Why Recruiters Don’t Want Your Job Application

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Solve Job Search Frustrations

Looking for a new job?

Then you are probably scouring job postings and applying to as many jobs as you can find. Then anxiously waiting for an email from a recruiter for an interview. As days turn into weeks without an email, you become discouraged, frustrated and angry.


As a former recruiter, I want to tell you  – stop waiting to hear from that recruiter. Recruiters are fundamentally biased against applicants. I know, it sounds crazy, but it is true. Let me explain how companies approach hiring people. Once you understand typical corporate talent strategies, then you will understand my point of view. And then you can develop a job hunting approach that gets more results.


Many companies have a Talent Acquisition Strategy that guides recruiting activity. The strategy includes three main methods to hire people: Employee Referrals, Sourcing and Applications. The strategy also defines the ideal target percentage of people hired from each method: 40-45% from Employee Referrals, 30-40% from Sourcing; and the rest from Applicants.


Why Referrals Rock:

A significant majority of companies prefer hiring people through employee referrals. Why? Studies show that employees hired from a referral stay longer at the company and perform better. (See sources below). With a referral the company spends less money to hire and has a better employee. What company wouldn’t want lower cost and better performing employees?! (Sources: Institute of Labor Economics and Career Builder )


Why Recruiters Want Sourced Candidates:

Recruiters want to find their own candidate through sourcing, aka “head-hunting”.  This way the recruiter insures that the candidates have all the required skills and experience. Also, sourced candidates often come from competitors or companies with a reputation for hiring top talent. So sourced candidates are considered to be better than applicants. Also recruiters have a vested interest in sourcing candidates. Recruiters are rewarded with higher performance reviews and/or bonuses for sourced candidates.


Why Applicants are the Last Resort:

Often applicants submit their resume to positions where they are not a strong fit.  From my own recruiting experience, most applicants didn’t meet 65% of the job requirements. And my colleagues had the same experience. Our conclusion: time spent looking at applications for good candidates was a waste of time.


What Next? Here is My Recommendation:

  1. Stand out in Linked-In, Facebook or Instagram. For most non-exec positions, recruiters use one or all of these platforms to find their sourced candidates.


  1. Always Network! Expand the number of professionals in your network. Develop relationships with professionals where you help each other advance your careers. Ask for Informational Interviews with talented people you admire. While this takes time and won’t happen overnight, the potential opportunity to leverage an employee referral program is worth the effort.


  1. Connect to Recruiters in LinkedIn. The best options are recruiters who recruit for your profession or work at companies where you want to work, or work at companies that you admire. Your recruiter connections can improve your ranking in LinkedIn search results. And, most importantly – spend time with recruiters so they get to know you!  Ask for advice on career advancement and give them an opportunity to learn about your accomplishments BEFORE you start a job search.


  1. Apply Selectively to Job Applications. Before applying, be honest with yourself.  How well do you match the required skills? If you don’t have 80% or more of the experience and skills on the job description, don’t waste your time applying.  And for positions where you are a good fit, apply as soon as possible to reduce your competition.


Contact me with any questions or comments you have about this post. Searching for a new job is stressful and challenging.  I am here to help.