When I first got into recruitment 3 years ago I heard stories about recruiters and their goldfish attention spans. Although this might be an exaggeration there is some truth to the statement. We work in a fast paced industry where speed is often the difference between success and failure. Candidates also need to be aware that while there is without doubt a serious shortage of quality IT professionals in NZ, they are also unlikely to be the only applicant, in the current climate we can receive up to 100 applications for certain job opportunities. So then how do you grab that recruiter’s attention and get them to pay the attention your application deserves in this short period of time? As a candidate this question may seem daunting or even unfair, but I am about to outline how you can use this exact brief window to increase your chances of securing that dream job.
For all you prospective job seekers it’s important to remember you only have a small moment to captivate the recruitment consultant’s attention. The good news is that captivating their attention is not hard when your details are presented effectively; after all it’s in the recruiter’s interests. Here are a series of techniques all candidates should implement to assist their applications.
I think a lot of the candidate market wrongly assumes that as IT recruiters we understand their technical space. It may be true that the consultant has a degree of technical knowledge and some may even have been in IT roles themselves, but I can guarantee you if your level of knowledge is only the same as the recruiters then you will be unlikely to be getting the job as the client will almost certainly need more skills than this. Therefore it’s imperative that you make the recruiters life easy and you show them what they want straight away! The easiest and most effective way to do this is with a skills matrix at the start of your CV before your commercial experience. Recruiters look for simple information that is easy to understand and if you provide this you are almost certain to have their attention for an extended period of time.
Here is a generic example of an effective skills matrix for an ASP.NET web development role
Technology Years of experience Self Rating (10 being the highest)
ASP.NET 1.0, 2.0, 3.5 6 9/10
C# 6 9/10
HTML, CSS 4 9/10
Cover letters are tricky things because a poor one can ruin your chances before they have even begun. There are a couple of ways to approach them that will add more credence to your application.
The first and most crucial thing is that you tailor the cover letter to the requirements of the role! Nothing turns a recruiter off more than a generic cover letter that really says absolutely nothing, or worse is addressed to the wrong person or refers to a different role!! You should have a standard sentence that outlines yourself but the rest of the cover letter should be a brief rundown of what you believe is your strengths in relation to the advert or position description.
• Include the cover letter at the beginning of your CV to insure it gets read
• If you can’t do it right then don’t do it at all
As a recruiter I appreciate the power of a phone call over email better than most. I actually wouldn’t have got my current role with AbsoluteIT if I hadn’t followed up my application with a phone call. I constantly hear complaints from friends and candidates in the IT industry about the lack of any response from recruitment agencies to their applications and this is often demoralising. We at absoluteIT have a service level agreement that we will respond to every application within 48 hours so I believe that is the line in the sand. I would encourage more candidates to follow up their applications with a phone call if they have not had any form of response from the agency within this period.
A well timed phone call to follow up can often help your application rather than impede it, but the key is to be prepared! When you call the agency make sure you are clear on what role you are following up on and which consultant the role lies with. Although this might seem like common sense I receive numerous phone calls from candidates who can’t even remember what the role was they were applying for which immediately creates a bad impression. You should also be clear about what message you are looking to convey to the consultant. You should aim to be concise and avoid any ramble. A clear and confident phone will almost always move your application in the right direction and help you avoid all that frustration you feel when you don’t receive any response from the agency.
See it as a partnership, as I mentioned earlier it’s in the recruiters interest to find the best people for his/her client, so think of it as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the recruiter which will help them to present you to the client. Even if not successful with the first opportunity this will help with subsequent roles.
So in summary a well written CV with a skills summary at the start, a brief and relevant cover letter and a prepared phone call to follow up your application and uncover more detail on the role and recruitment process will all aid your application and help the recruiter to give the attention your application deserves.