In the past, I’ve written about how it’s a waste of time, and even damaging to send your resume to your network, asking for a job. Worse, it looks like spam to your contacts and can damage your reputation with even your biggest fans.
But different rules apply to recruiters …
Recruiters ignore most resumes they are sent … except for the resumes that match the intersection of industry, job function, and skills that recruiter specializes in. Those are the resumes recruiters search for, and they consider it their lucky day when they get an unsolicited resume via email. – but only if it matches the intersection of industry/job function/skills that they specialize in.
How can you tell what a particular recruiter specializes in? You probably can’t before sending, because few recruiters list this detail on their websites, social media profiles, or in general recruiter lists. While recruiters specialize, they want to appear to employers that they can handle all sorts of different searches – it means more business.
Even though most recruiters market themselves more generally, most of their business comes from a very limited number of niches – again, the intersection of industry/job function/skills. They want to know all the candidates they can find in this niche, because they recruit for many jobs, for many employers searching for this niche. The more candidates they know, the better chance the recruiter will find the right match for the employer … and the better chance the recruiter will earn a fee.
While this may seem obvious, many candidates feel that they should only work with one or two recruiters – because that’s what the recruiters tell candidates to limit competition.
I was just asked tonight at my Resume revolution! webinar , “How many recruiters should I work with, at a maximum?”
Answer: There is no maximum, but I recommend you only work with recruiters who regularly present you for opportunities and who call you back. It’s not because they are polite or attentive … they call you back because they think they can make money by placing you.
What about the ones who don’t call you back? The ones who don’t call you back, don’t think that they’ll place you – so why waste your time with them?
A better question for candidates is … how many recruiters do you work with who call you back and present you to employers on a regular basis? Chances are, the answer is … not enough.
One reason candidates don’t work with enough of the right recruiters is they don’t know how to find them. So most candidates work with recruiters they’ve worked with in the past, recruiters who have called from responses to job ads, even if these recruiters don’t stay in touch and don’t present you for opportunities (translation – the wrong recruiters). Why? These are often the only recruiters the candidate knows – because recruiters don’t make it easy to discover their niche (seem dysfunctional?).
This leaves one good way to find recruiters who specialize in your industry/job function/skills … Carpetbombing.
Do exactly to recruiters, what I’ve suggested is a huge fail with your contacts. Spam all the recruiters you can find.
Now most recruiters will ignore this for the spam that it is – these are the recruiters outside your niche. Who cares about them? They aren’t going to work with you anyways, because you’re not in their niche.
To the few recruiters whose niche you fall into, your spam resume doesn’t look like spam – to them, your resume looks like money. Even better than money … found money, manna from heaven, their lucky day. Why? Because they see your resume as someone they are likely to place (and earn their placement fee).
These are the recruiters who will call you back and who will present you for jobs regularly. Not because they are nice, or polite, or even good at their job … they’ll call you back and present you regularly because they think you’ll put food on their table, since they have many clients who are hiring someone with your intersection of industry/job function/skills.
So if you’re carpetbombing recruiters, how can you customize your resume?
My regular readers will look at this statement and see it’s the exact opposite of what I teach. Because finding which recruiters are in your niche is the exception to the rule of infinite resume customization that I write about regularly. You can’t customize, because you don’t know what employers and what specific needs each recruiter is looking for.
So to find the best recruiters to work with … you’ve got to throw a lot of “stuff” against the wall and see what sticks. By carpetbombing recruiters, and sending your resume to thousands of recruiters, you should find a few who call you back. Sure your response rate will be lousy, but your goal is to find a few in your niche. Your goal isn’t to find lots of recruiters, it’s to find a few who really want to work with you, because you’re money in the bank to them.
Recruiter David Welsh writes in “Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own”
No two recruiters are the same. Don’t ever ask ‘what are recruiters looking for?’ It’s a bit like a teenage boy asking what girls like. Everything. Nothing. And it changes all the time.
The practical upshot of this is that for any given recruitment lots of people who should be interviewed are not and a number who shouldn’t be are. In fact, recruiters almost never get it 100% right.
How successful you are in any one recruitment is a game of chance. You can of course do something to load the dice. The better the CV you write, the more likely you are to get through. Avoiding really big mistakes like using poor grammar and not clearly explaining your relevant achievements is pretty crucial …
… No. What you need to do is to maximise (sic) the chance that someone is going to want to see you, whether you are the best candidate or not. Spread your bets. A really robust CV, avoiding basic errors, will help because it will stop you being excluded early in the decision-making process. However, once you’ve got that CV you should apply for as many jobs as you possibly can. If you think you are even remotely plausible as a candidate for a role, and you do actually want to get it, apply …
… So please forget all about only applying for one or two roles a week. Keep applying till your fingers bleed.
Just remember when asked by the recruiters ‘why did you apply for this job?’ tell them you only apply for roles you are passionate about. Tell them you only apply for ones you believe you can do. And tell them that you apply for very few.
Just remember – this sage advice applies to recruiters – because the ones in your niche recruit for many jobs. Try the same tactic with employers (who might only be looking for one person to solve very specific problems), and you’ll see lousy results.
The average candidate resume response rate is 1.5% – 2%. This is lousy when sending to employers … but that same response rate is strong with recruiters in your niche, who represent many jobs, many opportunities, many employers.
So if you want to play the numbers game, and see what sticks – unleash your resume carpetbombing campaign. But just limit your spamming to recruiters, not employers.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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