As someone who has been in the recruiting industry for more than 20 years, this is something that I have heard hundreds of times. There are cases where an “ideal fit” comes along – those are great days and every recruiter pinches themselves when it happens. The fact of the matter, however, is that a majority of the people applying to a specific job are all at least somewhat qualified for the role. Vetting resumes, conducting interviews and going through a process of qualifying people for a role is not simple – just in case anyone thinks it is. Rewarding, yes. Simple, no.

There is a process and it needs to happen. Whether you appreciate agency recruiters, internal recruiters or human resources is beside the point. Companies have their processes and each of those functions do their best to aid candidates through the hiring of the right candidate. Granted, we have our flaws and I am certain they will be shared in the comments below (I have thick skin), but we do our best and try to find good alignment. We are typically given some very specific things that the company / hiring manager are looking for and then we attempt to filter through the candidates and arrive at the best of the best. As an agency recruiter nobody ever says, “send me your best 50 candidates”, it is always the best 2 or 3that we are attempting to choose. Yes, there are flaws.

In my experience, there are a few things that help me when I am working with a candidate.

  • I do my very best to follow-up, but when I forget, you should follow-up with me. This is something that may raise eyebrows. If I am in the business of putting you to work, why would I need you to call me? The answer is quite simple – maybe causing the eyebrow thing again – my mission is to help MANY people, not just one. As a candidate, you likely have fewer recruiters to return calls to.
  • Be specific about what you are looking for in your next role. When you say, “I am pretty much open to anything in IT management or a related role”, that doesn’t provide a very good target. It is better to say, “I have worked in the hospitality industry for 7 years and as much as I love it, I miss being in a company that is 100 people or fewer where the impact of what I do is really felt”, even better to say, “My goal is to work in a place where I can use my skills in network engineering for another 3 years, maybe implementing newer technologies and strategies under a mentor who is forward-thinking and will really help me grow. There are things I don’t know and I would like to be challenged in the next position I take”
  • Ask questions. Always ask questions during an interview, whether a recruiter, an IT manager or CEO – people like to be asked good questions and it will make you stand-out. More on this in a later article.
  • Be open to feedback. This doesn’t apply only to your resume, though you should definitely get feedback on that. It applies to how you interview, whether you interrupt when people are asking questions or if there are things you should change about your approach. Don’t only be open to it – ask for it! You may be surprised what people are willing to share to help you get to the finish line.
  • Use every resource that is offered to you. People, for the most part, want to help you when you are looking for a new job. Sure, everyone gets busy and tied up with their own ‘stuff’, but if you are in need, pull out every stop and engage the help of others. Don’t think, “well I haven’t talked to them in so long and now suddenly when I need their help…” to me, this cannot be an excuse. Call them, email them, whatever – the worst they can say is nothing!
  • Finally, don’t put every recruiter into the same bucket. I would suggest that the intentions are pure – most recruiters are legitimately trying to help people and managers. There are certainly those who give the rest a bad name, but most joined the industry for the gratification we get of putting people on a better trajectory.

There is tons of information available on how to interview, how to apply for a job, how to write a resume, what to wear, what not to say, it is information overload.

Put as simply as I can put it – if you are in sales, sell yourself. If you aren’t in sales, be yourself. Ask for help no matter what – it isn’t as easy as it may appear to stand out.