fill it or haven't found the right fit.) As for what to do when you've heard nothing back after applying you have many options. First I would weigh if this is an employer you really want to work for. If it is, your best bet is to have an internal connection. Go through your network or outreach to others and build your network to make a connection who can either refer you for the position internally (which could make a recruiter give your application a second look) or who might be able to provide insights on the process, if there are delays, etc. Another option would be to try to land an informational interview to learn more about the company and make a good in person impression with team members within the company. It may provide insights to how to present yourself on your resume and application to be successful in the future when applying to jobs at that company or competitors. Also, you can place an inquiry by phone or email to the HR or Recruitment department. But, be aware of any disclaimers when you applied. Some application process state specifically do not contact on application status, that it has been received once you hit accept....you get the idea. So contacting them after this could take you out of the running. Sometimes it can depend on the size of the company too and understanding their hiring process. If it's a large company that may be using an ATS and/or a resume parsing software, make sure your resume had key words relating to your industry and job and expressly showed that you fit the requirements of the job description, (this is what recruiters are going to start using as their guide for keyword searches) otherwise it may have never come up during a search of applicants. Also, some smaller companies may be overwhelmed or not have staff adequately trained in the recruitment process, so your application could very well be lost in a sea of emails. There is no one right answer to how to follow up. One hiring manager or HR person may be delighted that you called and are interested in the position and give you another once over, whereas another may be sick of dealing with applicants and blacklist you. Sometimes, you do have to give up and move on to bigger and better opportunities. But, in the future, there are two paths I can express that have worked well for many people I know: 1) Always have your materials ready and be on the look out for job opportunities so that immediately when they are posted you are one of the first to respond. This provides you with a higher chance of getting your resume seen. 2) Network and build a relationship with someone in the company prior to applying so that they can alert their HR department that their referral applied on X date and can follow-up on your behalf, so instead of you being an application stalker, they become the interested party internally with more accountability. I hope others will also provide their own insights as to what they suggest a candidate do. Thanks for the question!

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