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5 Ways to Earn a Perfect 10 From Your Recruiter

Posted on: February 9, 2018

Category: Job Search

By Greg Whitesell, Marketing Manager

With the Winter Olympics underway, we’re about to be presented with shining examples of people achieving a goal.  The finely-tuned athletes on our TV’s almost make it look easy to perform at a high level and vie for the top scores.  The reality?  It takes years of practice and coaching to hone the skills needed to compete on the world’s largest stage.  While our coaching may not land you on the podium in ­­­PyeongChang, we too are dedicated to helping people win.  Achieving the goal of a new career may not require the lifelong commitment of an Olympian, but landing the right opportunity can be challenging and requires thoughtful preparation and a competitive spirit.  With that said, we asked our recruiters to share what candidates can do to impress them, earn their highest marks and ultimately end up winning the roles they want.

1. Prepare like a champ
Just like throwing on a pair of skates and picking up a hockey stick won’t win anyone a gold medal, simply submitting a resume or applying for a job online most likely won’t get you a job.  Preparation is paramount.  In an internal survey, nearly all our recruiters noted the importance of being prepared.  According to Sherpa Managing Director, Melissa McGuire, “candidates who are prepared, can recall details illustrating how they have successfully performed duties similar to the job description, making them more successful in interviews.  Lack of specifics provided by candidates about their past is a frequent reason for not moving forward with a candidate.”  Daphne Norvell, a Senior Accounting and Finance Recruiter also noted that when it comes to interviewing, “candidates need to research the company, their industry and the people they will meet”.  Thorough preparation also means being able to answer questions asked during an interview “without veering off course” and “limiting personal stories that are unrelated to the job”, said Andrea Campbell, Division Director for HR and Executive Support.  Most interviews, at least early rounds, follow a tight time schedule so succinctly and correctly conveying information an interviewer needs to make their evaluation plays to a candidate’s advantage.

2. Collaborate and communicate 
In the sport of curling (the one where three competitors guide a rock down an icy path to a target) a great deal of strategy and teamwork go into choosing the ideal path and placement of a stone for each situation, and the skills of the curlers determine how close to the desired result the stone will achieve.  The same is true of the candidate/recruiter relationship.  As a candidate, it’s imperative that you’re open and honest with your recruiter about who you are and what you’re looking for to enable them to prepare the best strategy for your job search.  Norvell shared that “candidates who are able to articulate why a job is or is not a good fit for their background and are able to speak to examples of their experience when interviewing for specific roles” stand the best chance of being placed in roles that are the right fit.  She noted that it’s also helpful when candidates track where they’ve sent their resume so recruiters can focus their efforts on finding different opportunities the candidate hasn’t already considered.  Campbell also pointed out the best candidate/recruiter relationships feature open and honest feedback and ”in an agency setting, need to be completely candid” so the recruiter can effectively match the right person to the right opportunity.  As in curling, this “team” approach to the job hunt is invaluable to reaching the intended goal.

3. Dress for success 
Speed skaters wear full-body spandex to reduce air resistance and reach maximum speeds.  The result of not being properly attired?  At best, a slower time.  At worst, disqualification.  In a professional setting, spandex is obviously out – so, what is the right look to avoid an interview DQ.    First off, it’s always best to err on the side of over, rather than under-dressed.  In our survey, over half of our recruiters equated professional dress with a positive first impression.  Many also pointed out that it’s distracting in an interview scenario if candidates are too flashy, too revealing or too disheveled.  Further, attire should match the job requirements and/or the interview setting – for example, you wouldn’t show up for an on-site interview as a construction foreman wearing a suit and tie.  A best practice is to make attire choice part of your planning phase as you research the company.  If you aren’t sure – ask your recruiter for advice on what you should wear. 

4. Visualize 
In competition, visualizing success can be invaluable.  In fact, during the 2014 Sochi games, the US Olympic team was accompanied by 9 sports psychologists to help them visualize success and maintain focus.  Like sports, competition is inherent in the job search process.  It can also be intimidating and exhausting.  In our survey, one of the questions asked was “what can candidates do to impress you?”  The answers?   They “have energy and enthusiasm”, “exhibit passion”, “have a positive attitude” and “exude confidence”.  This is where visualization can come in handy.  In his blog, Job Search Roadmap, Paul Freed notes that “visualization is a mental rehearsal to help you focus on the specific goal you have in mind, to make it more real, more tangible, and something you can see yourself doing successfully.”  He goes on to list 5 quick tips for visualization that include eliminating doubt, positive reaffirmation and mental picturing – all great ways to foster the attitude characteristics pointed out in our survey.

5. Follow through 
When a figure skater achieves fewer than 2.5 rotations on a double axel, judges deduct points because the performer didn’t completely follow through.  Follow through is equally as important to professionals who’ve decided it’s time to change careers.  From showing up on time for interviews to providing quality references to penning sincere thank you notes that reference the interview discussion – these are opportunities to earn “style points” and differentiate yourself from everyone else in the game.  IT Recruiter Chris Tucker noted that in the relationship between recruiter and candidate, follow through needs to be reciprocal, saying “whether it’s responding to email or returning a call” both parties need to “do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it” for the relationship to be successful. 

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Yes – we know that’s a summer Olympic sport, but it’s a worthy reference to point out that in most cases, finding the right role doesn’t happen overnight.  The Olympics demonstrate how commitment, drive and dedication can yield extraordinary results.  They also remind us that we all experience success and failure.  The important thing to remember is that we all have the ability to improve on the skills we possess and to learn new ones to land a role that makes us feel like we’ve struck gold.


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