Getting Noticed – When you apply

By Michael Smith, President and Managing Partner of Ag 1 Source and Career 1 Source

You might not realize it, but every time you forward a resume, you are working with a recruiter as you apply to that position. Regardless of whether you are sending it to a recruiting organization or a direct business such as a major corporation, it will generally be reviewed first by a recruiter. On the Ag Careers.com site, you will see two different sections of job listings; Jobs from Employers and Jobs from Recruiters. The difference is that a recruiter for an Employer represents just that Employer’s positions, and a recruiter from a recruiting organization may represent jobs from many different employers. Both are seeking a talented candidate for a specific position. Regardless of which type of recruiter you are trying to get the attention of, they both have similar goals and similar needs that must to be met in order for you to have a successful experience with them.

When applying to any job on the internet, you really don’t know if you can trust the organization you are sending it to. Will that organization treat your personal information with the integrity and privacy it requires? Will they coach you and help you find what you really want – or just waste your time? You might be surprised to know that recruiters are looking for the exact same thing from you!

In my career, I’ve had the experience of using a recruiter to find a position, and I am a recruiter today. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and understand very well, the questions, concerns, and needs of both sides. I know what is important to both sides. I know how valuable time is. I know the value of a very successful match. The ultimate goal is for both people to find the match they are looking for, so let’s look at what we can do to help make that happen.

Your Recruiter needs:

  1. Accurate information - This includes key contact information, a complete work history, education, and compelling, quantifiable accomplishments. These are “must haves” in a resume.
  2. Honesty – embellishments or misleading information will get discovered in the process eventually.
  3. Communication – If you want to work with a recruiter, questions asked must be answered in a timely manner.
  4. Know what you want – What is your goal? You must be motivated to achieve. Sharing that with your recruiter is essential. If someone you know got the job that you really want, then that needs to be discussed.
  5. References that really know you – The key people in your lifetime that you will ask to be your references need to know you very well. These are your mentors, your personal coaches, your former supervisors. Family and friends are not suitable.
  6. Are you serious, or are you just “kicking the tires”? It’s okay either way, but knowing this is essential to the timing. A recruiter has many people to talk to every day. Make your time count.
  7. Your personal marketing plan – If you make it to the interview stage, what are you going to tell the interviewer about yourself that will compel them to offer you a job? (This is an interesting and complex concept and the subject of a future article.)

What you need (and should always discuss before allowing a recruiter to take the next step):

  1. Confidentiality – Most people are actively employed when looking for a position, but can’t afford to jeopardize current employment. If the new opportunity is indeed the right fit, then how will the recruiter handle the next steps?
  2. Job requirements and expectations – Let’s face it, a job description doesn’t always tell us what the full nature of the job is about.
  3. Who is the company? If applying to an employer, this is likely known. However, if you apply to a recruiting agency, this is a natural question.
  4. What’s it like to work there? In other words, what is the culture? Would I like these people that I’d be working with? Where is it?
  5. Will I have to relocate?
  6. Are there chances to advance with this company?
  7. What will the first few days, weeks, months on the job be like? How do they start new employees? Will they provide the training I need? Or, will they throw me to the wolves?
  8. Finally, will this position improve my quality of life? Will it give me what I’m looking for, whether it be improved compensation, better benefits, more family time, more responsibility, or whatever your key motivation is?

The key here is Trust. Both sides need to trust each other. If you are applying to any company, a recruiting agency, or otherwise, you are entitled to review their Privacy Policy. You are entitled to know where your resume is going to go. Equally, if a recruiter reveals to you details about a search, the information should be treated as if for you and your family’s eyes and ears only.

What the recruiter needs to trust is the content and validity of the information being presented. The recruiter receives volumes and volumes of applications every day. No one recruiter has time to visit with every applicant. Sorting through the mass of information means that it is vitally important that you have information that is going to get the attention that you are seeking, because you should know that the first job of the recruiter is to screen out the applicants that do not fit. If you don’t want to be screened out, then pay attention to the following.

The KEY TO GETTING NOTICED - YOU MUST as a candidate do or have the following in order to get to the next step:

  1. A complete resume that really documents accomplishments and skills (a resume that reads like a job description is about as automatic of an elimination reason as they come). They don’t want to know what you were supposed to do. They want to know what you did!
  2. An accurate education history – Most companies are now verifying this
  3. Have information in your resume that relates to the nature of the skills required if you are applying to a specific position.
  4. Must fit the requirements of the position. If you don’t have the minimum 10 years of experience required in the description, then you probably won’t get contacted.
  5. You must realize that it takes more than just a fit of the minimum skills in order to make the first cut. Think about it this way – you are competing with many others that have similar skills as yourself. How are you going to top the others?
  6. Leave additional information if necessary, specifically addressing that position on just a few key compelling points about yourself that make you the best applicant.

In short, if you can’t sell yourself on paper, you are likely to get beat out by someone else that can. Your recruiter has to prioritize where they spend their time. You’re going to get more of their time if you have presented yourself properly in the first step of the application process. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

Michael “Mike” Smith is the President and Managing Partner of Ag 1 Source and Career 1 Source companies headquartered in Hesston, Kansas. His is responsible for Talent Acquisition, Training and Development, and oversight of the company’s team of recruiting consultants. www.ag1source.com


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