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Don't be a job-spec-job-seeker

Don't be a job-spec-job-seeker

08 Mar 08:00 by Jack Dixon

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That title makes perfect sense, if only I knew what a job-spec-job-seeker was. But I don’t and subsequently, I don’t know how to not be a job-spec-job-seeker.

What is a job-spec-job -seeker?

Picture this.

Recruiter: Hi [insert name], I am working on a position which may be of interest to you and would love to discuss both the position and your experience in more detail. Is now a good time?

Candidate: Can you just send me a job spec, so I can look at it?

Recruiter: I am happy to send you a job spec but would love to explain the position in more detail, also by discussing your experience, if this position isn’t right I will know what positions would be better suited to you.

Candidate: Just send me the job spec, I don’t have time to discuss it.

Recruiter: OK *bangs head against the table*

This candidate is a job-spec-job-seeker.

Why is this bad?

What’s the harm in being a job-spec-job-seeker (and how many times do I need to use this phrase before it becomes widely accepted?)?

Let’s be honest, all job spec’s look roughly the same and to be even more frank so do many CVs, but let’s focus on job specs for now. Job specs are generally a small paragraph about the company, a list of responsibilities the position requires followed by another list of what skills somebody needs to fulfil said responsibilities. It is not easy for job specs or adverts to truly differentiate themselves and fully explain all of the nuances of any given position. With job specs looking broadly similar, how are you supposed to find out whether a role is truly right for you?

The job spec only makes up half of the problem for job-spec-job-seekers (repeat job-spec-job-seeker three times in the mirror and one will appear behind you*), CVs look broadly the same too. Realistically, it is not easy to truly showcase yourself, your professional skill-set, your personal skill-set, your career aspirations, your salary exceptions etc. on just two or three pieces of paper.

The point here is, all jobs have their nuances and all candidates are more than just two pieces of paper. There are so many factors which go into finding your next position, and ensuring your happiness in the company, to try and do this off the back of job specs is incredibly difficult.

And speaking to a recruiter is meant to help?

Having an initial conversation with a recruiter will allow you to firstly, fully explain what you have achieved professionally and fully explore what it is you’re looking for in your next position. This allows your recruiter to tailor the positions which they speak to you about (or send you a job spec for, more to come on this) and become a partner for you in your job search. Even if you are skeptical about recruiters and say they’re only interested in money (harsh generalisation but a common one), they want to place you and get the commission for it. Speaking with them so they know what you want will increase the odds of them placing you and very obviously, improve your chances of getting a position. That’s what we are all here for, right?

The recruiter will know their clients, have a genuine understanding of where the business is going and what the people who work there are like. As earlier discussed, it is very difficult to get this message across in a job spec, so speaking with a recruiter to comprehensively understand the company you could be moving into is key in being able to assess whether a position is right for you.

A recruiter will discuss the profiles of each of their candidates with their clients. Speaking with a recruiter will allow them to represent you fully (and actually sell you better), rather than a job-spec-job-seeker who will just be a CV.   

What if you genuinely don’t have time to speak to a recruiter?

If you are pushed for time, be as efficient as possible with it. The best way to do this is to view your time as an investment. OK, Mr. Time Investment Advisor, how do I do this?

If you’re looking for a new position, setting aside a block of time a day and having this block as part of your daily routine will help. The next step is deciding what you’re going to fill this block of time with. If you’re really short on time and have a little block, be structured. Firstly, decide what you’re looking for and identify the recruitment specialists in this area. With there being over 1,500 recruitment consultancies in London alone, it’s likely there will be a specialist recruiter for you, so speak with your friends or past colleagues and ask for recommendations.

After deciding who to speak with, committing some of your time in the form of a phone conversation, or even better meeting them in person, will be the best time investment you can make in your job search. From this point, your job search can be much more targeted and here-on-in the recruiter will be happy to send you job specs they know are aligned with what you’re looking for, as recruiters work on multiple roles at any given time they could easily spend hours sending every candidate all of their job specs, but this would be incredibly inefficient for both recruiter and candidate. A job-spec-job-seeker will not have this luxury of only reading job specs which are relevant to you and will spend all of their time sifting through job specs which do not match what they want.

Prescreen the recruiter

**Note: Prescreening is the process of asking a candidate a set of initial questions to qualify their suitability for positions.** 

Tying in with being efficient with your time, it may be the case you receive numerous calls, which all sound the same and you have no idea to use. How do you differentiate between them? Recruiters will all want to pre-screen you, but shouldn’t you prescreen them to decide on their suitability to work with you? The process of finding a new position with a recruiter is a partnership, make sure the recruiter is good enough for you!

If you don’t know which recruiter to use and are being bombarded with calls, why not prescreen the recruiter? Ask some questions, such as:

  • Why does my CV interest you?
  • Why is my CV relevant to the type of roles which you work on?
  • What industry do you specialise within?
  • Would you give me an overview of the types of positions you work on?
  • Have you placed candidates similar to me in the past?

 Depending on the answers, you will be able to decide who will be best placed to help you in your job search.

Can I still get a job by being a job-spec-job-seeker?

Yes, you can. In the same way, if I put on a blindfold, spin around 10 times then throw a dartboard and I have to hit a bulls-eye I could, but it would take many, many more attempts to achieve it compared to if I could just stand and throw a dart at a bullseye, no spinning allowed.

*If a job-spec-job-seeker (knew I could squeeze it in once more) appears behind you, sorry.