Ah don’t you just love these people? Where would my business be without their unrelenting and endearing overtures. Everything from ‘Dear Esteemed Recruiter’ to ‘My Most Respectful Sir’ is used as an introduction. My particular favourites are ‘Dear Mrs Darren’ and ‘Dear Dave’ which always makes me smile and of course reminds me of the late Roger Lloyd-Pack and his infamous character Trigger in Only Fools and Horses.
But seriously, its bloody annoying. I can’t think of any other scenario whereby someone would just assume that they can access and utilise your expertise and business services for free and expect some form of service when I have no idea who you are and have not invited the introduction. It is nothing less than spamming.
I will use a live example. This morning some candidate who I only know as Chronos1@gmail.com sent me an email with the subject title ‘cv’. Now at first I thought this may be a phishing scam but took the decision to open the email on my phone. This enlightened individual had sent his ‘cv’ randomly to over 1,000 recruiters across the world and lucky for me he had openly Cc’d all our addresses so we could all see each other. I love the sensitivity of this approach. Not only does Chronos1 want me to waste my time reviewing and unsolicited ‘cv’ but he also wants to compromise my email address by creating and distributing an open mailing list. Or maybe he just thought we may all like to get in touch and discuss the merits of such a wonderful candidate. Maybe he thought that advertising the fact he had mailed it to over 1,000 recruiters would provide some kind of race to secure his candidature?
I doubt it because the idiot forgot to attach his ‘cv’ to the email. I use the term idiot loosely here of course.
This is spamming and if job seekers think this is how to get themselves noticed they are as delusional and misguided as those idiots who automatically apply to every single job advertised on every single job board in the hope that the Exec Search consultant recruiting a Group Finance Director might sit up and take notice when they see Bob Smiths comprehensive work experience as a fork-lift truck driver and banana harvester.
As for Chronos1, if I had the capability I would send you back a virus to ensure that any access you had to the world wide web was disabled for the sake of everyone.
Right I must leave this blog post here. I have to dash and send off all my tax paperwork to a couple of hundred accountants I have never met but have recently connected to on LinkedIn in the hope that despite being very busy one of them might just sort out my company tax return for the year for free…..
“So Mr Job Seeker, thanks for coming along to this interview, tell me what you know about our organisation and our culture?”
How many interviewers ask this question or variations of it and then find themselves yawning or doodling on their pad?
Why do so many interviewees fall down at this particular question?
Why do many totally miss such an exceptional opportunity to sell themselves, to begin closing early and to underline why they are right for this organisation almost from the word go?
Why do almost all assume that as the Interviewer I have nothing better to do with my time than listen to the 5th Interviewee in a row recite the ‘About Us’ page of the company website back to me?
This question, in whatever format it takes is a shining, blinding, blatantly obvious opportunity for you as the interviewee to sell yourself to the business. It isn’t an offer to sit there and recite a load of old gumph from the website or the back of the company literature.
What is an interviewer looking for in your answer to this question? Yes, they are looking to establish what you know about the organisation, but ideally they want to know that you have actually done some research, that you have some understanding potentially of why this organisation may be right for you culturally, how it meets your aspirations and generally. Match yourself to your statements and take this opportunity to evidence why you are potentially right, for example:
“Mr Interviewer, I am aware that in the last 12 months your organisation has made a number of acquisitions and this is one of the reasons I am here today. I thrive in fast paced environments that require agility and flexibility from its employees and this sounds like a perfect match for me because (insert example or experience of when you have thrived in a challenging fast paced environment)…”
Or what about:
“I’m so pleased you have asked me this question because I have done lots of research on the culture of the business and in particular the way it appears to promote from within and offer exceptional career development opportunities, something which really appeals to me in terms of my next opportunity. For example I noticed whilst using Linkedin that the average employee in your sales teams has been with the business for over 4 years, and over half of those appear to have been promoted at least 3 times in that period and this appeals to my ambitious nature and my desire to….”
“I have of course done the usual and reviewed the About Us page on the website, but what I found really interesting was an interview given by your CEO to Top500 Magazine in which they outlined the amazing growth and success over the last 2 years, but more importantly the really exciting strategy and aspirations for the next 3 years, something I would relish being part of because I think my experience can contribute to that vision…”
“Let me ask you a question Mr Interviewee, what do you know about our organisation?”
I know that you are the first port of call from people who are really serious about their careers and I thought the fact that your team is full of some of the best in the industry would ensure that I can continue my own success and development accordingly …”
Researching a prospective employer prior to an interview requires more than a cursory visit to their website. If that is all you are going to do, then at the very least check out the news feed, the annual accounts and any press releases. But ideally cross reference competitors on Linkedin, know the kind of person who is a success in the business and where they come from and compare yourself to them accordingly when you get the chance in the interview. You have one chance to shine, may only have 45 mins to an hour in which to do it so don’t waste it rattling off information the interviewer already knows. Say something that say’s something about YOU!
*Cautionary Point: Don’t do the reverse and bore them senseless with too many examples. Keep it succinct, interesting and to the point.
When I was a child my grandfather used to have an expression for an emotion, the one that you felt after a huge disappointment, when the pit of your stomach was aching and you had no idea which way to turn!
On the morning I was made redundant I felt it, understood it but simply couldn’t remember what the expression was. But mine was an overwhelming feeling of shock, followed by anger which dissipated into despair and then anxiety. What was I going to do, how would I pay for the mortgage, how would I find another job, why and how could they do this to me….
In the cold light of day it had been on the cards for a while. I’d ignored it, believing that it wouldn’t happen to me but it had!
Like many people in this situation I buried my head in the sand, my lack of motivation was mind boggling as was my sudden appetite for appalling day- time TV!
After arguments with my partner, rows with my nearest and dearest, heated discussions with the banks and soul destroying clashes with the benefit office, it suddenly dawned on me.. I had to get a grip. I needed direction and some kind of focus. I needed help!
Most of us live a life that is usually disciplined in some way by routine. From an early age we get up at a certain time for school, have dinner at 7, go to bed at 8 and so on and so forth all the way through to adulthood, when we develop different routines, but routines all the same. In my last job I caught the 7:40 train to Sheffield every morning, arrived at work at 8:30, made a coffee, checked my on-line diary , had a team meeting at 9:30am and progressed through the day, the week, on schedule and according to the routine I had established over 10yrs.
That was the Answer!
The answer was to do what I had always done, create and follow a routine. I needed a plan and I needed to take the view that getting another job had to be treated as a job!
From that day on I awoke at 7:30am every morning and went for a short walk (my commute) to clear my head and plan the day ahead, just as I had always done on the train to work. I created a desk space for my new job away from the TV (which now stayed unplugged until 5pm) and I stuck to strict break-times. I began to attack the task of finding a job full time.
One thing that quickly became evident was that I needed help. The market place had changed. No longer did the local newspapers have pages upon pages of jobs. Why? Everything had gone on line and I needed to know how to find jobs on line. My CV was atrocious, who could help me articulate my experience professionally? Interviews? I hadn’t had an interview for years, who could coach me, prepare me and get me in the right frame of mind?
I met with a couple of recruitment agencies, sucked up all the advice and information they had. I created an on-line profile to market me, to make me easier to find. I began to attend networking events, job seeker seminars and basically anything that could get me in front of someone, anyone who would recognise what I had to offer.
Within 2 weeks I was applying for 10 advertised jobs a day, I was sending speculative CV’s and targeting and making calls to researched employers. Things began to happen, don’t get me wrong I had to be tenacious, often persistent but what did I have to lose?
Oh, I’ll be honest and admit that often I sat with my head in my hands, had to really fight the urge to just turn the TV back on. I got angry when agencies and employers didn’t even acknowledge my emails and calls. But I stuck with it.
It isn’t easy but…
After 4 weeks the interviews started to roll in, my skills had been improved, I understood how to sell myself, how to tailor a CV, how to answer competency based interview questions and how to research my opportunities. 1st interviews became 2nd’s and then finally it happened, I was offered a job! Bizarrely the job I secured turned out be better than the one I had lost. The skills I had learned, the renewed discipline and the sheer drive and determination involved in the whole process had made me leaner, keener and sharper, more flexible and focused and what employer could resist those attributes..
My advice is simple. You have to attack the whole process. Treat it like as a job, but most of all ask for help, seek advice and stick to your routine.
Oh, that expression my Grand-father had, it was something like sloughened, I suspect it is a Barnsley or Yorkshire term. Regardless he would be proud, of how I turned my despair around, I know he would!
Great news, you’ve prepared a winning CV, spent weeks scrolling, searching and registering in the alternate and surreal universe known as on-line job boards, met with 20 recruitment agencies and applied for literally hundreds of jobs. Finally you’ve secured an interview and after the initial elation thought ‘Oh no, a dreaded interview……!’
The following are a few simple tips and hints to help you, not exhaustive but worth considering:
It is vital that you know who you are going to see, what they do, their successes and what makes them tick as an organisation. Check them out, use Linkedin and the internet. Get a view of the type of people who work there, what their backgrounds are and general information. Make sure you look at groups they are in, what discussions they contribute to, get to know them before the interview. You may even be able to find out what football team they support! All of this information can make a difference, and interviewers will expect you to be prepared.
Read the job description, make notes and compare your experience, qualifications and skills against it. Make notes of relevant challenges, projects and responsibilities which match from your previous employment and occasions when you have demonstrated these abilities. In some cases such as public sector (Councils for example) ask them if there is an Employee Specification document (this is different from a job description), this will enable you to match and compare your skills and experience effectively and accurately.
Ask what kind of interview it will be, is it going to be a panel interview, will there be tests, will it be competency based, what documentation or information will they require on the day. Know before you get there what to expect. If you are being assisted by a recruiter, ask them what other candidates have experience, ask them if they have an hour spare to do some role play with you. Remember it is as much in the Recruiters interests for you to do well as it is your own. So make them go that extra yard, get them involved. I absolutely love preparing candidates for interview, especially when they blow my client away.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Nothing makes an interviewer cringe more than a prospective employee who doesn’t have some great questions. Forget about asking how many smoke breaks there are, or about sickness and holidays. Ask about career progression, the company’s future strategy and growth. Ask the interviewer why they work there, what is the one thing that makes it such a great place to work?
A real crowd pleaser in an interview is when you structure questions around some very recent or major press release or business / sector development. If for example they have recently acquired a business, ask them what drove that acquisition, what the short and long term impact in terms of revenue and turnover is going to be and how that will enhance the companies competitive edge. I once had a candidate interviewed for a role as a Business Analyst and the guy interviewing him didn’t know that the company had just acquired a major competitor until my candidate asked them a question about it. Brilliant, they got the job.
It might sound obvious, but make sure you know exactly where the location is. Check timings for getting there in good time. If using public transport make sure that you have enough time in case of delays. It is great to arrive 10 minutes early but avoid turning up too early. Use a sat-nav if you have one, even check the route out the day before, make sure you know if there is a parking space or not.
Remember, it is you that wants a job! Dress appropriately for the environment, check with them if necessary and ask if it is business attire or smart casual and adapt accordingly. Be aware that many organisations will frown upon things that you may consider acceptable, not every workplace will admire your multiple piercings and the tattoos modelled on Angeline Jolie, no matter how fabulous your friends think they are.
You got there on time, you look like a million dollars, your research was exhaustive, you know your interviewer supports Manchester United (someone has to) and you’ve even researched where they are in the league and now you are nothing but a shaking, trembling bag of nerves! Seriously though, if you’ve prepared you should feel great! Remember to smile, lots!
Interviews should be two way. Of course the interviewer wants to ascertain if you have the right skills, personality and experience for their organisation. But equally, they should present their company, the culture and successes to sell the opportunity to you.
Listen carefully to the questions and answer honestly and succinctly using examples from your past experience. When you have finished confirm that your answer is informative enough. If you don’t understand a question, maybe because of terminology then be honest and ask them to repeat it or phrase it in another way. Avoid negatives at all cost, focus on positive examples and experiences.
Remember, body language is important, but don’t make the mistake of getting too carried away with it. Mimicking yiour interviewer might sound great at some job seeker workshop, if you get it wrong they could take offence. People buy people like them, but nobody likes to be made a fool of. Smile, sit up straight and don’t fidget or fiddle, even Chief Executives can be uncomfortable in an interview. Remember that your interviewer is probably as uncomfortable with the whole situation as you. So relax, enjoy the experience and you’ll notice that it should just flow.
Finally remember to ask your questions when given the opportunity. But most importantly at the end ask them how they thought it went? Ask them if there is any additional information they need? Ask them what the next stage is and how long it will be before you hear from them. Close the interview professionally and confidently and let them know that you are interested.
In the UK and Europe you can buy expertise, counselling, advice or assistance for just about anything, legally. If you want to buy a house but can’t be bothered looking, hire a house hunter. If you want to invest all your ill-gotten appearance fees (Tony Blair) hire an investment banker. If you want to book a holiday hire a Concierge service. But if you want to find your next job, guess what. You can’t hire a professional job finder! Why not?
If you were recommended by a trusted associate or family member to someone who had a track record of successfully finding people their next job including the coaching, advising, training and positioning of your skills and experience would you pay for those services?
What if they provided their services on an initial retainer fee which for example covered your initial consultation, all CV / Resume reviews and preparation costs, interview coaching, career counselling, job search advice and the development of job search strategy personally devised for you. Then you paid a further fee based upon success only if the individual actually introduced you to your next employer?
There are of course a multitude of organisations and individuals who provide all of the above specified services. But none of them can legally charge you for actually finding you a job. They can charge the employer / hiring company, but they are legally restricted from charging you.
Now I don’t know about you, but I think this is ridiculous. As an adult you can buy anything and everything on credit, you can enter into lifelong financial commitments, you can risk your home and your family’s well being to some fancy talking investment advisor authorised by the FSA who still turns out to be a Madoff style Ponzi scheme, you can buy dreadful cosmetic implants from authorised and approved surgeons and even a wife from overseas. But you can’t pay someone to increase your chances of finding you a job!
Okay, I understand that the law is this way to stop people being exploited. In many ways it is to stop vulnerable or often disoriented people (and unexpected redundancy can and often does really knock people sideways) from being taken advantage of by less ethical unscrupulous con men and fraudsters. But consider this for a moment. If you lose your job and struggle to find a new one, there is very unfortunately a massive potential disaster looming. Having a job is probably the most important thing in your life after your partner (okay, this may debatable) and your family. For many people it underlines their status, their personality and their standing in their community or even their social circle.
How many of us have met people who lost their job first only for it to escalate into a full-blown personal crisis. It begins with a slight tightening of the belt, the kids can’t go on that school trip, the gym membership gets cancelled, the credit cards get cut up, one of the cars has to go, the holiday to Tenerife gets held over for a year, the new kitchen goes on hold. The pressure, the personal stress and the anxiety build with every passing day.
The financial implications are only the beginning. Personal relationships begin to suffer, you have to swallow your pride and ask friends and family for help in finding work. You walk into your local and people begin to avoid you, or offer what can be hollow comfort. Family issues kick in as one partner feels they are taking all the strain, you aren’t doing enough or are not doing it right. Personally you begin to feel frustrated and angry and fear that you are falling into a rut.
How many people reading this post have either experienced these things personally first hand or know someone who has?
So we are agreed then that a job is immensely important to us. It often makes us who we are, it provides purpose and it provides the means and the financial stability to school our children the way we want and it enables us to socialise the way we like and to live where we want.
So why can’t you seek and pay for professional help? This Government has spent literally millions of £’s on Career Counsellors, Back to Work Advisors and Skills Teaching to help people find work more effectively. Yet none of it actually works. The vast majority of assistance provided by the public sector and welfare or related services is time locked or has restrictions on it. You have to meet certain age criteria, fall into a certain demographic or have specific issues before anyone can speak to you. When people joke about preferential treatment for ex-offenders, drug addicts or the systematically unemployed, it isn’t funny. It’s true. Try being a normal everyday citizen of the UK who loses their job after 7yrs with the same employer. The Job Centre+ people are primarily focused on making sure that you don’t get any benefits until you have exhausted all your resources, are on the verge of defaulting on your mortgage and facing a custodial sentence for non-payment of council tax.
So why don’t they issue a licence scheme for recruiters and enable them to work directly with Job Seekers in a whole new way?
Imagine if you had your very own recruitment consultant, one who focused on you first and foremost, who explored every single opportunity to find you a potential job vacancy and then made every possible effort to ensure that you nailed it at interview. Imagine a recruiter who was paid by you the job seeker and not the hiring company. You pull the strings, you lay out your demands, you work collaboratively to maximise every resource. The Recruiter reports into you daily or weekly, they provide a working document of activity undertaken. They do all the research, the networking, the cold calling and the emailing for you. Effectively their job is to find you a new job first and foremost.
How much would you be willing to pay and on what terms? Would you for example pay an initial up-front retainer of £2,500 to buy exclusive time, to buy the search strategy, the coaching and resume re-writing and everything? If the recruiter then successfully sourced and secured you a position would you agree to pay a remaining balance for example 3 – 6 months later of £7,500? If you earn £50,000 per annum, for every month you are out of work you are losing c£4,000+.
I’m just throwing ideas around here. There is a huge disconnect at the moment between Job Seekers and Recruiters. Much of this is simply because Recruiters are pressured by their actual employer and their clients the hiring companies. They simply don’t have the time to work one on one with Job Seekers or to work with them in a collaborative manner. Many do try to assist and help as many people as they can, many spend much of their free time writing up CV’s / Resume’s / Covering Letters for their friends and family. Many spend time coaching or counselling people about interview technique. But this is all on an ad-hoc basis and 99% of the time is done pro-bono.
It would have to be heavily weighted towards successful placement. There would have to be a Licence element to ensure that only respectable, legally operating and experienced recruiters were allowed to engage in the activity. But could it work? Would it offer a different or alternative means to those Job Seekers who maybe don’t have the time, don’t have the knowledge or simply don’t want to take a chance of not finding another job quickly?
What are your thoughts? How could it be made to work? Would you participate?