Plenty of jobseekers do not show their age on their CV. And there is no reason for them to do so.

So we looked through a CV a few weeks ago that was actually quite well laid out. There was some decent qualifications there, although they gave no hint as to when schools and colleges were attended, so we turned to the job history.

Again this stopped in the year 2000, nothing earlier than that was shown. We have no problem with any of this, as I say any jobseeker is perfectly entitled to take any reference to their age off the CV to prevent age discrimination.

Except, having so carefully covered their tracks I look at their email address: John Smith 1957@Gmail.com (apologies to the real John Smith, I have changed the name). I did not need Hercule Poirot to help me out, but I reckon John was born before 1958.

It is amazing how careful you can be and then miss the blindingly obvious isn’t it?

Look, I know that jobs are not to a penny at the moment. I know that the market is not flooded with opportunity.

But nevertheless, some of you are so keen to get a job that you’re scared of disagreeing with the recruiter, even when what they say is plainly wrong.

Sometimes this can be a test, to throw something controversial into the questioning and see how you react. Whether you stand up for yourself and what you believe or whether you simply roll over.

At other times you may fundamentally disagree with everything that is being said to you. However desperate you are for a job, would you feel comfortable in an organisation like that? Would they respect you more if you stood up to them and said you felt it was wrong.

We don’t suggest you pick an argument in every interview, but if you know something is plainly wrong then tactfully suggest that you don’t quite agree with everything. It might be a test or they might be a nightmare to work for.

Good luck!

Or at least get your lighting right.

Online interviews are becoming more common and more important. First impressions really count. So often I start online coaching with call from a dark murky figure against a brightly lit window. If I’m lucky the camera is pointing at their head if I’m not it misses them altogether.

Online interviews really are important. Practice them carefully beforehand, preferably video calling with a friend and asking them to take a screenshot. That way you can see whether you look like a professional TV presenter or someone stuck in the back of a cupboard in low light.

I know that many complain that their laptop does not have a great camera, or they can only use their phone. But if you are serious about your career, and recognise that this is an important part of the process, then invest £20 in a decent WebCam. Then set yourself up somewhere in the house with decent lighting and a plain background. It will pay real dividends.

Get the lighting right and you can shine.

It is quite simple “I’m 99% certain I’ll accept the offer”.

Having recruited for employers all over the world for many years, I can tell you that I know exactly what that phrase means. I have heard it perhaps 300 times, and on the balance of probabilities that would mean that 297 of that 300 have accepted the job.

Except in reality they never do. Because a candidate who is 99% in, is 100% out.

A bit like a football really. A ball that is 99% over the goal line is 100% not a goal. On the flipside a tennis ball that is 99% out is 100% in.

So 99% means to me that they are preparing you for the 1% doubt. That they quite like the idea of the job but they know they won’t accept it. But they don’t have the guts to tell you today, so they’ll leave that lingering doubt in your mind overnight until they call you tomorrow. Or go quiet on you.

If you want to reassure a recruiter that you are going to accept their job (but you possibly have no intention of doing so because you are seeing three other employers in the meantime) then do not use the 99% word. They have heard it all before. 

In fact we are much happier with lower percentages, because they are much more genuine and quite often end in a good outcome. Somebody who is 90% certain may well accept, and someone who is 80/20 will accept most of the time.

So I’ll never believe 99%. But I might give you 110% for effort. 

On your CV? Completely. (Though there are ways of telling the truth that are better than others)

But when you’re dealing with third parties, especially agencies, then you do not need to share everything. Having operated in recruitment ourselves for many years, let me tell you a typical scenario that can really harm your chances of getting your ideal job.

The typical scenario goes something like: you are a very capable candidate who has two or three opportunities on the go. You have been offered a job, or are strongly in the running for one, through an agency who has introduced you.

You mentioned casually that you are also in the running for a job with XYZ Ltd. Perhaps you have been introduced to them by somebody else or even a friend.

Here is the agency’s dilemma. They know you are a strong candidate for one of their clients, but also for someone who they are not dealing with. Agencies range from the very ethical, that is like how we always wanted to behave, to the very “sharp”. 

A sharp operator will not be able to let this go. As soon as they have put down the phone they will make the following judgement, you are 50-50 between their client and XYZ Ltd. If they can get one of their candidates into XYZ Ltd, they have the potential to make two placements. Clearly it will halve your chances of getting your next role, but for the sharp operator that is not their concern.

It happens a lot more than you would believe. And especially in the current climate, where new roles are difficult to come by. If they can get a lead on someone who is definitely recruiting, many will follow it up.

So my advice to you is simple, if you want to be open and upfront with an agency you trust by all means tell them you have a couple of opportunities in the pipeline. But never reveal the identity. 

The harder they push you, the more you know they want to contact the client themselves. You are under no obligation to tell them, and if I were you I would insist that the role is extremely confidential and it would be a breach of trust to reveal the identity. End of conversation.

In the meantime good luck, I’m delighted you have two job opportunities.

The question I’m often asked – ”Why did they get the job when they’re nowhere near as good at it as me?”

Because many people who are brilliant at their jobs are rubbish at communicating it. They don’t understand that what comes to them naturally, is difficult for others to comprehend.

And they don’t understand that if you can learn to communicate your skills, can explain exactly what makes you different and why you have better results, you will get noticed.

It has always been one of our biggest frustrations that the best operators sometimes don’t get the career breaks they deserve. And we have often looked on in amazement at those who cannot perform at that level rise rapidly through the ranks, impressing everybody at each stage of the interview process. They can’t manage but they can interview well.

Learn the secret to this process and your career will take off. Pretend that it makes no difference and it will hold you back.

Talk to us, we can tell you how.

On the one hand they aren’t really. If you know what you’re doing.

But most of us are not broadcasters. And the only video calls we ever really make are with our mates, and never really trying to impress a new employer.

And how many interviews have you ever had to do with the family running around in the background? Or with the stereo blaring from upstairs?

Because many of our jobseekers have to overcome these hurdles and more. How do you get the lighting right? How do you dress? How do you lead and guide the conversation rather than a series of grunts and Yes’s and No’s?

We know that the online coaching that we do makes a massive difference. So do our jobseekers. 

In any interview first impressions count. An online interview is not an informal chat – get it right, understand the principles involved and you will be way ahead of the competition. And whatever background or experience you have, you will stand a much better chance.

In today’s market, as we all try to keep apart from each other, recruitment still has to go on. And if you can master the online interview then you will find yourself back in work much quicker than most. 

 

Of course I realise it’s a tough market, and of course there are millions of people looking for work.

But we work with lots of people, and we know that many have poor CVs, are looking for jobs in the wrong places, and are putting themselves at the back of the queue when it comes to their job search.

The problem is, most of us panic when we are out of work. And most of us think we know better than anyone else about their career.

We work with individuals at all levels. And do you know what? Few have a high enough opinion of their own experience and their own abilities. So they rarely communicate just what a positive effect they have had on their previous employers. If you don’t tell people how good you are, no one will guess it.

There’s a whole load of technology that sifts and filters applications, especially when those recruiting are receiving 1000s of them. Most of it is common sense and a great help to sift through potential candidates.

But if you do not realise it is there, if you do not know how it works, then you might think a friendly human face is going to make an inspired choice and choose your CV. Computers won’t do that, especially if you don’t play their game.

And employers are now using remote technology to interview and shortlist. You won’t understand how a poor online interview can make you look terrible. Some simple steps can make you look far better than anyone else. But if you have not been told, then you don’t have much of a chance.

We see this the whole time, and we can change people’s chances in just a few weeks. As plenty of testimonials will show.

It doesn’t cost much, but talk to the professionals. We really can make a difference.

 

People who find themselves out of work tend to do one of two things in our experience. Either they refuse to look at anything even slightly below the job they have just come out of, or they go completely the other way and want to look at anything and everything. Insecurity and fear of being out of a job forever means they take the first thing that comes along. Even if it is completely inappropriate.

If you are in the unfortunate position of finding yourself unemployed, try not to panic. But equally do not dismiss every job that comes your way because it doesn’t look perfect. The one thing you have in your situation that costs you nothing is time. Time to speak to people, to explore opportunities, to get known by other employers. And you never know where an opportunity or a conversation might take you.

The test we have always recommended is “If this was the only opportunity around in three months time, would I look at it?” If the answer to that is yes, then look at it now. You can always turn it down, but if it is the only game in town and it is interesting why not have a chat?

Good luck, it is not an easy market but on the other hand you have real skills. Believe in yourself and talk to as many people as possible and you’ll probably find the ideal opportunity.

 

Anybody remember Boys from the Black Stuff? 

An early 80s Alan Bleasdale drama that dates anyone who watched it, it starred Bernard Hill as Yosser Hughes. 

Yosser used the worst networking style you could imagine – he would normally open the conversation “Gizza job, I can do that”. He topped it off with a head-butt for anyone who didn’t.

There are much more subtle ways, especially if you are approaching people who you have known well. Nearly everybody, even if you are old mates, will feel embarrassed if you approach them and ask them if they have a job. 

They will feel especially embarrassed if they do have one but you are not right for it, or if they just can’t offer you one. And so they may not reply and hope that you go away.

But most people are always open to helping their old friends. So anybody who approaches them asking for helpful contacts or places to look creates no embarrassment. At worst you are happy to reply and say you don’t really know anybody at the moment but will keep your eye out. Or alternatively they will genuinely know somebody who is looking or who is worth talking to.

Once you have opened the conversation they might decide actually you’ve changed, you’ve matured and you have the right experience that might help them out. And as they know you they know your strengths and your weaknesses but know you are genuine.

In any case, the indirect approach nearly always works well in networking. The direct one rarely does. And old acquaintances are the best place to start looking.

Good luck