I spent the first 15 years of my career recruiting top talent, working with some of Canada’s largest organizations to fill their staffing needs. I was good at my job, but I wasn’t having the impact I knew I wanted to have on the world.
My goal was to always coach or counsel people, to bring value to their everyday lives. For a long time, I resented my younger self for taking me so far off my goal of coaching and counselling.
But then something changed. I started to recognize the value in my recruitment experience.
Instead of it being a detriment to my goal of helping people, my 15 years spent recruiting was my differentiating factor. It was a knowledge set that I knew I could leverage as a career coach. I could use my insider knowledge to ensure my clients’ applications would get noticed, that they had strong interview skills that would help them build connections, and that they had the tools to assess whether the offer and onboarding processes were right for them.
I lean on my previous experience every day and it makes me better at my job in so many ways.
Over the course of my career as a recruiter, I probably read more than 100,000 resumes (a number that boggles my mind). I have also used Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
As I create marketing documents for my clients, I know how to add keywords that will help a resume get past the ATS. But I also know that at the end of the day, a person will still read the resume. That person, probably a talent acquisition specialist/recruiter, is ruthless in their approach. A candidate only has six seconds to stand out – to get put in that “yes” pile. Using my experience and the knowledge of what recruiters look for in those seconds allows me to make sure that information is easy to find and highlighted.
A hiring manager will take a little longer, looking for different things. As someone who talked through applications with hiring managers, I use that knowledge to include content in my clients’ resumes that is sure to get hiring managers interested in interviewing them.
Rarely does a cover letter get someone an interview; that’s the resume’s job. Honestly, as a recruiter I never read the cover letter and I know I’m not alone. So, when writing letters for my clients, I make sure that they are focused on the right target audience: the hiring manager.
To a hiring manager, a cover letter is a sign of the applicant’s interest and due diligence. It often gets a hiring manager excited to meet someone, which can be powerful once the client gets to the interview stage.
As a Talent Manager filling roles for companies, I almost exclusively used LinkedIn to find candidates. I used keyword Boolean searches to find those candidates.
For clients who don’t have much time for job searching or who are in a job that they like but want to be kept in the loop about the market, I optimize their LinkedIn profile with the proper keywords so that they can be found.
Using a mix of knowledge from my own time spent hunting candidates and the training I’ve had from LinkedIn themselves (as a recruiter), I ensure that they have all the necessary pieces of their profile updated to increase search appearances, profile views, connection requests and messages.
I counsel my clients on the importance of their LinkedIn network and how to grow it so that they are three degrees of separation from almost everyone in their region and industry.
I’ve conducted about 10,000 interviews of all types (phone, face-to-face, senior level and client group). There are a few interview questions that tend to raise red flags for employers:
- Why do you want to leave your current job? This is really a motivation question, getting to the heart of what matters most to a candidate. That knowledge alone transforms how a candidate approaches that question – they aren’t defensive any more or overcompensating in some way.
- What weaknesses do you have? As a recruiter, I received so many boring answers to this question, I ended up coming up different ways to ask it to force candidates to give me a real shortcoming – not a strength disguised as a weakness or a common-place flaw (I’m looking at you presentation skills). After that, I heard stories about candidates overcoming failure, swallowing their pride to get better and ignoring fear so that they could go after their dreams. Telling interesting, relevant stories helps get people hired.
- Do you have any questions for me? Questions that show off a candidate’s intelligence, interests and work experience leave the interviewer excited about interviewee’s potential as a team member. I work with clients to develop a list of questions that showcase their strategic mindset, their critical thinking and their problem-solving skills.
While I worked as an agency recruiter, I would present offers to candidates on behalf of organizations and I would negotiate the offer on behalf of the candidates. This gives me a unique viewpoint.
When my clients get offers, we break them down to determine their priorities. I let them in on the pieces of an offer that are most difficult to negotiate and we develop talking points that advocate for their worth while showcasing the value they bring to the table.
My journey to becoming a career coach took a lot longer than I expected, but that doesn’t bother me any more. I know now that the knowledge and experience I gained brings more value to people’s lives than I ever thought possible. I am so proud to be a Career Coach and to help guide people on their own journeys to discovering a career that brings them that same satisfaction.