So you’re on the hunt for a job. You’ve revamped your resumé, rehearsed answers to common interview questions, and hyped yourself up about your next big break.
And now you actually have to apply to open positions. The dreaded task is upon you.
You do your research and find a handful of positions that you’re interested in—with maybe one or two that you really have your heart set on. You start applying, and then, nervously, you wait.
A look at the recruiter’s perspective
Now imagine that you’re on the hunt for a new hire. Even if you’ve never had to hire someone before, give this little exercise a shot.
Imagine that your company has given you a set of things to look for: hard skills, experience, a proven track record in a given field. The world is your oyster—and it’s a large oyster at that.
You post your job on LinkedIn and wait. Applicants start pouring in, perhaps hundreds per day. All of sudden, you’re presented with a never-ending list of candidates—a list of names that mean nothing to you but you have to somehow widdle down.
There are underqualified candidates, over-qualified candidates, candidates who probably applied to your job by mistake thinking it was something else. You start weeding through with the hopes that you miraculously stumble upon the perfect person for the job.
You’re secretly desperate for that perfect candidate to just give you a sign so you can stop the madness.
Putting it all together
The key thing to notice here is that any recruiter wants qualified candidates to make themselves known. Otherwise, their job is a thousand times harder (and more tedious).
So as the job hunter, instead of just applying and waiting for a sign from the recruiter, give them a sign. Go out of your way to make yourself, the perfectly qualified, motivated candidate, known. (Sorry—this isn’t a guide to getting a job you’re not qualified for.)
Here are some simple steps to grabbing a recruiter’s attention from a sea of job applicants.
5 Steps to Grabbing a Recruiter’s Attention
Step 1: Do your research
If you’re searching for a job as a Full Stack Engineer, look at multiple job descriptions from multiple companies and note down commonalities. Prepare a list of keywords and competencies that come up frequently.
Keywords focus on tools, technologies, and areas of expertise that a candidate has experience with. For example, a Full Stack Developer job description might include keywords like “React”, “Express”, “MongoDB”, “Node.js”, “front end”, “back end”, or “testing”.
Competencies focus on action items that the candidate can execute effectively. For example, a Full Stack Developer developer will probably need to be able to “define (or work with) technical specs”, “debug critical issues”, “work across the stack”, or “launch features into production”.
Step 2: Prepare your LinkedIn profile and resumé
Use the keywords and competencies you just brainstormed to frame your LinkedIn profile and resumé in a way that recruiters care about.
Recruiters usually have some hard checkboxes that they have to fill out and soft skills that make you stand out. You want your resumé to make your hard skills explicit and your soft skills evident so that when a recruiter takes a look, you scream “perfect fit”.
For soft skills, it’s not enough to say “I’m great at interpersonal communication.” Instead, describe your work to demonstrate how you utilized a given soft skill like interpersonal communication. For example, “Collaborated with stakeholders across 4 different teams to come to a consensus on the final product spec.”
Step 3: Apply to the job
Once you’ve prepared your LinkedIn and resumé, simply apply to the job through the company’s job board, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or wherever they have their job posted. This is just so your name is in their “system”. Whatever you do, don’t stop here.
Step 4: Follow up on your application right away
Next, you should do a little stalking to find out who either the recruiter or hiring manager is. A near-miss is perfectly acceptable, just try to find someone relevant to the role you want at the company.
LinkedIn is great for this because you can search the company’s page to find people and deduce from their own LinkedIn pages what their function is. Try to find a hiring manager, senior developer, or the company’s head recruiter.
Do some digging or use a tool like Contact Out to find their email address — it’s most effective when you follow up through email. If need be, follow up over LinkedIn. Just follow up.
Your follow-up should essentially be a cover letter demonstrating your excitement for the position and why you think you’re an especially good fit. Again, frame it in a way that the recruiter will care about. Don’t talk too much about how much you want the job — talk about why the person should want you for the job. Do research to personalize your pitch, and make it clear that you get what the company is all about.
Step 5: Follow up again
It’s well-known amongst recruiters that it takes 2–3 follow-ups to get many candidates to answer an email. Flip this trick around, and use it on the recruiter in question. Follow up 2–3 times at 3- to 4-day intervals to increase the chances that the person sees your email. Try to change up the time of day that you send the follow-ups: send them before work, during work, during lunch, and after work.
As a recruiter, I can tell you that, if you follow these steps, the person on the other side of your application will thank you for giving them something, some sign, to go off of when filtering through thousands of similar applications.
These steps will almost always ensure that someone will at least look over your resumé, which is all you need to get in the door if you’re truly qualified for the job. (Unfortunately, this isn’t a guide to getting a job you’re not qualified for.)
The job market is a competitive place with literally thousands of people searching for that mutual match between employee and employer. If you’re qualified for a job, recruiters want to find you. Follow these steps to help them find your application in a sea of candidates.