Ask our recruiters: What do we look for in successful candidates?

man on video call job interview

Thinking of working with us? Here's what makes our recruitment team stand up and take notice when it comes to the right application.

When you’re applying for the right job, there’s more to it than simply dashing off a few applications, changing a word here or there, and hoping for the best. Creating a CV, cover letter and job application that’s going to land you in your next role certainly take time to create and perfect, requiring a balance of solid experience, transferrable soft skills and a dash of personality that’ll all combine to grab the recruiter’s attention.

Luckily, we asked a panel of SEFE Marketing & Trading recruiters for what they look out for when they receive applications, offering insights and advice on what success looks like when it comes to prospective candidates, and providing us with a further glimpse into the SEFE Marketing & Trading recruitment process.

team roundels

What are the first factors and qualities you look for when receiving an application?

Rachael Parrott, Resourcing Partner: “The basics! The very first factors we would look at when receiving an application is certainly the effort put into that application. Has it been flung over with little care and consideration or has the candidate taken the time to complete the application considering finer details, with an element of passion and effort for the role applied?

“We would also look at transferrable skills and how relevant they are to the role in question. Some of our roles require very niche skill sets, so depending on the role we would look for experience in these relevant specific aspects.”

man reading cover letter

First impressions are hugely important – how would you craft a CV and cover letter to grab a recruiter’s attention?

Mark Trueman, Resourcing Advisor: “A clear and concise format. Something that is easy to read! We receive a huge number of applications and there are days when we will read through 100s of CVs each per day!

“To ensure your CV stands out, don’t over complicate it! Make sure all the relevant information is there in a neat and tidy format, with accurate dates and those all-important career milestones you’re most proud of properly emphasised.

“Another absolute must is making sure you spend some time telling us what you enjoy outside of work. We’re interested in your work and previous experience obviously, but also what you’re like as a person. Tell us about your hobbies, what you love to do in your spare time and show us some personality.”

How important is the formatting of CVs in the applications that you receive?

Michael Kidd, Resourcing Partner: “In a word: very. This Word document or PDF is our very first impression of you and everything counts, even the presentation. Make sure you divide and define your sections clearly.

“Don’t waste space with irrelevant information or huge margins. Use clear headings and subheadings and please ensure that you detail your work experience by showing the most recent role first. Also, consider the role you are applying for – is it a creative marketing role, for instance? If so, demonstrate your creativity. Put the effort in to ensure your CV stands out.”

What would you say are the tell-tale signs of a poor application?

Dan Chyla, Resourcing Partner: “CVs which don’t highlight any transferrable skills relevant for the role in question, with generic cover notes attached, that aren’t specific to the application and sometimes even mention contact details for other companies or roles applied for. We can spot these a mile off, and it shows us that you’re maybe not as interested or passionate about the role you have applied for as we would want you to be.”

job interview

Would you expect a candidate to use an interview to demonstrate every skill detailed on their CV?

Mark: “That would probably be a very long interview. No, we wouldn’t expect a candidate to demonstrate every single skill they have detailed on their CV. However, we would like to see the most important skills for that specific role demonstrated.

“For example, if we know that the role you have applied for has a large scope for leadership, we would want to see high levels of emotional intelligence and leadership qualities demonstrated during the interview. We use a variety of validation and evaluation tools within our interview process which give candidates the opportunity to show off their skills and show us how good they are!

“If you’ve got the relevant experience in abundance, it should be easy for you to demonstrate it when we’re face to face.”

What do you feel is more important: experience or soft skills?

Ben Carney, Head of International Recruitment: “This would be hugely dependant on the role. Although we would never hire based on experience alone, some roles will have more focus around experience and hard skills than others.

“Consider a Developer, for instance. Sometimes, in this scenario, experience and skillset would trump soft skills, as many of our developers are required to have very precise and niche experience to be successful in their role with us. Such a skill set isn’t widely used across the European workforce or available in the employment market, and so stands that person in good stead.”

If you were to single out one thing above all else that candidates should do when applying for a role in a new business, what would it be?

Rachael: “Research that company! Make sure you have a good understanding of the ‘behind the scenes’ of the place you’re applying for. A lot of companies will have lots of information about “what it’s actually like to work here” on their LinkedIn page. This should give you a better understanding of the feel of the working environment and the people who currently work there! You can then make an informed decision on whether they share your values and whether you could see yourself settling in quite happily in that environment.”

successful job interview

Conversely, what would say is the one thing candidates should not do when applying?

Ben: “Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Please be authentic in your application. Don’t over-exaggerate your skills and just be honest.

“We know that, through in-depth research, as a collaborative workforce the people here at SEFE Marketing & Trading are honest, authentic and friendly. We admire these attributes and are proud to have a team which portray these values. Therefore, we want to build on this and ensure we find these qualities in our future talent. So please always be yourselves and show us exactly who you are!”

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The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of SEFE Marketing & Trading. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. SEFE Marketing & Trading accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.