Thursday, 30 May 2013

Our Point of View

Last year I wrote this post wondering why everyone seemed to be so down on recruiters.  But the debate ensues.  

I get it folks, I really do.  Job searching, whether as a student, a new grad, or a seasoned veteran sucks.  It's worse than on line dating (at least that's what I hear).  When you're job searching taking the time to register with a staffing company can seem to be a lifeline.  After all, they get paid to find people jobs, right?  Not really.  Let me 'splain:

For 10 years I worked for a staffing company.  And for 10 years I heard from strangers how horrible staffing companies are (actually I still hear this).  The Staffing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, so why do people hate it so much?

On the surface, all staffing companies may appear to be the same, but underneath they are all different.  Staffing companies can be found across the globe in all industries.  Some are multinational, some are national, some are local.  Some fill labour roles, others office, others executive, others do it all.  They work on contingency, retention, or a combination of both.  They may fill temporary, contract, permanent, or all.  The employees may be skilled or unskilled.  I could go on.

I hope that you can already see how complex of an industry it is.

How does it work?

Businesses hire a staffing company to fill an open position.  For the sake of this article, I will refer to permanent roles.  The company that I worked for worked on contingency, meaning that they only got paid after the role was filled.  By law (at least in Canada), it is illegal to charge any money to the job seeker.  Therefore 100% of our revenue came directly from the employer.

Myth #1 - Staffing companies will get you a job
  • Staffing companies are not in the business of finding you a job.  They are in the business of filling open positions for their clients.  They may be able to present you to opportunities that otherwise would not be available to you, but they cannot guarantee you employment.
Because we are paid 100% by the client, we work for them.  We are working within the guidelines and restrictions for the position.  If you fit within the limits of our search, then you may be considered for that role.

Myth #2 -  Recruiters are only in it for the "quick hit"
  • If this were true, then they would have no repeat business.
I built up my client base for 10 years based on the quality of our placements and follow ups.  We also had a 3 month guarantee in place for all placements, and a 95% success rate. If we were only in it for the "quick hit" our replacement rate would have been a lot higher!

Myth #3 - Recruiters "own" you and you can't apply on your own again
  •  Most staffing companies will ask you to sign something when you register with them.  Read it.  Carefully.  The company that I worked for did not limit you in your job search.  We even encouraged you to register with multiple staffing firms.  But we did ask that you not apply at a company if we had already presented you for a role.  Sounds pretty fair to me.
Myth #4 - Recruiters never call you back
  • Again, I can't speak for everyone out there, but as a rule, we only called you if you met the needs of the client.   If we were filling 4 senior accounting roles and you were a junior administrative assistant, you're right, we weren't going to call you.
This is by no means a comprehensive list.  Using a staffing company to complement your job search can be very effective, that doesn't mean that you can sit back and wait for the job offers to roll in.  You need to be in the driver's seat and should be aware of who is hiring and where you want your résumé to be presented.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Get Your Résumé in the "Yes" Pile

I counsel university students every day on how to improve their résumé.  By far the biggest comment that I hear from them is "who cares what my résumé looks like, isn't it the content that counts?"

Unfortunately that isn't the case.  Many recruiters see hundreds of applications and résumés on a weekly basis.  A good recruiter is able to quickly scan each one in a matter of 10 seconds(or less) and can determine based on that initial scan if your résumé goes into the "yes" or "no" pile.

What can you do to make your résumé stand out?

First - make it easy to read.  No matter how amazing you may be, if you have a résumé that is cluttered or too "wordy", I'm going to look at it and toss it.  Read every word of a 2 page résumé?  Ain't nobody got time for that!

But there are a few things that you can do that will make your résumé easy to read:
  • Use a standard format with the dates separated from the rest of the text so they stand out.
  • Tell me what you accomplished rather than what you were "responsible for"
  • Use bullet points!
  • When you can, use numbers and symbols, these will draw the reader's eyes into your résumé during a quick scan.  E.g. Instead of: Consistently achieved sales targets try instead: Met and surpassed sales goals achieving 150% of monthly targets

One other thing; are you a whizz at word processing? I didn't think so, in fact, I know so.  When I receive a résumé in a .doc format, I click on the "paragraph" button specifically to see if you know how to format.  Usually, you don't.  To avoid this, always submit your application using a .pdf file.

Spelling counts too!

You can thank my grade 3 English teacher, but I am a stickler for proper spelling.  I have seen many applications get tossed because of 1 spelling error.  Use spell check and have a friend proofread your résumé before you send it in.

This is one of my favourite misspellings:
Strong attntion to details