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Have you ever applied to many tech jobs that suit your experience and skill but never heard back? Does it feel like you are sending your resume to a black hole? Then this is something you absolutely must read. In this post, 3 tech recruiters in Sydney, Australia answer what they look for in a resume/candidate profile. They also open up about top 3 things they evaluate while conducting the first interview.

After you know what the tech recruiters are looking for you can tailor your resume that lands you an interview.

what recruiters look for

2019 started less than 3 weeks ago and I have seen many new tech roles open up. You can also read through practical step to land a tech job and get an edge over your competition on your job hunt. I have also compiled a list of companies in Australia that provide work visa sponsorship. Of course, it depends a lot on the role and the candidate too.

Purpose of the CV/Resume #

What is the purpose of your resume? In my opinion, the main purpose of your resume is to land you the first interview.

So, craft your resume to cater your audience very well. Then it is up to you to prove yourself worthy for the second interview up-to-the job offer stage.

For initial review, you can run your CV through (has a free or paid version). I have found it to be quite helpful for tech-related CVs.

Initial interview #

Initial screening interview by a tech recruiter is generally done over phone or audio/video conference. This helps filter out candidates that are not the best cultural fit or even small things like "Can the candidate speak good English?".

First interviews are generally short and not technical.

It is like the entry of the funnel and getting past the initial interview should not be that difficult.

What recruiters look for? #

I asked 3 internal tech recruiters in Sydney, Australia the following 3 simple questions:

  1. How many resumes/candidate profiles do you go through in a day usually?
  2. What are the things you look for in a resume sent for a technical role?
  3. What are the top 3 things you evaluate in a candidate when conducting the first interview?

Read on to find out what they had to say about tech recruitment as an internal tech recruiter:

The Answers #

I asked the above 3 questions to Cloë Stanbridge (Safety Culture), James Richardson (Quantium) and Kevin Yoon (SiteMinder). Below are their answers:

Cloë Stanbridge (Safety Culture) looks for tech and soft skills #

Cloe from Safety Culture

Cloë Stanbridge has been working for Safety Culture for almost 2 years now. She is currently the Talent Acquisition manager there. Safety Culture's mission is "to help companies achieve safer and higher quality workplaces all around the world through innovative, low-cost mobile first products."

Safety Culture has multiple open roles as of now.

It has 5 offices around the world with 2 of them in Australia. Cloë expressed her point of view about the above question the following way:

How many resumes/candidate profiles do you go through in a day usually? #

This can vary due to the volume of roles I have on hand but on an average about 10 a day.

What are the things you look for in a resume sent for a technical role? #

Education, longevity and growth in their career is something I focus on. I also look into if the candidate has worked for a product/SaaS company. This helps me evaluate that they are used to iterating, Continuous Integration (CI) and are focused on quality rather than being constrained by budget or time.

Candidates who have worked in cross-functional teams is a plus. They don't need to have all of these things but scoring on most of them would warrant them an interview. Grammar/spelling mistakes is also a big no.

What are the top 3 things you evaluate in a candidate when conducting the first interview? #

  1. Communication: This is not just the ability to speak English but being able to explain technical terms to a non-technical person earns brownie points for the candidate.
  2. Passion and interest for their craft: I would check if they have a side project. Learning something new in their free time would result in a better rating. The questions they ask hints to me about their passion for what they do.
  3. How interested are they in the problems that we are solving: I would also evaluate if they just want "a" job or do they actually want to work for this company. This would also include being excited for the learning opportunity they would get at work.

She was quite precise about the things she would look for in the CV and the candidate in the first interview.

James Richardson (Quantium) seeks alignment to JD and aptitude #

James, currently working at Quantium

James has been associated with Quantium for almost 2 and a half years. Currently, he is the "Lead Recruitment Business Partner" at Quantium, he is also the co-organizer of Node Sydney Meetup. Quantium is a consulting firm working in multiple domains and has multiple products, with a focus on Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. With 4 office location in Australia, Quantium has a total of 9 offices all over the world.

They are also looking for talented tech people like you.

James answered the above questions as follows:

How many resumes/candidate profiles do you go through in a day usually? #

It really varies. In peak times, I could be screening anywhere between 50-250 per day depending on the role. For software orientated roles, these numbers reduce sharply. Looking at my current data,
a recurring Backend role that is constantly advertised will attract around 40 applications per week, with a spike on Tuesdays.

What are the things you look for in a resume sent for a technical role? #

It all depending on the nature of the vacancy. I tend to align to the JD “as much as possible”. The wishlist on the JD usually turns out to be just a "wishlist". I’ll focus on the core of the position. Generally, I’m looking for the following things:

  • Right to work in Australia: If this is a role we can sponsor/relocate, then usually I just blast straight past this.

  • Experience in tech: A huge amount of newbies will apply for senior/lead roles and I will typically refer them to our graduate entry. If they have some experience, I’ll log them under potential future candidate for a more junior position. I pay attention to what they have delivered previously.

  • Last company: This helps boost the candidate's ranking. Anyone working for a top tier engineering company is going to get a lot of attention. The best first stage assessment confidence bearing is having another reputable company do that assessment. If I find a candidate working for a company with strong engineering credibility, it is going to give me a high degree of confidence in them.

  • Tech relevance: I would check if have they been working in the tech stack we use? For instance functional programming vs web dev. It will be hard to argue for a JS dev applying for a backend Scala functional role without significant side projects/open source work (yes this happens).

  • Meeting in person: Do I know them or have I met them counts too. If I Know people at their company that helps as well. Have I met them at a meetup?

What are the top 3 things you evaluate in a candidate when conducting the first interview? #

  1. Attitude: A positive attitude always leaves a good impression.
  2. Aptitude: How well does the candidate understand concepts and processes. I don’t have the skills to check code but they should have the ability to code well.
  3. Communication: I would evaluate how easy is it to talk to the candidate. Their ability to understand new things matter as well. Another deciding factor is would I be excited to meet this candidate in person?

He adds "Essentially, being an in-house recruiter is about credibility. We LOVE hiring people, it’s what drives us to do the job. We also need to establish that internal credibility to be successful." I must add he was pretty elaborate with his answers :) especially the 2nd question.

Kevin Yoon values experience and ability to change #

Kevin, currently employed at Siteminder

Kevin has been employed at SiteMinder for the past 4 months as the "Talent Acquisition Lead - Tech & Product". SiteMinder is a SaaS company working in the hospitality industry with a focus on online booking and related things.

They have a physical presence in 5 continents and are hiring for multiple roles. It includes some tech roles too.

Kevin shared his opinions the following way:

How many resumes/candidate profiles do you go through in a day usually? #

I review all applicant and referral CVs that have come through overnight. This varies between 20 to 50 CVs per day depending on the number of roles we have publicly advertised and announced internally.

What are the things you look for in a resume sent for a technical role? #

First, it is matched against the job description and the job briefing. For mid-level and senior engineers, I focus on the most recent 3 to 5 years of work experience and any relevant personal projects or initiatives in that period.

Any mentoring or hackathons attended are good signs. If the candidate has given talks at meetups or conferences that is a plus too. I also look for coaching experiences in the past 3 to 5 years. I evaluate the actual tech stacks used by the candidate and the context it was utilized in.

I take a deeper look at how the candidate built solutions with the tools available. The candidate’s role in the projects done as an individual contributor or within a team context is important too. Changes in tech used in each role/project through their progression also catches my eye.

What are the top 3 things you evaluate in a candidate when conducting the first interview? #

  1. I would seek their motivation for change in relation to the salary they command in their respective roles. I try to elicit factors that inspire them for a change in addition to money.
  2. I also look for the candidate's ability to handle rapid change and criticism of their skills.
  3. Finally, I attempt to find out their expectation from their manager. I also intend to assess the environment which brings out their best performance.

Kevin was to the point and expressed his views concisely. He has highlighted some things that would generally skip your mind as a person applying for a tech position. Be ready to explain your motivation for a job change in your next interview.

Conclusion #

I would like to thank all 3 internal tech recruiters for their time and the valuable information they have provided. I hope you have extracted out the "inside stuff" from the above answers. Now, I think you will start editing your CVs to mention the impact and craft it to be a tool to land more interviews.

Similarly, you can also be well prepared for the first interview and ace it.

Wish you all the best for your job hunt in Australia!

Share your thoughts and experience of finding a job in Australia. Have you found a role that makes you career high?

PS: I did a part 2 of this :) in 2020 and and part 3 in 2022. Those parts have inteviews from internal tech recruiters from Atlassian, Domain, Canva and other companies.


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