The Career Coach Stripped Bare

A few months ago, the usual stream of work had dissipated, and I started to explore my options. After doling out career advice to thousands of people over the years, I was getting a taste of my own medicine.

It all began in 2005, when I took a leap of faith and plunged into self-employment. After more than two decades of a coddled corporate life, I was a sole-trader with no promise of work in the pipeline. Slowly but surely, projects came my way. I enjoyed working without the shackles of an employment contract, and the newly found freedom allowed me to commute between a city apartment and a house in the country.

Eventually, I developed relationships with several consulting firms which provided me with a variety of assignments, added value to my expertise, and offered the collegiality that sole-traders often sorely miss. As I settled into my new routine, I created a website and started blogging. Seduced by the new age of social media, I devoured the articles, posts and ideas written by ‘experts’ and consumed e-courses that offered the promise of a thriving online business. My income supported a modest lifestyle, in exchange for a schedule on my terms. But the gut wrenching moments of this rollercoaster ride were always around the corner.

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Tips to Get Interview-Ready

You’ve got the interview. Now prepare for just about every situation with these interview tips from leading industry experts, on how to prepare for an interview, what to wear to an interview, what to expect during an interview, the most difficult interview questions, the strangest questions you may get asked, questions you should and shouldn’t ask during an interview, how to handle the ‘weakness’ question and what to do after the interview.

How to prepare for an interview

10 quirky tips to beat interview nerves  Robin Kermode

10 ways to calm your interview anxiety  Katharine Brook

How to answer the top interview questions  Undercover Recruiter

How to stand out in your interview Amy Gallo

5 tips to ace your next job interview Samuel Edwards

5 sure-fire ways to lose your interview within the first 30 seconds Karalyn Brown

Stand out in your interview Amy Gallo

How to nail the dreaded phone interview Kate Finley

How to show trustworthiness in a job interview Heidi Grant Halvorsen

10 signs that the interview went well Stephanie Vozza

What to wear to an interview

What to wear to a job interview Liz Ryan

Dress to impress: what to wear to a job interview Chris Smith

How to dress for your job interview  Undercover Recruiter

What to wear for a job interview Jess Keys

I've got the interview, now what do I wear Michelle Lopez

Suiting Up for Success: Job Interview Attire for Women Diane Gottsman

Suiting Up for Success: Job Interview Attire For Men Diane Gottsman

What to wear to a job interview Michelle Lau

The perfect outfit for every type of interview Lauren Le Vine

What to wear at an interview Corinne Mills

What to expect during an interview

8 questions interviewers use to figure out who you are The Muse

How to answer the 31 most common interview questions The Muse

How to answer the 'Tell me about a time when...' interview questions  The Muse

88 great behavioural interview questions to help you prepare for your next interview Karalyn Brown

4 super-common interview question and 4 super-memorable ways to answer them The Muse

13 things not to before & during a job interview Rhett Power

Smarter alternative to the usual stupid interview questions Liz Ryan

4 things you must absolutely convey by the end of an interview The Muse

6 job interview slips ups Undercover Recruiter

The most difficult interview questions

The secret formula to answering 'What's you dream job?' in an interview The Muse

3 Better ways to answer 'Why should we hire you?' The Muse

8 stealth questions that will reveal your true character Zoe Henry

The 20 hardest questions to be asked in an interview Undercover Recruiter

10 toughest interview questions answered Forbes

Google's HR Boss: Focus on these interview questions Jessica Stillman

9 interview questions you should always ask millennials David van Rooy

Former Goldman Sachs employee shares favorite interview question Jacquelyn Smith

The strangest questions you might get asked

How to answer the weird interview questions Undercover Recruiter

10 weird interview questions that you need to be prepared for April Fong

13 weird job interview questions the best companies in America are asking Rachel Gillett

The worst 25 crazy interview questions (and why they're a waste of time) Adam Vaccaro

How to handle the weakness question

How to handle the dreaded "What is your weakness" question Caroline Ceniza-Levine

4 new ways to answer the weakness question Melissa Ilarena

The worst interview question (and how to answer it) Priscilla Claman

How to answer the weakness question Undercover Recruiter

How to answer the dreaded "What's your biggest weakness" question in a job interview Jacquelyn Smith

Stop answering "What's your greatest weakness" with badly-spun positives Alan Henry

Questions to never ask during the interview

10 questions you should never ask in a job interview Forbes

16 questions you should never ask at the end of a job interview Jacquelyn Smith

10 interview questions you should never ask (and 5 you always should) The Muse

4 questions that will cost you the interview (and what to ask instead) The Muse

6 things that successful applicants avoid saying during job interviews Alex Malley

Questions you should ask during the interview

10 job interview questions you should ask Joe Konop

52 interview questions you should be asking The Muse

10 questions to ask in job interviews Guardian Careers

8 questions every candidate should be asking during job interviews Jerome Ternynck

15 smart questions to ask at the end of every job interview Jacquelyn Smith

9 killer questions candidates ought to ask the interviewer Undercover Recruiter

The 8 most impressive questions you can ask in a job interview Jacquelyn Smith

The top questions to ask in an interview Undercover Recruiter

The top 10 questions to ask in job interviews Guardian Careers

What to do after the interview

5 things you should do instead of over-analyzing your interview and driving yourself crazy The Muse

5 horrible interview moments you need to stop over-analyzing The Muse

Following up after the interview Undercover Recruiter

10 things to do after the job interview Nancy Collamer

5 things you must do after an interview Sarah K White

The right way to say thanks after an interview Lydia Dishman

The interview thank you email vs letter vs note Donna Svei

How to handle panel interviews

The firing squad - how to survive a panel interview The Muse

7 tips for a successful panel interview Lisa Quast

Master the panel interview John O’Connor

How to prepare for a panel interview Undercover Recruiter

How to conduct panel interview and why're they're better than 1 on 1 Lou Adler

Extra tips for executives

How to ace an executive level job interview Kevin Daley & Dale Klamforth

10 job interview tips from a CEO headhunter Russell S Reynolds Jr & Carole E Curtis

Prepare to ace and brand your c-level executive job interview Meg Guiseppi

Top executive recruiters agree there are only three true job interview questions George Bradt


Referees, Reference Checks & Recruiters

Reference checks are more than a column of ticks on a template. Done well, they seal the deal between the preferred job applicant and a happy client. When I was executive recruitment consultant, I enjoyed  speaking to referees. I would get off the phone energised by the fresh insights I had about a candidate,  which helped confirm the person’s match for the role, and the value they’d bring to the organisation.

When should you provide names of referees?

Although you may be asked for referees early in the recruitment process, this is for expediency and the recruiter’s benefit – not yours. These details aren’t needed until after an interview or you’ve been short-listed for the position. It’s unethical and unprofessional for anyone to contact your referees before you’ve had a discussion (preferably an interview) with a recruiter about a position. Recruiters must seek your permission prior to contacting your referees.

Leave referee contact details off your resume – you risk them being contacted before you’ve even spoken to or met a recruiter. Read about the pitfalls in Nicole Underwood’s post here. Respect your referees’ privacy and time – only offer their details after you’ve indicated your interest in the job, and you’ve made progress in the selection process. Brief your referees and share any relevant information about the position – before you give contact details to a recruiter.

“References provide an accurate, third-party assessment of your strengths and weaknesses so managers can hire knowing full information…Given the option of either interviewing a candidate withoutchecking references or checking references without interviewing, I would choose the latter.” Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

Why do recruiters speak to referees?

In addition to verifying the basic facts about an individual’s experience and qualifications, referees bring so much more to the interview process.

Referees help to fill in the gaps, giving the recruiter a more complete picture about an applicant’s capabilities and potential to meet the job requirements. Any concerns the recruiter or client has about the candidate’s expertise and fit for the job – especially when the he/she doesn’t tick all the boxes, can also be addressed with a referee.

Recruiters often undertake a reference check before progressing the applicant to the short-list stage – and prior to meeting their client. Once the person has been identified as the preferred candidate for the job, the remaining referees will be contacted. A final job offer can be made after all of these checks have been satisfactorily completed.

Who should you nominate as referees?

People you’ve reported to in your last couple of roles will be the first referees sought by recruiters, regardless of the nature of your relationship with them.  And often a variety of referees gives recruitment consultants a 360 degree view of you, your performance, and how you work with others.

In his Harvard Business Review post How to Choose the Right References, Fernández-Aráoz  suggests providing a list of former bosses, peers, and subordinates at several previous places of employment. Former bosses are great at assessing strategic orientation and achievement drive; peers can help to measure influence; subordinates are often the best judges of leadership.

Where it’s difficult to provide referees from your current organisation, a recruiter may ask to speak to customers, service providers or other key external stakeholders who are familiar with your work.

It goes without saying that any referee should have a good understanding of your work, and be able to express this clearly during a conversation with a recruiter. I’ve spoken to famous people who couldn’t offer anything other than a character reference for a candidate. While they work well for community roles and tenancy applications, personal referees aren’t effective in a professional recruitment process.

A good recruiter will be open to and balance all referee feedback –  good, bad and indifferent. Share any concerns upfront with the recruiter who will guide you about the best people to approach.

What makes a good reference check?

The best reference checks are rigorous professional conversations, which can take 20 minutes or more. Once the basic details are verified (eg employment dates, qualifications, reporting relationships and accomplishments), the discussion will focus on attitude, capability, and fit.

Although each recruiter has their own approach, most questions will relate to the selection criteria for the position. Other questions may refer to specific issues raised by the recruiter or the client during the interview process. By the end of the conversation, the recruiter wants to feel confident that the individual meets their client’s requirements, and is a good cultural fit for the organisation. Only then does the job applicant become a short-listed candidate for the job.

Reference check conversations can be as different as the recruiters, candidates and referees involved. And the best reference checks occur when the referee is articulate and clearly informed about the candidate’s experience and career options.

How to Manage the Job Search Roller-coaster

Wished for or imposed upon, redundancy, job loss and unemployment can profoundly impact our economical and emotional well-being.

According to the American Psychological Association, recent research indicates that unemployment can change people’s core personalities, making some less conscientious, agreeable and open, which may make it difficult for their to find new jobs, particularly as their period of unemployment becomes more protracted.

Although generous redundancy packages make the transition a lot sweeter, there can be many challenges as professionals review their options and step into the job market.

So what can you do to stay upbeat, and handle the roller-coaster ride to new employment?

1. Create a Support Network

It’s hard to manage a career change on your own. Take advantage of any outplacement services, career transition programs or coaching offered by your former employer. Professional support provides the structure, tools and tactics to get you off to a flying start. Even if you’re confident about job-hunting, access this expertise to review your plan.

Reach out to family, friends, neighbours, former colleagues, playground parents and professional contacts – all of whom may be able to give advice and leads during your job search. Cast your net widely, and explore new networks – in person and online. While those closer to you can give moral support, your ‘weaker’ business connections can often alert you to opportunities and provide valuable feedback.

2. Develop a Financial Plan

A lump sum can look very seductive when it hits the bank account. Watching it dwindle as the monthly paycheck stops isn’t as much fun. Analyse the real cost of this down-time, and develop a budget to avoid any surprises along the way. Involve family members where appropriate, especially if expectations need to managed and belts tightened.

And identify a fall-back position now – work you can easily find to generate cash-flow and relieve some of the pressure if things get tough. Once a financial plan is in place, a protracted job search may seem less daunting. If you need help, get professional advice.

3. Nurture yourself

Despite your best efforts, there will be occasions when your job search appears to lose momentum and take a nose-dive. All you can hear are ‘crickets’.

Take a deep breath and make room for both you and the market to re-charge. Regular breaks are good for the mind, body and soul, and help the days pass quickly. Whether it’s a weekend away, a school excursion, an exercise regime, a training course, a home renovation project, or volunteering, any positive distraction will give you something else to think about.

A clear mind will help you to focus on what you’d like to do, where you want to work, and what you offer your next employer. There’s nothing more attractive to a recruiter than someone who can articulate why they’re a good fit for the job.

4. Make a Career Plan

Successful job search is based on a good understanding of what you offer, and what employers want at the time. This involves research, planning, and action. And finding the right balance is critical. All the preparation in the world can only progress your job search if you get away from the screen, and engage with others – in person.

As industries and organisations restructure, the demand for some roles and expertise may shift. Do your own due diligence online and via your connections. Talk to people, seek their advice and input. Identify at least two options, do some scenario planning and be prepared to work differently. If you need to ride out a business cycle, consider new industries that welcome your expertise.

Surveys and anecdotal feedback confirm time and again that around 70% of jobs are found through people you know. Although the ‘visible’ job market can produce good results for some job seekers, the gold is often discovered in the ‘hidden’ job market. It’s important to invest at least equal time talking to recruiters and people in your network. Focus on professional conversations that progress your understanding about your prospects, rather than asking for a job. The more you know about yourself vs the prevailing job market, the better your chances of landing the right role, at least for now.

It takes a network to find new employment, and we all have the potential to make a difference to someone’s job search, and sense of well-being. If you know someone experiencing job loss (whether wished for or imposed upon), please share this post.


The Low-down on Recruiters (Part 4)

You’ve got the interview, now what?

An interview is like an audition, and it’s important to give the interviewer what they want in the time available.

It’s an investment of time and energy on both sides. If the discussion doesn’t lead to being considered for the position advertised, other opportunities may be shared with you.

Sometimes a recruiter may invite you for a ‘general’ discussion. As you won’t have a potential job to target, you are selling your expertise, experience, the value you offer an employer and your preferred job options during that time. These meetings are more like networking conversations, so tap into the recruiter’s knowledge where possible.

Whatever the nature of the interview, it’s an opportunity expand your network, and understanding of the job market.

  • Review & familiarise yourself with the resume you’ve sent to the recruiter.
  • Identify your best examples of your strengths where you’ve demonstrated them in previous roles. Know your greatest achievements.
  • Reflect on your motivations and behaviour in the workplace.
  • Is there a job PD? All the clues will be there, especially any selection criteria.
  • Tidy up & edit your LinkedIn profile; review profiles for the interviewer, people working in the company. Look for a company page, review latest developments in the industry, organisation.
  • Dress to impress for the culture of the organisation.
  • Double check location, transport, parking – get there early. There’s rarely a good excuse for being late.
  • Know your market worth and what it would take for you to accept a job offer.

What to expect in an interview

A general interview vs a job-specific interview will be quite different, with the latter digging more into the requirements of a specific job.

Whatever the nature of the interview with a recruiter, be prepared for the following:

Tell me about yourself

Although I never asked this question, be prepared for some informal conversation at the beginning of the interview. While this is an exercise of courtesy and rapport-building, you’re being assessed from the get-go. And by the way, the receptionist has probably already shared her first impression with the recruiter.

While every recruiter has their preferred interviewing process, an open-ended question allows the recruiter to learn more about how you respond to these situations. Keep the response brief (which is where those 60 second commercials come in handy) and professional.

The recruiter is in control

In most cases the recruiter has allowed 30 minutes to an hour for the initial meeting. If the interview is directed towards a job you’ve applied for, expect a tight process which enables the recruiter to determine if you’re a good candidate, and worth progressing to the short-list stage. This is where your preparation pays off!

Recruiters & Job Search (The Interview)

A recruiter is considering and assessing many variables during an interview. Some of them are quite explicit and relate to the selection criteria, while others are more about personal and organisational fit.

While each interviewer will have their own style, this is how I did it:

Part 1: Review your resume

I take you on a journey of your career in chronological order – sometimes starting at the very beginning. I will explore a little about what those jobs entailed and your reason for leaving and moving on.

While I may note your achievements, I won’t delve into them at this stage. But I will be looking for gaps in your employment history – come prepared for a considered explanation of these gaps!

By the time we’ve reviewed your resume, I would’ve decided if the job is a suitable fit or not. If you’re a good candidate, I’ll share more information about the role and the organisation. Where your background isn’t suitable, I may end the interview there, but keep you in mind for other opportunities.

If the meeting was more of a general discussion, we might explore options based on other assignments I’m working on at the time.

Explain the gaps

These days, it’s common for people to take career breaks for family reasons; time off between contract assignments or following redundancy. Whatever your situation, It’s important to give an upbeat explanation which leaves the recruiter feeling that you were constructive during that time.

Part 2: Are you a match for the role?

During the second part of the interview, I ask questions about specific situations when you’ve undertaken something and how you’ve done it. I may ask you to elaborate on situations – if these achievements are included in your resume, that’s a bonus and makes my job easier.

In addition to a range of open and closed questions, be prepared to explain more about the challenge, the action you took and the eventual outcome. (ie Behavioural event interviewing questions CAR or STAR responses)

If your resume isn’t clear, I will dig around for more details to qualify the depth of your expertise in this area. More often than not, I want to learn more about HOW you get work done, and will be looking for quantitative and qualitative measures related to the projects you’ve delivered.

A good recruiter will see potential but you have to be at least 70% of the way there. Sometimes exact fit means no growth and boredom.

One of the most important considerations is finding a suitable match in terms of the scope and size of the role in question, and cultural fit. If there is a reasonable fit, I will go back and look for evidence from your body of work which relates to the selection criteria.

By the end of the interview I want to be comfortable that you’re a convincing candidate for the position, and if you can perform the role in question for the organisation. I will put together a short-list knowing that each candidate is qualified, ready and wants to take the job.


Don’t get cute about salary

Despite all the advice to the contrary, a recruiter needs to know if your remuneration expectations can be met. If they don’t know this in detail, the recruiter can’t consider you as a viable candidate.

At this point they are working for you – to get you over the line and make a match made in heaven. If you withhold vital details, things may not progress well. It will make you and the recruiter look unprofessional.

Typically the recruiter will present your credentials along with remuneration expectations to the client organisation. This means base salary, bonus, share options and other intangible benefits will be well understood, and form the basis of any job offer.

In these situations, the recruiter will be negotiating the terms of your engagement on your behalf. They need to know what it will take to get you on board. While the organisation is still the client, the recruiter’s role is to make a mutually beneficial placement.

Post interview action

Before you leave an interview, ask the recruiter about the recruitment time-frame and next steps. This information will help you to manage your expectations about the process, and move on to explore other opportunities.

If the recruiter has asked for referee details, this is the time to contact and brief your referees about the position, so they are prepared should the recruiter call.

Email referee contact details to the recruiter and reiterate your interest in the job. Follow them up at the appropriate time, keep them informed of any changes to your circumstances, and sit tight.

Recruiters & Job Search (Part 3)

Before you contact a recruiter, it’s important to do your homework about who you are professionally, and how you’ll fit into an organisation. If you’re prepared, you’ll seem more focused, and make things a lot easier for the recruiter.

If you can’t articulate this for yourself, you’ll have little chance of assessing your career options or communicating what you offer to a potential employer.

This career due diligence involves reflection and research.  If this all sounds hard work, take a deep breath, the answers are around you. Previous performance reviews, psychometric assessments, 360 degree feedback etc, previous managers, peers, staff, referees and mentors, can provide you with useful input.

Kick-start the process by considering the following:

Must haves

The best career decisions are based on what’s important to you. How do your values influence the positions you pursue? How much responsibility do you want? What’s non-negotiable, what’s nice to have?

What people say about you

Refer to recent performance reviews, 360 reports and customer feedback. What do these tell you about your real strengths? When do you seem to shine the most? Can you leverage these at your next career move? Are there opportunities for development that need your attention?


Take stock of what you’ve done over the past 3-5 years. Have you acquired skills and expertise in a particular area, or won a major account? Did you play a key role on a project, or take on accountabilities while your boss was on leave? Don’t overlook or take any career milestone for granted.

Professional Development

What would help you to get to the next level or do your job better or differently? While training and education may be appropriate, look for faster (and often more effective) options. Would a secondment into another business unit offer you the expertise? Or could mentoring give you a fresh perspective, and the confidence to progress? Reach out, look for learning opportunities. They may not cost you anything, other than initiative and energy.

Ideal role

Given all of the above, what does your next role looks like? Is there a variation or an alternative that could work just as well? Will this position give you the opportunity to progress your career in the right direction? Speak to trusted colleagues if you need inspiration or advice.

Recruiters & Job Search (Part 2)

Call the recruiter

Wherever possible, I recommend that you speak to the recruiter before responding to a job ad, with one proviso – that you use the call to inquire about information that’s not in the ad or available in the public domain.

A pre-application conversation gives you the chance to learn more about the position, which helps you to customise your resume and position yourself as a potential candidate for the role.

But beware! The moment you initiate that conversation, you are being screened, and however informal the discussion seems, the interview has begun. Everything you say, and how your approach the call is being noted.

A good recruiter will take advantage of that call to decide if you sound like a good fit for the position, and should be considered for an interview.

Finally, use this call to determine if the advertised job actually exists or the recruiter is scouting for talent to build a database. If it does, you can decide if the role is worth pursuing, which can save a lot of time, energy and heartache.

Recruiter-friendly resume

Before you call a recruiter or submit a job application, I recommend that you take time to develop a resume which helps the recruiter to do their job, and leaves them with a good impression of you and your ‘personal brand’.

While there are many opinions about the format and length of a resume, and applicant tracking systems to consider, an experienced recruiter can spend just 20 seconds reviewing and assessing your resume.

Here are 7 things to consider before emailing your resume to a recruiter:

  1. Do I need to learn more about the job requirements or the needs of the organisation?
  2. Do I meet at least 70% of the selection criteria?
  3. What key words and phrases are used in the position description?
  4. Can I enhance my resume for the applicant tracking system?
  5. Have I made it clear how I differentiate myself from other similar candidates?
  6. Does my resume clearly show how I can perform the role and add value to the organisation?
  7. Have I followed the application instructions specified in the ad?


You can read The Low-down on Recruiters & Job Search (Part 1) here.

Recruiters & Job Search (Part 1)

Although headhunters and executive recruitment consultants (referred to as recruiters from here on) are key stakeholders in the job search process, they represent just one-third of potential opportunities in the job market, at best.

Yet so many professionals allocate a disproportionate amount of time and energy to recruiters when looking for a new job.

If you’re going down that track, here are some things you should know about recruiters before your throw yourself into the job search process.

The recruitment industry

The recruitment industry is nuanced and fragmented.

Recruiters can focus on specific sectors, industries or be generalists employed by a large global organisation, boutique firm or work independently.

Although they can handle assignments for positions offering remuneration anywhere from $80K-$400K, recruiters tend to work on positions within a much tighter salary range.

And at the top end of this range, a recruiter’s work can start to overlap with executive search consultants, also often referred to as ‘headhunters’. The big difference between the two, apart from the scope and remuneration of the roles they handle, is that recruiters often advertise (but not always) their assignments.

Executive search consultants are involved with Board, C-suite and senior executive appointments, and include firms such as Egon Zehnder, Korn Ferry, Russell Reynolds, Heidrick & Struggles and Spencer Stuart.

Unless they are building up a talent pool, or have watching briefs for clients, recruiters tend to only invest time in candidates who match their client’s requirements.

Depending on the type of position and the nature of the brief, recruiters may interview 8-10 people to form a short-list of 3 candidates for a position.

While they are excellent contacts who can offer valuable insights during your job search, recruiters aren’t motivated to devote energy to your unique career aspirations.

If you happen to speak to a recruiter at the right time, it’s a bonus. If not, you are networking, practising your interviewing skills and making progress with your career due diligence. Unfortunately, your background may not be useful to them now, or at any time in the near future.

The 70/30 job market

As mentioned above, recruiters handle about one-third of available job opportunities in the market-place. This can vary by industry and profession.

Many of these jobs are advertised in newspapers and online. This is referred to as the ‘visible’ or ‘reactive’ job market.

Social networking platforms eg LinkedIn and online job search boards like SEEK in Australia, and employer candidate introduction incentives have disrupted and changed how recruiters have traditionally operated.

While recruiters are still important reference points and sources of knowledge about potential job opportunities, the ‘hidden’ or ‘proactive’ job market ie learning about jobs vacancies via your professional and personal networks, shouldn’t be overlooked in any job search or career planning process.

Retained vs contingency recruitment

The other key issue to understand about recruiters is the nature of the relationship between the recruiter and the organisation.

Recruiters can work with client organisations on a retained or contingency basis. This arrangement will influence how they manage a recruitment assignment, and engage with applicants for the position.

If a recruiter is working in a retained basis, an exclusive business arrangement exists between the recruiter and the organisation. Typically, the client will be invoiced in stages eg at the commencement of the assignment, at the presentation of the short list to the client, and on successful placement and appointment of the preferred candidate into the organisation.

Recruiters operating at the top end of the market tend to operate in this way. Although they may present suitable candidates on an ad hoc basis to their clients, and get a placement fee, these recruiters don’t focus on contingency based recruitment.

If a recruiter is working on a contingency basis, they do not have an exclusive relationship with a client and will be working for a success fee.

They are often competing with other recruitment firms to find candidates, and will only get paid if the individual they present to the organisation is appointed to the position.

Why a recruiter will meet you

As there are various reasons why a recruiter will meet you, it’s important to clarify the objective of the interview, which could be any of the following:

  • They’ve been retained by a client to find candidates for a position.
  • An organisation is looking to fill a vacant role and invited recruiters to submit resumes of suitable candidates.
  • They are canvassing the market for fresh talent to update their database.
  • You, your current/previous organisation are of interest to them.
  • They like meeting and networking with impressive professionals.
  • They’re doing a favour for a client or family member.

Get you head around all of this, and you’re well on the way to managing your expectations about recruiters during job search.


How to Look Good on Paper

After doing the same job for several years, it can be quite easy to underestimate the contributions that you’ve made to your organisation, according to Melbourne, Australia-based executive career coach Mary Goldsmith. It’s important to remember that industries and organisations are in a constant state of flux, which keeps most employees learning more than they realise.

“Even if the job scope seems much the same, just keeping abreast of technological advances, such as the introduction of a new accounting software or HR records management system, takes time to learn and apply successfully,” said Goldsmith who encourages her clients to include what she calls “secondments” — projects or committees they’ve been involved with in addition to their usual responsibilities. This includes times when they acted for a manager who was on leave or managed the team conference or training program. If you’ve ever mentored or provided coaching support to new colleagues, “these can indicate ongoing learning, capability and skills development,” she said. Also include any internal training and development you’ve had, along with volunteer stints. “All of these activities can be added as achievements and give oomph to an otherwise ho-hum CV,” Goldsmith said.

Extract from BBC Capital’s Career Coach post ‘How to Look Good on Paper’ by Liz Garone. You can read the full article here.