I recently worked on a recruitment assignment which saw over 300 applicants come through, mainly from employers that have exited or are exiting the Geelong region. Many of these applicants are similarly trade qualified, have similar experiences and skills and on paper could perform the role they are applying for. The competition is fierce! When a limited number of vacancies exist and hundreds of applicants apply, there are a number of other considerations that are taken into account in the decision making process. On reflecting on those that stood out for the wrong reasons, here’s my six secrets to shine, when competition is high.

Be polite. Always. One sure fire way to have yourself discounted from the process is to be rude and impatient. If you happen to miss the initial call be patient. Due to the volume of applications received for some positions, unfortunately calls and messages can’t be returned straight away. If you choose to call an employer or recruitment agency to get an update, be polite to whomever you are speaking to. If you have made it to a phone screening call don’t blow it by being obnoxious and impatient.

Carefully consider if you actually need to talk to the hiring manager. This can be dependent on the position you are applying for and common sense must prevail. In our challenged economy take a moment to consider how many people may be applying for the position. If 300 applications are received and everyone starts calling to “see what is happening” “check how their application is going” or “just wanting some more information” does this really make you stand out in a positive fashion? The same goes for just turning up at the office, it can look quite presumptuous unless you have a very genuine reason for coming in.

Don’t complain about being put on the spot or how it may have disadvantaged you. Everyone gets put on the spot during phone screening calls and gets asked the same questions, so complaining that you haven’t had time to prepare won’t serve you. This is part of the verification process. Take your time to listen to the question and a few moments to prepare a well-constructed answer. It is okay if you need to have a question rephrased or you don’t understand, but going ahead and answering without understanding the question may prevent you from moving forward.

Don’t be complacent. If you have worked for the company, or subsidiary in the past, don’t view it as your golden ticket to get back in. Answer all questions fully and don’t assume that the interviewer will take “I’ve done that before” as a sufficient answer. You are still competing against a lot of candidates. Being a previous employee may not make you the best employee amongst the current field of candidates.

Be careful when name dropping. Similar to the previous note, just because you know someone does not mean you will get the job. Recruiters need to be confident in their choice when they present candidates. By putting forward a candidate because of who they know you can run the risk of presenting a candidate that is not actually favoured by the organisation. Each candidate is presented based on their own merits, if this wasn’t the case you would be getting a personal phone call from the company that is currently hiring.

Although some of the above points may seem harsh, I think job-seekers need some honesty about how to navigate these situations. A lot of organisations and recruiters shy away from giving feedback because they may have had a bad experience when they have given it to previous candidates. This leads me to my last point.

If you are unsuccessful take any feedback you are given graciously. You never know what the future might hold, just because you didn’t get the role you applied for and may not necessarily agree with some of the comments the recruiter makes doesn’t mean that you won’t be the perfect fit for another role or another organisation. However, being obstinate and disagreeable will have your recruiter think twice when considering you for other roles.

To any candidate looking to stand out from the crowd we recommend a professionally written resume and please consider interview coaching to help you gain an edge!


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