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How Recruiters Pick YOU

By Jeff Lipschultz

I am often asked how I determine which candidates get submitted to my clients. The simplest answer I can give is: THE BEST ONES!

Criteria for Choosing the Best Candidates

Of course, the next question is “how do you determine who is the best?” Like in the engineering world, the best candidates have ideal FORM, FIT, and FUNCTION



These are the recruiter’s client requirements centered on absolutes. The candidate should already possess these attributes.

These are typically YES or NO answers - nothing in between. They may include minimum years of experience, certifications, or specific industry knowledge. Some of the client’s requirements may not seem tied to the job, but are set in stone regardless (for example, graduated from a certain school/program or military experience).

Form can also include the candidate’s physical attributes. Some candidates must be able to lift 50 lbs or be able to climb ladders. Requirements can also include ability to do third-shift or fluency in a foreign language.

With “Form,” you've either got it or you don’t. It is easy to determine a match in this area.


Part of the selection process is trying to determine if a candidate will fit nicely in the working environment and meet “unwritten expectations” of the job. Some companies operate with strict policies that need to be followed or require several meetings to make decisions. For some candidates, this is not a fit—they may be a move-at-the-speed-of-light kind of person.

Some roles come with the expectation that they will work mainly alone (or on the road) and not leverage a team for decision-making or idea generation. Other expectations may include:

  • Able to increase responsibility or complexity of assignment over time.
  • Willingness to learn new things and take on new challenges.
  • Have a true passion for what they do best

With “Fit,” past experiences are indicators of a good match, but usually a follow-up discussion is required to understand the circumstances, preferences, and adaptability.


These requirements center around the candidate’s ability to perform the job and almost all of them must be met. Expertise is often needed in specific tool sets (anywhere from copywriting to programming languages to financial analysis). The LEVEL of expertise is the gray area. A recruiter must determine if there is enough expertise to perform adequately in the job.

Function can also include “soft skills” like decision-making, problem-solving, and written/oral presentation skills. Additionally, there are expectations of competency with specialized and generic computer applications. An emerging skill set for some jobs is working with Social Media.

Similar to the “Fit” category, the “Function” qualifications are measured on a graduated scale. The more ability (depth and breadth) you have, the better your chances of being selected.

Evaluating Your Form, Fit, and Function

Candidates should only apply to jobs where they meet 90% of all requirements. The recruiter will figure out if the missing 10% are in critical areas. Good recruiters will determine if candidates truly meet the client’s needs by leveraging all information available including resume, references, social media, technical, and behavioral interviews.

Your Role

To make sure a recruiter knows you are the ideal candidate for the job, make sure you cover all the aspects of Form, Fit, and Function in the information you provide. Considering how large a role the resume plays in this process, candidates may want to inquire with professional resume writers for help.

At a minimum, keep in mind:

  • The best candidates have a close match between experiences/skills listed on resume and the job descriptions. This may require revising a resume for a particular job to focus on the right content.
  • An accompanying email can include three bullet points on how you meet criteria of the job and “Fit” related preferences.
  • Reasons resumes get rejected early in the process: spelling errors, small font, weak summary statements, poor career progression, and unrelated experience.

Bottom Line

If all criteria discussed above are not met, a candidate is not likely to be presented. Remember, good recruiters want to present only the best candidates for many reasons: their reputation is on the line, rework is time-consuming and expensive, and happy candidates and clients lead to more happy candidates and clients.

About the author...

Job-Hunt's Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. He is a unique recruiter with Lean Engineering experience and a Six Sigma Blackbelt. Learn more about him through his company site Follow Jeff on Twitter (@JLipschultz) and on GooglePlus.

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