Virtual Recruiting: Candidate Best Practices
Virtual recruiting – or the process of finding, applying, and interviewing for jobs through online digital platforms – has been an increasingly valuable supplement to in-person, on-campus recruiting activities over the last several years. But with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak causing shelter-in-place orders and mass event cancellations, virtual recruiting has quickly become the only feasible option for students and alumni who are still looking for opportunities. Fortunately, from our experience with employer webinars, digital candidate sourcing, executive search work, digital marketing, employer branding, and more, virtual recruiting is our specialty at Relish. To that end, we wanted to share some of the most important insights we’ve learned from our work over these last few years for candidates who may be wondering how to navigate and optimize their virtual recruiting experience.
Tip #1: Make yourself discoverable
When recruiters are looking to fill open positions, they will use a variety of digital search tools to try to locate candidates that fit their requirements. The Relish candidate search, for instance, gives employers access to a variety of filters and keyword searches so that they can narrow down our candidate pool to the most relevant targets. These search tools depend on user-submitted profile data to return their results, so if you have no data associated with your profile, you will not show up in recruiters’ search results.
To succeed with virtual recruiting, you have to optimize your digital discoverability. Like an eCommerce retailer, you have to think about what your target audience is looking for and where they might search for it. For eCommerce, it might be a consumer searching for “blue suede shoes” on Google or Amazon; in recruiting, it could be an employer searching for “Product Management experience in Illinois” on RelishCareers or LinkedIn. One of the easiest and most effective things you can do as virtual recruiting candidate is to make sure that recruiters can find you when they’re looking for candidates with your profile.
Tip #2: Consider your digital “brand”
While your natural charisma and winning personality may be enough to set you apart from the crowd during in-person recruiting events, it might prove difficult to convey those qualities through a digital profile. You’ll have to rely on the content of your profile and how you choose to present yourself to potential employers. We’ve written about personal digital branding before, but the general idea is a straightforward one: segment the market according to what each employer is looking for, target the segment (or segments) where you fit the employers’ needs, and then position yourself to maximize your appeal to those employers.
In practical terms, this means doing things like conducting networking calls, reading job postings, and watching employer webinars to figure out what your target employers value in candidates, and then building or modifying your digital recruiting profiles to emphasize your most relevant attributes. Does the investment bank that you’re targeting emphasize collaboration as a key tenet of their culture? Make sure your recruiting profile and pitch underscore your past work with cross-functional teams. And make sure to add a profile picture – the visual element will help to establish a connection with recruiters who find your profile.
Tip #3: Perfect your written pitch
Virtual recruiting requires a lot of written communication. Conversations you might previously have had in-person at a job fair or company event will now be conducted via email or other messaging application. And because you’ll likely be sending a significant number of similar (or even identical) messages, it’s a good idea to perfect the most commonly used parts of your pitch.
The best way to do that is to create a master document where you can store the written elements you use most often. Draft your best response for each, and then have a friend or career coach review what you’ve put together. Incorporate their feedback, make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors, and you’ll save yourself plenty of time while ensuring you put your best foot forward.
Tip #4: Practice video calls and virtual interviews
Not all of your communication during virtual recruiting will be written; video calls and interviews are an increasingly popular tool for many recruiters looking for a more personal interaction. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make the most of these interactions, whether it’s optics, technology, or some other unanticipated issue.
Having conducted dozens of employer webinars over the past several years, the Relish team understands this problem intimately. The best solution we’ve found is to practice, practice, practice. Before you dive into a video call or virtual interview, set up a test call with a friend or career coach to make sure your technology is working (both audio and video), and that your background of choice is appropriate for the call you’re going to join. Here are some common video call mistakes we see in our webinar recordings:
- Malfunctioning audio: The built-in microphone in most laptops is often not sufficient for a clear video call. Consider buying an external USB speaker, using the call-by-phone option if it’s available, or use a headset.
- Boring or too brightly lit backgrounds: Sitting with your back to a white or neutral-colored wall is an easy option, but unfortunately it can also make your house or office (and by extension you) look boring. Try to spruce things up by having a picture, bookcase, or other colorful item in the background. One thing to avoid: sitting in front of a window. Too much backlight will make you look like a shadow or silhouette.
- Posture and body language: We spend a lot of time working on our computers without thinking at all about our posture or body language, and it’s easy to slip into bad habits during a video call. You should try to seem comfortable but attentive; don’t slouch in your seat, but don’t seem too stiff or unnatural either. Make sure there is nothing else in your immediate physical vicinity that can distract you from the call, like a phone or a pet.
As you navigate the world of virtual recruiting, RelishCareers is here to help. Master’s degree students and alumni from network schools can create accounts for free and use our job search to find tens of thousands of degree-specific job postings. You can also check out our concierge candidate services, where you can purchase a customized job report from one our expert recruiting team members. And as always, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime with questions or feedback.