Travel Industry recruitment expert Philippa Baker explains exactly how she and other recruiters can help candidates stand out in a crowded market.
Having run her own recruitment business for more than 10 years, Philippa Baker knows her stuff. With a keen eye for talent and the ability to match the perfect candidate to an organisation’s strategic needs, she has everyone’s best interest at heart. Over the past year, she has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help candidates create their resumes and cover letters, and has coached them for interview success. She is an absolute gem and we are so lucky to be able to pick her brains.
Having recruited predominantly in the travel industry, Philippa has recruited across a variety of roles including contact centre, business development, marketing, finance, administration, management and HR.
She explains that a good recruiter has a pool of clients that they recruit exclusively for, which means they build really strong rapport with them and know exactly what they are looking for in a new recruit. She really understands her clients needs, the culture of their business, and she can really set you up for interview success by helping you tweak things on your resume and cover letter to tick the boxes she knows need to be ticked.
Recruiters can get a bit of a bad rap sometimes, however she firmly believes that if you get a good one they can really set you up to be the strongest candidate by working with you prior to and during the interview process. We agree that a great recruiter like Philippa will have everybody’s best interests at heart and work with integrity to get the best outcome for both parties.
When asked about what floats her boat when looking at resumes, Philippa’s biggest top tip is not to necessarily rewrite each resume for different roles, but definitely to tweak them. If there is a specific skill set that an employer is looking for, you need to hone in on that in your resume and highlight it as a skill.
She loves a resume that is clean and concise and thinks that with professional formatting you should be able to get a substantial amount of information into two, or three pages at a push.
Philippa loves to see your achievements and accomplishments and believes that for all recruiters and employers, they are just as important for Philippa as the job you have done and the skills you have.
One of her biggest turnoffs are ‘cut and pastes’ of the job advert or position description. She reminds us that as she has written the ad, rereading her own work is blatantly obvious and a huge no-no.
She insists that you need to proofread your resume. I mean, tech can do that for you, so there is no excuse for obvious spelling and grammar mistakes.
Endless lists can drive recruiters mad, and the classic example of long lists of skills on a resume can all turn into a blur. Philippa suggests that instead of listing your skills such as ‘great customer service’, ‘understanding how contact centres work’, ‘good communication skills’, ‘product knowledge’, ‘I am resourceful’ and so on, you can write it instead in a short paragraph such as this one which would be perfect if you were applying for a role in a contact centre:
“In my current role I am the first point of contact for clients. I use my communication skills to qualify their needs, my product knowledge and resourcefulness to provide expert advice, my admin skills to facilitate their booking, and my customer service skills to deliver a positive experience resulting in a sale”.
In that short paragraph, you have outlined 5 skills, shown how you action them, and illustrated that you use them every day. Much more powerful that a heap of bullet points.
If you want to write an awesome resume that includes all of Philippa’s suggestions, you can go to resume.recruitablehub.com and get started immediately.
In a recent role Philippa had advertised for, she states that 70% of candidates hadn’t written a cover letter. Of the 30% that had, about half had submitted a generic cover letter than she knew hadn’t been tailored for her role, so just by submitting a tweaked cover letter, you can put yourself into the top 15% of candidates.
Again, Philippa insists that while you don’t have to rewrite a different cover letter every time you apply for a different role, you do need to tailor them for the job and the company you are applying to. Generic cover letters, in particular those that start with ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ don’t make it to the top of the pile. Philippa is adamant that you should be resourceful enough to find the name of the person on the ad or call the company to find out the name of the hiring manager and who to address your letter to.
Another top tip is always to mention your availability. If an employer has mentioned specific hours or shifts for a job, you should always mention that you are available to cover those times, and also that you are available and flexible to interview whenever is convenient for the recruiter.
Most recruiters are not interested in reading any more than one page, definitely no more! She just want 3 concise paragraphs; an introduction, a paragraph telling me what the candidate understands about the role and why they would be good at it, and a signoff which outlining their availability and keenness to be considered for an interview at any time.
Lastly, she loves a bit of humour! Something that makes a recruiter smile will ensure you are remembered. Cover letters should be written to a human, not crafted to get through an automated cover letter reader looking for key words.
Philippa says not to be disheartened with the knowledge that not everyone will read your cover letter. For example, if a recruiter has 200 applicants and is only sending 10 through to interview, the employer might only read 10 resumes and not all 10 cover letters also. So, if there is something really important in your cover letter, make sure it is included in your resume also. They need to be stand alone documents.
If you want to write an engaging and concise Cover Letter that includes all of Philippa’s suggestions, you can go to resume.recruitablehub.com and get started immediately.
It is amazing how many people spend lots of time writing and tailoring the perfect resume and cover letter, and then forget that they also need to be prepared for a call back!
Screening calls can make or break whether you go through to the interview stage, and as Philippa rightly states, the first few seconds of a screening call is your first and last chance to make the right first impression to take you through to the next stage.
Philippa’s top tip for screening calls is preparation, preparation, preparation! For any role you apply for, store the job ad somewhere you can access it quickly when the phone rings. One of her real turnoffs is when people can’t remember which role they have applied for.
When a candidate answers the phone and says something along the lines of “Sorry – which role was that? I’ve applied for so many I can’t remember” it tells the recruiter instantly that they aren’t that keen on it.
You need to be across every role you apply for. Recruiters want to hear you say “OMG I LOVED that role – I am so glad you have called me! I have had a look at the company and it looks fabulous and I just know I am really aligned to this role with my skill set”. This sort of enthusiasm gets you across the line every time.
Having done some research is another huge turn-on for recruiters, and asking about the next steps is a winning combination. Philippa loves it when people give her buying signals asking about the next step in the process and reiterating that they are keen to land an interview, and hopefully the role.
Having years of experience both conducting interviews and preparing candidates for them, Philippa knows a thing or two about how to knock an employers’ socks off.
Her top tip is to be prepared. It is guaranteed that if you are prepared everything will be okay. Research the company, and go back through the job description and advert and ensure you understand the role in depth and can link how your skills align with it.
It is really important to have your resume professionally written (through RecruitableHub of course!) so you make the best of a piece of paper, but it is just as important to make sure you can articulate what is in it. Make sure you learn your own resume. Know it inside and out. Understand your own skills and be able to articulate them in person.
Know that HR will often dig during an interview to find out if there has been any past conflict for you in the workplace. If you are asked a question about your boss and you reply that they were terrible and you hated working for them, it won’t necessarily come across that your boss was the problem; more likely that you were!
Make sure you are prepared to overcome objections. For example, if they mention that you don’t have any experience doing something in particular or working on a particular system, you need to be able to articulate why you feel you can do the job regardless. Perhaps you are a very fast learner. Maybe you are ready for a new challenge and desperate to learn something new in your field. However you overcome it, make sure that you don’t leave any gaps in your resume left unexplored.
Philippa believes that relevant information from previous roles is really impressive. Being a ‘number lover’, she hates seeing ‘various’ and ‘etc’ or other vague terms when there should be something specific. In the instance of you going for a sales role, you need to be able to tell a recruiter or employer that you were doing 120% of your target over 3 consecutive months, and that you had a 40% increase in sales year on year. You should be able to tell an employer the turnover and important statistics regarding the companies and products you have sold. Have your numbers ready!
Philippa is on a mission to ensure all candidates are in the right frame of mind when looking for work. She believes that one of the most important things to get right is your attitude.
In the travel industry, which has been battered by COVID, you need show that you are still in a positive frame of mind, which in her opinion comes down to simply changing your mindset. If you are coming into an interview thinking you are terrible at this and you failed in the past and want to know what to do, Philippa’s best advice is ‘change your mindset and give yourself a good talking to.
It doesn’t matter if you have done a panel interview in the past and it didn’t go well. At least this time you know what to expect! If you have done your research on the company, you totally understand the role you are going for, you understand your skillset and can articulate it in person, what the worst that can happen? If you don’t perform well on the day, and don’t get that job, the world isn’t going to end, your family won’t starve. You need to remain positive throughout the entire job hunting process.
She believes that the candidates that see an interview as a learning experience, and go in with a positive attitude, are more likely to land the job. People talk about needing to be confident, but at the end of the day, confidence comes from your mindset. Get that right, and the confidence you need to interview well will follow.
It is important to treat the interview as a conversation. Prepare some intelligent questions prior to the interview that you want to ask about the role. For example,you can ask about the leader or the manager you will be reporting to, or find out how progressive the team is. Ask about the team you will be joining – how big is it and what is their experience?
If you freeze at the end and can’t remember any of the questions you have prepared, you can either just say ‘Actually, I am sure you have covered everything, thank you’ or just ask about the next steps which is a really positive way to end an interview. You can ask for the likely start date of the role, ask when you might hear from them about the next round of interviews if you are successful, mention that even if you aren’t successful that you would love it if they could keep your details on file for a future role that would be a good fit. Anything that makes you seem passionate about being successful.
Stand Out Story
Philippa has so many unforgettable standout candidates over so many years of recruiting.
However, a recent candidate from the travel industry who was going for a role in cruising really stands out in her recent memory. The cruising sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors by COVID with a lot of people now feeling quite broken.
This particular candidate had been furloughed when the planes were grounded, then made redundant, and when Philippa asked what she had been doing with herself, she answered “I’ve been so productive! I’ve lost 9kgs and I have been to the gym every day. I have done everything that I wanted to do but never had time for. I know it has been a tough time for a lot of people, but I have honestly never felt better. I am so ready for a new challenge, and I absolutely love cruising, so I know I am going to kill it’. Philippa just knew she was going to get the role, and she did.
This was proof of how effective mindset is, how simple it is to manage your attitude and make the most of your time.
We all believe at RecruitableHub that having a positive mindset is the easiest way to stand out. Back yourself and get excited, and you are much more likely to land the role. Make sure your resume is concise, and that it focuses on your unique skillset and highlights your achievements. Tailor your cover letters using the RecruitableHub cover letter writer to ensure you keep it short, sharp and relevant. Research the company and the roles you are applying for, and be prepared to make a positive first impression during a screening call. Try and enjoy the interview process, even if you don’t get the job and it is a learning experience.
The more positive and enthusiastic you can remain, the more likely you are to land an awesome role as quickly as possible.