How to Bust Out of the Candidate Pack

Recruiting is a numbers game.

I’ve heard this many times from all sorts of people during my 2 decades in recruiting.

People say it confidently.

It’s a matter-of-fact statement.

And, others repeat it.

When something is a given, we don’t waste our valuable time and attention questioning it.

But maybe we should.

What’s inside:

  1. A contrary opinion to the recruiting numbers game
  2. The realities of today’s job search
  3. The 3 things you can do to bust out of the pack

What if recruiting ISN’T a numbers game?

What if by reducing the exchange between supply (people available to do a job) and demand (companies’ need for people to do said job) to only the numbers, we are all set up to lose?

Companies lose when they:

  • Focus on the efficiencies at the expense of personalization (no, putting my name in the greeting doesn’t make it personal)
  • Implement systems where people should be (I love a good system. Sometimes I have overcorrected).

Quantitative measurements of success can promote the wrong model (i.e. a KPI measuring outreach alone)

  • I would much rather my highly skilled recruiting team find 4 highly qualified candidates(outcomes) than tell me they made 104 contacts (activities).

The Realities of Today’s Job Search

And, while companies are crunching the numbers,

People are trying to beat them at their own game.

  • Keyword stuffing resumes
  • Applying for jobs in the hundreds

Recently I’ve seen people who say they have applied for thousands of positions

Experienced, successful professionals waste valuable time applying for lots of positions

They lack a focus on what they truly excel at and are just trying to beat the system that they feel is rigged against them.

How many “not interested” responses can one person receive before they wonder if it IS them?

(It’s not, but is human nature to consider it)

The Tension is Real

When companies are actively hiring, there is a tension between innovation and standardization that may ALWAYS exist in an organization.

In my experience, there is a balance to be found between these two opposing forces.

And when companies are faced with this tension along with the current application numbers in the hundreds and even thousands, it perpetuates the problem.

In an effort to solve this tension, companies pursue technology and processes to do the many dozens of things required of them once someone applies.

But yet —

Great candidates get lost in the digital stack of resumes


People feel pressured to create the PERFECT RESUME for every job.

No wonder we’re all exhausted.

The Most Effective Way to Get Noticed:

  1. Plan: Be strategic
  2. Position: Be memorable
  3. Pursue: Be personal

Plan: Be Strategic

Plan your work and work your plan

This age-old adage helps create focus and set your intention.

And you are less likely to be tossed around by the waves of today’s volatile market.

This is much more difficult to do than it sounds. It requires inward reflection and asking ourselves what we really want to do. And, then have the guts to look for it and ask for it.

To start, think about the things you really enjoy and that you’re really good at right now. Not tomorrow, not when you re-invent yourself, now. Right now.

I promise you, you have more in your hands than you realize.

Postion: Be Memorable

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been on LinkedIn and asked myself, “What does this person want to do?”

I get it – you’ve done a lot of things and you’re really pretty good at them.

But listing all those things in your LinkedIn headline DILUTES your strategy to be memorable.

You may already know that recruiters are on LinkedIn a lot, more than many, and much more than most.

Crafting a headline should be light on clever lingo and heavy on clear language (see step one)

Pursue: Be Personal

If you really do want to make recruiting a numbers game, an effective strategy to bust out of the candidate pack is to message your network systematically (more on that here).

It can feel uncomfortable.

And you aren’t sure what to say or how to make the ask.

  1. Set up a brief phone call
  2. Make one ask

Or you can get right to the point and let them know what you are looking for in your message (see your step one).

This is most effective with people in your small circle.

I hope that you no longer feel like recruiting is a game that is rigged against you. And, you can replace that adage with a new one:

You are replaceable, you are not repeatable.

Now get out there.

You got this.

To you mastering your next move,