Tips to successfully deal with recruiters and win your dream job

Over the years I have come to view the art of landing a job as a game with two players – on the one side is yourself, the intrepid job hunter and on the other is your villainous adversary The Human Resources Department.

It may pique your curiosity as to why I would characterise such a serious business as a game: well here’s a juxtaposition of facts that may cause a certain amount of cognitive dissonance:

1) So far as The Human Resources Department are concerned their process is entirely designed to select the best candidate for the job. It stands to reason therefore that if their methods are truly effective at making such a discrimination then the only way you could make someone more likely to get the job is to make them better at the job.

2) Virtually nothing I do with clients in order to improve their chances of getting a job does in fact make them better at the job in question.

In my view applications, telephone calls and interviews are all primarily tests of a candidate’s communication skills, which may reflect the role under consideration but in many instances will only be a small part of the skill-set required.

As a Career Coach my role is mainly focussed on assisting clients firstly with analysis and personal reflection on what they have to offer to the market and secondly in coaching them in how to convey this information tersely, confidently and above all instinctively. The goal being that my client is one of those who most readily springs to mind whenever a recruiter has to make a decision as to who to progress through to the next stage.

There is a further issue with recruiters at present, which is that there is a glut of talent on the market and so all too frequently decisions are being made that chiefly prioritise the saving of HR’s valuable time over making the right choice. If an applicant dislikes writing cover letters and so doesn’t bother they will automatically be flagged as a low standard of applicant with their CV most likely ending up unread and in the bin.

Someone who has recently entered the jobs market following an extended period of employment, perhaps having been made redundant, may be completely oblivious that omitting such a step could open them up to labelling as ‘unprofessional’ or even ‘lazy’ in stark contrast to what may be an exemplary work history and terrific record of achievement on the job.

If ‘knowing how to apply for a job’ is not part of the job specification then making a decision based upon someone’s ability to follow the unwritten rules of HR is an example of lazy thinking, specifically in this case it would be committing a fallacy called a category error – mistaking or conflating a candidate’s understanding of the labour market with their ability to perform a given job.

It is the role of your Career Coach to be the guy in your corner and to give you tactical advice on what to expect and how to handle it; however it is always you, the candidate, who must secure the job at the conclusion of the process, here are a few essential tips to help you get there:

1) Always use a cover letter (or a speculative letter) to accompany a CV or an application form, even if making the approach via email.

2) Take some serious time to reflect on your personal selling points, it is imperative that you approach the market knowing how to get across that you are a better prospect than the opposition – this is the area where most people are in need of a coach, the British in particular are just too modest.

3) Ensure that these selling points are given prominence in all your marketing materials – CV, letters etc. as well as in your ‘elevator pitch’. Practice getting these points across until you can rattle off your sales pitch at a moments notice.

4) Never underestimate the importance of follow-up. Do not hesitate to jump on the telephone following an application, a meeting or an interview. Keep coming to the recruiter’s attention and you increase your chances of being put you through to the next stage.

5) Keep all communication businesslike. Avoid emotive language. Humour is generally discouraged as it is highly subjective, likewise getting a little too flashy with rampant WordArt and colour on your CV is a no-no (and no photographs either).

Happy hunting.

Peter Wright

Disclaimer: no Human Resources personnel were harmed during the writing of this article.

Gateway Career Management is owned by Peter Wilford and offers a complete range of products and services and support programmes from one to one careers advice and support with career change and help with career transition to a fully personally and tailored career management programme. Click here to visit the website and here to follow the company on Linkedin.

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