Job Hunting – Tips for Candidates

Make job hunting work for you / Job hunting secrets that work
Let’s face it. The days of joining a company for 20 years and leaving with a gold watch, are over. Newcomers to the job market can expect ten to fifteen different jobs during their lifetime. If you are to survive the ever-changing job market of the 21st century, learning the art of job hunting is crucial.

Job hunting is a skill. Your goal is to stay in the recruitment process and avoid being screened out prematurely. Recruiters spend vast amounts of time managing the “screen out” risk of candidates. So should you.

During the job search there are at least three stages at which your application may be eliminated.

Sending your CV
This is the first screening process for any job vacancy. It is also your most important job search tool. As a professional CV writer, I see volumes of CVs that are simply not “screen fit”. When critiquing your CV, eliminate factors that could bring your job search to an abrupt ending.

Most CVs are laced with spelling and grammatical errors. Have your CV read by as many people as you can. Give it to a professional proof reader and at least one person employed in the same industry.
Don’t annoy recruiters. CVs with job gaps, missing dates and lack of specifics will not make the short list. Poorly written and badly designed CVs are difficult to read and waste time.
Avoid comments such as “I was tired of my job and wanted to move”, “I was headhunted”, or “I was offered a more lucrative contract.” They are instant grounds for elimination.
Recruiters are trained to find these and many other “knock-out” factors on your CV. When they do, they screen you out.

To make it through the next round of the hiring process, you’ll need to more than show up for the interview. Practice powerful interviewing skills with an interview counsellor or ask a friend. This is important for senior managers and executives who need to demonstrate the impact of their contribution on the bottom line.
The most commonly used interviewing method is competency based interviewing. Not knowing how to effectively answer competency based interview questions can make or break your interview. Using “career speak” or good career vocabulary to persuasively communicate your value will go a long way in convincing the hiring authority that you are the best candidate for the job.
A large percentage of job candidates are screened out when asked “hot” questions. Questions on reasons for leaving, job gaps and personality traits are common pitfalls. “Personality clash” and “more money” are considered “unforgivable” reasons for leaving, and should never be mentioned in an interview. Keep your answers on personality traits job relevant. As a general rule keep your responses work-related throughout the interview.
Never leave an interview without asking for the job, the second interview or for the next step in the interview process. Recruiters call this “trial close”. If you have any hope of progressing to the next stage you’ll have to do one of the three.
If you don’t succeed at getting the job, always ask the interviewer for feedback. This will help improve your chances of employment when applying for another job.

Negotiating the Offer
Most people shrink in the face of a salary negotiation. Eager to be employed and not wanting to appear greedy, job seekers often come away wishing they asked for more money. On the other hand, asking for double your salary will guarantee you exit from the recruitment process.
Be realistic with your demands and value opportunity more than salary when accepting a job offer. The offer of free tuition to increase your skill is far more lucrative than a small increase. Always state that you are “negotiable for the ideal opportunity” and never say, “I can’t survive on the salary I’m getting.”
Never tell the prospective employer exactly what you earned in your previous job. Never mention salary on your CV, or hand over your payslip. This puts a price on your head, where they might have a much higher figure in mind.

Artemis Elias offers career coaching services, and is a professional CV writer. You can contact her at