A Candidate’s Guide to Working with Recruitment Consultants

Far from being a passive way of looking for a new job, getting the most out of working with a recruitment agency requires input from the candidate’s side too. Agencies will give you access to industry knowledge, market information and jobs that aren’t advertised directly, as well as support and advice with your general career management. We have included some generic advice here in relation to what to do and what not to do to enable a recruitment agency to assist you in the most effective and efficient way.

  • Send an email and ideally include the reference number of the role that you are applying for.
  • Keep your CV format simple, ideally using ‘Word’, so that the recruitment agency can upload it into their system easily. If suggestions are made around improving your CV then take the feedback on board and make the amendments.
  • Have a short summary of what skills you have that make you marketable, what achievements you have that make you stand out from your peer group and be very clear about what type of role you want.
  • You should also be flexible. A good recruiter will suggest roles that you hadn’t thought about and that could be ideal for you, while remaining in the parameters that you have originally stipulated.
  • Rapport with a recruitment agency is paramount and requires effort and input from both parties. Be honest at all times in terms of your background and your activity levels when looking for a new role.
  • Keep your key contacts updated on your progress in the market but don’t be overly persistent in terms of frequency of contact. Good recruiters repay loyalty with loyalty and will put you forward for their best opportunities. Look on your consultant as a career partner, not just an agent.
  • How you handle your job search is a key indicator of your organisational skills and your planning ability. It is absolutely critical that you keep control of your CV at all times. You must keep a record of which companies you have applied to directly or through an agency and when that application was made to ensure that no duplicate applications are made
  • Never let an agency send your CV to a company without them telling you who that company is or without signing a Non Disclosure Agreement first.
  • No matter how keen you are to move on in your career, try not to register with multiple agencies that you do not know or trust at once. Most big employers are currently placing vacancies with more than one agency, as they feel that creating competition between agencies in the same sector will give them a better result. This creates the opportunity for you to be put forward for the same jobs by several recruiters if you are not controlling your CV. Employers will be concerned if they receive your details from multiple agencies.
  • Respond promptly to any communications and check your email as well as your phone. This can sometimes be tricky if you’re still employed elsewhere but let the agency know the best times to contact you and always be available then. Unfortunately the right career move can be like waiting for buses – nothing for ages and then several roles come along at once. It is then often a case of the client being under pressure to fill the vacancy quickly, meaning you need to be in a position to respond when needed.
  • Research thoroughly before any interviews, the company, the role and the type of person that they are looking for. Remember that you are not only representing you but the agency as well and that what you do and say is a direct reflection of both.
  • Call the recruiter after any interviews to give feedback on how you view the opportunity. Remember, the more specific the feedback then the easier it is for the agency to represent you and your interests.
  • Keep in contact if things change on your side and let the agency know straight away. For example, you have an offer or employment or you’ve decided to change your search parameters for example by moving house or area.
  • In summary, show that you value the service that your recruitment consultant is giving you and be a good ambassador for them whenever they introduce you to one of their clients. If recruitment agencies have doubts about how well you will perform in an interview, they will be reluctant to introduce you to their client
  • Remember that a recruiter needs to place the right people in the right roles to get paid, so it’s in their interests to overcome any objections the employer may have. For this reason, don’t try to disguise or cover up your situation if there are historical work issues that may cause problems with a new employer. Good recruitment consultants will have a number of years experience in the market and will know when things are not quite right. Your best hope is to be scrupulously honest, no matter how difficult, and let the agent handle things with the employer.
  • Most importantly, if there is anything else that you obviously should be telling the recruiter, don’t wait to be asked. Never leave the recruiter in the position of having to say: ‘I don’t know’ to their client.

It does take time to build up trust with a recruiter and it is a two way relationship. Pay attention to your instincts. If you feel that a recruitment agency is not putting you forward for enough vacancies, or is putting you forward for jobs that don’t seem to match your criteria, question them. Let them see that you are fully engaged and that you expect them to live up to your standard.

Good luck with your career move.

Russell Adams

 

Top 10 tips for securing an interview and interview advice

 

This list is geared to individuals whom are actively looking for a new position and can be classsed as interview advice. It’s not rocket science but as with everything in life, balance is crucial. If you are able to do a bit of everything on this list you will increase your chances of securing an interview immeasurably.

  1. Create a professional, simply formatted yet interesting CV. There are thousands of books and articles available to give you some direction however in short, it should be no more than three pages, have accurate contact details and have a summary of responsibilities and achievements for each of your roles (include full details of your most recent roles and just job title and company name for positions beyond the last ten years).
  2. Keep a record of all your applications and follow up! Emails will generally suffice; however call agencies/recruiters where you are particularly passionate about a vacancy.
  3. Register with roughly 3-4 key agencies. Ask for recommendations from your network. If you want the best from an agency it is better to be introduced via a senior contact. This places a greater level of obligation on the consultant to look after you. Ensure the agencies/recruiters cater for vacancies in your job function, industry and seniority level.
  4. Meet people. Meet old contacts from your network, consultants and potential employers. Speculative meetings may seem a waste of time initially but you never know where it will take you.
  5. Work your Linkedin Profile. Linkedin can be enormously time consuming however it is essential that you spend at least 10 minutes on various activities per day. In short, make new connections and get involved in various group discussions. This will raise 2nd and 3rd degree connections’ awareness of you. The best time of the day to do this is lunchtimes; a lot of the larger agencies only allow their staff to use LI between 12-2pm.
  6. Make direct approaches and applications. Most businesses have reduced the budget for agency hires and as a result they actively look to source candidates directly, particularly at mid management level. Draw up a target list of businesses that interest you and contact their resourcing team. It is wise to check with your network before doing this to ensure you are not missing a ‘warmer’ introduction.
  7. Apply for roles where there is an obvious and direct fit. The number of applications per vacancy is currently so high that employers will tend to choose the candidates who are the closest match for the position. If you are keen to apply for a role where there is not a close fit you should write a concise covering letter explaining why you are interested. It is often better to focus on why the business interests you rather than why you think you could do the job. This will enable you to stand out from other applications and adds personality to your approach.
  8. No matter how frustrated you get do not allow this to come across when dealing with contacts. Your contacts will work a lot harder for you if you come across positively in all your conversations.
  9. Set up email alerts and ‘favourites’ lists for vacancies. Do this with job boards, agencies and a select group of target employers. Check this daily and apply the moment the role appears. I recently received over 50 strong applications for a role within 48 hours of placing an advert with a specialist job board. I closed the advert down immediately as I would have been unable to review further applications.
  10. Prepare an ‘elevator pitch.’ You never know when you will receive that all important call about an application and you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression. Keep it short, informative and structured. Ensure that when you have the opportunity, however brief, you build rapport quickly with the recruiter and ensure they leave with the best impression of your personality and attitude. They will feel more confident about representing you if you are positive to deal with.

I hope this helps. If you think I have missed anything more obvious please add to the comments below. Happy job hunting!

Jez Styles

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

Linkedin Group

 

An overview of the Hospitality Jobs market

Having recently written a blog about the retail recruitment market I am now turning my attention to the hospitality jobs market to see whether the market is as tough for candidates looking to find new roles.

As in the retail sector, I think most candidates are often pleasantly surprised when they first come onto the market to find another position, by the volume of roles that appear to be out available matching their skills and experience.  However as has been highlighted in the recent Hospitality Employment Index statistics provided by the Caterer.com and People 1st, the competition for these roles is higher than ever.

I am afraid to say that on the surface the statistics do not make encouraging reading. The number of overall vacancies is down some 8% compared to last year and in some categories such as management roles in the restaurant sector they are down a massive 45%.  Unfortunately the competition for roles has also increased with the number of applications only falling by 2% during the same period.

However, as always we should try and put some perspective on these headline grabbing figures.  What the statistics show is that the current job volumes are some 30% higher than in 2009. To some extent during the recession we have seen a much stronger focus on retention and development in the sector. This may be an additional factor in explaining the underlying statistics. As always these statistics only show part of the picture and just reflect the volume (and level) of roles posted on the job board.

Looking at the performance of some of the key players in the market, despite the miserable weather and conflicting expectations brought by the Olympics, the market has held up well.  Looking at recent announcements, Greene King reported a like-for-like sales increase of 5.1%, Mitchells and Butler LFL of 3% and The Restaurant Group LFL of 3.25%. As always there are winners and losers however with continued growth in some areas of the market the need for high calibre individuals remains strong.

As we all know, the hospitality sector is all about people and being able to inspire, lead and motivate teams to deliver great product and great service. Many businesses continue to invest in retaining and recruiting the best people to drive and maintain that competitive edge. Being focused on recruiting middle and senior appointments we have seen strong demand for individuals since the end of the summer and are watching with interest to see how the market unfolds over the coming months.

As has been the case over the last couple of years it continues to be difficult for candidates to secure positions in different sectors, so my advice to candidates is to look at businesses where your skills and experience will be most transferable.  The expectations of clients is rightly very high as they look to drive their business by hiring candidates with experience and a strong track record of success.

Without a shadow of doubt for the vast majority of middle and senior management candidates the market out there remains tough. However, whilst the job board figures are certainly negative, as we come out of recession, the market will inevitably pick up.

Russell Adams

LinkedIn
 

Lost and found on Linkedin…….Linkedin accuracy

I am not sure that a day goes by without a blog or article talking about the power of Linkedin and the impact it is having on the recruitment market. Without question, Linkedin is a powerful recruitment tool and one that continues to be used increasingly by both In-house recruiters and consultants alike as a method of sourcing candidates. For candidates it can be a great way to be found for relevant roles without the effort of applications. For both parties it is a great way to engage. However its effectiveness and its power is reliant on the information on individual profiles being both accurate and up to date. For everyone this is perhaps an area for greater consideration and ensuring greater Linkedin accuracy. Interestingly, in a survey conducted by research firm, the ICM Group, they found that 46% of respondents admitted that their Linkedin profiles are out of date. The question is, what impact does it have if you don’t keep your profile up to date? What has really interested me lately is the changing attitude towards Linkedin we seeing by both clients and consultants. I recently had an interesting experience with a client of mine regarding a senior candidate I had put forward for a Director level role. Having submitted this candidate as part of my shortlist I was quite surprised when the client called me a couple of days later, not to discuss the candidates strong CV but instead being rather negative about the candidate’s Linkedin profile and the inconsistencies that appeared when compared to their CV. So going back to my original question, it is worth thinking about the consequence of not keeping your profile up to date. Given the comments I have made above, at best you will unfortunately get approached about assignments that are irrelevant to you and at worse, potentially put off a prospective employer who to some degree makes an assumption about you based on your profile. I think we all appreciate that a Linkedin profile is not about having the contents of your CV online and that certain information isn’t for public viewing. However, it is about having profile which provides an overview of your background and experience. The point here is that whether you are in the market for a new role or not, there really is benefit in making sure that your profile is both up to date and accurate. I appreciate that you may be using Linkedin just as a way to get back in touch or indeed to keep in touch with your network, however whichever way you look at it, if you have a profile, it is very likely to have some influence over your next job move. People need to remember that it reflects you as an individual, not just to people you know but also to those you don’t…….
 

Are you ready for the September Transfer Window?

I have just returned from holiday this week and following a fair number of update calls it has become apparent that the recruitment market has been particularly slow this summer. Without going off on a tangent the usual summer holidays, economic woes and this year’s Olympics seem to have heavily impacted the mid-senior level Retail jobs market. This got me thinking about when are the busiest recruitment times.

Traditionally there are several peak trading points during the year in Retail recruitment, with the two busiest periods in September to October and then February to April (give or take Easter!). If you are hoping to secure a new position, now is the time to increase your activity levels.

The competition is likely to be tough too with even more candidates coming on to the market. We have seen several big restructures this year which has led to an increase in candidate activity. Conversely we are seeing candidates with multiple offers on a regular basis. This is the first time we have seen this since the heady days of 2007!

If you don’t secure a position in the next two months it would be wise to prepare yourself for a frustrating Christmas and New Year. Mentally it can be very difficult if you have geared yourself up for a move, written a new CV, applied for a few jobs, spoken to some Agencies, increased your exposure on Linkedin….and then just as you are building up your own pipeline of activity…there are no jobs available.

It is crucial that you are absolutely clear about what you want and how you are going to achieve it now. Widening your search criteria or dropping your salary expectations in the next transfer window (February) due to a lack of activity can often work against you. It is worth a reassessment of your priorities today!

Jez Styles

 

How to avoid a Middle Management career rut

Earlier in the year I wrote about the lost generation of middle managers in retail whom face limited progression opportunities as a result of the recession, in essence a career rut. Since that article the redundancies have continued to flow thick and fast with all sorts of rumours about which retailer is going to collapse next. One might think that with all the doom and gloom in the market that the opportunities to develop your career are few and far between. However…

If you are ambitious and do want to avoid this scenario you have two very simple options, either ensure you are promoted in your current business or move to another organisation where there is genuine opportunity for advancement.

How to progress your career within your current business:

  • Does your Line manager, Head of Talent, HRBP know you have ambitions to progress? Sounds simple but don’t assume so. Be explicit about your career targets. Clearly you will need to judge when and how to position this conversation but it really is the starting point.
  • Are you getting the results? You know in your heart of hearts if you really are delivering, if you are not you need to address this.
  • So, you are doing well…does everyone else know that? It is all well and good if you run the most profitable part of the business but if the board / functional heads don’t know this you will have few sponsors when the next round of restructuring starts. I have met a lot of candidates with relatively modest results but who were fantastic self-publicists and as a result they were promoted!
  • Seek feedback. The old 360 appraisal can be painful but it will do two things; firstly it will highlight what you need to do to improve and secondly it says a lot about your focus on self-development. This is a competency that is being increasingly measured in assessment of stretch potential.
  • Work harder, it sounds old fashioned but to be blunt it makes an enormous difference to your senior stakeholders. Admittedly there has been a societal push towards work/life balance (and rightly so) but once again those who do more…achieve more.
  • Get involved in project work. If you are Head office based get in to stores, if you are operations based get in to Head Office. A key determinant of progression is breadth of experience. Your Operations Directors, Managing Directors and other board members will have done this at some point in their career. This will also expose you to other stakeholders and will give you a chance to self-publicise!
  • Socialise. Get to know the senior team on a more informal basis. Once again, the people whom are liked by the board tend to get the better jobs.
  • Identify sponsors, people whom have a vested interest in you doing well and will fight your corner / put a good word in when necessary. It’s an ego boost for the other party and you will also get good career advice.

You need to look elsewhere…what do you do?

  • Put together a ‘campaign’ plan with short, medium and long term objectives.
  • Identify what you want to do next. It is worth sense checking with your contacts that this is realistic. A major salary increase and a promotion are highly unlikely.
  • Call your contacts in the recruitment firms. While we recruitment consultants are often grouped together with estate agents, double glazing salesmen and those chaps whom knock on your door to kindly inform you they have just tarmacked your drive and you owe them 200 quid… However, we do on occasion add real value. There is an art to working your relationship with consultants - in short, what you put in you will get back. Behave transactionally or with contempt and expect a mirrored response. Similarly, if you want to get the best out of a consultant, treat him like a human being and they will do the same.
  • Speak to your sponsors. If you have built a few up throughout your career they should be able to put you in touch with their contacts, hopefully with a recommendation.
  • Call old bosses. If you did a good job for them before they will be inclined to give you another go.
  • Fire up your Linkedin profile. It is beginning to position itself as a job board these days and most internal and external recruiters use it as a secondary database. While you are there delete any old profiles on the job boards – they are very much aimed at the junior end of the market. Bear in mind that this is your shop window and as every Operations Director will tell you, customers won’t go in and buy if it isn’t well cared for.
  • Don’t be afraid to invest in some external support and advice this may be as simple as a CV rewrite or career/life coaching. A good quality CV rewrite will cost between £300-£500…roughly the same amount as a new set of wheels for your car…
  • Finally, do your research before accepting an offer. A large number of candidates have found their CVs becoming very patchy over the course of the recession as they have hopped from one business to another. The one factor that generally underpins any mistake in a career move is a lack of due diligence. Would you buy a house without having it surveyed?

Good luck...

Jez Styles

 

Is it really that difficult?

By his own admission, my Dad’s political views lie just to the right of Attila the Hun, so it’s fair to say we rarely agree on anything. However, as I listened to one of his recent rants about the education system and level of literacy among the ‘youth of today’, I started to think about the hundreds of CVs I sift through and the many common CV errors.

I am always dismayed by the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in CVs however, given the level of roles we recruit for, the culprits are not school leavers or grads but experienced senior candidates

Maybe my Dad has got a point but in these days of the spellcheck, it’s worrying that so many CVs are published with glaring spelling mistakes.  In a market that is fiercely competitive with recruiters receiving large volumes of candidates, first impressions really do count.

Clearly there is no substitute for the human touch – a spellcheck won’t recognise words spelled correctly but used in the wrong context.

Is it really that difficult …? The most common and grating example of mis-spelling on CVs is "Manger" instead of "Manager".  A simple mistake like this says so much about the candidate’s attention to detail and gives such a poor impression it can tarnish an otherwise strong CV.

Combine this with the increasing trend for PDF CVs (don’t get me started) and this means that the Consultant representing you isn’t even able to correct your mistakes (before you even start discussing whether it should be our job to do it!) We are dealing with Senior candidates  - is it so wrong for us to expect well written, grammatically correct CV’s?

When I recruited in-house, spelling mistakes on CVs were often a deal breaker for my hiring managers, particularly in an industry where multi-million pound contracts and bid processes were the norm and therefore attention to detail was a pre-requisite.

The answer: use the spellcheck and then check again before sending your CV out into the world for all to see. It is a massive frustration within our industry and one so easily corrected. As we all know, you only get one chance to make a great first impression – make it count.

On that note, I’m off to get my pedantic colleague to check my spelling…!!

 Sophie Mackenzie