Tips for your job hunt

Advice from the experts

Our recruitment partners have worked in a number of sectors and industries and bring a range of expertise to the team. That expertise is available for you, our candidates, to utilise to help your job search and career development.

Our recruitment partners’ tips may just give you the head start you need.

Nel Woolcott says: “Give yourself a head start by dressing appropriately”

You have the five seconds it takes you to walk into the interview room to make a good impression. Don’t waste it.

You may have the best skill set, the highest qualifications and the most relevant experience but if you don’t look the part you are placing yourself at an immediate disadvantage.

To help you decide what to wear, make part of your pre-interview research a look into the culture of the business. If you can’t get enough of a clue as to suitable interview dress from the website, brochures, trade press or online you may have to pop along to the company to peek at staff as they go into, or leave, work.

If in doubt, a smart shirt with skirt or trousers will generally be appropriate for most situations.

The biggest turn offs for interviewers aren’t so much individual items of clothing but overall presentation – muddy shoes, unironed trousers and missing buttons are no-nos. Smart, clean and tidy is a good start.

Judith Broughton says: ‘Don’t be scared of competency based questions’

During an interview you are likely to be faced with some competency based questions. These require you to provide specific examples as part of your answer. Generalisations or claims you are unable to substantiate won’t be well received.

Questions might include ‘give me an example of when you worked well in a team’, ‘can you tell me about an occasion when you went the extra mile’, or ‘replay a situation when you found yourself dealing with a tricky customer’.

Don’t panic. These type of questions are meant to take you out of your comfort zone.

Ideally, as part of your interview preparation you will already have given some thought to the kinds of scenarios you can discuss to demonstrate your strengths.

When structuring your answer use the STAR technique: set the scene by talking about the Situation, detail the Task, explain your Action and discuss the Result.

If possible, choose examples with positive outcomes.

The golden rule when faced with a competency question is to take a moment to think before you speak to ensure you are highlighting the best example of your relevant experience.

Anne Corder says: “Choose your referees carefully”

When applying for a job you will be required to provide referees. Give careful thought to whom you choose.

Don’t just limit yourself to former managers or employers. Other options may include a client, the chairman of a committee you’re involved with, community leader or councilor, teacher or solicitor.

Ideally you will have a handful of contacts who are happy and able to provide references so you can choose the most relevant for each particular job application.

It’s important to make your referees aware they are likely to be contacted – and to brief them on the job you are applying for. This will help them tailor their reference to the requirements, focusing on relevant skills.

Maintain a professional relationship with former managers and others you may like to use as referees in the future through platforms such as LinkedIn.

Building recommendations on LinkedIn is another way to demonstrate your credibility to potential employers. Many use the online networking site as part of the recruitment process so do bear that in mind.

Joanne Copeland says: “Get your CV right”

Your CV is the first contact potential employers are going to have with you. So it’s absolutely vital to get it right. Get it wrong and you’ll ruin your chances of being offered an interview let alone a job.

I’m afraid having one generic CV isn’t enough. You will need to tailor it to each vacancy you apply for, highlighting the skills you have which are most relevant to that job.

Your CV must always be a true reflection of your qualifications, experience and work history.

Don’t fall into the trap of falsifying information. That is a fatal error!