It is in the interest of all parties – candidate, recruiter and client – to ensure that the placement of a candidate into a new role is successful. Therefore, it is usual for a recruiter to keep in contact with you during the first three months of your new job to establish how things are going and to try and resolve any issues you may be experiencing.
In a new role, if there are going to be issues, then it is likely to be during the first three months, but generally, with the support and guidance of a recruiter, these can be resolved, and a sustained, successful period of employment can ensue.
If you are really having doubts about your new job, then discuss this with your recruiter and, if you are set on leaving, let them know. This will allow the recruiter to start looking for appropriate alternative roles, with the issues that you weren’t able to resolve influencing the roles they are searching for. Additionally, the recruiter may start to seek suitable candidates for the role that you will be vacating, which will make the process once you hand in your notice more manageable for all parties. Please bear in mind that jumping from role to role in short periods of time doesn’t look great on your CV. Recruitment of new staff is an expensive business, but that is nothing compared with the amount that needs to be invested by companies for training an individual through a structured induction programme. If a client feels there is a good chance you may leave them shortly after being appointed, then they will turn their attention to clients with a track record of medium- to long-term employment terms. Therefore, if in doubt, remain in your new role, see if it improves and seek to resolve your issues with the guidance of your recruiter. From our experience, an open and honest discussion with your line manager about your apprehensions often leads to a resolution of issues.
If you are applying for a good job with a solid, structured induction programme, great progression opportunities and an even better salary package, then it follows that you can expect a rigorous interview as the client will ensure they select the very best candidate for the role.
Failure to adequately prepare for such an interview will inevitably lead to failure to secure the role. Below we have shared some ‘need to know’ insights based on in-depth company research, which will give you the best possible chance of success.
We are all aware of the power of non-verbal communication in terms of how it influences perceptions of us. During a job interview, in a very controlled environment, the influence this has will be amplified, as the interviewer’s purpose is to judge and decide if you are the ideal candidate.
Here is a list of common mistakes made at interviews:
21% – Playing with hair or touching face
67% – Failure to make eye contact
38% – Lack of a smile
33% – Bad posture
21% – Crossing arms over chest
9% – Too many hand gestures
26% – A handshake that is too weak
33% – Fidgeting too much
The initial impact we have on meeting people is enormous. In a survey of 2000 employers, a third claimed they had decided within the first 90 seconds whether or not to hire the candidate. How can you influence this to your advantage? Here are some useful tips:
Statistics show that when meeting people, the impact is:
7% – From what we actually say
38% – The quality of our voice and overall confidence
55% – The way we dress, act and walk through the door
70% of employers claim they don’t want employees to be fashionable or trendy, whilst 65% of bosses said clothes could be the deciding factor between two similar candidates.
Our conclusion and recommendation is for you to work on your meet-and-greet techniques. Seek the balance between being confident and professional. Don’t take risks in terms of the clothes you wear – a job interview is generally not a place to make a fashion statement. Wearing an inappropriate outfit is a really senseless reason for not being selected for a job.
Why didn’t I get the job?
If you get the dreaded notification that you were not successful at the interview stage, then one or more of the reasons on the list below could have been the cause:
- A long-winded explanation of why you lost your last job/want to leave your current job
- Giving a clear indication that you are not committed to the role you are being interviewed for because you still have ties with your current role
- Lacking humour, warmth or personality
- Not showing enough interest or enthusiasm
- Inadequate research about a potential employer
- Concentrating too much on what you want
- Trying to be all things to all people
- A clear lack of preparation for the interview
- Failing to set yourself apart from other candidates
- Failing to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job
It is essential before you arrive at the interview that you are 100% clear on what you can bring to the client’s business, how you can make a difference and why you are the only person for this role. This will require preparation in terms of planning what you are going to say and then a lot of practice in relation to how you are going to deliver these key messages at the interview itself.
So, you are looking for a new role and you have decided to engage the services of recruitment agents. Here are some key tips that we have learnt from years of working within the industry:
- Do not register with more than three agencies. If you decide to spread your wings and sign up to a stack of agencies, you run the risk of your CV being sent multiple times for single jobs. Businesses frown on individuals from whom they receive more than one CV. It makes you look disorganised and, frankly, desperate. I have had feedback many times from clients about receiving multiple CVs and it is never complimentary.
- Research the recruitment company before you engage with them. Are they specialists in the sector you work in? Do they employ people who are specialists in these areas? If the answer is yes to both of these, then you are far more likely to receive a good, well-informed, professional service. If not, then your CV will simply be flung around a whole host of companies for roles you are simply not properly matched to.
- Be honest with any recruitment company you are working with regarding your association with other recruiters. This will assist in them making far better strategic decisions around where to send your CV. Different recruitment companies have close working relationships with different businesses, so this will ensure you network across a wide range of appropriate roles without causing recruiters to tread on one another’s toes in the process.
There are a whole host of reasons why an individual wants to leave one job and move onto another. Below we have detailed the most common scenarios that we deal with and, hopefully, we have provided some useful guidance for each.
The ‘job for life’ ethos that was prevalent pre-2000 is, alas, no longer. Companies merge, cease trading, downsize, etc. Whatever the reason, you will likely have experience of redundancy or know someone who has been made redundant at some point. Often, redundancy can be voluntary and many individuals will jump at the chance to leave with a sizeable chunk of tax-free cash, confident that they will quickly find alternative employment. Compulsory redundancy, however, is often more troubling. You may be settled in your role and happy working for the business, only to be told that you will be made redundant.
Do not panic!
People in this situation often find that a compulsory redundancy forces them to act, and this very often leads them to pursue jobs that they had not previously considered. If you are in a role that is being made redundant, then you will be able to create an attractive CV. You will have developed a ream of valuable in-work skills that will be transferable across different sectors. The key is to remain calm, focused and start to reflect on what you have achieved at work and how you can sell this on a CV, application form or at an interview.
Things to consider:
- If you are due a redundancy payment, find out when the earliest exit date is to ensure you still receive this.
- Leave the business on good terms. It is likely that your new employer will seek a reference from someone within the business, and it won’t look good for you if this suggests that you began underperforming during your final few weeks.
- Begin making a note of your key achievements at work and specific details of training and qualifications you have gained in the role. These will be required for your CV.
- Once you have established the earliest exit date, begin applying for jobs where the cut-off date for application is around this date. Remember, colleagues who are being made redundant will probably start applying for the same jobs as you, so it is worth getting to the front of the queue.
- Access online training tools to brush up on CV writing and interview skills. You may not have needed to do this for quite some time!
Threat of redundancy
So, you have heard through the grapevine that there may be downsizing or the company is being bought as part of a merger acquisition – what do you do? Well, if you are happy in your role and performing well then it is likely that a merger of two companies could present some exciting opportunities. Likewise, when companies downsize, unless they completely close departments then they will not be looking to get rid of their best staff. However, you may find that talk of redundancy leads you to ask questions about your role. Am I really fulfilled here? Would a change of employer and job role increase my motivation? You may find that your early, tentative searches on the internet for vacancies reveal exciting roles that you are qualified for and experienced to do. Perhaps, regardless of whether the threat of redundancy is real or not, it’s time for a change.
Lack of progression
If this is your concern, then you need to be very clear what role you are aspiring to and the timescales of achieving this. If your current employer isn’t supporting your progression, you need to be able to communicate to a potential employer exactly what those goals are, why you want them, and by when. If you’re unable to clearly articulate this, then perhaps you’re not interested in career progression and, instead, are just looking to earn more money. This is fine; don’t get it confused with a lack of progression. Instead, just read the next section.
It is absolutely fine to seek more money for the job that you do, especially if you feel you are being paid below the current market value. You may very well find and secure a new role working for a competitor for more money. Just bear in mind that this may be the jolt that your current employer needs to recognise your value to the business, and they could counter this offer. Be prepared for this. Of course, money is a hugely important factor in where we choose to work and the job that we do, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. If you are really happy in your role, enjoy the culture, have a great relationship with your manager, etc., then a good constructive chat in the first instance may resolve this issue.
Change of scenery
Sometimes you just get bored in your role. You have been with the company for years, the office is old-fashioned, the team meetings have the same agenda each month and your performance reviews with your manager actually leave you less motivated. The important things to consider are: Why am I bored? What do I want from a job? Only by identifying these will you ensure that a move to another business will be beneficial. This will also greatly assist you at an interview, as you can raise specific questions or explain, if asked, why you are considering leaving your current role and why this role excites you.
In the event that you are dismissed from your role, it would be easy to think that you won’t be able to find another job. This is not the case. However, it is vitally important to be honest and to disclose all details. Failure to do so will likely bring about another dismissal if you are offered a role, only for your new employer to find out the details of why you left your previous role. The key, following a dismissal situation, is for you to accept at least some responsibility. It is highly unlikely that you are totally blameless. So tell the prospective employer how a period of reflection has enabled you to learn from your mistakes, what areas of your in-work behaviours will change and improve, and how your dismissal will make you doubly determined to ensure that your next job is a success.
A typical interview will conclude with the candidate being invited to ask questions about the role. As it is highly unlikely that all the information about the job will have been given, it follows that a candidate should ask questions, allowing them to make a well-informed decision about accepting the job should an offer be forthcoming.
We would recommend that you limit the questions you ask, as there may be a fine line between gaining more insight into the role and appearing to interrogate the interviewer(s).
Additionally, we would strongly recommend that you ask questions where you are genuinely interested in the answers. The response(s) given by the interviewer(s) may then facilitate further discussion, which should satisfy your query and convince the interviewer(s) that you have taken the time to carefully consider this role in detail.
Avoid feeling the need to select a random five questions beforehand simply because you have been told you need to do this. It will be obvious that you are not interested in the answers and the interviewer(s) will not be impressed.
Finally, do not ask questions that may alert employers negatively. Steer clear of questions relating to sick pay, unpaid leave, their policy on arriving late, etc., as this will only work to your detriment.
Here are some typical questions that we recommend:
- Can you describe a typical day in this role?
- How long have you been at the company, and what makes you stay?
- How would you describe the work environment and the corporate culture?
- What are the goals of the company in the short and longer term?
- How would my performance be measured?
- What career opportunities may be open for someone starting in this role, assuming they perform well?
- What is the company’s policy regarding learning and development?
Be sure to conclude the interview on a positive note, thanking the interviewer(s) for their time and stating that you will be looking forward to hearing from them.
So, you have submitted your CV or application form and you have been short-listed for an interview. For most roles, there will only be one position available, so you have to aim for the gold medal spot. Generally, you’ll get nothing for coming second unless the successful person declines the job, and definitely nothing if you finish below that. Therefore, you have to get the details right to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
Here are some useful hints and tips that will help you:
Know your availability. If a recruiter or business contacts you for an interview, ensure you have direct access to an up-to-date calendar enabling you to arrange a meeting there and then. Show yourself immediately to be decisive and well-organised.
Know where you are going. Not all businesses are easy to find, and some may be hidden away or share large office space with other businesses, so use Google Maps beforehand to identify exactly where you are going. Familiarise yourself with the environment and, if you are driving, make sure you have identified at least two local car parks.
Plan your trip. Arriving late for an interview is a really bad start, so plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early, or longer if the interview is a lengthy distance from where you live. If you arrive early, you will have an opportunity for one last review of your CV or some last-minute interview preparation. If you do get stuck in traffic, make sure you have a contact name and number to hand so you can let the interviewer know. Generally, they will try and juggle their time to accommodate you.
The seven-minute rule. Plan to arrive at the office’s location seven minutes before the interview. This will ensure you are neither too early, which will have you hanging around the reception for too long, nor cutting it too fine. This will demonstrate sound time management.
At reception. It’s always good, providing they are clearly not rushed off their feet, to establish some rapport with the receptionist, as they will most likely provide good feedback to the interviewer if you do. Also, check out any awards or significant milestones that might be on show in the reception area. You might be able to use these during the interview, demonstrating a real interest in the business.
What should I wear? Work attire greatly differs from business to business but, put simply, no one has ever not got a job because they were dressed too smartly. So, keep it formal. Rolling the dice and dressing a little more casually could be a decision you live to regret.
Should I take a copy of my CV? No. Take three copies as more than one person could be interviewing you and make sure you know, in detail, every word on it.
Will I be offered the job, if successful, after the first interview? Not always. Many businesses will invite you back to a second and maybe a third interview to ensure that you fit with the culture of the company. It may be worth asking about this at the end of your first meeting.
Should I take my mobile phone with me? Yes. You may need it if you are running late or need to find an alternative route, etc. But always, and I mean always, have this switched off. If, because you have been distracted by the forthcoming interview, you forget to do this and it rings or bleeps, apologise profusely and switch it off. Never ever answer it mid-interview. Unbelievably, I have seen this done!
Is it okay to smoke or vape before an interview? If you think that bringing a foul, lingering smell to an interview will enhance your chances, then go for it. Otherwise, do not smoke after you have had a shower and have dressed for your interview. If you get really nervous, I recommend you taking it out on a stick of chewing gum.
Some other logistics
- you have enough petrol. Stopping to buy some could delay you
- you have change for the car park
- your mobile phone is fully charged
- you have the name of the person who is interviewing you
- you take a pen, paper and copies of your CV
The initial meet and greet. If, when you get nervous, you tend to stumble over your words, then practise this. Try to use the person’s name with a very articulate ‘nice to meet you’ added to this. Your handshake should be firm without being vice-like, and if you suffer with sweaty hands, take a handkerchief and discreetly dry your hands as you are walking to meet the interviewer.
Should I accept the offer of a drink? If you accept the offer of a tea or coffee, it is likely that someone has to leave the room and make this. I would be more inclined to simply ask for a glass of water, which you can sip whilst being asked questions.
Should I ask questions? Yes, as this will demonstrate an interest in the role. However, be sure to show interest in the feedback you receive otherwise it will appear that you are simply going through the motions. Prepare five questions beforehand as it is likely that at least two of these may have been answered during the interview, leaving you three questions to ask.
What if I establish during the interview that the role is not for me? There is no problem with you telling the interviewer this at the time of the interview, but we recommend that you are polite and constructive. Making derisory comments about their business may come back to haunt you at a later date. We would always recommend you going away and having a think about it. You may reflect later that there were actually a number of real positives that could be beneficial to you.
After the interview. Be sure to leave very politely. Hand in your visitors badge and/or sign out of the building, and then call your recruiter from your car whilst the interview is fresh in your mind. They will be really interested in your feedback and, if the role isn’t for you, they can continue searching for alternatives.
CVs are incredibly subjective and no two clients would ever completely agree on exactly how a CV should be presented. The recommendations here are based on our general experience of clients’ feedback, with several of the tips listed being absolutely essential.
CVs should be seen as a front door. When passed on to a client they should read it and then want to open the door to find out more. Put simply, a CV should be seen as being the first step of the selection process and will decide whether you progress to the all-important job interview.
Here are some useful tips to maximise the chances of that interview happening:
- The first rule. Clients are often inundated with CVs, especially for senior roles, and the ‘no’ pile will be quickly populated with those CVs sporting clear typos and formatting errors. We would also advise against adding your photo to a CV (unless it’s for a modelling role!). They add very little value and, more often than not, the image provided is either pixelated or grainy.
- How to start your CV? Simple, with your name. Thereafter, we strongly recommend your address – we don’t really understand why someone might have a problem in sharing this – and then of course a contact number and email address. If you have put a ‘comical’ voice message on your mobile phone, remove it. Similarly, we would recommend you have a professional voice message recorded by you, rather than a network standard message. With reference to your email address, please ensure this is professional. email@example.com’t going to get you an interview!
- CV length? The standard answer to this is two pages; however, as you amass more experience, achievements and skills, there is no problem in going past this, provided it remains punchy and relevant.
- Adapt your CV. No two roles will have identical job descriptions, so it is essential that you tweak your CV based on the role you are applying for. For example, if there is a clear and prominent reference in the job description to excellent relationship management, then your CV should be tweaked to include this emphasis.
- Please don’t use text boxes and don’t send your CV to a recruiter in PDF format. Recruiters remove your personal details when they send them over to the client – this is just how recruiters work. So, allow us to do this easily by using a standard CV produced in a mainstream word-processing program.
- Put your most recent work experience at the top of the list. Recruiters and clients prefer to be able to zoom in on your current role without trawling through a list of jobs that you might have done over 10 years ago. Additionally, please format each role in a specific way. It should be job title, company name and the specific dates of employment, e.g. Head of Customer Service, ACME Solutions (July 1st 2018 – August 13th 2021).
- Make sure you have a Hobbies and Interests section. This often tells a client a lot about you and it might establish common interests, which could give you an advantage. Clients will often relate your hobbies and interests to how this might be useful in their workplace. So, for example, if you are captain of a sports team or head of a committee, there is clear reference to leadership. If you think you have no hobbies or interests, think again. Most people enjoy watching a certain genre of film, eating foods from around the world, reading or going for a walk. List these if all else fails.
- What file name should I call my CV? It sounds like a really silly thing to mention, but if I see a CV titled, ‘John Doe CV June 2022’ against ‘John Doe CV’, I might think to myself, how many other CVs has John Doe written in 2022? Is John Doe always looking for a new job? Is he a job hopper?
- References. We strongly recommend not detailing the contact particulars for your referees. It’s unlikely they will want their personal details bandied around, and clients will ask for this information if and when they start to get really interested in potentially offering you a role.
- Cover letter. If I am honest, 90% of the cover letters I receive are general. I get the same one week in, week out from one candidate, and so needless to say, I never read it anymore. Only ever do a cover letter if it is specific and relevant to the job, and please never just relist your career history. Address the cover letter to the specific person in the organisation who is leading on the recruitment of this role. Please avoid phrases like ‘esteemed recruiter’ and ‘hiring manager’ – these really annoy me and feel nonspecific.
- A FINAL NOTE ON CVs. PLEASE DO NOT WRITE THEM IN CAPITAL LETTERS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Capital letters are generally used on work emails when someone is getting irritated about something and/or needs something doing immediately. Again, not a look you want to adopt.
So, you have attended a job interview for which you were fully prepared and motivated; you have given a good account of yourself and generally kicked it out of the park. Days, or maybe even hours, after the interview you receive a call with a job offer. Everything about this new role feels right. Better opportunities, a new challenge and, of course, more money.
But when do you hand your notice in?
My advice would be to do nothing until you receive the offer of employment in writing. When this is received, you can set about typing up your resignation letter. Contrary to myth, this does not need to include the reasons you have decided to leave and most certainly will not include criticism of the business and the way you perceive you have been treated.
We would, however, recommend that it contains the following:
- The date that your notice period will start.
- Your expected finish date. This will take into account your notice period, which you should check beforehand. The details of this will be in your contract of employment.
- Confirmation that you would like all of your holiday allowances included with your final pay.
- A final sentence wishing the business every future success. It makes sense on so many levels to finish on good terms.
There are certain situations, especially if you are dealing with market sensitive information, where the business will ask you to leave immediately and place you on what is referred to as gardening leave, but remember that you still cannot start your new job until your notice period is over, regardless of whether you have been in the garden or not!
We deal with a lot of clients who are successful in securing new and exciting roles only to receive a counteroffer from their current employer. Often, this offer is even more attractive than their new offer and it leaves our clients with a big decision to make. Our advice, based on experience of working with clients who receive counteroffers, is to think long and hard about the situation. This is based around several factors that may have changed the dynamic between you and your manager forever and will have been hugely influenced by these factors:
- You were committed to leave. You had spent weeks, maybe months, seeking alternative employment, and your loyalty from this point forward will be questioned.
- You may well have taken time off for interviews that you had put down as urgent medical appointments, family leave, a trip to the dentist, etc. Your manager may wish to trawl back through your diary to see when you had been absent.
- At the point of handing in your notice, you will almost certainly have explained the reasons for your decision, and these will not be complimentary about the business and the way you have been managed. Without question, you will have shown your hand.
We have seen a host of excellent candidates decide to stay with their current employers following counteroffers, only to contact us again in a few months, very upset that the bonus they were promised never materialised, or the pledge of working from home more was reneged upon, or, worse still, there had been a round of redundancies, and as now perceived not to be loyal to the business and on more money, they were the first name on the list.
In summary, when you have the opportunity of a fresh start in an exciting new environment, sometimes the best thing to do is grab it with both hands and see where it takes you.
Often, when recruiting a candidate, a business may decide to undertake more than one interview. This is especially prevalent with senior roles where a business will rightly take their time and operate a robust process to ensure they select the most appropriate candidate.
It is likely at the point of applying for a role that you are already in a full-time position, and the process of juggling time off to attend interviews can become problematic.
Following a first interview, you may decide, for whatever reason, the role is not for you. Perhaps you didn’t connect with the recruiting manager; maybe you couldn’t see the progression opportunities or you simply didn’t like the vibe of the company culture.
If this is the case, then be honest. Explain to either a recruitment company, if you are dealing with one, or the business directly that this role is not for you, politely thanking them for the opportunity and generally leaving the intervention on good terms.
We have dealt with clients who clearly didn’t like what they saw at the first interview and have offered all manner of excuses in order not to attend a second interview, wasting everyone’s time in the process. We have even had situations where clients have seemingly gone out of their way to avoid taking our calls rather than being honest about the role they have applied for.
Conversely, if you genuinely cannot attend an interview and need to rearrange, then a business will generally accommodate this, especially for a second interview where you will likely be seen as a strong contender for the role.
To summarise, be open and honest with people and communicate your feelings, as all parties will respect your decision and appreciate your candour. Most importantly, don’t waste people’s valuable time as this will do little to enhance your reputation.