Archive for March, 2013

Linkedin Recruiting Strategies

Monday, March 25th, 2013

In the past few years, LinkedIn has become an important tool in finding candidates. Many recruiters use LinkedIn as a primary searching resource, and while candidates can get their resumes to recruiters without using LinkedIn, a recruiter may look unfavorably at professionals that do not have a complete LinkedIn profile. There is little doubt that professionals have an opportunity to present themselves in the best possible light on all social media (especially LinkedIn), but the recruiter should also take care to update his professional profile, so to attract candidates to his page. Sell yourself and your service! Share your company’s latest news, your newest job openings, and tell about your services. And if you haven’t done so already, create a custom URL for your page to replace the random number/letter sequence that LinkedIn provides (The option is in the Public Profile section of the Edit Profile page).  Insert this custom URL in your signature for your email correspondences and consider adding the phrase “Connect with me on Linkedin!”

LinkedIn is all about networking, so reach out by joining groups in your industry that share your specialties. These connections can help you keep abreast of the latest developments in your field, and they may be able to help you with a difficult placement. Take time to participate in group discussions, and consider including the open networker icon on your profile so that your network continues to grow. You can learn a lot by studying your competitors. There’s no copyright on techniques and ideas, so examine the groups that other companies use, and watch their approaches to posting open positions. You can be sure that the competition is watching you, too.

When searching on LinkedIn, use more than the basic keywords from the job description. Find words that truly describe the position and make it stand out. Be sure to use Boolean terms like “OR” or “NOT” to filter your results (In our experience, the Boolean terms don’t always work perfectly in LinkedIn, but your mileage may vary). You may still get a lot of responses, but that’s when you can start digging into the search results, including the all-important “Contact For” section. Your perfect candidate may have included something there that could help you make your decision. When you try to reach these candidates, read and respect their instructions in Contact Settings. Use your finite resources for InMails wisely by avoiding the standard form letter (which candidates can spot a mile away) and writing a short, professional note that shows that you’ve researched their profile, which is why you’re contacting them for this position. And when you run out of InMails for the month, don’t blast out introduction requests from unknown recipients for potential prospects. In essence, that’s spam, and no one wants to read it or reply to it. The same applies to job openings sent to everyone in your network, regardless of their specialties.

Naturally, these techniques may require a little more of your time, but LinkedIn has a very good reputation for connecting candidates and recruiters, and you owe it to yourself to use its many features to get the best candidates available. Happy Hunting!

Recruiters: Better Writing = More Placements

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

My high school teachers got it wrong. In my entire professional life, I’ve never used algebra. What I have used every day is Language Arts: the basic—and at times, arduous—task of writing. At present, I earn a portion of my living as a professional writer, and at every turn in this journey, I’ve relearned skills that go back to the basics that Mrs. Weidemann tried to drill into me during fourth grade English class. Although most of us write as part of our profession, our writing skills may have diminished since leaving college. For recruiters, a job posting with careless grammar, improper punctuation and misspelled words can soil an otherwise spotless reputation. A random sampling of online job posts reveals an abundance of bad writing, and I can’t imagine that the response rates are very high. Think about it: if a candidate notices a lack of attention in your writing skills, how do they know that you can communicate better with a potential employer?

Clarity is the goal of any non-fiction writer. The message should be easy enough for anyone to understand, but the technique should be both impeccable and invisible, so that the reader focuses on your concept and not your dangling participle.  The simple declarative sentence has become an endangered species. Many unskilled writers create long convoluted sentences cluttered with jargon and devoid of meaning. If “See Spot run” captures your meaning, use it! If you need to use a complex sentence structure to make your point, be sure that you know how to use it. The spell and grammar checkers in Microsoft Word can alert you to misspelled words, sentence fragments and disagreeing subjects and verbs, but it won’t tell you if you used the wrong version of “to”, misplaced a modifier, or used too many adjectives. Those are elements you must know, or take the risk that your recipients will either misunderstand your message, or dismiss it as incoherent ramblings from someone who cannot write.

One of the best things you can do is to read before you send. Read the piece aloud if can. Are you able to get through every sentence without gasping for breath? If you can’t, try to split the sentence into two or three new sentences. Ask yourself if the idea is clear, no matter how you read the sentence. If you find yourself using a speech inflection to convey the proper meaning, rewrite it so that it reads correctly on its own. Are there too many words in your sentences? Try cutting a few adjectives and see if the message stands.  And must you use jargon, or can you find a standard English term that will make your point and not send your reader running for a dictionary?

Of course, you should have a dictionary available at your desk, and a good style manual like Strunk and White’s “Element of Style” to remind you of all those pesky little grammar rules. To grasp the concept of good writing, I recommend William Zinsser’s wonderful book, “On Writing Well”. Zinsser was a professional freelance non-fiction writer for many years, and then taught writing at Yale. His book is easy to read, emphasizes clarity, and includes a specific chapter on writing for businesses. You can get all of these volumes cheaply at Amazon, and it’s a good investment. After all, it’s something that you’ll use every day.  Happy hunting. -Thomas Cunniffe

Effective Recruiting Emails

Monday, March 4th, 2013

For several years, e-mail has been the most inexpensive and efficient way for recruiters to communicate with candidates and clients. However, its very nature can lead to disastrous results if handled incorrectly. Regardless of whether an e-mail is sent to a single recipient or a large group, a simple misstatement or an unclear sentence can magnify an issue several times over. Further, an improperly placed word or a generic e-mail address could throw the message into a spam folder, where it will never be seen by its intended recipient. E-mail may be cheap, but it’s not easy.

Let’s start with addresses. Nothing is more discouraging to a job seeker than getting an e-mail from “recruiter@xyzcompany.com” or “jobs@widgetusa.org”. It’s the equivalent of snail mail addressed to “occupant”. Have an e-mail account set up with some form of your name and be sure that the sender name is yours and not something generic. Also, when sending out a mass e-mailing, use a mail merge program that will let you personalize each message with the recipient’s name and the specific job title, and will send each piece as an individual piece to a specific address, rather than the dreaded “undisclosed recipients”. Sounds basic, right? You’d be amazed at how many recruiters haven’t picked up on this concept!

Now, let’s move on to the actual message. Unless you’re a very skilled writer, don’t just blast out a first draft and hit “send”. Think about what you’re going to write and organize it. Remember the 6 W’s of journalism—Who, What, Why, When, Where and How—and make sure that every one of those questions is answered succinctly in your message. Assume that most of your candidates will read your e-mail while working for another company. Time is money, so avoid the chatty “I just found your resume” (Really? Where was it hiding?) and get to the point: “We have an opening in the IT department at XYZ company (or an XYZ type company if confidential) for a specialist in…and we’d like to consider you for the position” From that point on, all you have to do is provide a brief description of the job duties, and give instructions on how they can apply. If that involves a website link, send the e-mail to yourself first and ensure that the link works properly.

We may live in the world of texting and tweets, but that does not mean that you should use ANY of the common texting abbreviations in your e-mails. Believe me, it doesn’t make you look hip; it makes you look unprofessional. Also, be sure that you use the spelling and grammar check options, and then check everything yourself to catch what the computer missed (including proper versions of words like “its”, “their” and “affect”/”effect”). Finally, read the whole thing—preferably aloud—for clarity and meaning. Ask yourself if every word is necessary, and cut out any dead weight. It’s better for you to find the problems before you hit “send” than for your potential candidates and clients to find them later.

In a very real way, your success as a recruiter is a direct reflection of your ability as a writer. If a candidate or client spots carelessness in your communication, they won’t have much faith in your abilities to negotiate a deal. The examples above are common but correctable mistakes. And even if you’ve never made any of these mistakes, it’s always a good idea to concentrate on the quality of your writing. If you take care with how you write, you have a better chance of success in your business.