As someone who has been on all sides of the recruiting table, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Starting in HR management years ago, I worked alongside both hiring managers and outside firms, strategically searching for top talent. I’ve also been the hiring manager, looking for stellar individuals to add to my team. And yes, I’ve been the candidate before. I often joke with my developer buddies, telling them to get over themselves; they’re not the only ones who get contacted by recruiters. Poor things, it must be awful to have all those annoying people take an interest (cue eye roll.) And finally, I’m in the role of talent scout. Yes, I said, “talent scout.” For all intents and purposes of this article, I will refer to my profession as recruiter. But be warned, if we are ever in each other’s presence and you call me a “recruiter,” you may end up with a high heel to the shin (joking, of course.)
I have met many talented candidates in my time, but unfortunately, many of those fine folks end up being their own worst enemy when it comes to landing that “perfect” job. It’s not just the candidates who have a misguided approach, it seems the entire industry has much room for growth and change. Sometimes I wish I could “use the force,” simply projecting my own view of a particular individual directly into the minds of my clients. Since I lack the mind tricks of a Jedi, I thought I would share a bit of advice. This is definitely not a “How To” article, but more like the rambling thoughts of an IT talent scout in Tulsa.
It all starts with the resume and write-up
While we know a rock star developer can write awesome code, they may not be so hot with writing resumes. If you’ve got some extra dough lying around, you can hire an expert to create a superb & polished resume that’s sure to impress. But if money (or lack thereof) is the sole reason you’re looking for a new opportunity, you can partner with a good recruiter to help. Essentially, your recruiter is your “hype man,” the person responsible for selling you to either the client and/or their firm’s account executive (more about that later.) Having an introductory write-up or “commercial” prepared is essential. This blurb provides the hiring manager a brief synopsis about the candidate while highlighting their strengths. As a job seeker, you need to make sure you’re working with someone who can represent you in the best possible light. In the modern world of technology, our communication is often influenced by what we read and not by what we hear. Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter openly about their skills in writing.
The good and bad of social media
We often hear warnings about the pitfalls of posting personal stuff on social media. While it’s true we should never post anything online that we don’t want a potential employer to see, it’s possible to utilize social media to your advantage. I’m not going to lie, I TOTALLY research every potential candidate online before meeting with them. I don’t make any apologies and I’m pretty upfront about it. I love seeing people in their element, doing things that interest them and surrounded by people they love. So much can be revealed about a person just by looking at their online photos and posts. I have been both delighted and dismayed by some of the things people put out there. Remember that it goes both ways. If you are scheduled to meet with an organization, find out the first and last names along with the titles of the individuals you’ll be meeting with. Google their names, look for their profiles on Facebook or Twitter and stalk away! You’ll be able to hone in on particular interests and personality traits of the people you could potentially be working with. You may learn you have a lot in common and can use that to your advantage during an interview. Perhaps you and the hiring manager both root for the same sports team, went to the same college or maybe you both have a wicked sense of humor that’s evident by their Twitter posts. So remember, always check out potential employers and don’t feel bad about it.
Too many middlemen
Remember the game of “Telephone” we used to play in elementary school where everyone would line up and a message or phrase was softly whispered into the first person’s ear then quietly repeated to the next person until they reached the end? I don’t think there was ever a time I witnessed the final message being remotely the same as the original one. The whole point of the game was to show kids how easily information can become degraded by indirect communication. In the staffing industry, I’ve seen how having too many middlemen can ruin the entire process. In the traditional model, a recruiter’s main job is to put you in front of any employer who will hire you. It may not necessarily be the best employer or even the right job, just as long as the recruiter gets that payout. Many firms use both a recruiter and an account executive during the recruiting process. The recruiter deals with the candidate and the account executive deals with the client. Too many middlemen just overcomplicates things. I suggest working with a recruiter who has direct access to the client. You want someone who can ask hiring managers questions directly along with those who can provide you with honest feedback.
Recruiter vs talent scout
In my mind, a recruiter usually doesn’t take the time to actually get to know a person or learn about their interests and ambitions. The rush to fill a challenging and pressing requirement frequently undermines the recruiter’s capacity to scout. All they’re thinking about is minimum submittal numbers and potential commissions before it’s on to the next person. I have found the IT staffing industry as a whole to be very transactional when I feel a relationship-based approach is the way to go. This is why I consider myself a talent scout. I look for folks who have a spark of idealism and love what they do. I look for open and panoramic thinkers. The individuals I want to know are willing to take a chance to do historic work and make major contributions to innovative projects. I look for people who are enthusiastic and passionate, folks with real and positive outlooks. Basically, I am always on the hunt for regular people that can do ordinary things extremely well, sometimes in unconventional ways.
In closing, if you are ever contacted by Momentum3, we probably know a lot more about you than you think. The majority of our leads are recommendations from the top talent we are already working with. Perhaps we are contacting you about a position for a trusted client or maybe we think you would be an excellent addition to M3’s development team. Remember, we are not a staffing agency, but a software development and consulting organization. Momentum3 is the creation of seasoned entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders in Tulsa’s IT world. We are focused on future strategy and looking for the most gifted talent in the market.