The Thoughts of 7 Recruiters on How to Get To an Interview

The life of a recruiter is not an easy one. It requires a lot of digging and scrapping for talent to fill positions for their clients, the employers. It’s not unheard of for a recruiter to have as many as 30 plus requisitions at a time to fill. For the mammoth companies, hundreds of requisitions (as one recruiter says) are possible.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the job for recruiters is trying to satisfy the ultimate hiring authority who is looking for the ideal candidates. As hard as they try, some recruiters fall short of meeting the expectations of the hiring authority, while others succeed. Those who succeed more often are the ones who stay in the game.

From my observation of the life of a recruiter–talking with them, seeing their posts on LinkedIn, and reading their brutally honest banter on Facebook–their most pressing struggle is bridging the gap of communication between job seekers and their employers.

The communication gap can’t be understated; it’s real. Who gets more frustrated, recruiters or job seekers? I would wager the frustration is weighed differently. Recruiters are trying to maintain their employment, and job seekers are trying to…get employed.

If you’re a job seeker who is having trouble finding the right way to communicate with recruiters, this article is for you. You see, there’s an art to communicating with recruiters. It’s not a subtle art; it’s a common-sense type of art.

Are you wondering what an application tracking system is? You’re not alone. In this article a recruiter will break it down for you. What about ghosting? You might have experienced a time when a recruiter didn’t get back to you upon sending them your resume or after an interview.

These are just a couple of topics this article will address from the point of view of recruiters. There are seven topics in all, so take some time to absorb what the recruiters in this article have to say. Here they are in order:

  1. How to connect with a recruiter
  2. What to write when connecting with a recruiter
  3. Ghosting and whether you’re being ghosted
  4. Writing resumes that appeal to recruiters
  5. That dang ATS and why not to fear it
  6. The steps to writing a compelling LinkedIn profile
  7. Preparing for an interview with a recruiter

Before I go any further with this article, I have to make one thing clear; the recruiters/former recruiters who contributed to this article are people who want you, as job seekers, to succeed.

How to connect with a recruiter

Ed Han Talent Acquisition Geek | Job-Hunt.org Contributor | JobSeeker Ally | I’m not active on LinkedIn: I’m hyperactive! | Wordsmith | Recruiter at Cenlar FSB | Ask me about IT opportunities in the 19067 and 08618 ZIP codes!

Everywhere you go, people are talking about the importance of networking in a job search. And people talk about the importance of talking with recruiters because we’re the ones with the jobs.

But how?

As a recruiter and avid networker, here is what I would recommend you do to network with us.

Before we get into that, it would be a good idea to understand the two major kinds of recruiters, in order to help you tailor your approach and strategy.

  • Agency/external recruiters. Employees of a recruiting firm, agency recruiters work on job requirements assigned by their clients. When they are able to place one of their candidates with the client, an external recruiter earns a commission.
  • Internal/corporate recruiters. Often part of HR, internal recruiters are employees of the hiring organization and work on job requirements from within that entity. When they are able to get one of their candidates hired with the hiring manager, a corporate recruiter still gets paid a flat salary.

Whether agency or internal, recruiters tend to have areas of specialization. It could be industry-driven for external recruiters (obviously not relevant for internal recruiters), but quite often is oriented by skillset: creatives, IT, finance, etc. In some large organizations, they might specialize even further, such as within IT, software engineers vs infrastructure.

And you know what? We tell you on our LinkedIn profiles! There just aren’t a whole lot of recruiters who do not have a LinkedIn profile–which is great, because the odds are that is where you will find us most readily.

Sending someone a LinkedIn invitation to connect is good–but recruiters get tons of invitations to connect, and you want to stand out from the others.

Do that with a note sent along with the invitation. And here is where a lot of people take a sub-optimal path.

Do you possess a skill set that the recruiter specializes in? 

Hint: look at the profile and scope out their employer. A quick look at the company page will tell you.

Strike up a conversation with the note you send to connect. “Hey, I’m a [profession] professional. Your profile suggests that you work with my skill set. Can we have a conversation?”

See? That’s all it takes: starting a conversation. 

Networking isn’t a transactional exchange. It’s a relationship in which the parties both get something out of it.

What to write when connecting with a recruiter

Kelli Hrivnak Recruiter partnering with companies to hire Digital Marketing & Technology Talent | Dream Team Builder Career Growth Catalyst

Contrary to what you may have heard, recruiters can be a valuable resource in your job search. But do remember this: A recruiter’s objective is to find people for their jobs. Not to find jobs for people.  

Ed Han explained the two types of recruiters and their roles in the recruiting process. Now that you have narrowed in on recruiters aligned with your area of expertise, it’s time to craft your message.

Here’s what you should not do:

Hi ________, I am starting to explore job opportunities. Do you have any jobs that would be appropriate?

Why this isn’t efficient:

Unless we have communicated recently, I don’t know what your strengths or career objectives are.

You are putting a lot of trust in the recruiter to guide your career path.  

Recruiters are slammed right now. Succinct details will help a recruiter customize what clients and searches would be the best match for your career growth.

Some call it your elevator pitch or value prop. I need the hook–What information do we need from you instead? 

What are your skills/strengths? 

Positions/titles

Target salary range/benefits/comp

Remote/in-office presence

Industries/target companies

Here’s how to fine-tune your messaging :

Hi ___________, 

I am starting to explore job opportunities. I’d prefer to work for a mature, structured company with over 500+ employees (non-consulting), with a company that respects work/life balance. I am open to hybrid/remote, within a 30-mile radius of Baltimore City. Compensation 120k+. 

I’ve been doing UI design but also managing design operations, and I’d like to leverage that experience to shape the operations of a future UX department. My base resume is attached.

****************************************

Do your research. Do you have any shared connections? If you were referred, name-drop.

Keep it short. Don’t ask for a coffee chat as your call-to-action. Trust me–the recruiter will reciprocate communication if they are interested.  

If there is a specific job posting you are interested in, include the URL. Some recruiters are working with companies that have 200+ job openings. 

Are you making a career transition or believe you can choose a variety of career paths? It’s okay if you don’t have 100% clarity of your next steps, but do spend time identifying your options and transferable skills. Career coaches can help with this process and planning if you are having a difficult time determining focus.

Recruiters want to find the right talent for their open jobs, but they don’t have time to uncover your interests and wants. Help us help you and make this a win-win situation by communicating what you bring to the table. 

Ghosting and whether you’re being ghosted

Dan Roth Technical Recruiter at Amazon

Before getting into whether or not you are being ghosted, I want to highlight two things. The first is that while I am a recruiter, I spent the first 17 months of the pandemic as an unemployed job seeker navigating the market like so many of you. I have seen what you have seen and felt what you have felt…I get it.

The second thing I want to highlight is: Is Ghosting a real thing? The obvious answer is yes. However, in my experience, there are a few different kinds of ghosts. Below I will break them into what I have found to be the 3 most common types of ghosts to help you understand.

The mass reach-out ghost: This type of ghost is the one that sends you a template e-mail saying something along the lines of, ‘based on your experience we feel you could be a good fit for X (company). You get this e-mail; your hopes are high…but then nothing.

This type of ghost has probably sent out thousands of emails prior to looking at any one resume. Once you respond, it either gets put in a massive pile of other responses only to be forgotten in time or after looking at your resume, they realize you are not the right fit…and don’t let you know because ‘it’s awkward.’

The Recruitment Influencer Ghosts: Let’s be real, because of the pandemic and the reliance on social media and specifically social audio, many recruiters, myself included, have become somewhat of micro-influencers.

This group gets hundreds of inbound messages per day and while it is a nice theory to say this type of influencer can get back to everyone, it gets incredibly overwhelming and even the most diligent recruiter may miss their fair share.

The Ignorant Ghost: These are the worst kinds of ghosts. These are the people you have had multiple communications with…you may have had multiple interviews and then nothing. I could give you potential reasoning for why this may happen, but there is no excuse for this. It is just absolutely horrible and these kinds of ghosts should not be recruiting.

Regardless of the type of ghost, it makes for a horrible experience. As a job seeker the natural instinct is to wonder what it was that you did wrong. It is in those moments that I will ask you to pause, take a breath and realize that getting ghosted by a recruiter is not a reflection on you, it is a reflection on them. You are better off at a company that values you and your time.

Keep your head up, your spirit high…your time is coming.

Writing resumes that appeal to recruiters

Matt Warzel, CPRW, CIR Helping Job Seekers Find Their Next Career Move 20% Faster With A Pay Increase of $15K on Average Award Winner Jobstickers.com Blog WriterSpread Joy, Be Empathetic, Make a Change, Then Make Your Impact

The resume needs to be logical first and foremost. If the reader is wrinkling their forehead, you’ve lost the initial battle.

With this said, have a target in mind and build your messaging around this target. Have a vision of your dream job. Think of your job drivers. What’s important to you? Time, money, benefits, 401(k)s, location, product offerings, company image, culture, values, progressive versus traditional setting, remote versus on-location, passionate project opportunities, etc.

Each is different for each person. What motivates you? What’s your passion? What can you do that will make you happy in 2 weeks, 3 months, a year? The candidate should research his or her new career field/job target! You need to do your research. You need to get a feel for the way the industry and respective companies function in the world, the services they provide to others, and the types of jobs out there in that industry that could pose as a potential new career.

I love using Google News, Google alerts, Salary.com, Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn to uncover industry and job research. Using this research can be a good way to spot industry and job keywords (for the core competencies and summary sections), role responsibilities (for the experience section), and important transferable contributions (for the accomplishments section) for inclusion on your resume. Read trade journals of major industry players to stay on top of insights in your space.

Be realistic in what you can achieve. While taking chances and risks are a good thing, do not over-stretch yourself into a role you simply are not a fit for (yet). What industry do you want to live in, and in what role? Be specific in what you want, clarify it, write it down, consume knowledge of it, live it.

Recruiters cannot help you if you nor they know what you want to do. Most people have skills and experience that can transfer nicely to another industry or job. The key is knowing how those skills reasonably transfer, and what sort of value they bring to the prospective employer. The challenge is that most are unsure of how their skills are exchangeable to other duties.

If you’re an accomplished professional, it’s best to use actual methodologies, processes, skills, or technologies relating directly to the open job description and your experience. These are good ideas for those greener candidates. Also, opt for free experiential learning like internships. Work freelance projects for friends, neighbors, etc., and continuously build your portfolio, skills, and competencies.

Back to the resume – next, make sure it has optimized keywords, quantifiable content (even if there are no metrics, but metrics are preferred), and a format/layout that adheres to applicant tracking system mandates. Think quantifiable content and write it pragmatically. Also, stick to brevity while making those bottom-line accomplishments shine. Again, as long as you aren’t wrinkling the readers’ foreheads (I love this visual, LOL) when they’re reviewing your resume, you’ve done your job…now if you match the qualifications, it’s interview time!

That dang ATS and why to not fear it

Amy Miller Sr. Recruiter – I build the teams that build the satellites. Recruiting Truth Teller & Mythbuster. Somehow, LinkedIn Top Voice 2022

A quick Google search of “How To Beat The ATS” yields over 6 million results. SIX. MILLION. RESULTS.

All about how to “beat” something that usually amounts to a digital filing cabinet.

Job seekers are frustrated. Recruiters are confused. How did we get to this point, where alleged best practices around job search have created a mythical bot standing between you and your dream job?

First of all, let’s understand how most companies utilize their ATS – our first clue is in the name. ATS stands for

Applicant

Tracking

System

Essentially, most ATSs are simply large (albeit complex) databases that track a candidate’s journey from application to onboarding. It is literally a System that Tracks Applicants – and considering many recruiters are juggling hundreds of applicants at a time, you WANT us to have some mechanism to keep it all straight!

Many job seekers fear the ATS as something to be “beat” or even want to find a way to get AROUND an ATS – which is unfortunate, considering the ATS is a critical tool that helps recruiters keep all this activity straight.

Let’s start by walking through the candidate journey in the typical ATS.

APPLICATION

This is where it begins, and often the only part a job seeker will see. Candidate information is stored in a profile – searchable by name, email, or candidate ID (random personalized number generated for each new profile).

Candidates can apply directly to roles they choose, current employees can refer candidates, and recruiters can sometimes “tag” a candidate to an open role. (Open roles are ALSO created in the ATS, generating their own “profile” and job ID).

ACTIVITY

Once a qualified candidate has been identified, there is typically a process flow. Resumes/profiles are sent to hiring managers. In some cases, assessments are requested or calendar invites sent. These invitations can be for initial recruiter calls, technical screens, even interviews.

MOST ATSs aren’t even that complex, and scheduling can be done the old-fashioned way (typically via email). However, NOTES about all that activity should be recorded in the ATS note fields, so other recruiters or hiring managers with access can see at a glance the status of roles and applicants.

There is a LOT that happens in the “activity” portion of the ATS – we could write a novella about all that! Documentation is CRITICAL. Required documents, interview notes, feedback and next steps – ALL TRACKED IN THE ATS.

OFFER

Congrats! An application was successfully reviewed, interviews scheduled and documented, and a hire decision has been captured in the ATS. Now we can make an offer!

Many ATSs can create offer letters that allows for the requisition to be closed, and the candidate record updated/sent to the appropriate HRIS database once it’s accepted. In the event of a decline, we can still see that candidate history, in case we want to try recruiting you again!

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BOTS?

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of misinformation out there about “bots,” auto screeners, or rejection emails. I have yet to work with ANY system that does any kind of filtering without human intervention.

What further complicates this, is the sheer number of ATSs on the market. There are literally hundreds of ATSs and a near-infinite number of configurations. I’ve used Taleo at 3 different companies – the experience was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT each time.

WHAT IS A JOB SEEKER TO DO?

The best way to “beat” the ATS? Pay it no mind. Seriously. Forget about the tool being used, and worry more about where you are spending your time. Write a targeted resume written for a human audience (recruiter AND hiring manager).

Network with people who hire (or do) the kind of work you want to do. Understand how companies hire. If you’re a new college grad trying to break into FAANG – applying to senior roles and hitting up SWE Managers is hardly going to get you the results you want – those companies generally hire new grads through very specific University Recruiting programs (and they use the same ATS!).

Other recruiters might choose to use Boolean strings, or trust a ranking system to identify the top applicants (I don’t, but others may). Talking to recruiters at your target companies can help demystify how THEY use their ATS – so you can focus on more important things.

I WAS REJECTED. NOW WHAT?

The good news? Your information stays in the ATS. Smart recruiters will actually START their search when recruiting for a new role – IN THE ATS. We can conduct searches, review “silver medalists” on previous roles, even read other recruiters’ notes and feedback. Not to mention we have your contact info and can quickly get in touch!

There are certainly land mines to avoid when job searching – the ATS just isn’t one of them.

The steps to writing a compelling LinkedIn profile

LIAM DARMODY Growth Operations | Talent Attraction | Employer Branding // Husband+Dad | Hot Sauce Aficionado | Blockchain Bull | LinkedIn Branding & Content Strategist

Your resume gives recruiters a glimpse into what you’ve done and when you’ve done it,

but recruiters want to know “WHAT(ever) ELSE” they can about you when considering

whether to reach out or move on to the next profile. Be sure you’re making it easy for us

to get an authentic glimpse into:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you do it
  • How you do it
  • How you think & communicate
  • What it might be like to have you on the team

Be authentically, genuinely, unabashedly yourself, because there’s no reason not to be. Those recruiters who like what they see will reach out with opportunities they think are a good match. Those who don’t like what they see, won’t, but as far as you’re concerned, you don’t want to be considered for jobs that your personality doesn’t fit into anyways.

Use all the LinkedIn profile real estate you need to tell your story the way you want to. As a recruiter, there is nothing quite as satisfying as reading a well-written profile, which means:

  • Create a banner that reflects you & your personal brand (Canva is great for this)
  • Turn on Creator Mode and record a 30-second cover story in your headshot that shows your personality & value add. Bonus points if you can make me laugh.
  • Use your headline summary as more than just your title & company. Tell us more about what you are and what you care about. I like to think of mine as a representation of the things that fascinate me.
  • Use the featured section to populate examples of your work or things you’re proudest of. Could be anything – a LinkedIn post, a PowerPoint, a video clip, a PDF certification of a course you took. Just don’t NOT use that prominent real estate – it would be like choosing not to run free billboard ads.
  • Create a compelling About section that elaborates on the whole “fascination” theme and makes it easy for recruiters to get a sense of how you communicate, think, and dare I say… live! Yes, that’s okay to share too!
  • Be sure to provide any additional context in your experience section that you don’t feel was fully captured in your resume bullet points.
  • Solicit skills endorsements & recommendations from others in your network. This is especially helpful in technical fields where keywords play such a critical role in the success of your visibility and consideration on LinkedIn. Bonus points if you complete skills assessments and feature those there as well.

Last but not least, don’t ignore the obvious fact that LinkedIn is fast becoming a social network as much as it is a professional network. Posting your thoughts on business, life, family, and whatever else you’d ever care to talk about with colleagues in a professional setting is not only okay, it’s encouraged.

Preparing for an interview with a recruiter

Teegan Bartos, CCMC, CCM Mid-to-Senior Level Leaders Accelerate Your Career Land Your Perfect FIT Job Quickly Making More Money Than Ever Before Career Coach, Job Search Strategist, Resume Writer

Congratulations! Your referred resume, LinkedIn profile, or application just captured the attention of a recruiter and you’ve been extended an interview. Now, you may be thinking the recruiter is only a box-checking gatekeeper, but wowing the recruiter is imperative if you want the hiring manager to select you for the next round.

So, how do you prepare for this interview? By understanding what the recruiter’s role is and what the recruiter is looking for so you can strategize accordingly.

The Recruiter’s Role: Recruiters are compensated and evaluated on their ability to place people in open positions, often being judged on retention, quality placement, and speed to fill. That said, they are looking to create win-win situations for not only the hiring manager but also the candidate.

Box Checking: More often than not, a recruiter is not going to be asking the “tough” technical questions, so for this round, know yourself, research the company, and study the job description to prepare tailored interview answers to prove you understand and can meet the companies needs.

Know Yourself: Truly know why you’d be open to new opportunities and what it would take for you to leave your current organization. Here are some examples because this can be challenging:

“My company’s direction recently shifted and when I saw {Company Name} was embarking on {fact from your research}, I had to explore it further.”

“I currently make $225K with 20% bonus being paid out in March and was awarded $50K in equity two years ago that vests over 5 years. With a company as good as yours, I trust that the offer would be competitive.”

Tailored Interview Answers: Nail your opening “tell me about yourself” answer by incorporating details you learned are important to this role. Be prepared to give examples of times you’ve done what is in the job description with SOAR (explain the situation, reference obstacles to success, state what action you took, and most importantly finish it off ideally with quantifiable results.) And lastly, be prepared to ask questions that you couldn’t find via a google search. 

_____________________________________

Here you have the thoughts of seven recruiters on how to get to an interview. It begins with How to connect with a recruiter, what to write when connecting with a recruiter, understanding that ghosting is something to expect, writing resumes that appeal to recruiters, that dang ATS and why not to fear it, writing a compelling LinkedIn profile, and preparing for an interview.

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