Tag Archives: job seekers

7 Universal Job Search Truths

There is an awful lot of advice out there about how to write a perfect resume or give the ultimate answer (42??) to the ultimate interview question. Some of it is even pretty good. But, the truth is there is more than one way to do it right. Recruiting, interviewing and selection are subjective.

It’s very likely that if you ask 10 recruiters for feedback on your resume, you will get 10 different opinions. It’s just as likely that if you ask 10 recruiters the best way to answer an interview question (almost any interview question), you will get 10 different replies.

Don’t get me wrong; as a profession, we do everything we can to take subjectivity out of the equation whenever possible. We (try to) ignore resume format choices. We create interview questions which focus on past work experience and competencies only as they relate to the skills necessary for the jobs we’re filling. We even create job scorecards and interview evaluation forms that help us stay as objective as humanly possible. But see… that’s just it. We’re human. So recruiting remains subjective.

That being said… there are still some things that are universal truths in the job search regardless of who’s on the receiving end.

  1. Proofread and edit your marketing material. No typos, misspellings or raging grammatical errors in your cover letter, resume, thank you note, LinkedIn profile, or any other material you are using to represent yourself are acceptable. If you claim to have great attention to detail, and spell manager without the second a, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
  2. Do your research. Due diligence is critical to a successful interview. If you don’t at least know what the company does, what people are saying about it and what we say about ourselves, you are not getting to the next interview.
  3. Nobody wants to hear your life’s story. If I ask you to “tell me about yourself” (which I don’t ever do by the way, but many people do. See – recruiting is subjective.) I do not want you to regurgitate everything that’s already on your resume. I want to hear the things that are relevant to this particular role and what makes you uniquely qualified for this job.
  4. Be ready and able to prove that you can do / have done what you say you can do / have done. You can’t just tell me you’re an innovator (or an excellent motivator, or that you impact top and bottom line growth) and expect me to just take your word for it. Arm yourself with metrics, results, and stories about your work history that validate your statements.
  5. Be kind. Be polite. Be thoughtful. I know hiring managers who ask their receptionists how you behaved while you were waiting for your interview. And, I actually know someone who, while parking their car, flipped off the person who was about to interview them. Yeah – the interview didn’t even happen.
  6. Stay positive. Desperate people don’t get hired. Neither do the ones who badmouth their former employers or team members.
  7. Be honest and be yourself. Life’s too short and you spend too much of it at work to not be in an environment where you will feel comfortable and really fit in.

If you happen to be the hiring authority, keep an open mind. Your way may not be the best way, and it certainly isn’t the only way. If all we do is hire people just like us, we’ll never grow. And, stagnation will never lead to success.

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Truth in Recruiting

9269948_sWhat exactly is truth in recruiting? It’s a phrase I have heard no less than 6 times in the last two weeks. And, I’ve heard it from both recruiters and candidates.

Recruiters want candidates to be honest with them about their skills and backgrounds. Frankly, I think this is obvious, and doesn’t need a blog post.

Candidates want recruiters to be honest with them about why they’re not getting jobs. Also fairly obvious…

I’m not here to argue whether or not it’s OK for a recruiter to tell a job seeker why they aren’t a fit. That’s up to the recruiter. It’s a personal (or professional) choice. I understand completely that candidates want to be the right fit, and when they’re not, they want to know why. If there is something they can fix, change, or learn, often I choose to tell them, and give them that opportunity. But that’s me.

The fact is that recruiters work for companies, not job seekers. Companies pay us. They pay us to keep their reputations intact as we search to find them that purple squirrel or flying unicorn. So, if you’re a purple unicorn… sorry… you’re not a fit unless you can fly. I just might not be “allowed” to tell you that.

But I think truth in recruiting is more than that. Candidates want recruiters to tell them the truth about the companies and the jobs in the first place. The real truth, not some sales pitch being used to pique their interest.

Candidates have a right to know details about the actual corporate culture, not just the aspirational one. They have a right to understand the real responsibilities of the role, not just the ones in the well-crafted job ad.

Perhaps the flying purple unicorn lives on both sides of the fence. Recruiters want companies to tell us the truth, too. Without it we add substantially less value. We want to find you your perfect candidate. And, we want to find you one who will be just as happy that they’re working for you as you are.

So, what exactly is truth in recruiting? Perhaps it’s as simple as transparency. Insight. Honesty. Access to hiring managers and their teams.

Real stories by real people doing real jobs for real companies.

Every job may not be the right fit for every person… but there is a person who is the right fit for every job.

So I ask you – all of you – on both sides of the fence – Help us help you find your fit. That’s why we’re here.

6 Steps to the Top of the Recruiter’s A List

One of the biggest complaints I hear from job seekers is that recruiters don’t return their calls or respond to their resume submissions. Some of this is definitely on the recruiter – everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone deserves at least an automated response. But we know that even with all the tools available, it doesn’t always happen. So, if you want to get to the top of the A list – try taking these six steps:


1. Send a tailored cover letter along with your resume – it shows that you have taken the time to think about the role for which you are applying. I know that some recruiters say they never read cover letters, but the ones I know do, even if only after they have already decided that you’re a possible fit. Help prove them right.

2. Send a tailor made resume rather than a generic one – it demonstrates that you have thought about HOW you are a match to the role (or company) for which you are applying.

3. Quantify your results wherever possible – metrics are “huge” and your results will set you apart from the crowd. Your job descriptions will not. Here are three questions you can ask yourself: How did you help the company MAKE money? How did you help the company SAVE money? How did you help the company ACHIEVE their goals? If you weren’t doing at least one of these things, the company wouldn’t have been paying you.

4. Follow up your resume submission with a phone call when possible. But, when you call, don’t say, “I’m calling to see if you received my resume.” Try, “I’m following up on the resume I sent because I believe I’m a good fit for the position.” And, be prepared to state how and why.

5. Help the recruiter help you. When you’re confident and excited about a particular position, let the recruiter know why. The recruiter may not be comfortable asking you about things they don’t understand that well (please – a topic for another post…), so help them see how to get you in the door. It will make it that much more likely that you get that interview.

6. Treat recruiters just as you would an important networking contact. Be a “two-way”networker. Try to get a referral to them from one of their existing relationships if possible. Most recruiters will take the time to meet with anyone who is referred to them by a valued relationship – even if they are not working on a job opening that is a fit for them at that time. And, refer good fits back to them. They’ll remember you did.

Other than being an unrealistically perfect fit and being able to check 12 out of 10 boxes on the wish list, what other ways have worked for you in getting a recruiter’s attention? Tell us about them in the comments.

Do Unto Others – Recruiters Suck at Communication

Do you practice what you preach? 

I network. A LOT. I’m out there speaking in front of job seekers all the time. And the one thing I hear repeatedly is that “recruiters suck.” All of us. Job seekers (active AND passive) have lumped us together, our reputations forever tarnished by the few. Or, is it the many?

Maybe it’s time we took notice.

I’m not sure how many recruiters suck. I don’t have the statistics. But, when I get replies like this, in response to a simple two-line “standard” e-mail explaining that my client has filled the job, it really makes me wonder.

Dear Jennifer,

I just want to thank you very much for taking the time to send me a response, regardless of the outcome. It’s unfortunate that the position is filled; however your response is above and beyond and is much appreciated with so many candidates in the market.

I hope we can work together on future opportunities.

Job Seeker (protecting the innocent)

We expect, rather, we demand communication from our candidates. If they don’t follow up with us, if they don’t send a thank-you note, if they don’t communicate in the exact way we think they should, we blast them, or worse, remove them from consideration for our positions. If they communicate poorly, we may even blacklist them.

But, do we treat them the way we expect them to treat us and/or our clients?

I am a recruiter. I have been a recruiter since 1993. I’ve worked for non-profits, corporations, and agencies. I think I have a pretty strong background in this industry. On the flip side, I’ve also been a job seeker. You know what happened when I sent my resume to other recruiters for review and consideration? I’m sure you can guess.

And I can (still) tell you how many (and which) of those recruiters sucked.

If you throw e-mail into this poor communication/lack of communication mix, well, then you’re opening Pandora’s Box! People still write e-mails using all CAPS, don’t spell check, don’t consider tone or possible perception…the list of blunders is endless. And, I’m not talking about the job seekers! 

I recently encountered a woman who is building an entire business, and a successful one at that, around teaching executives how to communicate via e-mail. The written word has a lot of power, and that power is often abused. People, even very professional people, frequently forget to think before they speak, or more unforgiving, think before they write and hit Send. So, possibly, the only thing worse than no response, is an inappropriate one.

But, much like Pandora discovered, there is hope at the bottom of that box.

The hope is in our remembering effective communication. We need to communicate constantly and consistently. And NOT just on Twitter and Facebook.


We need to at least attempt to create shared understanding. Our candidates deserve to understand why they’re not a fit for the job. They deserve to understand what they might do to differentiate themselves in this job market. They deserve to be told if their resumes don’t do them justice, or if they’re reaching for the wrong opportunities. They deserve candor, honesty, and—most of all—communication.

As a group, we don’t suck. We know right from wrong. We know how to be ethical and practice integrity in our profession. We know how to treat our prospects, our candidates, and our clients. We know how to treat each other.

Our reputations are all we have in a market where ANYONE can be a recruiter. Cost of entry is low, job seekers are plentiful, and it seems that everyone is an expert. People who have never used a resume to initiate a hiring decision are writing resumes. People who have never used social media to find a candidate are teaching job seekers how to use social media to find a job. And, it seems that if you once had to LOOK for a job, it means you’re qualified to help others find jobs.

While it may be these people giving the rest of us this bad name, how could a job seeker know that up front? So we need to work even harder to be sure we’re doing the right thing. Those who follow me know me for offering quotes as advice to job seekers.

So, my quote for this post, “DO UNTO OTHERS!” And let’s get it done!

Image courtesy of http://www.123rf.com/

This post was originally published Way Back in 2009. See original post here: http://www.recruitingtools.com/jennifer-scott/