Phil’s Job Hunting Diary Week 4

So far, we have concentrated on you as a candidate. This week, I’d like to cover a little from the other side, the recruiter or hiring manager. I do this to a) hopefully help some hiring managers and b) give candidates an understanding of the process, which might help to clarify when certain things happen.

So let’s start at the beginning: How does a job advert come to life? Well, the usual way is that the management of a business will decide that they really need to expand a team, create a new team or add an extra person outside of a team. The COO is consulted to ensure that it fits with the overall strategic plan for the company; the CFO will need to give sign off for an approximate salary (usually based upon market averages), and then the Head of HR will be given the go-ahead to create a job spec and advert.

Once the advert and job spec are created (and way too many companies get these mixed up; they should be two distinct documents), the HR, People Operations, People Experience or whatever they are called team will use their regular route to market to publish the advert. This could be directly onto their website, via a third party (Indeed, LinkedIn or the like) or be sent to an agency (Reed, Office Angels, etc). At this point, the application process is defined.

The application process does vary from company to company, but it usually requires a CV as a minimum. To help a recruitment advisor sift through the 100’s of applications, a cover letter is valuable, so if, as a candidate, you have the chance to add one, do so and make it a good one!

The applications then go through a selection process, which can range from “I know this person, let’s interview them” to “I don’t like the font they use on their CV, I’ll ditch this one”. The trick is, with your application, to make it as informative as possible but as middle of the road as possible. A wise person once said to me, “To be truly popular, you need to be truly mediocre”, and job applications are one place where that rings true. Have a flashy, multi-colour CV? Get rid of it; it’ll give a recruitment partner a migraine, especially if it is CV number 355 they have looked at for a particular job. Do you want to use really long words in your cover letter? Don’t! Keep it simple rings so true here. Think that a simple “Look at my website for my CV and cover letter” will get you an interview? Think again; your application is heading straight to the reject pile.

The initial sift is done by a real-life person (though this is changing, and the use of AI in recruitment will be the subject of an upcoming column), so you have to try your best not to annoy them!

A hiring manager will then get an edited selection of profiles to read through and decide who to interview. It’s often quoted that you have 20 seconds to impress a hiring manager with your CV. In reality, that’s generous, it’s normally more like 10 seconds! Hiring managers are usually reading your profile on a train, while eating lunch (at 4 pm because of all the other tasks they have had to do that day) or at some other time when your profile is not getting the full attention it needs!

If you get through all that, you will be on the road to an initial interview. Interviews, as a subject, are many and varied. I’ll write a column on how to manage them, as a candidate, and my views on the best way a company can run interviews.

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