Get a peek inside what HR specialists and recruiters look for in professional materials. Write For The Job spoke to Sydney Merin, HR and Recruitment Coordinator for United Entertainment Group. What does she look for in your professional materials? What are are the common mistakes that still make her cringe? Find out in our Q&A below.
Write For The Job: Describe the top points you look for in a resume, a cover letter, and a Linkedin profile.
What I look for in a resume truly depends on the position and experience level. For an entry level position, I look for any work experience. It’s great to see that a student is responsible and active in their community any work experience is good experience (internships, waitress jobs, positions in a student club or organization, etc.) For other positions, I look for relevant work experience. This is where detailed bullet points are important. You may currently have a position with a different title or in an unrelated industry but have relevant experience for the position I am recruiting for. I also look for personality in a resume. Formats and colors may vary as long as the information is laid out in a clear way.
A Linkedin profile is key in the job market. It allows recruiters to find you and connect with you when they may not have done so otherwise. One of the first things that I notice on a Linkedin profile is a picture. Depending on your industry, the type of picture on your Linkedin may vary. If you’re in a more creative space (copywriters, designers, producers, etc.) your personality and creativity can be present in your picture. For a more corporate industry, a professional picture/headshot may be best. The second thing I notice is how accurate your profile is. Is it updated with current/past positions, responsibilities, skills, etc.? I may not know what position you are best suited for if your profile is not up to date and detailed. Lastly, I look for your activity within Linkedin. I notice skills you list, organizations you follow, and groups you are a member of. It may provide insight on your preferred industry or what you may be knowledgeable in.
Show me that you understand what my company does. I can tell when an applicant took the time to research who we are and know some of the work we’ve done. My company is a communication/marketing agency, so I look for an applicant's ability to write and tell a story. He/she needs to be able to articulate their work story: there should be a beginning, middle, and an idea of an end, where they see themselves going next. Lastly, I want to see confidence and how you see yourself contributing to the agency/organization.
WFTJ: What are the most common mistakes you find in someone's professional materials?
SM: (1) Spelling mistakes. I have seen recruiters even ask candidates to fix their resume before having them come in for interviews. Before sharing your resume with a recruiter or professional you are networking with, have a peer read it out loud and make sure everything is spelled correctly and coherent. (2) No contact information. Why send a resume without contact information? How am I supposed to reach out to you and connect with you regarding the position if neither your email nor phone number is on the resume?
WFTJ: What is the key to getting past an automated HR system that sifts through resumes before humans even get to see them?
SM: Recruiters do look at applicants in their ATS (Applicant Tracking System). In addition to your application (in the system), having your resume and name in the recruiter’s inbox can go a long way. It can help you stand out in a position that has 500+ applicants in it. Don’t underestimate the value getting your resume and information in the recruiter’s inbox whether by sending a message through LinkedIn or networking with other professionals.
"LinkedIn is crucial. It is one of the only tools recruiters have to search for talent and future employees."
WFTJ: How important is LinkedIn and how are HR personnel using it to find talent?
SM: LinkedIn is crucial. It is one of the only tools recruiters have to search for talent and future employees. LinkedIn recently announced that you can now secretly signal to recruiters (who use LinkedIn) that you are looking for new opportunities. You can specify industry, location, seniority, level, organization size, etc. If a recruiter sees that you’re open to new opportunities, they are more likely to reach out if they are filling a relevant role. Find more information on how use this tool and how to apply it to your profile here. LinkedIn may be the first step in these conversations. I often start my search on LinkedIn and then move to email.
WFTJ: What is one common misconception about the job market that you want to debunk?
SM: Once you’ve chosen an industry, you must continue in the same industry. You should be able to speak to your relevant experience and how it relates to the current position. You should be able to tell your story and talk about what you want your next chapter to look like. Confidence is key!
Sydney Merin is an HR and Recruitment Coordinator for United Entertainment Group. She is responsible for full cycle recruitment, summer internship programs, onboarding, and employee relations. You can reach out to Sydney at Sydney.Merin@uegworldwide.com.