7 Basic but Critical Tips from a Candidate Search
Having had the recent opportunity to conduct a candidate search for a senior level position on behalf of a Fortune 100 client, I wanted to share a few basic but critical tips:
1. There are people on both sides
(Supply side – reply & confirm)
Small things, like confirming receipt of an application, can be a big deal for people. We’ve all searched for jobs, spent the hours customizing cover letters and resumes, and putting the whole package together. Then, just like that, the application goes off to the abyss.
More than 300 applications came in, and we responded to each one. Some of the candidates’ responses to the brief but personalized confirmations were incredible: “Wow – a response! Thank you so much!” “You rarely see the personal touch anymore.” We’re all busy, but we’re all people, too, and most of us appreciate knowing that our work is recognized and received.
2. There are people on both sides
(Demand side – put the whole package together)
Many applicants sent emails with up to up to five documents attached. Clearly, there are various preferences and different ways to go about it, but here’s the way I would recommend: include a brief yet informative section of the cover letter into the email, and attach ONE .pdf document that includes all of the information requested…
3. Provide all of the information requested, and meet the deadline
In this particular case, the job posting included four requirements: Submit 1) cover letter, 2) resume, and 3) salary requirements, by 4) the deadline. Roughly 50 percent of applicants disregarded the salary requirement altogether. Omitting something like this may not make for an automatic DQ, but it doesn’t help anybody, especially the applicant.
4. You get one bite at the apple, so make it count
One applicant sent in six different versions of their resume. “Hey, Matt! What do you think about this one?” I wish this person all the best. But I could not justify recommending that our client consider hiring someone for a senior level position who could not decisively handle the content of his or her own resume.
5. Quality control is key
Details matter. Submitting an application on a weekday during normal business hours from the email address provided by the current employer sends a message about how a candidate would likely continue to operate in the future. Additional items to generally avoid include submitting an application from a shared husband and wife email address, using crazy resume fonts, text colors and ornate email signatures, and writing in all caps.
Taking the time to format an attractive resume (and have someone else look at it before sending), can really help. If the information is presented well, it’s easier to digest, and every detail counts when there are hundreds of applicants.
6. Sending rude or arrogant emails makes the screening process easier
The four such communications that we received were enjoyable for two reasons: the sheer gall made us laugh (E.g.: I could so do this job with my eyes closed!), and the authors saved us time by pre-screening themselves. No, we can’t tell you who our client is. No, really. Ok, that’s unnecessary.
7. Follow up by email is ok; calling could be dangerous
Only a few applicants sought out our office number and called. Unless there is very, very good reason to place a call, I’d say there’s a 70 percent chance that calling will do more harm than good. A follow up email is far less intrusive and allows the recipient to respond if time warrants, and on his or her schedule. Here’s an example of a brief follow-up email received and which struck me as a good model:
I applied for the [POSITION] a few weeks back, thank you for the confirmation response.
I would like to reiterate my interest in the position, and would greatly appreciate an update on the hiring process when you have a chance.
For your reference, I have re-attached my application materials, including cover letter, resume and salary requirements, and would be glad to provide any additional information upon request.
Conducting large scale candidate searches is always a challenge, and is a process that ProActive manages as an extra service for our clients. The searches can be tedious, but I enjoy them because it gives me the opportunity to see first-hand what a fascinating pool of talented people are out there, people who have done really interesting stuff with their time and efforts, many of them with 15-30 years of experience on me. I respect that. So I hope this post will be helpful to someone.