'Should I personalize my resume for each company?' All your latest job search questions, answered

Current climate favors job seekers more now than in recent years

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With the unemployment rate at 3.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current job market more so than in recent years seems to favor job seekers rather than companies.

People looking for jobs have a little more ability to be selective, but there are still some steps to take in order for candidates to stand out to employers.

Eleesha Martin, who has more than 20 years of experience as a recruiter and is the recruiting manager at G&A Partners, a national human resource outsourcing provider with offices in Texas, Arizona, Minnesota and Utah, offered some tips and insight as to the best practices job seekers should keep in mind in this current climate.

What should job seekers be looking for most with available openings? 

It’s important that job seekers look for positions that have qualities which they know they’ll be happy and productive with in the long-term.

Whether it’s a position that will offer growth in a career path, good company culture, a chance to work remotely if that’s desired, a good driving distance from the office or any other qualities, it’s important for seekers to determine and pursue their best fits.

If someone eventually gets a job that is a bad fit, that could end up being detrimental, Martin said.

“They have to be careful about their resume not showing a lot of jobs,” she said. “If they take a job and don’t like it, then two months later take another job and didn’t like it, and they keep changing, it’s not going to look good when a recruiter is looking at their resume. It’ll look like they are not stable.”

How important is it to personalize resumes/cover letters for specific jobs?

Many job seekers have a strategy of producing one generic resume and cover letter and sending it out to dozens, if not hundreds, of companies that are hiring. 

While there are some parts of a resume that are OK to remain generic, Martin said it’s important for job seekers to put in the work and make their resumes stand out by personalizing aspects of their applications.

“There’s a six-second scan rule,” Martin said. “Recruiters, they will glance at your resume for about six seconds. They are looking for certain keywords, skills or expertise. If they don’t see it in the first six seconds, they might not continue reading the resume. You want to tailor your resume.”

Are recruiters trustworthy?

Plenty of frustrated job seekers have had instances where recruiters get in touch with them out of the blue, show interest or even throw compliments about their resume or qualifications.

Then, those recruiters are never heard from again. 

Martin said recruiters can be trusted in general because they are in the business of helping people out.

But there are some who have different objectives, such as being in it more for a commission or to fill numbers. 

“Maybe they found other candidates that were more viable, and they just forgot to get back with you, or at the same time, some recruiters don’t feel like they have a connection to you just yet,” Martin said. “Even then, they should give you that courtesy of following up. Each recruiter, what they are in it for determines how they respond.”

Martin said even when recruiters get overwhelmed with a large number of candidates, they should make sure to still be considerate, especially to avoid a bad review from candidates on sites.

“It’s definitely their responsibility and job to make sure they are providing a candidate with a good experience, but unfortunately, sometimes they don’t,” she said. 

What are best practices during an interview? 

This is more than just doing obvious things such as researching the company, dressing to impress, making eye contact and showing confidence. 

“When they get on site, they have to be courteous,” Martin said.

Martin cited an example of a hiring manager she knew who was irritated when finding out a job candidate was rude to a receptionist in the building upon arrival for an interview. 

Based on that person’s interaction with the receptionist, that hiring manager didn’t feel the candidate would treat clients properly.

“It starts before the interview,” she said. “You may walk in a restroom and not know who that person is in there. Be kind to everyone, because you don’t know how that can influence the outcome.”

Is it an advantage to already know the hiring manager or someone else in a company?

The saying that, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” is thrown around a lot and often is true. 

But knowing a prominent person in a company doesn’t necessarily guarantee a job, especially if that person isn’t in good standing with the company, Martin said. 

“I do not like it when candidates do a lot of name-dropping,” she said. “Some people get a little cocky with that and feel like just because they know somebody, that they already have (gotten) the job, and that’s not always the case. Even if you are referred, you should still show that you are qualified and capable of doing the job.”

Martin said it’s not always out of line to mention that you know somebody in the company, but do not assume it will guarantee a job offer and use the best judgment possible, depending on the situation.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.