Are you applying for a new job right now? We’ve all been there. It can be a stressful situation to be in—especially if you don’t know exactly what the recruiters at that company are looking for. You may be thinking, “Should I reach out to them on LinkedIn?” “How much do I really need to know about the company?” And the good-ole, “Is my resume good enough?” These questions are bound to make any job seeker nervous, luckily, we went straight to the source to get some answers.
I recently sat down with ScaleFactor’s own Tommy Hansen, Recruiting Manager, and Egalhy Stewart, Senior Technical Recruiting Manager, to answer every job seeker’s most asked questions.
Using LinkedIn to Your Advantage
A common piece of advice for job seekers is to connect with recruiters on LinkedIn and ask if they have any job openings. So how do the recruiters actually feel about this? Both Tommy and Egalhy agree that it’s okay to connect with your recruiter, but being asked about job openings is a little more of a grey area.
“I love it—it’s how I found ScaleFactor,” says Tommy, but he notes that recruiters get many messages and look through hundreds of applications a day, so they may not be able to get back to your message. Egalhy adds that you should check the company’s job postings first to see if there’s anything available that interests you before reaching out. “People will reach out without doing research first and want me to tell them what’s open—that’s not showing initiative,” she says.
If there’s something available that interests you, apply first then let the recruiter know that you applied and are interested. If there is no job posting that interests you, let the recruiter know that and that you’d like them to keep you posted if possible.
How to Get Recruited on LinkedIn
What’s even better than finding a listing for your dream job? Being recruited for it. But you can’t expect to get recruited if you don’t put the work into your LinkedIn profile.
It starts with the first thing everyone sees: the profile picture. “Dress up, stand in front of a white wall, and have a friend take a photo,” says Tommy. It doesn’t have to be taken by a paid professional, but make sure the picture looks professional. “Not one with your dog,” he added jokingly.
“The more connected you are, the more you show up to recruiters. Add people in companies that you’re interested in.”
Egalhy suggests adding descriptions and keywords (as opposed to just your title and company) to help your profile show up in more recruiter searches. Along with that, make sure to include technical classes, coding languages, and accomplishments if applicable. If you’re just starting out in your career, include internships, awards, clubs, and volunteer work. Recruiters will want to see that you did more than just go to class and study.
“The more connected you are, the more you show up to recruiters. Add people in companies that you’re interested in,” Tommy adds.
How to Research the Company Before Applying
“Personally, I love candidates that have done their research,” said Egalhy. “The ones that do stand out already know the company’s background information, and they want to dig deeper into the company based on the research that they’ve done.”
Tommy’s best advice is to relate something personal to you or something that you’re passionate about to the company you’re applying to work for. For example, if someone comes from a family of small business owners and ties that personal connection to a job and company that serves SMBs, that’ll take them a long way in the interview process because they’ve shown an interest in the company’s values—not just the perks or the day-to-day responsibilities..
If you still don’t know exactly what the company is about after doing research, that’s okay. Just knowing that you actually took the time to research and ask clarifying questions makes recruiters happy.
What Should Really Be in a Cover Letter?
You’ve found the perfect job listing (or have been recruited). Now you need to wow them with a cover letter and resume. When asked what the most important elements to include in a cover letter are Tommy responded, “I don’t know, I never read them.” After the laughter subsided, Egalhy inserted that recruiters don’t have time to read every cover letter. “When you read a lot, they all start to look the same,” she said.
“A few short paragraphs that show you understand the company’s values, makes you stand out and shows your accomplishments is all you need.”
If you’re applying for a high-level role or to a competitive company, it’s recommended that you send a cover letter showcasing your experience and accomplishments. It’ll help set you apart.
A few short paragraphs that show you understand the company’s values, makes you stand out and shows your accomplishments is all you need.
Resume Quick Tips
Gone are the days of dropping off resumes in person and including objective statements. According to Tommy, “You don’t need to tell me you’re interested. I know you are—you applied.”
So what are other resume tips you should follow?
- Don’t include generic soft skills like “great written and oral communication.”
- Do include examples of soft skills. (i.e If you’re detail-oriented, include something like “Discovered a mistake that saved the company thousands of dollars each month.”)
- Don’t be redundant. It wastes precious space.
- Do put technical skills like a language or certification. Let data and accomplishments speak for themselves.
- Don’t drop off resumes in person. It can come off as desperate.
- Do make your resume read like a real person wrote it—not a mirror of the job description.
Nailing the Interview
“Interviewing is like dating,” Tommy says. “Look the recruiter in the eye, shake their hand, look confident, and exude the best you. Recruiters want to know you’re excited, just like your date wants to know you’re excited.”
Of course, there are usually several steps to the interview process, and a short phone conversation with a recruiter is usually the first one.
The Phone Interview
The modern way of interviewing is a two-way call—as in, not only is the company interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing them. “It’s a two-way street,” Egalhy says. “We want the applicants to ask questions back. It’s a conversation.”
“Always, always, always have a question.”
You prepared for the call. That means having questions ready and being engaged. “It doesn’t matter if you’re entry-level or senior, you need to put in the work.”
First Impressions Count
It’s good practice to always lean towards more formal than informal dress when you have an in-person interview. You’ll be given stranger looks if you come in wearing a Hawaiian shirt while everyone else is in suites than vice versa.
Apart from being well-dressed and groomed, make sure you bring a pen and paper with questions already written down. Always be early—but just 5 to 10 minutes. If you’re earlier than that just, sit in your car and prep some more. “We want candidates to have a good time, so we feel bad if they’re just sitting there for a while if we have other things to do,” says Egalhy.
The In-Person Interview
When going through the interview process, make sure you look up the company’s big-picture goals. How are your skills going to help them achieve those goals? Egalhy recommends that you think about how your skills can help the company and share that openly in an interview. Remember, it’s still important to be honest. “I love it when candidates are honest. If you don’t know something, just let us know that you can learn.”
Always, always, always have a question. (Have we driven that point home enough?) At this point in the process, they should be clarifying ones like, “Are there any concerns you have about me,” or that help you dig deeper like, “If you were to hire me in this role, what would you expect me to have accomplished in the first 90 days?” Tommy stresses that “one of the worst things a job seeker can do is to not have any questions at the end of an interview.” Show that you’re engaged and have done your homework for this role and this company.
At the end of your interview, your recruiter is likely to ask what your timeline is. Egalhy stresses that “it will not hurt or better your chances if you have other offers.” Recruiters use your timeline to see how much time they do or don’t have to make decisions. So don’t try to game the system. Just be honest with them about how quickly you need or want to make a decision.
If you’re on the job hunt and ready to start applying after reading these tips, make sure to check out our careers page.