The truth about recruitment

At Optimiss we talk to talented, qualified and experienced women every day who are seeking the next step in their careers. We are often surprised when we hear stories of their experiences with other recruitment firms.

Many agencies have unwritten codes about how they select candidates. We heard a story recently of a very well known and prestigious recruiting firm representative (one that markets itself as a leader for gender diversity) informing a senior business women that they couldn’t help her because their unofficial scoring system went on a) your looks, b) who you are married to and c) where you went to school. Apparently this candidate “didn’t tick any of the boxes”.

Many recruitment agents are working to strict targets of how many positions they need to fill each week. The easiest and quickest way to fill a vacancy is to put forward a candidate that has had the exact same experience in the same industry (never mind people who are wanting to move sideways or change industries) and who looks exactly the same as the other people in the company (and if that means white, middle-aged and male, then so be it).

If you’re currently looking for your next career move, think carefully about the agencies you choose to work with. Will they actually help you to progress your career, or are they just trying to plug people into vacancies as quickly as possible? If you are currently thinking about a new role, here are some tips for you to help you on your way:

  • Ask your friends for recommendations on which recruiter to speak to but make sure that they are in the same industry or specialisation as you. Recruiters all specialise in a particular area of either industry, management level or both i.e. we specialise in the financial services industry and place senior management roles (e.g. minimum $150K salary packages), you wouldn’t come to us to find an Executive Assistant role or a job in telecommunications. Make sure you are talking to the right recruiter for the job that you want.
  • Make sure you are clear about what you want to do next and ask the recruiter to confirm that they will put a file note with key words on your file that include information about the role you want to do as well as your current skills and experience. Recruiters search their database when a job comes up so will generally find the words that are already on your CV and then call you and ask you if you want to do the same job…. elsewhere (usually for the same money!). I’m sure it’s happened to you. If you have a file note with keywords for the role that you want, which might not be on your CV, your name will come up in any searches.
  • Find a balance with being a nuisance and remaining front of mind with the recruiter. Do follow up with them to remain front of mind, recruiters meet hundreds of people all the time. However don’t overdo this, phoning and emailing with demanding requests as to why they haven’t found you a job yet will just annoy them and put you down the bottom of the list. All recruiters are busy but they are very keen to make a placement. If they haven’t called you and your CV and file notes include all the relevant information for the role you want, well then, they just haven’t got a job opportunity for you.
  • Do go to a few different recruiters, it will improve your chances. But be honest with them all and tell them exactly who you have gone to see and what roles you have been put forward for. Your role is to coordinate where your CV goes. Never let a recruiter send your CV to a company if your CV has already gone there with another recruiter in the last 12 months. Explain the situation to the recruiter and seek their advice. It is terrible form to have your CV arrive with the same firm from two different recruiters and one of the recruiters won’t be happy as you’ll have wasted their time.
  • Keep your CV simple and straightforward and give it to them in word format not PDF. Make their job easier, they have to sift through thousands of CVs. If yours is more than three pages long, edit it and be ruthless. Long lists of attributes that you think you have (“I am a credible and dynamic leader”) are a waste of paper, keep to the facts. If you’d like some more detailed tips on how to put together a good CV, feel free to get in touch.
  • And lastly, make friends with your recruiter, find a good one and nurture your relationship with them. Most people will grow their careers with a particular recruiter and will be placed into two or more roles by them as they continue up their career ladder. It’s important to stay in touch and keep the relationship current.