The Top 3 Qualities This Recruiter Looks for In Candidates and Her Best Tips for Landing the Job

Sponsored by NetApp

Nicole M

Photo courtesy of Nicole M.

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April 17, 2024 at 9:2AM UTC

“Be yourself. Be succinct and confident. And show that you’re open to learning and growing — in whatever capacity that means to you.” That’s the advice that senior talent acquisition partner, talent scout and advisor at NetApp, Nicole M., has for women when job hunting.

NetApp is focused on empowering businesses both by bringing enterprise-grade data services into the cloud and by bringing the simple flexibility of the cloud into the data center. The company’s industry-leading solutions help businesses maximize their data. And, Nicole helps the company continue to do this by recruiting top talent.

Authenticity, meaningful and relevant articulation and confident humility are the top three qualities she seeks when interviewing candidates. But there’s also a whole lot more to applying and interviewing for jobs than that — from targeting the right companies, to making connections at those companies, to gathering information and asking your own questions.

In this article, we hear from Nicole on her best tips for women who are looking to elevate their careers in tech, change careers or industries, get past automated application systems and more....

What advice do you have for women who are looking to elevate their career in the tech industry?

For women trying to break into the tech industry, I would recommend targeting some specific companies that have a reputation for internal mobility. Look for an initial role that can utilize your skills that transfer across industries. Once you have that proverbial “foot in the door” and have learned the business, this will open other areas for development that may be more industry-specific.

Also, a great mentor is invaluable! Find a leader whose career has been on a trajectory you would like to emulate and ask them to mentor you.

What tips do you have for women who are considering a career change and want to break into a totally new role or industry? How can they best make their application and skills standout?

Look for companies with good developmental programs. Here at NetApp, we have a team focused on bringing on early-in-career and emerging talent. We have a great training program that provides the building blocks to understanding NetApp’s business, the tech industry and NetApp’s portfolio of products and services. Upon completion of the training program, we offer career paths in sales, customer service and technical capacities.

To help stand out, find social and professional networks to join that partner with your target industry or target companies. Make some connections within these networks and ask them to advocate for you or make an introduction.

Let’s talk about the interview. What’s your go-to interview questions for all candidates?

  • What is your motivation for potentially making a change?

  • What are the most important attributes to you from a professional standpoint (company’s attributes, work you are doing and its impact, leadership’s attributes, etc.)?

We hear from so many women that it’s hard to get past automated application systems if they don’t have a personal connection at a company. How do you suggest women get through automated systems? For instance, do you recommend candidates do outreach to current recruiters or employees for informational interviews before applying?

I do recommend getting a referral if you have a connection at a company. I do not recommend an informational interview. If you think you might be interested, go ahead and apply and have an initial conversation with the recruiter. It’s better to opt-out after an initial conversation. 

Being an early applicant in the process is also important. Once there are a few good candidates going through the interview process, the company may not feel the need to start interviewing new applicants.

What are your biggest tips for what NOT to do when applying or interviewing at a company?

When interviewing, keep the allotted time in mind — don’t go longer than the predetermined time unless it is agreeable to both the interviewer and candidate. Usually there is a limited amount of time to build rapport, gather information and ask questions. Use the time wisely to get your questions answered and cover your selling points

As a recruiter, what do you always make sure to highlight about NetApp when talking to a candidate?

In my conversations with candidates, I always ask what is important to them instead of providing any type of scripted answer. The most common recurring themes are usually around culture, work-life balance, and development opportunities. 

With that in mind, I love that NetApp has taken strides to be mindful of the wellbeing of our employees by implementing regular company-wide Wellness Days throughout the year, No-Meeting Fridays and week-long company shut-downs twice each year. These offer us a true chance to reset and recharge.

All employees are also provided with a week of Volunteer Time Off each year, and the NetApp Serves team presents us with a plethora of meaningful opportunities to give back to our communities. NetApp Serves has been especially impressive during the pandemic when volunteering has looked much different than it did in past years.

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