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Ask the Recruiter: Spring 2020

Ask the Recruiter: Spring 2020

Julian Zeng

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We asked our audience on LinkedIn to share their burning questions for recruiters, including tips on submitting portfolios, how to showcase your experience and how to tap into networks to land a job


  • Erika Maass, talent engagement manager, WunderLand Group

If called for an interview with a recruiter, how can I best prepare to exhibit the full range of my experience?

EM: It’s important to prepare for every conversation. As a recruiter, I’m impressed by candidates who have their “elevator pitch” or talking points ready to go—a one- to two-minute summary of their professional experience, explained in a way that makes it easy for me to understand their current skills and goals. I’m also impressed when people have viewed my LinkedIn profile, [company’s] website, and have questions prepared about how I can best support their job search.


MK: Recruiters are mostly looking to understand your motivations in what you’ve done. Be prepared to talk through your résumé, key accomplishments and have an answer to, “Why are you interested in our company and this role?” Beyond recruiter interviews, I always recommend preparing specific examples of common interview questions using the STAR method, [which stands for] situation, task, action, result. Practicing out loud can be very helpful, as well.

MI: Look through the job description for the role you’re being interviewed for and compare your experience. Write it down. Then, make edits to your résumé to highlight these experiences that are being tailored to the job you’re being interviewed for.

Why do recruiters like quick aptitude tests?

MK: Companies with strong talent brands can receive hundreds of résumés per week. Quick aptitude tests are an efficient way for recruiters to narrow down their list of qualified candidates. That said, quick aptitude tests can have limitations, such as weeding out candidates that may otherwise be qualified. One way to set yourself apart in a sea of candidates is to follow up directly with the recruiter or hiring manager on LinkedIn to reiterate your interest in the role.

Do you prefer candidates link to their website to show their work or to send a combined PDF file?

EM: Work samples are a great way to tangibly show hiring managers your skills. I like portfolio websites because they are a living, evolving tool—and they’re interactive. The ability to click through materials and quickly navigate to information makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to view your work. If a website isn’t possible or it’s still a work in progress, PDFs are a great backup option.

MK: It depends on what you’re trying to show. For example, if you’re a designer attempting to showcase your expertise in responsive design, a link would be much better. If you’re in marketing and looking to showcase campaigns and collateral, a PDF file might be more appropriate.

MI: Website links or portfolios are usually preferred. It makes it a lot easier, and sometimes websites are cleaner than portfolios in a combined PDF file. In my experience, I’ve received a PDF file that’s too large for a hiring manager to open or download, which creates a lot of frustrating back-and-forth between recruiter and hiring manager. We want to make it as easy as possible to view your work.

What’s more attractive: an MBA with an emphasis on marketing or the continued earning of certificates?

EM: I think the most important thing you can do as a marketing professional is show that you care about and invest in your professional development. For some people, that may be pursuing an MBA; for others, professional certifications specific to certain skill sets or technologies. And yet for others, still, it could be networking events, staying on top of industry trends and reading thought leadership materials. There will certainly be industries or companies who require a master’s degree, but I would never underestimate the power of showing your value in other ways. Do your research, come prepared for any conversation and add value.

What’s a must-have on a résumé for a marketing professional?

EM: Marketing is a broad, diverse field with so much opportunity to either become a generalist who knows a little about everything, or laser-specific in a certain area, be it paid media, analytics, social media, account management—the possibilities are endless. If I had to name one trend, I’d say data is key. Marketing folks who understand how to look at analytics and use data to tell a story are certainly in high demand. Technical skills in Tableau, SQL and marketing automation tools such as Eloqua and Marketo are becoming more common requests from hiring managers.

I’m a recent graduate and have had trouble finding a marketing position due to lack of internship experience. Any suggestions?

EM: This is the age-old challenge—you have to have experience to get experience. I’d suggest working your network—your relationships are so important. Ask to chat with your parents’ friends in marketing. Chat with recruiters—our team works on tons of marketing positions at varying levels of experience, and we love to provide suggestions and help make connections. Also, it never hurts to volunteer your experience for causes you care about. Being proactive and getting out there makes all the difference. Be thirsty for knowledge and relationships and always be willing to take a chance.

MK: There are still other ways to highlight your experience. For your résumé, focus on projects you completed in school or passion projects you’ve done outside of curricular work. And don’t forget about the power of networking. Making connections is key. LinkedIn is also a great tool—you can join alumni groups and other interest groups, or find employees that work for companies you’re interested in.

MI: Don’t give up! We’ve had clients look for candidates who have recently graduated without internship experience required for an entry-level job. Include any relevant school experience that you can showcase on your résumé to let them know your training has prepared you well enough to get the job.

Julian Zeng is omni-channel content manager at the American Marketing Association. He may be reached at