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In this week’s blog post we speak with Stuart Blair, a Senior Consultant at JBAndrews. We will be hearing some insight from him on what makes a good candidate from a recruiter’s point of view.

I started by asking Stuart his opinion on what makes a candidate stand out and easy to work with, he broke this down based on the situation. “As a recruiter we work in two different ways, reactively and proactively. There are things within each that make candidates more appealing to recruiters”.

Stuart gave 3 top tips for candidates:

  1. Keep LinkedIn updated and concise.
  2. Make sure you have reasonable expectations.
  3. Showcase your personality over the phone.

Here’s the breakdown from Stuart’s perspective…


Reactive recruitment is where the recruiter approaches candidates regarding a specific role they’ve been given by a client. I asked Stuart what exactly he looks for in candidates before messaging them regarding the vacancy he is working on. “We use LinkedIn primarily to find candidates that seem to fit the brief of what we’re looking for. The main things I look for are qualifications and experience. On LinkedIn you can usually see the candidate’s career progression in terms of their job titles. It’s important for a recruiter that we approach candidates whose situation would make a logical ‘next step’ for the job we’re working on and of course they have to have the correct qualifications and expectations. It’s then important to speak with candidates on the phone to see if they’ve got experience with similar responsibilities as the role we’ve approached them with, this is also a good opportunity for us as recruiters to see what kind of personality the candidate has. With initial impressions being made over the phone it’s very important that we know if a candidate’s personality comes across in a phone call so we can give them advice accordingly if they have a phone interview with one of our clients. If they tick all those boxes then they’re a great candidate to put forward for the role.”


Proactive recruitment is where the recruiter takes candidates to companies within the industry hoping to spark interest in that particular candidate or get a vacancy to work on. The following is what Stuart thinks makes a more appealing candidate when looking to do proactive recruitment. “A few points stand out for me personally, one of the first things I pick up on is the candidate’s motivation to find a new role. If a candidate doesn’t want to be transparent with their motivation I won’t proactively work them because it makes myself and clients assume something went wrong in their previous role, which can cause things to break down later in the process. Candidates looking to move for financial gain is also an area recruiters try to avoid. Not only because it makes our job harder having to constantly push our client for more money, which isn’t good for our long term relationships, but also because it leaves us open to the candidate accepting a counter offer which is often the case. They will always stay where they’re comfortable if the package is right. Another thing I look for is how long the candidate has been looking for a new role, and they’re success rate in that process. If I’m deciding whether or not to proactively work someone who has been actively looking for a new role for 6 months and hasn’t made it to a second interview yet, that will ring alarm bells in my head as it shows they clearly lack what it takes to make the step.  Finally I will only work with candidates who have reasonable expectations. A lot of candidates have expectations that exceed the reality of what they will achieve and our role is to be a consultant so if we have candidates who won’t take our experienced opinion on board regarding expectations it won’t be a healthy relationship. It is also pointless because we know they won’t be offered what they’re looking for meaning the likelihood of one of these candidates ever landing a job is quite farfetched.”


I then asked Stuart to give some recommendations for candidates to follow in order to make themselves ‘the perfect candidate’ for a recruiter to work with, he had three main tips. “My first recommendation would be to make sure the candidate keeps their LinkedIn up to date and concise, their resume can then fill in the additional information and detail. This is important because as recruiters we don’t want to have to comb through big paragraphs of information to find the facts we’re looking for. We also don’t want to call candidates having seen their experience on LinkedIn to then find out that information is outdated and they won’t be the right fit. The second recommendation would be to make sure candidates have the right expectations. As recruiters we want to get our candidates the best package possible but we’re in the process as a consultant meaning if we think a candidates expectations are too high then they need to listen to us. On average companies are unlikely to offer a candidate more than a 10% increase of their current salary package and candidates almost never double jump job titles or responsibilities so this outlines the limits to which candidates should harbour their expectations between. My final recommendation would be how candidates present themselves over the phone.  Recruiters have a job to do so candidates being straight to the point when speaking to us speeds up our job, at the same time it’s important for candidates to still be personable and form a relationship. Relaxed, free flowing conversation helps a recruiter find more out about the candidate’s personality and gives us more confidence in the candidate that they could impress any potential clients interested in them.” Anyone in any position can find themselves in a candidate’s position and these simple tips from Stuart could make a big difference!

Do let us know your personal opinion regarding what makes an appealing candidate, do any other recruiters have any other top tips?

Jeremiah Bavington
Head of Brand & Marketing