The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market in the 21st Century

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Definitive guide to Job Hunting: When did you last Google yourself?

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So why didn’t you get called for that job interview you so wanted? Or why did the job offer not turn up as anticipated?
 
When did you last Google yourself?
 
The reality is that it is becoming very commonplace for job applicants to be “checked out” online before proceeding with the recruitment process. And it is absolutely crucial to make sure that what people find online supports the image you are portraying during your job search.
 
Google favours social networking sites so it is likely that your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profile will trend highly in the search rankings. And regardless of the security protocols you set (Interestingly, many Facebook profiles are public) they will draw conclusions from what they find.

So what are the pitfalls?

 

1. Inappropriate Pictures

Pictures of you in full party mode, chugging it down or falling over in the gutter might be a laugh to your friends. But that is NOT what you want a prospective employer to see!  Unless you make sure that your security settings are watertight, especially on Facebook, simply don’t put them online.

2. Complaining About Your Current Job

You’ve no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it could be found by others is not the best career move. Use this measure: If you won’t say it out loud in front of your boss or colleagues, then don’t post it online for the world to see.

3. Posting Conflicting Personal facts

Disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. Make sure that you are honest about your background and qualifications, and support this with the information you post online. Don’t over – or under state your experience, job title or qualifications. Inconsistencies mean a high risk factor to potential employers and they are likely to simply avoid it by cutting you from the list.

4. Statuses You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss to See

Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances of landing a new job. We have all heard of people losing jobs because of inappropriate statuses like the Receptionist who posted “I’m bored” during working hours. Worse even, are things like “Planning to call in sick tomorrow” or “I hate the time this project is taking”. It doesn’t only put your current job at risk, but future employers are most likely to avoid you too.

Manage your online profile

You can manage how you are viewed online by simply checking yourself out from time to time. If you see something that is risky, even if it was posted by someone else, just get it changed. The future investment will be worthwhile!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 26 – Ask the Experts how to use Recruitment Agencies

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I am very excited about being invited by the Guardian newspaper to be part of an expert panel on their Career website on Wednesday 17th August.

The main subject of the webcast will be Recruitment Consultants, how to deal with them, what to expect from them and, ultimately, how to get the best out of them.

I often meet job applicants who are totally disillusioned by the job hunting scene. People who feel that no one cares to listen to their problems, nobody responds back to their job applications and there seems to be no interest in their plight to find a suitable job. And I am sure, regardless of how hard I try personally to deal with my own candidates, thatsome of them too might be fed up by trickling information streams and a lack of suitable positions.

I am always very upfront with candidates: I am not able to help everyone. If only I was Superwoman – I would flash my cape and jiggle mybelt and there would be jobs, feedback and opportunities for everyone. But the reality of today’s employment market and the continual commercialisation of the recruitment process means that having one brain and two hands seem to be a real limiting factor to us humans!

Listening to and participating in the Guardian Careers podcast might dispel some of the myths and give candidates real advice on how to best engage with the recruitment world.

Join us on Wednesday 17 August between 1pm and 4pm – advance questions are welcome – on http://careers.guardian.co.uk/recruitment-agencies

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 25 – When did you last update your CV?

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Yes, when DID you last update your CV?

If you are actively looking for a job, it makes sense to have your CV as current as possible. However, I often find that, when I speak to candidates, the CV’s posted online or used to apply to jobs are, in fact, sometimes well out of date! This means that, before your CV can be sent in to a job, it has to be brought up to date. Obviously, we have to supply a recruiting client with fresh information but more importantly, the information LEFT OUT of your CV might actually be the stuff that could get you the job. And wasting the time to get the updated details sorted out, might actually cost you dearly in terms of time. How disappointing if you are pipped to the post for the job of dreams because your CV was out of date ….

1.   Starting and leaving dates

If you are made redundant, make sure the date when you left the last employment is on your CV. This makes it clear that you are immediately available, and also opens up opportunities for temporary or interim work. This will be overlooked by recruiters seeking people currently NOT employed; If you don’t have a leaving date on your last job, the assumption will be that you are still working.

2.  Add your current activities

If you did suffer redundancy or left work for a different reason, mention this on your CV, with the dates. If it was a while ago, make it clear what you have been doing since. It is true that people who are gainfully occupied seem to do better in the recruitment stakes. If you mention nothing and your leaving date is not recent, the assumption might be that you have been twiddling your thumbs – Not a good impression to give those who are in control of selection processes! They are likely to choose people who show resilience, pro-activity and a willingness to work so mention what you have been doing and make it clear that this is just an interim solution until you find “proper” employment again.

3.  Update targets, regions and figures

Any recent changes in your job should be reflected in your CV. This gives the recruiter an idea of exactly what your current skills are. This might also cast light on your reasons for looking to move on. If your role was restructured, point that out. Numbers are always a good idea in a CV anyway, so make sure they are fresh: For example, how many people you manage, how large your region is, how you are targeted, etc. This will give a clear picture of the context of your job and responsibility, as well as achievements.

4.  Contact details

It seems illogical, but amazingly I often get CVs with out of date mobile numbers or email addresses. Worse are those that have no contact telephone numbers at all!  There is no point in leaving your contact details off your CV, or not keeping them fresh. Under pressure, the recruiter will try once or twice and then move on to those candidates they can actually contact.

5.  Courses and qualifications

Again, make sure that your CV contains all your qualifications. If you do any courses, these should be mentioned as well. It might give you an unexpected competitive advantage so add them in as soon as you have proof of obtaining the qualification. If the qualification is still in process, mention the anticipated finish date in your CV as well.

6.  Update the jobs boards

When you upload a fresh CV onto an online database, it’s really important to check that the active online CV is your newest one. Delete old CVs to make sure that only your freshest information is on file. This means that only the freshest information will go out to prospective jobs, employers or recruiters.

Not actively job seeking?

Having a fresh CV is still  very important. You can use it during your probationary or appraisal meetings to discuss your progress, or to apply for internal roles that will give you career progression. Or what if an unexpected headhunt call comes in offering you an opportunity that you might not have anticipated? Taking time to prepare a CV might lose you the opportunity!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 24 – Why you must use social media

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The world of job hunting has totally changed in the recent past. 3 years ago, you would have bought the Thursday edition of a well-known daily newspaper to look for your next job. I bought the same paper a few weeks ago to prove this point  to a recruiting client: There were less than 2 full pages of jobs! And those were mostly government contracts – A truly disappointing show, had I been desperate to find a commercial job for myself.

There is no doubt that the entire vacancy and recruitment advertising industry have made a fundamental shift to online several years ago. And the volumes of advertising response on online vacancies prove that the candidate market has twigged that fact – If you want a job, you must post your CV online. However, this market is rapidly becoming so oversubscribed that agencies and employers are now finding it difficult to deal with the sheer volume of responses and this in turn, has a knock on impact on time scales and cost. This is probably one of the reasons why job applicants become so frustrated with the lack of response from the recruitment industry. But the reality is that very few agencies have the resources to respond to every single application because the volumes are simply too large. For this reason, many online ads now carry disclaimers stating that only successful applicants will be contacted.

And as with all things online, the market is responding to these pressures by moving on!

Although the jobs boards will undoubtedly still be around for a long time, recruiters need to find a more ready resource pool of candidates – A source that is targeted, specific, cheap and easy to reach. So it makes sense that they would go to online networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (Amongst others) to find the people they need to fulfil the jobs they have.

Finding a new job is essentially about promoting yourself, your skills and abilities. It is, fundamentally, a sales and marketing exercise. So putting yourself in places where potential employers or recruiters can find you, is a sure-fire way of increasing your visibility and therefore, your chances of getting the job you want.

This means getting a full and up to date profile on LinkedIn, and making sure that your Facebook page does not contain pictures of drunken brawls or content that might detract from your personal brand. But most importantly, it means that you have to ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE because that is what social media is all about. 

If you sit waiting for something to happen, it most likely won’t. And as with everything in life, how much you put in is what you are likely to get out. And yes, it does take some time to deliver results.

However, if you want to find a job, career or employer spend your time wisely: Invest in building up a social media profile. It will be a sound investment, if you keep working at it!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 22 – Successful Telephone Interviews

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Often, telephone interviews are used at the first stage of recruitment processes – And the selection process can be ruthless! These are usually scheduled in bulk and the interviewers have to wade through many interviews to find the candidates they want to invite for a face to face meeting, so time is usually of the essence. To facilitate this, they would normally use a highly structured approach to get the particular pieces of information from a candidate required to either select or deselect.

Telephone interviews are also often used where there are large distances involved but generally, the rules of engagement are the same.

Always remember that, because there are no opportunities to include body language to build rapport or emphasise strengths, telephone communication is different to personal conversation. The importance of listening and answering concisely are magnified. So are bad communication habits like using continual filler words or veering off the subject, so be careful!

1. Conduct the call in a quiet place

Select a place where you will be uninterrupted for the duration of the call, free from kitchen noises, crying children, barking dogs or noisy televisions or radios. This will help you to hear them clearly, and for them to have a better sound from your side.

2. Preferably use a landline

Mobile service can sometimes be unreliable and you don’t want to lose the connection in mid flow! Landline reception is also generally more reliable for clarity. If you must use your mobile, make sure you are out of the wind and that you have full battery and a good signal.

3. Give your undivided attention

Tone of voice is magnified on the telephone - If you are distracted by documents or a computer screen it will translate in your voice. Also, listen very carefully so that you can give concise and targeted answers.

4. Prepare, prepare!

Review the company website, make notes as the interview continues and have questions ready. Keep your CV and the job spec at hand. Waffle, time lapses or quiet moments are magnified on the telephone so avoid them by preparing properly and maintaining your focus.

5. Sound enthusiastic and well-mannered

Without body language, facial expression or non-verbal signals to rely on, the interviewer will listen out for vocal signs indicating passion, professionalism and enthusiasm. Allow them to get a sense of your personality but never be too casual in your choice of words or tone of voice. Standing up and smiling is a telesales technique that holds true: the smile translates in your voice. On the telephone, it’s not just what you say but how you say it that is magnified, especially if you are not blessed with a melodious speaking voice, perfect diction or flawless accent. Be aware of these, speak slowly and clearly and don’t rabbit on too much once you have answered the question.

6. Closing and Follow up

The same rules count as for normal interviews: Ask about timescales and next steps, and later follow-up with a thank you message. Here, you can summarise the conversation and reinforce our best selling points.

Where have all the UK Automotive Aftermarket BDMs gone?

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We are currently recruiting for a number of regional sales positions across the UK.

Our customers are all well-respected, key OE brands supplying the independent automotive aftermarket. The traditional routes to market are followed, with business relationships through all the major buying groups (Parts Alliance, IFA, GA, CAARS and Rapid) as well as all the major distributors and range builders (FPS, ECP, Unipart, Firstline, ADL, etc).

All these roles offer some form of career advancement opportunity, whether  in the short term due to planned growth or in the medium term due to succession planning. The product ranges are diverse, ranging from exhausts and catalytic converters to spark plugs, engine electrical parts and steering / suspension components, all targting the passenger car industry.

I would be happy to speak to anyone working in a sales role in the aftermarket to find out if these roles will tick your boxes, and whether you have the skills and experience to fulfill my clients needs. Please call me on 0845 269 9085, or send your CV to recruitment@cathyrich.co.uk so that we can have an informed conversation.

Or, if you are not actively job searching yourself, what about referring your friend? We offer £350-00 for quality referrals that result in placements – More information can be found in the candidate area of  our website at www.cathyrich.co.uk/

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 16: What to do at Interviews

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A job interview can be an especially stressful and even overwhelming experience.

I was delighted to find that, in my recent issue of Toastmasters magazine, they dedicate several pages on tips for job interviews, with some really useful advice and information on how to create the best personal impression. I liked it so much, I decided to include it in my blog so the next few weeks will be dedicated to Toastmasters, and will cover the “speaking” part of your job interview.

So, how do you feel about preparing for an interview? Are you excited, or maybe nervous … Not sure what to expect …. Maybe you feel like everything is riding on the interview – the job, your career your life.

But they don’t have to be stressful and daunting – In fact you can even enjoy having a good interview! Focus all your energy and take the recommendations from others to give your best possible performance and to present yourself as the candidate of choice.

Start off strong

Arrive at the location early – 10 to 15 minutes before the appointed time. That way, you can put the final polish on your appearance and be calm when you walk through the door. Greet everyone you encounter with a smile and firm handshake.

Don’t assume anything

People often assume that the interviewer remembers what is in the CV and cover letter. Don’t fall into this trap. Ideally, the interviewer would have had time to focus on your application before the interview, but all too often people are busy and this doesn’t always happen.

For example, they might have interviewed several people that day for the same job. Maybe they received your CV from the HR department just before meeting you. Or perhaps they read your CV the week before, and haven’t had time to revisit it since. If you assume they already know what you have to offer, you will miss opportunities to present yourself as the strongest candidate possible.

When you greet the interviewer, offer an additional copy of your CV. They will most likely have a copy and decline, so don’t insist but taking an extra copy proves that you are prepared.

It’s not only about your PAID experience

When discussing your skills, experience and accomplishments, don’t hesitate to use relevant anecdotes from other facets of your life. For example, for graduate roles, classroom activities such as group projects can provide good examples to employers of how you can contribute.

What the interviewer is listening out for is that you really care about what you did, what the situation was and how you handled it. Someone who has experienced a challenging situation and responded to it in a creative, dynamic way is a desirable person in any team.

Next time: How to answer questions

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 15: The power of preparation

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It is impossible to stress how important it is to prepare for interviews!

On 2 occasions during this past week, different clients have given me similar feedback: “If only John / Jane lived up to the expectations raised in their CV! They knew nothing of our company (In one case didn’t even realise the company had no manufacturing facility in the UK!), didn’t know what our products or markets were and gave weak examples to support the experience claimed in their CV.”

The clients were left disappointed, having had their time wasted. Sadly, this also reflected on my own service delivery, and I was disappointed too because I spend time with all my candidates before interview to give them all the information I know about the company and role. All they have to do is build on the bricks I have already given them.

However, I’ve also heard from a client how impressed they were with the depth of research an interviewee had done, being able to bring up and discuss relevant business issues outside of his CV that proved his abilities. This set him apart from being a borderline “No” based on his CV, to a resounding “Yes!” based on his research and ability to deliver it concisely.

With so much competition for jobs and the tight current employment market, it still amazes me that candidates waste the interview opportunity. The hiring client wants you to do well; he’s already bought into your CV by spending his valuable time to see you. Why not grab the opportunity to amaze him even further with your information-finding skills and interest in their organisation?

Especially in sales or commercial jobs, interview preparation is crucial. A good sales person will know his customers and competition, understand his product’s routes to market, the issues that affect pricing and the supply chain. By proving at interview that you have the ability and knowledge to find this information, and use it to position your own objectives and abilities, you show that you have the natural traits of a good sales person on top of the information you provide in the CV. Of course, not preparing sufficiently proves the opposite and you will get short shrift from line managers who have achieved their own positions through doing exactly the same thing properly.

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 13: Photos in CVs

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Over the several years I have worked in recruitment, the general format and content of CVs have changed dramatically. A relatively recent development is the inclusion of a photograph in the CV.

In Germany, it is highly acceptable (And often expected) to have a photo in the lebenslauf (CV). People get them done professionally and it shows. German pictures are professional, highly corporate and shows the incumbent usually dressed in corporate attire with collar and tie or similar, looking competent, capable and ready for business. A bad photo is not tolerated because it will cost the owner dearly.

I dare say I have not seen the same photo quality here in the UK. The pictures range from corporate and professional, through to wind-swept on a hill-side, in action man mode on a motor cycle, sultry posing with red lipstick, and everything in between. Not to mention the self-taken ones from PC cameras! Job hunting is not a beauty contest, so why on earth would anyone  include a photo on a CV that makes them look like  a pervert in an internet chatroom?

If my customers saw some of these pictures, they would throw the CVs in the bin after picking themselves up from the floor laughing.

So I religiously remove photos from all CVs. Not only because they are at risk of creating totally the wrong impression with the hiring client, but also because they wreck my database. Most recruitment databases are designed to accommodate text documents, and pdfs or large picture files play havoc with the search functions.

My advice to all candidates out there job searching would be never, ever to put their photo on their CV. Finding a job has nothing to do with how you look and everything to do with your skill set and experience. Instead, use the space to maximise your transferable skills and to communicate how you will add value through a concise, sharp personal statement.

The old adage of  “a picture speak a thousand words” does not hold true in this case: Unless you look like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie, or work in the entertainment industry, a photo on your CV is a liability.

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 11: Choosing the best agency

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Whether you are an employer wanting to employ a new staff member, or an experienced senior manager looking for your next career move, how do you decide on which Recruitment Consultant will be able to deliver on your expectations? Shop around before making a decision about who is best set to represent you:

1. Credentials

How long have they been active in your specific business area? Do they have references from similar clients or candidates? How did they perform in the past?

This should not relate to the organisation you are dealing with, but the individual consultant. It doesn’t mean that, because the recruitment company has been recognised with accolades, the consultant you are dealing with is automatically qualified or successful. Winning business awards often depends on putting forward a business case. Getting personal recognition depends on service levels and delivery. These will only be meted out on request and is a real indication of the efficiency and ability of your consultant, and therefore his/her ability to assist you in finding a successful outcome.

Membership of a professional body like the REC or IRP, or qualifications gained through a professional institution like the IRP, is a good measure of a consultant’s credibility and professionalism.

2. Objectivity

Realism and objectivity are two key requirements for success in recruitment. A recruiter who makes upfront assumptions is prone not to listen and will therefore get a subjective understanding of the brief or candidate expectation. Sure, a past track record in a particular market gives a recruiter real insight, but it also creates a hypothetical, internal understanding that they should know all the answers. Each employer and each candidate is different, even if they work with exactly the same services or products in exact markets. A consultant who lacks objectivity, or views himself to be in the hiring position (How often have we heard about the “perfect candidate”?) is unlikely to deliver efficient solutions.

A recruiter who asks questions, listens, processes information and asks again to measure his understanding will be far more likely to succeed for both employer and candidate.

3. Market knowledge – Generalist vs Specialist

A recruiter who works in a vertical market in a specific sector is most likely to have a finger on its pulse, and can therefore be more consultative. This makes for a more proactive approach. A generalist is likely to have broader knowledge and therefore able to give wider advice rather than specific factual solutions.

4. Commitment – Retained vs Contingency

There is a lot to be said for a fee paid up front. This is a contentious issue, especially in middle management level positions where there is competition from a lot of candidates and many agencies might have potentially suitable candidates. The current employer market is highly risk averse and paying a consultancy fee in advance seems to be a very risky move. The reality is that it actually reduces risk in the recruitment process.

A consultant who is confident enough of his own abilities to take a proportion of the fee in advance in return for increased service levels and a guaranteed result is in fact sharing the risk with the client. This in turn, benefits the candidate. Consultants can only work on small number of retained assignments at once, so there is a higher degree of quality in their output. Candidates are assured of an exclusive, managed process where they are fully informed all the time, and the trust relationships developed in this business context for all 3 parties are more open and communicative.

A contingency based process (Where the fee is only paid to the recruiter who delivers a solution) is likely to be a lot more competitive, with several agencies involved. the volumes of CV in the candidate pool is usually a lot higher. This does not neccessarily mean that there is a wider choice for the hirer, as the quality of the candidate pool might overall be weak. That said, the majority of permanent agency placements are made on a contingency basis and there is a large number of highly competenent, capable  consultants in the market who are committed to deliver a high quality of service.

If these 4 elements are in place, it brings the likelihood of success in any recruitment assignment because it manages risk for both client and candidate. By carefully selecting the most competent, qualified consultant(s) to represent your individual needs will bring a higher likelihood of success.

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