Getting a great job - Top tips from a veteran recruiter

So you see a job online that you really like the look of, and then what? Do you send your CV, do you attach a covering letter? Do you think about it for a while.

What goes on behind the scenes at recruitment businesses seems to be a hot topic on the blogs at the moment. All sorts of things are being quoted about the percentages of CVs rejected because of spelling errors, how many covering letters are read etc.

Well, I have a view too, but its a little bit different. Its not sensationalist, it doesn’t involve social media and it doesn’t give chance a look in.

If you are serious about making a move in the job market, then you need to know exactly where you are and what you want. You need to understand the marketplace you are looking in, and you need a good and trustworthy guide. There is no magic bullet, but there a lot of simple things that you can do right now to make things happen the way you want them to.

So here, are some of my top tips for chasing the job you really want.

1. Get a good guide

Good recruitment consultants are worth their weight in gold, and there a lot of them about. What is important is that you choose someone who you trust and can work with. This is no different to hiring a professional of any other kind. The difference here is that it is personal.

A good consultant will not work with you unless they have met you. They will want to understand you, your motivations and your ambitions. They will want you to tell them what you want and what businesses you would like to target. And they will want to understand your career expectations so that they can help you plan your moves correctly.

2. Network like crazy

It’s not what you know, and it never has been. You need to build a strong and sensible network. You know a lot of people, but who do they know, and who can introduce you to whom?

I am a big fan of the online social networks, but here I really mean the old fashioned shaking hands thing. Sure use Linked In etc, in fact use them like crazy, but if you want to really meet people, pick up the phone and organise to meet them for a coffee.

3. Be realistic

The real reason CVs get rejected by recruiters, is that the CV doesn’t fit the role applied for. They, and only they know all the details of their clients job description. Adverts can only say so much, and don’t forget that they are written to maximise response rates.

Calling a consultant who has rejected your application is fine if you are ringing to understand what you need to do next time, or what experience you should get to increase your marketability. Phoning to complain, or in an attempt to convince them that they are wrong is not, and it does nothing to improve your chances of success next time.

If you apply for everything that is remotely interesting to you, the truth is that you are wasting your time. Apply for roles that you have the skills, experience and desire to do. But please make sure the first two things fit first. You need to be very honest with yourself.

There are lot of people who apply to dozens of jobs a day, and often to everything that a is posted by a consultant. What this does is clog up that consultants inbox. Do they read every application you make? No, of course they don’t. Have you heard the story of the boy who cried wolf? The principle here is the same.

4. Write a great CV

You need to bring your A game to everything you do in the job market. Writing a great CV is the first part of this. A CV is a marketing/sales document, plain and simple. The better is it written, the better it sells your experience specific to each role you apply for.

A CV’s only job is to get you the first interview.

So spend more time on your CV now, and get a 3rd party and your consultant to critic it for you. And once its written, read it and get to know it. I have interviewed far too many people in the past who have to refer to a CV during an interview to remind themselves of what they have done. Amazing but true.

5. Make it happen

No one is going to do it all for you. Consultants will do a lot of it for you, and a good one will do more than most. But, they don’t have access to the whole market, even if they say they do.

Network, apply to adverts and online posts, work at finding that great job. Finding a job is a job in itself. It is not a spectator sport, and if you are applying to the odd thing online, then you are missing out a huge chunk of the job market.

Good luck!

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at, use the contact page on my website or call me on + 44 7736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @recruit_eagle, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to speaking soon.

Views: 665

Comment by bill josephson on May 11, 2012 at 9:47am

Interesting piece.  Are these blogs now gearing towards job seekers and not TPR and Internal Recruiters?

Just wondering.

Comment by james nathan on May 11, 2012 at 9:49am

Hi Bill, no not at all, I wrote this for a different blog site and thought it would be interesting to share here, and may attract some commentary from the recruitment world

Comment by bill josephson on May 11, 2012 at 10:01am

James, that's why I thought the piece was interesting--and certainly on the mark.

As a TPR in a tough jobs/recruiting market I asked as I guess I'm less interested in how candidates directly job seeking are attacking the market--at least today.  If/when the market changes my attitude would likely change.  

Comment by james nathan on May 11, 2012 at 10:07am

I've to say Bill that I don't think that the recruitment market is going to change back to how it was, it has gone through some very tough times, and come out as it is now. 

Comment by bill josephson on May 11, 2012 at 11:14am

James, I have to say I agree with you regarding jobs.  I don't think they're ever coming back in high cost of doing business regions such as Western Europe, the US, or Japan.  They're heading to cheaper Emerging Market regions like China where companies can hire 10 Chinese per American worker.

It means recruiters being in a shrinking recruitment closet searching to find market place niches where they're relevant--meaning where demand outstrips supply.

The positions remaining social networks enable companies to access once invisible prospects more easily every day.  Then there are the H1B technical foreign visa workers coming in as well.

Bottom line, technologically making it easy to access both global and domestic workers it's becoming questionable, to me, what TPR's can provide that a company employing astute internal recruiters can't, thereby justifying our continued existence.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on May 14, 2012 at 9:46pm

James - I'm gathering from this post that "recruitment consultant" in this context might mean something different than what I'm accustomed to regarding that term. Would you mind providing a definition to clarify that? 

In some sections it appears that you are referring to a person that a job seeker would "hire" to advise them on their strategy, approach and specific tactics to have a successful job search. In other parts, it seems that you are describing a person that is actually a recruiter representing an employer (TPR, agency or corporate). 

Perhaps I'm not entirely familiar with UK lingo in the recruiting realm and I'm sure the translations might be different between how we generally categorize similar professionals in the US.

Some of what you wrote sounds like the (paid) services of a career coach, career adviser, job search consultant and even a resume writer that also delivers job search guidance. There could certainly be exceptions, but it is not typical for job seekers to pay a recruiter. 

Thanks! ~KB @TalentTalks 

Comment by james nathan on May 23, 2012 at 9:50am

Hi Kelly, and apologies for the late response. In all the article I am referring to a consultant hired by an employer to find staff. That persons role is many things which would include everything you mention. A consultant is never just a job filler, and if they are they are unlikely in my mind to build any kind of career.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2020   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service