May 29

Pushing potentially great candidates over the line

When I started my recruitment and coaching business nearly twelve months ago I was fortunate enough to be asked to review a new book on recruitment called The Rare Find by George Anders, which is about spotting exceptional talent before everyone else does and putting it to work.

George tells a great story about the legendary Steve Jobs who before he got to Apple had many different jobs, had a “jagged CV” and found that some businesses were thinking twice about taking him on, fortunately Apple did and the rest, as they say, is history!

This struck a chord with me for several reasons. As a now ex in-house recruiter I used to get continually frustrated at the quality of applications and CVs that came in, especially when I read between the lines on the application and could see that the candidate had potential. It was one of the reasons that I didn’t want to be just another recruiter and believed that I could make a difference as a coach, taking candidates from their lowest point, building their confidence back up again and completely repackaging them for career success.

I like to think that I’m structured when I approach interviews, and there are some great recruitment methodologies that I’ve used in the past, but like most recruiters, I’ve sometimes taken a risk because I believed a certain candidate was right for the business and had potential, even when the interview has not gone to plan or when the CV was not great.

Recently one of my clients, who had been in the same business since leaving school felt that if she was going to make a move into a management role then she would have to move on elsewhere, however after submitting her CV to several recruiters and applying for a number of roles directly, she felt she was going nowhere. She came to me on a recommendation and together we went through every aspect of her job hunt, from her CV, use of social media and how best to approach companies, through to researching a particular company and role, and focused interview coaching.  I gave my client a lot of help and guidance, and when we found a role of interest, although she did not tick every box the recruiting manager saw her potential and hired her. This is without a doubt the best part of my job, that as a recruiter I can make a real difference to people’s lives.

Finally, I have two pieces of advice, one for recruiting line managers and one for candidates:

Recruiting Line Managers: Recruitment is not always a tick box exercise. Not every CV you read will be perfect and always allow for nerves at interview. Take the long-term view on a candidate and on the value that they will be able to add to the business in the future if you take a chance (remember Steve Jobs!) and invest in them now.

Candidates: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Before you start applying for roles, get someone you trust to cast a quality control eye over your CV to check for typos and to make sure that you’re not making wild statements that will get pulled apart at interview. This applies to every candidate at any level. I’ve written CVs for senior board members who have fantastic skills but can’t pull a decent CV together and will be happy to admit it. Check your LinkedIn profile for typos and make sure it reflects what a potential employer is looking for. Do your homework beforehand, both by researching the business and by thinking about and preparing responses for the interview questions that you could get asked, including those about your CV. If you increased sales by 10%, be prepared to be asked about how you did this. The more research and preparation you do, the less of a risk you will be seen as by a business and the more likely they will be to take a measured punt!!