The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

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

Archive for the ‘Recruitment’ Category

Secondary gains: Is there such a thing as morals in recruitment?

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Maya AngelouThe primary focus of the recruitment industry is pretty clear to all concerned. It is highly driven, extremely competitive, and attracts individuals who thrive on commercial challenge. By default, it is also high in risk for all parties involved. Because of the financial implications associated with high-profile business relationships in recruitment, we thrive on the primary objective of financial gain. After all, we are in business not charity!

We get remunerated by means of commissions based upon the deals brokered on behalf of our candidates. Our fee structures depend on percentages of candidate income more often than pre-agreed fixed fees, and individual consultants earn commission on the turnover they generate through these fees. The enterprise of recruitment, at face value and like any other business, is about money.

So it is easy, and quite understandable, that we are so driven by our primary objective that other potential gains are easily overlooked. Not because we are insensitive to them, but simply because the overriding prime driver is so strong that it often blocks out everything else.

What are the secondary gains in recruitment?

Every recruiter will have a different answer to this question. Depending on their highly individual internal drivers, some would say the client relationship. Others would say the candidate. Even others would say the personal satisfaction they gain from winning through. And certainly, there will be many other answers, each of them valid.

For a moment, lets remove the financial element from the business equation and place ourselves on the other side of the desk, first in the candidate and then in the client’s position.

The candidate probably feels that we are an important cog in the wheel of his progress. We provide access to job opportunities he might not have had before. A good recruitment consultant will act as a sounding board, giving advice and frequently listening to problems and issues that affect the candidate on a personal level. And without either party being aware of this factor, the recruiter is an immense position of power that can have a dramatic impact on the livelihood of the candidate. Consider this: People define themselves by their jobs. Often, candidates are willing to move themselves and their families across the country in order to gain that dream job. They risk their livelihoods and wellbeing on the recommendation of a consultant whose primary objective is to win a fee. Of course, the final acceptance offer is always the candidate’s responsibility and we can only consult and make suggestions about candidates’ life decisions. But still, the responsibility is enormous.

To most clients, the recruiter is probably a means to an end. We are meant to make his life easier by taking responsibility for part of the recruitment process, but he pays dearly for that pleasure. There are diverse opinions on the value added by recruitment consultants to employing businesses. Some agencies are unwilling to take any of the risk, whilst others operate very closely to their clients in truly symbiotic business relationships where the risk is shared equally. However, the impact of candidates introduced into businesses, especially at senior level, always have a dramatic impact. A newly hired MD has immediate leadership responsibility, and takes the success of the business in his hands. Likewise, the recruiter who introduces him has a high degree of power over the hiring decision by introducing suitable candidates.

By association, the impact of the recruiter’s actions on the business can be huge. Again, the final hiring decision belongs to the client and it is up to us to broker an acceptable arrangement between the parties but this responsibility in itself contains an element of power. The brokering element might highlight a conflict of interest in the way we charge our fees if monetary gain is the prime driving objective of the business relationship.

The true secondary gain for all parties concerned is the three-way win that happens when a responsible recruiter introduces a perfectly suitable candidate to an employer who benefits from having a true star in his business. The candidate has an excellent career, the business thrives through his input and the consultant has won a strong business relationship based on trust long after the fee has been paid and the guarantee period lapsed.

The moral of the story is simple: The fee will find itself if the ground work is done with the longer term secondary gain in mind. The recruitment industry is about people first. Without people there will be no industry: Consultants, candidates, clients, the relationships they build and the actions they take ultimately define the success of every single recruitment campaign.

Of course, luck will always play a part in finding the perfect candidate at the right time. As well as, of course, having the wherewithal and ability to spot that perfect candidate in the first place. That is what makes a good recruitment consultant. Aiming for the secondary win, seeing beyond the imminent fee to the bigger picture of long term secondary gains, makes an outstanding recruitment consultant.

No additional words required!

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I think this makes a really subtle statement about public perceptions of the recruitment industry!

 I recently posted my CV onto all the jobs boards as a research tool, just to see what happened.

Interesting? Heck, yes.

Encouraging? Not entirely.

What happened to listening to the candidate, understanding the need, consulting?

A few more blog posts about this will follow.


Definitive Guide to Job Hunting – Back by popular demand!

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keep-calm-and-keep-writing-35Since 2009, I have been blogging about the jobs market, how to engage with recruitment agencies, and how to find another job.

I gave it a rest for a few months. After all, things change and I would hate to bore people to death with my stories!

But it seems that lots of people actually liked what I wrote. And I have been asked for more. This is really encouraging to me, and I am thinking of publishing the blog as a book so that all the information can be found in one place.

So the Definitive Guide to Job Hunting is being revived, and I will post regularly from now on. I will also re-publish past blog posts that created good interest with readers.

Thank you all for reading – I do hope you find something of interest as we carry on!




Written by Cathy Richardson

March 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Recruitment

Guide to Job Hunting: 7 most common CV mistakes

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Applying for a new job can be daunting, especially if you have been out of work for a while or are unfamiliar with technology and uploading a CV online.

Here are seven CV dos and don’ts:

1. DON’T make your CV too long.

Many recruiters will form an opinion based on what is in the top third of the first page, so put the most relevant information first.  Two pages are more than adequate to get all your points across. You can always bespoke your CV with more relevant information once you have made the initial contact.

2. DO Use key words.

Many companies are now turning to technology to help them sift through all the applications and CVs they receive. If key words don’t appear your CV could be missed. Examples of key words would include the name of your industry (E.g. Automotive, Oil and Gas, etc), your job title (Keep it generic!) and specifics about systems or industry jargon (E.g. SAP, diesel engine, CAD, etc.)

3. DO keep personal statements short.

Research by found that recruiters preferred short personal statements and recommended that job-seekers avoid waffle such as “works well individually or as a team” at all costs. Only include it if you can be specific, if its highly relevant and if it will set you apart from the next candidate.

4.  DO deal with potential problems.

A CV is devised to help you get an interview, don’t lie on your CV but tailor it to get key info across, if you have a big gap in your employment history be prepared to explain why. Skimming over or being devious is likely to get you discounted.

5. DON’T include irrelevant content.

Information about hobbies and interests don’t need to be included unless they make you more marketable for the role (or it is your first role)

6. DON’T supply reference names on your CV.

You want to be in control of your job search, the last thing you want is a prospective employer calling your current boss.

7. DON’T make spelling or grammatical errors.

Just don’t!

Written by Cathy Richardson

January 9, 2015 at 9:46 am

Posted in Recruitment

Dealing with the top 10 behavioural interview questions

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Employment interview


Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that a person’s past performance on the job is the best predictor of future performance. When a company uses behavioral interviewing techniques, they want to know how you act and react in certain circumstances. They also want you to give specific “real life” examples of how you behaved in situations relating to the questions.

In fact, behavioral interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10% predictive.

The interviewer identifies desired skills and behaviors for the job, and the questions you will be asked will be geared to finding out if you have those skills. The interviewer wants to know how you handled a situation, rather than just gathering information about you.

Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  • How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular and how you handled implementing it.
  • Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
  • Give an example of how you worked on team.
  • What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
  • Have you handled a difficult situation? How?

How to formulate your answers

Keeping to the STAR (Situation,Task, Action, Result) method is a very effective tool to answer competency based questions as it should make your answers structured and yet succinct:

  • Think about a Situation that corresponds to the question in hand. State it clearly and succinctly.
  • Then explain the Task you had to undertake to resolve the problem
  • Tell them the Actions you took to break down the task and get the job done
  • Explain what the Result was, and where possible quantify it e.g. % cost savings, how many new customers, etc

Written by Cathy Richardson

January 6, 2015 at 8:57 am

Posted in Recruitment

Happy New Year!

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Wishing all and everyone a happy and prosperous new year! May 2015 hold only wonderful blessings


Written by Cathy Richardson

December 31, 2014 at 11:56 am

Posted in Recruitment

2014 in review

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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Written by Cathy Richardson

December 30, 2014 at 4:44 am

Posted in Recruitment


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