What Makes a Good Candidate?

The job market is as competitive as ever, and when applying for a post you could be up against any number of highly qualified candidates. Sometimes you may think you performed excellently in interview, only to find someone else was offered the job, leaving you asking yourself what sets people apart in a crowd all vying for the same job. Not to worry; we at TM have a great deal of experience in what makes a good candidate, and although requirements of course vary from post to post, there are some golden rules to go by:

  • A good CV

The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. They say first impressions count, and for the vast majority of job applications your CV will be the first thing the employer sees. Luckily for you, some simple superficial tweaks will help you get noticed. Of course the usual advice of making sure everything is clearly presented on one or two sides of A4 applies here, and an additional tip is to place the most important information in the top middle section of the page, where the eye naturally falls first. If you’re stuck, ask someone who has experience in CV selection to take a look at yours and polish it up.

  • Relevant experience

This goes hand in hand with a good CV, and is also extremely variable based on the post you’re applying for. It’s not enough to simply have the experience, you have to know how to present in correctly on your CV and relate it to the job applied for in the interview. If you’re lacking in experience directly relevant to the post, or if it’s your first job, you can consider how your other experience and qualifications taught you transferrable skills that will make you more attractive.

  • Reactivity

Make sure you’re available and responsive when making interview plans. Get email alerts on your phone or make sure you’re by a computer so that you can reply promptly, and if it all possible prioritise the interview over other plans.

  • Presentation

This one is so simple and yet so many can get it wrong! Make sure you’re clean and wearing something simple and professional when you arrive for interview; the level of formality will depend on the company, but as a general rule leave the jeans and t-shirt at home. Also, this isn’t the time to make any bold fashion statements, play it safe with something classic and understated.

  • Good etiquette at interview

This means showing up at the right time, preferably around 5 minutes before the interview is due to start. Don’t worry too much if you’re 5 or 10 minutes late, interviewers understand that problems can arise with transport etc., but under no circumstances should you show up early! It can be quite irritating as your interviewer may well have something planned beforehand. In addition, make sure you remember your basic manners, like standing up to shake your interviewers hand and good eye contact.

These are just some of the simpler steps you take to increase your chances of success when applying for a job, and now you know all of this, why not take a look at our offers and send an application in now? And if you enjoyed this and would like to read more of the same, head over to our blog now.

This One Vital Tip Could Make You a Better Networker…

Have you ever been introduced to someone only to forget his or her name seconds later?  You’re not alone; just look what happened to presenter Charlie Stayt when he seemed to momentarily forget his co-presenter Susanna Reid’s name live on the BBC news.  His bumbled excuses make for awkward viewing and certainly don’t seem to go down too well with Susanna. 

So, why does remembering somebody’s name make such a difference?

As Dale Carnegie, arguably the most acclaimed careers coach in history wrote back in 1936, ‘a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language’.  Decades later, it’s the one piece of advice which still holds true.  It’s the ticket to making a connection with someone in a few moments, the difference between him or her wanting to walk away or continue the conversation.  That’s why salesmen always address customers by their first name.  On a conscious level, you might think it invasive, but on an unconscious level, the moment you hear your name your engagement level shoots right up.  In the world of networking, this knowledge can be a powerful tool.  If you can remember someone’s name, especially after a single introduction, networking events will suddenly seem a lot easier.  And it all starts with one little tip: having a genuine interest in others.

A psychology professor has asserted that there is no such thing as being naturally talented at remembering names but that the ability stems from being interested in others[1].  Those who genuinely care about forming relationships and learning about other people are more likely to recall names.  So, what does this mean for you?  While you can no longer excuse yourself on the basis that you’re “bad with names”, you needn’t resign yourself to the fact that you can’t get better.  Here are a few tips:

  • Number one: Listen. How many times has someone been introducing himself or herself to you and rather than listen, you’ve been trying to think of what to say next?  The next time you’re in this situation: listen, look out for the name and mentally log it.
  • The best advice I ever received was to repeat the person’s name following the introduction. “Hi, I’m Susan”.  “Nice to meet you, Susan.  I’m Tanya”.  The act of repeating the name aloud will further cement it in your memory.
  • Don’t rely on name tags. These prevalent white stickers are evidence that you’re not alone in your toil, which can be reassuring.  However, as Joyce Russell points out, if you rely on name tags, you’re not actually making an effort to learn names.  The result? They’re in one ear and out the other in seconds.
  • If you particularly struggle, then this is a useful tip proposed by Kristi Hedges.  If you meet a Jessica and your aunt is called Jessica, make a connection.  The next time you meet her, you’ll immediately think this person has the same name as my aunt.
  • If the person’s name is less common and you don’t know anyone with that name, word association can help.  Think “Henrietta likes hens”.  The next time you and Henrietta cross paths, you’ll picture her carrying a hen and with that, you’ll recall her name.

Now for the golden question: can you remember the name of either of the BBC presenters mentioned in paragraph one?  If you can, take advantage of this skill when networking.  If not, you might want to have another look at those tips above!

For more useful advice, take a look at our website and, if you’re looking for a job, why not consult our latest offers?

[1] Kansas State University. “What’s your name again? Lack of interest, not brain’s ability, may be why we forget.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620113027.htm (accessed November 27, 2014)

Volunteer and Boost Your Career

Have you seen the Ebola awareness banner at the top of your Facebook News Feed this week?  Corporate philanthropy, the sentiment of businesses giving back or serving the local community, is not new on the scene and has long been a key priority for companies.  Yet in the viral age a company’s charitable power can stretch much further.  Through its current campaign, Facebook is reaching out to one in nine people in the world to raise money for the Ebola epidemic.  While Facebook’s following might be slightly larger than most, companies can do a lot of good by promoting charitable causes to their online audience.  And photos of employees helping out members of the local community on Twitter and Facebook don’t do any harm for the company image either.  Philanthropic?  Yes, although there is equally some business sense behind it all…

Inspiring and motivating staff

Primarily, we’re talking about employee engagement.  Setting aside time at work to devote to making a difference increases employee satisfaction by a 2:1 ratio according to Net Impact’s report.  Those who have the option to make a positive contribution to society through work feel their role is more fulfilling, thereby enhancing employee performance.  Furthermore, team volunteering can improve staff morale and increase company loyalty – the benefits speak for themselves.

Attracting the best talent

What’s more, a happy workforce has a knock-on effect on the recruitment side of the picture.  Nowadays, a company’s social reputation says a lot to future employees and can be the distinctive trigger in a job seeker’s decision.  Equally, from a recruiter’s point of view, Deloitte found that among US employers “Skilled volunteering can improve a job candidate’s chances of getting hired”.  This isn’t surprising when you consider the transferrable skills gained through voluntary experience; those of time management, teamwork and commitment to name a few.  First and foremost though, choosing to volunteer indicates that you have an interest in other people, which is likely to stand you in good stead when applying for a job.

What to write on your CV

So, as more and more companies jump on the benevolence bandwagon, it’s a good idea to include your voluntary experience on your CV.  Now then, how best to present it?

  • List your voluntary experience under the ‘Related Experience’ heading. If you have significant voluntary experience, you could consider creating a new heading altogether, although this is only recommended if you have worked for several organisations.
  • Keep a log of your responsibilities when volunteering. This will prove useful when it comes to writing your CV or preparing for an interview.
  • Keep in touch with your contacts from the organisation as they could serve as your referees. If possible, ask them for a recommendation on LinkedIn.
  • Before an interview, ensure that you have read up on the company’s social and ethical commitments. This will allow you to discuss some of the projects which particularly appeal to you and in which you would like to get involved should you receive an offer.

Finally and most importantly, in a world of such inequality, doing your bit to help others is everyone’s responsibility; companies and individuals alike.  It’s never too late to volunteer…

If you found this advice useful, head to our blog for similar tips.  To consult our latest job offers, look here.