If you could ask a recruiter anything...

  • As you may know, I write a monthly column for AMA Career Update and a bi-monthly column in Marketing News on careers and personal branding. I aslo maintain a blog on the same at MarketMyCareer.com. More often than not, what I'm dishing out is advice for the job seeker and career climber... Exhibit A:  my recent post on The Job Interview From Hell.

    I'd like to turn the tables on the recruiters and hiring managers - they're far from flawless! What are you biggest most burning questions for the folks who have the upper hand in the interview?

    What should you do when a recruiter won't return your call? How can you confirm that a hiring manager even received your resume? How many times should you follow-up before you get labeled a stalker? Post your questions here and I'll tap my network of top recruiters and senior hiring execs to get answers and insights that will help us all navigate the employment waters more gracefully.

    So who will go first? Who's got a question or quandary to share?

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • I am truly curious about how often recruiters will reach out to a past candidate that impressed them for an altogether different position.  I really like the idea that every interview is an opportunity to connect with someone, for some undefined possible reason down the road.  My question is: how common is this?  Do recruiters make a habit of this?

  • Great question Rebecca - I'm going to send it to three or more marketing-focused recruiters I know to get their answers and I'll share them back here shortly!

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • Rebecca - I pinged four recruiters I know that work in the marketing industry and no surprise, they all said Yes, they do re-contact candidates for other opportunities. But as a recovered job seeker, I know first hand it doesn't always feel this way :) I'm going to share their top line comments with you here, and stitch the longer responses into a blog post at marketmycareer.com.  If you have any follow-on questions just holler.

    1. Nicki Perchik, NLP Group

    The answer is YES—I LOVE being able to reach out to people I’ve talked to in the past and find that many of the candidates I work with today, were people I met way back when. If someone impressed me, it is not uncommon for me to call / email about other opportunities in the future.  That is why it is so important for both sides (recruiters included) to make each interaction a positive one.  The best way(s) to stay top of mind:

    First, when reaching back out to check in, always remind the recruiter who you are, when you last connected, and what you are looking for.  Also, always ask if you can help (which is my second point...)

    And second, offer to help a recruiter by saying something like “if you are working on any searches, please let me know. If I can point any great professionals your way, I gladly will.” Recruiters are human and generally speaking, people like to help those who help them.  Candidates who help me by referring me to others stand out.  I want to help them in return!

    2. Lynn Hazan, Lynn Hazan & Associates

    My philosophy as a recruiter is "relationship marketing".  My goal is to maintain career long relationships with excellent talent.  This process works both ways, candidate to recruiter and recruiter to candidate.  If a candidate moves to a new position on his/her own,  I really appreciate it when that person  provides me with contact and career updates.  In that way, we continue to build the relationship  and monitor the candidate's progress.    That candidate will remain top of mind for future job searches.  (While I highly encourage this process, in actuality, very few candidates actually follow up.) Since I work with thousands of candidates, I may not have the time, especially when I am on deadline, to contact each candidate individually.  We encourage candidates to call to follow up.  Again, very few candidates follow that directive.  The ones who do get preferential treatment.  

    3. Susan Rosenstein, Susan Rosenstein Executive Search

    It is routine in our practice to reach out to past candidates for future assignments, particularly those who have made a strong, positive impression. We feel it is important to build relationships with these candidates. We also keep notes on our conversations with candidates so we are aware of the types of opportunities, industries, companies and geographic preferences they have as well. It helps in matching client needs with candidate goals.

    For candidates, it is important to build and maintain relationships with recruiters. To stay “top of mind” with recruiters, candidates should:

    ·        Notify recruiters of job changes, promotions, changes in assignments, change in contact information

    ·        If in transition, periodically let recruiters know what you are doing; when you land a new job, let them know where you are going

    ·        Offer to be a resource for recruiters’ searches

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • I am wondering what makes an application stand out to recruiters? Also, when someone is applying to jobs in another state, does that hurt the candidate?

    Stacy Reed, Program Coordinator

    Wagonheim Law

    303 International Circle, Suite 390

    Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030

    Phone:    410.584.1110

    www.wagonheim.com

  • Stacy awesome questions - thank you! I'll tap the braintrust called my network and get back to you with answers on the double!

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • Here's one. What do you do when you sit down to put together your resume and realize that most of the projects you have been involved in which had great potential ended up falling apart due to either lack of experience on your part or simply poor management of those projects after you left. You end up with a track record of mediocre accomplishments at best. Sure you can list a lot of great projects and plans on your resume, but if the potential employer asks the inevitable "So what has been the long term results of those projects today?" and all you can show them is a defunct website or a division that has been closed due to lack of funding...what then?

    Director of Publishing & Media
    Hartland Institute of Health & Education

    www.hartland.edu

  • Hi Sima,

    I have a couple questions rolled into one.  A quick background is that I recently relocated for a position that really isn't working out the way I had planned.  I agreed to a year, and my year is almost up, so I'm beginning to look at other options.  I found one that I thought matched my current skill set very well, and submitted my application through the online system.  I've also been working LinkedIn to try and find a contact or two in the organization that I could speak with, but it's been challenging (especially since I don't know many people here outside of my current job).

    I did not receive any feedback on my initial submission, and noticed today that the position had been reposted.  It looks like they update it every month.  So two questions.  Are there tips or advice to getting through the initial screening that comes with submitting a resume and cover letter through the online tool?  In my experience it can be very difficult if there is no personal connection to the company you are applying too.  And, would it be acceptable to reapply?  Does that show a positive level of interest?  And if yes, would you recommend tweaking or adjusting the cover letter and/or resume for a resubmittal?

    Thank you for your help, and please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide.

    Michael

  • Apologies everyone for the prolonged absence and delayed responses - work got busy and well, life happens you know? But I'm back on my mission to get answers to your most pressing questions and will be adding more content in the week ahead - Answers On The Way! Thanks for your patience!

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • I'd like to offer Chris a response to his question. So you don't have to review this entire thread, he asked:

    "What do you do when you sit down to put together your resume and realize that most of the projects you have been involved in which had great potential ended up falling apart due to either lack of experience on your part or simply poor management of those projects after you left. You end up with a track record of mediocre accomplishments at best. Sure you can list a lot of great projects and plans on your resume, but if the potential employer asks the inevitable "So what has been the long term results of those projects today?" and all you can show them is a defunct website or a division that has been closed due to lack of funding...what then?"

    Chris - a couple of thoughts:

    1. For lack of experience - did you go out and get more training, education or otherwise take means to fill the gap? Or did the outcome of the project itself prove to be lesson enough? Hiring managers and recruiters are looking for employees who learn from their mistakes, who take action to not repeat them, and who demonstrate follow-through. Sometimes admitting to a failed project is the best way to show you've got what it takes to bounce back and keep going!

    2. For projects that fall apart after you leave - if it was due to actions beyond your control, it is what it is - no need to dwell on it. If you did not set up the project for long-term success, that's another story - and then I would direct you back to response #1 (what did you learn?)

    A resume is simply a door-opener - it's a sales tool - and the product or the brand is YOU! If you don't have confidence in your ability to do the job, how can you get more experience? More coaching? More mentoring? And remember failure is a part of life - the most successful  people in the world fail - but they fail fast, they fail forward, and they keep on going. When all else fails, put on your PR hat and put some spin on it :)

    I'm sure other readers have some ideas here - I am by no means the keeper of all answers so please feel free to weigh in!

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • Michael sorry to hear the new job isn't what you hoped for - but it happens to most of us at one point or another. Just means you're getting clarity on what you really want, which is a good thing. Couple tips off the top of my head:

    1. To get past the Applicant Tracking Screen, use the keywords and target phrases VERBATIM from the job posting. No matter how well written your resume, if the keywords aren't there, you won't get a second shot. Ditto for your cover letter.

    2. Definitely reapply. Show tenacity and determination to chase down your dreams. Yes tweak your cover letter. Say you're re-applying and convince them to give you a 15-min screen. Send a FedX envelope, bring donuts, whatever it takes :)

    3. That being said, be forewarned that some companies always post open jobs whether they have positions or not - they may be screening talent in advance of need, or possibly hoping to "manage someone out" in the near future.  Your goal is to confirm that they are in fact hiring, and find out what their timeline is.

    4. Re LinkedIn don't give up. Second degree connections can often times help if you make the ask small enough. Ask for a 5-min email exchange or 10-min phone chat to learn about the company's culture. Anything to crack open a connection.

    Good luck!

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • Hi Sima,

    I'm fairly new in marketing (I've only been doing it for about 3 years) and I work at a very tiny organization.  My question for you is how can someone like me, who has no staff and a tiny budget, build up my resume and show employers what I am capable of, even when I don't have a budget large enough to put these plans into action?  Are there other things that I can do that would catch the attention of employers?

    Thanks!

  • Stacy several people have asked about job-hunting out of state and the recruiters I talked to tell me this is particularly hard right now. The key is to let the hiring manager know that you are prepared to pay for your own relocation expense - otherwise they are more apt to look in their own backyard.

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • Zachary fabulous question - and I can relate because as a b2b marketer I was always working under similar conditions. Even when I worked for a multi-national $1B+ software giant, I was understaffed and never had enough budget. So having that experience under your belt in and of itself is helpful - don't downplay it - instead, talk about your ability to get creative with what you have. Focus your resources, however small, on those things that matter most to your boss and show success. Your career story then becomes one of being laser focused on building a brand, or generating leads, or supporting the channel (whatever the goal) and how you did that effectively  - metrics help.

    Separately, you can volunteer to do marketing for your local AMA chapter or even a social service organization - build up your portfolio with pro bono work - whatever you can do to keep stretching and learning - that's what hiring managers look for!

    Sima Dahl
    Consultant, Speaker & Trainer 
    Personal Branding | Social Networking | Social Media
    @SimaSays 

  • Thanks for the response, Sima. I think the real issue was in the development and wording of my resume. I have worked for the last decade at a company that has never valued innovation and the marketing role in particular. Tradition - that's the corporate culture (and the primary reason I am actively looking elsewhere). So I had tried a number of projects, marketing campaigns, etc. with little to no support from the top. Either they just shrugged their shoulders and ignored the efforts I was making, or they would find some minor reason to shut it down.

    Now, I believe I am somewhat to blame insofar as not making a better effort at diplomacy and persuasion. However, the dilemma still remained: how to craft my resume so that it showcased what I *tried* to do in more positive wording that spelled success for myself and the company that would hire me. After several tries I just wasn't getting it, so I did end up enlisting a professorial writing service where I supplied the thoughts and they, being specialists in the "market" carefully worded it so that even I had to make sure it was my name at the top after reading it!

    Director of Publishing & Media
    Hartland Institute of Health & Education

    www.hartland.edu

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