Job searching can be both exhausting and emotional. I know this because I spend my days speaking with people who are interested in making moves, and it’s clear that engaging in a job search process—either passively or actively—can be a huge drain. You’re still working full-time, trying to keep your interviews under wraps from your current employer, juggling the demands of life, and considering a leap into the unknown. I get it, I really get it.
In the past few years, I’ve noticed a few emerging trends in the way candidates think about job searching and working with recruiters. While I can’t speak to the experience of other recruiting firms, it’s clear from my conversations with candidates, and with others in my firm, that these common myths run rampant among job seekers. Here are 4 common misconceptions that job seekers have about working with recruiters, and the reasons you should adjust your thinking if you believe these myths to be true:
Job Searching Myth #1. No One Does Resumes Anymore—RIGHT? WRONG.
In recent years, the rise of LinkedIn has started to make many job candidates assume that their LinkedIn profile can replace their resume. If all of your professional information is readily available online, why should you need to create a separate document to submit your candidacy?
While your LinkedIn profile should include a lot of the same information as your resume, recruiters typically use LinkedIn to quickly scan your experience to see if you’re a high-level fit for their client—however, they won’t look as closely at your profile as they will at your resume. If your LinkedIn profile looks good, the recruiter will ask for more information and a resume to better understand your experience and accomplishments, and ultimately determine if it makes sense to talk with you. LinkedIn may get you a phone call from a recruiter, but it’s your resume that will get you into the shortlist of a search.
Like it or not, employers want to see a formal resume—they need a detailed document which helps them understand why a recruiter has decided to include them in a shortlist. Both the resume and the report a recruiter provides to their client helps confirm that the recruiter understands the requirements of the role, and that the candidates they presented should be interviewed.
Candidates who are adamant that a resume is not required are at best misguided about professional norms, and at worst being disrespectful of the processes of both the recruiter and the employer. Do you want to be the one person out of five who doesn’t submit a resume? Are you comfortable sending the message that you can’t be bothered to polish up a standard document to submit your candidacy? Make sure that you keep both your resume and your LinkedIn profile up to date, and you’ll be ready when the next opportunity pops up.
Job Searching Myth #2. If I call/talk with a Recruiter, they will help me find a job—RIGHT? WRONG. (Sort of.)
Recruiters work for their clients, not their candidates. It’s the employer who pays the recruiter to conduct a job search, and find them people who most closely fit their requirements.
For candidates, recruiters provide a free service: keeping them informed of opportunities, and reaching out to let them know when a role that fits their skills and experience comes up. While good recruiters care deeply about the candidate experience, and truly want to be part of a happy career journey, they don’t lie awake at night worried about finding you a job. They stress about finding the right candidate for their client. If it’s you, that’s great, but don’t sit around waiting for a recruiter to take charge of your job search for you.
At the end of the day, you have to take ownership of your own career journey. A successful job search process consists of three pillars:
Reach out to your network and let them know that you’re looking/available. Be as specific as possible about the kind of role you’re looking for, and how they can support you in your search. Take former colleagues out for coffee, and pick the brains of people who know your work and your space.
Contact employers directly. This means sending out job applications (along with your resume… you’ve got a resume ready, right? If not, see myth number 1). Ensure that your application materials demonstrate the value you can bring to an organization—show how you can help solve the problems they need solved. Highlight how your accomplishments in previous roles align to their requirements. All of your communication should be geared toward their needs, not your wants.
Engage with recruiters who know you or have reached out to you in the past. When accepting a call with a recruiter, ask them about the types of clients and searches they often work on, and whether or not they specialize in your field. That will help you understand the degree to which you need to slow down in how you communicate what you do and where you have been successful to ensure they understand your value. For example, here at Martyn Bassett Associates we specialize in venture funded tech startups, hiring for roles that drive revenue—sales, marketing, customer success, product, and IT/analytics. This niche focus enables our team of recruiters to become market experts for both our clients and our candidates (it also means that we’re not likely the best fit if you’re looking for a role in hospitality).
Recruiters can be a great asset in your search for your next role—but they cannot take ownership of your career. Remember that they work for their clients, not for you, and that if you’re not quite the right fit for their client, it’s nothing personal—there can only be one successful candidate in each job search. If you’re working all three pillars of your job search, something will come around.
Job Searching Myth #3. To move UP, I need to move OUT—RIGHT? WRONG.
We often hear candidates share their desire to get a promotion from individual contributor to management when they move to a new job. While occasionally we are able to help someone make that move, most of the time there’s nothing we can do.
Why not? Because generally speaking, a recruiter is hired to find the person who most closely fits the search requirements. If the requirement is to manage the team, then the employer is seeking candidates who do that today. A candidate who wants to move up to management in their next role doesn’t fit the search requirements—and would be competing with candidates who do have the experience.
If getting promoted is your goal, we recommend that you start with the following steps:
Ask for a meeting with the person you report to.
Share your career goals! (Yes, you have to say them out loud).
Ask for feedback from your boss, and be open to their suggestions.
Ask them for what they have identified as barriers to you getting that role, the skills you need to develop, or the results you need to achieve.
Really listen to this feedback, and get to work incorporating it into your day to day.
We get it, this can be really hard. However, people who are ready for management roles need to be ready to have tough conversations and to be transparent with leadership teams. Great leaders are open to dialogue and demonstrate humility. If the idea of having this conversation is too much to handle, then you need to explore whether or not you’re ready for a leadership role. If you really want to move up to the next rung on the career ladder, make sure that you’ve done everything you can to make it happen within your current organization before seeking out an opportunity elsewhere.
Job Searching Myth #4. Money is the #1 motivator for changing jobs—RIGHT? WRONG! (Sort of.)
Most of the candidates we work with aren’t motivated by money when they start job searching. They are typically experienced professionals who have been successful in their roles for at least 5 years—they are no longer just starting out after University, have pretty well established lifestyles, and they are approaching the median to top bracket of what the market pays for their skills, role, and experience.
For these types of candidates, job changes occur for a variety of reasons, with money often being the least influential—although the reasons that people become interested in making a job change can certainly affect their compensation. Some examples we’ve seen for why people change jobs:
I’ve exceeded my quota for the X year in a row, and I’m ready to leave while I’m still at the top (this often foreshadows changes in the organization).
We have a new CEO/Leader and they are bringing in their own team. I’m perceived as part of the old guard.
I am interested in an opportunity to be the first person to open up a new market or vertical, and that’s not possible in my current role.
I want to move my career toward the new trend in XYZ solutions (machine learning, AI, wearables, etc.).
My family bought a home in XYZ city, and I’m hoping to reduce my commute.
Most of the people we speak with who changed jobs solely for the money are miserable and looking for another job less than a year later. Instead of focusing solely on salary, the bigger and more important questions to ask yourself are:
Is this a job I want to do?
Is this the group of people I want to do it with?
If the answer to both is no, there’s no amount of money that will make the stress and unhappiness you’ll be dealing with worth it.
Instead of making the conversation with a recruiter about money, think through the kind of situation you’re interested in hearing about. What is important to you in the type of role? The type of company? Your long-term goal that you are trying to move towards? What skills are you trying to add to your toolkit (an especially important question if you are a designer, product manager, or engineer)? How valuable are those skills to you as it relates to money? If an AI vendor was willing to take a risk on you (with no AI skills) is that valuable enough to take a $5K dip in base, or commute further to get to the office, or get bumped from four weeks vacation back down to three?
It’s also important to keep in mind that you likely don’t have a full picture of what “market value” for your work is. There are very rarely standards for compensation for most roles in the high tech industry. Don’t create a situation where you expect your next employer to make up for the fact that you feel you didn’t negotiate hard enough for your current position, or that you have a vague feeling that your contributions aren’t properly valued. We’ve seen how this plays out and it never ends well.
Lastly, keep in mind that in most cases, the recruiter directly benefits from getting you the highest possible salary. They are the experts on what companies typically pay for the kind of role you’re looking for (they are talking to tons of candidates everyday, and know what your direct competition for the role is making as well). Be transparent and honest about your current income, goals, and aspirations. Lying about income will always come back to bite you when negotiations get serious (many employers will ask to see a T4 slip—don’t get your offer yanked because you exaggerated). Recruiters are on your side, and will help to facilitate negotiations—they aren’t out to lowball you.
Time and again, I see these myths derail otherwise excellent candidates from moving into new roles. Do yourself a favour and make sure that you’ve got a resume ready, are working all three pillars of your job search, are actively working toward your career goals at your current organization, and are very clear about what is motivating you to engage in a job search—it will make the process much easier.If you’re gearing up to hire at your organization, get in touch with us today to talk about the current state of the talent market in your field. We’ll do the work of screening out the candidates who still believe these myths, and make sure that you’re only interviewing the very best people for your organization.