Down the rabbit hole – my fortnight as a facilities management recruiter

It was the morning of Thursday 27th April, 2017. For most people, this was just another day. But for me, it was the start of 2 weeks that I won’t forget in a long time. For just over a fortnight, I was standing in as a facilities management recruitment consultant.

Our normal recruiter, Sophie, was winging her way to the US for 2 weeks of well-deserved holiday and I was in line to cover for her. What followed was a roller-coaster ride featuring soaring highs and plummeting lows. I’m not a total stranger to this world – in the past I spent about 8 months working in IT recruitment, but that was long enough ago to forget just how hard the job can be.

If I learned one thing from my two week cover, it was a newfound respect for the work that Sophie and her compatriots in recruitment do. The recruitment industry has a terrible reputation, and there are plenty of bad recruiters out there, but then the same could be said of any industry.

Those recruiters that try to do things properly face an ongoing balancing act, trying to keep clients happy whilst also doing right by their candidates, all while trying to overcome the negative perceptions that many people have of the industry.

But enough about me – there’s a violin playing for me somewhere and I’ve never been a fan of violin music! The real reason I’m writing this article is to pass on a few tips to those of you who are looking for a new role. Whether you’re fully engaged in the search or just keeping an eye out for a potential move, keep these tips in mind to improve your chances of success.

Back to basics

Let’s be honest – there are LOADS of articles across the internet giving tips about job hunting. I’ve read a lot of them and often scoffed at how basic some of the advice seems to be. Surely everyone knows this stuff, I thought.

But I’ve learned something over the past 2 weeks. I’ve looked at hundreds of CVs and arranged 7 interviews for various different roles. The thing that struck me is the sheer number of people that still get the basics wrong. So I make no apology for rehashing what feels like old ground. If I can get one person to take the time to get things right and improve their chances of landing a new role, then I’ll judge this article to have been a success.

So, here goes…

Proof read, proof read, proof read!

As I mentioned above, I’ve looked at literally hundreds of CVs over the past 2 weeks. And I wasn’t looking for reasons to rule people out – believe me, my job would have been much easier if every one of them was of a good standard. But many of them were discounted in seconds for mistakes that could have been so easily avoided with a bit of care and attention.

I’m not just talking about spelling mistakes – there’s really no excuse for those in this day and age, with the proliferation of spell checkers that highlight mistakes while you type so you don’t even have to remember to tap the ‘check spelling’ button. But there are plenty of mistakes that a spell checker won’t pick up but could be spotted by even the most cursory of checks.

Need an example? While searching for candidates for an engineering role, I came across more than one CV where people had described themselves as ‘Shift engineers’.

The problem? They’d missed out the ‘f’ in ‘shift’.

Not really how you’d want to describe yourself to a new employer, right?

The moral of the story? Check your CV. Then sleep on it and double-check it. Get someone else to check it for you. Your CV isn’t a random Facebook post or tweet. It’s a document designed to showcase yourself to a new employer. Take the time to get it right.

Unless you really are a sh*t engineer and think that’s what your prospective employer might be looking for….

A quick note on formatting

The formatting of your CV can make all the difference. I discounted a lot of CVs because the spacing was all over the place, the type was difficult to read and the general impression of the CV was sloppy.

If you’re going for jobs in facilities management, no-one expects you to be a graphic designer (although if you have skills in this area, don’t be afraid to use them!). However a smartly presented, readable CV speaks volumes about your attention to detail and your seriousness about acquiring a new job. If you don’t know where to start, do a Google search and look for a template you can use.

Turn up on time – and apologise if you don’t

So you’ve submitted your well-formatted, error-free CV which has blown away your prospective employer who hasn’t hesitated in inviting you for an interview. What’s the quickest way to blow all that hard work? Turning up late for your interview, of course!

Make sure you know the exact location of your interview as far in advance as possible. Look it up on Google Maps, use Google Street View to have a look at the location itself and try to identify exactly which building you’re headed to. Then plan your journey carefully, build in some time for delays and make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes early. Better still, get there half an hour early and find a local cafe to sit in while you compose yourself and have a final read through of your preparation notes (more on that later).

Of course, even with the best laid plans there are times when circumstances outside of your control can prevent you from arriving on time. If this happens, make sure you communicate with your interviewer. If you have their contact details, call them and let them know you’re running late. If not, call your recruiter and get them to pass the message on.

Then, when you do manage to get there, apologise for being late! It’s basic good manners and whilst there may be a good reason for being late, there is no excuse for failing to apologise. This may seem obvious, but it’s not unheard of for people not to bother. If you really want to be taken seriously for the job, don’t be that person.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

Don’t just turn up to the interview expecting to wing it – you’re much more likely to impress the interviewer if you’ve done your homework. Research the company – take a good look at their website, make sure you understand what their business is about. If they have a blog or a news section, read it. Search for articles in the press about the organisation. Make sure you’re up to date with what’s happening in their world.

Ask questions of your recruiter. If it’s an in-house Facilities Management role, find out what service delivery model they use? Who are their contractors? How do they manage those contractors? If the job is for a service provider, find out who the client is? How long have they had the contract? What challenges do they face with this particular client? The more information you have at your disposal, the better impression you can create.

As well as researching the company, make sure you’re prepared to showcase your own abilities and experience. Take a few copies of your CV – that way you can hand them to your interviewers and make sure you’re all referring to the same document. If you have relevant qualifications, take the corresponding certificates as evidence. Put it all in a smartly presented folder and offer it to the interviewer to have a look through. Make sure you’re confident with the content of your CV and can explain any anomalies, such as gaps in your employment history.

Don’t be afraid to chase

Once you’ve applied for a role or attended an interview, make sure you keep in regular contact with your recruiter to get feedback. Don’t be afraid to do this – you’ve invested your time in applying for the role and you have every right to be kept in the loop.

Sometimes there may be no news, but keep chasing anyway. It shows you are keen to land the job. On one of the jobs I worked during my two-week recruitment adventure, the client specifically asked me whether any of my candidates had chased me for feedback after the interview. It helped provide an idea of who was really keen on the job and who was less bothered. So if you really want the job, make sure you show it.

Don’t take rejection personally

If you’ve followed all of the advice above, you’ll put yourself in a strong position to get the job. But sometimes, despite all of the best preparation, it doesn’t quite work out. Perhaps you’re not quite the right personality fit, or perhaps there’s another candidate who just edged you out.

If this happens, don’t take it personally. Don’t let it knock your confidence. If the employer didn’t feel you were the right candidate, there’s a good chance that they’re not the right employer for you either – you’ve probably had a lucky escape. So keep your head up, reflect on any potential learning points from the experience and move on to the next opportunity.

That’s all, folks!

Hopefully this article has been useful for you. So long as you’re applying for jobs that are appropriate to your level of knowledge and experience, by following the advice above and getting the basics right you’ll put yourself in a strong position to land any job you apply for. Just remember, finding a new job requires a combination of preparation, perseverance and a little bit of luck. The preparation and the perseverance are totally in your hands – get these bits right, and the luck will eventually take care of itself.

So on that note – good luck!

If you’d like any further advice on any aspect of your job search, feel free to give us a call on 0333 800 5454 – we’d be happy to help!

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