What The Most Successful Candidates Do

All candidates want to be successful – that much is obvious. But what steps do these people take, that the less successful candidates don’t? Some of them are less obvious than others. It’s easy to think that to find a job, you simply need to do anything and everything, but there are certain areas that are likely to yield particular joy for effective job seekers.

The following are some of the things that you simply must do if you are to extract the maximum potential from your career.

Write great CVs 

As harsh as it sounds, such is the volume of applications that employers receive these days that most spend no longer than a few seconds perusing the average CV. Therefore, it hopefully goes without saying that an applicant’s CV needs to look good – not just on close inspection, but straight away.

What does that mean? Of course, it partly means keeping the CV relatively short and punchy, taking up no more than two pages of A4. If there are more intricate details that you would like to share, those can wait until interview.

But a CV’s shortness only increases the importance of clearly communicating value, so that the recruiter is instantly and repeatedly given strong reasons to employ you. The CVs of successful candidates emphatically answer the question of whether the candidate can do the job and whether they are a good fit to the organisation, from a strong introductory statement to a constant focus throughout the rest of the CV on achievements and successes.

Have a good professional social media presence 

You may have a Facebook profile, a Twitter page, perhaps a Tumblr blog… but actually, all that you really need is a strong LinkedIn page, complete with plenty of achievements and recommendations. Indeed, you may be better served by just one, focussed profile.

What makes LinkedIn the site to concentrate on if you want to have the strongest professional social media presence? It’s simply the fact that there’s no better site as far as recruiters, hiring managers and HR executives are concerned, with almost 100 per cent of job seekers making LinkedIn their number one social media portal for job hunting, according to a recent survey.

So much about landing a job is about maintaining and building those networks, and a strong LinkedIn network of professional contacts will be especially powerful. The site has a wealth of relevant features for candidates, from the group system to the ability to follow companies with their dedicated pages.

Be honest 

In a challenging job market, it’s tempting to twist the truth, whether on your CV or in interview. However, with more background checks also being carried out these days, it’s also easy to be caught out. There’s an understandable pressure to promote yourself aggressively if you are out of a job, but attracting a reputation for dishonesty can only make your job seeking harder.

If you haven’t obtained a degree, detail how much progress you have made in your education. If you were sacked from your previous job, don’t mention that detail in the CV, but to be prepared to discuss it in the interview. If you haven’t held a leadership position before, emphasise the elements in your CV that suggest leadership skills and experience. If you desire a salary boost, don’t inflate your present salary or state your salary requirements.

Also, is the job opportunity even really for you? Many candidates aren’t as honest with themselves as they could be on that question, and much the same could apply to honesty about how much they earn. After all, we may have a number of candidates from your company, and it will erode our trust in you if you tell us something that doesn’t fit with the context.

Request feedback after interviews 

It’s amazing that candidates go to the effort of meeting employers, only to disappear. After all, even if that meeting went extremely badly, that recruiter could still be of use to them in the future. In addition, it’s always tough for a candidate to attend interview after interview after interview, only to never seem to make that breakthrough.

The best candidates, therefore, are likely to ask for feedback on why they were rejected – but it’s important to do this in a sensitive way. Thanking the employer for their time and consideration before saying something like, “If you do have any feedback for me, I would love to hear it so that I could make myself a stronger candidate for the future”, doesn’t suggest that you just want to argue with them on why you didn’t get the job.

It can be very tough to receive truthful feedback. It’s easy to naturally respond in a defensive manner, thinking “I didn’t sound like that”, and you may be stunned by the feedback at first. However, by taking the feedback to heart, you can make yourself a much stronger candidate next time.

Book time to speak to a recruiter 

If a candidate books the time to speak with a recruiter, perhaps being hired on the phone, they set themselves up to perform at their best. However, such candidates are also urged to find somewhere appropriate to hold the call – not a coffee shop or as has happened recently, while they are sat in their car at the car wash, while it is actually being washed.

Should you be contacted by a recruiter, this can be leveraged to your advantage. You should set the right tone and establish a rapport from the beginning, finding out what the recruiter requires from you and if they have any openings that they would like to talk to you about. But you should ensure that you contact the right recruiter, perhaps checking their LinkedIn profile to read feedback from people that they’ve placed in jobs.

By being on good terms with the recruiter, you could have the edge on other candidates with equal qualifications. Keep in touch about any openings that may arise. With recruiters speaking to dozens of candidates each day, they can easily forget your name before even putting down the receiver, so you should make an effort to be at the forefront of their thoughts.

Respond to contact quickly 

Finally, it’s also a common sense course of action to respond quickly to any contact that you receive – whether through social media or any other communication medium. Much as the right talent can be snapped up quickly, so vacancies may not remain open for long, and the most successful candidates will always make the most of any contact as part of a successful job search.