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Careers clinic: 10 pointers to get you noticed by a recruitment company’s resident careers guru Liam Horan interviews a recruitment company boss to find out how YOU can get your CV to the top of the pile.

DEALING WITH RECRUITMENT companies is a crucial element of the job-searching process. To give you top advice on this front, our resident careers guru Liam Horan asked recruitment and career management expert Peter Cosgrove, Director of CPL Recruitment, to give us 10 top tips that you should bear in mind.

1. Apply for a job – not to a website. Find advertised jobs, and apply to those, rather than just sending your CV in speculatively to a recruitment company. That way, your application goes to a real person who is looking for applications for that job. This way, a proper match may take place. If you just send the CV in speculatively to the recruitment company, without any job specified, chances are it will not be a priority.

2. After you’ve applied, make a follow-up phonecall to the recruiters to ensure they have received it. This way, you are speaking to the very person who is looking at your application. If you’re a salesperson, you are now talking to someone who is recruiting for sales. That recruiter is incentivised to find good salespeople, so a courteous – and brief, it must be brief – call will do you no harm.

3. Set up job alerts on the various job sites. Don’t expect the recruiters to think about you when another job comes up – by setting the job alerts, you keep abreast of what is being advertised. You can tweak your CV, if necessary, and apply for that job. The onus is on you to stay on top of what suitable jobs are coming up.

4. I can’t believe I’ve got to No.4 without mentioning my old hobby horse – make sure your CV is right. I am still amazed by the number of poor CVs we received. Poor spelling and grammar, dismal layout, too long, and no effort to truly highlight the candidate’s ability – we see far more bad CVs than good ones. Invest in your CV.

5. Treat a meeting with the recruitment company as you would an interview. Recruiters remember people. Make sure they remember you for your neat dress, professional attitude, and general enthusiasm – not the half-hour delay when you turned up late for the meeting, the smell of cigarettes, or the phone call you insisted on taking during the meeting.

6. When dealing with recruitment companies, be very clear about what you want to do. Recruiters are not career counsellors. Saying “I’d like a change” will not cut it with recruiters. You need to tell them where you’d like to work, and see if they can get you in there.

7. There is no conspiracy theory – the recruiter is not out to get you. The recruiter only gets commission if they place candidates in the role. If you’re a good candidate, they will put you forward. The recruiter is incentivised to find the best candidate, and no recruiter is going to overlook somebody on a whim and then run the risk of suffering the disappointment of that same candidate being placed in the job by a rival recruitment company. So if a recruiter doesn’t put you forward for the job, there is always a reason why. You may not have shown the enthusiasm. You may not have the skills. There may be an abundance of better candidates in the race.

8. Don’t just bang in your CV because it’s easy to do so. Only apply for jobs for which you are a good fit. If you are not a good fit, try a different approach.

9. Understand that recruiters are under pressure too. They must place people to make their commission. Over 60 per cent of recruiters lost their jobs in the last two years – so the industry is going through a tough time. Be nice to recruiters: trust me, they will remember you for it.

10. Did I mention getting the CV sorted?

Liam Horan runs, a career training company providing CV preparation, interview training, mock interview, and psychometric testing services. He will be contributing a regular column dealing with career issues. If you have any topics of questions you’d like him to deal with, email him on

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