Before I get down to the 2 must haves for every job seeker, I wanted to talk about a great meeting I had with a recruiter last week. It seems to me that every job seeker should have a little background on the whole recruitment business so they can understand what they are dealing with when they engage with "recruiters". Besides internal recruiters in the human resource departments of major firms, there are generally two types of external recruiters:
- Contingency staffing
- Executive search
Recruitment firms that specialize in contingency staffing typically have an ongoing relationship with the companies that task them to recruit staff. They typically hire for positions where the required skill set is well defined in the labor market. Typically there exists a ready pool of people in the labor market that have the required skills. Examples include such positions as a payroll administrator, a database administrator (DBA), a java programmer, an accountant, a project manager, etc. These need not be low level positions, they are just typically easier to fill. Given the more liquid nature of the labor market for these types of positions, the recruiters get paid when the positions are filled which from a business perspective implies they can source a candidate rather quickly. Contingency staffing firms typically hire for both contract and full time positions. When you deal with a contingency staffing recruiter you can expect to be speaking with them regularly as they line your skills up with a constant stream of positions that must be filled according to skill set.
Firms or recruiters that specialize in executive search are paid a retainer in addition to a fee when the position is filled. This is because they are tasked with finding a candidate with a very particular set of requirements. The need to pay a retainer implies that it will not be easy to find suitable candidates for the position that must be filled. It can take months and even more than a year to fill some of these positions. Typically these are higher level roles and hence the term executive search. In the case of this type of recruiter, you can expect that you will not talk with at all unless they have a specific position for which you are a candidate.
Why the discussion on recruiters? Regardless of type, it should become clear that all recruiters rely on having an up to date database of candidates. In the case of contingency staffing, these candidates are filed by skill set and when they get a request for a payroll administrator, they simply query their database for anyone with the payroll administrator skill set. For executive search, they will scan their own database(s) for resumes that have a decent match to the requirements of the hiring company before engaging in an active (and more costly) search outside of their database(s). Obviously, if you can make the process easier and less costly for the recruiters, you have a better chance of being recruited!
Must Have #1: Resume
Yes, I know, there are all kinds of great stories about how resumes are old school, and doing something different gets you noticed. I'm not saying you shouldn't do these things, however, if you want to get any help from a recruiter you need a traditional resume. Why? Because the systems they use to populate their databases are based on traditional resumes being used for input. These systems rely on the typical resume format to scan for keywords and build a profile of skills which they will later search for when a new position must be filled. Personally I hate it when a store doesn't take credit cards, but if you want to buy something from such a merchant you need to have cash. When you deal with recruiters you need to have a traditional resume.
Must Have #2: LinkedIn Profile
Every recruiter or hiring manager out there is going to search for you on the internet before hiring you. The first place they are going to look is LinkedIn, and then they'll Google you and your LinkedIn profile will probably come up there as well. Furthermore, in the case of executive search when they don't have someone in their database that comes close to a match for a retained search, where do you think they are going to start looking first? LinkedIn. You can almost think of LinkedIn as a de facto database for executive search. I'm willing to bet that almost all executive search recruiters have a paid membership to LinkedIn for exactly this reason. So make it easy for them: set up a profile and complete it by filling in all the blanks like employment history, education, and a detailed summary of accomplishments and skills.
If you feel there are other must have's for job seekers, please let me know in the comments - I'd love to expand the list!
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