The devil is in the detail when comes to approaching potential employers and your chosen recruiter. We’ve put together the industry secrets that will help you to stand out from the crowd in a competitive labour market.
1. AMBITION IS DESIRABLE BUT BLIND FAITH IS FOLLY
We all respect the sentiments of ambition. As an employer or recruiter it proves to us that you want to ‘go places’ and that you have the drive and ambition to ensure your objectives stand the test of time. However, there is a form of ambition that does not take note of the physical World around us and the limitations of reality in the context of one’s career. Having a clear map – 1 year, 3 year, 5 year goals – illustrate to the interviewer that you are not basing your ambition on gusto alone. Be very clear to your interviewer that you understand that you may have a long way to go to achieve your objectives but that you also have a clear idea of how you plan to get there. You might call it a ‘career business plan’.
2. SELF-AWARENESS IS ESSENTIAL
If I had a dime for every time… I have been told by a candidate that they knew I would ask them their main development areas but was nevertheless entirely unprepared to answer the question. It is not the interviewers intention to trip you up, or to use your answers to make a final judgement on your candidacy, it is to see how reflective you are and how you see yourself. Not all interview questions are to assess how strong you are in a certain area, but conversely, and of equal importance – to show that you know your limitations and development areas. In today’s knowledge economy self-awareness is not a novel trait it’s an essential disposition to prove to your employer that you are worth investing in.
3. MONEY IS EVIL….
There is no doubt that we all want to be as well compensated as possible for any function we perform, however it is absolutely crucial to understand that a candidate with ‘money’ too high up on their schedule of motivations for changing roles is of major concern to the interviewer for a number of reasons.
Firstly, no employer wants to feel that the only concern you have is to earn more money – employers need to know that your first priority is the opportunity itself and/or to work for their organisation. Remember that a recruiter is screening you for the employer so they will be judging you by the same standards that the employer will be.
Second, it suggests that you will not be a good-bet for longevity within the role and company – after all if your motivation to change jobs is primarily money driven then what’s to stop you leaving for a better offer shortly down the line? Employers need to know that their investment in you will pay off in the medium to long term too.
Thirdly, and I would say this is more the concern of the professional recruiter (but is no less relevant in this context), that by virtue of money being your primary motivator you will be very susceptible to a counter offer by your existing employer. Withdrawing from a recruitment process late in the day can have very damaging effects on the relationship of all interested parties and is best to avoid at all costs. Please be aware of this.
4. SENDING YOUR APPLICATION TO MULTIPLE PARTIES – ALL IN COPY!
There is nothing more likely to end your chances of interview than sending a generic introduction to multiple-recruiters or employers. It sends the message that you do not care too much for any of the companies you are approaching (remember employers have egos too) and that your scatter-gun approach illustrates a careless, or even worse, lazy approach. Always address your applications to the person it is intended for only. Do your homework, be specific and articulate but succinct in your reason for contact.
5. THE CURRICULUM VITAE – A FEW POINTERS….
Preparing a ‘marketable’ CV is arguably a critical element of the pre-application process. Building a good CV can however be a remarkably simple exercise. There is often an over-complication of what needs to be prepared to get a positive response from a potential employer or recruiter.
A few key tips:
1) Keep it simple – standard fonts, not too much formatting, keep bolded or italic text to a minimum and be consistent throughout the document.
2) If you have plenty of relevant experience then use the page wisely but avoid using very small font.
3) Do not trim a CV down to achieve the ‘1 page rule’ if it renders the CV confusing or useless. Trim the language to a minimum – get to the point. Don’t be scared to use 2 or 3 pages where your length of experience and achievements warrant it.
4) Photos – be careful – there are many arguments to avoid this. However, if the market dictates it use a contemporary professional image – not a snap from your holiday in 1998!
5) Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are many ideal templates that will do the job simply and succinctly. Use them.
6) Start with most current employer/role not visa versa – this is common mistake that makes the read confusing.
6. LOTS OF EXPERIENCE WITH MULTIPLE EMPLOYERS OR JOB-HOPPER?
If your can help it at all then avoid changing employers more regularly that every 2 years. This goes for all stages of your career, however it’s typically regarded as more ‘explainable’ when one is still in the entry level of their career as it can simply be a characteristic of the labour market, or a strategic decision to gain a fast track of experience. This early period aside, employers and recruiters alike are exceptionally cautious of candidates that display a trend in their inclination to change employers. Good reasons to you, don’t always translate into confidence in the eyes of the employer. If you are faced with more than 3 jobs in the last 5 years you will undoubtedly be advised to lay out a clear map of why the changes occurred, and be able to give some critical evaluation (to support your reasoning). Hot-air excuses are not enough. This is something that your professional recruiter will be able to support you in preparing for.
7. GET TO KNOW YOUR RECRUITER
Recruiters are interested in people – it’s a necessary trait to work in our industry! Take the opportunity to get to know your recruiter – be open and proactive in the nurturing of the relationship, select one or two consultants that you trust and see them as a potential long-term partner in your career. I have contacts that I have followed through their career for the last 10 years and in some circumstances have hired them on multiple occasions as their careers have developed.
There is a caveat to this wisdom though: do not impose or pester your recruiter. It’s critical that you understand that we do not always have the information you want, or have singular priorities in our management of our time. Be sensitive to this dynamic and you will personally be able to get a lot more value from the relationship.
(This article was written by Courtney Charlton and originally published on LinkedIn)