This is an interesting topic in that a great deal of PM professionals I’ve spoken to, say that it can be an impossible feat trying to even get to speak with the recruiter direct. Skipping past all the usual excuses of gazillions of applications/calls/pressure blah blah blah, it is possible to strike up a relationship with these people as long as you make the right moves. Now, building a relationship doesn’t mean stalking… No one likes to be bombarded with calls and emails! Think about how you are approached by others and what techniques they might use which actually work and get your attention. Don’t bother if you haven’t made a good effort to sort out your CV and make it sell your abilities or haven’t done your research in regards to what type of job including which field etc you want to apply for moving forward – and for goodness sake, be realistic, you are not jumping into a programme manager role from support position. No matter how good you are and how great your sales patter – recruiters cannot seek you into their clients when you have unrealistic aspirations.
- Do your research – find the agencies and individuals who handle your type of roles
- Make contact with the identified individuals by dropping them a line and asking if it would be possible to have a chat.
- Make sure you send a well written CV ahead of your call so the recruiter can see your background.
- Don’t be pushy, no one likes to be bullied.
- Do what you say you’ll do, if you’ve arranged to call at a certain time, then do so.
- Make sure you are clear about what you want to discuss and stick to the point – recruiters are busy and don’t appreciate disorganised candidates bumbling on.
- Treat others how you wish to be treated in return, this means everyone, receptionists etc all count!
I remember a candidate working hard to build up a relationship with me, back in my PM recruitment days, we would have a chat on a bi-weekly basis and even though I wasn’t 100% I could place him, I continued to humour him when one day a role came in which was a good match for his skills. I thought about him immediately as I knew I was due a call, we discussed and I agreed to present his CV to my client. Now he wasn’t an exact match but knowing the client well, I knew I could sell him in. Having done so I was pleased to announce that an interview had been arranged for my candidate. He was very happy and so the interview coaching began, I spent quite a lot of time making sure the candidate knew all the was to know about the role and business, and ran through typical interview questions – ensuring the preparation was top notch. After all I knew he would have to shine at interview to beat off his competitors who had a closer match to the role. All was running swimmingly until a day before the interview I received an email…. Yes an email, not a call, from my candidate saying he was pulling out of the interview. Obviously I wasn’t best happy, but c’est la vie, I informed my client and made up for the disappointment with a new candidate (who was offered an interview and eventually got offered the role). So on my part I wasn’t too bothered, however I vowed I would not work with the candidate again as I had stuck my neck out for him and he had been so rude.
A few weeks later I received a call from said candidate who had the front to ask me to put him forward to other roles, I explained as politely as possible that I wouldn’t be doing that and he persisted to ring me regularly to the point I got all my calls screened and told all staff under no circumstances to put his call through. I thought he had got the message but a few months after leaving the PM recruitment business I received a text from a colleague telling me he had been in touch again…. Thankfully my former colleague did not pass on my contact details! And that is how not to make and break relationships!
Filling out job applications is all about advertising your skills to potential employers. You might have a wide skill set built up over many years, or you might have had a more focused career, but the trick is in working out which of your talents would be of the most value to an employer and placing more emphasis on them in your application. Of course, this might mean that each application form or speculative letter will have a different emphasis depending on the company you’re applying to.
But within the specialist skills that each of us has is a set of skills that are almost universally valuable in the workplace. We’ve listed the most crucial here.
No matter what field you’re working in, you’ll have to be able to communicate instructions, reports and opinions to colleagues. Clarity of speech, a mature, professional manner of speech and confidence to express yourself are all of value. It’s also important to be able to tune your voice to fit the purpose – you’ll communicate with clients differently than you would with suppliers and colleagues, for example. You could be the first voice a potential client hears when they contact your company, so they’ll be placing great importance on how well you can pull it off.
Written Communication Skills
It’s the same with the written word. If you can express yourself on the page and on the screen you’ll be an asset to any company. If you’re prone to spelling mistakes, make sure you get someone to proof your application forms, CVs and speculative mail. Spelling, grammar and punctuation errors are a huge turn-off and could be the difference between getting the job and missing out.
It’s not all about talking to other people. Communication is a two-way street, and listening is key to successful navigation of it. After all, the excellent talking skills you’ve cultivated might not be gifts of those who communicate with you, and you might find yourself having to not only listen intently to what they are saying but also to interpret subtext and make sense of it all.
It’s hard to show good judgement in an application form or a CV, but a shrewd employer will be able to see evidence of it in your past actions. They’ll be able to judge the career path you’ve taken so far and discern whether your judgement has ever been rash or immature. That’s not to say failure is a detrimental factor; most employers will recognise the value of an entrepreneurial spirit when applied to a promising project, even if the situation doesn’t quite work out. Indeed, failure is an important part of character-building.
Above Average Computer Skills
Nobody wants to take an employee on and spend the first weeks teaching them how to use Windows, Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, or popular but specialist solutions such as Photoshop, Digital Publishing Suite or MySQL if they’re appropriate to the task. You might be fine with a good working knowledge of the main solutions, but all of them feature hot keys, advanced workarounds and uncommon features that can greatly enhance your productivity.
Ability to Absorb Knowledge
All jobs will require a blend of the skills and knowledge you bring to the company and the specific skills that are unique to the job. You’ll be expected to treat your existing knowledge as a base on which to add the skills of the new job, and the quicker you can do that, the better it is for the company. If we take your existing skills as a given (assuming you haven’t overworked them on your application), it is a good idea to give evidence of times in the past when you’ve picked up new skills and put them to good effect.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Companies taking you on are investing in you, and if you can show you’ll be able to give a long-term return on that investment, so much the better. We’ve all seen how quickly technology has moved along in the past decade, and there’s no reason to suspect it has stopped. Anyone who has proved unable to adapt to the new reality will have fallen by the wayside, but to employers, that represents a big expense if they aim to replace them. It’s far preferable to companies to have people who know their jobs and how to adapt them when change comes – as it always will.
Charlie Reynolds has over 10 years’ experience working in HR and been a writer for the past 12 years. Charlie now uses his field expertise as a copywriter for Skills Arena.
I had a call the other day from a male asking me if I had any jobs – I pointed out that I am not a recruitment agency and ended the call, but after hanging up I realised that the person who had called really came across as quite rude and a bit of a mumbling mess. Putting myself back into my recruiter shoes I thought to myself how I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to help this person if I had roles available. This got me thinking about the hundreds of speculative calls I received as a recruiter back in the day and how people would come across on the phone. Some days I would be delighted with callers, those who really thought about what they wanted to discuss and could talk through their career/experience without taking too much precious time and were clear on the roles they wanted to go into next. Other days I would have people calling who would take a good couple of minutes to even properly engage in a conversation, they couldn’t summarise their experience and certainly didn’t know where their skill-set fit in future roles. I would remember all of my callers – for better or worse, and would often make a note stating the good and bad points. This greatly assisted me when I was qualifying new roles, I would usually already have a shortlist of candidates I wanted to speak to about it before I had written and advertised the job advert. As recruitment is so very competitive it is important to make sure you get your shortlist to the client ASAP, this way you had a better chance of getting ahead of the other agencies.