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The 5 Habits of Highly Effective Contract Candidates

I know that it goes without saying that you’re not just making scatter gun approaches to agencies left, right, and centre. You’re making considered, highly tailored applications with well written cover letters highlighting your suitability for the specific role. But what if you’re doing all of that and still not getting results? It’s time to master the 5 Habits of Highly Effective Contract Candidates…

  1. Save your own copies of everything I used to dutifully send carefully written CVs and cover letters through a multitude of different job sites and, a week later, I would get the all-important phone call from the recruitment consultant and I would have to ask them to remind me which job site my application had been sent from and what the title of the role was because I hadn’t kept any of those details and I’d made so many applications I couldn’t remember which was which. I ended up sounding foolish and badly prepared, and I certainly didn’t get called for interview. I learned that the highly effective contract candidate saves their own copies of everything: the CV, the cover letter, and the job description with the name of the agency, and the name of the recruitment consultant and their contact details. (Top tip: Avoid using bookmarks to web pages because they often expire which will leave you staring at a Page 404 in your moment of need. I prefer to use a utility like CutePDF so that I can “print” an electronic copy to store with the CV and cover letter in an individual folder.)

  2. Save it all in one, easily accessible place Are your CVs and cover letters strewn across a hundred different job web sites, as well as your Windows desktop, My Documents, and a ragged selection of print outs? That used to be me, and it drove me crazy with the endless wasted minutes searching for the one piece of information I really needed. Agents can call at any time and you will only have a few seconds to access the right information. The solution is simple: The highly effective contract candidate puts everything in one, easily accessible place. (I recommend something like Dropbox because it’s free, and you can get to it from your home, the office, and via your mobile.)

  3. Keep a record of every interaction you have with every recruitment consultant This might sound painful but it isn’t, I promise. We’re not talking about a Dear Diary filled with your deepest thoughts and emotions. We’re talking about a simple coding system with the date, the name of the agency, the name of the recruitment consultant, and the nature of the communication. That’s it, no more, no less. I use shorthand so, for example, if I received a call from Jane Blogs at XYZ Recruitment Ltd on Friday, 22nd March 2011 about a Project Management role at MegaCorp PLC, I would simply write: Jane B @ XYZ, 22/3/11 #ACM #Proj.Man. #MegaCorp (#ACM means “Agent called me”. I use other obvious codes such as #ICA (“I called agent”), #AEM (“Agent e-mailed me”), #IEA (“I e-mailed agent”) but also codes for common actions such as, #EUCV (“E-mailed updated copy of CV”) and so forth.) I find that it is best to list these notes alphabetically by the first name of the recruitment consultant because that is normally the first piece of information you will hear when they call you and it can save you valuable seconds when you are scrambling for your mobile.


  4. Save any direct dial numbers for individual recruitment agents to your mobile A simple, but effective habit. Always get hold of a direct dial number, where possible, and add it to your mobile. That way, you’ll know the name of the recruitment consultant calling before you pick up.

  5. Remember, everybody likes to feel significant, and recruitment consultants are no exception to the rule. So think about the potential impact you will make if, the next time you pick up a call from a recruitment consultant, you can say, “Hi Jane, it’s good to hear from you – yes, I remember we spoke back in March about the Project Management role at MegaCorp, and I had an e-mail from your colleague Joe last month. Thanks for calling again. How can I help?”

By Peter Roy

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