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Building a real network for your job search

Last week I was able to represent Liftstream at the AstraZeneca’s Career Fair, aimed at helping people impacted by the closure of their Sodertalje site in Sweden. It was revealing to hear how so few people truly understood how to work with recruitment companies and get the best out of them. Maybe this was because they previously had little reason to interact with recruitment companies, and recruitment has certainly changed a good deal in recent years. One of the big changes is the emergence of Social Media in recruitment and a lot of people were keen to know how they should coordinate the two.

One of the more obvious things to acknowledge is that all recruitment companies work differently . They all have relative strengths which orient around industry, function, location, seniority, or some combination of all. Within Life Sciences recruitment there are primarily two distinct service models; Executive Search (headhunting) and Contingency (Agency) Recruitment. Executive Search Companies tend to operate at a more senior level or search for people in difficult to recruit roles or skill areas. This is usually a much more considered process, as these companies act as an exclusive extension of the ultimate employer. With contingency recruiters, you are getting a more volume based approach, with less rigour in the process but still plenty of ability to connect with opportunities. Generally, they operate and perform better at the lower to mid-level of the market.

Recruitment Company Selection

First of all, please resist the temptation to distribute your CV everywhere, thinking you need to get wide distribution in order to achieve market penetration! Controlling your CV is key, if you work with lots of recruiters then you will find this difficult, if not impossible. Generally, if you work with 3-4 recruitment companies then you will find that you will have the market covered and this gives you the ability manage your activities . On this note, we would also advise against posting your CV onto job boards as you have even less control on the destination of your CV and duplication of activities which can be prohibitive.

Identify recruitment consultancies that specialise within your area. If it is a contingency company, then you will be able to see their speciality from the jobs they advertise on job boards or their website. This is not quite as obvious with Executive Search firms as they only tend to advertise a small selection of the roles they are working on, if at all – so speak to them! Check with your colleagues for personal recommendations.

Choose a company/consultant that is interested in you and not just your CV. Make sure the consultant takes the time and effort to get to know you and your needs before sending your CV. We would initially expect to spend at least 20 minutes with a candidate to get some idea of their experience, personality and motivations before asking them to send in their CV. This way the consultant can then ensure that he can find suitable roles in a company whose corporate culture is in tune with your own outlook. This is extremely difficult to get right over the phone and so ideally a meeting should be arranged face to face. Recruitment is as much about making sure people are suited to the company culture as the role and responsibilities they will assume. If a consultant is not willing to invest their time to meet you, then how well can they truly assess this aspect. Equally, ask questions and discover how well they know their clients, this often very revealing. The better the knowledge, the better they can represent you and ensure you are well suited to the needs of their clients.

Once you have selected your recruitment partners then you should agree a plan of action. This will vary from company to company but ensure that your permission is gained before your CV is sent out to any client. The partnership approach is 2-way and whilst recruiters will keep you informed of the progress of the roles they are working on, you too need to keep them informed of your actions. Well coordinated activities, minimal duplication of activities and working in partnership is the most effective way to find your next role in a company where you can continue to develop professionally.

The role of social media in recruitment

Important – keep your business and social profiles separate! If you have a social media presence you become extremely visible online to recruiters and potential employers. Clients can/will check out your Facebook and Twitter profiles, so please ensure that you maintain a professional outlook. Many people we spoke to in Sodertalje are turning to Linkedin as a means of marketing themselves and whilst this is an excellent way of publicising your profile, you should follow a few guidelines to maximise your exposure.

1. Post a professional photo. If your intention is to use your social media profile for promoting yourself professionally, then make sure you portray yourself as such.

2. Give a full but succinct synopsis of your career. Do not provide too much information as the purpose of your profile is to encourage employers and recruiters to approach you and enter into a discussion.

3. Make sure you use the skills tagging facility to ensure you are getting yourself into broader searches.

4. Be strategic in making connections. Look for key areas where you think contacts and connections can help you. Be aware of who your contacts are connecting to, they might be able to help.

5. LinkedIn has many groups that focus on specialist skills and knowledge. Use your knowledge to comment on others’ discussions, it will gain you recognition and credibility if your comments are professional.

6. Connecting is not enough – make sure you follow up with connections to be more proactive. Simply connecting is like swapping business cards and never acting on it. Work your contacts online, the way you would offline. Try to meet with people.

7. Follow companies. You can follow specific companies and everything they say and do on LinkedIn you will then know about. This is a great way to maximise your knowledge of a prospective employer.

8. Maximise your exposure in a sensible and professional way. Connect with people you know, or who you believe are professional and can assist your aims. Overactive people can devalue their relevance to their connections, so be careful.

Overall, work carefully to manage and coordinate your recruitment search. Look for people you think you can work with, who will represent you professionally and who offer you good advice. The right partners will help you execute a successful job search and find a career opportunity.

Try it by following Liftstream now

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