Job hunting can be an incredibly stressful period for most, even without a global pandemic wreaking havoc on the current job market. When I arrived in London from Johannesburg in November 2019, I was particularly anxious about how to best approach applying for vacancies. After countless interviews, combined with the inevitable rejections that are associated with job applications, I landed the rewarding role that I currently hold, being a recruitment consultant for the financial services sector. Below is a brief guide on how to ensure you are putting your best possible self forward when applying for jobs, using the methods I adopted and refined when I first arrived in the UK.
We are all aware that a lack of employment can lead to a sense of desperation, but applying for jobs that you are not well suited to, nor hold the necessary experience or qualifications for, is simply a waste of your valuable time. Working in recruitment, I have come across some wonderful people who are just not at all suited to the role they are applying for. In order to utilise your time effectively, an apparently obvious but crucial part of your application process should be to apply to jobs you feel are the most appropriate when aligned with your professional and educational background.
We are all aware of the adage that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, when it comes to assessing a potential candidate’s caliber and suitability for a role, the maxim proves extremely relevant. When I first began my application process, I quickly began to realise that my CV needed a considerable amount of work if I was going to have any success standing out from the saturated crowd. Your CV is the very first document a recruiter or hiring manager is going to see, so it is imperative that a substantial amount of effort goes into its presentation.
What should you pay attention to?
Two things come to mind, the first being CV length. While it can sometimes appear necessary to add every piece of detail in your work history, this is just not a true indicator of how experienced a candidate truly is, particularly at a junior level. An important takeaway for me will usually be day-to-day functions the candidate performs at their current role, as opposed to a protracted list of achievements that may not be entirely relevant to the role the candidate is applying for. Secondly, your CV is a professional document. There is no need for a fancy layout or an artistic font, it is simply unnecessary and can genuinely hinder a candidate’s need to be noticed. As a recruiter, I view more than my fair share of CVs in a week and it doesn’t take long for me to assess whether the candidate’s profile is suitable or not.
If you believe your CV needs a refresh to be up to par with the industry’s standards, your best bet is probably to reach out to a specialist recruiter within your field. Recruiters act as an intermediary between companies and candidates: they know what clients are looking for and what skills and experience are essential on a resume. Make sure you do some research to find the best recruiters in your sector and reach out to ask for some CV feedback. Some recruitment firms even offer free CV format services to help you with your job search. At Rutherford, we offer this service to all professionals within the Compliance, Legal and Financial Crime sectors.
Aside from ensuring your CV is up to standard, it is important to prepare accordingly for the initial telephone/video interview with your potential employer. This should entail not only having an understanding of how the business operates, but also conveying your enthusiasm for having the possible opportunity to work there.
Practice and Perseverance
Try and avoid applying to endless jobs each day. I have found that this hampers each application as if not enough genuine thought is being applied to your process. If you dedicate the time to making 4-5 well planned applications each day, this is far more useful than simply ‘quick applying’ to any roles that you find online, whether it be on company websites, job boards or LinkedIn.
It is prudent to remain patient throughout the process too. Hiring takes time, and should you be fortunate enough to be called for an interview, you should still expect to have to navigate a few more hiring hurdles, whether this entails a second, third or even fourth stage interview! Above all though, and what I would advise to any candidate, whether junior or senior, is to persevere. Nothing of value comes by not applying yourself and giving your strongest effort, so remain levelheaded and committed and you will ultimately reap the benefits.
In summary, your CV should be a precise and succinct account of your current and previous experiences in the workplace. Most importantly, it should be pertinent to the role you are applying for in order to generate a more direct level of interest from either recruiters or companies, should you be applying directly.
Rutherford is a boutique search firm that specialises in legal, financial crime and compliance recruitment within the financial services and legal sector, with London and New York being the main focus. We use our carefully curated relationships, networks and market knowledge to find the best fit for the clients in hand. We work with a wide range of clients, spanning from advisors, corporate and commercial banks, brokers, exchanges, MTFs and financial tech, through to global investment managers, hedge funds, private equity firms and investment banks.