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Posted May 13, 2019 by

I’m willing to do anything. Why can’t I get hired?

I founded the company out of which College Recruiter. We’ve been helping students and recent graduates find great careers for 28 years, which is about six years more than the typical college grad has been alive.

One of the most common questions that we get asked by students and recent graduates is why they can’t get hired by an employer despite being willing to do any work asked by that employer. The response is almost always a variation of, “Well, that’s the reason. Employers don’t want to hire people who are willing to do anything. Few have the time and fewer still have the patience to coach candidates.

Corporate recruiters — those who work in-house for a specific employer — are typically evaluated based upon how many people they hire. If they take extra time to help you or work with you to figure out which of their openings you’re best suited for, chances are that they could have helped their employer hire multiple people in that same amount of time. Third-party recruiters (also known as headhunters or executive recruiters) are under even more time pressure as they’re typically paid a straight commission only when a candidate they refer to an employer is hired by that employer. For them, time truly is money.

Your skills are transferable to a wide variety of roles. I get it. You’re willing to just get your foot in the door and then work your way up. I get it. You’re happy to work for just about any sized organization, provided that it is a dynamic, growing company. I get it. You’d be happy living where you currently do but are also more than willing to relocate at your own expense. I get it. You just want a chance to prove yourself. I get that too and so do the employers that you’re contacting, but the sad truth is that most don’t really care.

Make their job easy. Commit to the type of organization for which you wish to work, maybe a few metro areas that you already have ties to, and a handful of roles and then pursue those with a vengeance. When you apply, be sure that they know that you’re really applying to the specific job by customizing your cover letter and resume to perfectly fit the job. You’re applying for a sales position and the job title the employer uses is “account manager”? Then be sure that your cover letter and resume use “account manager” to describe the work you’ve done and the work you want to do. Their job title states that they want a candidate with a major in computer science but your school calls that information technology? Then be sure that your resume states that your major was, “Computer Science (Information Technology)” or something along those lines.

Oh, and when you do start to engage with the recruiter, be sure that everything you talk about is for the benefit of the employer. They’re a multinational with offices in Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Lauderdale, and Barcelona? Great, but if the recruiter you’re talking with is filling a role for the Chicago office then don’t tell her that you’d love to work in Barcelona someday unless she asks you if you’d be open to starting with the firm in Chicago and a year or two from now working out of the Barcelona office. She’s trying to fill a seat in Chicago, not Barcelona.