Q I am an HR officer with experience in several sectors. I have been in my current role for two years. Most of the roles I see advertised are through a recruitment consultancy. I send my CV as requested but I don’t get any further. What can I do to raise my profile when I apply for roles through agencies?
A It is interesting for those of us who work in the recruitment sector to understand how it feels to apply for a role we have advertised.
First, let me share a few industry truths with you. When a company registers a vacancy with a recruitment consultancy, it usually has a ‘wish list’ of essential or desirable skills/experience in addition to a job specification. It is also regular practice for a role to be registered with more than one consultancy. Clients ask agencies to submit their strongest two or three candidates only, yet most reputable consultants will receive lots of new applicants daily. Both these practices automatically reduce the chances of the hundreds of jobseekers registered with an agency being put forward.
Here are some tips for ensuring your application is considered equally for all roles that match your skills and experience:
- Read the ad carefully. Make a list of essential skills/experience and be honest with yourself: can you demonstrate all or most of the essential requirements? If not, it is unlikely you will be a good match for this particular role. If there is any doubt, call the consultant and ask for some honest advice. They will appreciate the fact that you do not want to waste their time or your own, and they are more likely to remember you in the future.
- Take a good look at your CV. Does it represent your situation accurately? Are the skills required for the role clearly highlighted? Take time to attach a cover note, emphasising your ‘fit’ and why you are interested in the role. Just a few bullet points are enough.
- Call the consultant after sending your CV to check it has been received and to provide further evidence of your interest and suitability.
- Ask for constructive feedback, regardless of whether or not you are selected. Take time to meet your consultant face-to-face to ensure you are being represented effectively.
- Finally, it may be worth selecting one or two specialists and work closely with them, rather than applying directly through lots of agencies. Applicants will get the best service when they build up an effective relationship with a consultant they trust, and this is a relationship they will benefit from throughout their career.
Lynne Hardman, managing director, Hays Human Resources