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 such as Ford, BMW, Toyota, Mack, John Deere, New Holland, Cat etc.
While it is easy to say a good recruiter should know who you are, recruiters work multiple applications simultaneously.
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.
- CRM systems use keyword search technology so if you have specific product experience with Jaguar as an example, ensure the word Jaguar is prominently placed in your job titles, such as Jaguar mechanic or Jaguar salesperson. If you are looking for a General management role and are moving up from a less senior role you should ensure the main body text of your email clearly states this.
- Don’t assume your email has arrived at its destination. 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 folder. Companies too have their problems with the delivery of emails as often bulk email newsletters sent by companies can also cause this problem. Once an IP provider such as Telecom picks up a domain as associated with bulk emails. When this occurs with a company domain the most common occurrence is for the mail to go to a filter folder. To make matters worse, 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.
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. For the more technically savvy: please note that read receipts don’t always work.
Job applicant interview techniques
Rule 1: 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 who you are meeting. If you are not familiar with the location, check what it is like for parking as this could end up making you late for your appointment and in a worst-case scenario lateness could equal an unsuccessful application. Consider driving over to the location in advance of the interview so you know where to go.
It is a smart move to get the recruiter/interviewer to email you the interview time, address and the location. It is not unheard of by any means for the recruiter to get the time or the location wrong or for the interviewer not to have entered the interview date and time in their calendar and may 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!
Rule 2. Always be as close to the organised interview time as possible.
Arriving early is almost as bad as being late as your recruiter/interviewer may still be in another interview and have to be called out. Being late causes a major disruption to the interviewers’ day as they frequently have other interviews to attend to or worse still will have to cut your interview short if you’re late.
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. Try to never change an interview time with an employer once you have committed to it as often employers have more than one applicant and this can lead to you missing out on the job.
Rule 3: 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.
Rule 4: 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 go well.
In recognition of the importance of getting off to a good start, when you’re attending an interview at Automotive Employment NZ, you will note there is an abundant number of display items on view designed to prompt discussion and “break the ice”. This is a deliberate attempt to give you something to talk about with our recruitment team. Seize the opportunity when you first arrive and talk about the memorabilia museum, the rare motor industry books and magazines or the outside view of the river and associated wildlife. We wish to give you every opportunity possible to feel comfortable and enjoy the experience of visiting Automotive Employment NZ. Once you have experienced the difference a good start to an interview makes by having something to talk about as you arrive, your next goal will be to find something to talk about with the employer we hope to refer you to. See also rule 6.
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.
Rule 5: 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. 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. Check who is paying the recruiter’s bill because it’s not the employee. The recruiter is not working for you, they work for the employer. 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 young engineers to attend interviews with earrings and tattoos showing. Don’t. You will reduce your chances of securing the top roles or worse still could end up being deselected. This issue is more important to most employers than many a job applicant would think likely. A recruiter/interviewer will consider who is the best person to fill a role and personal presentation could be all it takes to tip the balance of a decision.
If your role is related to sales, the management or a front line position, wear a necktie with business attire. Yes, this is a little old fashioned, but the average age of most interviewers I have met is around 45+ and many of the better roles still to this day will require a necktie and business attire as a mark of professionalism.
Rule 6: 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.
Rule 7: Be smart, prepare for your interview and be for armed 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 pen to an interview, the number of employers who are not prepared for this and demonstrate embarrassment when they can’t find a pen is astounding. Remember, you want your employer to feel comfortable so let them off the hook when they make mistakes. In our experience, many managers are shocking interviewers and it is no surprise given this is an activity they are not involved with daily.
Rule 8. Work with the recruiter or employers 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 an hour plus 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 will likely result in you being unsuccessful.
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 remembering 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.
Rule 9: 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 an offer. Get this first and if negotiation is required do this after you get the offer, not before.