Thursday, 16 August 2007

Job Interview Follow Up Do's and Don'ts


1. Do call your prospective employer to get feedback

Most companies will give you a timescale within which feedback will be provided. If it goes beyond the date specified call them and ask whether there is any feedback available. Keep calling every 3-4 days until you get an answer. Calling everyday may be misconstrued as harassment but every 3-4 days will be viewed in a positive light as it shows your commitment to wanting the job.

Tip: Get the name of the hiring manager who interviewed you and a direct dial number and check out that it’s okay to call them to get feedback.

2. Do be polite but assertive

When calling for feedback be polite, pleasant but assertive. Explain that you are considering offers from other companies and are keen to find out the outcome of this interview as it was your favourite role. If a company knows that you are considering other job offers they will be more likely to work quickly to give you interview feedback or risk losing a good quality candidate.

3. Do thank the organisation for your interview

Regardless of whether you get the job or not after receiving feedback, make a point of thanking the manager or human resources staff for the interview. Remember that others who have been made a job offer may decline it and if a prospective employer perceives that you have showed character and respect they may remember that and offer you the job next.

I know a number of people who have adopted this approach and the companies concerned have been so impressed that they called them back having created another role for them!

4. Ask for feedback on how your came across in interview if you don’t get the job

This can be difficult as it can hurt your pride but ask the company how you interviewed. They may identify something you hadn’t thought of as a problem, perhaps about your presentation or listening skills or something else. You can then use this information to improve next time.

5. Do speak to the decision maker.

Human resources departments often deal with interview feedback but very often they have little idea of your potential importance to the company. So after interview they are likely to give you a standard response that they are still awaiting feedback from the hiring manager. The hiring manager has the real power so speak to them directly or in addition to the Human Resources department so that they are aware of your concerns or other offers you are considering. The hiring managers will often speed up feedback to you if you keep them informed of developments.


1. Don’t harass

There is a fine line between being persistent and harassing. If after interview you have been told a date by which you should have feedback, don’t call before this date. After this date has passed you should call every 3-4 days but not sooner as you will become a nuisance and people will stop taking your call.

2. Don’t be rude or offensive

Finding out interview feedback can be exciting or disappointing. If you don’t get the job and don’t agree with the feedback do not be rude or offensive to employers. Remember they are just doing their job. Just write it off and go find that company that can appreciate your skills.

3. Don’t lie about other job offers

You need to be careful what you tell a prospective employer after interview in order to hurry up feedback. Don’t lie about job offers and use this to try and speed up feedback or it could simply backfire. The company concerned could simply reply that you should take the other job offer as they can’t get the feedback quick enough. This will leave you empty handed.

Job Hunting Myths


Like anything Job Hunting has its fair share of myths which can be unhelpful or misleading for those involved in job search. This articles aims to explore and explode some of the most common myths to give you a more rounded perspective.

Myth 1 The perfect job is waiting for you

This totally untrue, there is no such thing as the perfect job and if you find it please let me know. This myth is often used in an attempt to make you feel better about yourself but in fact it can make you feel frustrated as you wonder why you haven’t found that perfect job, or if you ever will. Granted there are many enjoyable and rewarding jobs but each have their own drawbacks as well as their many advantages.

Myth 2 A resume should be no more than two pages in length

There is a myth that any resume should not be longer than 2 pages. This is absolute nonsense I have read resume’s of professional contractors (particularly in the IT industry) who due to the short duration of contracts have resume’s lasting 10 pages, but the information which they contain is both succinct and relevant. This is the key, employers prefer to see short work histories in which you have demonstrated specific examples of how you have used your skills than page long summaries that talk about who you sat next to and how good you were in the company golf team.

Myth 3 You should always write resumes in the third person

This is also a myth. Whilst some people like to write resumes in the third person it is certainly not essential and is in fact becoming increasingly unfashionable. There is nothing wrong with writing “I did this…” rather than “Michael did this…”. The only time when writing in the third person might be considered is at senior manager or executive level to communicate an air of authority.

Myth 4 Don’t call us, we’ll call you

This is perhaps one of the biggest myths and is often a means of politely informing you that you won’t be getting the job, although in all my years of recruiting I have never once heard a company use it. What it actually infers of course is that a company doesn’t want you to ring them as they are too busy to deal with your request for interview feedback due to the volume of candidates being assessed. However, In reality most companies actively encourage you to chase them up after your interview for feedback.

I got my first ever job because the manager who interviewed me was impressed that I persistently kept calling the office every three days to chase feedback after interview, they said it demonstrated enthusiasm and commitment.

Myth 5 You’ll walk into a job

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this. In reality we all know that getting a job is not always that straight forward. The average recruitment cycle from making an application to getting a job offer can take up to three months, so don’t get frustrated if by the second week of your job search you still haven’t secured a job. Be persistent.

Myth 6 When I get nervous at interview I just imagine the Interview panel in their underpants!

In reality no one has ever done this for two reasons a) It doesn’t occur to them to say it until afterwards and b) if they did they would probably burst out laughing and blow their chances of getting the job. It’s a great anecdote but it is unlikely it has ever happened.

Myth 7 Agencies don’t pay you a full hourly wage.

I hear lots of people say, I work through an agency and they take loads of money of my hourly wage. I get paid $4.00 per hour but the agency charges the employer $6.00 per hour.

It may feel that you are being ripped off but the answer to this is simple. All agencies have agreements with employers that allow for an additional percentage to be added on to the hourly wage. This percentage generally ranges from between 15 and 30% but can easily be higher.

This means that whatever rate the employer decides to pay to you as an employee; the agency can add its additional percentage on as a reward for finding suitable people to fill the position.

Most of the time it would be unlikely that you would be paid the amount the agency receives even if you applied directly to the firm because this is the agency's fee for finding you.

Strategies for getting yourself promoted


Getting a job promotion at work is often a delicate process, if you’re too pushy it could backfire damaging your future career prospects, not pushy enough and you could be overlooked for another more forthright member of staff. This article seeks to provide some simple strategies to help you get yourself promoted.

1. Work Hard

Throw yourself into your work, don’t drag out breaks and be willing to do some overtime to show your commitment to the organisation. Employers often like staff to lead by example so being the first person in the workplace each day is also a good start.

Tip: don’t confuse working hard with being a workaholic. Remember family or social life are equally important. It’s possible to work hard within the confines of normal contracted hours and still be more productive than those who are constantly doing overtime.

2. Be Trustworthy

This is a major issue for an employer. I once heard a story of a senior bank official who whilst in the staff canteen buying lunch, stole a small tub of butter to go with his bread roll, believing no one was looking. The Chief executive of the bank saw him do it and fired him on the spot. The Senior bank official said “It’s only a tub of butter” to which the CEO replied “If you can steal a tub of butter, you can steal anything.”

If you are known for your trustworthiness your chances of promotion will increase dramatically, as management need to know that they can delegate important work to their senior staff.

3. Get to know your boss outside of work

Sometimes your hard work can still go unnoticed, particularly in busy professions and workplaces where it is taken for granted that you will work late. Find out what interests your boss has and engage them in conversation on that subject. At some point you may get the opportunity to take them out to indulge that interest such as a trip to the theatre, football game, baseball match or round of golf. Getting yourself noticed like this is a sure fire way of keeping yourself at the forefront of their mind when it’s time to consider promotions.

4. Improve your skills base.

Skilled staff are always the first in line to be considered for a promotion so take every opportunity to develop your knowledge and experience.

Book yourself on as many internal training courses as you can manage, without it detracting from your day to day work. Alternatively consider taking an external course or qualification of direct relevance to your job. Not only does this benefit both you and the organisation but your employer will be impressed by your commitment.

5. Don’t sleep with the boss

Whether you’re male or female, sleeping with the boss is out. Whilst you may believe it’s the best way to get a promotion you will instantly lose the respect of colleagues. Ask yourself is it really worth sacrificing your morals for a promotion?

6. Be Organised

Employers often look to promote staff who they see as organised, disciplined and efficient. Make sure you take every opportunity to demonstrate how good you are at planning and executing your various job responsibilities.

Tip: If this is not a strong point consider going on organisational or time management training courses. Keep to do lists and record details of tasks that need following up so that you can demonstrate what you have done if required.

7. Be passionate about your job

Being passionate about what you do for a living is contagious and others will naturally look to you, even informally, for leadership and direction, even if they wouldn’t admit it. This will not go unnoticed by your employer and it is a sure fire way of getting a promotion easily if management see you demonstrating leadership skills without even being asked.

8. Be open to criticism

Good managers are often defined by how they have learnt from previous mistakes and this requires an ability to respond positively to criticism. As a manager you will come in for criticism from all sides, your staff will sometimes feel that you are out of touch and senior management will want to know why you haven’t achieved objectives. This requires a willingness to learn from mistakes and getting defensive over a problem because you don’t want to admit you made a mistake will not endear you to management.

How to compare a number of job offers


Trying to decide between two competing job offers can be difficult, especially when they are both jobs that you are more than capable of doing. This article has been written in an attempt to help provide some tips for aiding you in the process.

1. Write down your thoughts on paper.

Writing down your thoughts on paper is often the best way to make an objective comparison. Write down the strengths and weaknesses of each offer, that way it’s easier to see visually whether one offer has more drawbacks than another.

2. Location

Think about the location of each job offer an how easy it would be to get there. Whilst the one further away may appear more lucrative financially by offering a high basic salary, by the time you’ve calculated travel costs you may discover that there is little difference.

You need to decide whether you are willing to travel or even relocate for the right job and what effect this will have on you and/or your family.

3. Job Role

Are both job offers comparable in terms of the role being offered or is one more appealing because of new skills you may acquire?

Sometimes going for an identical job to the one you have had is a bad idea as you may be likely to become bored more quickly. A job that offers confirmed training opportunities may be more beneficial to your career and job satisfaction in the long term.

4. Promotion Prospects

As well as developing skills and abilities are there good promotion prospects in both roles being offered or does one have less opportunity that another? The last thing you want to do is end up getting stuck in a dead end job where career development is hard to come by.

5. Company Reputation

This is often of critical importance when deciding between rival job offers. What have you heard about the companies concerned, do you have friends or family working for those organisations who can give you a real insight?

Don’t just think about salary, as a company with a poorer reputation may seek to offer a higher salary to cover up for its weaknesses in this area.

Tip: Why not call both companies and ask if you could visit the sites again. This will give you an invaluable opportunity to chat with staff and get another feel for the environment rather than simply relying on your experiences in interview. If one of the companies refuses your request then this may tell you something about the way in which they work.

6. Benefits

Aside from salary what benefits are available in both job offers? Whilst the basic salary may be higher on one offer the associate benefits of another may outweigh this.

Think about what discounts you may be offered if you join a particular company, length of vacation time, commission structures, car or car allowance, pension arrangements or medical insurance.

How to avoid embarrassing yourself at interview


Being interviewed for a new vacancy can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Perhaps the first thought is the happiness or for some the relief of having been invited for an interview and the knowledge that you have been considered as a potentially suitable candidate for the job. This can often give way to an overwhelming sense of anxiousness, self doubt, and fear of rejection should you not be deemed suitable.
Don't worry help is at hand to ensure that you can excel when the day of the interview arrives.

As an Ex Recruiter here are a list of common interview bloopers and some advice on how to avoid them.

1. Unsuitably dressed

Interviews often bring out the worst in dress sense. I’ve had people turn up to formal interviews in jeans and T-shirt’s, bright yellow and orange shirts, shorts and a variety of other inappropriate attire. You may believe that how you dress shouldn’t matter if you have the right skills for the job, sadly it does make a difference.

It doesn't matter what type of job you are applying for any potential employer wants to know that you have made an effort at your interview and presentation is important for a number of reasons

A) It shows courtesy to a prospective employer and reflects your respect to them for having been invited in the first place.

B) Looking smart can also give you much needed confidence (not arrogance) in your own abilities.

Tip: Go for dark colours, like blue, navy or black for interview clothing and always stick to a plain white shirt or blouse. These colours are quite neutral and smart and are unlikely to be off putting to a prospective employer.

2. Don't tell them you're nervous!

Many people with issues around self esteem seek to gain sympathy from a potential interviewer by stating just how they feel. Whilst most interviewers will politely tell you that it's okay just take your time, it is often a sure put off and sends out a clear message that you have no confidence in your own abilities.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling nervous, with shaking, crying or even being sick just prior to your interview just as long as you are able to do this out of sight of your potential employer, perhaps in the nearest bathroom, but take time to compose yourself before it's your turn.

Some tips for dealing with nerves

A) Take your IPOD and listen to some music whilst waiting, it will take your mind off thinking about the interview.

B) Take a magazine, newspaper or book with you to read whilst you wait.

3. Don't lie or exaggerate

Whilst it can be tempting to exaggerate your skills or lie in order to get a job just don't do it! I guarantee that you will be caught out at some point. I never forget interviewing a male in his late thirties for a programming position in a computer company. He was a very impressive candidate he knew all the technical language had an impressive resume , what he didn't know was that he was required to undertake an impromptu technical test lasting 15 minutes following his face to face interview, which he duly failed spectacularly.

The Power of Networking in Job Search


Networking is one of the oldest and most effective forms of job hunting available and yet it is also one of the least utilised. So before you scour the internet for a new job or flick through magazine advertisements here are a few thoughts about the power of networking in the job search process.

Personal Recommendation

This is a powerful weapon in your job hunting armoury because friends, family or colleagues are more often the best sources of information for finding job vacancies. How many of your colleagues have been for job interviews recently? It's worth asking around because if they have similar skills to you then it's likely that the jobs they have applied for will also be of direct relevance to you. Why wade through hundreds of jobs elsewhere if you can apply for one or two that have been personal recommended to you and that are a good match already. In addition if you apply to a company where you already know someone who works there, they can put in a good word for you.

A colleague of mine once recruited five skilled IT consultants without once having to advertise. The first person he called told a friend and so on until all five had applied for five available jobs and where successful. This can be much better for you as you are likely to end up working alongside people you know and are comfortable with, leading to increased levels of job satisfaction. So ask around before you spend time actively job hunting, because personal recommendation is a power networking tool in job search.

Bypass official Channels

Networking allows you to get a head start in the job search process. Once a job is advertised the chances of you being a successful applicant reduce, but if you are recommended by a friend or already have a social/professional relationship with the hiring manager you can get a head start. Whilst company’s don’t admit it they will speed up the interview process of a particular candidate if they come through from a recommendation. Better still the company may not have to advertise the job if another colleague mentions your credentials before a vacancy is officially made public, saving them time and money.

Improved knowledge of the job requirements

If you are applying for a job at a company where you already have friends, family or clients then this will improve your understanding of what the job requires and boost your chances at interview. Demonstrating to a prospective employer that you have intimate knowledge of their business or industry is a powerful tool and you will stand out more distinctively than another candidate who has a lesser understanding.

Inside information on the assessment process.

The key to making it through the assessment process is understanding what is required of you. Increasingly companies are turning to assessment centres which are set up to test various technical, interpersonal and knowledge based skills. Networking is an ideal means of obtaining information about what you can expect to face, whilst you won’t be able to find out the specifics of the tests involved, asking others who have completed these assessments can help you understand what you will be tested on. This can be really helpful as it gives you the opportunity to prepare yourself properly for the assessment to give you a solid start.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Fundamentals of a Good Resume (CV)


The Internet houses a wealth of articles proving advice about the fundamentals of a good resume so what's so different about this article, well as an ex recruiter I have had first hand experience of reviewing literally thousands and thousands of resumes and have a good understanding about what's important to employers.

Personal Statement

As an introduction to any resume I always encourage people to write a short paragraph (no more than a few sentences) about themselves and what type of person they are for example

"I am an enthusiastic career driven individual with a strong team emphasis who excels in embracing tough new challenges and is able to motivate others towards achieving a common purpose."


"I am a hardworking, calm and problem focused individual who is adept at working alone to create innovative solutions to complex situations through the application of scientific criteria."


How far should I go back? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive and can only be answered with another question, ask yourself how relevant is my school history to the job?

For example as a school leaver it is absolutely essential that you include all of your education history and grades because you are likely to have less experience to draw upon and therefore your educational abilities will be important to a potential employer.

As a seasoned professional with 20+ years in the industry does a new employer really need to know that you went to "Ashford Primary School" ? I can't answer the question about what is or isn't relevant only you can do that, but think about what stage your career is currently at and address your education accordingly.

My personal format for educational background is date from - to , institution and grades for example;

1985 - 1989 - Mouse Secondary School, 8 GCSE'S grades A-C, including English and Mathematics.

Also think about other educational experiences since you left school and include any of the following in this section:

- Professional Qualifications i.e. CIPD, PHD, MSC, CEMA
- University, College courses
- Professional Training in your job that is directly relevant to the job you are applying for.

Work Experience

This is a critical section as it details the skills you can bring to the job drawing on what you have done in the past, so don't worry if you don't have lots of educational experience, some of the most successful business and professional people learnt all their skills through work experience.

Try and break down your current employment into key skills think about some of the following headings and try and building your resume around these particular areas to demonstrate your abilities;

- Time Management
- Delegation Skills
- Line Management Responsibilities
- Budget Management for example Profit and Loss responsibility
- Motivation, are you a self starter you do you need structures to follow
- Organisation Skills
- Report Writing/Letter Writing Skills
- Communication and Listening Skills
- Working as part of a team.

Don't worry if you don't have a formal education background there are still lots of skills that you can offer to a future employer, these skills can often be more relevant.
The most important thing to remember is to give specific examples of how you have demonstrated these skills in your work, draw out one or two per employment history for example;

1989 - Present Blogs Ltd, Senior Training Manager

Blogs Limited is a multinational corporation employing 20,000 people and with an annual turnover of 54 Million pounds. Within this role I reported directly to the board and had line management responsibility for 10 employees. My primary responsibility was to ensure the identification and strategic planning of training requirements across the organisation which required a significant level of organisational and time management skills in co-ordinating team roles and responsibilities to achieve this objective.


This is always the first section that I used to read as it gave me a flavour of the person who had applied but be warned it can also be your downfall. Once again think about who your resume is targeted and considered what you include in this section.

Resume Length

There is a myth that any resume should not be longer than 2 pages. This is absolute nonsense I have read resume’s of professional contractors (particularly in the IT industry) who due to the short duration of contracts have resume’s lasting 10 pages, but the information which they contain is both succinct and relevant. This is the key, employers prefer to see short work histories in which you have demonstrated specific examples of how you have used your skills than page long summaries that talk about who you sat next to and how good you were in the company golf team.


- BE Specific
- BE Positive
- BE Confident in your skills.

Elements of a Succesful Job Search


Starting a job search can often be a daunting experience, after all where do you start and which sources of information should you use? This article aims to examine in detail the elements of a successful job search, drawing upon my experience as a recruiter over a number of years.

Step 1. Objective Setting

It is impossible to decide whether something has been successful unless you define some basic objective in the first instance. Think about some of the following:

a) Are you looking for an identical job in a different company?

b) Are you looking for a career change into a specific industry?

c) Or are you still undecided about what job you want, but intend to cast the net as wide as possible and see what happens?

Once you have clarified your job search goals this will influence what you expect to gain at the end of the process.

Step 2. Update your Resume

Some people get steps 1 and 2 in the wrong order in their haste to find employment. They update their resume and then start thinking about what job they would like to search for. Remember your resume provides a snapshot of your skills and abilities but you should always tailor it to the type of job you are applying for. Don’t just submit the same resume for multiple jobs. Take time to emphasise particular skills in your resume that may appeal more to some employers than others.

3. Dress to impress

Go out and buy a good interview suit, even if you don’t normally wear one. Looking smart and presentable to any prospective employer is essential as it communicates respect and attention to detail. Getting your interview attire ready before you commence your actual job search will ensure that you are ready to respond immediately if an employer asks you to attend an interview at short notice. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to buy smart clothing on the day of an interview.

Tip: Go for dark colors, like blue, navy or black for interview clothing and always stick to a plain white shirt or blouse. These colors are quite neutral and smart and are unlikely to be off putting to a prospective employer.

4. Newspaper Media

The traditional way to search for a new job is by combing through newspapers or specialist magazines to find suitable vacancies. These media types can be very useful. Newspaper advertising provides a good overview of local vacancies whilst specialist magazines offer opportunities within a particular industry like social working, engineering , aerospace etc.

These should definitely be an essential element of a successful job search but their major drawback is that you often have to shift through lots of irrelevant vacancies until you find something suitable.

5. Internet Job Search

The internet is by far the most effective media for searching for job opportunities, as most company websites or specialist job search sites are regularly updated, offer instant access to potential employers and are highly interactive.

Specialist online job search sites like, one of the market leaders are even better.

Features include the ability to upload your resume directly onto the site so that thousands of potential employers can view it directly and email alerts which trigger an email to be sent directly to your email inbox if suitable jobs that match your criteria are posted on the site. Online job search sites like these offer flexibility, speed and the ability to narrow down your search options if there is just too much information to go through.

These sites are an essential element to your job search and I would highly recommend who host some of the largest online selection of jobs covering virtually every industry and specialism.

These sites are free for job hunters to use, as monster charge the companies fees for advertising on the site.

6. Register with an employment agency

Employment agencies don’t always have the best reputations but there are some really excellent agencies out there and they can add some real value to your job search. Having worked for a recruitment agency for a number of years here are some of the benefits they can bring to your jobserach:

a) Objective Critique of your resume

Whilst we all like to believe that we have written an excellent resume, a good employment agency will sit down with you and go through it in detail, suggesting improvements along the way.

b) Agencies know companies better than you

Employment agencies really do know what their client companies want and can provide you with invaluable information or interview coaching regarding what skills you should be emphasising.

c) Agencies have good links to companies

It’s sad to say but sometimes if you apply directly to a company your resume can go to the bottom of the queue, but agencies can speed the feedback process up by acting as a representative on your behalf.

Most employment agencies are commission based and it’s in their interest to get the fastest feedback possible after your resume has been submitted to a company. As a result they are likely to have developed good channels of communication with hiring managers and will be actively promoting your skills to key decision makers in the company.

Tip: Ask around for a recommendation of a good agency, that way you’ll quickly discover who which can add value to your job search.