Last week, DigitalCrafts was honored to have Walter, Client Manager at ExecSource, a leading recruitment firm helping Atlanta businesses merge talent with opportunity, come share his advice on working with technical recruiters as a junior developer. During the class discussion, Walter provided an abundance of information which I felt would be valuable to our readers, therefore I wanted to share a brief recap of the conversation.
Tell Your Story
Telling your story is without a doubt the easiest and best way to stand out during an interview, but this is something you'll need to practice in order to perfect. At the same time, it should come fairly natural because you're simply explaining your own story. When speaking with a hiring manager or recruiter, it's important to make a connection wherever possible. In order to make a connection, you'll need to do some preliminary research prior to the interview. For example, if you research the person you will be interviewing with try and find some common ground. Did you attend the same school? Did you live in the same area? There doesn't have to be a strong connection, but it is important to find something that you can weave into your conversation.
Communication is very important. When you're communicating with a company, you want to be professional and concise. Communicating clearly takes practices, and if you haven't been in the job search for some time this will be a skill you'll need to acquire through practice and most likely failure.
Perfect Your Soft Skills
According to Walter's expertise, soft skills are what can win you the job or knock you out of the running quicker than any other aspect. Soft skills include a number of "common sense" activities, but you would be surprised how many applicants fall short on these simple tasks. Perfecting your soft skills includes dressing for success during the interview, sending thank you emails, showing up to the interview 15 minutes early, being professional, and also research the company prior to the interview. In addition to working directing with a company or hiring manager, perfecting your soft skills will help you create a stronger relationship between you and your recruiter. At the end of the day, a recruiter isn't going to work with an applicant who shows up late to more than one interview, it's just unacceptable.
One item I am personally passionate about it which Walter mentioned here is doing research prior to the interview. Researching the company is a very simple task which should take you 30-45 minutes if done correctly. Here are some tips:
- Research the company in the news. Pick a news story and weave it into your conversation with the interviewer.
- Research the company's product and competitors. What makes this company different in the marketplace? Tell the interviewer you are impressed by the way their company stands out from the pack.
- Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn. Did you go to the same college or live in the same area? Do you have mutual connections worth discussing?
- Research the company's history, leadership team, and if they are a public company flip through their most recent shareholder presentation.
One important item to remember when you are discussing information to show you've researched the company is to not come off like an expert. Almost always, the person interviewing you will know a lot more about his company than you, so if you aren't careful you may ramble your way into an incorrect statement. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you are communicating be as short and concise as possible to avoid these pitfalls.
Know What You Want & Don't Want
This item is very important. When speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager, you don't want to come across "desperate", therefore make sure you've done a little bit of self searching to understand what aspects you are looking for in a job including the responsibilities, the day to day environment, and even the commute. You would be surprised how many times people take a job with a 2+ hour commute and burn out only a few months into the new role. Be honest with yourself when you're committing to a certain role, because it'll be the best in the end.
If you are working with a recruiter, make sure to share what happened in the interview in as much detail as possible. This way, a recruiter can follow up with the company and have a better understanding of went well and not so well. For example, if you are given a technical white-boarding exercise and just so happen to bomb it make sure to tell your recruiter exactly that. When the recruiter follows up with their client, they will address the situation and point out the other strong qualities you have to ensure you are still in the running for the opportunity.
That's all for now!