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3 things about Talent Acquisition that every job hunter must know

To be an effective job hunter you must learn how to exercise intellectual empathy, meaning you must learn how to think like the person on the other end of the table.

The first way to do it is to ask yourself: “What is this person trying to achieve through his work?” And that is mind shift number 1.

1. You are playing a Job-Hunting game. TA and HMs are playing an Elimination game.

Your job is to secure the job. But for the hiring managers and Talent Acquisition teams, the objective is to filter through the talent pool to find one — the best candidate. In order to do that, they are eliminating applicants one by one. Nothing personal. This is just how it works. They are running a business and they are looking for a candidate who will be the best fit for the business objectives on their plate.

How does it change the narrative for you?

Any job is a set of problems. You need to come into the conversation as a problem solver. You are here to fix things. Not to ask for a job. So how can you change the presentation of your offerings?

Study the job description thoroughly. What is the actual job? It makes sense to apply if you can do 80% of the job (less than that doesn’t because you might be competing with the people who can do 100%). Learn how to read between the lines and understand how hiring managers/TA team define success on the job.

Should you decided to approach people within the company think about what will you say once you open a conversation. You can’t have an effective pitch if you lack clarity on what exactly you bring to the table. Your awareness of your value is the foundation for all your interactions with people who can have an impact on your situation.

Elevator pitch, your About section on LI profile, cold-email, informational interview, a job interview — for any of those types of interaction have your mental checklist done.

  • What are you as a professional?
  • What are your key skills/areas of knowledge/areas of expertise?
  • Why specifically do you want to work for this company?
  • What’s in it for them? (What do you bring to the table?)
  • What makes you unique (different from the other 800 people who have applied for the job?)

Uncovering the answers to these questions will involve a lot of writing but don’t let it intimidate you — it is an iterative process and every next version of your pitch will be better than the previous. Keep digging deep into your soul until you distill your killer pitch that will have a TED-talk quality and presidential confidence.

2. There are 2 ways to get under the radar of the Talent Acquisition team — Becoming an Applicant and Becoming a Lead.

This is important to understand.

You are an Applicant if you submit your resume on the careers site. Your resume gets inside the ATS (applicant tracking system) and is being reviewed along with all other applications. If you want to be considered, you really need to learn how to stand out. Here are some tips on your application.

  • Submit your resume in PDF
  • Have a good design. Make it visually appealing but nothing wild. Readability is more important! White space, bullets, short sentences, no blocks of text, clean font, and the right size.
  • Make your resume achievements-focused. The TA will be looking for the so-called “achiever pattern”. Have you successfully delivered in your previous roles? Strong candidates always present KPIs and tangible deliverables. Show your numbers!
  • Skills. The second most important part. If you can give supporting evidence for why you claim you have those skills it will significantly increase their validity. We can put anything we want on the resume but can we prove it? That is the question you must ask yourself.
  • If your resume looks interesting the TA will look you up on LinkedIn. Make sure they like what they find.
  • No one will read your cover letter if your resume is weak. But if you decide to write one — make it succinct, clean, and to the point.

Now, from the TA’s standpoint, you would agree that the statistical probability of finding a quality candidate among online applicants is quite low. Why? Candidates apply when they don’t understand the JD. Candidates apply when they understand the JD and they know they don’t qualify but still apply. Some people just spam resumes everywhere thinking that they have a chance. None of this makes TAs life easier. And you see, only the targeted approach will ever work in job-hunting.

So the second strategy for the TA is Talent Sourcing. The TA will go into the field and will try to find a strong candidate manually. How do we do it? We use a software called LinkedIn Recruiter. There is a course on LinkedIn Learning you can take to familiarize yourself with what it can do but basically, a TA will picture a perfect candidate profile in their head and try to find a LinkedIn profile using selection criteria and keywords. The candidates that are found through Talent Sourcing are called Leads. This is where the second element becomes important. Your LinkedIn profile. To be a strong lead:

  • Make sure that your LI profile is polished to perfection. Design your banner, put a nice picture. Optimize your headline. Think about what kind of searches you want your profile to show up.
  • Populate your LI profile with keywords. Write extensively in all your bullets in the Experience section what exactly are your achievements and skills. You know how SEO works for websites? In a similar way, optimize your LI profile so that all the keywords that signal your competence and expertise show up frequently and in the right places. The more populated your profile is the higher it will rank in the search.
  • Write a top-notch About section. It should be optimized for the LI Recruiter, meaning the TA should be find everything that they want to find, but also optimize it for the person. Capture their attention. Take a course on copywriting and learn how to express your voice. Again, it is an iterative process. Seek feedback and keep polishing your About Me — pitch.
  • Do something on the side. Launch your passion projects, side-businesses, freelance — keep yourself busy to show that you are busy. That you are not just looking for a day job, but you are an achiever who knows that not having a day job won’t stop you from career growth. This is a creative part and I will leave it to you. But trust me, this growth mindset alone will get you far.

3. How to build relationships with TA.

All recruiters are interested in growing their network. Their success on the job directly depends on their social capital and how connected they are. They are people’s people and love to meet new candidates especially if those candidates are potentially great hires that can make TAs’ life easier. In general, recruiters will be open to new connections.

However, keep in mind that recruiters are super busy. Talent teams are often overworked and understaffed. They have to fill the jobs, and they will try to deprive of their attention everything that doesn’t help them to close their job objectives.

“Hi! How are you?” doesn’t cut it. With all recruiters (and with all people in general) the following statement applies — “if you do not respect my time, you don’t respect me”. Hence, be mindful of people’s time. Be respectful but cut to the chase. State your business in the first message.

Example:

“Hi John,

My name is C. Hope all is well.

I’ve noticed your company is hiring for the Job Title role. I have just applied for the position online so my updated resume must be in your ATS.

I think I’d be a great fit for the role because:

  • Bullet 1
  • Bullet 2
  • Bullet 3 (be specific).

I would appreciate it if you could peek at my resume and maybe we could set up a call to connect.

Best regards,”

Now, I am not saying that this template will work like a charm. This is just one of the approaches that I would take. Also, do not get discouraged if only 1/10 replies. This is absolutely normal. People are busy doing their jobs and not everyone is active on LinkedIn.

But again, both TAs and HMs are looking for the best person for the job. If you are indeed the best, and you skillfully present yourself, there is no reason for them not to get back to you to learn more.

Be professional. Be prepared. But above all other things, be authentic. Build your personal brand on LinkedIn over time. The first thing the other person will do is look you up on the internet. Google is your new resume. If they like what they see/hear/read, you significantly increase your chances of being invited on a phone interview.

To sum up what we talked about today:

  • Trust yourself. If you believe that you are the best person for the job, polish your presentation/pitch to perfection.
  • Your resume and your LinkedIn profile are your most important marketing channels. Make them count.
  • Earn your right to ask. Give more than you take. Respect people’s time. Do that, and your chances to get a conversation will grow exponentially.

Keep hunting. All the good things are coming your way!

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