It’s easy to be overlooked as a job seeker.
When you apply for a role advertised by a company, you’re probably competing against dozens, if not more, for the position. On top of that, you’re likely submitting your applications through online filtering systems, where they often get lost in the resume black hole.
“Unfortunately, most job seekers never hear back about an application unless by some miracle their details come up in a fluke search, often several months later,” says Paul Slezak, co-founder of RecruitLoop.
But if you can get a recruiter to approach you about a specific role, the level of competition is dramatically reduced, and your visibility skyrockets. “The candidate doesn’t have to fight to be represented (after all, the recruiter has come knocking), and the job seeker has far more ability to call the shots — especially around salary,” Slezak explains.
That’s why getting a recruiter to approach you may be your best chance at landing a job. But this is no easy feat. We asked career experts what you can do to get them them to come looking for you. Here’s what they said:
1. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. Independent human resources consultant Jay Canchola says if you have a reputation for being an “expert,” you will increase the probability that a recruiter finds you.
Slezak agrees. He says stand-out candidates are those who write for industry blogs, attend and participate in speaking engagements, and ultimately “create a bit of professional buzz on social media.” “These are the types of people recruiters set their sights on,” he says. “It might mean getting outside your comfort zone. But if you want to become sought after, it’s what you’ll need to do.”
2. Build and engage with your network. “This is about leadership, initiative, and getting involved in your industry and community,” says Deborah Shane, a career author, speaker, and media and marketing consultant. She says people naturally refer and recommend others who they follow, have a relationship with, and who they respect.
“Networking is by far the most important activity in the career and business worlds, both in person and online. It should be strategic, purposeful, and fun,” she says.
How can you grow and strengthen your network? Shane suggests engaging in small talk at events and establishing commonality. Then stay in touch and keep the conversation going.
Building a strong network gives you the opportunity to meet and engage with people who could become referral sources, advocates, and great connections. You never know who might pass your name along to a recruiter.
3. Maintain a LinkedIn profile that is up to date and 100% complete. It’s not just a matter of having the profile, Slezak says. “You need to build your connections and have solid references from past employers or testimonials from former clients.”
And it shouldn’t stop there. “Think about joining relevant groups. Not only those relevant to your career, but groups where recruiters will be able to recognise your contribution,” he says.
Other tips for using LinkedIn to stand out to recruiters: share interesting and relevant articles, endorse your connections, and use a professional headshot and customisable URL.
4. Showcase your work on a personal website. A 2013 study from Workfolio found that 56% of all hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool, yet only 7% of job seekers actually have a one.
Create a basic website to display your work. Make it easy to find, and promote the site across your social networks.
In addition to displaying samples of your work, your website or blog should include a brief bio, contact information, your resume or professional objective, and testimonials from former clients, colleagues, and/or business associates.
5. Become a recruiter’s referral point. Try to refer potential job candidates to recruiters so that you get on their radar and they think of you when a job becomes available.
“Many years ago somebody referred at least half a dozen A-grade candidates to me,” Slezak says. “We never actually met, but I knew what he did for a living. So when an opportunity came up that I thought would suit him perfectly, I reached out to him exclusively since he’d been very generous to me by referring top talent. This was my way of saying thanks. He ended up getting the job and is still there today.”
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