Last week I teamed up with Leila Mehio, author of blog Job Searching Expert to talk about life as a recruiter – how I got here, what I do, and some typical ways we help the people we work with.
Leila is a candidate of mine that I’ve worked with for a few years, helping her find her role at Grey London.We’ve kept in touch ever since and Career Moves Group recently helped Leila with some support recruitment at ?What If! Innovation Partners (where Leila is currently People Team Assistant). Leila asked me some questions about my life as a recruiter, and here’s the finished article…
Q. How did you get into recruitment?
A. I worked in hospitality when I left university in a “Front of House Supervisor” role. Whilst there, I worked on weekly payroll, inputting hours, and checking/handing out payslips for our 30 staff. I also worked on a contract audit, and after I completed that I decided to do an HR Audit, where I went through all personnel files, ensuring we had passport copies, H&S sheets etc for all employees. Finally, I was asked to write job adverts and liaise with the local employment agency to find a few new team members, which resulted in me screening CVs and organising some interviews for the General Manager. After adding all this to my CV and uploading it to Total Jobs, I was approached by a recruiter at Career Moves Group and asked to interview for a Resourcer role. I had a two stage interview, was offered the role and started in May 2010, and I’ve been here ever since.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your role?
A. It’s hard to pick one thing. For me, as a recruiter, I’m really glad that I love my job. I think when I’m constantly working with people that are either unhappy in their role or simply looking for their next step, that it’s really important for me to be happy and engaged where I work. If I had to pick my top things, they’d be:
My team – we have a really good relationship which is really important. I know when I can have a bit of a chat and break away from my PC, but I also know when I need to focus (and more importantly let my team focus!) on what’s in hand. We also know how each other works, so we know what works in terms of management style between myself and my Head of, and me and my Junior Account Manager. The dynamic works really well, makes me happy at work, and makes the day pass more quickly.
The Career Moves Group progression plan – I’ve been with the business for four and a half years, progressing from Resourcer, to Junior Account Manager, Account Manager and now Senior Account Manager with a team member to mentor/manage. I have also been put through the Level 3 CIPD qualification to further my knowledge of HR, and as a new Line Manager have just been signed onto an external qualification with the Chartered Management Institute which I’ll complete in November of this year.
The Career Moves Group “way of life” – we’re a close knit bunch, go out for lunches in pairs or large groups regularly, celebrate birthdays, throw summer parties and bring in treats for each other when the mood takes us. People are happy to be here and it shows in the office and outside. I wouldn’t still be here without the other 20 odd slightly mad, hilarious and fun-to-be-around CMGers.
(We also just moved to a brand-spanking-new 6th Floor office in Farringdon, which is a massive win).
Q. With companies constantly trying to save money by directly recruiting, do you feel the number of people using recruitment agencies has dropped?
A. The reason we are successful here at Career Moves Group, is that we have good relationships with our clients and they trust us to find them the people they want. They work in partnership with us to source the hottest industry talent. A lot of the time direct hiring doesn’t work, and as we keep our ear to the ground 24/7, we know where the key industry talent is – the people that you just can’t find with a job advert.
From a candidate perspective, we are still registering as many suitable candidates as ever, though it’s become the case that even at a more junior level, the talent is on the whole more passive. We have to approach a lot more candidates directly than before (the calibre of applications through job boards isn’t always high) and while this is more time consuming it is more fruitful. I find that job seekers are still very happy to use agencies.
Q. Do you think recruitment agencies are a good way to get jobs?
A. If you find a good one, then yes, absolutely. If you can find a good agency, they will meet you face to face (when possible) and really get to you know you, your skills, and what you’re looking for from your next role. They will also know their clients and what they’re looking for and will be able to match you well. Good agencies will also be honest with you about what they can help you with. If you need to adjust your expectations, work on your CV etc, they’ll help you through this. 97% of Career Moves Groups placed candidates stay in their roles for at least a year, so we know that we’re getting it right for our them (and our clients).
Q. Have social media platforms such as LinkedIn affected recruitment agencies or just helped them?
A. We’ve made a few placements from people that have found us on Twitter, which is great. Generally Linkedin has assisted us in finding placeable candidates.
There are over 15 million people on Linkedin in the UK – so when you take out under 18’s, and the retired population – it stands for a very high percentage of the total UK workforce. When Linkedin is put into context like that – you can see why we do now place a large amount of time and resource across the business to get the most out of the network.
Of course, Linkedin does make it easier for in house HR/recruitment teams to find their own candidates, but it’s still labour and time intensive, which means they often still come to us as their Talent Partner.
Q. Should people just register with a limited number of agencies?
A. You need to research your agencies before you register, I would never recommend blasting your CV out to all the agencies under the sun. Any reputable agency will have a thorough website showing the roles they recruit, live roles on at the moment, clients they work with and often some quotes from candidates and clients. Their website will give you a sense of the sort of agency they are, and if it fits with the type of job and company you’re looking for, then get in touch!
Don’t forget, once you’ve found your consultant (this will often depend on team specialities) you can check them out on LinkedIn where they should have some good recommendations from both candidates and clients.
Q. What do you think is the most common mistake made on a CV?
A. What you like to see on a CV is very much personal preference, but on the whole I would stick to the rule that simple is best. Here are the 3 mistakes I tend to see most:
Spelling and grammar – these mistakes are everywhere, so it’s really important to proof-read your CV. Make sure you don’t always rely on spell check, and remember its often good to step away from your CV for a few days then relook at it – if you’ve sat typing it for an hour you won’t see the mistakes you’ve just made!
Funny fonts – using ‘interesting’ fonts is also a common mistake. You need to stick with standard Arial/Calibri style fonts, as they’re easiest to read.
Formatting – finally, another taboo for me is lack of formatting – you need to bullet point your experience and make it easy on the eye.
Q. What is the funniest/worst thing you have seen on a CV?
A. Sometimes the worst ones are also the funniest ones. We’ve all had our fair share of CVs where people put photos of themselves in somewhat compromising positions in nightclubs on their CVs….your CV is not and should never be an outlet for a photo like this! (Personally I don’t like photos on CVs full stop).
Genuinely the worst mistake you can make is to spell the place where you work wrong…that’s a pretty bad one that I’ve had before.
Q. What are your top 5 tips to Graduates looking for their first role?
1. Apply directly, don’t rely on agencies. Companies will very very rarely pay an agency fee for a candidate with little experience. You’re best approaching companies directly for graduate roles, or working with specialist graduate agencies.
2. Research, research, research. If you’re approaching companies directly, you absolutely have to know what you’re applying for and what you’re talking about. Look up interesting things about the company history, know why you want the job you’re applying for and why you want that particular role.
3. Get a good CV together. There’s no point starting to look at things if you haven’t got a decent CV together. You need to make sure your CV is smart. You need to make sure the layout is clean, and that the grammar and spelling is on point. Your name/address etc need to be laid out at the top, and you need to have some form of profile at the top too. Your CV needs to grab and hold the attention of the interviewer, but this doesn’t mean funny fonts/pictures etc. Keep it simple, keep it chic – it’s your best business card!
4. Make a LinkedIn profile. If you’re job hunting, you should be on Linkedin. You can build your profile from your CV, it’s really easy to do. Go for a simple photo, and a headline stating that you’re looking for X type of work. This way potential employers can find you online, and see that you’re serious about your job search.
5. Curb your social media activity. Now, it’s completely up to you about what you get up to on your social media platforms, but make sure things are set to private. If you tweet, check your twitter history and make your tweets private. On Facebook, just make your profile private and unsearchable. Blogs etc are a different ball game, if you’re blogging it’s probably along the lines of something you want to get into as a career, so this could actually help. The main thing I’m trying to say is just not to be stupid. You need to come across as professional and trustworthy…a timeline of profanity ridden tweets is not going to scream “Hire me now”.
Q. What is your best interview tip?
A. Cheesy as it sounds, “relax and be yourself” is always my top interview tip. Anyone who has ever interviewed for a role through me will know that this is what I tell them. They’ll also tell you that I’m well aware it’s easy for me to sit at my desk and tell them to be calm and to relax, but in all honesty, your interviewer will see right through you if you’re faking it.
And yes, you need to do all the basics like research the company you’re going to see, look over your CV and prepare some answers to competency questions based on the job spec (which your agency should give you!). We talk to our candidates in the days leading up to their interviews to give them any prep they might need (I just put the phone down to someone advising her what to wear to an interview at an ad agency…) but without being yourself, the rest will fall apart!
The original article was published on The Job Searching Expert.