Think Like a Recruiter, Act Like a Professional

Binoculars Looking at People

I spend most of my days meeting with individuals at various stages of their job search. One thing that I know for sure is that regardless of age, education, experience or industry, the more that you understand what a recruiter is looking for, the better you can position yourself to eventually accept a job offer.

Understanding that a recruiter is potentially looking at hundreds of candidates for one position should be reason enough to bring your “A” game. In case you’re wondering what that looks like here are a few items to keep in mind:

1. Make a good first impression.

This is crucial. Make sure that your resume is impeccable. There should be no spelling or grammatical errors, format should be consistent and content should focus on relevance to the role that you applying for. Don’t just tell me what you did, but provide specific details as to how you did it and most importantly give me results. Quantify whenever possible to provide a context for what you are capable of.

2. Craft a thoughtful, personalized cover letter that speaks to the company and job.

Making the effort to personalize your letter will leave a favorable impression. Focus on the first few bullet points of the job description and provide examples as to how you meet those qualifications. If a job description asks for experience with puppies, kittens and goats, you better tell me how you have experience with puppies, kitten, and goats. Some recruiters will tell you they don’t read cover letters; however, sometimes it can be the deciding factor between two great candidates.

3. Do your due diligence when preparing for the interview.

When possible find out who you are interviewing with and do your research. Find ways to connect with these individuals. Review the job description and come up with at least two concrete examples that highlight your related experience in each area.

4. Know your competition.

You may think that you can do the job, however a recruiter is going to choose the candidate that has a proven track record of completing the tasks expected for the job. Use the discovery phase to research ways that you can become a better candidate than your competition. It could be by learning new software, volunteering or asking for an additional assignment at work in order to gain the necessary experience.

5. Expand your network, not your ego.

Expanding your network alone is one of the most uncomfortable parts of job search but studies show that between 60 to 80 percent of job seekers have received an offer through networking. It’s not who you know or how many connections you have on LinkedIn, but who knows you. The more you connect with people and share your value proposition, the more doors you’ll see open up.
This is not just professionalism but confidence. Confidence in how you represent yourself, what you bring to the table, knowing what you know as well as what you don’t know and leaving a favorable impression. There’s no room for arrogance, but the more you know yourself, the easier it will become to land a job offer.


Raquel Arredondo

Assistant Director, MBA/MS Career Services

Raquel is a career management maven and business development partner who combines her background in human resources and higher education to create relationships to develop targeted talent pipelines for corporate partners and connect students with best-fit career opportunities.