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Go ahead – Make my day! (easier)

I enjoy the talent acquisition elements of my job. I cut my teeth professionally in the recruiting world and have always enjoyed those elements of my job even though I am now in “Human Resources.” Right now, we are waist deep in recruiting strategies, integrating these with social media strategies and launching several concurrent recruiting campaigns. Organizationally, we have evolved with our active recruiting practices (i.e. job postings) in terms of how we position our jobs and advertise our career opportunities. I am a big believer in many of Lou Adler’s practices including selling your job as a career opportunity (not posting a job description) and focusing on performance profiles.

To that end, and during my career, I have always made it a point that when recruiting for a role, I clearly outline what is required in terms of experience, education, etc. and what we are looking for in terms of outcomes for the role. Then I ask potential applicants/candidates to do one thing when they apply; that is, “Please outline/identify how your background/education/experience aligns with the position requirements and outcomes.”

Dirty HarryYou would not believe how many applicants simply ignore this part of the posting or choose not to reply in that fashion. Time after time I see the usual canned responses (cover letters) or LinkedIn InMails that are a cut and paste from the same old canned cover letter. Honestly, if you think the cover letter that you used to apply for a Jr. Programmer job at xyz company is going to work when you apply for a Sr. Project Manager role at abc company, well than I have a certain piece of real estate for sale that you can buy that has a large span and goes over water.

Seriously, how easy is it for candidates to stand out? My opinion – VERY EASY! While many companies have hundreds of applicants for jobs, many applicants make the same application mistakes over and over again. They don’t tailor their resume or cover letter for the job/company at hand or they simply don’t provide the requested information in the application process. So, if you follow the company’s requests carefully, you stand a better than average chance of securing a job interview. Read that line again: “You stand a better than average chance of securing a job interview.” Another key piece of advice – recruiters REALLY LIKE IT when you do this! A cover letter that details how you align with the job posting makes their job easier and makes the screening process easier.

I recently had a posting out for a senior level role that didn’t have a unique skill set per se, but did have some very specific requirements. I specifically asked for candidates to address six key job requirements/outcomes in the posting when they applied for the job. I had over 50 applicants for this role of which 4 actually took the time to address what was asked for in the posting. Imagine that, less than 10% of the applicants basically screened themselves out of the competition by not supplying the information that was requested! They didn’t/couldn’t take the time to do some research into the role, the company and identify what they would bring to the table! (And yes, I interviewed all 4 candidates who all ended up being marvelously qualified for the role, albeit in different ways) The level of detail they provided in their covering applications was on par with their preparedness they showed during the interview process.

So I have to ask, why not take my advice and give yourself a fighting chance when applying for a position and in the process make the recruiter’s day (easier)! Furthermore, even if the posting is not asking you to do this, take my advice and show how you match up against the job requirements anyway. The recruiter(s) will love you for it!

Image courtesy of Telestar Logistics/Flickr.com

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2 Responses

  1. Scott – did you interview any of the other applicants who had not taken the time to address the 6 key job requirements/outcomes? Or did you just stick to the 4 who did?

    • Hi Jennifer – ironically enough, the four that addressed the key requirements were probably the most qualified. The role was fairly broad in terms of basic requirements (education, overall experience), etc. so I was really looking for someone who could relate their experience to the expected job outcomes. In otherwords, you didn’t need a specific certification (i.e. PMP) for the job so it really came down to who could respond properly to the posting and outline their experience re. what we were looking for. The other subtley of this was that the role in question also required the ability to effectively write (i.e. read proposals, etc. and provide supporting information) so this was a built in pre-qualifier.

      The four candidates in question clearly did that so they were interviewed and no one else was.

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post and respond Jennifer.

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