We get it.. the interview process can be so long and taxing. As if information on your CV is not enough here is this recruiter asking you 101 questions on what’s written there and you haven't even get shortlisted! Well, welcome to us, the Progression recruiters. 

See, the whole point of that first phone screen is to establish everything else we should know beyond your CV and to find out what would be that ideal role for you. Because, sometimes, with what we know about you...we can change the search direction.

As one of the youngest recruiters on the team, I watched how other consultants change the search outcome and I have done a few unexpected hires myself too, as I learn from my colleagues. But we have  also come across candidates who are skeptical and unwilling to share their career highlights openly. We thought we’d share some reasons/situations why it is important for you, as a candidate, to share with us your experience, as thoughtfully as you can, because ultimately it will benefit you. 

Advice 1: Your achievements can set you apart from the next candidate. Once, we heard from a gem of a candidate that his major achievement is “initiating the installation of a fan in the corridor because the walkway really needed a fan!!”

I heard you chuckle. We chuckled too. But we immediately begin to peel the onion to understand what he would consider a pat on the shoulder, that will make him stand out.

As a Progression recruiter, we are drilled into our DNA to never to throw CVs to clients for the sake of it. We pride ourselves on being problem solvers for our clients (*cough* no, we aren’t being recruiter-elitist here). We’ve had candidates through the years tell us we are the most thorough bunch of people they’ve spoken to and that we function to the best of our ability to do the right thing by candidates and clients.

Which means…We need to find out what makes you, well, you. This is only because we are equally as thorough to our clients and based on the requirements we are given, we want to tell them what’s special about you – why you for them. And yes, perhaps initiating the fixture of a fan may not be the best example (still made for a few good chuckles between our candidate and ourselves though), but we did manage to get him to think deeper and present his strengths and accomplishments in a more impactful manner.

Advice 2: Suitability – It’s like having a match made in career heaven! 

We’ve had many applications for a Japanese-speaking role from people… who do not speak the language. Especially when the role is dedicated to a particular  region, speaking the language is often a non-negotiable key requirement.

What’s more, “being able to speak the language” means different things to different people. If the client is looking to hire a Japanese marketing manager who needs to draft PR articles as well, ideally the candidate has done that and able to show some of these past articles too.  As a recruiter, it is hard to tell the difference on a CV, since we have come across Singaporeans, Koreans, even Americans who can speak, read and write Japanese, at least on paper. Hence we have to deep dive to make sure the language competency allows for that kind of “deliverables”.

Even the right ‘set of skills’ may not be the best fit for companies due to client’s long term plans for that role and the culture fit their long-term plans for the role or what they want their focus and KPIs to be. What may be unsuitable for one client may be a gem to another. And that’s why even though what you have on your CV is important, establishing if it’s a good fit for our client’s key requirements is also just as important for you in the long run.

Which brings me to my 3rd point…

Advice 3: Having the power to change a client’s core requirements

We represented a major ISP in Singapore that was looking for a marketeer. Our task, as recruiters, was to give them the best shortlist of marketeers ideally from the same space, right? 

We eventually placed someone (yay!) BUT she wasn’t from the same space and did not have the experience they wanted – she was a  B2B marketeer and our client was looking for someone with B2C experience). Heck, she wasn’t even from the telco space.

The catch? She was the most driven candidate they had seen, had the right attitude, was hardworking, and had proven track records from the space she was from – the manufacturing industry. As much as she didn’t have ISP expertise, her drive and resourcefulness with presentations and homework won them over. She did not just go for interviews and articulate her interest to move to a B2C role, but she was ready with presentation slides on what she can value-add, how she sees the department and company moving forward and how she can contribute to that goal. It is her enthusiasm, her drive, and her consistent track record that got her the role. 

The only reason she got past our first phone call interview was how we discovered, layer by layer, her USP (link). What can she offer that the rest couldn’t? What and how can she potentially value-add to the role, and most importantly, what was her thought process and her execution style on her existing role? It was also crucial to understand if what she wanted in the long-term matched our client’s goal for the role. 

We asked, we made that connection, presented her and Ta da!, the rest is history. Happy client, happy candidate!


In order for us to ‘break the rules‘ and give your profile a shot even if at first glance it may not be the best fit, we need to ask the difficult questions. We need to spend the time to uncover your ‘plus point’ – which takes more than just a 10 minutes touch-and-go call.  

Advice 4: Building long-term relationships. We are not here to only make a placement!

Placements are good (who are we kidding), for us, our candidates and our clients. But in the business of (professional) human relationships, long-term relationships do come back to all of us like a good boomerang.

We’ve revisited countless candidates who weren’t  suitable for a previous role, but is a perfect fit for a client we have now, sometimes a year from the last time we profiled them. We’ve also had countless candidates refer us to other candidates (shoutout to everyone who is always suspicious of anonymous referrals, YES we do get a lot of referrals from candidates who want to pass on good will and prefers to be nameless!). 

A good bulk of our clients have stuck with us through the years, which is very rewarding, just like how long-term relationships with candidates have proven to be fulfilling, too.

See, a 1st phone call interview with your recruiter is a chance for both candidate and recruiter to dive below the surface, start a long term relationship and hopefully leading you to a better opportunity down the road. We invest that extra time and effort to find out more, so we appreciate if you do that too. Because we want things to work out now or later, for you.

 
Written by: Yasmeen Banu