Stand out from the crowd in your job search! A recruiter’s perspective containing invaluable tips and advice!

For the job seeker, the secretarial market is more competitive now than at any point over the last 15 years. Yes, there are some very exciting opportunities out there for the experienced PA, but the competition is fierce. It is hard enough getting in front of a recruitment agency, let alone securing an interview for that tantalising PA to VIP role you have seen advertised!

Please find below a useful guide to assist you with your search and one that I hope will put you ahead of the competition.

Registering with a Recruitment Agency

  • Firstly you need to secure an interview with the Recruitment Consultancy, which is easier said than done if you consider that each Consultancy registers maybe 1 candidate in every 15/20 CVs they receive!
  • If you are responding to specific job advertisement, then your cover letter needs to be targeted to the position you are applying for, addressing any pre-requisites stated in the text and stating why you feel you are qualified to apply. Read the advert carefully – do you really have the specific experience being sought?
  • Your CV needs to be well formatted, ideally two pages in length, with consistency throughout. There should be no unexplained gaps in the dates on your CV and no mistakes. N.B. Either use punctuation after a bullet point or don’t use it at all!
  • By all means send your CV directly through to an agency, but phone them beforehand and find out which contact to send it through to.

So, let’s assume your application has been well received and you have been called in for an interview by the Recruitment Consultancy

  • Remember, first impressions always count. Recruitment Consultants tend to follow their intuition and often make an instant judgement, rightly or wrongly!
  • Smart presentation is vital. Pretend that you are seeing an Employer and not a Consultant in this regard. Many people dress more informally when they visit an agency. This is an error and could count against you when a Consultant is putting together their final shortlist.
  • A firm hand shake and eye contact are essential.
  • Know your CV backwards! A good Consultant will question you on every gap in your CV and your reasons for leaving your last three positions. They also want to know clearly what you are looking for now. For example, are you happy supporting more than one person, do you have a specific location in mind etc.?
  • Be realistic on salary. Don’t pitch yourself out of the market and if in doubt ask the Consultant. The market at the moment is suggesting that you can achieve a 5-15% increase on your current salary.
  • You can be honest with your Consultant. For instance if you left your last job under a cloud and are worried that it might portray an unfair reflection to a future Employer, then a Consultant should be able to put you at ease and advise on a suitable explanation for future interviews.
  • Finally, agree a timeframe of contact with your Consultant and to what extent you should keep in touch if you don’t hear back from them immediately.

So far so good! You have been put forward for a position you are interested in and have been called in for interview

  • Punctuality is vital!
  • Always take two copies of your CV with you. It is not unknown for the interviewer to leave your CV on his/her desk! It is also useful for you to have a copy in front of you.
  • Let the interviewer lead/chair the meeting and follow his/her lead.
  • Have a list of five key attributes that you think set you apart from the competition. Make sure you get all of these across in your meeting. Some examples are as follows:
    • A second language – state your proficiency as this could be tested.
    • Exceptional MS Office skills in one or all packages or alternative IT skills.
    • An ability to handle specific projects from start to finish – give examples.
    • Very good secretarial skills – shorthand, fast typing – obviously if relevant to the vacancy.
    • Prior industry knowledge.
  • Show that you have done your research. Refer back to the job description or the company’s website where possible.
  • You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you, so have some good questions of your own prepared. Some examples are as follows:
    • Is this a new position? If not, why has it become available? Is there any scope to progress within the role? Please note the way I have phrased this question.
    • How can I add value in this position beyond what we have already discussed?
  • Avoid salary discussion at first interview unless the Employer brings it up.
  • On leaving, find out the next step and timescales for decisions and further interviews to put your mind at ease.
  • Provide feedback to your Consultant straight away and proceed to keep them informed with any other interviews you are going on.

Good luck and I hope you find these tips helpful!

Categories: Job Seekers

Tags: Job Seekers

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