HOK Talent Solutions - How to Be a Standout HSE Job Candidate… for the right reasons

How to Be a Standout HSE Job Candidate…for the right reasons

The HSE job market is running hot in 2021, which means high calibre candidates have their pick of roles. An employee-led market presents many opportunities but it’s important to remember the Australian health and safety community is relatively tight, and building a successful career led by a strong professional reputation, is a long-term game. Experienced HSE professionals will remember a time when the job market wasn’t so bountiful. And what goes up, must come down, so when the job market cools off, good relationships and a solid reputation will be the keys to unlock future job opportunities.

How to get hiring managers and recruiters offside

Hiring managers and recruiters are important allies to help you build a long and successful career, so it’s important to treat them like partners – with manners and respect.

Some candidates get it wrong. Perhaps it’s because they are inexperienced don’t know how to manage professional relationships or perhaps it’s because they view these relationships as transactional (which is short-sighted for a career that will likely span 40 or more years).

One hiring manager in the health care sector says he’s been surprised by the level of indifference shown by some candidates.

“We had one candidate who ghosted us after the first interview – we just never heard back. Another candidate pulled out at offer stage because she didn’t consider how far she would have to travel for the job,” said the hiring manager.

Ghosting is becoming a more common practice in personal relationships, and it’s now seeping into the business world. Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League (a dating app) says ghosting is common in on-line dating platforms and is now being practiced in the job market.

“Among younger generations, ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response,” said Ms Bradford.

Dawn Fay, who is District President at US-based recruitment firm, Robert Half, says some candidates ghost recruiters to because they don’t want to disappoint them.

“Candidates are winding up with multiple offers, and you can’t accept them all,…Individuals just inherently don’t like conflict or disappointing people,” said Ms Fay.

Another Talent Acquisition Manager for a global FMCG company says her company has experienced ghosting.

“We’ve had ghosting, and it’s disappointing, not to mention risky behaviour. What candidates don’t realise is their name is in our database, and when you ghost us, it’s noted.”

The same goes for recruitment agencies, who won’t work with candidates again if they don’t behave as professionals during the recruitment process.

This leaves the door open for candidates who treat professional relationships with the same level of care as their personal relationships.

“Good candidates with strong values and strong personal awareness will be remembered and referred through our networks. We all talk and are happy to recommend great talent if we don’t have the right role,” said one Talent Acquisition Manager.

Of course, avoiding a difficult conversation is not the same as dealing with the situation – all it does is leave the other parties perplexed about what went wrong. In fact, the ability to have frank and sometimes challenging conversations is an important life and professional skill we all need, especially if we aspire to climbing to the top of our profession. On the flipside, poor communication and little consideration leaves a bad taste, which hinders future career prospects.

Poor communication practices are not exclusive to job seekers.  One poll on LinkedIn (with 2500 responses) indicated 93% of respondents had been ghosted by a recruiter or hiring manager. These poor communication practices must be stamped out by everyone.

How to play the career game and win

Some HSE professionals are a class act. They go straight to the top of the list when the best jobs with the best employers are on offer. So what’s in their secret sauce? How do they win over employers and recruiters to land the best jobs?

Here are our six top tips:

  1. Be responsive – if you receive a direct approach, respond. Even if it’s to say ‘thank you, but no thank you’. After all, you want to be remembered fondly next time.
  2. Be decisive – ask yourself whether it’s the right role, right salary, right location and right timing – if it’s not, don’t apply / enter into any conversations.
  3. Be transparent – be upfront with your recruiter or the hiring manager about whether you are considering other opportunities and how far along you are. It provides them a chance to move processes forward (if you’re the right candidate for the role).
  4. Be respectful –  hiring people is an investment of time, effort and money – from coordinating interview panels through to conducting medicals – don’t go through to the final stage if you know you’re unlikely to accept the offer.
  5. Be a good partner – value the partnership with the recruiter (whether agency or internal) and touch base with them frequently throughout the recruitment process.  They shouldn’t have to chase you.
  6. Be gracious – when you receive an employment offer, it is a gift, so accept it graciously. It shouldn’t be treated as an auction where you offer yourself as ‘hot property’ to the highest bidder.

Use these six tips to build a strong, mutually respectful and beneficial relationships with recruiters and employers and it will stand you in good stead throughout your career. Of course, we are here to support you as you transition through each stage of your HSE career. If you need career advice or a sounding board on how to handle a difficult conversation, get in touch.

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