Tag Archives: recruiter

Change your life in two pages…(or, how long should my CV be?)

I had an email from an old friend last week asking for my help in resolving a debate taking place amongst his peers at work. How long should a CV be? As the hiring Managers, they wanted 2 pages but recruiters and job seekers alike were sending CV’s ranging anywhere upwards from 3 pages.

As a Recruiter, knowledge is power (yes, I know, I suffer from delusions of grandeur!) The more in depth, detailed information I have about you the better placed I am to introduce you the job you want. However that information should come when I interview you. It is up to me as the external recruiter to ask the right questions of you to ensure you give me all I need. I suspect I may be one of a dying breed in this respect.

Many recruiters (both internal and external) don’t read CV’s. The CV arrives through some form of online portal and is dropped automatically in to a database where keyword searches throw up the pre – requisite skills the hiring manager needs to fill the job order. Therefore from a candidate perspective you need to ensure your CV is content, keyword rich, highly visible to search engines.

You can’t afford to leave anything out fear of the search engines missing you and the opportunity passing you by. So you err on the side of caution, work on the principle of more is better.

Culture has a part to play. Over the years I have interviewed lots of South Africans. Their CV’s would make Tolstoy proud. They appear to work on the principle the longer the CV, the more you will have achieved. On the other end of the spectrum I have only today seen the issue of the one page CV come up. As labour markets become ever more transient and global war for talent hots up, cross border issues will arise when it comes to CV’s. So what’s the global view?

My last search returned 3.6 million results. It’s all a matter of opinion, clearly there are many. So for the record, here’s mine.

Two pages.

Your CV is simply a catalyst for conversation. You have to grab my attention and you have a short time in which to do it. Jaguar Land Rover recently announced 14000 + applications for 1500 vacancies. The competition is fierce. Every word must count.

I need to know fast who you are, how to contact you, what you are qualified to do, who you worked for, what you did for them, what you achieved whilst you were there and what impact those achievements had on the business. 60% duties and responsibilities, 40% achievements. Make sure you can quantify those achievements, put some numbers to them, evidence the contribution to the top or bottom line. Then you’ve got my attention. I want at most your last 10 years and will really focus on the last five in detail. The rest is history.

I want to know a little bit about you outside the work place, what your hobbies and interests are, just enough to want to know more. I don’t need to know it all, just the bits of which you are most proud that you consider wholly relevant to the post.

If you don’t get shortlisted for interview, it is not you that is being rejected, it is your CV. You need to work on it. It should be a living, breathing, up to the minute document of which you are intensely proud. There can be no sense of that’ll do. It should be fine tuned, fine tuned and fine tuned again.

Give it the attention it deserves. Its two pages that lead to a conversation that could change your life.



Filed under Careers, Recruitment

Is this the worst recruiter ad ever?

I promise you I have a sense of humour.  ( Many may argue otherwise, but I can assure you I do ).  I mention this if only to assure you that I haven’t lost that sense of humour before you go on to read what I have to say about this advertisement from job site www.TheLadders.com

Finding a job is a serious business.  If you are out of a job it becomes yet ever more serious.  Arguably a sense of humour can be a great asset in the face of tough circumstances, but if you are going to engage with someone, whether that is online or face to face, you want to know that you can trust that representation.

You want to know that the person with whom you are engaging is going to represent your career aspirations with professionalism and integrity.  If online, you want to know that the jobs board you are using is able to attract employers to the site that are consistent with your aspirations.  Even more so if you are paying for it.

www.TheLadders.com is one such site that you as the job seeker pay for access.  Google The Ladders, you get the following;

“With Career advice, Job postings, and Job search tools for professionals”,

www.TheLadders.com lays claim to offer  “Job search for professional jobs in the most comprehensive source of £50k+ ($100k+ in the US) jobs on the internet”.

Surely if you are offering job search tools and opportunities for professionals your employer branding should reflect such professionalism?  If you want to attract the very best employers to advertise their very best vacancies on your site, you have a responsibility to promote a professional image to ensure those paying for your site (the job seekers) can expect the very best in professional vacancies behind the pay wall?

Like I say I have a sense of humour.  Have a look at this advertisement from The Ladders.  Would you pay to join a site that claims to offer the cream of opportunities after having watched this?  Does it reflect the way you feel about your career?

I would love to hear your comments.  Is this the worst recruiter advertisement ever?

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Filed under Careers, Recruitment

Know your worth

“The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.  Oscar Wilde.

Whether you are moving to a new job or approaching your annual pay review, when it comes to salary negotiation, it is vitally important to know both the price ( in this case of hiring you ) and therefore the value that you bring.  There is nothing cynical in that.  Why run the risk of selling yourself short?

Start with what your currently earn.  It is important to understand the value of your entire package.  I have been amazed over the years just how many people I have interviewed as a Recruiter who didn’t even know exactly their gross annual basic salary.

How much are your additional benefits are worth?  What is the value of your employers pension contributions?  How much is your healthcare worth?  Do you have a laptop, a mobile phone, a company car, a gym membership?  If so what price can you put on these benefits?  How about your holiday entitlement?  If you have a great annual leave deal or benefit from flexible working, what value can you place upon such a benefit for you personally?

How does your current deal compare to market rates?  You can talk to Recruiters who should have a good understanding of what employers are paying in your area for your skill set.

There are a wealth of salary surveys online that can give you a good sense of the salary range that your skills, talent, qualifications and experience would position you in.  However you should look to be more specific.  There are a number of great resources available online that enable you to compare your deal with that of your peers.  You might want to try




It is all very well knowing the value to your employer of your skill set.  Do you know the value to your employer of that which you have achieved?  Keep an up to date list of those achievements in your job that you feel have added significant value.

Can you quantify those achievements, put a number to them?  If you can’t, why not ask your employer to?   You cannot afford to be shy or humble.  With average UK wage increases in 2011 predicted at 2.7% against inflation at 3.1%, it will cost you.

Do your homework.  Know what you want, know what you need, be realistic, be reasonable.  Know your price, know your value, know your worth.

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Filed under Careers, research

Social media and recruitment – the privacy debate

Regular visitors to this blog will know my views with respect to web privacy.  We have a choice not to post, not to upload, not to share.  Accepting that may take much of the “social” away from media, we have a choice nonetheless.

I appreciate we cannot hold the same degree of control over what our friends, family, colleagues or even enemies may wish to post or publish about us online.  Once on the web, it’s always on the web.  Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, was recently reported to have said that generation y’ers will have to change their identities several times in their working lives to erase the trail of photo’s of drunken college pranks that may come back to haunt them and hurt their career aspirations in later years.  That’s a scary thought.

Social media works because we are all voyeurs and show offs.  We are all curious, we all need to communicate and we all need to be loved.  Social media allows us to feel loved and to tell anyone who is willing to listen (or look!).  We are not going to stop posting, uploading, sharing.  So where does privacy step in?  Where is the line?  How long before governments (who in most cases would appear to be terrified at the power of social media) step in to the debate around privacy?

Step forward Germany.  As part of the draft of a law governing workplace privacy, the German government has proposed placing restrictions on employers who want to use Facebook profiles when recruiting.

The proposal would allow for searches to be conducted on the web for publicly accessible information about prospective employees and to view their pages on open networking sites like LinkedIn or Xing. However the bill will draw the line at purely social networking sites like Facebook.

I am undecided as to how I feel about this.  I have a choice, I have privacy settings on my Facebook profile, I can choose who I want as my friends and choose what I want the world to see and what I don’t.  Is this another example of big brother government bullying middle brother (the employer) so that little brother (the employee) is protected?  No bad thing.

I am starting to feel like I can’t be trusted.  Shouldn’t I expect to be accountable and responsible for the choices I make?  Should I continue to be punished or penalised for them 20 years after they have happened?  Doesn’t everyone make mistakes?

Do I need the government to protect me in this way?  Can’t I decide for myself?  Is this the first step of part of a wider process of sanitising the web?  Too many questions for one posting, many of which as I reflect remain unanswered.

Social Media has become a powerful “checking out” tool for recruiters.  I suspect governments are using it in exactly the same way (oops, careful, conspiracy theories in a blog posting, whatever next!).  So what do you all think?  Are the German Government right or wrong?  Let me know your thoughts, I would love to know what everyone is thinking……….


Filed under Recruitment, Social Media

Employers, love your recruiter and they will love you back.

The opportunity for an employer to engage direct with an enormous range of potential hires is more prevalent than at any other time.  Social media has changed the rules of the game.  So why engage a recruiter?

When I first started out in recruitment (here we go I hear you say, it’s going to be one of those “back in the day”stories) we pursued candidate exclusivity as if our lives depended on it.  The only thing to differentiate us was the quality of candidate we represented.  It was our only asset.  We were better than the competition for one reason and one reason only, we had better candidates.

Candidate exclusivity is impossible today.  We might like to think it’s not.  Lets be honest with ourselves.  If  a candidate gets an email from a job site they have subscribed to with a job being handled by another recruiter, they love the look of it and apply, who are we to think we can stop that.  Frankly it is right that we are unable to.  As the employer you are not missing out instructing only one recruiter.

So how do you differentiate as the employer?  Recruiters will all claim to do it better, faster and with greater reach, that they have access to the widest database of possible candidates.  That argument falls flat in 2010.  We all have access to the widest range of possible candidates, it’s called the world-wide web.  They are out there on Linkedin and Facebook.  The best way to differentiate a recruiter is on the strength and reach of their network.  You can see it for yourself.  The value to you of that recruiter is in their ability to manage that network, to cut through the noise that is the world-wide web and to deliver to you the talent you need to realise your business plan.

Pick a recruiter who is more interested in listening than speaking, whom you can trust (accepting that is something that must be earned, give the recruiter chance to earn it).  The Recruiter is the first point of call to a prospective candidate and therefore is representative of your employer brand.  Brief them fully and extensively.  Treat them as if they were one of your own employees.  Invite them in to your business, show them around, introduce them to key people, show them where the job is based, who the candidate will be working with.  Don’t just send a job description and person specification out to a list of recruiters in your contact directory.  Recruitment is personal, it is not a transaction.  Don’t treat it as such.  Invest in it, give of your time if you want great results.

Briefing multi – agencies is a bad idea for all.  A candidate will go to at least 2 or 3 agencies.  We all have access to the same pool of candidates.  Pick one recruiter, brief them fully, give them the time to do their job and make sure they do it.  If they don’t, clearly you have a choice.  However the minute you make recruitment a multi agency scenario you remove the focus on quality from the process and make speed of delivery the key driver for the recruiter.   This is a false economy.  You are opening yourself up to an inbox deluge that will keep you busy for days.  The recruiters wont be doing the pre – screening, you will.

Recruiters are competitive by nature and under pressure to get results.  Nobody wants to miss out.  So rather than being rigorous in selection the opposite occurs.  They don’t want to risk leaving a candidate out based on their judgement for fear that a competitor will put them in, resulting in inbox deluge.  You are left with the impression that there is little accountability and responsibility amongst recruiters.  You are right, but you created the game that is being played out.  Fear is driving he outcome, not quality.

Pick a partner, someone who takes in interest in your business.  Pick someone who has researched your company, taken the time trouble and effort to understand your business, your people, your culture, values, products and services and vision for the future.  Pick someone you feel you can trust, trust them and let them get on with the job.  Reward them handsomely if they deliver.  Sure be commercial, but you get what you pay for.  Why wouldn’t you reward a recruiter well if they continue to provide the talent you need to succeed in your business?  It shouldn’t be about price.  Talent is not a commodity.

We all have a basic need to be loved.  Recruiters are no different.  We want to earn your love, we want to please, to meet your expectations.  We know we have to earn the right.  Give us the chance to earn and you will reap the rewards.

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Filed under agency, Hiring, Recruitment

Privileged Influence

There is much to love about being a recruiter.  No one day is ever same.  For the recruiter at the desk, the opportunity to engage with businesses of every shape, size, sector, product means that every day is a learning experience.  Every candidate we meet has a unique combination of skills, experiences, aspirations, motivations, behaviours.  What other industry offers such diversity?

On a personal level, the opportunity to engage around the leadership table with the people who are shaping and transforming businesses means that on a weekly basis I get to add the latest module to my personal MBA, as I listen to the challenges those business leaders are facing.  I can’t fail but to learn from my experiences.

To have worked in this industry for the last 17 years has been a huge privilege.  Yes we get some bad press, the majority of which is caused by our own actions and behaviour, but I want to stand up for the part we should play in creating a thriving economy for all.

As Recruiters we have a huge opportunity to transform people’s lives.  I have sat with many a job seeker who has been at a really low ebb, disillusioned, de – motivated, disappointed in their place of work, with their circumstances and in many cases with their lives.  The desire to change their situation, the responsibility for that change has to come from the individual.  However the recruiter can play a huge part in affecting that change for the better.

If by finding out what makes that individual tick, their skills, talent, motivations, aspirations, we can find the right seat in the right company for them, it has a massive effect on their life, their happiness and potentially their wealth.  Get it wrong and the impact can be just as massive in a very negative way.

Think of the place the recruiter has to play in the creation of wealth.  Put the right person in the right business and that combination can transform the future of a company.  It can have a massive impact on the creation of jobs, wealth and opportunity for potentially large numbers of people.  This doesn’t just mean placing the person at the top.  The introduction of a trainee who thinks up a new product, process or service can have equally as positive an impact on a business.

It doesn’t matter who you are placing.  What matters is making sure you get it right.  If we don’t take this seriously, the damage can be severe.  If the job is done properly, our impact is immense.

As Recruiters, in most cases we don’t make the hiring decision.  The decision as to who to appoint or whether or not to take the job offer rests with the employer and potential employee.  We are simply the broker, the middleman, the conduit.  However our ability to influence should not be underestimated.

Many will accuse me of delusions of grandeur.  I make no apology.  The vast majority of us spend most of our waking time at work.  The responsibility for and, opportunity to, open doors for people who may not otherwise have been available to them is a huge privilege, something I take seriously and one of which I am immensely proud.


Filed under agency, Careers, Hiring, Job Creation, Recruitment

For Sale, one hugely talented person

Success in your job search should be considered in much the same way as taking any product to market. It’s a sales process. To succeed takes research, careful planning and relentless execution.

You have to know your market place. Who are your customers? What are they looking for? How can you find out?

The advantage for the job seeker in 2010 lies in the amount of information readily available at the click of the mouse. Do your research. Start by subscribing to the major job boards and get daily updates in to your inbox that will tell you who is hiring. This is a great source of market intelligence, telling you which sectors are hiring, which areas of the country the opportunities are based, how much is being paid and for what. It will also tell you who the major recruiters are in your sector or skill set and will enable you to build a list of recruiters with whom you should develop a working relationship (and indeed those that you don’t).

Despite the immense network provided by social media, the 2010 CiPD Resource and Talent Planning survey highlighted the use of Recruiters along with a company’s own website as still the most successful method of candidate attraction. So Recruiters should be an integral part of your strategy.

Not only do the job boards provide a great source of who and where your market is, they are also a great source of understand what the market needs. What words and phrases are being used in the advertising? What skills, experience, achievements, contribution, qualifications are the Hiring Managers in your world looking for? Make a list of these key words and find ways of incorporating them in your CV, ensuring your CV and your online profiles are rich with the words Hiring Managers are pumping in to search engines. Crucial to your success will be not only who you know, but who knows you. Make sure the buyer can find the product.

You have to know your product. This is where you have a huge advantage over your competitors. Your product is unique. You have therefore to understand its unique selling points and you have to be able to articulate them relentlessly with passion and conviction. What is it that makes you special? How do you relate that usp to the needs of your prospective customers? What skills, experiences, qualifications, achievements, personality, attitude, talent do you possess that make you the person that the customer buys.

The competition is fierce, the market place huge, the choice for the customer vast. How are you going to stand out? You must be really clear on this at the outset. Sure your interview experiences and feedback will help you to hone this, to get it clearer and your pitch sharper, but you must understand this before you get started. Don’t be shy. This is not the time for it.

Know your product, know your market place. Next up what are your routes to market? You have to be really clear on what you want and how you are going to get it. Again the job boards are a great source of market intelligence. What’s the application process? How do your target customers go about hiring? Your routes to market are many. In excess of 70% of vacancies never make it to the public domain. Who in your network can open doors? Statistically the likelihood is that it will be someone you know who will unlock the door that leads to your success. Work your network tirelessly.

Have a plan. Have a strategy to execute that plan. Know your customers, listen to their needs, make sure your product is visible, easily identifiable and stands out. Then sell it relentlessly with passion, conviction, persistence, commitment and belief.


Filed under Careers, Hiring