10 Top Tips to be the Perfect Candidate
Disclaimer: There is no one perfect candidate, this will obviously vary depending on the requirements of each position. What this guide will do is help you start your job search effectively and give you tips on how to become be the perfect candidate.
1) Prepare and be serious
There are some essentials which you need to consider when starting your job search are:
What are your motivations for wanting to leave?
What do I want to get out of my next position?
What are my career goals?
Can you change anything within your current role/company?
Can you physically job search now?
Do you have any holiday days left to attend interviews?
Which locations are you comfortable to commute to?
2) The CV
Keep it to two or three pages.
Ensure your CV is concise, covering your education, previous experience, responsibilities and main achievements. No matter how experienced you are you should be able to fit all the relevant information on two or three pages.
Within your personal profile, make it clear what you’re looking to get out of your next position (this should always be adapted to each position). This will not only make it clear to recruiters what type roles to contact you about, it will also make you stand out in interviews when your personal ambitions match what the hiring company are looking for.
Make sure you know your CV and keep it up to date. Job searching can be a lengthy process and naturally, responsibilities and achievements may change. There is nothing worse than being asked about something in your CV and you have no recollection of it.
3) Be clear about what you want
Have a good, honest think about what your career goals are and what you want to get out of your next job. Ideally, you will know exactly what you’re looking for in your next position, but the least you need to know is what your long-term career goals are. It is ok not to know exactly what the next step is, as long as you know what you want to achieve in your career; a good recruiter will be able to advise you on how to get there and provide guidance on your next move. They are Recruitment CONSULTANTS after all!
If you don’t know what your long-term goals are, this may come across in interviews as a lack of passion about your career or the industry you are in. Would you hire somebody who didn’t have a burning desire to improve both themselves and the business they’re looking to work for?
4) Know how you are going to communicate
What’s the best way to communicate with you? Outside of work hours? Email only? WhatsApp? A phone call at any time? It really doesn’t matter what the best method is, as long as you clearly communicate that with your Recruiter. This will work in everybody’s best interests. You don’t want your phone constantly going off throughout the day, this could make you feel awkward or maybe alert your employers that you’re looking for a new job. Recruiters don’t want to put you in an awkward situation, but they also don’t want to waste their time leaving you endless voicemails when they could just drop you a message on Whatsapp. It’s a win-win.
Be reliable. As you’ve seen on Linkedin, recruiters get hammered for a lack of communication, the same applies to candidates. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
5) Salary expectations
This can be an awkward topic for some but is one that will need to be addressed.
The salary you’re looking for is a must know, isn’t it? Not necessarily. There are numerous different ways of discovering what salary you should be looking for in your next position; you can speak with other professionals within the sector, look at jobs online you are qualified for or, even better, speak with a Recruitment Consultant who specialises in the area in which you operate and get their advice.
If you’re of the mindset that you deserve a pay-rise because you have been doing your job for a while, you are mistaken. Ask yourself these questions:
What value are you adding?
How can you demonstrate the value you have added?
Why are you worth more than what you’re on?
How are you able to justify the increase in salary?
Don’t price yourself out of the market with a salary expectation which you have just plucked out of the air.
6) Interviews and interview feedback
Make sure you prepare for interviews! Research the company, research who will be interviewing you (Linkedin stalking is a great way to do this, but we advise not to connect) and find common ground. Finally, go through the job specification, consider which of your achievements match what they’re looking for as this will help you stand out at interviews.
The definition of insanity is: ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. With this in mind, if you’re not taking interview feedback in a constructive manner, you’ll keep falling into the same pitfalls and won’t improve. Some of the most valuable interview feedback I received whilst recruiting came from unsuccessful interviews. Knowing why you didn’t get a position and what you need to do differently to improve in future interviews is often what leads to success in your next interview.
Take interview feedback onboard and use it in a constructive manner, it will pay dividends!
7) Have a good reason for leaving
Nothing will set the alarm bells off for a potential employer more than hearing a weak reason for leaving your current employer. The thinking being, if you’ve done it to them, you’ll do it to me. If you’re only using a job search to negotiate a higher salary at your current company, maybe you should question why you have to take such drastic measures to get what you feel you deserve. See our guide on counter-offers here.
8) Realistic ambition
It is great to be ambitious, but you need to be realistic about your ambitions for your next position. Know what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there.
Imagine you’re at an Assistant level now and say you want to become a Director within 3 years, what could that tell you? Yes, it shows you’re ambitious, but unrealistic expectations for promotion may highlight you don’t have the knowledge or skills to take that step. It is great if you want to become a Director, but it won’t happen overnight. Be ambitious, but realistic.
Looking at the gaps in your knowledge and areas you need to improve and acknowledging them will be much more beneficial to you in your job search than blindly asserting that you want to become a Director.
9) Get the right Recruiter and listen to them
Find a Recruitment Consultant who specialises in the area you work and be open and honest with them. An excellent Recruiter will become your career coach and will become an invaluable asset in the short, medium and long-term.
Listen to what your Recruiter has to say about a position. Let’s be honest, most job specs look the same. If the approach to job searching consists of telling Recruiters to send you a job spec you will be wasting everybody’s time. A good recruiter will know the company and position they’re recruiting for inside out (especially if they've met you) and will be able to advise you why you that particular business and role are suited to you. Merely reading job spec after job spec will be both time-consuming and ultimately unfruitful.
10) Know how to sell yourself
How do you identify what your unique selling points are? Talk to your recruiter, they work with hundreds of candidates and can help identify what makes you stand out.
Don’t fall into the trap of over-embellishing your CV. Employers will normally take a reference and you don’t want to be caught out.
I hope you’ve found this guide useful in starting your search.
If you are ready to become the perfect candidate, or you're looking for a perfect candidate of your own, get in touch!