Futureheads

Our guide to landing a new role | the first phone call

Mark Trenchard

Mark Trenchard

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Whether it's the start of your career or you're a seasoned veteran of the employment world getting a new job is rarely always straightforward.

As a tech recruiter, I speak to people every day who encounter the same sticking points in their job hunt journeys.

How do you make yourself stand out in the crowd? What tips and tricks can you use to present your case as best as possible?

I wanted to share my advice on how you can make the process as painless as possible.

Once you have submitted your CV, the first interaction you’ll have with the employer or a recruiter will invariably be a phone call. This call is a vital, but sometimes overlooked part of getting a new role, so here are some of my top tips for getting as much out of the call as you can - and making a great first impression all at once.

Know the goal

Different companies have different interview processes, so this call could be with a recruiter, or with your potential manager. It may focus on your technical skills, your CV, or your personality. Make sure you're clear on the objective of the call, so you can prepare accordingly, and don't get thrown off by expecting to talk through your CV and being asked how to invert a binary tree.

On that note...

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Unfortunately, I do see talented developers miss out on roles because they didn't do their research. Have a look at the company, and think about why you are right for the role. It can be useful to list out your experience relevant to the role. By listing this out, you can make sure you cover off everything you want to say, and avoid waffling or going off on a tangent.

Ask questions

It’s always a good idea to write down your key points and questions before you make the call. You don’t want to read off a script, but having pointers on hand will make sure you include everything. Make a note of any questions you have about the job description - not only will asking these questions help you understand the role, you'll impress with your research skills. A double win,

And don't forget to have a copy of your CV nearby in case they ask specific questions about your background and experiences.

Get in the mindset

Set yourself up for success. Get yourself a quiet, private space to take the call to minimise distractions and background noise so you can focus and conduct a professional conversation. It goes without saying that you should hold off on the gum or snacks while on the phone too!

Practice makes perfect

If you're new to the job hunting world, or you suffer from nerves, practice. It's cringy, but it can be useful to record yourself. Verbal tics - 'like' and 'um' are really common affectations, but with a bit of self-coaching, you can cut them out of your speech relatively easily.

Be nice

The majority of communication is conveyed through non-verbal cues - through body language and tone of voice. Body language is going to be very hard to convey over the phone, so you'll need to pay close attention to your tone, and your word choice. So some please and thank yous, and some pleasantries could go a long way in building a rapport. It's corny, but smiling lifts the tone of your voice, even over the phone, which can help you engage positively with the person on the other end of the phone.

Housekeeping

It's also useful to cover off some of the logistics around the interview process, and the job itself early.

  • Interview options. For interview times or follow up calls give as many precise options or scenarios as possible. This removes the risk of the organiser proposing times and dates that are awkward or not feasible
  • The location. If you live in the far west of London and the role is in the far east then you'll appreciate knowing this early on so you can make an informed decision
  • Your availability. If you have holiday time booked off that might impact on interviews or on your first month at work then say now as it can help manage employer expectations and prevent planning issues down the road
  • Unexplained absences or gaps. If you have been up-skilling yourself in-between jobs or taking time out for a holiday then say so

By giving the right information can take also of the pain out of the process as well as presenting your case as an organised and prepared candidate. 

Next up, the interview. Luckily, I've also got you covered for this, with a similar blog on my tips for acing the interview.

Looking for tips on creating a winning CV?  As with any job hunt, the first step is getting your CV in tip-top shape. Now this subject could be a whole post on its own and thankfully one of my fellow Futureheads, Katie, has already covered her 5 Top Tips for Writing a Tech CV in detail with some great useful advice. So rather than repeating her words, I'll let her take the lead on this one!

I'm also always happy to give advice, wherever you are in the process of finding a new role. Say hello at mark@wearefutureheads.co.uk.