Breaking the Recruitment Process
You will soon find that there are two types of job advert. Those you can turn to your advantage and those you cannot.
Whilst you should continue applying to the former, you are really in this instance relying on a great CV and Cover Letter to get you noticed. Remember, the recruiter is scanning many CVs and is only looking for specific information. For example, have you worked at a competing company to the one you are applying to? do you have qualifying roles, experiences, job titles and skills in your CV? If not, you will be discarded, regardless of your actual ability to succeed in the advertised role. Recruitment really can be that reductive. The recruiter is working to a brief, the business on the other hand can be sold to.
Recruiters are working to tight briefs and want to find candidates who maximise their chances of a commission fee by matching as many elements of the Hiring Manager’s brief as possible. It is very likely you will not get through a screening process like this. This is where you can maximise your chances with the right type of job posting by taking matters into your own hands. As previously discussed, you will only have a few opportunities to differentiate. This is one of them and you must grasp it.
(For a background of the recruitment industry and the reasons why you need to differentiate at all opportunities, please see my previous blog post. It is also essential that you have taken the initial steps covered within that post in regard to your CV, Linkedin Profile and Cover Letter, prior to taking the steps I discuss here. The link to my previous blog can be found below, please check it out);
What you are looking for in Job Postings
Firstly, a quick recap in terms of where you are on your checklist. To be at this stage you should already have;
- Confirmed your focuses in terms of the industry, role and function that you are applying for
- Identified your passions
- Upgraded your CV
- Upgraded your Linkedin Profile with a winning summary
- Created Cover Letter Bullet Points summarising your qualities and achievements
With these elements now secure in your job hunting armoury, you are now out there on the internet scanning the job pages, social media and adverts for roles that meet your criteria.
Two types of Job Postings
The job adverts you will find will broadly fall into 2 main categories;
- External Recruiter Job Postings – (Providing limited information)
- Direct Company Job Postings – (Providing nuggets of information which can be used to the candidate’s advantage)
External Recruiter Job Postings
These are tricky, again for the reasons discussed in my previous blog post.
Essentially Recruitment companies are out there in a highly competitive world trying to pick up jobs they can work on from hiring Corporates. These Corporates can be somewhat ambivalent to the external recruitment industry these days as the internet has, whilst not making the recruitment industry irrelevant, opened the path for candidates to find and apply for advertised roles directly without the need for an intermediary.
Again due to the openness of the internet and a competitive recruitment environment recruitment companies no longer, or very rarely have exclusive jobs to work on. Corporates, if opening jobs to the recruitment industry at all, will hedge their bets by working with a number of recruitment partners. The individual recruiter has therefore to be careful to protect the identity of the hiring company, (who are also likely to be advertising directly themselves). The recruiter is therefore suppressing information in order to try to ensure a candidate flow to their posting rather than to any other.
A Note of Clarification
Let’s be clear, I am in no way advising you completely circumvent or undermine the recruiter, you must continue to apply through the formal process. What I am suggesting is that in order to maximise your chances in the process, you must break that process a little. You have to differentiate from the pack, and remember the pack will be large.
So how to differentiate? You have essentially 2 ways to do this at this stage;
- Get the attention of the Hiring Manager
- Show the Hiring Manager how you would approach the role and why you would be the best candidate
For those of you concerned about approaching the Hiring Manager directly, this is about understanding fundamentally that you have to sell yourself to succeed in a hiring process. Both of these techniques are about making that Hiring Manager want to interview you.
This is not about being pushy or unprofessional, this about highlighting your application and your candidacy. Remember the majority of applicants will simply supply their CV, others a CV and Cover Letter. These will all be of varying quality. Few, if any, will demonstrate the desire, initiative and passion that you are about to if you follow my steps.
Again, for anyone still worried about the concept, read on, a polite and professional approach will get a positive response I promise you. Remember, a job advert is all about getting applicants. You are being invited to communicate with that company. The Hiring Manager will be glad of your submission and pleased to see a quality candidate taking initiative to reach out directly. In some cases you will find yourself in a direct dialogue with the Hiring Manager about yourself and the role. In the best case scenario you will find yourself fast tracked to interview. Whatever happens, you will have lost nothing and you will have taken a direct action which essentially puts you in control of the hiring process. The phycological boost of that cannot be underestimated.
Doing nothing will not improve your chances and you will be subject to the silence of the recruitment process. Silence is not good. Not good at all. For those of you ready to back yourselves, read on!
External Recruiter Job Posting – Example
Here’s an example job posting from a typical Global Recruitment company, (I have redacted the region information);
“about the company….
Our client is a global leading MNC with a strong reputation within the Consumer Goods and Packaging industry, servicing diverse industries including F&B and Chemicals industry. Looking to drive their business forward within the region, they are looking for a Regional Business Development Director – xxx to support growth for their Plant Automation business in the region. The successful candidate will be instrumental in expanding markets, developing business and sales strategies and ensuring continued success within the region.
about the job….
In this role, you will be collaborating closely with Regional Lead, to devise and implement sales strategies, directly leading to revenue growth for their Automation business in the xxx region. The key markets covered will include Food and Beverage and Chemicals industry. Some of the core duties of this crucial role include….”
Advertised above is a great looking Business Development role. We know this is going to be a heavily subscribed job. It’s senior, it has a wide scope, it’s a regional role with a global MNC, so we can assume it is a leading company. It also happens to have an attractively high budget in terms of package. It’s a peach.
Underlined above, are for me the key issues with this posting, (assuming this is a role you are interested in). As a candidate interested in this role, my goal is to get in front of the Hiring Manager, I want to;
a) Guarantee the chance to interview as much as possible and to;
b) Differentiate from the hundreds of others who are likely to apply for this role
However, the recruiter has done a great job of making this hard for me.
- The Company name is withheld
- The Industry is obscured, (sure I can make a google search but I will not immediately pinpoint the company, and may not be able to identify them at all)
- The process here would be to make a broad google search, such as; “MNC + Consumer & Packaging + Leading Global Company”
- Once you have discovered some companies from that initial search, a quick jump to their careers pages will tell you if the role is directly advertised
- NOTE: If the role is new or there is an incumbent in the job, the role may not be posted yet or may not be on the Corporate Website at all. In this case your recourse to action is to apply to the posted advert as is
- It does not identify clearly who the role reports to, sure one can assume a Sales Director or Head of Sales but one cannot be sure
- Finding out who is in the likely reporting line is only worth doing if you find the Direct Job posting having undertaken the above searches
So, good job recruiter! Not such a great advert for me the candidate. Of course go ahead and respond, but other than following up directly with the recruiter posting the job, (Recommended), there is not too much you can do if your Google searches come up blank on the Company in question.
You’re basically stuck in the pile of CVs, hoping you have sufficient experience in your resume for the recruiter to shortlist you for a screening call.
Direct Company Job Posting – Example
Below is an excerpt from a direct company job advertisement. In the ad itself the company is clearly mentioned and explained, as are the requirements of the role. So is the job title, which is again a Senior Business Development role.
“This position is based in xxx and reports to the Global VP of Business Development. The Vice President Sales & Business Development xxx is responsible for developing business in xxx and the general xxx region.”
Now this advert is a game changer and is crying out for a differential approach to responding to this opportunity.
The critical elements are again underlined but here they are in detail;
- You know who this role reports to – you have the job title clearly mentioned. It is easy now to find this person and their direct email
- I will cover Linkedin use in more detail within a subsequent post but you essentially undertake a company search on Linkedin within the country you are applying for, (Alternatively look for the HQ country, this example reports to a Global role, this person is most likely based out of the Corporate HQ). Then click on people working at this company. Finally, scroll for the Job Title of the Hiring Manager. Of course this may not be exactly as written in the job posting so be prepared for that. The alternative is of course to Google search for the Global VP of Business Development at that company. If identified, you will likely end up on Linkedin again
- You have all the information you need to undertake some company & role research – you know the job title, the company and the territory you will be servicing in the role
- I will cover this topic in detail in a subsequent post, research is essential
- Find the Hiring Manager’s email. Now this is a lot easier than you may think and you have a number of options to find this.
- Check the person’s contact details in Linkedin, sometimes you will find their email address right there!
- Use a Linkedin Plugin. You will need to use the Google Chrome Browser for this. I personally use ‘Lusha”. (https://www.lusha.co). It is free, offering you a number of free searches per month. There are alternatives. Typically you do not even have to expose the whole email as discovered by Lusha, (Thus saving you search credits), as you are just looking to uncover the corporate part of the email address format. You can assume that the majority will be email@example.com alternatives typically are firstname.lastname@example.org or sometimes more rarely email@example.com. If your email bounces simply try one of the alternatives.
- If Lusha is drawing a blank, (which it sometimes does), enter a Google search as follows; *CorporateName* + Corporate Email Format. You will get a return from a site like http://www.email-format.com/ These sites will give you a number of suggestions ranking the most likely email format first
- Cold Call! Cold Calling lives! However, with the techniques above, you will likely never have to resort to this in order to find an email address. Unless you are in a country not well served by these tools, such as Indonesia. In my experience, Cold Calling works well in such territories and you can usually get an email address with some persistence. Simply say you need to send an email, but you have the address incorrect, the person will usually then provide the details you need
- See if the target has blogged or written articles for their work. Possibly they have added their email address to encourage audience engagement. Again use Google searches such as Person’sName + Article + Blog + Interview + Post + CorporateCompanyName This should bring back some results you can investigate. Clearly this is also a great step in researching your target to increase your chances of a response by alluding to a topic or interest you know they have. Again I will cover this in more detail in the Social Selling Blog, coming soon!
- Check out their Twitter Account or personal Blog or Website. Often personal email addresses are provided, again to offer engagement based on the content they are providing
It is almost time to compose your email to the Hiring Manager. Again, to be clear, I advise you apply as per the normal process. However, do not leave it there. Now is your chance to elevate your application and get ahead of the process. Time to differentiate.
Some additional Research
Now is the time to read the job advert carefully. Pick up on and note the language used, the key skills and competencies asked for. Also pay attention to any cultural or personal traits the company is looking for. Companies often spell out something of the management or company culture within adverts so look for these clues as well.
For example, wording may indicate a startup environment with a fast moving and changing environment. Here is your chance to highlight specifically any startup or smaller company experience you may have. Companies calling for self starters and those with an entrepreneurial mindset are usually changing often with fluid goals and structure. The role is not likely to be closely managed so highlight your experience, your self starter mentality and achievements within similar environments.
Armed with these nuggets and clues, adapt your bullet points to address the elements you feel are most important to the Company and Hiring Manager. Further research you can undertake is as follows;
- Read the Company Report
- The MD’s summary of the business will give you some pointers on current successes, challenges and direction, this is all useable information to show you have taken time to understand the company you are approaching
- Read the Company Website
- Look for GlassDoor Employer Reviews and Comments https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm
- See if you are connected to the company via your Linkedin network and reach out to your connections for insights and tips
- This can help you identify the processes and language involved in the function you are applying for. Mirroring this can very powerful. Also if your network advocates you this is a powerful endorsement, effectively a professional reference which will only reinforce your approach
Compose an arresting opening sentence
Mention people you are both connected to or people you know in the organisation. If you have already spoken to them about the role, this is also worth mentioning. Highlight something about yourself which connects you to the Hiring Manager in some way, perhaps this will be an experience or a skill or philosophy you have which chimes with a challenge or topic you know this person to be facing or interested in.
Do tell the Hiring Manager that you have applied in the normal fashion but that you are reaching out to them as the role will ultimate report to them.
Follow up with 5 to 6 carefully crafted bullet points which address a key element required of the role based on your reading of the job advert. These points should be short and punchy.
Attach your CV and tell them you would love the opportunity to come and discuss the role with them.
Having done this you can now start on the next phase of differentiation. The 90 day plan.
Until next time; Be strong, be positive. This circumstance is not you and it won’t define you. Do reach out with comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you, @OpenCandidate or firstname.lastname@example.org
“It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone” – Hans F Hansen