What recruiters taught me about looking for a job

There are good recruiters. And there are bad recruiters. The good ones help you to find a job. The bad ones teach you how to look for a job.

If you are looking for a job, be sure to do just the opposite of what the bad ones do.

Almost every other day I receive an email offering me a position.

“Good for you”.

No, bad for me.

Most of the emails come from people I haven’t spoken to. They don’t know if I’m looking for a new job. They got my email and an old version of my CV somewhere. They match keywords on the profile with my CV and if there is something in common they send the email. They send the same message to dozens, (or hundreds) of recipients. They mix profiles in London with other roles in Manchester (or even Australia). They mix graduates/junior roles with senior. The profile include the typical keywords “competitive salary” “agile” “cutting edge”

I try to reply to them, sometimes with a canned response.

But 95% of those contacts are not relevant. It’s time reading and time replying (even a canned response). They are OK when in search mode (last March I was going to be made redundant and I wanted maximum exposure). But when not in active search, my skills are in demand, and I won’t usually consider those contacts even with pretty high salaries.

So for me what are the really tempting contacts? The ones that try to establish a relationship, that try to understand who am I, what can I provide, why I’m interesting. Sometimes they invite for coffee to understand what I’m looking for. Sometimes you see accesses to the LinkedIn profile and then a carefully crafted email. Sometimes they connect through my Stackoverflow profile and then a contact explaining what they like. And the better response rate is when it’s a friend the one who try to convince you to go to her company.

So what does teach me about looking for a job/applying?

Now, when I really want a job, I put myself on the recipient’s role. What if it receives dozens of emails? How is she going to know that I’m the perfect fit?

Some obvious tips:

  • You can contact a company with a cold email(as in without role/offer), but with nothing else you won’t get any reply. Even if you send to thousands recipients, you probably won’t get any response. The typical “I’ve sent dozens of CVs” is bogus.

  • Either when cold email OR when replying to a specific role, research the company and try to understand what you can provide to that company, what is the company’s culture, and carefully craft either the letter or the CV (or both)

  • Try to understand profiles, not if you match some/all of the requirements. Once you’ve understood the profile, apply with a cover letter matching your profile to the requirements.

  • If in search mode, the previous apply when contacting final companies. When contacting recruiters, put in your CV as much keywords/technologies as you’ve used (even if obvious to your profile or if the contact with that technology was minimal).

  • The better jobs are the ones your friends look for you. LinkedIn connections are not friends.

Yeah, it’s lots of work. But I think it really pays off.

First published here