I am regularly left with my jaw on the floor as candidates, often very senior, manage to blow their feet off for the want of a little thought or pre-planning.
Here are my top 8 COMMON recruitment “Don’ts” learned through all too regular experience – you have been warned!
- Don’t have a bland CV: Your CV is your sales brochure. Don’t write it to avoid offending anybody. Take some small risks. Write it to attract the sort of people you’d like to work with. Have some words with emotion. Display some personality. But also make sure it has facts, data, and dates. (PS. The same applies to your LinkedIn profile). Remember also your CV is now viewed online. It’s no longer a paper document, so get your big punches in early before the reader has to scroll down. Headhunters like me are a dumb bunch, so make it easy for us to like you quickly.
- If you’re over 50 – grow up – it doesn’t matter…(part 1): …unless it does to you. Too many over-50’s start making excuses for their age or it’s the first thing they mention. Stop looking over your shoulder at past glories and focus on what you’re going to do when you grow up. If you saved the world in 1999 – I’m sorry, nobody cares. Make yourself relevant to tomorrow – not yesterday. It’s a mind-set thing. If you don’t get my point, you can cling on to your Barry Manilow collection a little longer as you’re already beyond saving.
- If you’re over 50 – grow up – it doesn’t matter…(part 2): And don’t mention you’re looking forward to retirement. If you are, retire now and enjoy it. You certainly won’t make my shortlist! And for goodness sake, don’t tell me you don’t get/do social networking. Pretend that you do and work at it until you really do. And your photo: Don’t use one from the 90’s – the long sideburns and the big knot in your tie will betray you – you have bought a new tie in the last five years?
- Don’t be lazy about research: Research shows you’re interested. If you are, make it obvious! Flaunt it! Too many candidates do their research and then hide it from the potential employer. I would sing it from the rooftops and come with print out’s and litter the interview with “When I was researching your company……” Don’t rely on sophistication. Leave that to James Bond.
- Don’t be lazy about grooming: Guys…guys…guys. Come on! Cut your nails. Polish your shoes. Trim the hair that’s sprouting out of all the places it shouldn’t (noses and ears in particular!). Wear a decent suit. Get a decent haircut. Save your 20 year-old suits for when you’ve started the job and people begin to know you. DO NOT WEAR A HOMER SIMPSON TIE. EVER. NO, NOT EVEN TO THE CHRISTMAS PARTY. NOT EVEN TO YOUR OWN CHRISMAS PARTY. Ladies: Just continue to get it right.
- Don’t answer the next question! When in an interview, listen to the question and answer that alone. Don’t clutter your minds anticipating the next question and disappear into your own black hole of confusion. You’ll lose yourself and the interviewer. When you’ve finished, check they’re happy with your answer – “Is there anything else you’d like to know?” If they really do want the detail, they’ll tell you.
- Don’t just let the post-interview period drift: Simple. Look keen. Send an email to the interviewer. Even if you just thank the interviewer for their time, it shows you understand the importance of follow-up. I reckon no more than 20% of interviewees do this. Not doing it is so amateur. That small act can be a tipping point. If I’ve got my shortlist right, it’s just small things like this that may tip the decision in your favour. QUESTION: Why do I feel I have to state the obvious? ANSWER: Experience
- Don’t think no job’s so simple it can’t be done wrong: I put my supper on to cook while I wrote this. I failed to turn the oven on. How silly do you think I feel as I realise my schoolboy error? Just do the simple things well and you’ll be OK. Leave the complicated and clever stuff to NASA.
Getting a new job is a lot simpler than you may think. Some very good candidates make such simple mistakes because they’re out of practice, or they’re not thinking things through. A little preparation, practice and thought will pay massive dividends.
On Martin Ellis:
Martin is a headhunter who “brings great people and jobs together”. He searches for senior people across many sectors. Martin says, “I simply see headhunting as a process, the extra value a headhunter brings is engaging high quality candidates in what they see as a high-quality process”. You can see how he works on his blog at http://fastheadhunter.