“Really how far is the extra mile?”

In this current job climate it is important for candidates to stand out from the crowd. However what is less clear is where to draw the line in terms of trying to attract attention and making a positive impression. A recent piece of market research conducted by bta examined where some candidates and companies think the grey areas are when it comes to going that extra mile.


We conducted interviews with two separate focus groups, one with hiring managers and directors and the other with candidates seeking immediate employment. At bta, we immediately knew we’d get some interesting results, particularly when a sales director at a successful IT company told us, “Some of the lengths people go to in order to secure a position is mind blowing”.


The main aim of our research was to understand candidates’ perspectives and opinions; what they thought was acceptable and what was far and beyond the call of duty. Our enquiries revealed that the majority of credible candidates would initially introduce themselves by phone or CV. If the vacancy was live, a follow up phone call was believed to have gone down well with candidates who had experimented with this method.


Generally though, candidates felt awkward pursuing their potential employers, some going so far as to state that it was “disrespectful” to chase them. Indeed, the candidates we questioned had no desire to be perceived as pests and believed it was important to be patient at all stages of the process.


Then we took a focus group with hiring managers and sales directors, again asking similar questions about how far the extra mile was. It was reported by one hiring manager that having received numerous phone calls and emails, they were sent a bunch of flowers. As though this wasn’t quite enough, a cake was then sent with the company logo and hiring manager’s name etched in the icing! Suffice to say this was too much and was classed as stalking, not applying.


The general consensus concluded it was important to have a stand out CV as it is that which sets you apart from the crowd. Twin this with a follow up call a few days later and you could be onto a winner. However this was said to be the first stage of the application process. We all know how important a good first impression can be, however to secure the position you desire, the most important factor in the eyes of the interviewer is “demonstration of credentials”.


Our research sparked a great debate about whether gifts should be supplied to your potential future employer. Generally this was seen as “brown nosing” and “over the top”, with one sales director stating, “If you’re good enough, a gift should not be necessary”. The focus group was in agreement that generally a gift during any stage of the process was inappropriate, however a few said that it could have a bearing on their decision.

Therefore in summary, it would appear that hiring managers respect a follow up phone call, however, generally they do not promote the idea of buying gifts. Keep it simple, put your focus into what is required to be successful for the job and if personalities click, this is the highest chance of success.

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