Perfecting the Process - Top Tips for Candidates and Hiring Managers

Perfecting the Process: Top Tips for Candidates and Hiring Managers

As a slight change of pace from our usual industry analysis, I wanted to share some tips on how to make the most of the recruitment process – for both candidates and hiring managers. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference, and altering how you approach the recruitment process can benefit everyone.

Being The Best Candidate You Can Be

Recruitment should be a meritocracy – the job goes to the candidate who is best qualified for the position, has the most relevant experience, is the best fit with the team they’ll be joining. So what do you do if you’re up against 3 other people who have held the same titles as you, taken the same industry qualifications, present seemingly near-identical CVs? In the specialist markets we work in, it’s not so unlikely.

First Impressions: CVs

If you and the other candidates for the role are putting forward roughly the same information, exactly how you present that information can be a big differentiator. In terms of CVs, the biggest mistakes I see good candidates make are to do with consistency – make sure that you’re formatting each of your roles in the same way (i.e.. the same order of Title – Company – Dates appears throughout your Career History) and highlighting the elements of those roles which are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Customising your CV for the specific application might take a little more time but it makes a big difference – if you’ve put the relevant element of a role right up top and someone else has buried it halfway down a long list of responsibilities, you have a better chance of getting noticed. This is also part of why it’s not a good idea to just copy and paste what you did in a role from the official job specification – writing up the relevant parts of the job will make a clearer argument for why you’re the best candidate.

Similarly, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and that you have a consistent level of detail about your skills and experience across all of the relevant positions. I can almost guarantee at this point that anyone considering your CV is also going to have a quick look at your LinkedIn profile and check for consistency between the two – it’s one of the fastest ways an employer can check if someone is falsifying their job titles, for example. You should never put anything on your CV or LinkedIn that isn’t true – but you can and should make sure that you’re sharing the information that presents that you in the best light for the specific position you’re pursuing.

Concision is your friend when it comes to CVs – if you have all the most relevant details up front and then pages and pages of minute detail on previous roles, those pages are quite likely not being read at all. Just as you should edit your descriptions of recent work to keep the key points clear, I also recommend tidying up roles further back in your career that will be less meaningful to your potential employer. Reducing any roles more than 10 years old to an Early Career Summary section with just dates, companies and titles can save a lot of time and space – and save you from a hiring manager opening your CV and balking at the page count before they’ve even began reading.

Do Your Research

Find out as much as you can about the company, and their specific recruitment process. From the specific format of the interview to their current marketing campaigns, the more you know about the company, the better prepared you are, and the more specific you can be. By this point I think “It’s important to ask questions of the interviewer” is the first piece of advice everyone gets and it’s absolutely true but there’s a big difference between an uniformed question and one that shows you’ve already found out as much you can about your potential new employer on your own.

Know Your CV

It may seem obvious but you would be surprised how often candidates will be unprepared to talk about something on their own CV. Once you’ve customised the document itself for the role you’re applying for, make sure you know everything you’ve put down on the page. For each of your most recent roles, think about the activities that are most similar to what you’d be doing in the position you’re applying for, and prepare a few examples you can talk through in detail about what you achieved.

Honesty Really Is the Best Policy

Be open and honest with your recruiter from the beginning. If you have, for example, a very strong preference for in-office over remote work and the client is advertising a role as hybrid, voice it early on rather than hoping it can be resolved later. You may think you’re talking yourself out of a role by setting a very hard floor on the salary you need to move, but if the reality is that you cannot take on a new role for less than that number, there’s no point in going through the process, and we can instead work on finding another role that will fit for you. Conversely, if we believe there is a good chance of getting a higher than advertised salary, we can advocate for that as soon as we put you forward. Telling a recruiter as much as you can about why you want to move, what you need to make it happen and what’s important to you will be beneficial to everyone involved in the recruitment process, at every stage.

When Hiring:

Getting the right candidate for your vacancy presents just as many challengers on the other side of the equation. How can you get the best out of the recruitment process?

Consider What You’re Offering

In an ever changing talent market and an uncertain economy, firms seeking to hire need to give serious thought to the proposition they’re bringing to candidates. Salaries are important, of course, and carefully benchmarking yours against similar roles is crucial, it is key to offer what the market rate is for the role and the candidates worth, rather than basing it upon what the candidate is on and giving them an uplift. Clarity around the complete package early in the process means only candidates who are right for the role will pursue your opportunity.

Working models and flexibility have increasingly proven to be the crucial sticking points for more and more professionals. There is no uniform offering that will guarantee you buy-in from every candidate – some people prefer to work remote, others prefer to be in-office. When looking at multiple similar roles, many candidates are opting for the one that matches their working model preference even when it’s at a lower salary. It may be that you’re in a position to raise the salary but not to alter the working pattern or vice versa, but the key is to consider these factors and be direct and clear about what you can offer right from the beginning to get those candidates your job is the perfect for to engage and commit.

Control the Timescale …

It is always worth repeating because it continues to be true – the number one reason good clients lose good candidates is timing and delays. Nothing will motivate a candidate to take another opportunity like having to wait endlessly for feedback or being put through never-ending extra rounds of interviews. Obviously there are factors here that may not be directly within your control, but wherever possible I would strongly encourage hiring managers to aim to share feedback within 3 days of receiving a CV or conducting an interview, and to hold interviews within 2 weeks of issuing the feedback. Of course with senior roles there is a very necessary multi-interview process, and it helps to tell candidates up front how many stages that will be and how they will be staggered, if the process can be reduced to two or even three stages for senior hires this will help to give the candidate a good experience rather than it being prolonged over four or five stages where you run the risk of losing candidates to competitors or the individual losing interest.

… And Keep Communication Flowing

Hand-in-hand with the timing issue is the need for frequent, open communication. The best way to prevent a candidate falling out of the process if an interview is unavoidably pushed back is to keep in touch with them, letting them know what’s happening and why. Sharing specific positive feedback along the way also makes a big difference – a candidate will feel very differently about a role where they’ve been told “They want to interview you” vs one where they’ve been told “They really liked [X] and [Y] elements of your CV, so they want to interview you”. Remember that you’re also in the process of selling the role and the company to the candidate at the same time as you’re working out if they’re the right fit for you – every communication they receive along the way will form part of how they feel about your firm.

Working With the Right Recruiter

I believe that working with a good recruiter makes a huge difference to your chances of securing a role – and of securing the best candidates. As specialists with real industry knowledge, the Kind team will have a much better understanding of both what a candidate in our space has achieved and wants to go next, and of what a client needs and how the role fits into the larger business.

It’s a competitive market and you need your organisation and the opportunity to be presented in the right way to gain the interest of those passive candidates, your message to the market is key.

With generalist recruiters, a lot of work is happening on simplistic key-work matching – the recruiter will often not have a good idea themselves of which candidates are actually best for the role they’re working on, or what that role is. We do, and we build strong collaborative relationships with clients. That benefits candidates as well and it enables that open, regular communication between all parties that can make such a big difference.

If you’re currently seeking career advancement in Governance, Risk, Compliance, Complaints, Financial Crime or Change & Transformation, get in touch with your team today on 0121 643 2100 or via

Mathew Kind, Director & Co-Founder

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