We talk a lot about the importance of customizing resumes for each application and establishing a solid online presence. Over and over, we cover effective job search techniques and job interview best practices. In fact, as job seekers, we pretty much obsess over every little detail involved with finding meaningful work.
What don’t we talk about enough?
We don’t discuss – anywhere near enough – the baseline expectations recruiters have of every candidate, regardless of the role, level of experience or industry; the little things that mean the difference between being an also-ran… and a career rockstar.
So let’s talk about that now. Let’s discuss the five traits you must have to thoroughly impress every recruiter you’ll meet…
From the moment they meet you, the recruiter is going to be assessing how you project confidence. Several factors go into this assessment:
- Do you communicate well (the anxious and unprepared typically exhibit very poor communication skills)?
- Are you able to engage in conversation… to co-manage the interview?
- Do you listen – really listen – before attempting to answer the recruiter’s questions?
- Does your “confidence” ever cross over into arrogance?
Most important: the recruiter wants to know if you’ll earn the respect of your potential colleagues, company managers and the executives. And the best way to do that… is to, from that first handshake, is to exude humble confidence.
A few years ago, recruiters didn’t even talk about culture (and neither did anyone else). Back then, there were more jobs open than there were candidates, so a person could be a classic Type A-hole and still get hired – as long as they could “do the job.” Those days are gone.
Today, a recruiter is measured (judged, even) by their ability to find talent that will embrace the organization’s mission, thoroughly understand how the company functions, and makes it clear they will work well with the existing team.
The perfect situation? The recruiter’s brass ring? That new hire, hand-picked by the recruiter, makes their team and the company significantly better. The candidates job? Make the recruiter think that’s what they are getting by hiring you.
Ever since the untimely death of the entry-level position, knowledge – not the theory you learned in school, but the real stuff that makes you employable – is king.
Knowledge of the industry and competition. Knowledge of the role (well past the job description). Knowledge gained from your internships, job shadows and informational interviews. Knowledge of the recruiter and would-be manager. And, of course, an in-depth knowledge of the company mission and culture.
If there is any doubt about what you know – and exactly how that knowledge and your experience will solve the problem they are trying to fix with this hire – you will not be the top choice.
Yes, this is a bit old-school; perhaps even cliché. But from how you treat the receptionists and gatekeepers; to the eye contact appropriately held; and the natural use of “please” and “thank you” – your manners are a big factor in how you are perceived as a candidate.
To many recruiters, who are watching from the moment you enter their vision, manners also include appropriate personal space, the volume at which you speak, your posture and, of course, turning off your cell phone before the interview. Throw in holding doors open for the person behind you and cleaning up after yourself while getting that cup of coffee offered to you… Well, you get the idea: everything counts.
Because manners are so subjective, we just never know what might be a “red flag” for the recruiter. So be prepared to go old-school while demonstrating excellent professional manners. If you’re ever in doubt: Act as if you are meeting your future mother-in-law for the first time ever… at church.
No matter how technology-driven our lives and careers become, nothing matters more than the human spirit; specifically, a great attitude. Some of this gets back to the culture issue, yes. To the recruiter, however, attitude is more than that. Much more.
Do you approach your work with enthusiasm? Are you passionate about what you’ll be doing 40, 50 or 60 hours per week? Do you solve problems with an approach that combines tenacity with poise? Are you too cool to hustle, learn and grow? Are you willing to share what you know? Do you instinctively mentor others?
That’s what a recruiter needs to know about your attitude. That is how you will be judged.
These are the top five things every recruiter expects from a candidate. There are more, of course… and we’d love your help growing the list so we can help others. Let us know your thoughts, in the comments below!
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.
Mark’s new book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM), with Ted Coiné comes out September 17, 2014. The Ultimate Guide to Internships: Everything You Need to Know to Get Hired Before (and AFTER) College will be available through Allworth New York in January 2015.
Questions? Contact Mark on Twitter.