Getting The Best Out Of Working With Recruiters


You’ve started your job search and you’re positive about your next steps. You’re the perfect match for a number of roles and can deliver on many, if not all, of the requirements on the job descriptions. You apply for several positions, eagerly anticipating calls from recruiters to arrange interviews and…


Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common complaints about the job search process we hear from our members.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Here are some ideas:

To start, make sure you’ve checked your CV

  • Recruiters spend a matter of seconds glancing at CVs. Make yours easy to read and tie back your experience directly to the role requirements.
  • For some tips on how to improve yours, see our model CV

Be clear about what you want

  • Many candidates apply for a range of roles hoping that this will increase the likelihood of them securing one. To an extent this is true, however you can overdo it. If you’re applying for roles across loosely connected areas, for example Strategy, Management, Operations and Risk, not only will your job search require a tremendous amount more effort, but you will come across as less credible when explaining this to consultants.
  • So be clear about how you can best use your skills and what positions you’d enjoy. Speak to us about our career coaching services.

Don’t forget the recruiter

  • It might seem like the hiring manager is the person you need to impress and the application process is a check-box on the way, but don’t forget the agent advertising the role. They are pre-screening you for the hiring manager. Most will expect to meet you before they send your CV to a client, so be proactive and contact them to book a meeting. If the name of the agent isn’t listed, call their office and ask their colleagues to put you in touch.
  • Meet them in person or via Zoom, but get to know them face to face. Think of it as good interview practice and the opportunity to build a relationship and apply some positive influence.
  • Understand the areas and clients they cover. Do they focus on select roles at a large number of clients, or recruit for a whole department at just one firm? Understand this and you’ll know how to direct the conversation. It will help you be more efficient in your search too – are you applying to roles via enough different recruiters?

Now you have the attention of the consultant, here’s what to focus on:

Share some information

  • Recruiters are brokers. They add value to their clients by knowing who’s who in the job market and having up-to-date information on how it’s moving. If you share information with them, you’ll be invaluable.
  • For bonus points, offer to introduce recruiters to people in your network. Although we advise doing this once you’ve established a proper relationship and your network will get value from the contact.
  • As always, be careful not to share any company or personal confidential information.

Follow up regularly

  • The volume of roles handled by agencies can be high. Even at the senior end, consultants are having dozens of conversations a week. You will naturally fall off their radar quickly.
  • By checking in often you’ll be front of their mind and might happen to get an early lead on a new role.

But not too regularly

  • Give them some space. They have a job to do and you don’t want to appear desperate.

Be flexible

  • Sometimes an agent needs to show hiring managers some candidate options quickly. Even if a role looks too junior for you, consider sending your CV if a recruiter calls you about it. You’re doing the agent a favour and if nothing else, will benefit from interview practice and the chance to expand your network. And if things go well, don’t forget, firms often change the scope of a role or create an entirely new one to bring in a candidate they like.

Finally, don’t forget the basics

  • Whilst the job search process can be frustrating and the apparent lack of explanation sometimes maddening, don’t forget the small things:
    • Be courteous, even if you’re having a bad day.
    • Be responsive. Get back to emails and calls about new roles, even if they’re not suitable for you and communicate any updates in your situation so the agent can update your status on their system.
    • Be punctual for calls and interviews.
    • In short, make it easy for consultants to deal with you!

Whether you’re at the beginning of your search or have already put in the hours applying for new roles, hopefully you’ll find something in this post which you can use to your benefit. Get in touch to let us know how they’ve worked for you or to recommend your top tips.

At Careers Springboard we regularly run webinars on CV writing and networking, previous presentations can be found in the members section of the website. Find upcoming webinars in the events section. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook where we share useful job search content.

Guest post by Jonathan Hartley – Jonathan has experience in Executive Search and is part of the volunteer CV review team at Careers Springboard.

How To Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

applicant tracking systems

In today’s digital world companies can source candidates via job websites, recruiters, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. All these sources increase their chances of reaching the right candidate, but results in many more applications to sift through. Applicant tracking systems can help to filter out the best candidates for the job.

What are applicant tracking systems?

Applicant tracking systems or ATS is software which scans through every CV which has been submitted. The CV’s are matched to pre-defined criteria for example keywords, or qualifications. It will filter and order CV’s putting the most suitable candidates to the top, based on the criteria. This speeds up the hiring process.

99% of fortune 500 companies use ATS tracking systems. No particular ATS dominates the Fortune 500 market.

The systems can also store the data so that a recruiter can search for candidates by keyword, qualification etc. This means that whilst you may not be successful in securing an interview initially you may be contacted about a different role in the future.

Does that mean a recruiting manager never sees my CV?

If your CV is shortlisted by the Applicant Tracking System it will then be reviewed by the recruiting manager. So as long as you’ve tailored your CV for the role that you’re applying for and you meet the criteria you shouldn’t need to worry about the ATS filtering you out.

Should I pay to get my CV reviewed?

As a Careers Springboard member you can use our free CV review service to help you tailor your CV. This is a two-way process where you will be guided and advised. The CV review team don’t re-write your CV for you. Based on their guidance and support you make the changes you wish to.

Jobscan has a great online tool which you can use for free. It takes into account common ATS patterns and things recruiters look for. You can upload your CV and add a job description, or choose from sample jobs. It gives you tips for optimising your CV, covering everything from titles, skills, qualifications, formatting, buzzwords to word count.

With CV library your CV will be reviewed by a professional consultant, who will firstly rate your CV’s effectiveness out of 100. They suggest points  to improve, providing pointers on content, layout and style. You can choose whether to pay for additional advice or just work on your CV from the advice they’ve given.

If you are going to pay to use a professional CV writer we would recommend that you are fully engaged in the process. A CV that is too obviously the work of someone else can be counter-productive. Everyone is different and has their own unique combination of strengths, knowledge, values and skills. A CV constructed from an impersonal template can eliminate your key features.


Top tips for beating Applicant Tracking Systems

Here are some top tips to remember. You can find more advice in the members section of our website.


  • Research the company as well as the role you’re applying for
  • Review the job description highlighting keywords
    • job titles
    • hard skills – typically learned through education or work experience, such as ability to use specific software, tools, or specialized processes.
    • soft skills – for example ‘team player.’ Recruiters are less likely to search for these. They are weighted less in the match rate, so prioritise hard skills.
    • other keywords – industry lingo, company specific jargon. These are rated less in the match rate.


  • Prioritise the keywords that appear the most in the job description. Include these within your CV in a natural way if they are applicable to you. Don’t lie!
  • Job title – make sure your job titles in your CV match where you’ve done that role previously. Some companies use creative names like Director of first impressions. It’s better to change this in your CV to a more common name e.g. Director of Customer Service. Then, if a recruiter searches the ATS by job title you won’t be missed.
  • Include measurable results in your achievements to show the impact that you’ve made within your roles.


  • Use common section headings in your CV so that the ATS can find the relevant content. We have a recommended CV template in the members section of our website.
  • Limit your CV to 2 pages, approximately 1000 words. This increases the focus and ease of reading for recruiters.
  • ATS and recruiters prefer specific date formatting for your work experience.
    Please use the following formats: “MM / YY or MM / YYYY or Month YYYY” (e.g. 03/19, 03/2019, Mar 2019 or March 2019).
  • Include the full name of your qualifications.
  • Don’t use images, keep the format simple.
  • Use bullet points.
  • Check spelling.
  • Use a standard page size.
  • docx and pdf file types work better than others.

Can I avoid the applicant tracking system?

We always encourage jobseekers to use their networks as a key part of their job search. Many job roles are not advertised. The company may want to:

  • reduce advertising costs.
  • keep hiring decisions quiet
  • source candidates through employee referrals. Employees understand the needs of the job. Some organisations offer a bonus to employees who recommend applicants who are hired.

By using your networks you can sometimes avoid your CV needing to go through an applicant tracking system.

At Careers Springboard we regularly run webinars on CV writing and networking, previous presentations can be found in the members section of the website. Find upcoming webinars in the events section.


10 Top Tips To Be At Your Best In Virtual Interviews

virtual interviews

In the current climate virtual interviews have become the norm, so it’s vital that you know how to be at your best. Here are our top tips.

1. Practice with virtual interview technology

There are many different video software options out there which all work slightly differently so it’s vital that you find out which software is going to be used and try it out well in advance of your interview.

  • Live interviews

Common systems used for live interviews are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google hangouts, Skype. Download the software onto your computer or mobile phone in advance. Make sure your webcam and audio works. Have a practice by setting up a call with some friends, or other Careers Springboard members. Test out the features of the software e.g. the ‘chat’ facility, how to share your screen in case you need to present slides, how to change your view of the people on the call.

You may find that headphones help you hear the audio better. You can buy a headset with a microphone, or some headphones which come with mobile phones have a microphone on the lead.

  • Pre-recorded interviews

There are also a number of systems that are used for pre-recorded interview questions. A candidate answers pre-defined interview questions, then the recordings of these answers are reviewed later on by a recruiter. This approach allows employers and recruitment companies to vet larger numbers of candidates quickly, then spend more time with the applicants who are the best fit. Whilst you can’t try these systems out in advance they offer you a test run when you login, which you can play back so that you can make sure that you can be seen and heard clearly.

2. Set up your virtual interview area

When you’re being interviewed you want the attention to be on you. So make sure that the room you are in isn’t messy. Login to the software and look at what the person will be able to see behind you. Remove clutter to create a more professional look. You may want to remove any photos of children etc. A painting or picture on the wall behind you is fine, but it’s better to have one or two rather than ten!

3. Choosing the right lighting

Good lighting is really important. You want the interviewer to be able to see your face and expressions well. It is best to have your largest light source either right in front of you, or no more than 45 degrees away. If you can’t position your screen with a window behind it make sure that you close the blind, otherwise you will have a distracting glow behind or to the side of you. Your screen can be a large source of light, so adjust your screen brightness, especially if you are taking a call without natural light.

4. Position your device correctly

The best position for your device is so that your eyes are in line with the camera lens. Raise your computer up by resting it on books or a box. This means that you will appear to be looking into the eyes of the recruiter, helping you build rapport.

5. Choosing the right interview outfit

Just as with an in person interview you need to pick the right outfit to wear which demonstrates that you are professional. Your subconscious mind associates putting on formal clothing with going to work and is strongly correlated with confidence and productivity. Therefore when you dress professionally you raise your own opinion of yourself and your behaviour follows suit by matching your clothes.

Solid and neutral colours work better than patterns via virtual interviews. Patterned outfits like stripes and checks can blur and be distracting.

6. Arrival time for virtual interviews

Make sure you’ve double checked the time, date and time zone for the meeting.

Whilst you may usually turn up for a face to face interview 10 minutes in advance be mindful that the interviewer may be using the same ‘virtual interview room’ for all candidates. So entering the room early may mean you join another candidates interview! They may have created a ‘waiting room.’ It’s best to arrive just a couple of minutes early.

7. Speak slowly and clearly

Interview nerves can make you speak more quickly. However, even if you have a great internet connection, the call might cut out for a second here and there. You’ll be much easier to understand if you’re not rushing through your responses. It will also make you appear more confident.

8. Be aware of your body language

In virtual interviews the recruiter can’t see your whole body. Most experts agree that 70 – 93% of communication is non-verbal.

  • Eye contact

See above about device positioning to make it easier for you to maintain eye contact.

  • Posture

Sit straight and lean slightly towards the screen to show enthusiasm. Make sure your torso is positioned in the centre of the screen so that hand gestures can be seen.

  • Non-verbal expression

It’s harder to express active listening on screen, so smile and nod more than you would in person.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification

If your connection drops off for a second so you miss a question, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be repeated. Explain that the connection dropped out.

10. Be patient

Virtual interviews are new for many of us, including recruiting staff. As a Careers Springboard member having joined weekly webinars via Zoom you may be more confident than your interviewer at using the technology! So be patient, this will help ensure that you put yourself across in the best way.


It is a good idea to practice with other people. You could get in touch with other Careers Springboard members to see if they would be happy to help you. Or as a member you can book a mock interview. We wish you all the best and don’t forget to let us know if you secure a job.

If you want to build your confidence using Zoom Careers Springboard always welcomes members to try hosting or chairing meetings. Let us know if you would like to try.


Returner Programmes – Return To Work With Confidence

Returner programme

If you’ve been out of work for a while you might be eligible to join returner programmes.

What is a returner programme?

Returnships are for people who have taken a career break and are looking to return to work.

Employers are usually looking for candidates who have been out of the workplace, or not working in their usual profession, for a minimum of 2 years. This isn’t always the case though, so check the programme details.

The employer gains from a pool of high-calibre experienced and motivated people who are keen to get back to their profession. Opportunities are often available in: technology, financial services, e-commerce, or professional services organisations.

What are the benefits for me?

  • They’re a great way of overcoming the ‘CV gap’ barrier to employment.
  • The employers often provide flexible working options.
  • The programmes enable you to transition back into the workplace through a structured, supportive programme.
  • It will help you build your confidence and update your industry knowledge. The programme may include coaching, mentoring, on the job experience and some classroom learning.
  • At the end of the programme you may be able to secure a permanent position within the company. If you’re not offered a role you can use the contacts you’ve built and your updated experience to secure a job elsewhere.

Where can I find details of returnships?

The following websites are useful for finding returner programmes. You can also find opportunities on the major job sites by adding ‘returners programme’ into the search box.

Ten2two – Is a Hertfordshire based recruitment agency focused on flexible careers. They often work with businesses to source candidates for returnship programmes.

Inclusivity – Are Buckinghamshire based specialists who support career returners back into work following a career break.

We love to hear from Careers Springboard members who have secured a role. It helps motivate others and helps us attract more funding to be able to help more jobseekers.

Find Out How To Start Your Own Business

Start your own business

Do you want to start your own business?  Redundancy or job loss can often trigger a desire to take your career in a new direction. If you’re thinking of launching your own business there are lots of resources available to help you.


If you’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur join one of Buckinghamshire Business First‘s free virtual ‘Be Your Own Boss’ courses. This start-up business support service helps you develop the skills you need to start your own business. The next Be Your Own Boss event is on 13th January 2021.

Buckinghamshire Libraries’ Information & Learning Team are running free Business Information Sessions on 6th January 2021 email for details.

Companies House sometimes run free webinars and have previous ones available to view on their website.

Financial Support

You may be able to receive a New Enterprise Allowance to help you setup a new business if:

  • you or your partner get Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • you get Income Support and you’re a lone parent, sick or disabled

You’ll get a mentor who will give you advice to help you develop a business plan and launch your business.

Once your mentor has approved your business plan, you:

  • may get a weekly allowance worth up to £1,274 over 26 weeks
  • can apply for a loan to help with start-up costs

New Business Start-up Resources

NatWest Business Hub – Business guidance, Toolkits, Market Trends and Events

GoDaddy – GoDaddy guide to starting a business

Startups – small business advice platform, covering everything you need to know to start, buy, run, or sell a business.

The Princes Trust Enterprise Programme – For 18-30-year-olds interested in setting up a business.

The library offer free access to COBRA, Complete Business Reference Adviser. This online resource contains more than 4,000 factsheets, market reports, contacts and sources of funding and support plus hundreds of practical guides to starting up more than 350 types of business. Login with your library card number.

Careers Springboard Support

If you’re not sure whether starting your own business is right for you it might help to talk explore it with a coach. As a Careers Springboard member you can book free coaching sessions.


Why You Should Start Your Christmas Shopping Here

Christmas shopping Careers Springboard

You might be wondering why we’re suggesting that you start your Christmas shopping here! 2020 has been a tough year. At Careers Springboard we’ve seen first hand the impact that Coronavirus has had on the job market. It’s not all doom and gloom though. By using our free employment support services unemployed professionals and graduates have secured new roles. We’ve received some lovely testimonials thanking us for our help.

We can only provide our services with your support. You can help us for free. Just use easyfundraising when you do your Christmas shopping this year.

Over 4,300 shops and sites will donate to Careers Springboard for FREE when you use easyfundraising to shop with them. This means you can raise donations for us when you buy anything from decorations and festive food shopping to gifts like toys, jewellery, tech, experiences and more!

These donations really help us.

All you need to do is:

1. Go to and join for free.

2. When you shop online, go to easyfundraising first. Search for the site you want and start shopping.

3. When you’ve checked out, the retailer will make a donation to Careers Springboard at no extra cost to you!

Thank you.


New Easyfundraising Retailer Offers

Easyfundraising Careers Springboard

Have you heard of easyfundraising? Whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be raising free donations for Careers Springboard.

There are over 4,000 shops and sites on board ready to make a donation. Here are the latest retailer offers.


Please go through easyfundraising when switching your energy provider with Uswitch and you can raise a FREE donation of up to £15 for Careers Springboard!

Apple Music

When you go through #easyfundraising to sign up to the Apple Music standard 3 month trial, Careers Springboard will receive a free £3.50 donation. Plus you can stream over 60 million songs!


Listen to books anytime, anywhere, with Audible. When you go through easyfundraising to register for a 30 day free trial, Careers Springboard will receive a FREE £2 donation.


Get deals on movies, takeaways and more with tastecard! When you go via #easyfundraising and set up a 2 month free trial, they will give Careers Springboard a FREE £1 donation!


Get up to 60% off on tablet and computer accessories with Groupon! Plus, when you go through #easyfundraising you can raise a FREE 6% donation for Careers Springboard!

Enjoy 15% or more off between now and 4 January 2021 when you book UK stays with Plus, if you go via #easyfundraising, Careers Springboard will receive a FREE 4% donation!

Discover other ways that you can help us fundraise.

6 Great Ways Volunteering Can Boost Your CV


In this post we’ll explore why volunteering is good for your CV and how can it benefit your career in general.

Surely volunteering takes up too much time?

People are often put off by volunteering because they don’t think they will have enough time. You can often volunteer as and when it suits you. It could be as little as one hour a month, or sometimes even less! There are lots of remote volunteering opportunities you can do too. Most charities realise that in order to benefit from your talents they need to be flexible.

How volunteering can boost your CV

1. Demonstrate social responsibility

The majority of voluntary opportunities are with charities or social enterprises. By volunteering not only do you gain, but the wider community benefits too. More and more businesses are becoming socially responsible. Customers are becoming more discerning than ever about which companies they will buy or receive services from. By listing voluntary work on your CV you demonstrate that you have altruistic values, which helps to demonstrate that you would fit well within a purpose led business.

2. Learn a new skill

You can use volunteering to learn new skills, or develop ones that you already have. For example leadership, team working, problem solving, adaptability, planning and prioritisation, communicating with clients or stakeholders, time management, interpersonal skills and many more. Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to your personal development. Reach volunteering share skilled short and long term voluntary roles. Don’t forget to highlight these skills on your CV to help differentiate you from other candidates.

Careers Springboard is entirely run by volunteers and we are always looking for more support. Find out how you can get involved.

3. Voluntary work experience

If you are looking to change career direction volunteering is a great way of gaining experience within a different sector. This can benefit your CV, demonstrating your transferable skills and your commitment to the sector. It is also a good way of testing out whether you actually want to make the move before committing.

4. Develop your network

By volunteering you can build contacts within the industry you’re working in. As a volunteer you can join relevant LinkedIn, Facebook groups and webinars to widen your reach further. Write articles about your volunteering and share them on your LinkedIn profile. Remember to add the link to your LinkedIn profile on your CV. Many recruiting managers will look at your LinkedIn profile as part of a job application process.

5. Build your confidence

Redundancy and job loss can have a huge effect on your confidence. Yet, one of the most important elements of job hunting is presenting yourself with confidence, within your CV, via LinkedIn and during interviews. Taking on a voluntary role enables you to regain the confidence that you may have lost. It gives you a focus. Charities are hugely grateful for your time and energy in supporting them. Evidence shows that helping others can also help your mental health. It can reduce stress, improve self esteem and your happiness.

6. Fill a gap on your CV

If you have been unemployed for a while volunteering is a great way of filling a gap on your CV. It shows that whilst you were job hunting you were proactive in using your initiative to create opportunities for yourself.

Useful volunteering links

Community Impact Bucks– nationally accredited Volunteer Centre for Buckinghamshire

Reach Volunteering – Short and long term skilled opportunities  – A National database of opportunities

V-inspired – The UK’s leading volunteering charity for 14 – 30 year olds

Volunteering Matters – A National database of opportunities

Studenteer – Opportunities for students and recent graduates