Often times I’m asked by friends in my network who are looking for a new job, “Hey Steve, I’ve sent out 50 resumes today, but I haven’t heard anything back from the companies. What am I doing wrong? Should I call the Recruiters? Call the company HR Manager? What should I do?” I feel the frustration, the despair of not knowing what to do. Unemployment is at a record low, so struggling to secure a response from a job application can be a punch to the gut today more than ever. My response is usually the same. First, I choke on my Grande Starbucks as I painfully ponder the time and effort it must take to send out 50 resumes. Then I reassure my friend that they will hear back from someone. But it takes time. The employment process will take time (usually 3-6 months for the right job, according to Vicki Salemi, Monster career expert!), and it is helpful to engage a good, experienced Recruiter to work on your behalf.
I’m not usually the smartest guy at the table, but I do know how to get someone an interview. In fact, I can get most anyone a job interview. As the owner of a growing Recruiting Firm, I train my team of Recruiters and Account Managers to understand the significance of scheduling quality interviews. And, I teach them to look for basically 5 things as they work with their candidates, that either advance the employment process or end it immediately. So, here are 5 reasons that I, and most good recruiters, will put my reputation on the line to get you an interview:
- Your resume matches the job. Sounds simple, but applicants seem to overlook this part of the employment process. Recruiters are efficient. We need to see resumes that are “minimally qualified” to move forward in the screening process. Our clients have specific needs, and we understand those needs. If we don’t see the required skills or the range of skills that meet our clients demand, we won’t give you a shot at the job. That’s why companies pay a good Recruiter to help them fill jobs – we save them the time of reading, reviewing and screening candidates. So, read the entire job description, and I mean the whole thing, not just the Job Title. Does your resume clearly demonstrate that you meet or exceed the education requirements? Does your resume list the specific skill requirements or certifications needed for the job? If not, you won’t get a response from the organization for whom you applied to work. Because you aren’t minimally qualified. These are the basics. Save yourself the ego hit and don’t apply to positions that you don’t match at least 70% of the required skills. You won’t get any response. Why should you? I won’t work for an interview for a candidate whose resume is not a match for my client’s job. I don’t know any Recruiters who would. Step #1 in the job seeking process is to make sure your resume meets the minimum qualifications listed in the job description.
- You are Honest with me from first contact. Build a trusting relationship with any Recruiter you open communication with. Finding work is like buying a house with a real estate agent. It’s like working on your tax returns with your Accountant. Treat your Recruiter like your Accountant – you don’t lie to your Accountant (do you?). Yes, you should be prepared to ask tough questions to a Recruiter (Are we talking about a real job? When do you want to have this job filled? Is this a salaried, benefited position?) But, be honest with us. In my case, Recruiting is literally my business, it’s how I feed my kids, so every interview I setup with a client is a chance to improve or destroy a client relationship. Therefore, I need to trust that you are sharing truthful responses to my questions. Recruiters need to know the facts right away. Why are you really looking for a job? Will you commute to the job location? If I find the right role, what is it going to take to get you to sign an offer? Any reason you cannot pass a drug test? Don’t fib to your recruiter, I am on your team. And, I can tell if you are truthful on the phone quicker than I can read your resume. I won’t get an interview for you if I don’t trust you.
- Have an explanation for “gaps” and staggered job history in your resume. I don’t (usually) care if you were fired, unemployable, in rehab, or you launched a business that was a failure. Just have an explanation for me when I inquire about the 9 jobs you worked in the past 3 years. Sure, there are jobs that your personal life or job history will exclude you from based on answers to my questions. However, I’ve found that most of my clients are reasonable and if you have a legitimate explanation, they accept it. They’ll at least consider an interview with you if you can follow Steps #1, #2 and #3.
- Keep your resume short and sweet. Resumes talk. What does your resume say about you? Are you a talker, do you pay attention to detail, are you a risk taker? Are you highly educated or over-educated? Loyal? Do you have a family, church, house, apartment, dog, alma mater? I know most of this within 30 seconds of reviewing your resume. And, I know my customer even better, I know what she wants. So, I will get you an interview, but keep that resume brief. (Great article in Forbes by Liz Ryan that answers many of your questions about resumes!) List your name, address, phone and email addresses. Skip the standard Objective Statement, consider a short, 4 sentence professional summary. Then, list chronologically your positions (all of them) from today back to college or high school. Best resume tip I can give you is to read your resume in reverse. Start at the end, then read to the top of the first page. Does it tell your story accurately? BOLD your job titles, company name, and specific dates of employment (Month/year). And use bullets, no more than 5-6 per position, to eloquently describe what you did. Use only Action Verbs like “managed, designed, developed, built, saved, closed, led,” etc. Finally, finish your resume by listing education, training, certifications and, personally, I like to see a few items under INTERESTS at the end. Don’t list References, save those for the interview. Two pages is solid, three plenty. Four is a waste of your time and mine. I have difficulty securing interviews for candidates whose resumes are intolerably long.
- I Must Like You. If I like you, I know I have a client, friend, or associate somewhere who will also like you. So, whether you are family, friend, or a candidate I’ve never met, I will go to bat for you with my clients if I like you. Here’s a few ways to make sure your Recruiter likes you. First, answer my phone calls and emails. If you can’t talk, let me know a good time to do so. Second, your salary requirements are not going to shock me, but be humble when we discuss money. Even if you are a mercenary, you need to fake it with me. Finally, be direct. Tell me upfront if you won’t commute into the city, or if you have a DUI that might appear on a background investigation. I like candidates who tell me exactly what they want and share with me detailed answers to tough questions. Oh, one more thing: it’s always nice to hear “thank you” sometimes. Interestingly, I talk to candidates who don’t speak English well, usually because English is their 2nd language, and being “likable” comes through resoundingly to me in any language. I can tell immediately if my client will like you. So, please answer my calls, give me honest answers, be direct with me. Just the basic stuff. Trust me, if we like you, we will go the extra mile to get you an interview.