Yes, You Really Do Have to Do That
Yes, You Really Do Have to Do That

People constantly ask me about what elements and tactics are absolutely necessary to execute an effective and efficient job search. At the same time, employers want to know what they need to do to recruit and retain top talent. Frankly, both employers and candidates need to up their game. They need to respect each other’s time and act with professionalism. What does this mean?

For job seekers

Write a cover letter. Yes. You need to submit a cover letter whenever you have the opportunity to do so, perhaps especially when you’re applying via the ATS. Just the other day, a hiring manager remarked to me that a candidate came through the ATS with similar experience to that of others, but that her cover letter was exceptionally well done and interesting, so he asked HR to move forward with her.

Be on LinkedIn. You must have a fully fleshed-out profile, and a photo. If you don’t have a photo you may as well not exist.

Network by offering to help. Don’t simply ask the folks in your network if they know of anyone who is hiring. Demonstrate what it is that you can do for them.

Customize your resume for each job. Really. Truly. You do. You know how when you’re trying to sell something you need to be sure the message resonates with your buyer? The “buyer” in this situation is the hiring manager/company. Their biggest question is simple: “What’s in it for me?” Your resume must answer that question.

Dress professionally for an interview. Even if the company you’re interviewing with has a casual dress code, you need to attire yourself as the professional you are.

For employers

Know what you’re talking about. A client told me she was contacted by a recruiter whose first question was, “Which position did you apply for?” Have your act together when you contact candidates.

Follow up in a timely and appropriate fashion. Without a doubt, this is the Number One complaint I hear from candidates. They go through multiple rounds of interviews, only to hear exactly nothing afterward, despite repeated requests for status updates. If you take the time to speak with someone regarding an opening at your company, extend the courtesy of letting that person know where he stands in the process.

Be reasonable with candidates’ time. If you’re going to require that a candidate go through six rounds of interviews, prepare a mock presentation, and present a project plan to the hiring team, don’t be surprised when the candidate says “Enough!”

Reconsider the written job description. Are you looking for the great white whale? Do you think you need a candidate with a Ph.D. in Eastern Philosophy and an MBA, who is also fluent in ancient Aramaic? Why??? Companies often post job descriptions with requirements that are so absurd that only three people on the planet could meet them all. I recently saw one for a marketing director at a financial services company. One of the requirements was “Must understand derivatives.” Both Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan publicly have said that they do not understand how derivatives function. By this logic, neither former Fed chair is qualified to work at this company.

The bottom line

Respect one another’s time. Don’t waste it. Respect each other’s intelligence. Don’t offend it.