Jumping through hoops

Recruitment agencies are often accused of making candidates ‘jump through hoops’ – indeed it  is no surprise to us that candidates that are less interested in the role tend to drop out along the way, or as soon as they are asked to do something other than attend an interview.  It is true that some agencies waste candidates’ time unnecessarily often without actually helping them to look for a new role.  This is seldom the case with reputable specialised agencies.  In fact our stringent process is designed to ensure that by the time you get to that interview you will have the best possible chance of getting the role.  Below we have provided answers to some of the questions we are sometimes asked regarding the recruitment process.

Why have you asked me to change my CV?

We will only ask you to make adjustments if it isn’t obvious from the CV you have provided that you have all the required skills for the role you are applying to.  If it emerges during our conversation with you that you have skills in something particularly relevant to the role or the client, we will ask you to provide a bit more information.  It doesn’t take long, and it is often the difference between a CV that the client rejects outright and one that they feel is worth considering.

Why do I have to write a covering letter?

So many of the online job boards brag that you can apply with one click that we forget that there was a time before the internet was widely available when applying for a role would involve, as a matter of course, writing a cover letter, outlining briefly why you have applied, what interests you about the role, and what you could bring to it.  Our clients won’t care how many clicks it took you to apply for the role, but they might well want to know in your own words, why you think you would be a good candidate.  If you are serious about the role, you ought to provide one – your application is much more likely to catch the recruiter’s eye if you can demonstrate some interest and enthusiasm.

Why do I have to take a technical test before I’ve even been interviewed?

Our clients trust us to make sure the candidates whose CVs we submit are technically capable of doing the job.  They are busy people and want to avoid wasting time interviewing candidates that look good on paper but in practice do not have the relevant technical knowledge.  A good agency will subscribe to a service like IKM TeckCheck that offers bespoke technical assessments, meaning that we can administer a technical assessment to candidates that we have shortlisted as suitable.  This provides our client with an insight into your technical strengths and weaknesses, and highlights to them what they might want to focus on in the interview with you.

Why does the agency want to meet me?

The reason that a good agency will want to meet with you ahead of your interview with the client is because their client has asked them to.  A short meeting will give them a chance to assess whether there is any reason why you would not be suitable for the role, and to pick up any issues you might have with interview technique.  You should always treat this meeting as a first interview – if the client has a good relationship with the agency then they will trust their judgement and it could be the case that if you fail to impress, you will be withdrawn from the process.  Regard it as an opportunity to gain some insight into what the client is looking for – what kind of people have been successful in the past?  Additionally, it is worth mentioning that we often go on to place candidates that we have met face to face.  We always remember good candidates that have made the effort to come and see us, and if it turns out they miss out on the role we are interviewing them for, then more than likely we’ll be getting in touch with them in the near future with similar opportunities.  Remember too that we have all been looking for work at some stage in our career.  We know it isn’t easy to take time off work, and we will do our best to work around you as long as you are willing to make the effort.  Inviting you for a meeting means we already regard you as a strong candidate; we wouldn’t waste your time or ours otherwise.

Why does the client need to meet me 3 times?

Second interview, third interview… it can get infuriating having to take more and more time off work to attend interviews.  Why can’t they just wrap it up in one go?  Of course we would love it if this was always the case; as the middle man trying to set up thirds interviews between irate candidates and inflexible clients, we appreciate how difficult it can be.  But remember, our clients are busy people too.  It could be that someone who is involved in the process was not available the first time they met with you.  It could be that it is very close between you and another candidate, and they want to meet you both again in order to make up their minds.  Whatever the reason, unfortunately it has to be done – try to find out from the agency what the client’s process usually is, so you know in advance what sacrifices you will have to make.  Ask whether the client is flexible to meet with you early in the morning or after hours.  Be positive, and treat the meeting as another chance to impress.

Why do I have to provide references?

Many companies seem to think taking references is outdated.  In fact, we regard taking references as a very important part of the process.  A candidate that comes with glowing references from their last two employers is highly desirable to our clients, and it makes our process even more airtight if we can have someone else’s word that you are just as impressive as you seem to be.

The salary said ‘up to £xxx’ – why hasn’t the client they offered me the top end?

If our client has specified they will pay £30-40k depending on experience this doesn’t mean they will necessarily offer £40k to the successful candidate – in fact the top end is usually reserved for candidates that have every single skill they are looking for together with years of industry experience with one of their competitors.  They have to be fair to their existing team members – bringing you in on a much higher salary could present problems for them. It is best to consider the overall package and career progression when you consider an offer.  Sometimes a well-chosen step sideways is better for your career long term than a role that merely offers a higher basic salary.  Try to take everything into consideration when you decide to accept or decline an offer – rejecting an offer in anticipation of the client offering more can result in disappointment.  Don’t price yourself out of the market unnecessarily if you believe that the role is right for you – once you have started your new position you can prove your worth.

Remember that the recruitment process is set up to find the best match, and if that’s you, we want you to succeed.  Rather than berate the process because it requires a good deal of commitment, use it to your advantage to make it apparent to all concerned that you are undoubtedly the best person for the job.