Recruitment Industry – “Dude, you’ve changed!”

Having worked in the recruitment industry at a time when it was still a candidate led market in 2008, I have recently observed some concerning changes in employer attitude that I felt compelled to write about. I have been out of the recruitment industry for over 5 years now and as a mature student I was recently propelled back into the real world to embark on my new career in digital marketing armed with a 2:1 degree in addition to my previous experience in marketing.

I am sure the change in employer attitude has come about due to the recession that hit in 2009 causing employers to tighten their budgets and candidates to become more self sufficient and proactive, losing confidence in the security of a ‘permanent’ job. However, when I was a commercial recruitment consultant hiring for anything from a junior administrator through to Mortgage Advisor and even a boat builder at one point, the employers understood the value of a strong candidate.

Candidates Were Valued…

Resourcing candidates that not only fit the requirements but also had a good personality match with the company was a refined art and employers would turn around the cycle of short listing and interviews through to a job offer within a couple of weeks. Businesses knew that good candidates were difficult to find and snapped the good ones up fast. Similar to the property market, good houses or flats with sea views are always in demand and buyers understand they need to act quick if they want their dream home.

Change in Employer Attitude…

Finding a job now is like entering a war zone of equally talented soldiers all fighting for their lives. If you are currently applying for jobs and going to interviews with no results then you will understand where I am coming from. There are also now a lot more task based interviews. I recently was expected to design a full emailer and a website page using html and css just at interview stage. You are expected to go through a lot more hoops and probably wait a lot longer to hear anything. From a cycle that used to take weeks, employers are now taking at least a month if not more to eventually make a decision and select the right candidate. This means you are going to have to work a lot harder than candidates used to and be patient.

There is still hope though, if you put the time and energy into developing your skills and are able to showcase them online and present them at interview you will, like the 90s release from Aswad, shine, shine like a star! Being proactive is the only way you are going to stand out and get the attention of employers. I did six interviews when I relocated to Brighton and got offered jobs from four of them and I can confidently tell you why:

Being Proactive…

During university I took on the role of Online Editor for the university magazine, developed the website using WordPress and eventually became the Editor of the print magazine. I also worked part-time for a graphic design agency, as Digital Marketing Manager and Music writer for a local magazine and my last role was Digital Marketing Executive for an arts centre where I re-developed their website within a month of the position. I also was Editor of a national music magazine during the summer of 2012 and went on to launch my own worldwide digital magazine which won me the university entrepreneurial ‘Enterprise’ award. On top of that I ran my own blog, which also acted as my portfolio (well, you are reading it right now!). I’m not saying you need to be quite that active, it was an extremely high pressured time for me, but bear in mind you could be up against a candidate who is extremely proactive.

Creative and Confident…

Employers are becoming more interested in candidates that are able to think ‘creatively’ and have the confidence to work on their own initiative. This is because they are under tighter budgets and having to consolidate job roles to include a wider range of tasks. For instance the first position I took in Brighton (which wasn’t the right fit for me unfortunately), not only required me to undertake traditional marketing tasks, I was also responsible for all design requirements, the compilation and execution of emailers, website copy and generating sales revenue working to a huge 200k target per annum.  Demonstrate your creativity and confidence by taking a portfolio of your work to an interview. Present it well and talk them through it in a concise way.

An All Rounder…

The smaller companies in particular are looking for ‘all rounder’s’. This is because their business needs can change and having someone who is multi-talented with the ability to support the business as a whole is reassuring.  Having worked for a few smaller businesses now I have picked up a range of skills but if you don’t have the opportunity to do work experience in this way or you are fresh out of university then be proactive and develop your skills at home. The internet is a wonderful place with all the advice and guidance you need!

Overcoming the Hurdles…

However, there have been some hurdles along the way, so the most important tip I can give you is to be prepared for your interview. Go through your CV and predict the negative observations that are bound to come up. I may have all of the above in my favour but I also look like a crazy woman on my CV. My careers have bounced over the years and the longest I have been in a job previously was two years. Be ready to explain your journey fully so that they understand your current motivations and future plans will fit well with their company and the position in question.  The other factor that has stifled employers at interview stage has also been my broad range of skills, questioning my ability to focus on one specialist area.  My answer to them was:

“I thrive when I am able to focus on one specialist area and would enjoy the opportunity to hone my skills and become an expert at something. However, the good news is I do have the other skills that you can call upon in the future should your business needs change.”

Just like a sales pitch, prepare some ‘rebuttals’ at your interview. Know your weaknesses and turn them into strengths!

Finding You Happy Ending…

There are two reasons why I wanted to write about this subject. Firstly, employers need to understand that there has been a shift, which will continue to develop as we are slowly climbing out of the recession. You can still be cautious but don’t underestimate the value of a strong candidate. If they are seeking work candidates are either currently extremely stressed due to lack of funds or unhappy in their current role.  Be mindful of this and give them the respect they deserve by making the process as fast as it possibly can be. Most importantly, snap up the good ones! The probation period is there for a reason so don’t worry about taking risks and if you have a good candidate with some additional skills don’t be afraid to adapt the role and expand on your original spec. I also wanted to share my findings with any candidates currently feeling deflated about their efforts to find a job. I have friends and family seeking work and I am currently helping them to create LinkedIn profiles that grab attention and showcase their skills. I also have recommended they all write a blog on something they are passionate about.

Although the other interviews were all sourced via a jobs board, the last position I secured was found by sending a group email to all of the business owners I was connected with on LinkedIn and the position was even adapted by the employer to fit with my skill set. I am now looking for my next position and confident that if I apply the above approach I will find the right job for me. Hopefully one that can keep me away from the fangs of the recruitment process for a lot longer! Good luck, have faith and prosper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.