Why should you care what recruiters want? This is a fair question unto itself. I am presenting this short series of blogs to address the question of what recruiters want so that you can work more effectively with an engineering recruiter by stepping into his shoes. Ultimately, matching your needs and goals to that of a fine engineering company is the formula for career change, but a recruiter can often be the route that takes you there. At the very least, assessing how you match your needs to the prospective company puts you in the best posture for a win/win solution.
Let me humbly posit O’Brien’s “Three Cherry Formula” for recruiting. This is the analogy and process I use to describe the matching process in my search activities and may be an effective way for you to present yourself in an interview to greatest effect.
Recruiting and job matching is a lot like pulling the handle of a slot machine. The wheels spin around but the payoff comes only when you line up the three cherries (or 7s etc.) In candidate selection, those “three cherries” are the “right person” in the “right place” at the “right time.” As one considers the matching process, all three must align for an offer to be extended and accepted. I may get in trouble for juxtapositioning a line from the Bible into a casino reference but in my world, “many are called, few are chosen.”
The right person means having the skills, talents and qualifications to do the job. Do you have the requisite engineering degree, certification, specialized training and experience to meet the company’s needs? Being the “right person” may also require a certain level of communication skill, personality and passion to match the culture of the organization. For consulting engineering companies, P.E. credentials may be required to secure a key project. For a position requiring a lot of customer contact, strong fact-finding or presentation skills may be required to clearly understand a project’s requirements. “Right person” is more than the resume experience; it is all that goes into matching an individual to a company’s discipline, culture, challenges and opportunities.
Right place means location, both physically and mentally. Can the individual get to and from work in a manner that minimizes an impact to work/family balance? This may be something as simple as the commuting distance, but it also may entail relocation, travel and future promotion. If success in the job means promotion to corporate headquarters down the road, are you willing to consider a move in light of your family’s needs? How would a move affect a spouse’s career, children’s lives or other family needs? Few people are considering promotion, say five years out, in the heat of the interview process, but it is something to consider if your goals include upper management. Mentally, the right place means choosing a work location where you want to live, and all that location means to your family, lifestyle and personal and professional obligations.
Right time means choosing the moment in your life when a career move makes the most sense. If you have been laid off, terminated, downsized or face this eventuality, this may be the “right time” whether you like it or not. On the other hand, making a career move of your choosing means knowing when you are underemployed, underchallenged or simply unhappy. “Right time” may mean the point when you choose to make a career move for positive reasons: advancement, greater career challenges, larger projects or personal development. Sometimes, the “right time” arrives with the ring of a recruiter’s call, presenting a better opportunity when you least expect it. When and if that call comes may depend on your understanding of my “three cherry formula” in your life. Is this the right time for you to consider a change? Are you open to the idea?
Whether you consider this a formula for a recruiter or your own needs and development, consider your current career. Are you achieving all that you can in your current environment? If so, that’s great. If not, consider where you fit into the formula and be prepared to present yourself as the right person in the right place at the right time. The “payoff” may change your life. And that’s no small change.
Thoughts? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.