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Ask James Caan – 19th April – Issue 44

Written by Kimberley Startup | April 19, 2011 | 3 Comments

James Caan Recruitment

This week, James Caan, advises a small business owner on how to manage their in-house recruitment process, meet candidate expectations and build their brand.

Dear Member,

It’s been an incredibly busy time for webrecruit. Not only did we become the 9th largest group with the arrival of our 45,000th member, but we helped c540 candidates to find a job. All in all, a great month’s work so far!

This week’s column focuses on employers and how to get the most out of the application process. As businesses are increasingly tasked with delivering more for less, the way a lot of employers recruit is changing.

Rachel’s letter demonstrates just some of the issues a small business can face when recruiting.

She writes:

‘I’m in the fortunate position to recruit for my small business. I’ve chosen to bring recruitment in-house – but am fast realising it’s incredibly time consuming.
Rachel, your situation shows that it’s not just the job seeker who is faced with hurdles in today’s job market. Whilst current unemployment levels are starting to show some promising signs, the industry is still experiencing record-breaking numbers of applications, with job seekers applying in their hundreds for the chance to secure that all important interview. Particularly for the small business, this can have a big effect on resource allocation.

‘The online advert has only been running for a week, but the response has been overwhelming. When it comes to looking though applications and the interview process, what should I be looking for?’

If you’re faced with a big response, consider removing the vacancy from where it’s advertised, to avoid disappointment from prospective applicants. Hopefully, from the CVs already received (and if you positioned the role correctly) you should be able to start compiling an interview shortlist.

When creating this selection, make sure to look for relevant experience and skills, and remember not everyone uses the same keywords. Different candidates use different terminology, so don’t be ruthless. The ideal candidate will have presented their CV in an easy to read format, they’ll know what requirements are needed and preferably, tailored their application to get your attention.

If it’s a client-facing role, such as customer service or office support, consider how their experience would translate into your business environment. Anybody can claim they have flawless communication skills – that’s why it’s important to get the really good candidates in for a face-to-face interview. When I’m recruiting, I also like to keep an interview slot reserved for a wild card – someone who won’t necessarily match the profile I’ve got in my head, but rather they’ve included something in their CV that’s really got my interest.

If the new recruit will report to you, then ensure to play an active part within the interview process. After all, only you can determine if someone is right for your team. But also ask another manager to sit in to get an outsider’s view.

How do you deal with candidate applications you don’t wish to pursue? The issue of rejection letters is one of high importance when it comes to candidate communication. Their biggest complaint always comes down to getting confirmation their application has been received and whether or not their CV will be considered.

Replying to each candidate can be a time-consuming task, but in order to build your company’s brand, I recommend putting processes in place to do so. It’s an extremely competitive job searching climate in which candidates are always told to chase for feedback. Make sure you can provide insightful answers to help them develop further.

Best of luck,


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3 thoughts on “Ask James Caan – 19th April – Issue 44

  1. Gavin Wyatt on Reply

    To date in the last 2 months I have applied for a total of 56 roles been called regarding 8 of the forth coming roles, 6 being direct employers 2 from recruitment companies.

    9 times out 0f 10 the recruitment companies don’t even call they have a template that if your CV don’t match what they want you won’t get a call, even if all the areas that was advertised in your eyes meet everything you have done,
    I feel that 70% of recruitment companies advertise the roles the rolls of false descriptions, they should post this template they have and show us the format they want your CV to be presented in.

    Other area’s I have noticed id they don’t follow the disability act, I have not seen one form or question regarding this, from any recruitment company.

    I can say hand on heart there are a few very good Recruitment Companies whom have the personal touch, who will call you no matter what and look for other dimensions to your CV that you may not of highlighted at the time of writing it, those recruitment companies are worth the time of day.

    Over the past two months even though I have not gained firm employment i have been given freelance work from the companies I have attended for a interview.

    To keep sprits up I personally built my own web site to give Recruitment companies & Employers that chance of a more clear concise CV, after all we live in the 21st century maybe it’s about time our CV’s was more interactive.

    I wish all of you good will with your searches for employment and maybe start to look how that CV of yours needs to look, after all you wear a suit to a interview to give the best look, why not give your CV a Flash Suit to show what your trying to express to gain that dream job, there is 100’s of Blog sites and many features to place videos, PDF’s, and other fancy 3D work you have done class projects you have done or accomplished like a photographic portfolio. so build a CV website, or Blog and attach it to all job sites in your cover letter ,CV and highlight the fact you have this interactive service for them to gain better clear understanding of what you can do.

    Don’t look to blame narrow minded recruitment companies, look to emailing all companies your Blog/CV and your never know after all Email won’t cost you a stamp, I send one email and BCC Every Company in the field I wish to work in.

    Good Luck to All



  2. Lucy on Reply

    Jonathan, you’re absolutely right.

    With the number of applications increasing every month, employers are able to look further than practical experience and can really start looking at transferrable skills and personality.

    After all, it’s important to have someone who’s the ‘right fit’ and will transition well within a company’s culture.


  3. Jonathan on Reply

    James, I really like your “wild card” comment. I hear much lip-service paid to the idea that companies want candidates who are interesting, innovative, intelligent, have usual experience or diverse background etc. What I see in reality is companies choosing the applicants that are already doing the same job somewhere else.
    Superficially and practically it makes sense, but why my question is why that person leaving their present job? If it is for their own professional development, quite possibly they are not aiming for the job you are employing them for.

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