For the past decade, I’ve often worked as a career coach helping clients navigate job search and the workplace, but recently a tech company retained my services on the employer side as a recruiter. Being on the employer side of the aisle reminded me of some things I believe job seekers should know about hiring. Here’s are some job search tips from a recruiter in 2022:
Give your resume a meaningful file name
Please name your resume file something meaningful, ideally including both the job title and your name. Recruiters often download your resume to a folder, and if you name it something like, “Resume,” they must rename it. It might not seem like a big deal, but multiply this task by 300 because that’s how many resumes the average job listing attracts. (Some large companies use recruiting software that automates much of this, but many smaller companies do not.)
Describe your employers
On your resume, add a line about each of your employers that explains who they are and what they do. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says small businesses account for 60-65% of all new job openings, and most recruiters will not know what these businesses do. Even if you work for a larger business, I am often surprised when I research a company and find out it is a large company employing thousands of people, but I haven’t heard of it.
I take the time to do this research, but many full-time recruiters might not. They might be sourcing a half dozen or more positions at once, so they don’t have time to fill in knowledge gaps. Here’s an excellent example written by executive resume writer Donna Svei when her client worked for Telesign: “$100+ million, privately held communications platform as a service (CPaaS) company. Trusted security partner to the world’s leading websites and mobile applications. Acquired by BICS in late 2017.”
I had never heard of Telesign … have you?
Explain relationships between employers
If your employer was acquired and your resume shows your next employer was the acquiring company, explain the relationship. The same goes for changes of ownerships. I met a candidate who worked for three different companies that were all related, but he didn’t state this on his resume. I found out in the screening interview, and the only reason he was chosen for a screening interview is that he was recommended by my professional network. If I had reviewed his resume without that knowledge, I might have wondered why he changed employers so much and missed a great candidate.
Tailor your resume
Tailor your resume for the job posting you want. I know this is a bit of a pain to do, but if you apply for a sales position and your resume says you want to be a project manager, it would not make sense to interview you. Also, highlight your experience that is most relevant. Recruiters only invest a few minutes scanning each resume before making a decision. Connect the dots for them.
Align your resume and your LinkedIn profile
Resolve discrepancies between the resume you send and your LinkedIn profile. In my recruiting job, the hiring managers asked me to send each candidate’s LinkedIn profile URL when I sent the resume. If the information on the two didn’t match, I wouldn’t move this candidate forward. Align the job titles, dates, career focus, and description of your professional experience.
If you are applying for multiple types of jobs and not landing interviews for anything, it could be because you wrote your resume and/or LinkedIn profile aimed at too many different possibilities, which decreases your marketability for all of them. It would be better to target your first choice jobs and if you don’t land them, then re-work your personal marketing materials for your second choice ones.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you need one.
Include a cover letter
It’s very common now for career coaches, recruiters, and job seekers to express contempt about cover letters, but I think that is bad advice. Some job search platforms require them, so use cover letters to your advantage. Cover letters don’t require creative writing, just an organized explanation of how your skills and background are a match for the position. It’s an opportunity to sell yourself, or to explain anything you want the recruiter to know. One candidate described his initiative in completing continuing education related to a career change, and it was sufficiently convincing that I forwarded him to the hiring managers with the explanation about why his background was a stronger fit than a first glance would indicate.
Follow the recruiter’s advice
If a recruiter interviews you and finds out something compelling and then tells you to add that information to your resume, please do it! It means they know something that will help sell you to the hiring team.
Carefully consider the value of any requests made by the employer
I know there is a backlash against employers asking for time-consuming free projects to evaluate your skills or intrusive tests to assess your personality, but please carefully evaluate when to say, “Yes,” and when to decline. If something takes very little time to do and doesn’t involve a work product that could be stolen by the company even if they don’t hire you, it might be the best 15-30 minutes you ever invested in your career.
Read the details
Job search platforms sometimes give us limited choices how to describe the job in the job postings. For one platform, I had to choose between “Remote” or name a specific city. Neither of these were good options because the company just cared whether the candidate lives in one half of the country so the employee could visit client sites without the expense of flying across the entire U.S. I was surprised by how many people ignored this part of the job description or tried to convince me their geographic location shouldn’t matter. It was in the job description because it matters to the hiring team.
Be cautious about LinkedIn connection requests
When you are in the recruitment process, please don’t send a LinkedIn connection request to the recruiter’s personal profile or to the hiring manager. It’s awkward. It’s okay to follow a recruiter or hiring manager, though, and definitely follow the employer’s company page.
Let us know your email address
Don’t hide your email address and rely exclusively on the job platform’s email. Recruiters need to be able to reach you outside the platforms. If you are worried we are going to sell your email address or use it in some unfortunate way (I would never do that, but I don’t know about others), then create a free Gmail email address specifically for your job search, and use that. But remember to check it daily!
Don’t try to evade the employer’s recruiter
Some candidates think they are being clever when they contact the hiring manager directly, but most hiring managers just send your information back to the recruiter who is project managing the search. It is unlikely they will decide to hire you just because you bypassed the recruiter.
If the recruiter isn’t employed by the company but by an agency, it is probably fine to send something directly to the hiring manager, but just know that the employer might forward your materials to the recruiter for a decision. Hiring managers are busy, and one reason they hire a recruiter is to reduce their labor in finding the right candidate.
This should be obvious, but be nice to the recruiter, no matter how badly behaved some recruiters have been to you in the past (and I know these terrible experiences do happen … it bothers me, too!) If you are rude, do you really think we will recommend an employer hire you? When we advance a candidate for consideration, our reputation is on the line.
Hope this list helps someone! If you have questions for me, please submit them for my Ask a Career Coach column and I will respond to as many as I can.