Getting a job with a big corporate can seem daunting. Their big brand means you’re up against huge numbers of applicants; you won’t be dealing with hiring managers directly until interview stage; and the application process can often be pretty challenging.
As an ex-internal recruiter with 15 years’ experience hiring for big businesses, I have a few ideas to help you break into the sometimes seemingly-impenetrable corporate employer. But first, a little background.
Most large corporates will use recruitment agencies occasionally for particularly difficult-to-find or time-critical roles; however they’re usually able to fill the majority of their positions themselves - which means that to get a role with a large corporate, you need to have some idea of how their internal recruitment team works.
Internal recruiters manage the entire recruitment process and help the business identify the best people for their roles. Their jobs are really busy and delivery-focused. To put it in context, most internal recruiters at big corporates are hiring around 75-150 people a year. Breaking that down, they’re managing 25-35 jobs at any one time, all at different stages of the process and usually with different hiring managers. The recruiters are taking job briefs, writing adverts, reviewing CV’s, phone-screening candidates, attending interviews, checking references, and preparing offer paperwork.
So, the life of an in-house recruiter is busy. Maybe you’re thinking ‘But I’m a great candidate; surely I can make their job easier!’ You can; but bear in mind that they will be frequently getting 50+ applications for every job (often well into the 100’s). Sometimes they may miss your CV, or you may be one of quite a few good candidates. Also, they'll be scan-reading your CV and will only read the detail if something draws in their interest like a job title, skill or company name. Even if you've spoken or met with them before, they may not remember you, as they will have met many people with similar backgrounds and profiles (harsh, but true!).
If that all sounds a bit depressing, it needn’t be. Here are six things that you can do to stand out from the pack:
1. Leverage your network
If you know someone in the company, ask them to recommend you for the position - people who are recommended by employees are generally more likely to get interviewed.
2. Get on the phone
If you know the recruiter or have their name or number on the job advert, give them a call. You can work out if the role is right for you and it will also help make sure they read your CV in more detail.
3. Tune your CV
Make sure you write your CV and cover letter to highlight the experience that matches what they’re looking for. Read through the advert (and job description, if you have it) - this will give you plenty of clues.
4. Use commonly-used job titles
Avoid using company-specific or uncommon job titles. If you’re a management accountant and you're applying for a management accounting position, don’t call yourself a ‘Business Unit Analyst’.
5. Be prepared to take a step sideways (or even down)
As most of the teams in large corporates are pretty big, a lot of the more senior roles are filled internally. That means that often the best bet is to take a similar level role in the department and prove yourself – most large corporate will have pretty good progression opportunities.
6. Prepare for the interview
Often the hard part is getting an interview, so if you do get one, make sure you invest plenty of time preparing for it. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, and it always surprises me that so many people don’t make the effort to prepare. Check out some of our interview preparation tips here and here.
If you're really set on working for a big corporate, you don't need a one-in-a-thousand skill set or any special tricks to get hired; just follow these basic tips and you'll automatically put yourself ahead of 90% of the pack.