The Recruiter, You and 6 Seconds

six-seconds-stop-watchSix seconds.

No. It’s not the name of the newest Vin Diesel movie.

It’s actually all the time your resume gets to make an impression.

Despite the fact that this is a tight labor market, employers and recruiters are still besieged with resumes and inquiries. As a result, standing out is that much harder. Sales and marketing people have an advantage here, but even they struggle.

Too many candidates think clicking “apply” to many jobs will provide the results they are looking for. This simply isn’t true. You can flood the market with applications, but the numbers are still against you. It’s sort of like playing the lottery. Buying 100 tickets instead of just one technically increases your chances of winning, but the odds are still stacked against you. “The strategy of shoot a lot and something will stick isn’t working,” said executive recruiter Jeff Hyman in The Realities of Executive Job Search, a session of ExecuNet Master Class.

The key is to stand out. According to Hyman, candidates are so plentiful and so similar that the ones who have actually thought about why they want to engage with him on a particular search he’s working on rather than simply hit “apply” really stand out, stand out to the tune of about one percent.

That’s right. The recruiter has found that 99% of candidates look alike.

You get about six seconds to avoid being classified with 99 percent of applicants. Same goes for your LinkedIn profile, which Hyman calls “the new resume.” Your resume and online profiles need to convey you are worth investing time in – and they need to do it fast.

Some suggestions:

1 typo is too many. It’s the age of spellcheck. “I assume the resume is the best piece of work someone is ever going to give me. I just don’t understand how there can be typos,” says Hyman.

Make your online profile discoverable. Complete your profile: professional photo, current job title, location and industry, career summary, experience, achievements, skills, and contact information. Be sure to include the appropriate keywords for your desired role, and recommendations from people who have worked with you. Join groups and make sure you have at least 500 connections. It’s also a good idea to customize your URL.

Quantify your achievements. Focus on quantifiable achievements instead of a list of bullet points of what the job was. Talk about what you grew and improved. They know what a VP of Operations does. What they want to know is how you helped your company as a VP of Operations. Talk about your results!

Get your resume done professionally. Your competition has. Color, visuals, metrics, keywords, taglines, etc, the professional resume writer will incorporate modern conventions to give you a fighting chance. ExecuNet has a team of amazing resume writers who will review yours for free, simply because you’re a member.

Do something, even if you’re unemployed. It’s not fair or accurate to think unemployed candidates aren’t as desirable, but enough people think this is the case that it’s best to have something down as your current role so that your story doesn’t have a hard stop that makes people go, “Hmmm.”

I could write about resumes, online profiles, and job search for days. Unfortunately, it’s time for me to wrap this up for the week. If you would like job search advice you can trust to be on the mark, I suggest you listen to Jeff Hyman’s recent master class session. One of the best sessions we’ve had in the many years we’ve been doing master classes, Jeff lays out in plain language what recruiters want. The recording is restricted to VIP Access members and is well worth the cost of an upgrade. Just click the link to see what members who attended the live program had to say. Needless to say, they were blown away by Jeff.

As always, we strive to provide you with advice you can trust to help you reach your career path, job search, business, and wellbeing goals. Insight from a recruiter on how to have a successful job search in today’s market is what many of you have asked for, and I know after listening to Jeff you’ll find your own search, whether it’s current or down the road, much more successful.


Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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