6 Things Every Job Seeker Should Know

I wish recruiters would have an honest conversation about how hiring works and the things every job seeker should know. I wish we told people what we’re looking for and what it takes to succeed instead of acting like hiring is a hoop or some circus trick.

Think about going to a museum or on a field trip as a kid. We were constantly introduced to different systems so we could learn how things work. That’s why so many kids go to DC. In fairness, they never know how government works, but that’s another blog.

When do you learn how recruiting works?

Considering that it’s almost guaranteed most of us will be in a recruiting process at least once in our lives, when do we learn? A quick course could clarify a lot of misunderstandings. Maybe it would even help recruiters with that bad reputation.

I know candidates don’t understand because of the questions they’re asking me. Even the most simple question like “when should I follow up?” I feel like that’s easy to communicate to someone but often never comes out of anyone’s mouth. Why not?

6 Things Every Job Seeker Should Know

For the candidates who came here to get a little intel, there are a few things every candidate should know about hiring and what happens after you click apply.

  1. Your resume goes into a searchable database called an ATS. An ATS is not a robot, and no, a robot will not read your résumé. If anything, these systems have mathematical rejection at best. What I mean by that is, you enter a ZIP Code, and they require people to be on site. If the ZIP Code is more than 50 miles away, they’ll probably automatically reject you just based on their weird assumption that you aren’t willing to drive that far. That’s not a robot. That’s a horrible machine. If you’re getting an automatic rejection, there’s probably something you entered that was a no-go on their side. That’s a good thing. You don’t want to make it through a whole process and find out that you’re not going to get hired because you don’t have a college degree.
  2. The recruiter starts by doing a keyword search of the database and the application queue to see who shows up. Keywords matter. Most recruiters need to see the words they are looking for on your résumé, or they won’t bridge the gap to understand what this means. Remember, most people don’t think as you do, and you won’t be there to explain it. Be concise and clear.
  3. When I scan a resume, I’m looking for those keywords and experiences that are either similar in industry, scope, or scale. That means I’m looking to see if you’ve done this type of work at this scale before. That’s why the numbers matter so much. If the hiring manager gives me an example, and you have something the model had? You moved to the top of the pile quickly.
  4. I think we believe recruiters have a lot more influence than they do. Of all the people you speak to, the hiring manager is the person who makes the official decision. They are the ones who have to give the recruiter the answer, and that takes as long as it takes. Recruiters don’t influence much besides the updates to you.
  5. Recruiters often have between 30 to 50 roles, so it’s not surprising when things fall off their plate. It’s ok to follow up. One week later, if you haven’t heard anything, send something casual like, “I can’t believe it has been a week already! I know a lot is going on behind the scenes, so I just wanted to check in to reaffirm my interest and see what next steps are happening on your side.”
  6. Remember, recruiters, are looking at your LinkedIn profile, too. If you want help writing a profile that makes recruiters respond, let’s write it together!

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Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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