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Walnut Creek Magazine

Think Like a Recruiter: Hiring Tips and Techniques from a Pro

Jun 01, 2017 06:33PM ● By Sophie Johnson

Think Like a Recruiter: Hiring Tips and Techniques from a Pro

Whether graduating, relocating, or considering your next move, here are some serious job search strategies. 

By Sophie Johnson

While our Bay Area economy is strong, recent headlines signal that overall job growth, particularly in the tech-sector, is slowing. According to the Mercury News, “Santa Clara County and the East Bay suffered their worst two-month stretch of job losses since the Great Recession during January and February.” Don’t panic yet, but it is true — if you’re job hunting, times are changing. As a corporate recruiter and hiring coach, I can tell you that very few applicants truly understand the hiring process. So, let’s look at how things have changed since the last time you looked for a job.

Your application will face steep competition. While it varies by company and by position, on average 250 applications are received for each opening. This is up to ten times more than the ‘good old’ days when a job search required a paper resume on fancy stationary plus a stamp. Now, you can apply with one easy click on a company’s website. But be aware, recruiters get a lot more ‘junk’ applications this way which has resulted is less trust overall in the quality of online aspirants.

LinkedIn profiles are the new resume. LinkedIn is fast becoming THE way recruiters discover candidates. Yes, recruiters are doing more searching on their own, rather than spending their time responding to the submissions sent by active applicants. Often recruiters consider it a better strategy to search for passive candidates — those who aren’t aggressively applying for jobs — rather than scan an inbox filled with hundreds of resumes. Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your resume and be a brand-building tool, so channel your inner Tony Robbins or Martha Stewart and build your brand on LinkedIn.

Recruiters are trained to scan and recycle. Resumes still matter when it comes to being invited for an interview, so write it for your target audience. When I was a recent college graduate just starting out in the recruiting world I was told, ‘For every ten resumes we receive, one might be worth a call.’ Recruiters have their own preferences for what they do and do NOT want to see on a resume. This means revising and updating your resume to fit the specifications of a particular job.

Resumes can be tough to write. This is true partly because it feels diminishing to list your duties from previous positions in short bullet points. Instead of thinking about how you filled your days, highlight responsibilities and successes, as opposed to a laundry list of functions. Use an online job description that matches your role closely to spark ideas about real accomplishments.

Think about finding a job as a job and be smart about it. Some career coaches will tell you to spend 40 hours a week on an active job search. I disagree. This amount of time can be emotionally crushing with limited returns. Rather than focusing on actual hours, spend your energy getting organized, developing a methodical approach, and applying as much creative problem-solving to your search as you would if you were sitting at a new desk and getting a pay check.

Who you know matters more than ever! Though referrals never went out of style, there was a 20-year period when the Internet offered new ways for anonymous hiring. Now that there are so many more candidates for each opportunity, the size and quality of your relationships matters more than ever. Word of mouth is a significant factor in getting a job.

Become an employee referral. My final bit of advice is a true golden egg: become an “employee referral.” When a company insider recommends you for a position and the recruiter knows they will have to answer to a colleague, résumés from referrals shoot straight to the top of the pile.

LINKEDIN TIPS                                                                   

  • Maximize your profile completely with links to videos, presentations or other story-telling credentials.
  • Your profile should have a professional-looking photo--ask a friend or hire a pro.
  • Match your job descriptions and accomplishments with your resume.
  • Expand the groups and companies you follow to show you’re in the know.
  • Write a captivating headline--creativity matters!
  • List your e-mail address and phone number on LinkedIn to make it easy to be reached. Job hunting is not the time to worry about spam.
  • Write recommendations for colleagues (past and present) and ask for reciprocity.


  • Use statistics, numbers and KPIs (key performance indicators) even for an entry-level role. (For example, ‘Served 100+ ice cream cones a day,’ or was ‘Accountable for accurate inventory of 300 products monthly.’)
  • Use action words with a positive angle (For example, ‘Happily assisted 90 customers a day’ is better than ‘Processed 90 calls a day.’)
  • Use your targeted job description to work backwards and think through similar successes and accomplishments, not just how you spent your time.
  • Abandon the silly e-mail address ( is not a good look!) and make sure your voice mail isn’t too casual.
  • Just like you enter key words to find a job, recruiters use ctrl+F to find the terms on your resume that match the job description.


  • Organize your search with an excel spreadsheet which lists the job, URL, and the date of application.
  • Research, research, research. Besides googling a company or key stakeholders, check out, LinkedIn and any other industry specific sites.
  • Be Camera Ready. Before asking candidates to come into the office, some employers try to get to know them better. They might conduct an interview over Skype, or send a link to a set of questions candidates can record answers to on their computer’s webcam.
  • Monday-Thursday mornings are when you should be at your computer and on the phone. Recruiters are sluggish by the end of the week and Fridays are ‘low output’ days.
  • Take breaks! Weekends are fine for a little networking or researching interesting facts to get you amped, but don’t spend all your time thinking about your job search.
  • Spend the time to go through all your phone contacts and build your network. This is especially easy on LinkedIn.
  • Pay it forward. Ask someone to coffee before you need to ask them for job help.
  • Don’t be shy — friends of friends, neighbors, family, fellow students — everyone can be part of your network.
  • Talk to people. Send an email or a message on LinkedIn and ask for “informational” meetings to learn about their careers and companies. People like to talk about themselves! 
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