Few of us now spend our money on big ticket items such as holidays or cars without checking out reviews, and employers are no different when it comes to recruiting. If you’re looking for a job in the digital, design, marketing and communications sector it makes sense to have other people endorse what you can offer.
So maybe it’s time to see our trusty references in a new light, and put the focus on testimonials instead. References still have a part to play, but testimonials are slightly different and can be used in a more flexible and effective way. If you gather a set of testimonials, keep them fresh and include a handful in your CV, online portfolios such as Coroflot or Behance and Google Review, you can create a whole new ball game that could give you a point of difference.
Here at Concept Personnel our clients and candidates are kind enough to leave lovely testimonials about our service on sites like Google Reviews and LinkedIn. We include some of them on our website not just because we’re happy to have made them happy, but also to show others how they could be enjoying the same hassle-free recruitment experience whichever side of the fence they are sitting on.
It’s the same with candidate testimonials. Done properly and with a bit of passion they give employers the chance to really see what kind of person they are employing. A good CV, the right experience and great interview skills can get you down to the final three in a job hunt, so why not arm yourself with an extra advantage and read our tips for success with testimonials.
Inject some spirit. The cultural fit of an employee is just as important as the right technical fit, so encourage the people writing you a testimonial to put some life into what they write. You want to work in the creative industries, not banking or the civil service. If you’re the type of person who regularly runs charity marathons, volunteers at the food bank or has a mildly eccentric hobby, get it out there. Socialising and reading don’t count, and nothing weird, obviously.
Strip out the waffle. Again, while you can’t dictate what should go into your testimonials, no one needs to hear how punctual and conscientious you are, it’s the mother of all lukewarm endorsements. You’re an adult and we kind of assume you can show up for work on time and give it your best shot while you’re there. It’s far more valuable if you can get people to highlight points like what difference you made and how you improved things for colleagues and clients.
Keep it real. Don’t invent testimonials, let other people speak for your skills and experience. Don’t be tempted to write your own, your recruiter and prospective employer can smell a fake a mile off. A 2013 survey showed that 29% of employers had spotted a false reference in an application.
Keep it relevant. A testimonial from someone with an impressive title five steps higher than you on the food chain is less useful than from someone who has first-hand experience of your skills, experience and what you are like to work with on Monday mornings. Think sideways, testimonials don’t always have to come from your boss, they can be from peers who are far more likely to be able to provide insight on how good you are at smoothing the ruffled feathers of an irate client or whether you’re the king of Friday lunchtime office basketball.
Include excerpts in your CV. We’re not suggesting you reproduce every nice thing someone has said about you since first school, but you could include three or four killer lines from written testimonials, LinkedIn endorsements, your Behance portfolio or client feedback to give prospective employers a flavour of your experience and style.
Ask nicely. Yep, it can be uncomfortable asking colleagues for testimonials and you can’t always predict what they might say. But you might get some nice surprises too, and you can always return the favour. If you really can’t bear it, make the initial call to the prospect then ask a trusted friend to have the conversation and put the words together for them to approve.
Looking after your reputation involves guarding your online presence too. Try Googling your name. Yes really, and don’t try to pretend you’ve never done it before. Tidy up your online profile so that when recruiters and employers take a look – because they certainly will – they don’t visit LinkedIn and see a random set of endorsements for skills you don’t possess and which could put them off. Ever been asked to endorse an artworker colleague for their skill in national advertising campaign planning? Yeah, us too. We rest our case.
Word travels. And finally, remember that employers will also ask your recruiter for their opinion. While we know the market, we have the contacts and we’re on your side we’ll also be totally honest with you and with our clients. Being polite and professional will win every time over being abrupt or having a bad attitude. If you want us to tell you what you want to hear, then we’re not the recruitment agency for you.
Your testimonials can have a big impact on the success of your job search. Choose wisely to boost your chances, and if in doubt, call us for advice and we will do our best to help.