A good job is hard to find. But in an improving job market, corporate headhunters and recruiters say it can be just as difficult to locate a qualified candidate to fill an open position as it is for workers to find their next job.
Make networking part of your career persona.
“While the use of recruiters varies by industry and job type, many job seekers fail to appreciate that often enough a recruiter might be looking for someone like them at the same time that they’re looking for a job,” says Eric C. Wentworth, co-author of “A Plan for Life: The 21st Century Guide to Success in Wealth, Health, Career, Education, Love, Place … and You!”
“Since nearly all professional recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary online resource for finding, vetting, contacting and matching job candidates with open positions, it’s essential to manage your presence there,” Wentworth says.
With 115 million registered users in the U.S. alone, it’s safe to say that most workers understand the importance of having a presence on LinkedIn. But having a presence and getting noticed — whether through social media or other means — are 2 different things. If you really want recruiters to notice you, you need to take a broader approach to networking and make it part of your career persona, rather than something you do only when you’re looking for a new job.
If you want recruiters to find you through social media sites like LinkedIn, one of the most important things you can do is focus on raising your visibility, says Kristi Muller, managing partner of Corporate Talent Resources, a Dallas-based recruiting firm.
Social media tips
Polish your LinkedIn profile
Follow companies and recruiters
Comment on trends in your industry
“LinkedIn is the low-investment, high-impact place to get a recruiter’s attention,” Muller says. “Your profile should read like an abbreviated version of your resume, and it should have a professional photo.”
From there, Muller says it’s a good idea to follow companies and headhunters that match your interests, because the best jobs are likely to be posted on those feeds first. But, you shouldn’t limit your activity to LinkedIn alone.
“A lot of recruiters are on Twitter,” says Mark Frietch, a recruiting consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Start following them, and if they post jobs that might not be a fit for you, retweet them to your network. This will add value to the relationship you are establishing.”
Beyond establishing a profile and following the right companies and recruiters on social media, experts say it’s also a good idea to join the larger discussion by commenting on trends in your industry.
“Just remember to keep the comments professional, because what you say affects your career reputation,” Muller says.
Once you’ve established a presence on social media, headhunters say one of the best things you can do is to look for ways to raise your profile and build a reputation in your industry.
“Recruiters attend conferences and other professional meetings to identify the best and brightest candidates,” says Roy Cohen, a New York area career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.”
“If you can establish relationships with the organizers of these events, through either professional membership associations or through conference organizers, and lobby to be a speaker, you will easily find yourself on the recruiter radar screen,” Cohen says.
But even if you aren’t at a point in your career when it makes sense to speak at a conference, you can always raise your profile by writing op-eds and sharing them with your peers in trade publications, industry forums and platforms like LinkedIn, Google Plus or Medium, a popular self-publishing platform.
“Sharing content that helps your peers better understand their industry is a great way to get noticed because it proves your expertise and it shows recruiters that you’re a passionate professional,” Frietch says.
But before you start working on an op-ed, experts say it’s a good idea to check your current company’s policy regarding public comments.
While plenty of people ignore calls and emails from headhunters because they aren’t looking at the moment, it often pays to hear them out for a few minutes, Cohen says. After all, having a pre-existing relationship with a recruiter, even if you’re only in contact intermittently, is one of the best ways to maximize your chances of being headhunted.
“To establish great relationships with recruiters when they reach out to you, always be respectful and be polite, regardless as to how rough around the edges the recruiter may be,” Cohen says. “At the very least, thank the recruiter for the call and ask how best to stay in touch.”
If you aren’t interested in the job, it can help a lot to offer referrals to candidates who might be a good fit.
“Recruiters are pressed for time, and they’re often searching for someone very specific, so leads help,” Cohen says.
But before you fire off the names of a couple of friends in your industry, Cohen says you’ll want to make sure that those leads are actually worthwhile.
While it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best long-term strategies for improving your chances of getting hired may be to participate in the hiring process at your current job.
“Chances are, neither you nor the recruiter will be with the current organization forever, so it makes sense to cultivate those relationships,” says Liz D’Aloia, CEO of HR Virtuoso, a Dallas company that makes mobile solutions for corporate recruiters. “Getting involved in the hiring process at your organization will teach you a lot about recruiting in general, and may also give you exposure to recruiters who are working on your company’s roles.”
Playing an active role in hiring at your company also can pay dividends in helping you beef up your own skills because it’ll give insight into why certain candidates advance in the process and others don’t.
“Pay close attention to the types of candidates who make it through the first and second round of interviews,” D’Aloia says. “Your industry is vying for top talent, so how they present themselves and the type of experience they bring to the table can help prepare you for your next job.”