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Job Seeking Tips

Sending in applications

Technology is increasingly improving consultants’ ability to handle email applications and an email of your resume will be critical to every application. Many mature aged applicants make the mistake of faxing resumes or posting them without realising how entrenched computerised systems have become in the employment process.

Modern recruitment companies and corporate employers these days embrace what are recognised as customer relationship management systems, commonly known as CRM systems. For those of you using Microsoft Outlook or similar programs, recruitment CRM systems work along similar lines but are significantly more advanced. The email system picks up the resume which is then referred to the CRM system. The CRM system then searches documents for names, addresses, and common identifying information and is capable of locating words specific to your job title.  

​These are some things you can do to improve your chances of a successful application.

Try to use the same email address every time. This will make it easier for the system to pick up your email and match it to other ongoing communications and applications.

CRM systems use keyword search technology.  In the recruitment industry we call the CRM an ATS and the technology really is next level. ATS stands for Automatic Tracking System and you should consider the impact this has on being found by your recruiter, hiring manager, or the thousands of HR professionals that now use this technology.

Helping the ATS to find your resume when the recruiter is looking for it

While it should be common sense to add your job title to each period of employment many job seekers dont understand how an ATS finds content in your resume. It is an easy answer - key word search. So consider what content you choose to include in your resume in addition to just the job title.

By adding in selected key words in your resume the ATS will pick up the key word from your resume.  If for an example you wanted to be found when the recruiter was searching for a General Manager and you did not have experience you can use clever methods of including the key word. 

  • Reported to General Manager
  • Reason for leaving: To pursue role as a General Manager 

You can use this same method across multiple areas of your resume and tailor content accordingly. This very basic trick has one rule. If you dont include the word or words in your resume, when the hiring manager or recruiter goes to find you they will not be able to.

Nobody replied, is this true? 

It well could be, although Property Employment NZ Ltd uses a fully digital system, not all employer hiring managers or recruiters reply. If they do not have the same advanced technology there is a good chance these companies may not have the resources to reply to every caniddate who applies. The rule of thumb is dont assume your email has arrived at its destination. Read directly below to find out why.

We were recently horrified to find out that up to 30% of emails from free email addresses are never delivered.  

Our IT specialist explains that free email addresses such as Hotmail and others are often used by people sending out bulk emails. Every email is ranked through a filtering system as to the likelihood of it being unwanted mail. Many free email addresses have a lower ranking than a company domain name which can lead to the email either not being delivered or referred to a filter or junk folder. Companies too have their problems with the delivery of emails as often bulk email newsletters sent by companies can also cause this problem as can emails sent from cloud based systems that often use envelope emails. Once an IP provider picks up a domain being associated with bulk emails, the value of the email will be marked down. The most common result is for the email to go to a filter folder.

If you are sending or receiving from an employer’s workplace, your employer could also have filtering systems picking up words such as employment, jobs etc. and then automatically send these through their own CRM or filtering programs, therefore, intercepting your email.... yes it does happen! 

The safest option is to send and receive from your own email address but then phone the recruiter to ensure they have received your email e.g. if you are using Hotmail or Google mail call after you have sent it. This is a great excuse to talk to the recruiter as well. 

Please note that read receipts don’t always work so dont rely on this.

Job applicant interview techniques

Make sure you know the time and place of your interview.

Not only should you know the time and place of your interview but you need to know those you will be meeting with. This will help you prepare as it may give you an insight as to what may lie ahead.

If you are not familiar with the location, check for parking facilities as this could end up making you late for your appointment

In a worst-case scenario, lateness could result in an unsuccessful application. Consider driving over to the location in advance of the interview so you know where to go. Alternatively, leave early enough in case you run into traffic or some other obstacle.

Get confirmation of your interview time and location in writing 

It is a smart move to get the recruiter/interviewer to message or email you the interview time, address, and the location. It is not unheard of by any means for the recruiter or hiring manager to get the time or the location wrong. This could be as simple as not having entered the interview date and time in their calendar, the interviewer could have completely forgotten you. If this occurs and you have evidence via the printed email of the time arranged, they cannot claim the mistake is yours and yes this does happen more often than you may imagine with line managers who are busy.

Always be as close to the organised interview time as possible.

We all know it is bad form to arrive late but arriving early is almost as bad as being late if you want a smooth interview. If the recruiter is in another meeting often they will be interrupted upon your arrival. If the interviewer feels pressured to bring their last meeting to a conclusion earlier than expected they could become stressed or grumpy at the interuption.  Worst still, if hiring managers meeting runs over time and you are left waiting for both the early arrival time and the late period it is hard not to show your impatience.  Being late, or early causes stress for all parties; simply turn up on time.

If you cannot attend an interview at the time organised you will find phoning the consultant to advise of this will generally be well accepted provided you are able to reorganise a time when you phone. Never change an interview time with an employer once you have committed to it. More often than not you will be unsuccessful in your application unless you have a bullet proof excuse.

How to best deal with your objections to pay or conditions.

Inevitably there will always be some aspect of the working conditions at the employer’s place of work that is not to your liking. It may be the remuneration structure, hours of work, or any number of issues. The first interview is not the time to address this, your job as the interviewee is to build up your value in terms of being a desirable employee and try to win the job. If you are fortunate enough to have a recruiter working with you this is where they become valuable to the job seeker.

After you have shown the employer your wonderful skills and charming personality, discuss any concerns in terms of your proposed employment with your recruiter. An experienced recruiter has in-depth knowledge of employment law in many cases. Their first concern will be to get an offer from the employer and once this has been made the job is off the market. You now have time to nail the finer details of an offer. If the terms of employment are not acceptable to you, work with your recruiter to get a mutually acceptable agreement.

The rule of thumb is to never attempt to do battle with an employer during an interview over conditions or pay. You are at an interview to secure the role; the smart move is to do everything possible that leads to being able to leverage an offer.

Keep positive

There are few things, if any, you can do worse than be negative in an interview. Whether your comments and opinions are right or wrong the employer will see this as a warning sign i.e. if you are negative in the interview, it is likely you will be negative in the workplace. The converse is also true in that if you portray a positive attitude towards all things in an interview then this will be viewed as a desirable trait to the employer. If you find yourself being negative in an interview, try to redirect the interview to take away the focus of your last comment such as also highlighting the more positive aspects of the company you worked for.

Skilled interviewees will pick up straight away that their key task in the interview process is to get alongside the employer

The goal is to be liked as quickly as possible in the interview process by the person interviewing you, regardless of who this may be. As a job applicant if you are liked by the interviewer you will increase your chances of being employed tenfold. Sometimes this can be a difficult task if the recruiter/employer is interviewing multiple job applicants for one position and remains hard to read and unfriendly. There is little doubt that if you can break through the formality and get the interviewer on your side that the interview will usually go well.

Remember, you may not be the only nervous person in an interview

Don’t assume it is the employer’s job to make you feel comfortable. Let the interviewer off the hook if they fumble because showing them up will only lead to them disliking you. Many hiring employers dont interview much at all so don't expect them to be good at interviewing. Show kindness every step of the way despite their interview style.

Dress correctly for the role

One of the most common mistakes for job applicants to make when they are visiting a recruitment company is to assume the dress code is casual. The recruiter is paid by the employer to assess you during the interview process and you can guarantee close assessment of your professional presentation will occur, particularly so if it is a front line role. The first rule of thumb is don’t place any less importance on getting your presentation right regardless of whether your interview is with the recruiter or your future employer. For the point of doubt, the recruiter’s bill is paid by the employer. The recruiter is not working for you. This means you need to make an impression to win the job you are applying for.

Candidates often make mistakes turning up to the interview either under or overdressed. New migrants to NZ are particularly prone to this error. In New Zealand, it is accepted practice to wear what you would if you were attending your normal day's work. This should provide a guideline of expectations. Hands-on engineers wearing suits will be dressing inappropriately for the role. Sales executives wearing jeans or overalls would of course experience the same reaction.

In more modern times it is not unusual for job seekers to attend interviews with extensive piercings and full sleeve tattoos showing. Limit the number of tattoos and piercings on display if you are able to. There are enough stories in the news media for job seekers to understand that despite a general acceptance, there is still a percentage of employers that may not be impressed. The safe decision is to take a conservative approach if you are able.

If your role is related to sales, admin, or management check the dress code. If the dress code or employers websites shows neck ties or conservative dress, wear a neck tie and/or corporate attire. Be careful before you consider dressing down; even those employers wearing casual attire like to see you have made an effort.

What supporting information to bring

Always bring your resume and certificates to an interview regardless of whether you have already sent them in with your job application. Better still bring a flash drive/ memory stick and a hard copy of the resume with any certificates you may have. This will not fail to impress and if you’re smart enough to bring the memory stick this will prove to be an intelligent decision; more so if the employer/interviewer cannot find your resume amongst the large number that is often received each week. Don’t underestimate the possibility of your employer or recruiter not having the resume as the worst possible result is for them to continue the interview without your well-prepared resume in their hands.

Be smart 0 prepare for your interview and be forearmed with knowledge

Just turning up with your resume to an interview is not enough. You are inevitably going to be asked to produce a range of documents and information. For example, you may be requested to produce a driver’s license. Carry this in your wallet or purse to avoid having to go to the car and breaking the rhythm of the interview or worse still having to advise the interviewer you are not carrying one.

Always take a good pen to an interview. There are still employers who will ask you to write things down despite digital transformations. If the hiring manager does not have a pen handy you will once again break the rhythm of the interview.

Work with the recruiter's or employer's interviewing style

Virtually every recruiter and employer you will meet will have a different interview style. Some interviewers will possess a very friendly and open style while others will be very standoffish and closed. On occasion, you will even have interviewers attempt a stress interview which most experienced interviewers will never attempt.

Whatever style the interviewer possesses there is a real risk of you somehow being offended in the interview. In an age of political correctness, you may for an example be offended if asked your age or marital status. There are many questions that may not be taken well, so what do you do about it? Nothing is the best answer in our view.

Let's face it, you’re there to win the interview and you’ve probably already spent more than an hour of your time preparing for the interview and travelling there. If the interviewer says something that could cause minor offence, simply providing the answer and moving on is the best way to deal with it; challenging the interviewer could result in them seeing you as combative.

Even the most difficult interviewers can be charmed into becoming easy to deal with. Try complimenting the person on some aspect of their business and keep trying all the way through the interview to break through the harsh style by being friendly and professional. Sooner or later it is likely to work and even if this doesn’t result in softening the interviewers’ style, they will at least think of you as professional and courteous.

The best interviewers tend to be very friendly and will make you feel relaxed. You will feel comfortable and prepared to tell them more about yourself than with harsher styles and therefore this will work for both you and the interviewer.

Occasionally you will get interviewers asking very structured questions that seem highly unusual. The interviewer is collecting behavioural information which could be used to assess any number of work style attributes from teamwork to leadership and many more. Once again just work with the interviewer and give them the information they are seeking. Above all, do so in a very willing way and be friendly and professional about it. The secret to remember here is that the interviewer is collecting information and that will include your attitude.

If you have been professional and courteous in an interview you have given yourself the best opportunity possible. The converse obviously applies in that, if you have offended the interviewer by challenging their interview style you have probably just blown your chances.