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LinkedIn article - Job Seeker Frustration - Some Advice

17 days ago by ConnectedGroup
Job Seeker Advice   Li Article

​This article was written by our MD, Mathew Gollop, and published in LinkedIn on 14th September 2022:

My last article seemed to strike a nerve. Not just from employers finding it hard to recruit but, more so, from frustrated candidates. I've responded to as many messages as I can but, I felt it may help to give some deeper insight.

The great news for employers is that there is still a strong interest from candidates to move to (or, in many cases, back to) Hong Kong. Again, I urge employers to cast the net wide as early as possible in your recruitment strategy to give you options. Everyone fighting over an ever dwindling pool is a road to nowhere. Heads-up to those overseas candidates though - we are not yet seeing this demand from our clients in a meaningful way.

This is where the frustration starts. Candidates are applying to roles (direct and through recruiters), hearing that there is a talent shortage but, they are getting little or no traction.

As a result, I wanted to share my advice for both job seekers and recruiters which I am sure is universal and not just specific to the current market in Hong Kong.


Whether you are in agency or internal TA, the biggest challenge to being effective at filling vacancies is, managing your time. You prioritise your time to focus on the candidates that are the best match for the roles that are open. This is where the fastest return is, and the easiest way to keep hiring managers and HR partners happy.

The issue is however, that your employment and professional brand is also impacted by every candidate that you don't engage, and these will significantly outnumber the ones you place. So, here's some advice to mitigate the reputational risk:

  1. Write better job adverts.

    Be specific about what you need (and what you don't). Explain what criteria your client or employer is looking for in detail. Don't just rely on the generic job description and usual cliches when you actually have deeper insights to offer.

  2. Speak to candidates outside the immediate target zone.

    More junior/senior? Lacking a language skill? No degree? Parallel industry? These are all people who will likely benefit your network for future opportunities and, they may be able to recommend people when they understand they are not a fit themselves. Equally, you may just get a different impression of someone that moves them to the shortlist.

  3. Push diversity candidates.

    By following the previous point, you can strive to proactively add a strong fit candidate to every search list who doesn't tick every box. Advocate for people you believe in and who will bring value to your (or your client's) organisation. If they are impressive, regardless of whether they are successful, you will have brought value. I have also seen companies create new opportunities on the basis of seeing an exciting talent.

  4. Empathise. When you see someone applying for different roles, appreciate how frustrating it must be to hear nothing back. Just a note to explain why you can't help will go a long way. Also make time for the profile that looks interesting but doesn't fit your usual skill boxes. By explaining you don't have roles that fit their profile but, that you are happy to share insights, you will effectively manage expectations and both of you will gain from the encounter. When someone sends you a direct message, take the time to reply, even if it's just to explain that you can't assist and, ideally, refer them to someone who can.

Job Seekers

  1. Don't take it personally.

    This is hard because a job search is an innately personal experience. Your CV is a representation of you so, when it is rejected (or seemingly ignored), it can sting. Whilst it would be incredible for every candidate to be able to have a personalised application process, it's just not viable. Recruiters will likely view somewhere between 200 and 500 candidate profiles a week for multiple roles and their ability to respond in any meaningful way to those candidates who don't fit open role requirements is very limited.

  2. Focus on building a network of value.

    A job application is transactional. A relationship has enduring value. Connect with potential hiring managers, recruiters and HR contacts with a view to opening the door on a conversation about your area of expertise. See these connections as the 'wins' along the way because they will prove of benefit in other ways in the future. Will every recruiter be open to this? No, but, the ones that are will give you a longer term pay off.

  3. Be pragmatic.

    If you are not getting responses to multiple applications, the likelihood that the recruiting gatekeepers are missing out on the perfect fit is much lower than the scenario where your profile doesn't meet key criteria (which frustratingly may not appear in the advertisement). In this case, go back to my previous point, grow your network and ask for advice to reframe your search strategy.

  4. Be patient.

    Job searches can take time and chasing recruiters every week for updates will only end up in disappointment. Set a monthly reminder to send a 'FYI, I'm still here' message to the recruiters you found more engaging but, do nudge them along the way if you see a specific role advertised that you feel is a fit for you (and include the link to the job).

The reality is that every recruitment process ends up with more disappointed participants than successful ones but, if all parties can understand and empathise with the inherent frustrations, better long-term outcomes can be achieved.

I try to respond to anyone who wants to talk about recruitment from either side of the equation -