Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

Recruiter is the gatekeeper, help them help you.


Help me help you

Recruiters are your friend

Can a recruiter really help you? I was recently on an HR panel answering questions from folks who were in the process of looking for a new job. What stuck out to me was that this group was asking some very specific questions about the application process and were surprised by my answers. I thought it might help to share their questions and the reasons behind my answers.  Here is a sampling of the questions:

  • Why don’t we get a call back when we are told we will be called?
  • Why does the process take so long?
  • Why don’t we at least get an email back?
  • Why doesn’t the recruiter know anything about my position?
  • How come they don’t call back.  I am overqualified for the job and could do that role in my sleep.

The list went on, but most of the questions dealt with the “recruiter” role in the hiring process.

Recruiters perspective

If you are working with a recruiter that works out of an agency, their customer isn’t you the candidate; the customer that is paying their fee is the hiring company. If you can’t fill the agency’s position, they are going to move on to a candidate that can. It is simply human nature and short-term thinking. It is business and I get it. That being said, I do know of a couple of recruiters that I have worked with for over 10 years.  They are professional and take their craft seriously. They are not in it for the short-term, they are there to build relationships. They treat both their candidates and their companies as true customers. These groups are the rare exception in the world of recruiting.

Multiple positions to fill

Often times, in-house recruiters, have 15 positions to fill. I know of some recruiters that have 40+ positions in their queue. 40 positions!!!!  Depending on the position, 7-10 positions would be considered a full-time gig. Fifteen positions are a lot to fill. Here is a sampling of what it takes to fill a role:

  • Meet with the hiring manager and set expectation around the timing of the hire and the salary market
  • Come up with a job description and get approval from the hiring manager for that description
  • Post the ad on Monster, Craigslist, Ladders, and then come up with a social networking strategy which will include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to name a few
  • Start sorting through the 100 or so responses they will receive on this ONE posting and try to narrow it down to 5-7 candidates which need an email/call or both to set up an initial phone screen
  • Meet with the hiring manager to let them know which 2-3 they want to bring in for an in-person interview
  • Call / Email to set up appointments for in-person interview
  • Interview the 2-3 candidates and then hope that 2 of these are worthy of pitching to the hiring manager
  • Set up interviews with hiring manager, department manager, and a few team members

The above steps do not include trying to get meetings scheduled with the hiring manager. Uhhggg!  We haven’t made the hire yet for the above position, but you get the idea.  If we get through those steps and don’t make a hire, back to the drawing board.


All of the above is for a SINGLE position. Multiply that by 15-40 and you get a logistics and scheduling nightmare.

I say all of this to set the tone. The recruiter is the gatekeeper and doesn’t want to waste their time, they don’t want to waste your time, and they are essentially vouching for you when they schedule you with the hiring manager. They REALLY don’t want to get a reputation for wasting managers time. I know when I bring a candidate to our CEO, I am putting my name on the line.   Make a great hire and it is the hiring managers effort. Make a bad hire and the recruiter will be blamed.

Yes, less than 10 seconds

You as the candidate really do get about 5 seconds of eye time on your resume and cover letter.  When I am looking at a stack of 50 resumes and trying to weed them down to 5-7, I am looking for reasons to throw the resume out before I am looking for reasons to keep it.  I am not reading each one line by line and stack ranking 50 resumes. I am literally looking for reasons to take them out of the running, and here is the reason why.

If I receive 50 resume’s it will break down like this:

  • 7 of them will have a misspelled word or grammatical error. OUT.
  • 7 of them will have so many technical acronyms or are so tough to read, I won’t be able to figure out what they are trying to say. OUT
  • 5 of them will be under qualified. OUT.
  • 5 of them will be overqualified. OUT
  • 10 of them won’t even be related, and I can only imagine that this is someone who needs to collect unemployment and has to apply to 3 positions a week to qualify. OUT
  • Most resumes will state what they have done with no details, no numbers, no percentages.  “Increased sales”, “Led Agile dev group”  is not as effective as  “increased Sales by 25% in the first 2 months” OR, “Led a team of 5 developers that released a product every week using an Agile development methodology”. The latter two say the same but sound much more effective. Not necessarily out, but if I see others that do list percentages and numbers, those are definitely in, and make the job easier.

Tailor the resume to the job listing

Only put down what is relevant to the position on your cover letter and resume. If I wanted more qualifications, I would have listed them in the job description.

The above statistics are not scientific of course, but they are realistic.  Out of 50 candidates, 35 will take themselves out of the picture and I am really only looking at 15 or so resumes. I don’t say this lightly. It is VERY easy to stand out in a crowd of resumes these days.

  • Read and re-read your cover letter and resume. Then read it word for word backward. Then ask a friend to proof it.
  • Minimize technical acronyms. As the recruiter, I don’t know what you and the hiring manager know. Assume I don’t have your technical expertise.  (the exceptions is: Tech recruiters do understand dev languages)
  • If the job is entry-level and you have a Ph.D. or an MBA, don’t list that background. I am not looking for a Ph.D.

Help me help you

Make it easy for your recruiter to understand you. Help me help you. I DO want to fill that position. I DO want to bring candidates to the hiring manager. But please be patient with us and realize that we need to go through the above process along with the other items on our to-do list which could be new hire paperwork, on-boarding, 30-day check-in, benefit paperwork, etc.
See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

If you felt this post was valuable please subscribe here. I promise no spam, 

 “like” us on Facebook, I read all comments below. Thank you!