In my 11 years recruiting I have met hundreds of candidates and it has always struck me that their earnings have been inconsistent compared to their grade, responsibility, experience and knowledge. In The City it is easy to find two individuals for example who both procure software for major banks, however one may be earning £55000 and the other £70000. There will always be companies who pay above the average and other companies who pay below. As an individual to enhance your own lifestyle it would seem wise to do your best to become employed by the companies paying above average, however many people don’t do there best.
To join a high paying firm and maximise your earnings you need to be selected through a recruitment process. Whilst recruitment has developed over the past decade considerably it is still a somewhat basic science. The five most important elements are your CV, your presentation, networking, interview technique and assessment skills.
Your CV is to you as a website is to a retailer. Would you buy from a website which was poorly presented and difficult to understand? Candidates must realise that clients want a concise breakdown of your technical skills and your achievements within each position that you have held. Remove opinion and your personal desires and interests wherever possible as this waste space and prohibit the employer from seeing something about you that they may actually be interested in. Remember, when you send a CV 99% of the time you are sending it to a stranger. Would you want to receive a phone call from a stranger whilst you were at work telling you how much he loved his family, playing football at the weekend and online chess? I doubt you would! A CV should read like a restaurant menu to an extent. Clearly define what you have to offer, don’t make it to long and include as many tangible facts as you can. How many staff did you manage, how many projects were you working on at one time, what was your budget, what were your targets and how did you perform against them. Clients often only view the first page of a CV so make sure you use this entire page to its full potential and include qualifications, key skills and start your career history. Put your contact details in the footer of the document, use a layout that is easy to read and a popular font throughout.
If you visit the best paying firms in this country you will notice a style that the employees have. It may be that they have a very formal dress code or it could be that they have a relaxed dress code; the important thing to pick up on is the smaller details. When attending an interview it is of great advantage to have had a very recent hair cut and to be well groomed. From a female perspective, the choice of make up and nail polish is also critical. Consider the food you eat on the day prior to your interview and if you are a smoker try to refrain from having a cigarette for as long as you can before you go in. First impressions really do count and if you look like you take yourself seriously you will be subconsciously thought of as a more trustworthy resource by the interviewer. In terms of dress code, I always recommend to candidates that they were very formal business attire and stick to conservative colours that will not offend.
Networking is really important today as a recommendation can often be the factor that puts you ahead of the other candidates before interviewing has even started. The best form of networking is just keeping in touch with professional friends and socialising with these individuals when you can. Attending events put on by the professional association is a good way of meeting new people and is also advisable. Linkedin is becoming ever more popular although a lot of candidates find it hard to know how it is best used. I am not in a position to be able to give all the answers on this subject, however I would recommend adding as many of your past colleagues as contacts and university and school friends. This way you can search linked in before you attend an interview and check to see if you know anyone who works for the business and can offer you some inside knowledge on the culture and best approach. As with all of the advice I offer today, social networking should be conducted in your time and not your employers.
There are many different ways of interviewing and candidates must be aware of these and prepared for the questions that they may face. Google is a fantastic tool for learning about what may face you in the interview room and you should research this in depth. Candidates typically struggle with competency based interviewing if they have not prepared so I would certainly suggest you look into this. Anticipation is the key. You have a copy of your CV which attracted the client to meet you, and the job specification, a list of the clients’ requirements. Consider where the two documents match and these are the experiences which are most likely to be explored in the interview. You should then work hard to revise these experiences so that you can answer questions on them as if they happened yesterday. Some candidates can end up answering questions in too much depth when they are of minor importance to the client. I advise that you always answer a question in a brief and concise manner and then ask ‘are you satisfied with this answer or would you like me to explain with more detail’, this will help you major on the needs of the client that are of paramount importance.
A part of many clients interview process is some form of assessment. This may take the form of written and numerical tests, psychometric testing, psychometric profiling with a psychologist, case studies and presentations or group work shops. You must be prepared for all of the above and this is something I would advise people to practice whether you are actively job seeking or not. Passing these tests is a skill and like any skill it takes practice to develop. Most people never practice these skills and the tests therefore reflect how well you would do on your first day. I once heard a theory that if a man practiced basketball for 10 years he could beat Michael Jordan, if it was Mike’s first ever day playing the game. I believe that to be true and if you apply the same logic to the various forms of assessment you can achieve results which will put you ahead of candidates who may be more naturally gifted.
In summary, the advice that I have shared is guidance which you may choose to follow and expand on to enhance your chances at interview if you wish. Hard work will get you a long way but you will get even further if you head in the right direction. I hope that some of the above will prove helpful and inspire self improvement in those that read it.