HOW TO STAND OUT IN THE CANDIDATE CROWD

Most of us have been there, the moment you realise you need to step out of your comfort zone and move into a new direction.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve just lost your job or if you are simply ready for a new challenge. What does matter is that you have to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself on the job market. Even more important is how you do this!  

Let’s start with some introspection. Look back at all your experiences to date and think hard about what you enjoyed most. Are you looking for a fast-moving scale-up and willing to trade job certainty for entrepreneurship? Or are you interested in a more stable and larger corporation where you can climb the corporate ladder? For example, I myself loved working in Mergers & Acquisitions because it was strategic, allowed me to have responsibilities and impact, whilst giving me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with teams from all types of cultures, backgrounds…. And of course it gave me the gratification of closing projects successfully! My ‘make me tick’ keywords are thus strategy, responsibility, people and results! I advise you to do a similar exercise for yourself. Write these findings down, that’s how you discover your ‘persona’ 👩🏻‍🔧👩🏽‍💼👨🏻‍⚕️👩🏽‍⚕️.   

Now that you know your persona, you can create your CV. For tips and tricks on ‘how to CV’ I refer you to one of my earlier blogs (how to CV, tips from recruiters) which is als available on this website. 

Once you know your persona and have your CV, you can set out your search strategy. Mapping out this strategy isn’t always easy, before going into recruitment I did not have a clue how to go about this. 21 years ago there was hardly anything online, so I just grabbed the yellow pages and sent my CV to 8 recruitment companies, all by mail (without the “e-“). Today we are overwhelmed by platforms and agencies, the options seem endless, making it difficult to know where to start. I suggest to lean on your created persona and identify which sectors and what type of companies interest you. Make a list. Don’t be modest, aim for what you really want! You’ll be surprised by how setting clear goals clarifies the direction you want to take.   

With the right positioning and goals, you will now have to determine how to get there. There are various paths that can help you achieve your goal, I advise you to walk all of them: 

  1. Use your network. You know now which (types of) companies interest you. Check out who you know there that can give you an introduction. Don’t stop with your direct network, approach the network of your network too. 
  2. Check out which recruitment companies  best match with what you are looking for and try to connect with their consultants on a personal level. You should know that not all great jobs are immediately published. Therefore it’s good to talk! If it’s difficult to get in touch personally, then connect through mail and LinkedIn. Your goal should be to have a chat, so that the consultants know about you and what you can bring to the table. That same chat can bring you new ideas and enhances the chance to stay top of mind. 
  3. Search for jobs online. You can visit Indeed (‘scraper of all jobs’), visit specialised sites and check out job postings on LinkedIn, at recruitment firms (such as M18 😊) and on your target companies’ websites. Be aware that each company uses their own terminology for job titles. So when you search online, make sure to use different search terms for the same type of roles. Once you have identified the ‘job of your dreams’ online, go back to step 1 (NETWORK!). Try to see if you know anyone in your extended network that can tell you more about the company and role. The better prepared you are before applying, the better you will understand what they are looking for.     

Bravo! You have followed all the above steps and got the opportunity to go for a job interview. I have 3 tips: prepare, prepare and prepare! Of course you make sure that you dress correctly and that your personal presentation is in line with the expectations of the company. Still, even more important is that you have done your homework into the company and the open role. Check out the website, financial situation, products, … and prepare questions! Don’t we all like it when people show a true interest? By asking the right questions you show just that. Another tip: you are allowed to take notes during the interview. Your interviewers will perceive it positively, it again shows your interest in- and commitment to the role and company.  

Once you have met the people at your dream company you’ll discover if the company culture matches your personality. Your Persona is a mix of your skills, preferences and personal circumstances. Make sure that the match is there on all fronts. Why? It is easier to learn certain hard skills than to adapt your personality and personal circumstances. If you do not feel the expected match after your first interview, discuss it openly. If afterwards that feeling persists, then don’t be afraid to walk away . Don’t waste your time or anybody else’s on mismatches.   

Now that you have passed the first interview round and both parties are excited to take the next step, I can only advise you to be available and communicate openly and proactively. It is key to making a great impression! At M18 we love candidates that keep us up-to-date when they have met our client and that share their viewpoints. It shows professionalism and involvement. If you are not available for questions and recruiters have to ‘run’ after you to get answers, they may start to doubt your motivation and so might the hiring manager. They may also wonder how you’ll be performing and communicating at the workplace once you join the company. As a candidate you want to be kept up-to-date, the other party just wants the same.    

YES! Congrats, you have found your ideal employer, now make it a success! Show them your motivation, willingness to invest yourself and contribute to the growth of the company. During your onboarding, try to get to know people from different departments and connect with them in order to integrate well into the company. A great start makes all the difference!    

Finally, you’ll discover that finding the right job is a full-time job. Make the time, do it right and find the best version of yourself! In that way you’ll be well positioned to find THE opportunity and let IT find you!  

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