As recruiters, our goal is to do right by our candidates in helping them find the next opportunity to build their career. That said, we are often put in the hard position of making judgments on which candidates to invest time in and put in front of our clients.
As much as we would like to, we cannot immediately place every candidate we speak with. Despite that reality, we strive to treat candidates with respect and always build a relationship, as today’s candidate may become tomorrow’s candidate or client.
Why are we not able to place every candidate? In many cases, timing and client need are the issue. Our clients are looking for a profile of candidate whose personality, track record, and skills are highly specific, and this filter eliminates a large majority of candidates.
Putting that aside, the other part of the equation is you, the candidate. Candidates come in all shapes and sizes, and from a recruiter’s perspective, candidates are not created equal. Certain candidates are inherently more attractive than others.
What makes you attractive to a recruiter? Here are the key areas by which we judge candidates:
- Education— Reputation translates to smarts. If you’re an engineer, a degree from a top computer science school is a plus.
- Past Companies—Each company has a different “bar” for talent. If you’re working at a company with a high talent bar, we are going to pay more attention to you.
- Tenure— Have you stayed long enough to make an impact? If you’re always jumping to the next opportunity without making a dent, we are not going to be calling.
- Skills—Have you shown a drive and aptitude for growing in your career? If you’re an engineer who started programming in Java, have you taken the steps to grow your skills in Ruby?
- Accomplishments—What have you accomplished in each of your roles? Is the impact of your work clear? If we cannot identify the “so what” factor in what you did, then we are less likely to be interested.
- Ability to Place—The candidate’s title and level needs to match what the hiring company is looking for, or willing to pay for. Timing (e.g., start date) is also a factor, as are any specific requirements the candidate has (e.g., compensation, benefits, etc.).
- Motivation—Are you running to something or “running away” from something? Before you call a recruiter, think about why you are leaving your current opportunity. Running away is not always a bad thing, but it will merit a lot more reservations from us unless we can validate the reasons. Some reasons for running away would be external company factors such as an acquisition or restructuring .
- Integrity —Recruiters hate surprises, and so do clients. The one trait that will always knock you out of consideration is being untrustworthy. We are in the business of promoting you, but we do not want to misrepresent your credentials and hurt our reputation in the process. We want candidates who are upfront with their cards, who are responsive, and who recognize the need to work together with a recruiter and client to make an opportunity happen.
Granted, the list above is a long one, and you can’t fault us for being picky. But we hope this window into our minds is helpful to you when you connect with us to talk about your next step.
Beyond the factors listed above, there are some “dos and don’ts” for candidates when it comes to managing their career and pursuing new opportunities:
- DO have a positive attitude with recruiters—it does matter.
- DO present yourself in a professional manner at all times.
- DO know whether you want to manage or remain “hands on.”
- DO know that you’re hungry to learn and adapt.
- DON’T stay too long at one company, especially if it’s a large corporation.
- DON’T burn bridges—you may be looking for another job sooner than you think.