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Need-Want Feedback from your Application?


Some, but not all, recruiters are happy to oblige.  It’s all in how you ask!

I recently had two candidates approach me for feedback after they submitted cover letters and resumes for the same senior level role.  Neither had been called for a preliminary telephone conversation let alone a face to face interview.

Candidate #1 e-mailed that she “couldn’t understand why you will not be pursuing my resume any further” since “I posses many of the competencies required for this position”.  She ended her e-mail by saying that she would take her concerns “directly to Senior Management”, not offering me the courtesy of responding.

Candidate #2 phoned me to say:  “I was so disappointed that I wasn’t chosen for a telephone interview because I really thought this role was written specifically for me!  Would you have time to give me some feedback in terms of how I can become more competitive for other roles like these?  I’ll make myself available to talk with you at your convenience either by phone or over coffee”.

In this employers’ market, here are some considerations for candidates:

  • Recruitment is a competitive-comparative process
    • You may well possess “many of the required competencies”…but so do a number of other candidates.  Time just doesn’t allow for everyone to be interviewed so you really do have to market your unique value proposition clearly.  And, let’s be honest, there’s often a strong internal candidate and the employer wants just 4-6 external candiates for comparison
  • Employers outsource searches to a third party for a couple of reasons:
    • They don’t recruit regularly so need and want expertise just-in-time
    • Boards and CEO’s are focused on strategic initiatives so they don’t have the time…or inclination…to respond to “why am I not being interviewed” inquiries
  • Recruiters do not make the final decision at any step of the process
    • There is usually a Selection Committee comprised of the hiring manager, HR and a stakeholder
    • Together they make the decision as to who will be interviewed when
  • Recruiters are retained by the employer not the candidates
    • There is no obligation for the recruiter to acknowledge or respond at any step of the process…although I think it’s only courteous to do so
    • If you want feedback, retaining a career coach may be a very good investment in your future
  • Candidates need to understand the role and sector for which they are applying
    • The content and format of a resume for the private sector is not necessarily what works best for the not for profit sector and vice versa
    • The role of a cover letter is to link your resume to the recruiting brief…without repeating all the details in your resume.  Most cover letters tend to be generic “motherhoood and apple pie statements” rather than crisp marketing documents.
  • Candidates should definitely work their networks
    • It’s not just who you know but also who knows you…and can champion your resume
    • But…be careful of which names you drop;  do you know how they’ll be perceived by the people reading your resume?  When a Selection Committee hears a name they may well respond:  do we really want to interview someone s/he is recommending?!
  • Candidates should consider which meanas of communication will achieve the desired outcome
    • I’m a boomer so I still prefer a conversation to an e-mail…but my counterpart at Facebook or google might prefer a text!
    • Sometimes the tone of an e-mail, text or tweet can come across as demanding, entitled, sarcastic or whining even if that was not the intent

Which candidate do you think caught my attention?  #2 and I had a positive 30 minute conversation, she tweaked her resume and cover letter and was selected for interview for the very next role for which she applied.  And, as it turned out, it wasn’t just a good fit but a best fit role.