interviews

A Few Things A Recruiter Needs To Know – For A Reason

By: Tanner Bell

I was reading an article in Forbes this morning titled “Ten Things Recruiters ‘Need to Know’ — That Are None Of Their Business,” by Liz Ryan, and I had a few issues with what Liz Ryan had to say.  I know that every situation is unique and every industry is different but I wanted to write a quick message to give her a different point of view.  I work with a Denver based in IT recruiting firm and thought I could give her some insight “from the trenches.”

She was right when she said that it IS easy to become a recruiter and there are a lot of companies that don’t treat their recruiters well or give them training to ensure their success in the long term.  For the record we don’t respect those companies either because the pushy and rude recruiters that she speaks of give the recruiting industry a bad name. Unfortunately, these are the experiences shared the most.  Our company is dedicated to learning about the candidate to find the right fit for them.  We work equally hard to understand our clients’ needs, beyond just the technical skill sets, to be sure we’re doing everything we can to make the proper fit.  I wanted to address a few issues with her list of 10 questions “Unprofessional Recruiters Ask Candidates.”

“What are you earning now?

This may seem “rude or pushy” at face value but perhaps the reasoning behind the question is not fully explained to the candidate.  We deal with many clients that conduct salary reviews and will not pay a candidate more than X% over what they were making in their last position.  Other times it is to help us frame a cost of living difference, whether that be an increase or decrease   We have had candidates moving from Silicon Valley to the Mid-West and cannot understand why the salary is $80k instead of $130k.  We also ask this question to better understand our candidate and their unique needs.  If we unknowingly place a candidate in a position earning significantly less than their previous role, as recruiters, we may be presenting a candidate who is a flight risk for our client, or presenting a candidate with a position that really isn’t a good fit for him or her.

Furthermore, our clients expect us to know the candidates salary history and expectations.  Finally, and this is important: we do not share the specifics with the client unless we are required to and always with the candidate’s permission.  Yes, this is true.  We use the salary discussion to help us present the candidate in the best possible situation to create a win-win with the client.  We don’t tell the client the candidate’s salary history.

“What other companies are you interviewing with?”

First of all, the candidate doesn’t need to answer the question if they don’t feel comfortable doing so, but we ask this question for a couple possible reasons.  We want to be sure we are not presenting opportunities to candidates where they are already interviewing.  By asking about their interview activity, it also helps us understand how far along they are in the process.  If we find out they are having a final interview with a company, we may decide to hold off on submitting them to a client if they are likely to be off the market in a short period of time.  If they have a fair amount of interview activity, it also gives us the chance to let our clients know that timing is important if they are seriously considering the candidate.  And believe it or not, we regularly are able to give some helpful information to the candidate about other companies they are interviewing with.

“Can you send me your list of references right now?”

While the references do not need to be addressed in an initial screening, they should be asked for as soon as the client expresses interest.  Whether we are checking the references or it is done by the client, having them readily available is important.  We do not make reference calls until the proper time, but many hires have disappeared because of the lag in either gathering the references or getting the references to respond.  Additionally, each client has different requirements for reference checks, some want references completed very early in the interview process, others not until the time of an offer.
As in any industry, there are companies that are customer focused and provide superior service and others that don’t.  We find value and satisfaction in the work we do.  It is both client and candidate focused.  Even though recruiters often get a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so, the reality is that we’ve found jobs for candidates that would have never found these opportunities on their own and they were grateful. It is also rewarding to act as their advocate with our clients so they are more than just another applicant or resume to review.  And we do this, I might add, without a fee to the candidate.  As recruiters, we can’t perform superior service without really understanding our clients or candidates.  As far as I know, you can’t really get to know anyone or understand any situation without asking questions and finding the right position is personal.  Our clients have tasked us to identify and qualify candidates for them, if we don’t do our job comprehensively, we haven’t served either the client or candidate well.  I don’t intend to defend all the questions in the article, but I do want to defend quality recruiters and the reputable work we do.  As the candidate, working with a recruiter isn’t any different than securing any other service or product you need.  You wouldn’t work with a contractor to remodel your home if they did shoddy work; you wouldn’t buy a car from an annoying and insincere salesman.   The same is true with recruiters, don’t work with a recruiter that isn’t providing the quality of service you are looking for.  Quantix is different, check us out.

I would love to know what you think on this topic.  Do you have any questions that did not make the list? How do you feel with these or the other questions on the list? Comment below.

Six critical questions candidates should ask during an interview

By: John Hutchins, Vice President of Client Relations

I interview candidates for a living – candidates for our clients’ technical positions, as well as candidates for our internal sales, recruiting and resource management positions.  Rarely do candidates ask good questions.  I typically get the standard questions about how many candidates are interviewing for the position, how soon we’ll be making a decision and what are the next steps.  Don’t get me wrong, these are ok questions, but they aren’t giving you much worthwhile information.  Here are six questions every candidate should ask during an interview, the earlier in the interview process, the better:

  1. What did you see in my resume that prompted you to contact me for this position? The information you gather from this question will help you with the current position and potentially with tailoring your resume for future positions.  With regard to the current position, the answer gives you additional insight into what is important.  Asking this question early in the interview process enables you to tailor your answers to what they deem is important.   With regard to future positions, the answer helps you understand how recruiters review resumes and what caught their eye.  You may be able to use this to your advantage when applying for future positions.
  2. What is the profile of the ideal candidate for this position? This is an obvious question to ask, but is rarely asked by candidates during the interview process.  Again, asking this early in the interview process will give you an edge.  With this answer in hand, you’ll be able to focus your answers and ensure you cover the interviewer’s actual hot buttons, rather than perceived hot buttons.
  3. In what areas do I match that profile? A seasoned sales professional once told me that convincing someone to buy rarely works.  Instead, you need to help them convince themselves that they want to buy.  This question follows the same logic.  Your goal here is to help the interviewer solidify in their mind why you’re a good fit for the position.  It also helps you to validate whether or not you’re effectively communicating your strengths.  If they fail to mention experience that you obviously possess and that is obviously necessary for the job, you may want to rethink how you’re communicating that experience.
  4. In what areas are you unsure whether I match the profile? Notice that this is a softball question by design.  Using the word, “unsure,” helps to soften the question.  It implies that they are unsure, not that you are lacking in some skill.  The interviewer is more likely to give you quality feedback just based on how you ask the question.  In contrast, asking the interviewer what they perceive to be your weaknesses puts the interviewer in a difficult spot.  No one wants to tell someone else about their “weaknesses” or how they “don’t fit.”  If you ask the question with such finality, you’ll likely receive a fluff answer, such as, “Nothing comes to mind” or “I think you’re a great fit.”  As a result, you’ll never have the opportunity to help them be sure.
  5. What else can I provide to help you make the correct decision – more detail, references, personality test, etc.? As with question #4, phrasing is everything.  It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.  With this question, it’s implied that the “correct decision” could go either way.  You’re not being cocking by assuming you are the “correct decision.”  Instead, you’re a consultant of sorts, trying to help them determine the best course of action.  Just by asking this question, you’re exuding qualities that most employers are looking for – selflessness, team work and honesty.  In addition, if they do have unanswered questions, it may provide you with the opportunity to provide information that sways them in your direction.
  6. With regard to other people who have been in this role, what have they done well and what were their biggest challenges? This is one of the best questions you can ask.  It typically results in cornucopia of valuable information.  This question often times helps you get under the hood, so to speak, to see what really is happening, and more importantly, the baggage you’ll be inheriting.  Regardless of your decision, it is always good to enter a new situation with reasonable expectations and your eyes wide open.

Asking these six questions will help you refine your interview performance, provide insight into what recruiters / managers are truly seeking in candidates, and help you determine whether or not this is a good fit for you.  Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking questions.  Instead, ask questions to obtain valuable information that will help you succeed – whatever that means for you.

What You’re Doing Wrong In Your Job Search – Part I

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

This will be the first installment in addressing some of the glaring deficiencies in so many job searches I see candidates conducting. This part will address finding the open jobs and sending in resumes.

So you’ve been looking for a new job. Maybe it’s because you’re out of work, or maybe it’s because you don’t like your current job. And you’ve had some interviews, but not as many as you’d like. What’s wrong? Well, employers ARE being very selective these days; as selective as I’ve ever seen. It’s understandable; the costs of a bad hire are very, very high, and no manager needs that on their record. Here are some tips – and yes, all of these come from actual experience (resumes and job search strategies) I have seen in my 14-year recruiting career.

1) You’re only utilizing one method to find open jobs. 

Yes, I know…everyone says networking with your peers and friends is the best way to find a job. I do agree. However, I wouldn’t have had a job for the last 14 years and the IT staffing industry wouldn’t exist if you couldn’t get a job using a recruiter or on a job board. Just don’t ONLY use job boards or recruiters. You have to do all three things, and more, to find that great job. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I also recommend joining pertinent networking groups (both online and in-person) and calling in to companies for whom you’d like to work. There are forward-thinking companies that will make hires if they find the right person, even if a job isn’t “officially” open. One way of finding good in-person networking groups is Meetup.com. It’s not just for meeting singles or joining a book club. There are a lot of excellent job-related and skill-related meet-ups.

2) You’re sending the same old, tired resume for every job.

Your resume needs to speak to each job individually. Managers are combing through resumes, not only for grammar and spelling errors, but to make sure the skills they need are reflected on the resume. You probably can’t get every skill you have

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

on your “standard” resume, so make sure you look over the job description very closely, and make sure ALL OF YOUR RESUME aligns with it. That means your objective, your skills summary and your work experience section. Just adding a couple of keywords to your skills summary isn’t good enough. I also recommend a “Selected Achievements” section where you can point out some of the ways in which you have gone above and beyond or spearheaded (or participated on) a project that was high-profile or saved/earned your employer money.

3) Your resume doesn’t show the hiring manager how you will make the company more profitable and his/her job easier.

Just showing that you have all the skills the job description lists isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate why you’re the best choice within all the candidates who also have those skills. This means highlighting projects with which you saved an employer money, projects where you took initiative, ways in which you are constantly striving to better your skills, etc. This can be by taking additional classes, going for certifications, showing career growth at an employer, volunteering in a relevant field and more.  For software developers, for example, there are open source projects online that you can participate in. This shows your employer that you have a passion and drive for your job and that you take the time outside of work to hone your craft. 

4) You aren’t doing your homework.

I’ll address this as it pertains to interviews in a future post, but it also applies to finding the job openings and applying. First of all, you need to keep a close eye on the business news. There will be mentions of companies expanding, opening new offices, getting new rounds of funding, etc., and those are the companies you want to target. Don’t wait for a job posting. Look them up on the Internet and on LinkedIn and find some hiring managers and call them directly! This shows drive and initiative right from the start. Secondly, many open jobs never see the “light of day,” meaning there’s never an actual job posting on the Internet. Managers have a need, they mention it to their team, they get a referral and make a hire. If you’re looking for a job, make sure you talk with everyone you know and make sure they understand what you do and why they would want to recommend you to their boss. Additionally, many jobs go to recruiting agencies and might be on a corporate website, but are never out there for easy access. That means also cultivating a relationship with a few recruiters whom you trust. Make sure they always share the client name with you and take the time to get to know you and your skills and what kinds of jobs and companies you are targeting. And finally, so many people do all the upfront work, but then never adjust their resume to reflect the company’s business, industry or culture. This should be reflected in your resume’s objective, but also in your employment history – talk about any relevant experience you have to that particular company’s line of business or industry.

I guess the bottom line with all of these points is that too many people are simply lazy in their job search. They don’t want to do the legwork up front with networking, doing research and making calls, and they don’t want to take 30 minutes to tailor a resume to a job. So if you really want to make an impression and maximize your opportunities, don’t be lazy!

Working With Recruiters: Job Seeker Tips

By: Emily Davis-VanKooten and Kristen Tripp, National IT Recruiters at Quantix

Working with a recruiter throughout your job search can be incredibly beneficial. However, if you’ve never worked with a recruiter before or are unsure of how to handle the situation, the experience can be frustrating. Keeping these 10 tips in mind the next time you have a discussion with a recruiter may help ease the process and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

1) Send recruiters your updated resume even if you are not actively looking for a new position. You never know when a great opportunity will come up and this keeps your name and skills at the front of the recruiter’s mind.

2) Tailor your resume for the position you are interested in and applying for.

Image Credit: Books for Better Living/Abigail Garner

Image Credit: Books for Better Living/Abigail Garner

3) If you are actively in the job market, try to be responsive to your recruiter’s calls and emails.

4) Research the company you are interviewing with and come up with relevant questions for the manager.

5) Be flexible with your availability for interviews with managers.

6) Be honest, yet confident on your skill level. Don’t over or undersell yourself.

7) Keep track of where you have submitted your resume to avoid double submission.

8) Be open to constructive criticism with your resume, as the recruiter has firsthand knowledge of what managers are typically looking for.

9) Be upfront about what your salary expectations are on the front end. Once the interview process has started, it is difficult to go back and negotiate.

10) Have industry awareness on salary expectation for the position you are seeking.