26
Apr

How to Successfully work with Recruiters from Head Hunting firms

You have decided that you want to reach out to a recruiter and gain their assistance in your job search. You have contacted several of them, but none of them have responded and you can’t understand why. I have had several of my clients get jobs through recruiters, so thought that I would share how to work with a recruiter and gain their attention in a good way! In order to do this you must first understand how a recruiter works, who they work with and how they get paid.  Below are few highlights that will be helpful for a jobseeker.

Do you have unique skills? First off, recruiters do not recruit for easy to fill positions, there are hundreds of suitable candidates that can be easily found. For example, if you have an MBA and no experience it is unlikely that a recruiter will be searching you out to promote you to an employer. If you have just completed your MBA and have ten years of experience in a field that is in high demand, then you could be of interest to the recruiter. Understand what your unique skills are and how these  make you marketable.

Recruiters are Specialists. Most retained executive search consultants have very specific niches. They know lots about the industries, job functions, and employers in their space… and probably not much about other industries. So when reaching out to recruiters, do you homework and find out what types of positions they recruit for and make sure your interests and skills fit with these. If you approach a recruiter who recruits for IT, and you are looking for a Business Development role, they will probably not respond to you.

They Are Interested in Hearing From You … provided you are in the area they recruit for! That doesn’t mean that they’ll take every call and respond instantly to every email, because …

Their Priorities are Different From Yours. You want a job…they have jobs…perfect match, right? Not necessarily! Recruiters work for (and are therefore loyal to) their clients, the hiring companies. They have no vested interest in any particular candidate.

They Are Not Sitting Around Waiting for Candidates to Contact Them. A key part of their job is scouring all of their vast resources and contacts to find potential candidates for specific opportunities.

Can They Find You? If you’re not visible in your industry, not easily found online, don’t work for a prominent company, or don’t have a decent network, recruiters may never find you. Start by posting a well-written, keyword-rich, accomplishment-loaded profile to LinkedIn – a favorite resource for recruiters!

Establish Interest Before Sending Your Résumé. A quick phone call or email to determine if there’s a common interest is a great way to launch a relationship with a recruiter in your space. Then, assuming mutual interest, forward your resume.
Get to the point in Your Resume. The first half page of a resume should provide the recruiter with the key skills you have to offer and the rest of the resume should back it up. Make sure your resume is sharply focused, easy-to-skim and easy-to-read. It must error free and well laid out.

Be Polite. Never launch into your “elevator pitch” without first determining that the recruiter has a few minutes to chat. Ask questions, don’t just spew out information. Listen to learn what is important to that recruiter, given current searches and anticipated needs.

Understand that the Right Fit is Paramount. Recruiters don’t match “a” candidate to a job; they recommend “the” best candidate given everything they know about the job, its challenges and opportunities, the company and its culture, and you – from their very careful interview and vetting process.

Be Transparent. Recruiters need to know it all – your compensation expectations, your reasons for leaving a job, your strongest interests, your ability to relocate and travel, and much more as they strive for that great fit. If you are less than honest and less than forthcoming, you’ll lose that recruiter’s trust and never be considered again.
Don’t Take It Personally If You’re Not Chosen. You’ll never know everything that’s behind any particular search or client situation. Recognize that the recruiter is doing his or her best job for that particular client.

Stay Connected. As mentioned, recruiters specialize! Stay on their radar screen and you may be contacted for other opportunities – now or in the future.  Most importantly, understand that recruiters are just one channel in an executive’s targeted search strategy. They can be extremely valuable during your search and throughout your career, but they are never the only avenue you should pursue when looking for work. You must recognize their needs and priorities to build a positive relationship and create a happy matchmaking environment.

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks

Dorothy is a certified résumé writer with 25 years of experience in providing career advice and support to 5,000 professionals in diverse industries including technology, science, gaming, trades, finance, manufacturing, warehouse, and administration to find fulfilling careers. Through her work she has gained a solid understanding of the needs of British Columbia’s dynamic labour force. Her expertise in developing résumés, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters  has helped her clients move forward in their careers. For more information visit www.fwt.bc.ca or contact dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca

19
Apr

So, are you legally entitled to work in Canada?

If you are new to Canada, your immigration status is likely to have an impact on your job search. Canadian employers cannot legally ask where you were born, but are well within their rights to ask whether you are legally allowed to work in this country. Those with Permanent Resident status are highly unlikely to face hiring difficulties, but those on temporary work permits may find that employers are more cautious about hiring you, and you have to be ready to answer their questions in order to reduce this risk.

This is not discrimination

First, Canadian employers are well within their rights to give preference to Canadian citizens or permanent residents.They are not legally required to treat temporary workers equally during the hiring process.Some organizations will openly state this in their job descriptions (i.e. “applications will only be considered from those eligible to work in Canada”, or “preference will be given to Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents”).Another way that organizations can find out your immigration status, without directly asking, is to look at your SIN; Those who are on temporary work permits have a 9 as the first digit.

You are seen as a greater hiring risk

Recruitment is an expensive business. While employers probably don’t believe that any new hire is going to stay with them for life, someone on a temporary work permit is seen as much more likely to leave. Perhaps they will think that you will eventually want to return to your home country, or that you may not be able to stay in the country beyond your current work permit expiry date. Simply put, you may represent a bigger cost than an individual who has already achieved Permanent Resident status.

Your Permanent Resident application is YOUR responsibility

Anyone who has been through the Permanent Resident application process knows that it is a time consuming and expensive process. Organizations you are applying to, may be concerned that you expect them to take on this responsibility; Don’t let them think this! If they end up valuing you so much that they are willing to pay the fees in the future – great! But at the application stage you want to make it clear that you will take charge.

Know the immigration basics

You don’t have to be an immigration expert, but you cannot expect your potential employer to be either. As someone who has emigrated, you probably know a lot more about this subject than someone who hasn’t. Before you talk with employers, you want to make sure that you know: how long your current work permit is valid for; when you can apply for Permanent Residency; how long the application is likely to take; and will the employer be required to do anything.  Simple.

Don’t let it take over

If you are asked about your residency status in an interview, answer it accurately but concisely but do not allow this conversation to take over the interview. The focus of the interview should be on your skills and experience that make you the best candidate for the job; not your work permit.

When to disclose your residency status

If you are asked, it should be straight away. Always be honest with a potential employer or you risk being ‘black listed’ within that organization and potentially within the whole local industry. If it is not spoken about during the interview, you should always make sure that you disclose it at the point of offer. At this stage, the organization knows that they want you and they are less likely to be discouraged from taking you on.

Be honest

You might be tempted to be less than honest about your residency status…don’t. Never risk damaging your reputation within the local industry; people talk and you don’t want your personal brand to become one of dishonesty. Answer honestly, assure them that you will take responsibility and don’t let it become the focus of your conversation with a potential employer.\

About Eilidh Sligo

Eilidh currently works fulltime at Capilano University as a Career Advisor, and has advised students and alumni who are looking for worked within the different disciplines at the university. She has worked at universities in both Canada and Scotland and understands the challenge of looking for work in a new country. She is a member of the Career Professional of Canada and is a Certified Resume Writer. Eilidh regulary writes articles on employment and career topics for Capilano University Career Centre, Canadian Career Professionals and FutureWorks.

12
Apr

The Truth on How Résumés Get Eliminated

Have you sent out hundreds of résumés and received NO response? Are you getting frustrated? Why are you getting eliminated? In this blog I am going to explain the harsh reality of what happens when you apply, and provide some tips on how to help your résumés to be viewed and land you an interview.

When a job-seeker is being considered for an open opportunity, the first person who will read their résumé is generally either a recruiter or an HR person. If it’s a recruiter, it could be either a 3rd-party, agency-based head-hunter type, or an internal, company-based corporate recruiter. If it’s someone in HR, it could be anyone from an entry-level screener to a Director of HR.

This screening and elimination process happens when you respond to online job postings, and  during proactive searches for candidates done on résumé banks like CareerBuilder, Monster, etc., or on Social Networks like LinkedIn. Basically, anyone who is looking for, and screening potential candidates, for an open job opportunity goes through this process.

While some people do make it through the online submissions, it is few and far between. That’s why you must not just rely on submitting the resume on line but also seek individuals within the firm who can alert the hiring person about a potential good candidate. The number of résumés that a recruiter reviews makes it challenging to stand out. Most résumés and online applications go into the proverbial “Black Hole of HR.”

Now I’m sure that you slaved over your résumé for hours and hours, writing and re-writing it, revising, refining and retooling its language until it’s as “perfect” as it can be. If you are like most serious job-seekers, you are hoping that the person who first screens your masterpiece will take their time and read it over very carefully – absorbing every detail of your background, analyzing your qualifications and experience, and making a carefully considered, informed decision about your fit for the position they are trying to fill. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. The reality is the average time a résumé-reader will give your résumé is 7 seconds on the first pass. They’ll scan the first page of your résumé, rarely progressing on to the second or third pages. If they don’t quickly see exactly what they think they want or need right up front –you are eliminated.

In my many years of hiring I have read my share of résumés. There were times when I went through over a hundred a day. I certainly know how this elimination game works! So, what follows is a peek behind the curtain of how it works. Employers want someone who can solve their pain and fill a spot, they really don’t care what they can do for you – it is what can you do for them. They have a business to run and need to make sure they get the best candidate to fill the opening.

Deal killers that will get you eliminated before you even get through the door.

Typos, Spelling or Grammatical Errors, Poor Writing – If you are so careless that you can’t even proofread your own résumé, then the assumption is that you would be equally careless with your job performance.

An unfocused résumé – Simply put, make sure the first top half of the first page clearly states: what you are looking for; what you have to offer; and why the company should hire you. Get to the point. The rest of the résumé should back up your profile. I have seen a résumé where an individual was wanting to be hired as a project manager and his last job was as a developer. He was very frustrated as no one looked at him for a project manager job. When he changed his resume and identified that he wanted a project management position on the first half of the resume,  in addition to stating that he had ten years of experience as a developer and an MBA in technology, he began to get interviews as a Project Manager and was hired. Employers are not mind readers, and need you to shape your resume so they understand what you want.

A poorly designed and incomplete profile on LinkedIn – More and more recruiters, and employers, are finding candidates by searching on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not Facebook and that means you need to put your best professional foot forward. This starts with your picture – it must be professional. I had a young lawyer who was applying for an articling position and had a picture of herself sitting on a couch with a glass of wine in her hand. Would you want this person representing your firm? You want to show the employer that you can represent the company and be taken seriously. Make sure your profile is filled out and is not an exact replica of your resume-it is supposed to be a teaser to get the employer to contact you for more information. A number of my clients have been found on LinkedIn based on their profile.

No keywords in your résumé –. To speed up the process in searches – keyword searches are usually the first method used to find résumés with specific skills that match job descriptions. If the right words or phrases are not present in your résumé or profile, you simply won’t come up in a search done by a recruiter or an HR person. Recruiters do not have the time to “read between the lines” on your résumé and realize that you have the skills they need. No one will understand the subtle details of your experience without you clearly stating them. You should modify and tailor your résumé to each individual job you are applying to, using the language contained in the job description. If your résumé does not contain the exact buzzwords or phrases that match the language of the requirements listed in the job description, it is harder to get past the screening tools – be it a person or an online applicant tracking system (ATS).

Location – With very few exceptions, employers prefer candidates that live in the same geographic area as the job. You may say you are willing to relocate…but if an employer has a person with similar skills to you who lives locally, you may not make the cut into the interview pile.

Industry – In most cases, employers prefer to hire individuals who already know the industry. For example, if the job is in the Financial Services industry and you come from manufacturing, it will be a challenge to be considered. However with the right résumé and presenting some of the ransferrable skills you offer it is possible to be considered.

Function – Moving from one job function to another, that you’ve had little or no experience with, is an uphill battle. For example, if they are looking for someone with a sales background, but you have never actually been in a sales role  you will need to write a compelling profile that explains why you fit.

Level – If they are looking for an individual contributor, and you’ve been at a much higher level – say managing other people or a department… it’s not a match. Conversely, if they are looking for a Manager or a VP or a C-Level Executive, and you’ve never held those titles, it is a challenge.

Number of Years of Experience – and How Recent If the job description calls for someone with 3-5 years of experience, and you’ve had 10-15 years… it’s not a match. Similarly, if the  required experience is actually listed on your résumé–but it occurred many years and several jobs ago, and you’ve done other unrelated things since–it will be a barrier.

Education – Some companies require a college degree, or a specific type of certification. If they say you must have a B.A. and all you’ve got is an Associate’s Degree–or no degree at all–it may get you eliminated unless your experience is so strong that it overshadows the lack of degree. In this case, it might make sense to put your experience first and the education last. I worked with a Regional Sales Manager that had no formal sales education and had not completed a university degree in Geography. He had multiple offers despite this as he placed his experience first

Job Turnover – If your job history shows too many short stints over a limited time period, it can read as a negative: you might be a job-hopping flight risk.  You seemingly can’t hold down a job…perhaps you don’t get along with others well… there may have been performance issues that got you fired–the imagination creates all kinds of possible scenarios! Likewise, significant unexplained gaps between jobs can be red flags that will get you eliminated. There may be perfectly valid reasons for having a lot of jobs within a short period (mass layoffs, position was eliminated, company went out of business, etc.). I would advise briefly listing the reasons for short job stints right next to the dates on your résumé to avoid this obvious red flag.

Layout of résumé – As anyone in marketing can tell you–the way information is presented can make one product be chosen over another despite the products being very similar. Wether we like it or not a résumé is one piece in the jobseekers marketing campaign to get noticed by an employer and if your resumeis easy to read, and visually pleasing this will help yo to get into the “yes pile” for an interview.

It is important to take these into consideration when applying and not be discouraged. It is often for these reasons why individuals will seek the help of a professional résumé writer as they have the experience in helping clients overcome and position themselves in the best possible light.

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks

Dorothy is a certified résumé writer with 25 years of experience in providing career advice and support to 5,000 professionals in diverse industries including technology, science, gaming, trades, finance, manufacturing, warehouse, and administration to find fulfilling careers. Through her work she has gained a solid understanding of the needs of British Columbia’s dynamic labour force. Her expertise in developing résumés, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters has helped her clients move forward in their careers. For more information visit www.fwt.bc.ca or contact dorothyk@fwt.bc.ca

5
Apr

The Elusive Canadian Work Experience for New Immigrants

“Canadian employers value Canadian experience”. As newcomers to Canada, this is something that we hear a lot during out initial job search and it can be very disheartening. This does not mean, however, that your international employment experience is not valuable. Here are some tips on how to best present this to potential employers.

Make it easy for them

Your résumé, as a marketing document, should make it easy for the reader to understand. You will know if your previous employer was the largest firm in the city with accounts for major industry players, but will someone who has never been to that country necessarily know this?  Probably not. Your priority, as an efficient job seeker, is to make it easy for the reader and this can include adding a short, one or two line description of the organization you used to work for. Don’t simply include the link to the company website as this looks lazy.

Canadianize your résumé

Resume styles vary throughout the world, and you need to make sure that the format you use does not scream “newcomer!”  Doing this is vital as you do not want to risk a potential employer presuming that you do not understand the business norms in Canada. Canadian résumés are concise (usually a maximum of 2 pages) and focus on skills and achievements, rather than duties. Personal details (i.e. birth date and marital status) and photographs need to be removed before you send your résumé out to any employers.

Maximize your cover letter

A well written cover letter can boost your application by showcasing your personality and attitude. Rather than being a repeat of your resume, or simply stating “here is my résumé”, use this opportunity to explain to the employer how you have the relevant skills.  Write a concise story, or example, that describes your behavior as an employee. For example, a time that you went above and beyond for a customer or successfully managed a project that looked likely to fail. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for this particular opportunity at this specific organization. Make them feel special by explaining why you want to work particularly for them.

Adopt the right tone

Starting a cover letter with “Dear Respected Sirs” is not the way to do business in Canada. Similarly to having a photograph on your résumé, it screams “new immigrant” and will make employers doubt if you have the know-how to be a successful employee. Business correspondence in Canada is professional, but friendly. Letters should ideally address the individual by name (i.e. Ms. Keenan or Mr. Singh), never assume that the recipient will be male and don’t marry-off female Hiring Managers, always use Ms. rather than Mrs. Or Miss.

Volunteer

If you have recently arrived in Canada, you have probably noticed that Canadians love to volunteer with approximately 70% giving time and skills back to their communities. Volunteering is not only a way to feel good about yourself, it is an excellent way to make network connections, showcase your skills and gain Canadian experience. Ideally, you want to try and gain experience within your industry, or at least where you are using skills that are transferable to your industry. Remember, you should only be doing unpaid volunteer work for not-for-profit organizations and the average number of hours per week for volunteering is 4.

Don’t only rely on your résumé

Developing your network is one of the best things that you can do for your job search, and this is even more essential for newcomers to Canada. It is unlikely that you will have an extensive network when you first arrive here, so you need to get out there and meet people. Networking is successful as people want to hire people that they like, and it is very difficult to get a feel of someone’s personality from a résumé. Get involved in the local professional associations, attend industry networking events and check out local meet up events. Job search is not a time to be shy, let people know what you are looking for: you never know who might know your next employer.

About Eilidh Sligo

Eilidh currently works fulltime at Capilano University as a Career Advisor, and has advised students and alumni who are looking for worked within the different disciplines at the university. She has worked at universities in both Canada and Scotland and understands the challenge of looking for work in a new country. She is a member of the Career Professional of Canada and is a Certified Resume Writer. Eilidh regulary writes articles on employment and career topics for Capilano University Career Centre, Canadian Career Professionals and FutureWorks.