4 signs you’ve found (or are) the right candidate!

How to know whether you’ve found (or are!) the right candidate for the job – a post for employers and job-seekers…

Last week, Onrec published a post that we knew we had to feature in our January series. It’s titled: ‘Think you’ve found the right candidate? 4 signs every employer should look for.’

While the piece is clearly targeted at employers and HR Managers, it also offers valuable reading for job-seekers. After all, one of the most vital tools in your job search is the ability to understand what businesses are looking for – allowing you to demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Onrec’s advice is perhaps surprisingly simple. You may think that each of these four signs would be a given when attending interviews. However, it’s the people who can do these things particularly well (and most genuinely!) who really stand out.

The 4 signs that you could be the right candidate are…

1. Exuding enthusiasm:

True enthusiasm can really help you set you apart from your competitors. This includes an enthusiasm about your experience to date, alongside the opportunity to bring your experiences into the role you’re discussing. The best bit? The Onrec article highlights how achievable this is, regardless of your interview nerves.

Tip: before attending any interviews, spend some time considering what you’re most enthusiastic and excited about at this point in your career. What’ve you most enjoyed about your previous work and what are you looking forward to doing next? Make notes and discuss with friends if this helps you to become more comfortable in expressing your positivity.

2.  You’ve swotted up:

You need to show that you’ve swotted up on each business you’re interviewing for. This isn’t just about proving you understand the company and its purpose, yet also showing you’re proactive and prepared.

Tip: even if it’s a last-minute interview request, you can have a good look at the company website. Keep a close watch for any mentions of company goals, aims, working ethos or similar. Got longer to prepare? Visit social media feeds, research news items about the company, industry trends and more. This tip also ties into the ‘Proactivity’ point in this post.

3. Seeing flaws as growth opportunities

The most well-rounded candidates can take an honest look at themselves and see how their downfalls can be used as areas of improvement. It helps if you can give real-life examples of times you’ve turned a flaw or failure into a learning and development opportunity.

Tip: try to brainstorm something other than perfectionism (the most popular weakness that’s become something of an interview cliche!). Think of a challenge you’ve overcome, which trait this represented, and how you overcame it and/or the steps you’re currently taking to improve. Again, express enthusiasm for your personal development rather than shame for being human in the first place!

4. Communicating well

Onrec’s final point also ties in well with the ‘Empathy’ trait in this article. You want to communicate clearly and positively with every person you encounter throughout your recruitment process.

This goes beyond your interview conversations and extends into any emails, calls and/or texts you exchange. Not to mention those non-verbal communications with anyone you pass in the interview building.

Tip: always give yourself space to re-read any written comms before firing them off to a prospective employer. You can also stand out by sending interview thank you notes – here’s some advice on how to do this if you’re working with a recruitment agency.

Catch up with the rest of our January series so far…

Don’t forget to keep popping back to our News page to see the latest instalments. You can also connect with us via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn



Do you need a career plan?

What would you say if someone asked you to outline your career plan? Are you the sort of person who can give a step by step account of the coming five years? Perhaps you’d struggle to outline the next five months! The question is, does it even matter either way?

If you’ve attended any interviews recently, you’re highly likely to have been asked some form of the career plan question.

For instance:

  • Where do you see yourself in the next year/five years/ten years?
  • What are your goals for the next year/five years/ten years?
  • What are your longer-term career goals?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • Tell me more about your career hopes or aspirations?
  • What are your future goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in your career and what’s next for you?

The wording is different yet the core meaning is the same. The interviewer is trying to establish your intentions, including how likely you are to commit to the opening they’re recruiting for.

They’re also attempting to gauge your level of ambition. Depending on the job role and company set up, they may hope to see that you’re open to internal development opportunities. Conversely, they may be trying to make sure you’re not planning to climb the ranks far sooner than they’d be able to accommodate!

How to answer this sort of interview question:

Before we return to the main focus of our post (namely, whether career plans really matter!), we want to share this blog post from The Balance Careers. It contains some fantastic tips on how to answer these interview questions, with example answers to help you hone yours.

Now back to those career plans. Do you really need one?

To quote Melody Wilding, writing for Forbes, “you can move forward confidently in your career without a five-year plan. You can still be successful while doing it from a place of agility and resiliency, not pushing and forcing.”

Yes, this is excellent news for anyone who struggles to map out their future! That said, there are also some useful insights to make any existing career plans more effective.

Summarising some key points from Wilding’s feature:

  • None of us can predict our future – and that includes our future priorities and opportunities.
  • If you’re overly focused on one set plan, you may reject ‘important opportunities.’
  • You may see setbacks as failures and stop trying.
  • All in all, you may end up feeling ‘stuck’ in your career.

How to plan more effectively:

The above isn’t to say you shouldn’t consider your future plans at all. Wilding recommends:

  • Questioning whether the career path you’re on is your own or someone else’s (i.e. are you actually pursuing someone else’s idea of success? That someone else could be a boss, former teacher, partner, friend, family member…)
  • Questioning any ‘shoulds’ that crop up. For instance, saying you should pursue a promotion in your current line of work or you should want to gain managerial experience.
  • Considering the shorter term. What do you see yourself changing or not changing in the coming year?
  • Taking a more experimental approach; allowing yourself to make small changes that you can continually adapt and respond to, rather than pursuing a rigid five-year plan.
  • ‘Reframing failure as feedback’ and looking at what you’ve learned from the situation and what you can do next.
  • Reviewing your plans on a regular basis to make sure they still fit your current intentions.

What to do next:

Why not keep things simple and think about your coming year.

What are your priorities right now? Are there any non-negotiables for your next role? Is there anything that has previously been non-negotiable that you may now be open to?

Work through all of today’s questions in your own time and you’ll be ready for the career plan question…both from yourself and your future interviewers!

A reminder to bookmark, return to and share our News & Advice feed throughout January for more positive new year content. You can also connect with us via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn



The year of the pay rise!

How and when to ask for a pay rise this year…

If you’ve read any of our January posts so far, you’ll know that we’re dedicating this month to positive and supportive features to help you achieve your career plans.

You can catch up with our previous posts here:

  1. Our introduction to the series and why it’s so necessary
  2. The employee traits that could speed up your job search success
  3. Good news for beating the New Year blues and SAD

If achieving a pay rise is top of your new year plans, then this feature is for you!

Today’s story comes from Adzuna; as published by HR News. Adzuna has shared a four-step plan to help increase your chance of increasing your salary this year!

We’ll also share some tips from other experts on this subject.

Why January could be the best time to ask for a pay rise

The article states that the average 2019 salary actually reached its peak last January. Adzuna reports that salaries almost reached an average of £35,000 per annum during that period and for the only point that year.

For this reason, they suggest that this could be the month for you to get the process started. We’ll return to this topic in one of their steps below.

The four-step plan includes…

  1. Evaluating your performance
  2. Standing out from the crowd
  3. Careful timing
  4. Preparing for a ‘no’

Evaluating your performance:

  • Take the time to evaluate your achievements against your targets and responsibilities.
  • Select examples that clearly demonstrate business benefits.
  • Consider how your examples show that you’ve gone beyond your current role and have truly earned the possibility of a pay increase.

Standing out from the crowd:

  • Essentially, this involves finding ways to accept as many internal opportunities as you can – from training to projects – to show that you are more positive and proactive than your colleagues.
  • Also ensure to highlight your current soft skills and those you’re working on. Even if you’re not actively job searching, you can refer back to our post on these essential skills.

Careful timing:

  • Don’t think you have to wait for your next appraisal to open your salary conversations. Remember, January could be a prime time for such discussions.
  • However, you do want to make sure you’re ready to make a strong case. Aim to follow all of the above advice as thoroughly as you can before speaking to your manager or boss.

Preparing for a ‘no:’

  • As the article suggests, it’s vital to mentally prepare for your request to be rejected. And it doesn’t mean it’s personal if it is! The company may not be in the position to make any increases at this time, may have another date in mind, or may prefer to wait until they can offer pay rises to all team members.
  • Of course, there’s also the chance that your case isn’t quite strong enough right now. Seek out your manager or employer’s feedback.
  • You can always ask when an increase could be more realistic and/or whether there are any alternative rewards that could be negotiated at this time.

Some extra tips…

  • When considering your timing, don’t forget to review your situation so far. Are you new to the company and/or have you already received a pay rise within the past 12 months? One BBC expert recommends holding off if so.
  • Sometimes the biggest pay rises come from new employers. Resolution Foundation has found that employees who remained with their employer (in 2018) could predict a pay rise of ‘0.6% a year after inflation’. Conversely, those who make a job change can expect a typical rise of 4.5% in their first year following the switch – which is seven times the amount.
  • Focus on your productivity and inspire and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Resolution Foundation also found that it’s the times when Britain is performing productively that we receive the greatest pay rises!

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our jobs page so you can benchmark your salary against the latest openings. Regularly reading job descriptions can also help you better understand the skills and expertise that you’ll need to take you to that next salary level!