Job hunters have a love-hate relationship with recruiters
. On the one hand, a good recruiter can be the one who introduces you—and advocates for you--to the hiring manager, and coaches you on the best way to land a particular job. On the other, they can be distracted and non-responsive when they’re searching through a pile of resumes in search of the right candidates for their clients. So, how do you get their attention? We asked Matt Brosseau of Chicago staffing firm Instant Technology
to tell us what makes a candidate stand out. Click here to see programming jobs.
When a recruiter’s dealing with dozens or hundreds of resumes, what separates one from the others? A comprehensive look at your work. Rather than just list your skills, programming languages or technologies you’ve used on each project, describe what your role was in a way that recruiters can easily spot. “That tends to put a candidate out front,” says Brosseau. Knowing the type of work you were doing and how you did it before the recruiter gives you a call puts you in a better position than simply saying that you know C#
and have used Java
. “I have a better starting point to have a conversation with them about what they’ve done,” Brosseau explains. “It also shows that they’ve taken the time to actually let us know about their individual contributions, which makes it much easier to match them up with the project my recruiters are trying to associate them with.”
The Phone Call
Like it or not, you’ll sometimes deal recruiters who don’t have technical backgrounds. So, it’s critical that you be able to describe, in layman’s terms, what it is you do. “I come from an IT background so I understand but many of my recruiters do not,” says Brosseau. That makes it important for you to be able to explain what you’ve done in previous jobs without getting lost in tech-speak. “If a candidate is working with HR, or internal recruiters, or even a project manager
who doesn’t have a tech background, they have to be able to communicate effectively. It’s an incredibly valuable skill set.”
The first impression is a big thing. Even though a lot of work environments in tech are informal, that doesn’t mean it’s smart to show up for an interview in flip flops and cargo shorts. In Brosseau’s experience, interviews tend to be more professional, so arrive prepared and dressed appropriately. If in doubt, over-dress. “This is when we get that less quantifiable feel for them and first impressions are pretty critical to that,” Brosseau explains. When talking to recruiters, remember that you’re one of many candidates they’re dealing with. You may be the most qualified of them, but you have to make that case even to those with strong technical backgrounds. Your resume and phone conversations need to be clear, and the way you present yourself has to be professional. Chances are you’re not the only qualified candidate they’ve heard from, so taking the time to state your case professionally can go a long way toward getting you an interview with the ultimate decision-makers.