Chris, a senior in-house Recruiter shares his advice with me on ‘How to stand out when applying for roles?’
On Friday, I had the pleasure of catching up with one of our Recruitment Partners, Chris Hulbert, on what advice he had for candidates looking for a new role in the current job market.
Over the last few months, Retail and Hospitality has gone through as much change as the candidate market landscape, so it was perfect timing to hear about his 2020 journey and share his top tips.
So Chris, what trends have you been seeing as a Recruiter working throughout the first wave of lockdown and in to the second?
There has been an uptick in candidates applying for roles in general but noticeably candidates applying for roles at a lower level than they have previously worked. With so many high street brands losing a large number of employees over the last few months, there is a lot of good talent out there right now, competing for a smaller number of vacancies within the Retail space.
How has your approach to Recruiting changed over the last 6 months to accommodate this?
Previously, I’d spend time approaching candidates directly. But now, with the sheer volume of applications we’re receiving, and the great quality of this available talent due to the current climate, the headhunting element of my role is minimised. However there is a lot more emphasis on the screening and selection to ensure we get the right candidates.
What stands out to you when screening CVs for HR and Talent vacancies?
A well written CV, structured with the reader in mind that demonstrates attention to detail.
A CV should articulate what your role is and showcase what you’ve done. As a rule, the reader will know your duties and responsibilities; it is what you have done beyond this that sets you apart.
This is a candidate’s window so it needs to be spot on – make sure someone has proofread it.
One conundrum for many… cover letters… what are your thoughts?
If it adds something extra that isn’t in the CV, then great, use a cover letter that highlights you are right for this role. If it is a basic paragraph to say ‘I’m interested, CV attached’, it adds nothing. Often these are not read at screening stage, but are viewed by hiring managers when preparing for interview.
What are your Top 5 Tips for candidates in the current market?
1. Stay positive! Searching for a new job is hard and you will be rejected. It is tough to take and can be demoralising. You have to accept that and move on. The right role is out there for everyone, so your perfect match will come along soon enough. Hopefully, you’ll be able to look back fondly on this time. Maybe it’s extra time you have spent with your family, being able to read that novel you haven’t yet got round to, going running, learning a language - whatever takes your fancy. This situation won’t last forever.
2. Network Now is not the time to be shy or humble. Use LinkedIn and make friends. Connect with colleagues in your field, connect with Recruiters (internal and external), and follow companies that interest you. The bigger your network, the more visibility you will have of the industry and job opportunities. But, more importantly, the more visibility the industry will have of you.
3. Make a list of target companies you want to work for and reach out within your network. Even if nothing is available right now, you’ll be top of the list of people to go to when there are opportunities. Also, sign up for Job Alerts so you’re notified as soon as vacancies are advertised!
4. Get your CV in order. Ensure it represents you and your achievements. Make it easy for the reader to digest – use bullets to highlight key points, keep it to 2 pages, use pdf to ensure your formatting is not changed when uploading it, be consistent with fonts throughout.
5. Prep for the interview. If you’ve made it to interview, congratulations. Research the company, the logistics of the interview and the interviewers. Most interviews are competency based, requiring you to detail a situation that has occurred – so practice telling the story of your achievements. Tell it so a friend who has nothing to do with your industry or job could understand the situation: what you did, who was involved, what happened, what was the outcome and importantly, what you would do differently if something similar came up again. If you practice this, you eliminate those tricky probing questions interviewers like to test you with, and show you’re a great candidate for the position.
And lastly, how would you advise candidates go about getting feedback?
Prior to interview, most companies don’t give feedback due to the volume of applicants at that stage. My advice would be to accept the company has gone with someone else and look for your next opportunity. However if you have interviewed, you should feel comfortable asking for detailed feedback. Ask the interviewer or the hiring manager, and chase until you receive it.
Thank you so much for your time today and sharing such useful and insightful tips with me Chris!
So there we have it. If you are searching for a job right now or perhaps you know someone who is that you can share this with, we hope that these top tips and advice can help your shop window stand out amongst the (socially distanced) crowd.
Stay positive and best of luck!