Mindset Of A Recruiter
You are a recruiter at Company X. One of the hiring managers at Company X has received funding to hire another full stack engineer to her team. As a recruiter, you meet with the hiring manager to discuss her requirements to narrow your search and increase the likelihood that you will find candidates that she would like to interview. From that conversation, the two of you create a job posting, and upload the description to the company website as well as other job posting platforms that the company subscribes to. (for a starter list of job search sites, please refer to our resources sheet)
As a recruiter, your next step is to activate your network to find suitable candidates. You may be connected to a potential candidate in the 1st degree, meaning you know that person personally, or you may ask all of your 1st degree connections if they know of good candidates (2nd degree connections -- meaning the candidate is a friend of a friend) to refer into the position. Referrals are the preferred source of candidates. Most mature recruiting organizations within mid to large sized companies set goals to source 50% of their hires from referrals. Recruiting leadership will set up candidate pipelines to incentivize recruiters to prioritize referrals for the following reasons:
Higher quality candidates: Because they are referred, someone is recommending them for the job. They enter the interview pipeline as a better known candidate, as someone within the company has knowledge of that candidate’s ability to do the job. The candidate is likely a better quality candidate than someone that appies through the company website or job posting on a job board.
More cost effective: Many companies will offer a referral bonus to anyone that refers a candidate that is eventually hired for an open position. This referral bonus is typically anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for each successful hire. Every company sets up a different referral structure and process. Despite paying out a referral bonus, referral hires are almost always less expensive to hire than unknown candidates. It is expensive to post jobs on job boards, and those candidates are much less likely to persist through the interview process. Human capital costs add up, as team members are brought in to interview and evaluate a pipeline of candidates. The lower the percentage of candidates that make it through the interview process to hire, the more expensive the hire becomes.
Empower Employees: Referrals empower employees to help the company grow. By asking employees to help search for their next hire, it gives each employee a small amount of agency and influence in the search and selection process. Empowering employees is important to bolster morale and help perpetuate company culture.
Automated Tracking Systems (ATS): Recruiters sift through hundreds or thousands of candidates. Especially at companies of 100 or more employees, that flow of candidates is directed to the ATS, which is essentially a way for recruiters to manage the large number of applicants. The system extracts the text from documents (resumes, cover letters, etc), and inputs the text into corresponding fields within a database. As a recruiter, you enter search strings (keywords) into the ATS that help narrow the results into a batch of manageable and more relevant candidates. The keywords are likely pulled from the list of required skills from the job description.
Based on this process, it is possible that a candidate could apply directly to a job posting, and never be seen by a human set of eyes. The “Black Hole” as it is often referred to, is often a source of great frustration for job applicants. The ATS funnel was developed to divert the bulk of candidates to a single holding spot to increase efficiency. Paradoxically, herding hundreds of candidates to a single gate ends up being remarkably inefficient.
Bypass The Gatekeeper: It is logical that as the number of applicants increases, your chances of getting an interview decreases. The reverse is also true: if the number of applicants decreases, your chances of getting an interview increases. From this we can infer a couple of logical action steps:
Don’t forget the smaller companies: Apply to companies that are smaller and less likely to attract the most job applicants. This doesn’t mean that you should not apply to the larger companies. Rather, set aside some time to seek out smaller and mid sized companies that may not be as well-known as the larger brands. Traveling on a path less traveled will, by default, decrease your competition.
Find another way to access the decision-makers at your target companies. Is there a candidate pipeline separate from the ATS? Because of the high value and efficiency of referral candidates, companies will often set up a discreet referral candidate pipeline. More structured recruiting operations, such as those at mid to large sized companies, often have a unique referral-specific URL for the same jobs that are posted on job boards and company websites. This referral URL directs the applicant to a different pipeline with a fraction of the candidates (by design). Your odds of getting an interview increase by a factor of at least 2-3x by using this pipeline.
Go To The Source: If possible, find the hiring manager and contact that person directly. Although sometimes time consuming and potentially tricky, this path will also increase your odds of getting an interview. In contacting the hiring manager, you are also connecting to the decision-maker. Since technical recruiters are not technically trained, they often have less ability to evaluate candidates technically, relying instead on technical assessments built in-house, or from 3rd party companies such as TripleByte or HackerRank). The hiring manager is technical, and would be able to evaluate you on your ability.
Optimize Your SEO on Linkedin
Keyword Searches (Boolean Search Strings): Once your basic profile and content is set up on LinkedIn, you will need to optimize your profile for SEO so that you are more likely to be found by recruiters and hiring managers.
An easy way to visualize your keyword count is to create a Wordle from your Linkedin content. Jobscan.co has a tool that will help you do this. It will create an image with several words, the most used words will appear in larger font and in the center of the image. It will also give you the option of comparing your resume/profile against a target job, and tell you how optimized your content is. It will also give you suggestions on how to improve and optimize your content further, based upon that specific job description.
Look for opportunities to insert keywords in your profile:
Experience: Your experience section should detail relevant work, while detailing how you used each skill to perform work. Not only do you describe what you built, but describe how you built it. This will force you to use keywords to describe processes.
Projects: This is another section where you will describe the work you’ve put into various relevant projects. Describe how you built them using tech skills in this section as well.
Coursework: While this section is buried at the bottom of your profile, its content still counts towards SEO results. Add all of the courses, classes, and skills that you have taken over the years and be sure to add keywords.
Interests: Add your keywords here as well alongside your interests.
Skills: Add relevant skills where necessary to match your target jobs using keywords liberally.
Summary: In addition to your summary, consider adding a keyword-rich section that includes a list of competencies, types of preferred work, and skills.
Complete your Linkedin Profile
LinkedIn’s search algorithm weights complete profiles over incomplete profiles. Fill out each section. Don’t forget to add a profile picture.
Check Your Progress
Once you have completed this sweep of your profile, check to see if your page views are increasing. On your home page, your profile picture should appear near the upper left corner of your browser window. Just below that picture, LinkedIn displays how many people have viewed your profile recently. Click on that link to view a graph of your page views over the last several weeks. Set a goal to see how much you can increase your pageviews week-to-week. A good result is to double your page views from your previous average over the last month. While this effort may take a couple of iterations but it is a very achievable goal!
Increase Your Reach
Grow Your Network of 1st Degree Connections
Linkedin’s network is based upon the theory of 6 degrees of separation. This theory states that every person around the globe is only separated by 6 degrees of separation. As you grow your group of 1st degree connections, your 2nd and 3rd degree connections grow exponentially. How and with whom you connect is a very personal decision. That said, your reach (and thus, the number of people that can find you, and that you can find) increases with the size of your network. Connections beyond 3rd degree (4th, 5th, and 6th degree) do not show up in your searches. Recruiters typically have a paid account that increases their reach into beyond 3rd degree connections, but the search algorithms prioritize closer degree connections.
Your reach is important, because if you are a candidate applying to Company X, you can search for people that work at Company X. The more people that are in your network, the more likely you will find the right person within that company. Especially if Company X is a smaller company, it is likely that you can find the hiring manager for that company once you broaden your network appropriately. Once you have the name of your target, it is relatively easy to find the work email of that person (keep reading for how to find work emails) and email them directly.
How To Grow Your Network Quickly: There are a few easy steps that you can follow in order to grow your network rapidly:
Connect with people that have a large network
You can’t search for people that necessarily have very large networks, but you can identify types of people that have large networks.
Recruiters are paid to have large networks, and are generally open to connecting with people that they have never met. Type “recruiter” in your search bar and see what results appear. You will likely pull a very long list of people that have the word “recruiter” somewhere in their profile. Click through the results to find people with whom you would like to connect.
LION Is an acronym for “LinkedIn Open Networker”, a designation that declares that this person will connect with anyone that sends a connection request. Type “LION” in your search bar, and you will receive a very long list of people. Refine your search results if you want to narrow your focus.
How To Find Emails
Gmail is the most widely used email application in the tech industry. It has robust functionality, and because it is ubiquitous, more 3rd party add-ons are available. Clearbit gmail extension (for Chrome browser) is a powerful research tool. Once added to your email, you are able to do basic research on people and companies. More importantly, you are able to search for emails within a company. While you will not always find the email of the exact person that you are looking for, you can almost always find emails for other employees. Once you look at a few emails, you can find the pattern that will allow you to find the email convention for that company (example: [email protected]). Once you have the email convention and the person’s first and last name, you should be able to email the person directly. Type up a compelling message, and hit send!
In the next post, we will continue to dive into Linkedin features that will continue to engage your growing network, get more page views from recruiters and hiring managers, and find more high value targets, such as recruiters and hiring managers, to reach out to directly.
In his over 20 year career, James Van has helped thousands find their next job. James began his career as a technical recruiter in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. After nine years of recruiting, James completed his Masters in Counselor Education at San Jose State University and transitioned into career counseling and coaching. James has supported the career growth of his students at institutions such as UC Berkeley, Hult International Business School, and Galvanize. He recently joined SoloLearn , a self-paced earn-to-code platform providing excellent technical instruction. In his personal hours, James enjoys spending his time with his family, windsurfing, surfing, and cycling.