Some Application Tips August 19, 2010Posted by Jeff Riley in : Graduate recruitment , trackback
I was invited to a presentation by the recruitment team of CHP Consulting an IT Consultancy. The summer period is when we get the chance to visit employers though this year it has felt like we haven’t really had a period where students have been away. In an afternoon ‘quick query’ session this week I saw nine students.
It must be pretty hard for smaller companies with just one or two people in HR to really raise the profile of their business with students and careers advisers. However, CPH can’t be doing too badly because they had 3000 applicants for 30 graduate vacancies last year. However, now they have an increasing need and they underlined that they know they are now in a more competitive recruitment market (“people out there are having money thrown at them to stop them leaving”) so they want to make sure that the channels to students, such as careers staff, know about them.
Like lots of companies they want ‘the best’ – good grades at ‘A’ level, 2.1 degree or better, good people skills plus a capacity for the kind of logical problem solving associated with people who can write computer code. I was talking to the graduate recruiter and asked her what she read first the CV or the covering letter? She said the CV because they really need to check that candidates have the right grades – ideally they want an a ‘A’ grade ‘A’ level in maths or a hard science. Also, of course, you will get sifted out straight away if your English or layout isn’t perfect. Remember they are eliminating 99% of applicants. Incidentally, one thing that struck me when we went in the room was how perfect it was – chilled bottles of water, tea, coffee, pens, paper, posh biscuits, a CHP branded bottle of Tabasco sauce plus air conditioning that worked. The kind of resources and effort that required shouldn’t be underestimated. The least you can do is not send in a CV with spelling mistakes.
They were concerned that their deliciously simple recruitment process - no assessment centre just a CV, telephone interview, HR interview and a final interview with the three founding Directors might make potential applicants think they weren’t a quality outfit. I was reminded about the time when Logica used to differentiate themselves back in the 90’s in just this way. I said I imagined it might make students think they were dealing with a human scale firm and not a mincing machine.
I gleaned a couple of other useful tips as well. Candidates whose grades aren’t up to scratch? Don’t necessarily give up but don’t waste your time sending in your CV hoping they may not notice. They have had applicants with grade E ‘A’ levels apply. What you can do is make sure you meet them at careers fairs and once they get a sense of you as a great candidate you might then still be invited for an interview. Though, frankly, with grade E’s you might need to be wearing a Batman outfit, or actually be Batman, to get their attention
Just as an aside the recruiter also said something I’d never heard any other recruiter say. When they turn down applicants they will always give some general guidance as to why. She floated the idea that if an applicant had the courage to phone them up and tell them why they should reconsider it might just persuade them to do that. Obviously get realistic about this – you can’t turn grade Ears into a silk purse. Also please don’t all do it – I might get my bottle of Tabasco sauce confiscated.
Read more about CHP at chp.co.uk/careers