Winning Over Job Recruiters: A 3-Prong Approach

If you’ve looked for a job as a professional, you’ve likely bumped into a recruiter or two along your job-seeking journey.  

Passing the recruiter stage of the interview process by making a good impression is a worthy feat. But piquing their interest and convincing them you’re the perfect candidate can be a mysterious and nerve-wracking process.  

Who are they looking for? What do they want to hear? How much should you prepare for the interview?  

If you’ve ever wondered about best tactics for winning over these legendary gatekeepers, we’ve got you covered. But first, let’s learn a bit about their job.

What Do Job Recruiters Do?

By finding and vetting talented, right-fit candidates, recruiters (both in-house and agency) play a vital role in fulfilling company staffing and talent acquisition needs.  

In the area of staffing, recruiters assess candidates for specific, immediate, or even short-term jobs on behalf of organizations. Their role exists, in part, to speed up the hiring process and fill job vacancies quickly. However, they’re also charged with minimizing the risk of bad hires. To accomplish both, staffing recruiters must work, act, and evaluate candidates quickly.  

Talent acquisition, though also intended to minimize hiring risk, is a more strategic, long-term approach to sourcing, attracting, and hiring top talent.  

Beyond filling specific or immediate job vacancies, talent acquisition focuses on building relationships with candidates to maintain a pool for current and future hiring needs.  

Whichever their focus (staffing or talent acquisition), recruiters look at a candidate’s experience, skills, and overall fit with company culture from a high level. If they decide you’re a fit, they’ll recommend candidates to subsequent interviewers and hiring managers.  

Once hiring managers approve a candidate, the recruiter may also verify the candidate’s resume and conduct background checks.

Recruiters in every industry spend their days scouring LinkedIn, sifting through hundreds (or more) of resumes, and interviewing hopeful candidates. Standing out among a sea of job-seeking competitors can feel daunting.

What Are Job Recruiters Looking for?

As an IT consulting company that also provides talent acquisition and staffing services to major employers, Wimmer recruiters have worked with their fair share of candidates.  

Through interviews with them, plus additional internet scouring, we’ve collected some valuable information and tips to share with those of you aiming to stand out and impress recruiters at three key points:  

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Resume
  3. The Interview

1. Where Job Recruiters Find Candidates: LinkedIn

As the world’s largest professional online networking platform, LinkedIn, according to Forbes, is “where 95% of recruiters begin their journey in search of candidates.”  

Most recruiters on LinkedIn use a search feature called LinkedIn Recruiter. Optimizing your profile for its search algorithm can make a big difference in the number of recruiters who find you.  

Though protected, experts have sussed out a few of the more likely ranking factors and offered tips for optimizing them. These include:

  • Your LinkedIn Profile Headline and Current Job Title. These are weighted most heavily and appear right under your photo. Optimize them by including key terms related to your target role (that is, the role you’re seeking), your industry, and any specialties.  
  • Keywords. Weave keywords from your target industry and job descriptions into your current Job Title, Headline, Intro, About, and Experience sections.  
  • Never “stuff” your profile with keywords, however. LinkedIn spam detection algorithms could filter out your profile altogether. However, as long as keywords fit naturally within the context of your copy, and it reads well for humans, you’ll have nothing to fear.  
  • Engagement. On LinkedIn, engagement starts with building up your number of connections. The more you have, the more often you’ll land on the recruiter’s SERP. One expert found 500 connections to be a “magic” number for maximizing this opportunity.

Engagement also includes:

  • “Liking” and commenting on posts
  • Taking part in industry group conversations
  • Answering questions, posting articles, endorsing connections
  • Updating your profile.

Appeasing LinkedIn’s algorithms can help land your profile in a recruiter’s SERP, but from that point, remember, a human will evaluate your profile.

What Do Recruiters Look for on a LinkedIn Profile?

“Above all else,” says Torben Espensen, senior technical recruiter at Wimmer Solutions, “have a profile picture and an easy-to-read, relevant career profile.”  

Bad actors create “fake” profiles to spread messages, avoid LinkedIn messaging limits, and even deploy phishing attacks.

“If I don’t see a photo, I am less likely to reach out. This is based on my own previous experiences,” says Torben.

Your profile photo doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but you should look professional. And, yes, you should smile. For a touch of personality, add a banner photo too.  

Your Job Title, Headline, and Intro are immediately visible in the recruiter’s search results. Again, include keywords related to the role you’re pursuing so recruiters can immediately confirm your fit for the job. For example:  

Susan Smith  

Senior Data Engineer at ABC company | Data pipelines, data integration  

Hold their interest by using first person and describe the value you’ll bring to your target role. If you look like a potential match for the job, they’ll will keep reading.  

Don’t forget to end your About section with a call to action, such as, “Contact me.”  

2. How to Stand Out on Your Resume

Though some say we may soon see the demise of the resume, for now, most companies and roles require them. Make sure yours gets the attention it deserves by taking the following factors into consideration.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) — Not All Recruiters Use Them

A whopping 94% of internal enterprise HR departments today rely on the ATS to filter out unqualified applicants. When applying to these corporate giants, ensure your resume is filtered in and reaches company recruiters by tailoring your resume to the job description.  

Do this by using the same key words and phrases used throughout the job description to describe your skills and experience.  

Independent or agency recruiters and smaller companies usually don’t use an ATS. While it’s less critical to match specific key words from the job description, it’s still good practice to do so.

What Do Recruiters Look for on Resumes?

“Value,” says Torben, “I want to see what value the candidate will add to the company as proven by prior accomplishments in past positions.”  

Recruiters often have as little as five seconds to scan the first page of each resume. This means you want to show them your value clearly, concisely, and right off the bat. Keep it organized, with key information in bullet points to make your value stand out.

“If a resume reads well, I’ll move on to the second and third page, before I proceed with a conversation,” says Torben.

Ultimately, your resume should reveal who you are.  

Bring the focus to yourself by using first person, i.e., the “I” who gets credit for your skills and experiences.

Your resume is a marketing tool, and what it markets is you,” reminds Kevin Dickinson of the Washington Post.

Earning and listing industry certifications is another way to distinguish yourself. Those who do, says Forbes, "show three critical leading indicators for being a great job fit: qualification, interest and readiness for work.”  

Video Resumes

What of these new-fangled video resumes? TikTok’s resume feature launched during summer of 2021 and targets young professionals and graduates. Since then, video resumes have employers everywhere talking.  

Some like them: “A video resume helps show enthusiasm level and gives you a feel for the person,” one executive told CNBC.  

Others, however (including 55% of Gen Z respondents to a recent survey), worry they could inject bias into the hiring process.

What Do Job Recruiters Think About Video Resumes?

“We get video resumes once in a while, and they’re… nice,” said Torben, “they can showcase personality. They’re fine as long as the video is short — no more than 60 seconds.”  

Tyler Lessard, chief video strategist at Vidyard, agrees:  

“As much as you might draw someone in, they’re usually not going to spend any more than one to two minutes watching a video, even for a very interesting candidate.”  

3. Interview Tips: How to Stand Out to Recruiters

Once your LinkedIn profile and resume pass muster, recruiters will (hopefully) ask for a phone interview to confirm your fit for the job.

Of course, each recruiter has their own approach and each job its own requirements. Essentially, however, you’ll want to prepare to speak to and expand upon the skills and accomplishments you’ve listed on your resume.  

Once again, recruiters will listen first for how you’ll add value to the company.  

What did you accomplish in your last job that proves you have the skills, talent, and experience to do the job? They may not ask this specific question, but they are most definitely looking for the answer.

Speaking to your value can feel awkward, but you can get past feeling nervous. Consider this:

"Here's the secret, when you take the time to explain what you bring to the table, how you excel at it, and what you can do with that skill set, you are helping them.  

Articulating your value supplies ESSENTIAL and important information,” explained Executive Coach Alexandra Wall to LinkedIn.

A recruiter who’s thorough and invested in keeping their company a great place to work will want to learn more about you as a person. They’ll ask questions that reveal your values and characteristics, such as:

  • Did you simply perform your job or did you understand the business reasons behind the work you did? Can you speak about why the project was important?  
  • Are you courteous?
  • Do your values match the company values?  
  • How agile and flexible are you?  
  • Are you excited about the job and company?  
  • Are you prepared, polished, and professional?  
  • Do you have a growth mindset? Are you a life-long learner?  

Wrapping Up the Recruiter Interview

Once your interview with the recruiter is over, they’ll need to process notes and discuss your skills and experience with the hiring manager. Wait a few days before expecting a call back (unless stated otherwise).

It can be a tough wait. However, if you’ve followed the advice outlined above, your value will stand out to recruiters and you’ll be likely to move forward in the interview process.  

Looking to join the pool of skilled talent at Wimmer Solutions? Contact one of our recruiters today to talk about finding your next technical contract or full-time gig through us.  

You can also get started by applying for one of our many open careers on our Available Opportunities page, where our job board is always populating exciting new careers.