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  1. Bad News, You Didn’t Get The Job… What Next?

    March 17, 2015 by Jenna

    You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

    At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

    Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

    • Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

    • Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

    • Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

    • Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

    Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

    What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?


  2. Why networking is the #1 way to find a job …

    November 22, 2011 by Jenna

    The top two responses to our latest online poll – “Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?” –  were Internet Job Boards and My Contact Network

    Whilst there is no doubt that internet job boards provide an easy, user-friendly way to apply for advertised roles, job seekers must always beware of becoming lazy in their application approach, ie sending the same old cover letter and CV again and again for roles that might actually require you to do a bit of “tailoring” first, or resort to a scattergun mentality, ie, “If I send my CV to enough job advertisers, then one will surely produce a result.” 

    I can assure you, as someone who has worked in the recruitment industry for eleven years, recruiters who know their stuff, whether they work for an agency or within a company, can spot a thoughtlessly-sent CV at twenty paces. For example, a candidate might have a newly-minted accounting qualification. They are seeking an entry-level accounting role. They do a key-word search using “accounting” and send their CV in response to the 25 job ads that appear, despite the fact that only two of the advertised roles are suitable for entry-level candidates. Not only is this a ridiculous waste of time for everyone concerned, it does the candidate absolutely no favours, instantly creating an impression of a total lack of attention to detail and no real interest in the actual role or company. 

    You must remain in charge of your job search. It is your responsibility and yours alone to secure your next role. 

    Here is a prime example of what I mean from an article on Forbes.com entitled Get a Job Using the Hidden Job Market

    “The technology executive had been out of work for more than a year, but he didn’t tell any of his friends he was unemployed. Instead, he made up a story about how he was consulting on some confidential projects, the details of which he would reveal when it was time to go public. Meantime, he applied for dozens of posted job openings he saw online, with zero success. He also spent time golfing at the country club, where his locker was next to a CEO in his field. Still, he guarded his secret carefully, staying mum with his golf buddies about his job hunt. Finally, his distraught wife set up some sessions with Donald Asher, an executive career coach and author of 11 books, including Cracking the Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in any Economy. Asher convinced his new client to open up about his job hunt, and start talking to everyone he knew about how he was on the market. Sure enough, one of his golfing friends gave him a tip that led to a job at a startup.”

    What do you know?

    I asked Challenge Consulting’s Managing Director, Elizabeth Varley, what she regarded as the best overall way to find work. 

    Without hesitation, her response was, “Your network.” 

    She continued: “You must be organised and methodical in your approach to seeking work. When you’re in your car travelling to a new destination, you use a road map, you don’t just start driving. Ask yourself what you actually want to do, what skills and experience you wish to utilise. Then, work out who you know who can give you entrée into industries or companies where these are attractive. It might be a friend, it might be a LinkedIn contact, it might be someone you meet at an industry function, it might be someone you get talking to waiting for a bus.” 

    They key things to remember are: you have to make it known that you are seeking work (no one can read your mind, after all), and you cannot expect a high success rate flailing wildly in the dark (see Elizabeth’s above comment re using a map!). 

    Comments from three of our poll respondents re using their networks:

    – “The people in my network know me best, so they’re the ones most likely to present a suitable opportunity. They’re also less likely to point me in the wrong direction.”

    – “My first port of call would be tapping in to my networks.”

    – “Recently, for the first time ever, I was approached for a job based on my LinkedIn Profile.”

    What do you think? What success have you had finding that next great role using your networks? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  3. Cover Letters: what you should and should NOT include …

    September 7, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

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    To begin with, whilst you don’t want to read someone’s life story in a job application cover letter, my personal feeling (and one that many of my colleagues and respondents to last week’s poll concur with) is that something a little beyond “Here is my CV. Call me” creates a slightly more positive impression. 

    I’m just saying. 

    We had some, er, interesting responses to last week’s online poll, which asked “What is the #1 worst thing you can put in your job application cover letter?” 

    The “Other” option attracted my favourite, which was: “If hired, I will cook at your next family BBQ”. Whilst this may not be the most appropriate inclusion, it was more of an inducement than “a massive picture of myself, naked”. Shudder. 

    We had a tie for the #1 worst thing: just over 27% of respondents believed that using the wrong company name or wrong cover letter, and criticising either your prospective or previous employer, were equally as bad as each other. 

    Bad writing, poor grammar and jokes were also considered shabby form. 

    Now, I am sure you can imagine that, as a busy recruitment firm, Challenge Consulting receives many hundreds of job applications every week, most with cover letters included. 

    I promise you, they’ve seen it all when it comes to cover letters and CVs, the good, the bad and the ugly. I mean, really ugly. I questioned Team Challenge for their expert suggestions of what job applicants should and should not include. Repeatedly, their responses centred on the letters being tailored to the role being applied for, and personally addressed to the consultant managing the job … 

    – “I like cover letters to be tailored to the role being applied for and addressed to me. No ‘To whom it may concern’, thanks or, worse still, ‘Dear Sir’ – not only does this smack of impersonality, as we happen to have no males working at Challenge Consulting, it clearly demonstrates the applicant cannot even bother to find out who they’re writing to.” 

    – “A few paragraphs is ideal. Cover letters must be relevant and specifically tailored to the job you are applying for. Do not just create one cover letter that you use for every application, you need to tweak it to ensure it is customised to each role. You must outline your skills and experience, detailing what you could bring to the specific role. I also like to see the applicant’s reason for leaving their previous role/s if it is not already outlined on their resume.” 

    – “The worst thing a person can do is address the cover letter to the wrong employer/agency and have the wrong job title. Do not include personal details, such as your marital status, religion, children, etc, that are not relevant. Do not include negative information about your previous employer.” 

    – “I like to see someone who has tailored each cover letter to the position they are applying for, and addressing the selection criteria, especially for the more technical roles. It is also important that the candidate addresses the cover letter to the person who is listed on the job ad. If the candidate has put the wrong name, or a different role they are applying for, it looks really bad, and suggests a lack of attention to detail.” 

    – “I only generally read the covering letter once I have reviewed the candidate’s CV and have established their relevance, however, looking at the covering letter can be incredibly useful to:

    • Gauge written communication skills
    • Understand reasons for leaving their current opportunity in favour of the advertised opportunity (if not included in CV)
    • Provide clarity regarding the relevance of their experience if it is quite technical
    • Their relevance to advertised opportunity, especially if a change of industry is involved. The cover letter offers and opportunity to explain who their skills are transferable.”

    Perhaps the best response was the most succinct, from a person who appreciates the succinct in others: 

    “If you can’t construct an interesting and informative (but nice and brief) cover letter, don’t bother including one. It should be a summary of who you are, your most recent experience, and your reasons for applying. You should also include your contact details and availability for interview, but not much more.” 

    Have you seen or even been the recipient of a weird or wonderful cover letter? Let us know in the comments section below. 

    Next week, we address the controversial topic “Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?” Have your say in this week’s online poll now …




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