Hints from HR: Job Seeker Tips from Coco Republic’s Talent Acquisition Specialist

“Looking forward to hearing from you soon”, you write as you sign off your cover letter or follow-up on your last job interview. Then, you wait.  After a few days, you start wondering, “Why haven’t I heard from them yet? Did you miss a spelling mistake? Not explain your experience or enthusiasm enough? Or, too much? What about that gap in your work history… should you have explained it somehow?”

The silence is a killer. Not knowing where your application sits in the process tends to open the door to those nasty doubts that make your initial optimism wobble. Like the rest of us at this stage, you’re probably desperate for some real, practical job seeker tips to give you the reassurance and confidence that you’re doing everything you can to get the job. 

JobGetter’s “Hints from HR” series is all about keeping you in the know and getting you those elusive hints direct from the source — the “People” people making the hiring decisions.

This second instalment of the “Hints from HR” series brings you another Q&A unravelling some truly excellent job seeker tips from Coco Republic’s Talent Acquisition Specialist — Emma Welch. Every answer is jam-packed with valuable insights — this is an absolute must-read!

Coco Republic

Putting the ‘designer’ in home furnishings!

Coco Republic has established itself as one of Australia’s leading furniture and design brands. With design heritage that is woven into the fabric of the company, Coco Republic offers not only sophisticated attention to detail but groundbreaking innovation combined with the finest craftsmanship and quality.

Coco Republic showrooms are located in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. With a diverse and unique offering, the company currently operates four divisions: Coco Republic (retail), Coco Republic Interior Design, Coco Republic Property Styling and Coco Republic Design School. If you are looking for an exciting new role in designer retail (including Sales, Head Office, Warehousing, Interior Design/Decoration) this is could be the company for you.

Meet Emma

What was your first job?

Target in the childrenswear department! My first “real/office” job though was on reception at Australian Radio Network. Probably one of my favourite roles to date!

How long have you worked in HR?

If you include agency recruitment, almost 3 years. If we are getting technical; 7 months!

When you were 9 years old, what did you want to be when you “grew up?”

A lawyer. I could argue until I was black and blue in the face and was convinced I would be sitting the bar exam; cross-examining criminals for a lifetime. However as it turns out, recruitment means you get to ask just as many questions (and I don’t have to defend anyone who’s guilty).

What is the favourite part of your job?

Telling someone that they got the job! It never gets old. The satisfaction of hearing someone’s day has been made and that they are about to contribute to our business as a part of their “dream journey” is just magic.

Hints from Emma

What I look for in candidates: 

Magic. This sounds like a loose and fluffy word, but I’m talking about true, genuine soul-clicking magic. When a candidate sits across from you with 100% engagement to the role or our company; when a candidate lights up over the phone talking succinctly and confidently about their strengths and how they will add value to our team. Magic.

To me, the most employable skills a candidate could have are: 

Initiative and ability to be proactive – we are an incredibly reactive environment and sometimes, a role will encompass more than the JD (JobGetter translation: JD, also known as Job Description). Getting hands dirty, and not being afraid to do so is very rare. Another one is well-written communication. It makes my heart sink when I receive an internal email from a staff member using the wrong “your”…

My advice to applicants who want to stand out: 

Make an effort with your CV. Truly deeply – and don’t get me wrong. I’m a born and bred agency recruiter so it’s second nature for me to look at a CV for the skills on the paper, not the way it’s laid out. However, a neatly formatted CV with a clear structure and easy to read dates/skills goes a long way. I can’t tell you how many CVs get overlooked because they were too confusing to read. It also shows your ability to format and process a document; a crucial skill for 80% of job roles.

Something you might not know about working for Coco Republic: 

We are family owned and are proud to reverberate this throughout the company culture! We certainly are not stuffy or unattainably rigid. Luxury at shopfront, and genuine and friendly at heart.

The biggest mistake you could make: 

My biggest no-no is stalking too hard (especially when I have given you a time that I will call that very same day). Yes, of course, be engaged, however, 4 missed calls in the space of two minutes is unsettling and leads me to believe you can’t respect business etiquette. Timing can also be a huge mistake, your mum might have always told you never be late – but don’t be too early either! 5-10 minutes is perfectly fine. 25 minutes early? You will unsettle the hiring manager who wasn’t ready until your scheduled time. My advice would be to sit in the car/go for a walk and walk in closer to the arranged time.

The first thing I notice about a resume

I hate to admit it, but the companies you’ve worked for. My eyes always naturally check for the relevance of the current/previous role to the one we are recruiting for, i.e. have you done this before?; and of course the little (not so little) things. Is it PDF? Does the role description crawl over two pages when it could have been page broken? Have you used green font? Can I understand the position and length of duty?

The first thing I notice about a candidate at an interview

Their handshake. This is critical. A wet fish encounter is so deflating, but then, on the contrary, a harsh vice-like grip is very unsettling. A nice, firm shake is all it takes. Warm hands too (a tip I used to tell my agency candidates, rub your hands together right before the interviewer comes into the room/ or rub them on your pants if you’re nervous. No one likes a sweaty or ice-cold handshake).

Questions a candidate should never ask: 

How many other people are you interviewing? It’s a fair question, however, it does come across as unprofessional. A better way to frame it could be “have you had much interest in the position?”. A worse offence though is having no questions at all. Always come prepared to an interview either with a classic “what do you love about the company”, OR ask me about a product, the company structure, when we are looking to have someone start. Show me you are invested and want to know more! (Also, that you prepared for this meeting like it meant something).

Don’t shy away from asking: 

The salary benchmark! The opportunity has to be right for you, and if you haven’t been asked your expectations either on the initial phone screen or in the first interview, it’s appropriate to ask. It also eliminates an even more awkward conversation at offer stage when it’s not quite what you were looking for. Also, don’t be afraid to ask when the interviewer will be in touch. It shows you are engaged and that you also value your time.

Don’t let this hold you back: 

The gap in your career. If it can be explained well with confidence and it is clear to the interviewer that you can add value with other skills/experience then go for it! Remember, skills can be learned (attitude and positive energy cannot). If you come prepared with answers to explain the sticky gap or short tenure in your last role then you can’t go wrong. I’ve hired people who left suddenly – it happens. If you’re sketchy or defensive about it though, it will be the roadblock. Eliminate all doubt, but also don’t make up a story in trying to do so.

What I want to know about you as a person: 

Your integrity. Are you someone who will submit a form to HR when you say you will? Can you stay back for 10 minutes to help a teammate with a project on a Thursday night; will you collaborate and engage well with other staff? Can you leave stress/negative energy at the front door when you walk in? Can you laugh at yourself when you make a mistake? Don’t be afraid to let some of the “real you” show, it might be the difference between you and the next candidate with the same skillset.

What homework I expect you to have done before the interview: 

At the very least, be familiar with the position. I can’t tell you how many candidates take my phone screen calls and can’t remember the job ad they applied for. In the interview, I don’t expect you to be a Coco Republic expert but to at least have an idea of our business model (national, with retail + design/property styling arms). It’s also really impressive when candidates throw in something about a particular product; or when they have done their research on my or a hiring manager’s background.

My advice to an unsuccessful candidate:

Be humble, and by all means don’t turn nasty if you did not land the role. Nobody likes rejection, but here is the secret. If you aren’t right “right now” – it doesn’t mean you won’t ever be. Some of our best hires have been from candidates who were unsuccessful 6 months prior. Then we’ve had a new role, or perhaps slightly more junior role crop up and guess what – they were the first ones we thought of because they were humble and acted with integrity.

If these job seeker tips from Coco Republic’s Talent Acquisition Specialist have sparked your interest in working for this family-owned luxury furnishings business or retail in general, check out all of Coco Republic’s current job opportunities here.

Want more hints from HR? Click here to view all… or skip straight to hints from the “people” people at Dymocks or LUSH.

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