We’ll confess — it’s always nice to get “validation” around our job market views from other professionals in the field, such as our friends in the recruiting world.  Along these lines, we thought we’d share a few thoughts this month that were sent along to us by Dave Hardwick, one of Puget Sound’s top technical recruiters.  Here are a few tips Dave had to share with regard to job seeker effectiveness:

“One of the things I keep bumping into with candidates is that they don’t have a sense of either their personal brand, or what they are as a product, and as a result their story as a candidate is weak.  What is weak?  When what you’re saying is in the ‘vaguely good’ realm of stories.  For example, ‘I’m looking for a role where I can add value, a role where my strengths as a business strategist can be directly applied, and my impact to the organization can be seen.’  This is weak because it’s a lot like ‘Mom, the Flag, and Apple Pie’ – everybody wants these same things.  As a product, you have to represent something unique to the hiring manager so you stand apart from the crowd and they can clearly recognize the value you could bring to their situation.

Another thing I look for in a candidate is passion about something other than business processes. Passion about business process should be thought of as a gating factor for seasoned candidates, but not a differentiator.  Again, there are too many people saying the same words and phrases on this topic area.  What sets candidates apart from the crowd in my part of the recruiting world is passion about a market problem, or a product idea, or a type of technology.  This can range quite a bit, and some of the good, detailed stories I’ve heard recently include new ways to save lives, applying deep data analysis to the difficult-to-understand ways in which consumers behave, and finally one guy who wants to join a team of very smart Software Engineers that is tackling really difficult Computer Science problems where he can learn from them and vice versa.

Another trend I’ve noticed with my recent clients (Editor’s Note: Dave’s clients are the companies that hire him to fill positions, not individual job seekers) is that they are getting choosier about candidate resumes.  If the EXACT phrases are not easily seen on the resume that the hiring manager is looking for, the candidate gets passed over.  This is critical for many candidates because they tend to write vaguely about things they want to do and/or what they’ve accomplished — or they’ve written far too much about what they’ve done in the past — for key themes to be seen by the reader.  Being crisp about key accomplishments and what you want to do next, however, really works well to make your resume stand out.  This strengthens the argument that your resume should be customized to each role you pursue and should use words and phrases directly from the job description and from other types of text the company puts out, like their website and their press releases.  It also underlines the notion that putting up a ‘generic’ resume on Monster or other job boards is not likely to work well.  Be a good marketer, instead.  ID the roles that interest you most, be clear to all you talk to about your three benefits for those roles, and make your case!”

Great comments, Dave.  Thanks for sharing them — and if any of you out there have strong technical backgrounds, and haven’t yet sent your resume along to Hardwick Recruiting, we’d encourage you to visit Dave’s website here and drop him a line!