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.

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 

Coronavirus has created an awful lot of redundancies, but people are still finding new jobs. It’s time to find out how you can do that too.

This might be the worst slump we’ve had in the past 12 years, and just possibly unemployment is about to go through the roof, but employers are still recruiting. 

In fact if you look at the figures many SME’s (small to medium-size enterprises) are planning to recruit this year. Some of them have landed on their feet in sectors that are doing extremely well, others naturally have a steady turnover of jobs and are always looking to find new people. 

But if you compare the job market today to the one that we saw 12 months ago, it is very different. And as a result, before you even start to apply for jobs, you need to understand how to give yourself the best opportunity.

And while for many that means applying for jobs online, the operative word here is many. Everybody’s doing it. It makes it really difficult to stand out from the crowd if that crowd is a really big one.

Much better, therefore, to find yourself in a shortlist of one. How do you do that? You need to be seen by employers before they even know they’re looking for a job. Or before they have briefed recruitment consultancies, or because someone you know well has recommended you.

It is time to dust off your old contacts. And it is time to leverage these contacts through LinkedIn. It is the premier networking site in the world, while it has its limitations, when you genuinely know somebody is a great way of getting back in touch.

You won’t remember all of them, but if you put all of your details properly into LinkedIn and search for people who were at the same school, university and employer as you, it is surprising how many familiar faces you will see. 

And it is surprising how old faces are really happy to help someone if there is an opportunity.