A recruiter is looking for talent that stands out in a crowd.
One recent study about the recruiting process stated that the average time a recruiter spends looking at a resume when trying to fill a position is six seconds. In only six seconds, the typical recruiter has either flagged your resume for a closer look or decided that you aren't a fit for the position - and that's if your resume makes it through the software screening process first.
Even if you have perfect qualifications for the job, it can seem daunting to catch the attention of an IT recruiter in such a small time frame. You may be able to bypass the resume skim altogether, however, if you can make yourself stand out in other ways and show the recruiter that you are the talent he seeks.
Start With a Relationship
Chris Platts, founder of the Talent Rocket App, advises candidates to try calling the recruiter before sending their resume. Some IT recruiters may not want to receive phone calls, but if a phone number is given, calling first will alert the recruiter to look for your resume. The trick to pre-resume phone calls is to keep the conversation brief while also making it interesting so that the recruiter will remember it. Think about what skills or talents you can highlight in just a few seconds, without making the conversation sound like a rehearsed speech.
If calling the IT recruiter directly isn't an option, you may be able to form a relationship using social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Many recruiters use social media to build talent networks that they can draw from over an extended period of time. Be sure to keep your profile updated and look for ways to connect, such as sending an article you think the recruiter might find interesting or sharing links relevant to your talent or personality.
Building a relationship can get you past the recruiting gatekeepers.
Using a Referral
Before you send in your resume, you should try to find a connection to someone who works for that company and ask for a referral. Your connection could be a friend of a friend, a distant relative, or a social media connection--and it doesn't have to be in the IT department. Writer Gerry Crispin even suggests going to the company's parking lot and offering to pay someone to use their name as a referral source. A referral will establish a relationship with the company and often gets you a closer look.
Making Your Resume Stand Out
Even if you have a personal connection to the IT recruiter or the company, your resume has to stand out from the pack in order to be passed along to hiring managers or company owners for consideration. Using the right keywords shows the recruiter that you have the proper qualifications for the position, but there's even more you can do to stand out. Using descriptive words in your section headings will help, since recruiters often skim headings in their six-second perusals. If you have worked for a major company with widespread name recognition, you should put the company's name in bold so it gets noticed as well.
Other ways to make your resume stand out are to use an eye-catching email subject line or to fax as well as email your resume. Anything you can do that isn't typically done, but won't be burdensome or offensive to the recruiter is bound to give you a chance to show that you are the talent he is looking for.
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