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Job Search Strategy

This is post #3 and today’s topic is on some commonly asked questions related to job searching!

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed reading advice columns and I follow a few that are focused on workplace issues, such as Ask a Manager and The New York TimesWork Friend.” I thought it would be an interesting format to respond to a couple of questions I received recently after hosting a webinar on “Reengineer your resume to get the job you want.” We had a super engaged group on the webinar who asked many questions. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to answer them all, so here is my attempt to address a few of them, in a series of three short posts. This is the third post!

What annoys HR and recruiters most? – S.H.

Unqualified candidates that apply for every single open job that the company has posted! This is just spamming! Candidates don’t realize that most recruitment systems show the recruiter every single job that you apply to. This makes it obvious that you are just using a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” strategy for your job search. This is a waste of everyone’s time – including yours!

How would you suggest to approach a top headhunter via LinkedIn after they accepted your request of connection? Shall we wait for them to approach us? – A.C.

There’s no reason to be nervous about reaching out to a headhunter on LinkedIn. Headhunters (out of all of the people on LinkedIn) are the most likely to be open to new connections, particularly if you are from the industry they focus on. Their bread and butter is their network, so go ahead and connect with them. Definitely don’t wait for them to approach you! They probably receive dozens of connection requests every day, so it’s easy for them to fall behind on their new connection requests. Candidates who take the initiative to send a follow-up message to them will have a better shot at getting noticed.

If they’ve already accepted your request and you’d like to speak with them or meet them face-to-face, it’s best to make your introduction targeted. You can say something like, “I notice you recruit for Technology companies. I am a CIO with 10 years of experience in Hong Kong and I’m looking for a change. Can I buy you a coffee to discuss this opportunity further?” Or “I noticed your job posting for a Marketing Manager position. I have 5 years of experience in this field and would like to speak with you in detail about this opportunity. Can we please schedule a brief call?” 

Any recommendation on how to find headhunters adapted to our job search? -C.M.

This is such a great question. Candidates can waste so much time by interacting with headhunters who are poorly trained and not experts in their field. There are ways to avoid this!

First, ask your friends and network for recommendations. If you are in a position where you can do so, (such as an impending redundancy or a transparent relationship) you can also ask your boss or coworkers. Usually, your industry peers will have some good recommendations for you – either because they worked with a headhunter for their own job search, or because they used a specific headhunter when they were hiring for their own teams. Just as important – make sure you ask them which headhunters NOT to use! There are so many unethical and unqualified headhunters out there that I’m sure they will have some horror stories to share. Many of my clients have complained of headhunters posting fake jobs just to capture their resumes and try to probe them for market information.

FindRecruiter is another resource to find a great recruiter. FindRecruiter is an easy to use platform that includes recruiters from all industries in Hong Kong. You can search by “Job title,” “Job function” and “Preferred Industry.” It will give you a list of recruiters who are a good match for you to connect with. This is the only platform of its kind in HK and cuts out some of the noise of finding a good recruiter to partner with. Check it out!

In the initial application stage, when the employer asks for desired salary, should you be honest? – J.K.

Ah, the dreaded salary question! I think I get asked this question more than any other. Of course, you should always be HONEST when answering a question about your salary. Never lie or inflate your previous or current salary. That can lead to lots of problems further along in the recruitment process.

However, many candidates are worried about giving away too much information too early in the recruitment process. Revealing too much information too early can erode your negotiating position. I completely sympathize with this! If you are asked to fill in your salary details on an online application (before you even know if a company will invite you in for an interview), I would try to input some generic information such as “to be discussed” or “negotiable.” If the application requires a numeric input, you can try something like “0001” and see if the system will accept it. To be honest, very few recruiters look at this input anyway! They usually verify your salary details when they speak with you directly.

If a recruiter insists on obtaining your salary information upfront, your best option is to give them a range. This is a win-win approach. The recruiter will know right away if you fit within the range for the role and you’ve not revealed a specific number. You’ve also gained valuable information – that you fit within the salary range and there won’t be any surprises later on.

More specific conversations about salary should happen at a later stage in the recruitment process, once mutual interest has been established.   

If you’re stuck in your job search and need some guidance, check out this clip from our webinar “Reengineer your resume to get the job you want.”

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