HR manager searching for new candidates online to fill open vacancy, recruiter working on laptop in … [+]
Back in college, an advisor suggested that kicking off my career in a sales role would be a great way to gain valuable skills that I’d use throughout my professional life. I feel the same about taking a role as a corporate recruiter.
As a working adult, statistically speaking you’ll be looking for a new job about once every 4 years, which over a 50 year career, adds up to a lot of job searches. So wouldn’t it be beneficial to understand the hiring process from the inside?
I mean, have you ever thought about how recruiters are measured in terms of success from a company standpoint? Or how they interact with hiring managers, and if they read your cover letter? Maybe you didn’t realize that recruiters can easily tell who applied through a big job board versus who sought out the company website directly to apply.
We’re often blind followers of authority, believing that physicians are skilled in the latest procedures, officials always uphold the law and hirers are objective.
However, the common thread is that we’re all human, and as one yourself, you know that people sometimes cut corners, are swayed by emotions and harbor unconscious biases.
If you spend a few years in a corporate recruiting role, here’s what you might see:
Job descriptions don’t align with performance measures. Many hiring managers speculate about the skills they believe will make a candidate successful before writing a job description based on SEO and interesting projects to attract the best candidates, versus spending time building a job description that reflects what an employee will actually be measured on. That’s why many job ads focus more on the company overview and benefits than what they expect a candidate to specifically achieve. You’ll also see similar qualities – team-player, problem-solver, strong communication skills, Bachelor’s Degree – in many descriptions. Yet if you ask why a 4-year degree is a necessary qualification, you probably won’t get a performance-related response. So whether you’re hesitant to apply because the job seems beyond reach or believe you’re a perfect match, be careful not to get too attached to what’s on paper. Instead, do your research, check with your contacts and ask clarifying questions.
Many jobs are filled before they’re posted. You’ve likely seen it in your own organization. A hiring manager identifies an internal candidate, but needs to go through the motions of posting the job publicly and interviewing other candidates (who have no shot at landing the role) to adhere to organizational policy. Even if the job is truly available, referrals will get priority before internet applicants, so if you’re going to apply online, it’s worth reaching out to your network to 1) learn if the job is already filled, and 2) get a personal introduction to the recruiter or hiring manager.
Hiring Managers aren’t trained to hire. As a recruiter, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve cringed when I’ve heard what an interviewer has asked an applicant. Questions such as “What kind of animal would you be?” are benign (yet have no validity in determining if you’re qualified) as compared to the clearly illegal questions (e.g., “Are you planning to have kids?”). And if you believe that the higher-ups in the organization know how candidates are truly treated (e.g., ghosting, application gymnastics, etc.), it’s unlikely. At the most senior levels, hiring is conducted through referrals, networking and headhunters. Want to better understand what’s happening in the mind of a hiring manager? Click here. Once you realize how bias and emotions impact hiring decisions and the unexpected obstacles you’re likely to face, you can compile a better strategy to clearly demonstrate the value you bring, regardless of who is leading the interview.
If your cover letter is read, it’ll be after your resume is deemed qualified. I can’t stress enough that if you’re going through the effort of applying to a job, always include a tailored cover letter. If you’re submitting applications to so many roles that this seems prohibitive, you likely need to reevaluate your focus. Throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks isn’t an effective job search strategy and your cover letter will likely go unread because you’re not a qualified or serious applicant in the first place. But if you are in the running, a tailored cover letter can boost a positive perception and not including one will convey that the job wasn’t important enough to make the extra effort. Fair or not, I’ve seen recruiters pass on candidates for not having a cover letter.
There are 80 different roles to fill. While this might be the highest my list of requisitions ever grew as a corporate recruiter, it’s still way more than any person can diligently focus on at one time. This is why we relied heavily on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which weeded out 75% of applications before they even reached my desk (based on those generic qualifications, I might add) and spent under 10 seconds determining if the resume was worth a more detailed look. And remember, since recruiters have likely never performed the roles they’re hiring for, they’re working off of the key words that were provided in the job description. While we do our best to understand if you’re qualified, we’re more worried about wasting the hiring manager’s time with an unqualified candidate than we are in dissecting your experience since we have tons of other resumes to choose from. Translation: If I’m not 100% certain you’ll be a fit, I’ll likely pass on your resume in favor of a candidate who has the matching key words, or better yet, is a referral.
Retention isn’t a measure used to determine success. While metrics vary and morph, in my experience it’s been less about quality and more about quantity in corporate recruiting – how many days did it take to hire is a popular measure (much of which is based on the hiring manager’s cooperation, which is often surprisingly lacking). The number of interviews to land a candidate, cost to hire, number of qualified candidates, acceptance rate, candidates placed – these are all types of measures regularly used to assess recruiting performance. Maybe they are what you expected or maybe not. But how does it change the way you view the hiring practices in a company?
Of course there are always exceptions and for every point, a counterpoint. However, the job search is already confusing, anxiety-provoking and time-consuming, so knowing what hurdles you may face helps you to approach the process with a thorough strategy that doesn’t rely on the competence or whims of others.
And, when it comes to your career, building a strong network will continue to be your best friend to 1) open the door to new opportunities, 2) avoid wasting time on jobs that already have a pre-identified candidate and 3) truly understand the role and culture you’re considering so that you can make an informed decision.
While we all want to believe that hiring practices (and many others) are objective, linear and unbiased, that just isn’t the reality. But once you have the insider’s scoop, you can approach the process more competitively and confidently.
Reposted from: Forbes.com