Talking to a Recruiter about Recruitment

I have been lucky to work with a number of recruiters over the years. They provide an essential service advertising and pre-screening candidates who come for the roles I’m looking for.

I recently discussed this series of blog posts with Matt, a friend of mine at 4IT Recruitment and he was keen to offer his advice for people looking to get involved in the industry.

Recruiters do a great job advertising roles and preparing candidates for interview. Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I wanted to know more about the work that Matt and his colleagues do between getting a CV from a prospective candidate and brining them to my attention.


What makes a candidate’s CV stand out to you?

A Simple layout – Name and contact details at the top and easy to find’. Don’t use fancy boxes or colours and there’s no need for pictures etc (unless it’s for a UX role). You should include a a brief but non-generic profile at the top of the page with a bit of insight into your skills and experience. Consider adding a technical skills matrix right at the top where it’s really visible and always start with your strongest development language at the top.

We like to see projects you been involved in and where you used your skills, what methodologies you used, any associated technologies (e.g. if was a full stack role say that it was). Universities and schools should go at at the bottom with hobbies – for graduates you should put all the experience you’ve gained from university modules at the top in place of professional experience and start with any experience you have. Always include details of any placements or work experience opportunities you’ve had. Include details of the technologies you’ve used in the roles.


What advice do you always give a candidate before an interview?

Always research the company and understand what service/ product they offer before you go to speak to them. Review the job spec if you have one and think how you can speak about your skills with regards to the criteria for the role.

Talk about what you have been responsible for delivering personally, rather than listing the achievements of the the wider team and use as many examples with how you have used your skills in the past in ‘real life’.

Try to relax…it is as much an opportunity for you to find out about the company and role as the other way around.

Remember to ask the company questions about the role and about current staff… Why is the best developer you have the ‘best developer’ etc. what do they bring extra than all others to the team?


What do you wish more candidates knew when they went for an interview?

Candidates should always remember that hiring managers’ time is very limited so they should try to give detailed answers but stick to the point and then move on.

You only get one chance to make a first impression so don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Never be afraid to ask for advice before going for an interview. Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Matt has given lots of great advice for anyone coming to an interview. If you’d like to get in touch with 4IT you either via LinkedIn or email.

Do you have any advice to give candidates preparing for their first big interview? What have you found that works for you – drop a comment below or contact me on Twitter. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s post!

What The Recruitment Process Looks Like

From the outside a recruitment process is fairly opaque. As someone applying for their first developer role it can be easy to get lost with who’s who. Let’s go through the high level journey of recruitment for a role.

The job interview is often only one small part of the hiring process. Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Remember, the process will always be slightly different for each company and each person but the common building blocks are often there.

  • Company identifies they need an additional person and speaks with a recruitment agency (sometimes done by a specialist team withint the company) to post an advert and job description.
  • The applicant (you) see this advert and decide to apply.
  • You will most likely be asked to provide a CV and potentially a cover letter.
  • The recruiter will then shortlist a number of candidates, filtering out the people who are clearly unsuitable and share them with the hiring manager. They may do this by speaking with the applicants themselves before forwarding them on.
  • The hiring manager will then often select a subset of candidates to hold a telephone interview with, these are usually around 30 minutes long.
  • A small number of people are then invited in for a face to face interview (obviously in the current climate this may be done slightly differently).
  • The hiring manager then assesses each candidate and decides which, if any, would be suitble for the role.

Ok, so let’s assume you’re the selected candidate. What happens next?

  • The recruiter will most likely call you either way to get your impression on how the interview went. They will most likely update you on whether they’ve heard anything on whether the company intends to make an offer. Bear in mind that a hiring manager may have many interviews for a single role and will often wait until finishing all interviews before offering the role.
  • If you are selected then the recruiter will often give you a verbal offer, or let you know that the company intends to make you an offer. Nothing is binding at this stage but it’s often wise to give an honest view of whether you would accept or not. It would be impolite for you to let a company go through the efforts of getting a contract out to you if you have no intention of accepting.
  • The recruiter will most often want to discuss start dates with you. This is great news, however if you are in an existing role you shouldn’t hand in your notice until until you’ve read the contract from the new company. It’s safe to assume you’ll be able to start 2 weeks plus any notice period you currently have, but these can always be adjusted once you’ve agreed your last day.
  • You will be issued with a contract of employment which you will be asked to sign and return.

So there you have it, the entire process! I’m going to break these various steps down over the upcoming weeks but there are a few points I want to highlight now.

It’s a long journey from advert to offer! Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Sometimes, especially if a company is hiring multiple people in the same role they may run an Assessment Centre rather than going through the entiring process for each candidate. These are nothing to be afraid of, and can be a lot of fun. But it’s often very daunting to meet (and be expected to work with) people who are competing against you for a small number of roles.

It’s important that you’re assessing the company as much as they are judging you. Hopefully you’re going to be spending several years of your life at this organisation and working with the hiring manager. If you feel uneasy around them or don’t think you would fit in there then there’s nothing wrong with turning down a job offer. It’s disappointing for the hiring manager to lose someone they feel would be a good person for a role but if your aspirations are elsewhere you should listen to that.

Finally, a LOT of candidates apply for roles. Especially during difficult times (like we’re expecting in 2021). Look for ways to stand out. I’m not talking about bringing cake to the interview or wearing bright colours to the interview but think about what differentiates you and makes you unique. Make connections with the recruiter and hiring manager by asking questions and always show your interest.

I intend to cover recruitment in a lot more detail over the next few weeks but hopefully there’s enough here to get you started.

As always if there are any questions please get in touch and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter.