Alexandra Biagioni – Life as a recruiter

Alex photo

So, it’s Friday which is fantastic news BUT I have even better news. The Job Searching Expert has managed to get some time in with the fantastic Alexandra Biagioni who is a Senior Account Manager in the HR Division of the recruitment company, Career Moves Group. I have used Alex when looking for all my roles and I can say she is truly wonderful and brilliant at her job. It is really interesting to hear her point of view from the side of the recruiter.

I hope you enjoy it!

Alex works at the London-based Career Moves Group. in their HR Division. You can find Alex on Linkedin.

How did you get into recruitment?

I worked in hospitality when I left university in a “Front of House Supervisor” role. Whilst there, I worked on weekly payroll, inputting hours, and checking/handing out payslips for our 30 staff. I also worked on a contract audit, and after I completed that I decided to do an HR Audit, where I went through all personnel files, ensuring we had passport copies, H&S sheets etc for all employees. Finally, I was asked to write job adverts and liaise with the local employment agency to find a few new team members, which resulted in me screening CVs and organising some interviews for the General Manager. After adding all this to my CV and uploading it to
Total Jobs, I was approached by a recruiter at Career Moves Group and asked to interview for a Resourcer role. I had a two stage interview, was offered the role and started in May 2010, and I’ve been here ever since.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s hard to pick one thing. For me, as a recruiter, I’m really glad that I love my job. I think when I’m constantly working with people that are either unhappy in their role or simply looking for their next step, that it’s really important for me to be happy and engaged where I work. If I had to pick my top things, they’d be:

My team – we have a really good relationship which is really important. I know when I can have a bit of a chat and break away from my PC, but I also know when I need to focus (and more importantly let my team focus!) on what’s in hand. We also know how each other works, so we know what works in terms of management style between myself and my Head of, and me and my Junior Account Manager. The dynamic works really well, makes me happy at work, and makes the day pass more quickly.

The Career Moves Group progression plan – I’ve been with the business for four and a half years, progressing from Resourcer, to Junior Account Manager, Account Manager and now Senior Account Manager with a team member to mentor/manage. I have also been put through the Level 3 CIPD qualification to further my knowledge of HR, and as a new
Line Manager have just been signed onto an external qualification with the Chartered
Management Institute which I’ll complete in November of this year.

The Career Moves Group “way of life” – we’re a close knit bunch, go out for lunches in pairs or large groups regularly, celebrate birthdays, throw summer parties and bring in treats for each other when the mood takes us. People are happy to be here and it shows in the office and outside. I wouldn’t still be here without the other 20 odd slightly mad, hilarious and
fun-to-be-around CMGers.

(We also just moved to a brand-spanking-new 6th Floor office in Farringdon, which is a massive win).

With companies constantly trying to save money by directly recruiting, do you feel the number of people using recruitment agencies has dropped?

The reason we are successful here at Career Moves Group, is that we have good relationships with our clients and they trust us to find them the people they want. They work in partnership with us to source the hottest industry talent. A lot of the time direct hiring doesn’t work, and as we keep our ear to the ground 24/7, we know where the key industry talent is – the people that you just can’t find with a job advert.

From a candidate perspective, we are still registering as many suitable candidates as ever, though it’s become the case that even at a more junior level, the talent is on the whole more passive. We have to approach a lot more candidates directly than before (the calibre of
applications through job boards isn’t always high) and while this is more time consuming it is more fruitful. I find that job seekers are still very happy to use agencies.

Do you think recruitment agencies are a good way to get jobs?

If you find a good one, then yes, absolutely. If you can find a good agency, they will meet you face to face (when possible) and really get to you know you, your skills, and what you’re
looking for from your next role. They will also know their clients and what they’re looking for and will be able to match you well. Good agencies will also be honest with you about what they can help you with. If you need to adjust your expectations, work on your CV etc, they’ll help you through this. 97% of Career Moves Groups placed candidates stay in their roles for at least a year, so we know that we’re getting it right for our them (and our clients).

Have social media platforms such as LinkedIn affected recruitment agencies or just helped them?

We’ve made a few placements from people that have found us on Twitter, which is great.
Generally Linkedin has assisted us in finding placeable candidates.

There are over 15 million people on Linkedin in the UK – so when you take out under 18’s, and the retired population – it stands for a very high percentage of the total UK workforce. When Linkedin is put into context like that – you can see why we do now place a large amount of time and resource across the business to get the most out of the network.

Of course, Linkedin does make it easier for in house HR/recruitment teams to find their own candidates, but it’s still labour and time intensive, which means they often still come to us as their Talent Partner.

Should people just register with a limited number of agencies?

You need to research your agencies before you register, I would never recommend blasting your CV out to all the agencies under the sun. Any reputable agency will have a thorough
website showing the roles they recruit, live roles on at the moment, clients they work with and
often some quotes from candidates and clients. Their website will give you a sense of the sort of agency they are, and if it fits with the type of job and company you’re looking for, then get in touch!

Don’t forget, once you’ve found your consultant (this will often depend on team specialities) you can check them out on Linkedin where they should have some good recommendations from both candidates and clients.

What do you think is the most common mistake made on a CV?

What you like to see on a CV is very much personal preference, but on the whole I would stick to the rule that simple is best.
1. Spelling and grammar – these mistakes are everywhere, so it’s really important to
proof-read your CV. Make sure you don’t always rely on spell check, and remember its often good to step away from your CV for a few days then relook at it – if you’ve sat typing it for an hour you won’t see the mistakes you’ve just made!

2. Funny fonts – using ‘interesting’ fonts is also a common mistake. You need to stick with standard Arial/Calibri style fonts, as they’re easiest to read.
3. Formatting – finally, another taboo for me is lack of formatting – you need to bullet point your experience and make it easy on the eye.

What is the funniest/worst thing you have seen on a CV?

Sometimes the worst ones are also the funniest ones. We’ve all had our fair share of CVs where people put photos of themselves in somewhat compromising positions in nightclubs on their CVs….your CV is not and should never be an outlet for a photo like this! (Personally I don’t like photos on CVs full stop).

Genuinely the worst mistake you can make is to spell the place where you work wrong…that’s a pretty bad one that I’ve had before.

What are you top 5 tips to Graduates looking for their first role?

1. Apply directly, don’t rely on agencies. Companies will very very rarely pay an agency fee for a candidate with little experience. You’re best approaching companies directly for graduate roles, or working with specialist graduate agencies.

2. Research, research, research. If you’re approaching companies directly, you absolutely have to know what you’re applying for and what you’re talking about. Look up interesting things about the company history, know why you want the job you’re applying for and why you want that particular role.

3. Get a good CV together. There’s no point starting to look at things if you haven’t got a decent CV together. You need to make sure your CV is smart. You need to make sure the layout is clean, and that the grammar and spelling is on point. Your name/address etc need to be laid out at the top, and you need to have some form of profile at the top too. Your CV needs to grab and hold the attention of the interviewer, but this doesn’t mean funny fonts/pictures etc. Keep it simple, keep it chic – it’s your best business card!

4. Make a Linkedin profile. If you’re job hunting, you should be on Linkedin. You can build your profile from your CV, it’s really easy to do. Go for a simple photo, and a headline stating that you’re looking for X type of work. This way potential employers can find you online, and see that you’re serious about your job search.

5. Curb your social media activity. Now, it’s completely up to you about what you get up to on your social media platforms, but make sure things are set to private. If you tweet, check your twitter history and make your tweets private. On Facebook, just make your profile private and unsearchable. Blogs etc are a different ball game, if you’re blogging it’s probably along the lines of something you want to get into as a career, so this could actually help. The main thing I’m trying to say is just not to be stupid. You need to come across as professional and
trustworthy…a timeline of profanity ridden tweets is not going to scream “Hire me now”.

What is your best interview tip?

Cheesy as it sounds, “relax and be yourself” is always my top interview tip. Anyone who has ever interviewed for a role through me will know that this is what I tell them. They’ll also tell you that I’m well aware it’s easy for me to sit at my desk and tell them to be calm and to relax, but in all honesty, your interviewer will see right through you if you’re faking it.

And yes, you need to do all the basics like research the company you’re going to see, look over your CV and prepare some answers to competency questions based on the job spec (which your agency should give you!). We talk to our candidates in the days leading up to their
interviews to give them any prep they might need (I just put the phone down to someone
advising her what to wear to an interview at an ad agency…) but without being yourself, the rest will fall apart!

I hope you enjoyed the post!

If you have any questions please let me know.


UK unemployment drops again!


What fantastic news to hear today! The Job Searching Expert is pleased to share the
information with you.
Unemployment rates have dropped below 2 million, the lowest ever.

The government released information stating that UK unemployment fell by 154,000 in the three months to the end of August to 1.97 million, the first time it has been below two million since 2008. This is such a positive for the country and the economy. This shows us that
companies are improving and able to expand and hire more staff.

Another fantastic piece of news is that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in September fell by 18,600 to 951,900 and Youth unemployment (16-to-24-year-olds) fell by 88,000 over the quarter to 733,000, giving a jobless rate among the age group of 16%.

This is fantastic news for the country and the economy, but obviously there are things that still need improving.

It was also reported that the number of people classed as economically inactive, which
includes students, long-term sick and those retiring early, increased by 113,000 in the quarter to more than nine million. This may not be so negative if you look deeper into the figures.
Student are there to enhance their careers, whether they are younger or mature students. This is a positive that we should embrace as it means we are developing and enhancing our skill sets to help the economy. Early retirement is a personal choice and isn’t a negative either.
People who are successful enough or can afford it should retire early and enjoy everything they have worked hard for, however this may be seen as a burden on the economy. Same with the long-term sick. Again this is something we cannot avoid, but maybe this figures should be
released with a bit more detail as people off long-term sick may be off for valid reasons and have a job to go back to.

The figures for self-employment were also released, and the number of self-employed people dropped by 76,000 in the latest three-month period to 4.5 million, but the total is 279,000
higher than a year ago. This may be dropping due to funding and other reasons. However we have to look at the positive and see that the figure is still higher than it was a year ago.

Overall I think this is brilliant news, and just shows how far the economy has come! It can only get better.

Let me know what you think!


Related article on the BBC:

LinkedIn Job Search App Launch


So today the new LinkedIn Job Search App launched so of course The Job Searching Expert had to check it out!

Firstly, it is free. Which makes it great already!
Once you have downloaded the App, all you need to do is login with your existing LinkedIn
details and you are in!
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Adding your desired role or area of expertise and location, creates a whole list of new
opportunities waiting to be explored!!

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The great thing about this App is of course that it is mobile, so while you are on your
long commute home (obviously reading The Job Searching Expert), you can now apply for all the latest roles via LinkedIn.


You can also apply using your LinkedIn profile as a CV, which makes it quick and easy. Instead of taking down the recruiters information and emailing them separately.

Here at The Job Searching Expert, we love to see new ways of making job searching easier, and this App is just brilliant!!

Download it here now.

Let us know what you think!


Those tough interview questions…sorted!


When you get an interview, there are a lot of mixed emotions.
The main worry, is what are you going to be asked and are you prepared enough?

As I have covered in previous posts, preparation is the key.
Below I have listed some common and dreaded questions, and discussed the best ways to
approach and answer them.

1. What is your biggest weakness?

- This is THE worst question. I never use this when interviewing candidates, as I know how it makes them feel. I try and reword it and say something like ‘What areas do you want to
develop and progress?’ or ‘As you are new in your career, where do you want to focus your
energy to learn and evolve?’ I feel this makes the candidate a lot more at ease.
– When approaching this question, try and be as clear and honest as possible. Don’t make something up which you think makes you sound better, such as ‘I am a workaholic’.
– Always make your ‘weakness’ into a positive. It is a great trait to show the interviewer that you can take something and use it as a positive. For example, a graduate could say ‘My biggest weakness is my lack of experience and knowledge, but to improve that I completed a 3 month internship program where I learnt on the job, and also went to evening school to study my profession’.
– This is a really good example of taking something and turning it around.
– You could also use something that has knocked your confidence. For example being made redundant. You could say ‘One of my weaknesses came after being made redundant from one of my previous roles, I became really unsure of myself and my experience. However I used this as a focus for learning and my understanding for redundancies and employment law has grown significantly’.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

- I really don’t like the wording of this question either. I try and word it ‘What are your career aspirations?’ This way it isn’t a limited question.
– The hardest part of this question, is that most people just don’t know where they will be in 5 years. They may have a solid plan, but what plan ever goes as planned? Or you may want to try different roles before you decide.
– Saying ‘I don’t know’ isn’t an acceptable answer, even though it is what everyone wants to say.
– With this question, try and think of your answer carefully. If you are a Graduate,
the employer is not going to expect to hear your life plan. Try and show you have drive and ambition but also willingness to try new things. Something like ‘As I am new in my career, I
really don’t want to limit myself right now. I am really interested in this profession, but I also know it will open many doors so I am willing to see where it takes me’.
– If you are in your career and know exactly where you want to be then great! But if you are still not quite sure, then talk about what you enjoy about the role, and other areas that interest you. For example you could say ‘I really enjoy the recruitment side of my role, however the training aspect is something that interests me, so I would like to broaden my career and
develop in a new area’. This shows you are dedicated to your role but also want to
develop further.

3. How would your friends describe you?

- This questions really gets me every time! In all honesty, you don’t know how your friends would really describe you, so you end up just telling the employer what they want to hear, which let’s be honest, you hope is true!
– Try using work related skills and traits, however bring in some of your personality too. It is great to show people that you have a life and personality outside work!
– Try using words like: hard working, organised, approachable, friendly, creative, focused etc’.

4. Tell us about yourself

- Over 80% of interviews start with this lovely question!
– This question is just like the last one, it makes people do that awkward thing, talk about themselves.
– Try and keep this brief. Again talk about work and your achievements, but also about you personally. What you like doing, sports or hobbies. Maybe you have just moved house and you are enjoying exploring the area, or just been on a great holiday! Remember the interviewers are humans too and probably have had similar experiences, so chances are this will spark a friendly conversation which will ease a nervous situation.

Hope this helps cover some of the trickiest interview questions!

Do you have any funny questions you have been asked? Let us know!



UK Unemployment

So there was fantastic news in the papers this morning, UK unemployment fell by 146,000 to 2.02 million. The unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, its lowest rate since the
September-to-November period of 2008.
It is also the first time in six years that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance had fallen below one million.

This is great news for people looking for work, as it means the economy is picking up and
looking a lot more positive.
As we have discussed on here before, it is really tough to find work, especially with
redundancies being very common in organisations at the moment.

This drop in unemployment shows that companies are starting to pick up business and
therefore needing to hire more staff.

So get out there! Start applying today and see if we can get that unemployment levels even lower!

Let me know if you have been affected by unemployment in any way, or maybe you are on job seekers allowance and are struggling to get off and get a full time job?


Alfred Ajani – The inspirational graduate!

Alfred photo

As you saw last week, I posted an article that I thought was a really inspirational story. It was about a guy called Alfred who took it upon himself to step up his job hunt. He stood at
Waterloo station holding up a sign advertising himself for work. The results were
phenomenal, he is now working for Asoria Group, a global recruitment company as their
Marketing and PR Projects Manager.
Of course I wanted to speak to him and find out his views on Graduate jobs and the problems graduates face when job hunting.

1. What did you find the hardest thing about job hunting?

The hardest thing was probably applying while trying to finish my dissertation, knowing it will get even harder around the June, July time, I started in April so finding time to edit my cv and write cover letters can take up a lot of time.

2. Did you feel as a Graduate you had enough to offer a future employer?

As I graduate I knew I had fresh ideas and a new way of looking at the market place, all
graduates are the future, companies have to invest their time in us so we can get that much needed ‘experience’ for a stronger work force in the future.

3. Do you feel there is enough out there to help Graduates to find work?

There is more than enough out there to help graduates find roles, help is not too far away but are we willing to take it? I’m sure there is an employability officer at every university, but why are physiotherapists going into sales roles?

4. How did you go about applying for jobs?

It started with cv workshops at university to learn how best to sell myself on a piece of paper, but I wanted to take it further, so started making calls, my name and my voice didn’t work, so I showed my face at Waterloo station.

5. What did you find worked best?

I added charity work to my CV which seemed to have got me a few more calls for potential
interviews, but there was false advertisement on the job description and it wasn’t what I was looking for.

6. Would you go about it differently?

If I knew what I knew now I would of gone to Waterloo station in May, right after submitting my dissertation.

7. Did you use LinkedIn? And how useful did you find it?

I used LinkedIn, I had a few profile views, got myself an internship at a record company and tried to make something happen for my friends in the music industry.
However, after getting out to Waterloo station my profile views and opportunities that have come my way are incredible, not just job offers.

8. Did you use recruitment agencies? And how useful where they?

I went to a few graduate recruitment agencies, they told me so many beautiful things and job opportunities and earning potential but did not follow through. Here the consultants at the four brands within the Asoria Group, I can see first-hand they care about the candidates they want to put forward and I want to change the way the recruitment process is viewed, so my role as a Marketing and PR Projects Manager could be revolutionary.

9. What made you decide to go to Waterloo station and ‘advertise’ yourself like you did?

Many think I was desperate, I would say I was just ready to work and take my ideas to market. I was tired of waiting 2-3 weeks for a reply, no reply or even an automated email
saying unfortunately… claiming I didn’t have enough experience or someone better has filled the role. Have in mind I was applying for a graduate role? How could I possibly lack experience for a graduate role?

10. What advice would you give other Graduates who are struggling to find work?

I have already given advice to many graduates and future graduates who are scared of being unemployed for months when they graduate, so I guess I know have a responsibility and I won’t shy away from any graduate seeking advice. If you have an idea run with it, it only has to work once, safe is risky, be ready to promote yourself today so things can happen tomorrow.

Overall I want to change the interview process, by changing the filtering process we go through at the four brands within the Asoria group, we really want our personalities to shine through and that of our candidates through Video CV’s and actually engaging with them via
social media and networking events. We want to gradually move away from the
cliché questions that provoke cliché answers of: ‘I am passionate driven and hardworking’, if the 100
applicants say that how do you decide who best suits the vacancies.

If you would like more information or would like to share your story, please get in touch.


A different way to get a job!

I was reading the papers today, and came across an article which really made me smile. 

It is about a guy who was desperate for that perfect role after graduating. He had applied to over 300 roles, which was obviously not getting him anywhere. After not receiving any positive news, he took matters into his own hands…. and what a result! 

He took to Waterloo station in the middle of rush hour and held up a sign saying ‘Marketing Graduate, (BA Hons 2:1 coventry Uni) ask for CV’. With all the passing executives and directors, he was bound to get someones attention! And he did.

He found he had a flood of offers, meaning he had a choice of roles to choose from! Amazing.

He now works for a Recruitment company in London, a dream job. 

This story just shows you what can happen when you give a little more! Obviously I am not telling you all to go out and stand at a busy London station, but thinking out of the box is a brilliant way of getting noticed by employers. 

It may be going in and speaking to someone face to face, sending in a unique CV or making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Whatever it is, make sure you make a difference and stand out from the crowd!

Here is the article: 

Have you done anything out of the ordinary and landed yourself your perfect job? Let us know!




Leoni Jay – #Interns – we do more than make coffee!

Leoni Jay

What do you think is the hardest part of looking for an internship?

Personally speaking, I think the hardest thing about finding an internship is deciding where to begin the initial search. Given the developments in technology over the years, there’s a wide range of options available today in terms of actually sourcing positions. Be it online
recruitment or job boards, company websites or social media channels, the search can easily become an overwhelming prospect. Thankfully, these options do exist and it very much comes down to the industry you want to work in and the type of internship you’re looking for. Through many trial and error attempts, you start to gain a fundamental understanding
regarding the optimal ways of how and where to search for internships.

Do you think there are enough internship programmes out there?

As the interning industry continuously evolves, more options become available. Companies understand the importance of offering work experience to young people and the value it can provide to both candidates and an organisation itself. With such an influx of students and graduates flooding into the job market, it’s vital that internships continue to develop in order to meet demand. It’s also not always a question of whether enough programmes exist, rather of taking the initiative to source opportunities. For example, if an individual is interested in
interning for a company and it doesn’t offer internships through it’s website, there’s nothing stopping you from picking up the phone and asking if you can do a placement with them. It might not occur to some businesses to hire interns, so it’s important you seize every
opportunity out there by actively chase after what you want.

You wrote your book #interns – we do more than make coffee but do you think we are really giving interns the chance to develop, and not just to make the coffee?

In the majority of cases, I’ve heard positive stories from former interns regarding their
accounts of work experience. More often than not, interns are given the chance to develop their knowledge and skills in a professional environment. I had a varied level of tasks
throughout my four internships, which are detailed throughout the book, and whilst some of the work was arguably mundane, a large chunk was invaluable. If an intern doesn’t feel they are getting the most out of the situation, it’s up to them to take the initiative and initiate change by speaking with their line manager and voice their concerns. Of course horror stories will continue to
circle, it’s sometimes easier to recall the bad over the good, but with stricter regulation on the work experience industry as a whole, companies are aware that they have to follow a code of conduct when it comes to the level of work interns are given.

Should interns be paid, or is the experience most important?

This is the question that’s posed to me most often, and the honest answer is that there is no straight answer. It’s an topic that has many branches and it would be difficult to provide a
simple yes or no. On the one hand, interns are providing companies with their time, and in the workplace, time is money. Arguably, there’s a grey area in terms of the work output that
interns are permitted as they’re technically not supposed to carry out certain responsibilities at the same level as a paid employee. In this case, the work is technically on a learning and
shadow basis, and so this is their return for the output. If all companies were made to, by law, pay their interns, the industry might well see a decline in opportunity and offerings, which is a
definite negative. I had four internships, totalling almost a year of my time, for which I
didn’t receive pay. However, I wouldn’t trade anything for the experiences that resulted from them as they ultimately led me to the position I’m in today. There’s nothing to say that you can’t intern and also work part time to fund this. With so many different structured
programmes available, companies are often very accommodating and willing to work around your schedule, so there’s always a way to fit it in and around your other responsibilities. I think
ultimately, all companies should at the very least offer expenses, be it travel pay, lunches or
coffee on tap!

Where is the best place to look for an internship?

There are so many routes you can explore when searching for an internship. Be it internet job sites, company websites, networking opportunities, or back to basics via word or mouth, no one method should necessarily be favoured over another. It’s about personal preference and exploring the options available to you depending on the type of internship you would like to secure. I personally chose a mixture of internet searching and calling companies directly to
enquire about what placements were available. Vocal communication is important and a
human voice goes a long way.

Are internships of a week or less not valued as much as a longer stint?

I’d always recommend you try and secure at least two weeks of work experience at a time. One week may not be enough time to settle in, adjust and experience everything that a company has to offer. However, there is still the potential to learn in that time, and as long as you can demonstrate that knowledge on your CV, there’s no reason it should be devalued due to length .

What happens if someone has work experience in a field they then decide to not go into? How do they still sell their experience as positive and relevant?

An internship doesn’t necessary have to be industry specific. Remember that many skills are transferrable, and as long as you can identify which ones are suited for a particular role, you can sell any experience to a potential employer. My internships varied across market fields, yet each placement taught me something vital that I could use in the next. For example, proper
office etiquette, and working effectively within a team. It’s about learning to function in a
workplace environment and putting in the effort to gain that exposure. Employers look for
someone who both tries and who is visibly confident, so as long as you can justify the
relevance, there is nothing to say you can’t explore various industries and pick up new skills along the way.

I hope you enjoyed reading what Leoni has to say, there is some really helpful advice in there!
Leoni’s blog is fantastic, Check it out:

If you have any questions for me or Leoni, please contact me on