The essential behaviours for a successful job search in 2013: think like a recruiter

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


I have been reflecting over the weekend on some conversations I had with several candidates last week. In fact the conversations were similar to a lot I have had over the course of the recession and were unsurprisingly about the current state of the Retail job market. In short, the market is candidate rich and job poor. If you are out of work and looking for a new position, it is hard work and enormously frustrating. Every candidate has a slightly different story to tell about their own experience of the market, what they are doing to find a new position and how they are feeling about it. However the common themes that come up are:

  • People don’t call me back
  • My CV is disappearing into the ether and I’m not getting a response
  • I am struggling to get an interview
  • Processes are laboriously slow
  • There are lots of unplanned stages to the process
  • Jobs disappear and I get no feedback
  • Internal candidates keep popping up at the last minute
  • Employers seem unable to make a decision
  • There are a lot of speculative jobs
  • Recruiters (Agency and In-house) are only interested in a fee/result and have no empathy with my situation

Sound familiar?

There was, however, one particular conversation that stood out last week. After a pretty lengthy chat with a rather demoralised candidate, the individual in question joked, “still it could be worse Jez, I could be a recruitment consultant like you and deal with this on a permanent basis.” It was great humour coming from someone who has been through the mill recently and very insightful! In truth, active candidates that are on the market for more than a month get a very good taste of what it’s like to work in my profession. Recruitment is a roller-coaster – emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically…ok, maybe not physically!

So, how do you survive the job search rollercoaster and get off the ride successfully? Tweet this


Stay positive: Be resilient.

Your head will drop, you will get down, you will get angry, frustrated, despondent, anxious, stressed and then probably numb. This is normal. This is what recruiters feel several times a day. However, just like the guys from FISH (click here), you have to ‘choose your attitude.’ You have to pick yourself up after a conversation with a disinterested recruiter, take the positives from a bad interview and, well, get on with it. This is the single most important thing to do because the moment negativity creeps in, you will convey this in every conversation and interview going forward. This may sound a bit clichéd but, after a couple of tough calls, I often think about scenes from Rocky (none of the films after Rocky 4 though!)


Set yourself targets, goals and objectives.

You will have heard that many recruitment firms set their consultants a myriad of what may appear senseless targets such as the number of CVs they send, number of calls, cold calls, interviews arranged, new relationships established…it can go on…and on! There are many reasons why these targets exist but in truth it often boils down to the simple fact that recruitment is not an exact science and it can be pretty hard to assess whether you are making progress. Generally though, the more activity you put in, the more you get back. As a candidate you need to set yourself some daily and weekly targets. This could be the number of applications (quality not quantity is crucial though), calls with recruiters, interviews arranged or LinkedIn time. If you are a retailer you will be used to working with pace towards seemingly unachievable targets so don’t forget this skill! You will also be accustomed to working in a structured environment and you shouldn’t underestimate the impact that not working will have had on you. Putting a structure (click here for some advice) in place for your job search will do a lot to keep you sane, particularly when things are not progressing. Perhaps most importantly, celebrate the small wins!


Focus on what you really want.

I had a conversation with an Operations Director last week who was particularly frustrated with the lack of options in the market. Indeed, he had resorted to meeting companies that he didn’t have an affinity with. Over the course of the conversation he commented that he needed to refocus on what was important to him and not to attend interviews for companies that he didn’t want to work for. Not everyone has this luxury of course but it is important to revisit the objectives that you set yourself at the start of your search. Are you meeting companies that you really want to work for? Talk to any decent recruiter and they will tell you that focus is crucial to business development. The moment a recruiter starts moving too far away from their core market they are dead in the water! As a candidate you need to adopt the same approach.


Develop a thick skin…fast!

Recruiters receive bad news every day, they convey bad news every day and to complete the loop, will normally get a bad reaction from a frustrated candidate every day. You need to be able to absorb criticism and negative feedback. The truth is you will probably get a lot of this or, perhaps worse still, no feedback at all. It isn’t personal so don’t dwell on it. Also, and this may be obvious but if you don’t practice sport, now is the time to start. Not only will you fill your time productively but it is a good way of working out your frustrations in a constructive fashion. Darts down the pub doesn’t count though!


Get out of your comfort zone and work every angle possible.

Any recruiter with an ounce of empathy will have to make difficult calls on a daily basis, they will have to sell to people that don’t want to buy and they will generally have to do things that take them out of their comfort zone. Fortunately this sense of discomfort does dissipate but for candidates there is a strong chance that you will have to do a lot of things that you do not enjoy doing. I have often spoken to candidates about how they should use the Social networks (click here) to build their profile and for many this is an uncomfortable process. Recruitment is often a war of attrition and you need to work every angle.

I am sure that most of the above is very obvious and probably is easier said than done! If you are a Retailer in need of some support please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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