Showing Your Candidates That They Matter

Recently, I was having a discussion about the importance of the candidate experience with a friend. She’s a job seeker and was expressing her stress and frustration when it came to customize every single cover letter, resume, and letter of interest. It’s time consuming and exhausting. In the end, she sometimes only receives a generic e-mail back stating that her resume was received or that the company was going to “pursue other candidates that more closely fit their needs.” And just like that, it was all the interaction she got. Cold, human-less, and impersonal. We make candidates jump through all these hoops, but why aren’t recruiters held to the same standards? Recently, I came across an article on CoderWall and it really got me thinking about the messages we send to candidates.

The article on CoderWall discussed the issues with recruiting tech talent. I’m currently recruiting for tech talent and I know that it’s definitely not easy. This talent is in demand and more often than not, they get to pick and choose their opportunities. But regardless of this industry, the statements made in the article can ring true for any industry. With options like LinkedIn messages, e-mail templates, and automated messages, recruiters are able to increase the amount of people they contact in less time. But just because we have these tools doesn’t mean we should get lazy or abuse them, right?

Stacy Donovan Zapar also wrote a recent blog about spammy messages to candidates, which just continues to show that candidates are sick of our lack of personalization. How can we expect candidates to respect us or even be interested in talking to us when it seems like we didn’t invested a couple minutes to read about their personal experiences? We make them customize their messages to show us how they would fit in our job opening but shouldn’t we be doing the same?

Have I been guilty of shooting out generic messages to candidates in the past? Unfortunately, yes. And I realized that it’s no way to build a relationship. I’m not saying that templates are a bad thing. It could make it easier to include the job details you don’t want to have to rewrite over and over again. But it’s important to leave a section of your message open for editing based on each individual. Read their profiles, research their blogs/portfolios, check out their skill sections, and so on.  When you message them, include the things you researched. Maybe even ask them how they apply that to their current job or side project. There are plenty of ways to uniquely humanize your messages for each individual candidate.

I know that I’m instantly impressed by candidates who take the time to customize their letters of interest or cover letters for a job opening I have. I appreciate what they did and it makes me want to talk to them because they seem like they care. I’m sure that candidates feel the same about our messages to them. So let’s raise the bar and show these candidates why they matter to us.

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Clearing the Misconceptions about Recruiters

Recently, a friend forwarded me a snarky blog post written by an individual giving technical recruiters “tips” on how not to be hated by technical candidates. I get it- technical candidates are contacted multiple times a day by recruiters and sometimes with job openings that aren’t relevant to their skill-set. I would be annoyed after a while, too. But as I read through the blog post further, I actually started to see that he was off-base on a lot of points he made and seemingly generalized recruiters into one “type.” After thinking about this, I started to wonder if other people who weren’t familiarized with the recruiting and talent acquisition industry had the same thoughts. If so, then I think it would be best to break them out of this one-size-fits-all mentality about recruiters.

I would like to clear the air about the following areas and help people outside of this industry understand our purpose a little bit better:

  • We don’t all work for commission: Yes. There are recruiters out there that work for agencies that only pay based on certain metrics. But that only makes up a small portion of recruiters. I’ve had people angrily say to me, “Well, what do you care? You’re only doing this to make your commission.” No. Wrong. Whether I hire you or not has no effect on my paycheck. Making a bonus has no part in the reason why I’m contacting you. I honestly reached out to you because I’m trying to find quality candidates for my client and I thought you were a potentially high caliber candidate.
  • We’re not sales people: Sure, sometimes recruiting duties have some similarities to sales functions. But that doesn’t make me a sales person. Some metrics are just to ensure that we are not only finding quality people, but that we’re also finding it in a timely manner. As much as I would love to find the best person ever, sometimes companies don’t have that time luxury. But regardless of this, it still does not make me a sales person. What I love about recruiting is the ability to help people find work and help companies find the person that can make their organization better. It’s about discovering the connection that benefits both parties.
  • We’re not all looking to hire temporary or contract employees: Sometimes companies don’t have the bandwidth to handle the tedious and long processes it takes to source and recruit candidates. They sometimes hire outside help to assist with their time sensitive positions. A good portion of those times, the positions are full-time, permanent, direct hires with the companies. So it may be best to clarify this with a recruiter before writing them off.
  • Trust me, we’re doing our homework: Just like you don’t appreciate having your time wasted by people reaching out to you for completely irrelevant job opportunities, we don’t like wasting our time searching for and connecting with candidates that aren’t a fit. In the blog article I mentioned earlier, the individual said something to the effect that “recruiters don’t do their homework.” I know several recruiters, including myself, that spend hours every day trying to educate themselves through various means. We try our hardest to wrap our heads around the lingo, the details, the expectations, and so on but sometimes we fall short. There is only so much we can learn about a job or industry without actually going to school for it or without actually working in it. It would almost be the same case as when a candidate first broke into their new job or first started going to school for a specific subject. Sometimes you can’t fully learn something until you do it for a while.
  • We take your feedback into consideration: On the same note as the “homework” thing, I’ve had plenty of candidates give me some detailed reasons about why a job was or was not a fit for them. Some even explained a few of the industry terms to me. Not only did I appreciate it, but I also shared it with my team so they can learn. Additionally, if the candidate said they weren’t a fit but gave me details of what they’re looking for, I’d happily pass them to someone who is recruiting for something more relevant. Your feedback does not go in one ear and out the other.
  • We’re not always recruiting for ONE job: We may reach out to you for one job because it seems like that’s what you’re most fitting for. However, there are plenty of times that we are recruiting for other positions or know someone who is recruiting for other positions. Instead of ignoring the phone or email, give us an idea of what you’re looking for (even if it’s passively) so we can hopefully help you down the line.
  • We’re extremely connected with each other: I wish I kept track of how many times I passed along a candidate to recruiters inside and outside of my organization. Sometimes I can’t help a candidate but know someone who could. I’ll try and get that resume to the appropriate person. I’ll try to help even if it doesn’t benefit me or my company. This seems to be pretty common in our industry (at least to me it seems so). I’ve worked with recruiters in different companies and different hemispheres to help candidates and vice versa. But just like a recruiter can positively recommend a candidate to someone, they can also be the reason why a candidate is not recommended. Remember to keep your interactions professional to ensure all recruiters have the correct perception and impression of you and can make those positive recommendations.

There are so many more points I can touch upon but I think this will do for now. Yes, there are recruiters out there that fit the negative outlook that the blog writer had indicated in his post. But it’s only hurting him to shut out all recruiters because he thinks this is how they all are. Recruiting is not an easy job. It involves a lot of research, strategy, and learning. We’re not just looking for ANYONE to fill a position, we’re looking for the RIGHT ONE. So before a candidate assumes that they’re just another random contact that has to be made to meet a recruiter’s metrics and goals, please consider the fact that we may be reaching out to you because we honestly think you could be the right person that our hiring manager is looking for.

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Recruiters: Are You Going Beyond the Call of Duty?

Last week, a group of recruiters and I were talking about some of the things we do to help our candidates make it through the interview process. We discussed tips, resume restructuring, and coaching. Some of us had success stories about how their tips helped a candidate land an offer. But I asked them: what about the candidates that didn’t make it through the interview process? What about the candidates that weren’t a fit from the start? Are we doing anything to help those candidates?

Maybe I’m overly empathetic, but I really identify with the job seekers and their daily struggles to find work. I’ve been the underemployed before. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve also been the employee that felt like my abilities were not being recognized or utilized for the benefit of the company. And even though I’ve been involved in Human Resources and talent acquisition, that advantage didn’t always help me when it came to securing my next job. Even with the knowledge of knowing what recruiters and hiring managers looked for, I still struggled. If I struggled, I can only imagine what it is like for people who don’t understand the recruitment processes or tricks of the trade.

As a recruiter or talent acquisition specialist, have you ever spoken to a candidate that you knew wasn’t going to be a fit for your job opening? Or have you talked to a candidate that had potential but needed some extra guidance? In those instances, what did you do? Did you simply send a rejection letter or pass them through the hiring process knowing that they might be rejected due to the areas that needed coaching? Or did you act like a consultant? Did you go above the call of duty and make it your job to help the candidate be employable and attractive to other employers even though you couldn’t offer a job?

I know that not all recruiters have time to do this. We’re overwhelmed and most of the time we don’t even have a second to breathe. But I often try to help out candidates as much as I can. I’ll give them tips on their resume, let them know what recruiters look for, coach them on their interviewing skills, tell them how to be easily found by recruiters, and so on. Most importantly, I let them know that they are always welcome to call me or email me if they need help or have questions. That extra time and effort feels rewarding especially when you hear the appreciation in the job seeker’s voice. I love it when I get emails and calls down the line from these individuals asking me for advice or when they let me know that they landed a job because of the tips I provided.

I remember wishing that someone saw the potential in me when I was a job seeker. I hoped that employers could see my passion and hear the conviction in my voice when I told them that I wanted to do great things for their company. Eventually, a company saw that and took a chance on me. Now, I want to be the person that returns that favor, even if I can’t initially provide a job to these candidates who honestly want a future for themselves. Maybe my assistance will help them get the interview they needed so they can sit in front of that specific manager who will see their intentions and give them a chance.

It shouldn’t just be about YOUR job opening that you need to fill. It should be about helping people get back to work. People have unnecessarily suffered the situations caused by the changes in the workforce. What are we doing to help them adjust?

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The Social Community for Talent Acquisition

Last Wednesday’s #TChat had once again explored one of my favorite topics: social media uses for talent acquisition needs.  With a mix of social media community managers, recruiters, human resources professionals, and job seekers- the contributions presented were amazing. Contributors shed some great light on how social media can reach a huge audience, how HR professionals have started to utilize it for their recruiting needs, and how job seekers are starting to realize that their social media presence could be a great resource for landing a job. I’m a strong believer in this because this method was one of the ways I not only found a job, but also an internship and many other fantastic opportunities to network with HR professionals. So, today’s blog will be a recap on what we discussed.

Community managers don’t just have the task of marketing to their communities but they also need to be the brand ambassadors, the personality, the customer service, the voice, and the conversationalists. Not only do they put out information but they can also learn from the customers and fans who are interested in the company and brand. They help get people engaged and stay in-the-know in real time. They create humanization and create transparency for your company culture and vision. They are the cheerleaders that spread their conviction for the brand so much, that customers/fans will pick up on the excitement and energy and also spread the word. Most importantly, they are a huge part of helping a company gain and retain customers and even potential talent.

So how can community managers help in the talent acquisition and recruiting world? Community managers not only promote the company and its products/services, it also promotes the company’s culture, vision, and why they are amazing- aka they promote themselves as being a great employer which can really pique job seekers’ interests. Some pros of social communities for talent acquisition purposes:

  • Helps job seekers learn about companies and positions
  • Helps job seekers learn about company culture to compare against their personal values
  • Helps engage potential job seekers
  • Helps job seekers have questions answered before deciding to apply
  • Reaches a larger audience of job seekers
  • Helps recruiters find candidates in an unorthodox way
  • Helps recruiters see what candidates can offer to their company
  • Helps recruiters see beyond a candidate’s resume

 

I can’t help but respect community managers because their job is jam packed with different duties. Not only do they need to market and promote the company’s products and services, but they also need to market the employer brand. They need to respond and communicate with their people to really create a solid community to gain, retain, and keep customer/fan/candidate loyalty. Additionally, they need to be the eyes and ears of the company- they have to gather intel and feedback based on what their customers and candidates are asking for. And most importantly, they must respond in a way that will keep the brand alive and well.

 

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to participate in #TChat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More links:

#TChat Recap by Kathleen Kruse

Some Top Tweets about this topic

Talent Culture

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Are You Searchable: The Boolean Search

Throughout my employment with my current employer, WilsonHCG, I am constantly introduced to new and interesting ways to source and recruit for quality candidates. In my past recruiting roles, I would do simple searches on job boards like Careerbuilder or Monster. But recently, I learned that there are even better ways to find candidates that possess all the qualities the job opening requires. Recruiters are now utilizing Boolean search strings to identify top candidate matches. If you are a candidate, it’s important to understand how this works so you can customize your resume for the best results.

As I have mentioned in the past, it is important for candidates to use keywords in their resumes. It is even more important for them to customize their verbiage to have the words that are either used in a particular job posting or for a specific industry. These Boolean strings can use 2 or more words or phrases to really screen out and/or hone in on candidates that have the most experience relevant to a specific job’s needs. As a candidate, here are some ideas on how to research hot keywords to place in your resume:

  • Make a list of the top companies you want to work for. Thoroughly look through several job openings relevant to your experience or interests to get an idea of how they lay out the posting and what they’re specifically looking for.
  • Research a specific industry and job postings in that industry to get a better idea of what terminology and industry-related language are used.
  • Look at job postings for a particular role you are targeting. Look through a large range of postings that different companies and/or industries use. Compile a list of the common words, phrases, and verbiage that all of these different companies and industries seem to commonly use.

Once you get a better understanding of what recruiters and companies are looking for, take a look at your resume and see how it compares. Make necessary edits and customize some of the words or phrases that seem to be predominate for a company, role, or industry you are targeting. Feel free to even make several resumes with different keywords, post it, and see what resume gets more views/hits.  Making these changes can seriously help your resume get noticed by the recruiters. For more information on how Boolean search strings are used during the recruiting process, feel free to read the following:

Why Boolean Search is such a Big Deal in Recruiting.

Boolean Search Strings are Not as Scary as you Might Think.

Photo Source and more Boolean examples.

The Truth about Filling Jobs

A survey shows many Greensboro employers had trouble filling jobs.

Many candidates who are passively and actively job seeking have openly talked to me in the past about their frustrations with the interview process. They often want to know: why a job opening stays open for months at a time; why their application status seems to be at a stand-still; why their interviews are spread out over weeks at a time; why there seems to be no conclusion or status update after the interview process; and much more. I’ve been a job seeker before so I can understand how frustrating it can be to have unresolved answers about an application. However, I have worked HR roles and am currently recruiting so I understand the typical job-filling timeline.

Job openings aren’t always open right away. Additionally, some jobs call for a rigorous interview process that can sometimes make the application/interview process seem to drag on forever. The facts below can help job seekers understand why processes are the way they are:

  • Jobs aren’t always readily available: Sometimes companies post job openings because they are preparing for a change in their workforce. Maybe someone is taking a new position and the ramp up time will take several weeks, maybe someone is retiring/quitting and isn’t leaving for another few months. Perhaps a department is planning on expanding in the near future. The point is the job won’t be filled tomorrow. Recruiters have the time to interview a large amount of eligible candidates and will make the decision closer to the time the job will open. Therefore, the job will be open, just not right away.
  • Recruiters create candidate pools: Sometimes, positions aren’t even open. However, to prepare for future ramp ups, recruiters will source for qualified candidates, interview them to ensure that they are qualified, and will keep them in their recruiting systems so they can easily keep track and contact candidates when (or if) the position does become available. This means that you could have interviewed for a position that may take several months to open, or it may never open.
  • Some interview processes can be long and tedious: Most job seekers are used to the typical interview loop of two interviews. However, some companies are implementing new interview processes which could include various interviews with different departments or team members to see if there is a cultural fit, or “shadow days” where the candidate gets to spend half a day in the position to see if it’s a candidate/job fit. These extra interview processes can double or even triple the typical interview timeline.

With that being said, I feel that candidates (whether they are jobless or currently employed) should spend time networking with recruiters for positions and companies that might be of interest to them. This can keep candidates ahead of the game if there ever comes a time that they lose a job or are ready for a new venture. Candidate’s job seeking efforts could be compromised if they are dealing with financial strain and stress. It’s best to network and interview when that pressure is off to ensure they are making good choices. Additionally, since these processes can take several weeks or months, it would be good to get a head start, especially in this economy where anything can unexpectedly happen.

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Make Sure Your Candidates Have a Great Experience

 

A few months ago when I was job hunting, I was applying to companies that had a well-known brand, were large, and seemed to have the culture and stability I was looking for. Naturally, I assumed that my applications would go unanswered or that a few months later I would receive a generic e-mail letting me know that they’ve gone with someone more qualified. Unfortunately, this has become the new norm for job seekers and to be quite honest, it is not a great experience. Recruiters are flooded with e-mails and alerts in their ATS systems that it can sometimes be hard to respond to candidates even with the generic e-mail. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I had a great candidate experience even for a position I was never interviewed for.

One of the areas I was targeting was the west coast and many of my dream companies were located out in Silicon Valley. These were top companies and majority of the time my applications and LinkedIn e-mails went unanswered. Then one night, I received a phone call from a company I applied to—Netflix. Many people are well aware of Netflix and may have even used it before. Other individuals know a ton about their company culture (I learned about it in a few classes during my college days). I seriously wasn’t expecting to hear from them, let alone receive a phone call from their recruiting department. The recruiter simply called me to let me know that they received my resume and was impressed with my experience, but didn’t have a position open matching that at the time. She also told me her e-mail address and insisted that I connect with her on LinkedIn so we can stay in-touch for any future opportunities. And that was that. A simple phone call made quite an impression.

Experiences like this can benefit a company:

  • It can increase customer referrals: Needless to say, I told many people about my enjoyable experience with them. It really meant a lot to me to have someone reach out to me even if they didn’t have anything at the time, especially a company that would have a large volume of resumes coming through. It also meant a lot that the recruiter made it easy for me to have her information and stay in touch with her. By telling others about this experience, it gave Netflix good PR. Word of mouth is amazing for marketing and advertising.
  • It can increase talent referrals:  Because this recruiter gave me her contact information, I was able to connect talented workers with her. A couple even landed interviews and offers. Also, I told these individuals my experience which made more of them eager and excited to apply to Netflix. Engaged candidates can lead to engaged employees if hired.
  • Rapport: This recruiter and company impressed me so much by this simple act that they gained my respect. This has made me want to build a rapport and relationship with the company and even help them find other talented individuals if they contact me for help. Building this rapport helps the recruiting department have mini-strategic partnerships with people they’ve spoken to.

These little things really go a long way with candidates. Finding jobs are hard and dealing with no-answers or generic answers can really wear on a candidate’s confidence. Taking that extra time to personally reach out to them can go a long way to a point where they would be extremely grateful. In turn, their gratitude could make them want to return the favor in any way they can. Positive candidate experiences are more important than businesses realize, so be sure to make the effort if you can.

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Netflix Website