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The 5 qualities that matter most in a candidate

As a professional recruiter, I know what people in my industry (and our clients) are looking for when evaluating a candidate or a CV. Here are the five factors that can increase or compromise your chances of getting a job.

1. Loyalty to society (don’t abandon the boat)

In my experience, this is the most important factor for customers. Usually you have to have worked for each of your employers for a minimum of three years; or more is even better. Why is this better? This factor alone describes you, in the blink of an eye, as someone who is loyal to their employers, probably talented and certainly friendly. You are therefore the ideal candidate. Most clients, and therefore recruiters, will avoid candidates who change jobs repeatedly, every year – you may not like your job, but sometimes it’s better to endure it for a while, if you can, before moving on to another stage of your career.

2. Specialized expertise or skill set (EXPERIENCE)

Unfortunately, recruiters generally work with experienced, senior or specialized candidates simply because they are difficult for clients to find and clients will pay for such talent. That being said, if you are at the beginning of your career, a good conversation with a recruiter can direct you in your search or give you information about the industry you are trying to reach. Take a proactive approach and act as your own recruiter. Promote yourself by meeting as many people as possible and share your resume. A winning attitude will impress a company looking for employees and may give you the chance you’ve been waiting for.

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3. Experience relevant to the industry and in Canada

This is a key element if you are looking for work in Canada. Sometimes it’s a trap – if you’re a newcomer to Canada, how can you get Canadian work experience if no one will hire you? There are not-for-profit agencies that specialize in these kinds of situations and can help you, such as COSTI or The Career Foundation. Volunteering can also be a good way to get contacts and experience in Canada.

4. Minimize the periods between jobs (or better yet, avoid them)

If there are off-peak periods (life is not always perfect), being unemployed for an extended period of time usually means that you have lost your job or been fired. However, there are always exceptions, and if you are one of the exceptions, try to be proactive in addressing these issues in your cover letter when contacting companies or recruiters. If you have taken maternity leave, or have been away to care for an aging parent, or have gone back to school to upgrade your skills – point this out, as these are valid reasons for the lows.

5. Details!

Many experienced candidates I meet fail to highlight or describe in detail their consulting or project management experience. There is no hard and fast rule about the length of your CV. However, the old “one page” rule does not apply all the time. If you have twenty years of experience, show it. A seven or eight page CV is common for experienced or highly skilled candidates I work with.

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These factors represent the general factors that recruiters look for in a CV. If this does not apply to you, NO PANIC. Knowledge of these basic principles can guide you into the future and remember that a friendly, outgoing personality and a positive attitude can take you far.

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