Jobs and Careers Autumn 2017 - 22
ith a 30-year
James Caan CBE
knows a thing or
two about the job market and how
to bag yourself that dream job.
He started his career working in
a recruitment company, having left
school at 16 with no qualifications.
He soon realised he wanted to do it
better and launched his first company,
Alexander Mann, in the 1980s, which
he successfully grew into a business
with a £130m turnover and 30 offices
worldwide. Now he is founder and
CEO of investment company Hamilton
Bradshaw and supports, invests and
advises recruitment entrepreneurs.
FINDING A JOB
What would be your
first piece of advice to
graduates who are trying
to choose a career path?
For new graduates, the market
for opportunities is quite
challenging as a lot of the big
employers - big banks, accounting
firms and so on - are revising their
intake for this year owing to the
uncertainty of Brexit. Through my
recruitment businesses, I'm hearing
that the number of opportunities has
fallen considerably - so graduates
need to widen their search and look at
You've worked in
recruitment since you
started as a consultant
in your teens. What is the one
thing that makes a candidate
stand out from the crowd?
You should be aware that your
application will be one of
many - in some cases
thousands - so you need to be sure it
stands out. That doesn't mean pages of
text - keep it short, precise and to the
point. The key word is "engaging".
Your content will be almost identical
to everyone else in terms of education,
work history and so on. Think about
what will make you stand out - your
extra activities, your passion for the
sector or for the company, for example.
Are traditional CVs still
valid, or should we all be
using video and visuals to
make our applications stand out?
I think it depends on the
organisation you're applying
to. If it's appropriate and
there's the facility to add photographs
or video, that is becoming the new
norm. Video is without a doubt the
fastest growing medium. If the facility
is there, then by all means go for it.
Do you think
covering letters are
still worth doing?
The covering letter allows
you to demonstrate your
personality, your passion,
your interest in the opportunity
and the depth of research you've
done on the potential employer.
Without doubt, this is the most
important part of the application.
How does the size of
the company affect
a job application?
Smaller companies look for
people who are more rounded,
but in larger companies the
search is for people with specific skill
sets. You need to be versatile and able
to multitask in smaller businesses and
be more adaptable and flexible.
It's really important that you know
what the company you are applying
to is looking for because it's not going
to be the same as working in a big
insurance company or bank, when
your daily activity would be narrow.
The bigger the company, the more
narrow the functions become.
What is the single
most important thing
you should do when
preparing for a job interview?
The first question I'll ask in
interview is "What do you
know about the organisation?"
If you just quote the company website,
I won't be impressed. If you haven't
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