At a first glance this may seem shocking verging on insulting- but hear me out. In my extremely humble opinion after only 2 years in the industry I have found some similarities (bear with me, I promise there is a point to this).

1. although we now have to be in education until the age of 18 unlike the Victorian era and the industrial revolution. Recruitment is one of the few jobs you can enter on your potential alone (apprentice) and not pieces of paper saying you can do various curriculum subjects with little/no relevance to the job.

2. There is an overwhelming number of trainees, young people and apprentices in the industry. After all trainees are loyal, habit free and open minded.  They are trained by companies who can mold them into their idea of a good recruiter.

3. There are long hours too… although i’m sure they are more rewarding than working down a mine not to mention a lot less physically dangerous.

point 3 brings me to  the question: How can a bad experience affect such a young person mentally and emotionally? Well the only way I can answer this question is through my own experience (all two years of it) of course with out mentioning any names.

it all started when I joined an IT recruitment company based in Hertfordshire at the tender age of 20 on a salary  of £8,000. I had big plans of making thousands in commission and helping people fulfill their career dreams along the way. I quickly came down to earth with a bang. After blood, sweat and LOADS of tears my salary was raised to £12,000 as a resourcer. Of course knowing no better I was ecstatic with my raise and threw myself into trying to show I was worth it. Little did I know people with less experience than me were on salaries a lot higher than mine. We were screamed at and insulted  on a regular basis for not hitting our targets (this was due to little to no training). Racial (including the N word), homophobic and sexist comments became part of every day life in the name of banter. Believe me I love a bit of banter as much as the next person, however I found that these types of jokes day after day make you feel absolutely worthless. The lack of training along with daily insults meant that instead of a loyal, hard working and loyal work force people couldn’t wait to leave. You see the business model itself is a great idea build people up with training and confidence and you have yourself trainees that eat, sleep and dream recruitment fully submerged in the companies ethos, culture and way of working. However put a group of trainees on the phones without training is hugely dangerous for the companies reputation, clients and attrition. Of course a high staff turnover in a sales environment is common, but 80% attrition must mean something is going wrong… I mean come on its common sense. suddenly the coal mines didn’t seem such a far cry from what we were experiencing.

After having had enough I handed in my notice. I was then asked to continue working on bringing new staff into our business. I accepted and went about trying to make a difference to the trainees I brought on with informal training and chats. Also through dining room gossip attempted to address any concerns they had with regards to their treatment or training needs. The title Director of talent was absolutely not reflected in my salary, maintaining my £12,000 per year.

After ending my contract amicably I was then left with a tough decision: do I give recruitment another shot or turn my back of an extremely stressful part of my life. It then dawned on me. I would have to sell myself at the interviews…there was one problem. How was I going to sell myself as a product to invest in when I was made to feel that I was nothing to be proud of?? I had to shake off my self image problems and believe in myself again. I decided that I would try again and see if my warped opinion of recruitment could be changed. Having attended at least  15 interviews and receiving various offers I was very wary about who I felt I would flourish with. After making my decision I waited anxiously for my start date.

After having started I am absolutely sure that recruitment is a job that at its core is something that I love doing. Given the right environment and training I found myself looking forward to getting up and going to work a previously alien concept. I feel valued and challenged at the same time a great mixture. Recruitment is a great industry to enter if business is something you enjoy, whether you have a degree or not. The big bucks are possible with the right attitude and drive. I would encourage anyone who has these attributes to find your place in the industry. For those who feel let down by the industry not every company is the same you need to find one that suits your morals, way of working and sector interest. Recruitment is extremely rewarding. The reputation of recruitment can change if the good companies out there can flourish and get the right talent on board. Together they can ensure best practice is the norm and not the exception.

So when I say recruitment is the factories and coal mines of the 21st century. I mean we are in a period of huge change. Our very own industrial revolution. This generation has the opportunity to gain amazing experience and potentially extremely high salaries in an extremely meritocratic, incentive driven industry. Just make sure you learn from the best and give your all.

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So we’ve covered the opening hurdle “tell me a bit about yourself” including the opportunities and risks involved with this opening interview statement.

Now I want to tackle the last hurdle of an interview “do you have any questions for me?”. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a last minute question to ensure nothing has been missed. Your response to this question could make or break your interview. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:

Don’t

  • Ask about salary/bonus and benefits
  • Ask if you can work from home (if you can this would have been advertised)
  • Ask how long it will be until you can re-apply or apply for other roles within the company
  • Ask the interviewer the worst parts of their job
  • Ask when you will get the chance to work in an overseas office like a hot country
  • Ask if you will be expected to work outside core hours
  • Ask about their policy on personal emails and calls
  • Ask how soon you can take holiday

Do

  • Ask about the company culture
  • “What type of person thrives in this company?”
  • “What tends to be the team dynamics?”
  • ” Are people here more interested in being in a team or standing out as individuals?”
  • Ask about the interviewer
  • “What is your background, how did you find yourself here?”
  • “What about your job haver you enjoyed the most?”
  • Google them for any blogs, articles, social network profile, ect and ask about that.
  • Ask about the position
  • “What would constitute me being successful in this position?”
  • “If offered, in my year review what would I need to have done to be told “what an amazing year!”
  • “What has mad past employees in this position successful or unsuccessful?”
  • Ask about the company
  • “what are the companies’ plans for the future?”
  • “How does this role fit in with your future plans?”

It has never been more important to sell yourself. Your mind, your skills and your attitude combine as your own personal shop window, but the big question is;

How do you go about making employers want to check out what you have on offer?

 An easy way to give yourself an edge over the competition when applying for graduate schemes and jobs is to meet a representative of the company face-to-face. By having that personal contact, you can soak up information about the organisation’s culture from someone who has experienced it first hand and pick up tips that will help you in your applications and interviews.

So how do you do this?

Don’t worry! This isn’t as hard as it sounds, let events do the work for you. Open days, seminars, career fairs and workshops are all gold mines for networking; it’s just up to you to find the golden nuggets.

This is the time a bit of good old-fashioned stalking is in order. I’m obviously not talking about following your prospective employer around to the point of getting a restraining order. I’m talking about some Linkedin and general Google searching. If you don’t have a Linkedin account, GET ONE! It will become your best friend in your search: the one who will stand by you, help as much as possible and not apply for the same job behind your back. Use Linkedin to search the companies you would like to work for, focusing specifically on their decision-makers. These guys often post what events they are attending and what a coincidence, now you can conveniently be going to them too. Alternatively, if you are not sure what events are out there, do a Google search. There are many websites with calendars listed to help you to find the events that match up with your aspirations.

so many events… but which ones to choose?

Careers Fairs: These may be general with employers from many different sectors, or sector-specific. They could cover anything from gap years and part time work, to internships and graduate roles. Some fairs are dedicated to volunteer and part-time work too. There is often a talk or other recruitment-related events at the venue at the same time, so it would be good to go along to those. Make your voice heard during question and answer sessions as this will help get you noticed.

Insight Events: Usually intended for students at an early stage in their degree, these often serve as an introduction to a particular employer. Employers may also run insight events for school leavers interested in apprenticeships or entering-into-work programs and other routes on offer.

Employer Careers Advice Sessions: Some employers offer the opportunity to get practice at the graduate recruitment process by scheduling mock interviews or psychometric tests with you, and issuing advice on how to best acquire and utilise feedback. If you take part you can both hone your skills for all your future applications and benefit from the chance to find out more about what that particular employer is looking for.

Skills Workshops: These allow you to brush up your skills and find out what recruiters are looking for, and to familiarise yourself with a particular employer that you are interested in.

There are also, of course, other types of employer events, including social meetings, dinners and presentations.

How to get the most out of attending employer events

  • Know yourself. The more you know about your own strengths and interests, the more confident you will feel. Knowing that you have something to offer will help you make a good impression when engaging in conversations with recruiters, no matter how casual. If you are too modest to do this by yourself, ask friends, family (I find that parents are key people for unleashing torrents of approval on their ‘little darlings’ good qualities in situations like these), lecturers, colleagues, etc.
  • Keep informed. Remind yourself of the skills and compitencies employers look for. Look at job specs and descriptions and try to reference your skills back to them to make their short-listing process that much easier.
  • Research employers. If you’re going to an event hosted by a particular company, take the time to read up on them. It’ll make it much easier for you to interact with recruiters if you already have a good idea of what the organisation does and what it looks for in graduates. If you’re going to a careers fair where a number of employers will be present, target the ones that interest you.
  • Think about what you want. Determine what you want to get out of the event or experience and plan ahead. Do you want to network, find out about jobs and work experience opportunities, or brush up on your skills? You’re much more likely to find an event helpful if you go along with some idea of the help you want.
  • Present yourself as a professional. First impressions count, so look smart, be confident but polite, and smile.
  • Make notes. Jot down the names and contact details of anyone you meet who might be useful later on. Record your impressions, too.
  • Get some alone time. Have the confidence to corner the speaker after the event and ask them for tips. This will not only get you some tailored advice but also show them how enthusiastic you are about their particular company.

What do employers look for?

Intelligence

I don’t mean go rushing to the first IQ test you can find. In this context Im not talking about how quickly you can solve a rubix cube. What I mean is the ability to plan, to organize, to set priorities, to solve problems, and to get the job done. Intelligence refers to your level of common sense and your practical ability to deal with the day-to-day challenges of the job. The key to demonstrating your intelligence is for you to ask intelligent questions. One of the side effects of intelligence is curiosity. The more you ask good questions and listen to the answers, the smarter you appear.

Leadership ability

Leadership is the willingness to accept responsibility for what occurs thereafter. It’s the ability to take charge, to volunteer for assignments, and to accept accountability for achieving the required results of those assignments. Don’t go bossing everyone around as everyone will get fed up with you soon enough. Gain your peers respect and they will in turn give you their best. The mark of the leader is that he or she does not make excuses. You demonstrate your willingness to be a leader in the organization by offering to take charge of achieving company goals and then committing yourself to performing to a high standard.

Integrity

It’s probably the most important quality for long-term success in life and at work. Integrity begins by being true to yourself. This means that you are perfectly honest with yourself and in your relationships with others. You can admit to yourself what you can and can’t do. You are willing to admit where you have made mistakes in the past. But most importantly you demonstrate loyalty. You never say anything negative about a previous employer or a person whom you have worked with or for. Even if you were fired from a previous job, never say anything negative or critical.

Likability

Employers like people who are warm, friendly, easygoing, and cooperative with others. Employers are looking for people who can join the team and be part of the work team.

People with these traits are more popular and more effective at whatever they do. Teamwork is the key to success. Your experience in working as part of a team in the past and your willingness to work as part of a team in the future can be among the most attractive things about you in applying for a job.

Ok so, we’ve all heard the same recommendations for acing a job interview but why aren’t the employers running to the phone begging you to take the position?

We’ve all heard the usual: research the company; arrive early; practice your answers. The list goes on.

But what about the lesser-known interviewing code of conduct. The secret signs employers look for but don’t tell you. If you’re new to job hunting you’ll likely have countless questions for example: How long should my answers be? What should I do with my hands when I’m talking? How can I tell them I’m ready to start tomorrow without sounding like you’re completely desperate?

Talk in Bullet Points

So here comes the first and most difficult question to answer without going off into a rant about your life story: family, hobbies ect. ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself.'”

This is one of the most critical questions in any interview, not only because it is usually one of the first questions asked, but because it is one of the few times in the interview where you can take control. To avoid crossing the line between informative answer and off-the-rails ramble script your answer first. Bullet-point out the four to six areas of your life, mostly professional, that you feel will be important for the interviewer to know about. “Then refine it to where the answer takes no longer than 60 to 90 seconds.

Ooze Enthusiasm

This goes beyond researching the company and saying what you think hiring managers want to hear. But when is too far? When do you look less like an enthusiastic and more like a stalker? How do you show enthusiasm without sounding like your sucking up?

Hiring managers often select a less qualified candidate because they liked the person’s energy. They like their enthusiasm. It’s one of the top influencers in an interview.

Of course, when you’ve been interviewing for 6, 12 or 18 months, putting on a happy face is sometimes easier said than done. If you fall into this camp; listen to a song or look at a picture or provide yourself a prop that you know will make you smile, laugh and feel good. Use that prop right before the interview and you won’t believe the difference it will make.

End with a scorcher

Closing the interview can be hard. You want to let the hiring manager know you’re excited about the position and you want to ask (without sounding desperate) when you can expect to hear from them next.

One way to do so is to close with a question that shows you’re already thinking about how you’ll succeed in this position. a question like “Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?”

This question excites managers because it signals that you care about being not just good, but great.

Pay Attention to Body Language

There’s talking with your hands and then there’s punctuating each sentence with a rendition of fame the musical. To strike the right balance, mimic the interviewer. This not only will give you a guide as to the amount of movement to use but also psychologically shows the interviewer respect. Research has shown that when someone mimics your movements they are genuinely interested in you and what you have to say. Maybe change your posture slightly to see if they mimic you this will be instinctive and they won’t know they are doing it. For all the big “hand talkers” Put the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb and press your fingernail into the pad of your thumb. This helps you be aware of your hands without being noticeable.

On the other hand, introverts should pay attention to whether they’re actually making eye contact with their interviewer, this is very important if you want to come across as reliable and confident.