What’s a Recruiter Looking For? (If I Had a Nickel)


Look familiar?

For us to stop asking that question, that’s what!

If you want to keep spinning in job search circles, keep asking that question.

If you want to send a recruiter leaping into the nearest river (and who doesn’t every now and then), keep asking that question.

What’s a recruiter looking for?

Only s/he knows because only s/he has access to the pile of work on his or her plate.

Somewhere along the way job seeking turned into recruiter mongering. People loathe recruiters until they need a job. Then they want to pal around, not unlike the theater geek turned movie star. (“Hey, didn’t we hang out in high school?”)

The truth is, recruiting is match-making and recruiters are doing a job. If they do their job right, they’ll keep match-making. If they do it wrong, they’ll soon be looking for their own next adventure.

So what’s a recruiter looking for?

(Again with that question!)

Here’s the big answer: 

A recruiter is looking for THE ONE CANDIDATE who MOST CLOSELY FITS the JOB SPEC.

Should you have a great résumé? Absolutely.

But it truly doesn’t matter how beautiful your résumé is (and I’ve seen some beauties), if you DON’T have the experience to fill the job. If you don’t have it and a recruiter is filling the job, it’s a non-starter.

Recruiters are risk averse. They’re not into taking chances. (P.S. That’s what your network is for. Your network knows how great you are and will be more willing to vouch for you.)

It doesn’t matter HOW keyword rich your résumé is, if you don’t have the skill set, or enough time WITH that skill set, you WON’T be considered. (At least by a recruiter who is risk averse and looking to make a match and keep enjoying his or her job.)

You could beg and plead till you’re blue in the face. 

Not a smurf

In fact, that’s an apt analogy. If a recruiter is LOOKING FOR A SMURF, and you’re NOT A SMURF, he’ll find out soon enough that you painted your face blue and all those silly songs you learned so you could PASS AS A SMURF will have been time wasted.

Recruiters should take up maybe 10-15 percent of your brain space during a job search.

That’s why people in my world talk about networking and “getting in through the back door” and using LinkedIn to do backward research about companies, jobs, and employees. (All top notch ideas.)

But you’re seriously wasting time if you’re relying on recruiters for a significant part of your job search strategy. (Can I get a word from my fellow ex-recruiters out there?)

So STOP prostrating yourself exclusively on the recruiter carpet, thinking they’ve got your golden ticket.

Get to know what you like and do well (which often starts with “what you don’t like and don’t do well”), package yourself like tomorrow’s next best viral video, and  network like hell!

Be the driver in shaping where you go and what you do. You’ll love yourself for it.

Until next time!

Jared Redick
Visit: The Resume Studio.com
Follow: @TheResumeStudio
Connect: LinkedIn.com/in/jaredredick
Call: 415-397-6640

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