What recruiters are looking for & how to stand out in the 2021 job market. Tips for the 2021 job market. Getting a job in this current job market.

What Recruiters Are Looking For & How to Stand Out in the 2021 Job Market

Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash. Edited.

On June 2nd, 2021, three recruiters joined forces with bulb to answer your most frequently asked questions around the 2021 job market: what are recruiters looking for on resumes, and how do you stand out?

Daniel Grant from Google Search, Melissa Wade from Torchy’s Tacos and Brian Riley from RG Search Agency joined us in a 1-hour webinar special to talk about their latest insights.

How did the pandemic change the job market? What’s here to stay? What’s outdated? What catches a recruiter’s attention? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

1. Video interviewing is here to stay.

The first few months of the pandemic left a cloud of uncertainty over all of us, including recruiters. What would the new hiring process look like? How would they shift from in-person interviews to completely digital? It was a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. But that’s not to say there haven’t been beneficial changes.

Although there’s nothing quite like experiencing a company’s culture than being on-site, video interviewing has led to a number of benefits for both companies and candidates. Video interviewing sped up the process and expanded the candidate pool, allowing companies to be more competitive. That might intimidate applicants, but now, you might have the chance to apply to your dream role thousands of miles away while living wherever you please.

The recruiters all agreed that you’re able to capture the candidate’s competencies and fit for the role through virtual interviews as you would in person. All that to say, video interviewing is here to stay.

Pro tip: Make sure your room is clean before getting on camera.

2. Less is more.

It’s not what you think. The recruiters aren’t saying that less experience is better. What they mean to tell you is, be concise. Explain your projects and skills in a measurable and impactful way using as few words as possible. All three candidates agreed that a resume should be one page long (two if the experience calls for it) and resumes should have minimal or clean colors. “There’s a lot of words to describe the work that I’ve done and the jobs that I’ve had, but if you can make what you’ve done measurable and you can show results and you can clearly show impact, that catches my eye immediately.” – Daniel Grant (Google Search)

3. Measure impact. Be specific.

Building off of Daniel’s quote above: Be able to measure your impact and show specific results. That’s what attracts recruiters the most. Not what you did, not what you were responsible for, but measure something.

Instead of saying you were the top salesman at your previous company, share the result of that. Did you close 40% more in sales than your quota? Did you gain 50% in new customers? Be specific enough to “help someone who doesn’t know your job understand your job.” – Daniel Grant

“I like to see quantitative types of results often. If this position is a problem-solving position, then I want to see how you’ve solved problems over the years, or how you solved a problem in the University setting. If resourcefulness is a competency that’s needed within that job, on your resume, put an instance or story around how you were resourceful. If you’re a lifelong learner, then show how you have learned throughout your lifetime, like a certain podcast, etc.” – Brian Riley (RG Search Agency)

4. Show initiative, especially when you’re just starting your career.

Although the measurable impact is attractive to recruiters, they also understand that it may not be applicable to everybody. In that case, explain in your resume how you’ve taken initiative. Initiative can look like this: 

  • Reaching out to people that work at the company you’re interested in
  • Reaching out to professionals in the industry you’re interested in
  • Taking courses, sharing acknowledgements, getting certifications

Brian even suggests that “if there’s a company you’re really interested in working for, and you want to know what the challenges are within that company – because ultimately that company wants someone who can solve a problem for them – one way to do that is for you to actually reach out to people who used to work at that company.”

“Find out what’s going on in the company. Learn about the challenges. That way, when you’re in an interview setting, you can actually talk to them as if you know what’s going on with them and their company. It takes a lot of initiative to do that. But I can tell you, it stands out.”

Here’s an example of a high school student’s resume. Kelsie Johnson shows initiative. She goes above and beyond the expected by documenting what she’s learned during her Certified Nursing Assistant Internship. This shows future employers that she’s ambitious and goes the extra mile, setting her apart from other candidates.

5. Don’t shy away from unique identifiers.

If you’re an engineer with a psychology background, own it. If you want to be in tech, but you’ve spent most of your career in education, like Daniel, show how the two can relate. Don’t shy away from what makes you unique for the position. Explain why that identifier gives you a competitive edge. “If you can be intentional about connecting those dots, the recruiter will see it as well.” – Daniel Grant

In summary: Own it. Articulate your why. Connect the dots.

6. Customize, customize, customize.

Melissa loves taco puns. Why? Because it shows that the candidate did their research; they understand the tone of the brand; and it shows that they’re passionate about the company’s culture. It also differentiates someone from just wanting any job versus a specific position for Torchy’s Tacos. The ladder of the two is more likely to gain a recruiter’s attention. “Keywords are important when I’m looking at a professional resume. If there are keywords that really align with the job description that we’re specifically looking to hire for, that tells me 1) the candidate truly has some of those skills and 2) they’ve put thoughtfulness into their application specific to this job. They’re not just shooting the same resume to several different employers.” – Melissa Wade (Torchy’s Tacos)

7. It’s all in the details.

Here’s the most common mistake on resumes and during the interview process: grammatical errors. Small ones like misspelled names, missing contact information and missing dates are all details that matter. And, they’re noticed. 59% of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error (The Undercover Recruiter).

Let’s take a look at some of the details that matter.

  1. You still want to include a phone number and email address at the top of your resume.
  2. Don’t copy and paste job description bullets from previous roles.
  3. Be specific about the dates on your resume.
  4. Make sure the dates on your resume align with your LinkedIn profile.
  5. Prioritize experience over education, if you’ve been in the job market for a few years.
  6. Be intentional about how you name your resume document. “MelissaWadeResume2021” helps recruiters share out your resume.
  7. Make your email address as general as possible, preferably your name and not doglover101.
  8. Thank you emails are not outdated. They’re encouraged.

8. Are cover letters a thing of the past?

When Melissa Wade shared her opinion about the cover letter being dead, all of our collective heads turned. Are cover letters a thing of the past? Daniel and Brian agree that a cover letter is mostly outdated unless the company requires it. And if there is a cover letter, they prefer it to be short and sweet. The cover letter is different from the resume, as it should explain whether the candidate aligns with the mission and values of the company versus selling their skills. Leading Daniel to believe that cover letters will evolve to become a few sentences at the top of a resume.

9. Ask really good questions during the interview.

What is the best way to prepare for an interview? All three panelists had the same answer: research the company and ask really good questions. This is one of those things that separates the top candidate from all other applicants – the questions you ask the company during an interview. Intentional questions that show you did your research on the company stand out.

“It is a huge differentiator for me if the person has put some thought into asking very interesting questions, and questions that allow the interviewer to understand wow, this person really wants to work here.” – Brian Riley

10. Don’t be afraid to brag.

Daniel, Melissa and Brian stressed this point multiple times throughout the webinar: don’t be afraid to brag. This is your resume. This is your first impression. This is a chance to show what you know and prove that you’re the ideal fit for the position.

But a great resume is not all it takes. If there’s one thing we learned from these recruiters is that intention gets noticed. Hard work gets noticed. Paying attention to the details pays off. And so does trying your best.

A great resume will get you in the door, but it’s ambition, authenticity and articulating your why that will take you the rest of the way. At times, it may feel exhausting. But the right job for you will land in your path as long as you put in the work and trust the process.

Watch the full webinar recap here.

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