Are you fresh?

seedlings in tray

When it comes to job search and recruitment, there’s a secret in the hiring market. While you don’t have an expiry date, from the perspective of recruiters, there is such a thing as candidate “freshness.” By fresh I mean the degree to which the person reviewing your resume, talking to you on Zoom, or interviewing you considers you a hot commodity. That is, a candidate who is a great catch. There is an implicit bias for candidates new to the market vs. those who’ve been job searching longer.

This is not an explicit requirement. And of course, your experience, skills, reputation, and how you present yourself are the primary factors. But every person on the hiring end of the equation implicitly factors in a freshness factor. How long have you been on the market? Who else have you talked to?

You are most fresh, most desirable when you are employed somewhere else and just starting to look. This is when your value is greatest in the marketplace.

The next degree of freshness is when you are still employed somewhere else but have a target exit date.

At the next level, you have just left your previous place of employment and have just entered the job market.

And so on toward lesser degrees of freshness.

Where does this come from? 

I made up this word, so I doubt you will ever hear a recruiter use the term. I think the key reasons are:

An assumption is that the longer you are unemployed, the less desirable you are. I don’t believe this to be necessarily true, but I am telling you that this attitude exists.

An assumption is that the fresher you are, the fewer times you have been looked at. For 3rd party recruiting and search agencies, this is very important. They make money by filling the needs of the hiring companies. If they are the first agency to talk to you, or close to it, they will feel that they have a higher probability of placing you. Conversely, the longer you are the market, presumably, the more agency contacts you have made and the less chance they
have.

Similarly, hiring companies love to “pull” someone out of another company and advertise the fact that so-and-so came from a Name Brand company to join our team.

What can you do about it?

Use the assets you have. If you are still employed when you start job searching, be sure to communicate that. If you have just gone on the market, be sure to communicate that.

Manage your timing

Get your resume out and start contacting key channels while you are still employed, if possible. If you have just come onto the market, make those contacts quickly.

Messaging

Sometimes, our language can go a long way toward creating an impression. Savvy candidates communicate and convey that they are being selective in who they talk to and the opportunities that they target. This is a smart job search strategy anyway but it is very important in managing your impression of freshness.

Stay busy

Savvy candidates stay busy when their job search is going to prolong. Having a consulting assignment allows you to wear the hat of someone employed and again, increases your freshness in the eyes of the person hiring or recruiting.

I know the concept sounds unfair. But, this is one of those implicit, unspoken mental programs running in the heard of people who review resumes. Best to be aware of it.

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