The downside risks of not getting it right in complex contract negotiations should bring more job hunters back to the agency side

Despite there being an oversupply of technology jobs in Scotland in relation to the number of people to fill them, a leading recruiter has warned candidates not to be ‘complacent’.

Sam Wason, Director of Edinburgh-based Cathcart Associates, says in a burgeoning market with rich rewards candidates are running the risk of ‘overegging’ their achievements.

He said in the rush to get the top jobs, some job-hunters are forgetting the basic principles, like only ‘showing what you know’.

“This is definitely something which happens quite a lot and it really shouldn’t,” he explains. “We say to candidates all the time ‘don’t overegg it, don’t put something on your CV if it’s not something you genuinely understand or have concrete experience of.

They may think it qualifies if they have read a book about it but it will soon become fairly obvious at the technical skills test. Be honest about what you can do because scatter-gunning technology on your CV according to keywords that you might see in a job search is frustrating for both recruiters and employees.”

At the recent Scot-Cloud conference in Edinburgh, Pete Wilcox of Adobe DevOps also highlighted the problem with applicants over-exaggerating their technical skills for development roles. He advised the audience that candidates are much better off focusing on the areas of expertise and knowledge where they are proficient, rather than those they might have had limited exposure to.

As A response the company, which has offices in George Street, has come up with a series of tips for candidates hoping to find their way in the jobs market; firstly, they shouldn’t feel frightened of leaving a job they are in if they think they are being undervalued for the position they hold; secondly, they should consider using a recruitment agency who’s experienced in the market (Cathcart Associates would obviously happily assist!); thirdly, they should be realistic about salary expectations and skill sets and fourthly they should not worry about their CVs.

“That might seem a little strange,” adds Wason. “But CVs really are the last thing you should worry about. People are very set in their ways in that a CV should only be two pages long, or that it should be nicely designed. The truth is, in our experience, is that it doesn’t really matter. If you have done a lot of contract work and stretches to five pages, then that’s fine. If the content is relevant, that is the main thing.” Candidates are advised to include LinkedIn profiles or web links to their portfolios (the latter if they’ve done a lot of front-end design work, especially), but otherwise a CV is fine.

“An employer ultimately wants to lookataCVtofindabitmoreout about where you went to school, Uni or where you live. But once that sifting process is done, it’s really just all about the interview and managing the process through.”

Ultimately, Wason adds, if the job is right for the candidate and the candidate right for the job, then it simply comes down to whether the two can work together.

“And that’s why we say definitely work with an agency; we have the relationships with the clients – and know how to make a good match. A client will always prefer to get a candidate through an agency as they get a steady stream of good people and they don’t have to trawl through irrelevant applications.”

Wason warns candidates are also choosing to ‘go it alone’ and seek jobs with employers directly, tempted by the wide variety of choice in what has become a ‘seller’s market’ for tech job hunters.
He said there is too often little appreciation of the complexity of securing the right package if candidates negotiate directly with employers. And that people very rarely go it alone when making other potentially life-altering decisions, like the purchase of a house.

“I think the buying and selling of a house is the perfect analogy; most people would never consider doing a direct sale of a property, for obvious reasons. It’s a complicated process, with a lot of risk attached, and requires skill and the art of negotiation. Of course we understand why candidates in the job market might be tempted to go directly to an employer but at the same time there is a process to be gone through and it can be difficult to navigate alone.”

Wason said recruiters can help candidates with regards to putting together CVs, portfolios, and with the right introduction to an employer so that they are well represented.

“We manage the whole process,” he adds. “We manage the interview, negotiate salaries and iron out all the flaws and problems that might occur. It’s not just about the introduction: that’s one of the services we provide – it’s about successfully seeing the whole thing through to conclusion.”