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How to Effectively Use Recruiters in Your Job Search

So you’ve decided to jump into the job search along with the thousands of others out there. The job market is clearly flooded with job seekers, and your best bet to stay afloat might be to use a recruiter. After all, they’re the ones who have solid relationships with the hiring managers and can provide you with the personal connection you need. But how can you establish yourself as an outstanding person in a sea of both qualified and unqualified candidates?

Don’t worry! There are a few ways you can stand out from the pack so that you can build a great relationship with the recruiter who can help you on your way to a new career. Pay close attention, so that you don’t find yourself lost in an ocean of candidates.

#1 Know what you’re looking for and be prepared!

To get the most out of your initial talks with your recruiter, do some research. Make sure you clearly define what you’re looking for in your next opportunity. In your preparation consider culture, location, career path, technologies, benefits, compensation and any other key factors in your new role. Try to be realistic without being too picky, and be clear with your recruiter about these preferences. This is the sure fire way to get exactly what you want out of your next career step, without wasting your valuable time.

#2 First impressions are everything!

The first impression you give your recruiter will be the same impression they pass onto their client when presenting you. That being said, the best way to ensure an interview with a recruiter’s client is to act as if you were talking to the hiring manager from the very beginning. Paint a picture in the recruiter’s head of how successfully you can handle an interview. Wow the recruiter with not only your technical skills, but also your character, to show that you will be a great personality fit with the client. Treat the recruiter as if they were the hiring manager, and chances are, your next step will be with the hiring managers themselves. Be prepared, professional, and enthusiastic!

#3 Be honest!

You may be tempted to list every technology you’ve ever worked with to show your breadth of knowledge and to bulk up your resume. However, if the hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t realize that your experience with some technologies is fairly old, you risk getting yourself into interviews where you feel uncomfortable or even embarrassed because your current expertise is in something completely different.

Your best bet is to be entirely honest about your skills and experience, and really focus on making your personality stand out from the flock. There will always be a position for your level of expertise, especially when you’re honest about your qualifications.

#4 Utilize their knowledge!

How do you make sure you’re working with the best recruiter? They should strive to provide you with all their knowledge about the company you’re interviewing with. If they’re not asking the right questions, listening to your questions, or preparing you well for the interview, get a new recruiter!

The more you know about the company, people, and position, the better your interview will go. Your recruiter should have a wealth of knowledge from the source, including knowledge of the challenges the hiring manager is facing. Ask them particulars. If they don’t know, they may be able to find out prior to that face-to-face interview. In addition, they will know about the culture, personalities, career path, hot buttons to touch on and what other candidates may have been lacking.

Recruiters interview professionals on a daily basis. They are experts on what to say and, more importantly, what NOT to say. Ask your recruiter to role-play with you on questions that may have stumped you in the past. There is something to be said for saying it out loud with someone who has this experience. Ask them questions on what the best response could be to some of the tricky questions. They will respect you and remember you for it.

#5 Stay in touch!

Even when you make a great connection with a great recruiter, realize that they’re still working with a handful of great candidates, including yourself, at any given time. Stay in touch!

If you see an opportunity you’re interested in, let your recruiter know before you apply on your own. Chances are, your recruiter already has a contact at the company and can have a direct conversation about you with the hiring manager rather than simply sending out your resume.

If you have applied, or are applying, to places on your own at the same time as working with a recruiter, let them know what these places are. This lowers the risk of duplication, which is great because duplication often implies desperation and means an automatic pass from the hiring manager.

#6 End the anxiety!

Recruiters work their magic behind the scenes on a daily basis. So even if you don’t see everything that’s going on, don’t get anxious! Your recruiter is working to find the perfect match for you, and perfection can take time, so be patient! If you’ve done your part by staying in touch and being clear in your preferences, your recruiter will be sure to contact YOU when opportunity knocks.

Jennifer Schmidt – IT Search Executive at Ashley Ellis

Ashley Ellis is an Information Technology Recruiting/Staffing firm, focused on staying ahead of the industry through our excellent customer service and constant drive toward improvement.

IT Waves Goodbye to the Cover Letter

There are plenty of resources out there for job seekers that spout the continued importance of cover letters. However, this continues to be a widely debated subject. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer from the people who matter to you the job seeker; that is, hiring managers, recruiters, and human resource departments. That being said, we at Ashley Ellis are going to come right out and say that, in the IT world, the answer is no, you don’t need a cover letter.

To be frank, the number one reason cover letters aren’t read by hiring managers is the sheer volume of people applying and the hours it would take to direct personal attention to each and every person’s cover letter. Today’s world is one of speed and efficiency, and the practice of the cover letter just doesn’t seem to fit in with that vision. This is especially true in the IT realm: since IT Directors and Managers typically embrace that vision, a cover letter isn’t going to do much for them.

However, even if there was an extra hour in each day to read cover letters, hiring managers are unanimous in the view that if a resume doesn’t hold its own, then a cover letter will not help you get an interview. If a resume is bad, a cover letter won’t be read at all. On the other hand, if your resume does stand out from the masses, the chance your letter might be read increases. However, if your resume is good enough to get you an interview by itself, why create a second chance for you to be weeded out with a cover letter that potentially just doesn’t cut it? In other words, a great resume by itself can get you an interview. If you add a cover letter into the mix, your chance at an interview might be hurt.

If you’re still tempted to write a cover letter despite all this, keep a few things in mind before you put pen to paper. If cover letters are read at all, they are not read in depth, so stay brief and to the point. A cover letter that consists of an autobiography, a detailed explanation of personal issues or requirements, or an extended version of the resume just won’t cut it. Essentially, a cover letter should be a snap shot of your resume that can reach out to both technical and non-technical people. Briefly highlight both your technical and non-technical skills, especially ones that were specifically mentioned in the job description.

Watch for any inconsistencies between the letter and your resume that may inadvertently pop up. Also, personalization is good: Put some effort into researching the company and briefly explain why you want to work for them and what you can bring to their table. Finally, please resist any temptation to enclose an autobiography within your cover letter, even an abridged version. Ultimately, if you really need a measure, a cover letter shouldn’t be more than two or three short and concise paragraphs.

The bottom line is all signs indicate that we’re speeding towards a world where a cover letter is simply not worth your time or brain cells, especially in the IT world. If you choose to get ahead of this train, then great. If, however, you’re still intent on writing a cover letter, then our tips will definitely help you on your way.

Clare Webster – Interactive Copywriter at Ashley Ellis

Ashley Ellis is an Information Technology Recruiting/Staffing firm, focused on staying ahead of the industry through our excellent customer service and constant drive toward improvement.