21 November 2016

Tips from a corporate headhunter #4: Showcase your talent and evaluate options wisely


How do you present and market yourself effectively on paper and in person, and make wise decisions on career opportunities offered to you?

First, these are the real-life situations you have to work with when you put yourself forward for a career-advancing move.

  • 30 seconds is how long the average resume has to secure enough initial interest that will lead to securing an interview . . . or not. What does your resume need to do to get you to that interview?
  • 1 minute is how long many interviewers spend before making a ‘gut instinct call’ on whether you will get the job – they will then spend the next 59 minutes justifying that decision in their own mind. How do you convince them to pick you?
  • The average career will last around 50 years—every year that your career trajectory stagnates is 2% of that time. How do you evaluate offers so that you make the right decision that truly maximises your career potential

Triple your odds of getting an interview

Your resume is the single most important document you will ever write in your life.

Triple your odds of getting an interview by ensuring that your resume’s Page 1 answers these questions:

  • Have you got the relevant recent technical skills?
  • Have you got the relevant recent academic credentials and educational attributes?
  • Is your career to date relevant to what recruiters look for?

Do not include anything that does not influence a recruiter’s decision, like your address, photograph, behavioural attributes, and where you went to school.

Double your chances of being shortlisted after an interview

Your resume was outstanding and did its job, and now you’re one of five candidates invited for an interview. Here’s your big moment.

Before the interview, make sure you present yourself in your ‘Sunday best’ and maintain a confident and positive presence while you wait to be called. When escorted to the interview room, take the opportunity to establish rapport and come across as someone they can imagine working well with.

During the interview, ensure your body language and what you say reflect that you’ve done your research, understand their company and industry, and can provide commercially valuable insights that help their business. Answer questions using the STAR model to demonstrate your capabilities: Provide the Situation, describe the Task, specify the Action you took, and relay the Results.

Ask questions to demonstrate an interest in performing at your best, and do not ask anything about salary or perks (you are not hired yet!).

After the interview, take note of the people and place as they will give you clues on many aspects of the company. Always follow up with a thank you note or email to make a favourable impression.

I spell out more tips in detail in my book Career Karma.

Evaluate career advancement offers wisely

You aced your interviews, and now, they’ve offered you a job.

Do you accept it? Not yet. First, ask yourself, “Is this the job I really want?” Go back to your career plans. Too many people accept a job based on emotion, “Oh, somebody loves me at last!” Six months later, they go, “Oh no, what have I done?!”

Evaluate that everything is right for you.

  • Right people. Would you like working for them? Or will they suck the life out of you?
  • Right challenge. Does this role stretch you and add to your resume?
  • Right location. Will day-to-day travel be pleasant, or will you spend hours commuting or stuck in traffic?
  • Right experience. Will this job fulfil your long-term goals and where you want to go?

Analyse all this and ask yourself if this job matches up. If circumstances dictate that you must take the job, so be it. But make a decision strategically if you can.

WIth this, we come to the end of our blog series on what you could do differently to maximise your career potential. If you are feeling overwhelmed that there is too much to do, break things up into their component parts, list your priority for doing them, and tackle one task at a time.

You can read up on more practical tips in my books Career Karma and Resume Karma.

Thank you for joining us in this knowledge sharing initiative brought to you in collaboration with Velpic, an innovative cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that comes with an authoring tool, mobile eLearning portal and expert content marketplace.

Meanwhile, I invite you to watch our 45-minute webinar ‘Maximise your career potential: Tips from a corporate headhunter’ by clicking on the button below.

Watch Recording NowAbout James Fairbairn. An executive search, selection and retention expert for over 21 years, the author of ‘Career Karma’ and 'Resume Karma’, and a sought-after public speaker.


James Fairbairn

James Fairbairn

Partner at Lester Blades - Executive Search, Selection & Retention