January 18, 2023

Recruiting 101: How to get your resume to the top of the stack


Episode Highlights

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On this week’s episode of Recruiting 101, Camille and Kierra host their first guest on the show. Matt Mulcahy, Senior Recruiter for Hirewell’s Managed Recruiting Practice, shares his insight on how to stand out in a sea of applicants. They discuss how intimidating it can be to apply to a role that already has hundreds of applicants and provide tips on how to get your resume to the top of the stack.

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome back to Recruiting 101 with Camille and Kierra. Recruiting 101 is dedicated to helping candidates understand the process from a recruiter’s perspective. In this segment, we’ll be sharing tips and tricks as we experience them. And today we have our first guest. Welcome, Matt.

Thank you for joining us. Yeah, thanks for having me. Awesome. I just want to share a little bit about the topic that we’ll talk about today, and then I’ll have you introduce yourself, Matt, and share a little about what you do here at Hirewell. Sounds good. Great. So this week’s topic is about how to get noticed as an applicant.

I had actually seen on LinkedIn that there were like 5,000 applicants for a job that was posted for one day. So I decided to put a poll up on LinkedIn. Seeing if the amount of applicants would affect a candidate to apply or not. So 73% of people voted that the amount of applicants would affect whether they applied or not.

So we just wanted to talk a little bit about how to get noticed as an applicant and what some things you can do besides putting in your application just to make sure that you can get noticed and that application moves through the process. Matt, if you could introduce yourself, just tell us your role here at Hirewell and what kind of positions that you recruit for.

Sure. I’m Matt Mulcahy. I’ve been with Hirewell for, almost a year and a half now, and I’m on our managed tech recruiting team. Technically on your team as well, both of you, but I focus primarily with technical roles, so think software engineers, all different shapes and sizes, tech stacks, as well as product and project managers and business analysts, and any of the technical support roles that you’d find at a technology or engineering organization. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. So I have two questions to start us off on this topic. So I want to know if you would still apply to a job if you saw that it had hundred of applicants, and if you would choose to apply, what would you do to make yourself stand out from those 500 or whatever-so applicants. Sure. Well, I’ve seen the job posts that have hundreds, even thousands of applicants, and I can say it’s probably discouraging and is discouraging for job seekers. But like you mentioned, there’s definitely some ways that you might be able to get your resume to the top of the stack.

Yeah, definitely. So we’ll talk about those and I think Kierra will go back and forth just talking about some suggestions that we have and some tips and tricks like we always do here on recruiting 101. Yeah. So super excited to have you. So thank you for joining us. Thank you. I wanted to get your opinion on cover letters.

What is your opinion on if they work? Do you write a cover letter? No cover letter? I know sometimes the jobs give options for that. So what are your thoughts on that? Sure. Well, before I was at Hirewell, I was an internal corporate recruiter, so now that I’m on the agency side, we don’t really see cover letters, nor do we really care about them.

But even back when I was in internal recruiter just recruiting for roles for one company that I was a full-time employee of, we didn’t require cover letters for the application process. I know a lot of times companies do. I will say, When I did see a cover letter, since we didn’t require them, I would usually take a look, but I was usually not spending a ton of time on them.

Really what was more important was does the resume have the qualifications that we’re looking for, for this role? So I really think the best time to use a cover letter is one when you’re maybe pivoting careers to a new function or you really can write something that is like passionate about why you want to work for that specific company.

I don’t think the templates that you use and you customize for each new job or company that you’re applying to does a whole lot for you. Right. Yeah, I would agree. I think every company is a little bit different. That was good insight, especially coming from someone who has reviewed cover letters because I have not done so myself.

As far as like following up with the recruiter that is on the job application, how do you go about doing that if the recruiter isn’t listed or the hiring manager isn’t listed? Sure. And that’s what I suggest to all the job seekers that I talk to outside of the candidates that I’m working with, it’s usually when it’s like a friend or a family member that’s like, “I need a job,” and they know I’m a recruiter.

One of my go-to suggestions is try and find someone at the company that either has the title of recruiter or HR or talent acquisition specialist and then connect with them on LinkedIn. Always add a note to that. There’s a little extra button you press where you can write something personalized and say, “Hey Matt, I saw there was a software engineer role posted at your company.

I applied. I’d love to chat with you more about what you’re looking for and how my skills might be of value to your organization.” Yeah, I think even using as a referral as well, that’s a great way to get notice. So whether you notice anyone in the company, whenever it says referral on there, I know some companies have policies where they always interview referrals and then some of them it’s just kind of up to your preference.

But really that’s a great way to get noticed. Even if you don’t know them very well, they might be willing to still put you on there and use themself as a referral. So always ask that and see if you have any connections before you apply. Yeah, a lot of times, employees are incentivized to get referrals placed at their company.

So even if they don’t know you personally, they might want their bonus and might want to send you-

usually there’s like a special link for referrals that they can send you. So you definitely want to tap into your first degree connections or people you know at those companies before you actually submit your application if you’re trying to go the referral route.

Yeah, I think that’s great advice because I’ve definitely had success doing that as well. Reaching out to the hiring managers or even people in charge of the company. So I think that’s great advice to anybody job seeking right now. Yeah, you bring up a good point with the hiring managers as well.

You might not always want to just connect with recruiters, but you might want to think of who might be the leader of this team that’s actually hiring and making the actual hiring decision. So, you know, that could be a manager, a director, but sometimes titles aren’t so obvious for hiring managers.

It could be in the software engineering world, it could be a senior engineer or a lead engineer, or a principal engineer. Don’t always just look for the manager titles. Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think it’s also helpful even if you’re not sure what team this person is on or what team the job specifically is for.

Even if you’re looking to get into sales or pivot into something new, maybe just sending them a message, asking them or telling them that you would be interested in the role, you’re interested in the team, the company, and just see if they have 15 minutes to talk. Just to tell you a little bit about.

What got them there, like what they do day to day and just learning, because I think building your network will also help that as well. So if they see something about an application from you or maybe a year from now you do apply to a role there, then you have that network. So I think it doesn’t hurt to send over a message and just connect for 15 minutes on the team, just to hear more about what they’re doing.

Yeah. When I was an internal recruiter or corporate recruiter, even if I didn’t end up talking to a person who went and put the extra effort in to connect with me, and maybe I didn’t see their resume or haven’t gotten to review their resume yet in my stack of hundreds or thousands.

But if I see someone connecting me on LinkedIn, they mentioned a role like more times than not, I was going to look at their resume first, just because their name was top of mind. Can you give us any examples of candidates that have reached out to you, that stuck out in a way that made you want to continue a further conversation?

Whether you had the role for them or the role was the right fit for them or not? Sure. Yeah. So, you might not always be genuinely interested in a company or in a role. But like I said, even putting in like the extra effort to fake it a little bit that you’re interested in it, like I think that goes a long way.

I can’t speak to specifics, but I do know there was some instances where someone had reached out like that after submitting an application and they weren’t the greatest fit for the role that they applied to. But behind the scenes we were working on a role and we were getting ready to post it that they were actually a good fit for. And I don’t remember if we hired them or not, but we might’ve given them an interview just from putting in that little extra time to connect with people and network with people and talk to them. Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think obviously hiring managers and recruiters want someone who is qualified and a good fit, but no one’s going to hire someone who isn’t excited about the opportunity, interested in the company, and wants to grow.

So I’ve seen that happen many times where it was like the perfect candidate. They checked all the boxes, but like they just weren’t excited. They weren’t interested. They weren’t invested. So I think going the extra mile to write that message. Be interested doing your research. And that’s the same with a follow up email after an interview, just like confirming your interest. I think those simple steps really make such a big difference to get noticed and stay relevant as a candidate and an applicant. Definitely. Yeah, I would agree. I know you’ve recently told us about an article that you read on Reddit. Can you tell us a little bit about the article and then some of the comments that you were seeing?

Yeah, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it an article, but it was definitely a post on some subreddits that I lurk on about recruiting. And someone had posted a screenshot of a job post with 5,500 applicants and their caption was, why even bother lol? So, I ended up posting that to my LinkedIn profile a couple days ago just to see what other candidates or recruiters thought about the sentiment behind Sienna job post with that many applicants. And there was some interesting replies. Yeah. Can you remember any specifics? I’m just curious to know what people’s opinions were on it.

Were they all pretty aligned with what you saw? Oh yeah. So everyone had shared the same sentiment as us, that it would definitely be discouraging. Right. Probably wouldn’t have bothered and just moved on to the next role. So, I mean, that was the general sentiment of the commenters on my post.

Yeah, that’s a good point. And do you think there’s a certain group of applicants that would be most discouraged by this? Maybe people who are like newer into their career? Sure. So that job post was specifically for new grads. So, I think for entry level roles, internships that have bigger candidate pools, they’re always going to run into this issue more frequently.

Just more competitive, bigger candidate pool to pull from. Harder to get your foot in the door. Yeah. Yeah, I can’t imagine being the source around that or the recruiter on that and having to go through 5,500 applications. That sounds like a job itself. That would be an interesting task for sure. I’ve heard that some people think that there is glitches on the job post that make the numbers go up if you just press apply. I know you’ve tested this theory. Can you tell us what you’ve kind of discovered from doing so? Sure. So yeah, I got a comment that said just from clicking the apply button on LinkedIn, it counts as an application, but I tested it out.

Once you press apply, if you exit out of that and don’t finish the application, there’s another text box that comes up that asks did you actually apply? So, maybe that’s what it used to do, or maybe there’s something else at play, but I’m not sure if glitches are contributing to the number of applicants.

All right, so that is a myth. Thank you for sharing. Myth busting Recruiting 101. Yep. Yep. Recruiting form. I love that. Do you think with all of those applicants on there, obviously being recruiters ourself, there’s no way someone could get through 5,000 candidates. I mean, maybe if they had like a system to filter through them quicker, but that’s a lot of time.

Do you think that there’s any way that they put those somewhere in like a database to refer back to if they hire for the same position in the near future? Do you think they just start from scratch and don’t really refer back to any of those people who were originally interested? Sure. It’s possible that they could be kind of building an internal database of candidates for future roles. There was some commenters on my post that were implying that there might be some like mal-intent with that, which I’m not too sure that would be the case, but as agency recruiters now, we’re always tapping into our database of candidates.

I’m sure there’s some corporate recruiters that are doing the same thing. Probably less so than we would though. Yeah. And lastly, would either of you have any advice for someone who is on the job search right now and seeing all the job postings with so many applicants? Would you have any advice on if you should apply to those?

If you should not, if you should look for postings with fewer applicants? I’ll let Matt go first on this one. Sure. So, I hate that I always say this, but recruiting’s a numbers game. Finding a new job is a numbers game. So, you know, if it’s not going to take you 30 minutes to complete the application, it might be worth it.

Yeah. I was just on a webinar about tech recruiting and trends for 2023 this morning, and the speaker said before he found his current job, he applied for 10,000 roles and then ended up getting his job through a referral at the end of the day, I think he might have been over exaggerating the 10,000.

But it’s a good anecdote about how you just gotta get your resume out there as many places as possible. Definitely. Yeah, and I think my biggest piece of advice would just be the networking piece. I think that makes you stand out. It helps you build that rapport with people and you never know what those connections could lead to.

So thank you so much for joining us today. Remember to check out all of our content on talentinsights.hirewell.com and follow us on LinkedIn for more content. Thank you so much for joining us, Matt, and have a wonderful day. Thank you.

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