Advice & insights: masterclasses from industry leaders

An Ex-Recruiter’s Perspective: Emily Liou’s Blueprint for Job Seekers

Emily Liou

Emily Liou

Emily Liou

Key Takeaways

  • AI in Job Applications: Use AI for initial drafts of resumes and cover letters, but personalize them to showcase your unique voice and experiences.
  • Be Proactive: Show initiative and professionalism throughout the recruitment process, highlighting how you align with the company’s needs.
  • Cultural Alignment: Recruiters look for candidates with soft skills like communication and adaptability that fit the company’s culture.
  • Job Search Strategy: Organize your job search by focusing on key phases (confidence, clarity, application materials, networking, interviewing, negotiating) for a more effective approach.
  • EQ in Leadership: As AI handles more tasks, there’s a higher demand for leaders with emotional intelligence, including skills like strategic thinking and effective communication.
  • Work-Life Balance: View your career and personal life in seasons, setting clear boundaries and realistic goals to maintain balance and define personal success.

Insider’s View on Recruiting Trends

In a world where artificial intelligence and digital platforms are transforming the recruitment landscape, standing out as a job seeker has never been more challenging—or crucial. Emily Liou, a seasoned career coach and recruitment insider, peels back the curtain on the evolving dynamics of the job market. In this enlightening Q&A, Emily shares groundbreaking insights into what recruiters are truly looking for.

“With the rise of AI, a lot of candidates are relying on tools like ChatGPT to help them with their resume and cover letter.  While this is a very useful tool, it can often make candidates look suspiciously generic. If you are utilizing one of these tools to help you write, my biggest advice is to use it as a framework and modify it from there. Never copy and paste something verbatim – it’s important to continue sounding like you if you want to stand out in the hiring process.”

“Recruiters are looking for proactive candidates. The candidates that win offers are going to demonstrate their proactiveness and professionalism from the very first contact through the offer letter. Being intentional means you’ve done your research and know how you align to the position. You’re able to convey how you can contribute and add value.”

“Recruiters are often screening a candidate’s profile to see if they are able to identify overall alignment to what the hiring manager has shared is important. From a skills perspective, they are looking for someone who can demonstrate they are able to hit the ground running. This doesn’t mean the candidate must meet all the requirements or have the exact experience, but they need to see they are committed by the transferable skills they have gained in paid and non-paid experiences. 

Regarding cultural fit, they are looking for candidates who demonstrate soft skills such as strong communication, adaptability, flexibility, kindness, and overall high EQ. Candidates think soft skills aren’t important but I argue that if you aren’t a cultural match, it doesn’t matter what your technical skills are, the company will find someone else as they are seeking to build a culture where employees can be retained and motivated.”

“Every human has blind spots and areas for improvement. With an objective view, it is helpful to view your job search and figure out what is working or not working. The job search is often broken into 7 key phases: confidence, clarity, resume, LinkedIn, networking, interviewing, and negotiating. By looking at your results thus far, which area needs improvement? The job search is less overwhelming when you can break it down into small steps.”

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Career Advancement

“With the rise of AI, many tactical duties and responsibilities will be replaced. But one thing that won’t be replaced for a long time is emotionally intelligent leaders. Every human is a leader, regardless of whether you hold a Manager title, as you lead yourself and others. Skills like strategic visioning, championing, strategic communications, motivating, leading, and ideation are very difficult to outsource to robots or overseas. These are necessary skills to hone if you are wanting to advance your leadership or career.”

“Asking for honest constructive feedback on how others experience you can be very insightful in identifying areas to improve upon. You cannot change what you’re unaware of. 

Emotional intelligence can fall into many topics including self awareness, empathy, motivation, self regulation, and social skills. There are numerous resources and tools out there to enhance each. Working with a career coach that specializes in this field can be extremely helpful to integrate what you are learning and get you beyond your comfort zone.”

“One of the biggest interview questions is answering the question, “Will we enjoy working with you?” I find a lot of jobseekers let nerves get the best of them, ultimately sounding like a scripted robot without a personality. I highly recommend smiling, making sure you have strong eye contact, tone inflection, and addressing the interviewer by their name. All of these will make you a more memorable candidate and give a positive impression.”

Balancing Career and Personal Life

“I believe in looking at our career and life in seasons. Just like nature has spring, the time to plant new opportunities; summer, the time to nourish, protect, and grow the planted seeds; fall, the time to harvest the planted seeds or realize what hasn’t been produced to change the course of action; and winter, the time to reflect, hibernate and recharge… harmony comes in allowing yourself to honor what season of life you are in. It also helps to lower your expectations and get honest with what pace feels most nourishing to you. Ambition and success are glamorized in our society, but defining your own level of success is vital to ensure you’re following the most aligned path for you.”

“Creating boundaries is about knowing who you are and what you will allow and won’t allow. For example, if you’re someone who has a clear boundary of always eating dinner with your family, then you know how to communicate that to teach others what they can expect from you. A boundary can sound like, “I would love to get this completed for you. I have prior commitments I have to honor and the earliest I can get this back to you is tomorrow afternoon. How does that sound?” 

Having worked from home for over a decade, I believe in setting yourself up for success by creating a realistic schedule and calendar that works for you, dedicating days and times to personal life vs. deep-focused work, and having a physical environment that is conducive to working at your best.”

What advice would you give to someone who’s struggling to find harmony between their career goals and personal happiness?

“I personally believe one of the dangers is falling into not-enoughness. We’re asked to have it all, a perfect career, a perfect marriage, a perfect family, a perfect body, etc. Very rarely will you achieve a 10 out of 10 in every category and when you don’t we’re almost trained to feel like something is incomplete or flawed. I say if you are achieving a 7 or 8 in a category, that’s quite successful – nothing is evergoing be perfect forever. You’re always going to have something that troubles you, that’s life. But you can clearly see what is ranking less than 5 and ask yourself if you need to devote more attention to it. A marriage counselor once said if every couple spent as much effort improving their relationship as they do in their career, there would be fewer divorces. Creating harmony is making a conscious decision on what you want to focus on and putting in small actions and perspectives to improvement.”

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