Not Only Do You Need to Have the Ability to Sell and Market Your Own Expertise … You Need to Do That for the Department That is Going to Hire You Too.


This interview is with Darron Chapman, who has been a recruiter for over 20 years. He is the managing director of TFPL, which is:

a global market leader in recruitment, training and consulting for the knowledge, information and data industries. We work right across the private, public, and third sectors.

Mr. Chapman is also the 2012 president of SLA Europe. You can follow him on Twitter at @DPCHA

Questions about Recruitment:

Can you give us a brief run-down of how a recruitment firm works?

All recruitment firms operate slightly differently but essentially a recruitment firm’s purpose is to find and qualify new employees for their client’s organisations.
TFPL provides the following services: Rapid Response – Temporary and Contract, Interim, Programme, Project and Change Management Professions, Managed Services, Contingent Permanent Recruitment Solutions Search, Selection & Talent Management, Benchmarking, Research, Metrics & Surveys, Advisory Services, Partnerships and acquisitions, and Communities of Practice.
Recruitment firms are only paid a fee on a successful placement of a candidate introduced to the client company.  A good recruiter however, acts in the interest of both parties as an intermediary between the client company and the client candidate.  The recruiter ensures that the individual looking for work finds a suitable opportunity that helps them grow and develop and builds on the person’s expertise and experience.  They also commit to find the best talent that meets the needs of the client organisation.

What types of vacancies are you most frequently placing candidates in?  In what types of organizations?

TFPL recruits a broad range of information related specialisms, including Knowledge and information management, insight and intelligence, records management and publishing and content. Our clients range from professional services firms, financial institutions, central government and charitable organisations  to large publishing companies.  We are noticing a lot of activity in the legal sector, strategy consultancies, information publishers and not for profit sectors.

What should candidates do differently when applying to a recruitment firm?  Is there anything they should be sure to include with you that they wouldn’t tell a direct-hire job, etc.?

With a recruitment firm you are more likely to have a general conversation about the job market and discuss a broad range of opportunities.  You may also discuss how to position yourself for various job roles and what you can do with your current skill set and identify skill gaps to develop.
You will need a general CV no longer than two pages with relevant key words so you are identified in any database searches, proof of identification and names and addresses of two good referees.  If you want to work in some public sector roles, you will also need to have a security or CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check.
When applying directly to an organisation your CV needs to reflect the skills that the role requires.  Your covering letter needs to highlight why you are right for the role and why you are applying for the job.  Other than that honesty is always the best policy!

Are there particular qualities or experiences that will give a candidate an edge in being considered for positions you are trying to fill?

On many occasions I have seen less experienced candidates get selected over and above better skilled candidates purely down to having the right attitude.  Clients are more willing to train and grow less experienced candidates if they fit the culture of the organisation over a skilled person that doesn’t.
Communication skills, a can-do attitude, creativity,  enthusiasm, passion, resilience, flexibility, being able to adapt to changes and challenges are at the forefront of a hirers thinking.  Not only do you need to have the ability to sell and market your own expertise but to survive these days, you need to do that for the department that is going to hire you too.

Once an initial placement has been made, what should a candidate do to keep on good terms with your agency (in order to ensure future placements)?

In the information sector there are many networks and events to attend and more often than not you will bump into a recruiter.  The market will continue to develop which will impact the types of role that emerge and your recruiter will be a great source of information on these emerging roles and skill sets.   They will also be able to help you benchmark your salary if you are up for a review.   TFPL runs networks and training course both free and paid for so you can always keep abreast of what is hot in the market place.   We would also love to help hire new staff when required so keeping a good relationship is vital.

Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know about recruitment agencies or TFPL?

Do not underestimate the value of the time spent with your recruitment consultant because the more care spent on that relationship the more likely you are to find an opportunity that is suitable for you.  Also, impressions formed by a recruitment consultant will naturally influence their assessment of you and vice versa.

Questions from the survey:

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

  • Communications skills
  • Marketability – can we promote you with confidence
  • Good at dealing with stakeholders

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Dishonesty, not answering questions properly, question avoidance and poor eye contact. As a service industry we do get our share of folk who think it is OK to abuse their relationship with staff. It isn’t, no matter what the problem is to be solved together.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?


CVs that are not outcome or evidence based

Profiles that cannot be backed up- subjective comments

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

More outcomes rather than a list of duties.  How they made a difference to their organisation.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√  No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Yes

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√  In the body of the email only

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Smile!  Be informed, be prepared and be interested! Demonstrate that you want to work for that employer and why.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Lack of homework and preparation

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

Selection has moved from chronological analysis, to competency based analysis to evidence based recruitment

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Don’t come with a list of stuff you don’t want – think about what contribution you can bring to an organisation and where you could apply it.  Before you embark on a job search, take some time to prepare what you want to say about your competencies and what you are good at, and would like to do more of. Thinking about this in advance, makes the consulting part of recruitment much quicker, and helps us sell your attributes better. Don’t wait until we meet you to start to thinking about it.


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