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8 Habits of Highly Successful Candidates

8 Habits of Highly Successful Candidates

01 Nov 00:00 by Matthew Rollinson


Working in recruitment, we often spot candidates who seem to be in good habits. For one reason or another some people seem to have the right angle on things, understand how the job market works, and whether naturally or through coaching / training, approach things in a good way. Falling into good habits is a matter of repetition so you can copy these for your own gain on the job market. See below for my take on the main 8 habits of highly successful candidates:


Detailed planning of job moves

If you know what you want, you’ll know when you’ve found it. By analysing their career situation, and asking themselves what they plan to achieve from the job move two main things are achieved, one is an early indication of the job being pursued, two is a mental focus on what’s lying ahead and what one is going to gain. Job hunting can be a difficult process fraught with rejection and disappointment at times, and by having a clear positive goal in mind it’s easier to deal with the knocks as you know the path you’re on is ultimately to something you want.


Always having a good CV

Taking the goal in mind and ask oneself: does this entire document sell me into that goal? Many candidates simply add to a body of work. There are excellent blogs out there on CV writing; once written, review it versus the role you’re pursuing and how you imagine the agenda of the hiring team. The CV will be reproduced 5-10 times in print outs and interviews as part of the recruitment process, the best candidates have nothing on there that would not be explainable and planned-in and ideally pointing in the direction they want to go in.


They apply only when ready

In target sports, the order is, always, ready, aim, fire. Job hunting is the same, by planning, and aiming to your goals, you will know what to apply for and what not to apply for. The most successful candidates resist the urge to go for things they don’t honestly think they’ll want, if in doubt phoning the recruiter and asking questions perhaps in tandem with and application but definitely taking the time to check the detail of the role. We will take a call like this anytime at LiCa Scientific. Doing this achieves two things, for them, it establishes that credibility with the recruiter and second saves the individual going into too many annoying ‘no’ piles and getting frustrated with lack of progress.


They realise it can be a numbers game

Everyone gets rejections and acceptances in life, the rejections typically outnumber the acceptances as we all know! Though this has less to do with the person, and more the companies agenda beyond the advert if applying selectively. If not applying selectively, then be prepared for a lot of rejection.

If you don’t get an interview for a role you really felt should have been offered, ask why and be prepared to change approach. For graduates, 10 applications to 1 interview is ok going, experienced individuals should be between 5 and 3 : 1 ratio, for people going through more senior level or highly niche moves it’s closer to 2:1. Many recruiters I have worked with have worked off a 3:1 ratio of CV’ to interviews so if the professionals find this acceptable it indicates something, though it is highly dependent on markets and what you’re applying to. Set in your own mind a level of response you expect and base your expectations on this.

A lot goes into an interview decision and by being in enough selectively chosen processes the interviews should come in sufficient number to be successful.


Accepting of fate

They realise all vacancies have times when they can be snapped up by someone internal applicants, not go ahead at all or ultimately not be right for them. I have some clients who interview everyone I send; others I can be surprised by decisions on my shortlists! For me, it’s sometimes down to factors outside of your control as a candidate, and successful people in general worry only about what they can control. Moving on quickly and look ahead positively as to what they can do to try to make something happen once a door is closed is a trait of successful individuals.


Knowledge of target market

Job hunting previously meant reading up and knowing a bit about the companies out there without it being the most available information, then applying directly. My previous blog spoke about how this has changed, and it has, though successful candidates do have good market knowledge away from their own company. Journals like Pharmacofocus, European Biopharmaceutical Review, Insider, Pharmafile, Chemistry World and such are often free to access and can be great things to touch base with while on the market as this shows a deeper level of understanding, an idea of what movements there are in the market and potentially new ideas on where that career plan could evolve onto. They’re also good for a bit of interview chit chat on a site tour if something has been in the news affecting the company you’re interviewing with.



Successful candidates tend to keep in good contact with me, often I get short emails about availability for interview, changes to CV etc and keeping in good contact over phone or email, i.e. weekly/fortnightly or so does build a good rapport and reinforce the message you really want to go for this move.



The most successful candidates know where their CV has gone to at all times, keeping a list of applications where and when / by whom and being able to follow these up quickly and efficiently.


... I would say we rarely see all 8 of the above in one person – though do consider your own job hunting versus the above and hopefully by copying the individual habits that we see in the most successful candidates -it’ll help along your own next job move.


Do keep an eye on our jobs feed at LiCa Scientific for the next one you’re interested in and we hope to hear from you soon!