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5/22/11 - 10 Things Employers & Recruiters Want From Candidates

Every job hunter has the same question: What do employers look for, and how can I best show that I’ve got “it”?

A few days ago, I attended a panel discussion for career coaches led by three of the leading recruiters in Greater Boston. Each recruiter had the assignment of explaining their view of today’s hiring environment, what employers are looking for, and then to give a few tips for candidates. The recruiters deal with different specialties, including: Human Resources, Medical Devices, Information Technologies (IT), and Marketing. Nonetheless they agreed on one thing: Five years ago, if an employer listed a job with 8-10 bullet points of “requirements”, a candidate might have been hired if he/she only had 3-4 of them. But today, virtually every client of theirs wants “12 out of 10 requirements to be evidenced– just to get the initial phone interview.”

It comes as no surprise that they all report that both recruiters and companies are being inundated by resumes, as more people are chasing fewer and fewer jobs. In this environment, they report that employers have come to view job boards like Monster as counter-effective. When they advertise a position, they get SO MANY responses it becomes an overwhelming task just to sort through all the extraneous resumes to find the quality people who would be of interest. Result? They are utilizing alternative methods of identifying and recruiting top talent. It is more time efficient and effective for both corporate (in-house) and contingency (3rd party) recruiters to scour LinkedIn and other social media sites to find candidates worth pursuing. More and more, self-submitted resumes are not responded to because they aren’t even read!

Employers are looking for the following:


1. Candidates are expected to clearly articulate their accomplishments as part of their personal brand. LinkedIn profiles must highlight an individual successes and results! Skills are important – but only insofar as candidates use them to attain results. Never lead with: “XX years of experience doing….”! Each resume bullet point should tell a story: “Accomplished X by doing Y, resulting in Z”.


2. Clear branding: know who you are, what you offer, and what you are after. Be comfortable with your own story, and have that story down pat. Convey it consistently in your resume, LinkedIn profile, on Facebook, and increasingly on Twitter. Tip: get all those references to partying, and anything that wouldn’t well represent an employer’s brand off your own Facebook page – NOW! LinkedIn is seen as a way screen people in, and Facebook is viewed as a means to screen people out – even before an individual knows that he or she might be considered.


3. Fit, Fit, & Fit! It’s the buzzword of the decade, but it means different things to different companies. Fit goes beyond the job requirements and speaks to an individual’s experience working in a similar type organization in size, product/service, marketplace or geography. Questions of “fit” go to the concerns: would a given candidate be happy working as part of this company/team… and would the people here be happy to work side by side with this individual? If hired, would the person last? Commonly, employers are utilizing behavioral interviewing to determine if a candidate is a “fit”.


4. One recruiter put it this way: The length of time [companies are taking] to fill openings is increasing. Companies are increasingly picky about who they hire. But they are hiring people who have “bull’s eye” skill sets, have industry experience, and are a fit for their particular corporate culture. More and more, you have to have all three to be hired, and candidates should adjust their job search accordingly.


Recruiters are looking for the following:

1. People who can show that they volunteer to do more than is required of them in the workplace


2. People who “know what they don’t know”, make no bones about it, and constantly strive to learn to fill in the gaps of their knowledge and experience.


3. People who can explain what they did in a past job that makes them valuable to a future employer.


4. People who can understand that recruiters are professional service providers who deserve respect. (If you are dealing with a recruiter who doesn’t deserve your respect, move on to another one!). Understand that recruiters work with candidates, but ultimately for companies.


5. People who make an effort to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, by addressing them personally, offering to help find other candidates for positions if they aren’t the right fit themselves.


6. People who recognize that it is counterproductive for both themselves and the recruiter to do the “end run” around the recruiter and deal directly with the company that they represent.


All of this goes to show the importance of seeing the search for a new position as a “hunt” which requires a coherent strategy and a consistent message. Getting a job is a job!