All posts in: Ask a Recruiter

Businessman giving cover letter document to another businessman

The cover letter’s purpose is to bring out the candidate’s personality and delve further into the individual’s skillsets before an interview. However, when recruiters are involved in the screening process of the candidates, is it still necessary for candidates to submit a cover letter?

We asked two of our recruiters, Nicole Santos and Kelly Nelson, their view on the importance of providing a cover letter when applying for a job.

Nicole Santos, Associate Account Executive

Nicole Santos, Associate Account Executive

“When working with a recruiter, most clients do not find it necessary for candidates to provide a cover letter. Rather than depending on a one page write up, the recruiter can directly ask the candidate questions to gather similar information in a more personable level. It’s easy for candidates to oversell themselves in their cover letter, and then fall short in the interview.

If a cover letter is required for a job, use it as an opportunity to qualify experience, explaining any achievements relevant to the job position that isn’t highlighted in the resume.”

>>> Read: 
Importance of the Thank You Letter

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Myth vs. Facts Executive Recruiters

Not all search firms are created equally. From how executive recruiters operate to what industries they serve or job titles they target, jobseekers need to understand the differences. Armed with that knowledge, candidates and recruiters can work together to achieve the most successful outcome.

Bristol Associates asked three of their recruiters for input on what they felt were the most common misconceptions about those working in their field.

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It’s the job of executive recruiters, acting on behalf of their client companies, to discern what skills, talents, abilities and personal characteristics add up to the perfect hire. Often that mission requires “reading between the lines” when interviewing candidates. As a result, recruiters will ask questions and get answers that may reveal more than just the answer to the question.

In search of the perfect candidate, Bristol’s Ben Farber and Nora Bright each gave us their top three questions…and what the answers reveal about the candidate.

What Recruiters Ask and What the Answer Reveals:

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Ask a Recruiter: What Do You Wish You Never Had to Tell a Candidate. Illustration of an Executive Recruiter rejecting a candidate.

There are probably a million reasons a candidate doesn’t get hired. Some reasons lay with the client (the opening has been put on hold), and some rest with the candidate (lack of relevant experience, for example). As executive recruiters, the Bristol team regularly interacts with clients and candidates so they’ve got their fingers on the pulse. We’ve included feedback from the employer and from the recruiters themselves. We polled three of our recruiters: President Ben Farber, Sr. Vice President Peter Stern and our newest addition, Associate Account Executive Sean Parry to find out the news they hate to deliver to a candidate. 

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by Nora Bright and Ben Farber

In the search for a new hire, Executive Recruiters and hiring managers may review quite a few resumes. With a lot of competition for jobs, a candidate’s resume needs to stand out. Bristol’s President, Ben Farber, and Vice President, Nora Bright, offer firsthand advice on what to include that will set your resume — and yourself — apart.

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business, success and people concept – Disappointed young business man with thumb down.

by Jenae Nordman and Nora Bright

A job search is two-sided: it’s a candidate’s quest for the perfect new job and an employer’s hunt for the ideal new hire. A candidate looks for a position that will utilize his or her specific skill set, accommodate individual personality traits and provide a forum in which they can excel. An employer looks for the right qualifications, someone they determine will be a “good fit” within the company and whom they feel will also excel in their position.

But even when these two sides of a search appear to align, the candidate still doesn’t get the job.

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Bristol Associates Employee Benefits Satisfied Employee

Sure, free food, “bring your dog to work day,” and a gym membership may sound like great perks but for most employees, it’s the more traditional benefits that count.

According to a recent Glassdoor Employee Confidence survey, 4 in 5 employees are looking for benefits or perquisites (perks) more than they are looking for a pay raise. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) documented how employee benefits and perks had evolved in the last 20 years in their SHRM 2016 Report on Employee Benefits. While the report states, “Compared with five years ago, more organizations are offering monetary bonus benefits such as employee referral bonuses, spot/bonus awards, sign-on bonuses for executives and nonexecutives, as well as retention bonuses for nonexecutives,” it’s still the non-monetary perks that employees seek.

Bristol Associates reached out to four of their executive recruiters: Jenae Nordman, Peter Stern, Steven Kessler and Kelly Nelson, to get their feedback.


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38067704 - businessman thinking and drawing mba concept on wall

This is the third installment of our series “Ask a Recruiter,” in which we pose a question to our executive recruiters about hiring, interviewing, the job search, and more. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered in this series, please leave them in the comments.

We frequently get this question from the candidates we speak to–Should I get an MBA? We asked our executive recruiters Jenae Baguley, Peter Stern, and Ben Farber to lend their expertise and tell us how they view an MBA on a resume.

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Business Woman Has To Choose Between Two Way

This is the second installment of our series “Ask a Recruiter,” in which we pose a question to our executive recruiters about hiring, interviewing, the job search, and more. If you have any questions you’d like to ask for this series, please leave them in the comments.

Question: How do I decide between two strong final-round candidates?


what makes a candidate stand out

Kelly Nelson, Executive Recruiter specializing in the Hospitality and Tourism industries

Ultimately, the final decision between two fully qualified candidates should be based on your corporate culture.  I always suggest that clients choose candidates that are complimentary to their culture, and compatible to the personalities and work habits of existing staff.  This will require some diligent work early in the interview process. [pullquote] The real concern should be employee retention.[/pullquote]

Too many clients make the final decision based on salary, relocation cost, or other economic concerns.  The real concern should be employee retention, and the ongoing need to build a consistent and balanced organization, reflective of your mission and your culture.

Kristina cropped headshot small

Kristina Paudler, Executive Recruiter specializing in the Hospital and Healthcare industries

When faced with making the decision to hire one of two strong candidates, I would always suggest conducting another interview and bringing in another hiring authority or leader from a department who might be interacting with this candidate regularly. Rather than focusing on skill sets and qualifications as the basis for the interview, I would recommend conducting an interview focused on emotional intelligence and personality. Considering a candidate has made it this far into the interview process, it’s clear that they’ve got what it takes to get the job done; but what about their personality or ability to align with your company’s culture? Do they possess the qualities that support the vision of the company and interact well cross-functionally? Does the candidate get excited about the mission and vision of the company and speaks passionately about it? [pullquote] I would recommend conducting an interview focused on emotional intelligence and personality.[/pullquote]

Additionally, understanding how they manage, communicate and lead people is critical. Asking more situational questions geared towards how they reacted or would react to certain scenarios could be examples in helping determine a tough hiring decision.

If after multiple rounds of interviews candidates are still equally favored, another recommendation to organizations about deciding between the two candidates would be—can the company hire them both? Is there another opportunity within the organization that one of candidates might be suited for also? Gosh, if they’ve identified two solid candidates, why not reap the rewards rather than run the risk of losing a potentially stellar employee who is passionate about the company!

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer, or here if you’re a job seeker.