How to give a recruiter exactly what they’re looking for…Use their language!

What Does Cycling Have to do with Getting the Job?

One of the most successful sporting teams of the last few decades, is undoubtedly the British Cycling Team.  With their plethora of medals across the board at every major cycling event, they are a formidable force in cycling.  Lead by the Performance Director, Dave Brailsford, the focus for the team is on marginal gains.  Brailsford believes that if it was possible to make a 1% improvement in a whole host of areas, the cumulative gains would end up being hugely significant.  This approach has long had me thinking about what takes you to the top as a candidate for your dream role and how small improvements can help with getting the job.

I love helping women design and achieve their dream careers.  Helping them increase their chances of getting the job is what drives me.

Whether they want to make a total change in direction, or want to rise further up the ladder…it’s all about pursuing and achieving your career dreams.  This doesn’t happen by accident.  I’ve had many clients come to me, with amazing qualifications and experience, yet If you want to have the edge over everyone else, it means you have to be approaching it like an elite athlete.  Athletes are constantly looking to improve, they work with other experts to enable them to do that.  These coaches help them to work from strong foundations, and identify the marginal gains that sets them apart.  Many websites and coaches will give you the basics, google ‘get the job’, or ‘interview techniques’, or ‘interview nerves’, and you will get lots of great, albeit general advice to help.  These are the basics, the fundamentals.  That’s only going to take you so far.  If you want to really up your game and give yourself the best chance of getting the job, it’s going to take an intimate understanding of the marginal gains.  A bit like the cycling team, many of these gains are simple to implement, and make a dramatic difference.

How can I help you make marginal gains?

A good place to start is with language.  Words are interesting things.  We use them all day every day, without much conscious thought.  We’re not just using them to communicate with each other though, we are also using them on ourselves.  The words we use are how we make sense of the world, and are therefore extremely important to us.  Have you ever told somebody something, and when they repeat it back to you they reword it, and you found it really irritating?  This is because the words we use are an exact representation of what we have in our heads.  When different words are used, that can mess up the images and understanding we have, and remove our clarity.  The brain loves things to be clear!

Companies and organisations are made of people, and are therefore built on language.

Obviously it’s how we communicate, and it’s the fabric of the culture that the organisation operates within.  When you understand this, you can start to see the value of learning the language of a company.  That way you can use it in your communication, and instantly be perceived as someone who ‘gets it’, who ‘fits in’. This can take you a long way to getting the job.

First Impressions count

Every communication we have with our ideal company, is making an impression.  Right from any initial calls, and certainly through your CV or Application form.  Many people put their focus on the interview, but remember, that isn’t your first opportunity to make a first impression….your first contact is.  The tips I’m going to share here, apply to all communications.

You want to get your hands on whatever information you can from your prospective organisation.

Whether that’s through an internal contact you have, the job advertisement, the job description, and any other documents they provide. You can also get great information off the company website, particularly around mission/ vision/ values and competences.  Even if this is for a promotion in the Organisation you’re in, don’t underestimate the importance of doing a great application.  I have looked through many a shoddily completed form, where it’s clear the person has believed ‘they know I’ve got what’s needed’, and just thrown the form in.  Well, no!  Any large corporate will likely have strict practices that means if you don’t fulfill the criteria, you won’t be called for interview, even at a very senior level.  Also, do you want to give the impression you don’t care about the job?  So, once you’ve got these pieces of information, it’s time to go through any information given to you with a fine tooth comb, and here’s how to make it as simple as possible…

Take 2 different coloured highlighters, and with one highlight all the nouns (the naming words – come on, I bet you said that to yourself), and the other highlight all the verbs (the doing words!).  That’s it, simples!  It’s what you get from it and do with it that’s important.

It’s What you Do with it That Counts

What you will notice, is there are certain words they use over and over.  These are clearly something they place a lot of importance on.  You will also notice that they will likely have slightly different ways of putting things, these are language norms of that particular organisation.  It’s not that they won’t understand your way of expressing it, they are just likely to be more comfortable with their way, and perceive you to be more like them.

Application/ CV

You’re obviously going to ensure you demonstrate how you meet the essential, and where possible the preferred/ desirable criteria.  You should do this by thinking about how you meet each selection criterion and list examples of relevant skills, experience, incidents, training and personal qualities.  The big difference is, you’re going to use THEIR LANGUAGE!  So you will thread their nouns and verbs through your responses.  That way you minimise the possibility of misunderstanding, and you demonstrate that you are their ideal candidate.  You fit the image of what they already have in their head.  When you make it to interview, they are already imagining that you are the right person for the job.  Believe me, interviewers (as much as they don’t like to admit it), have favourites before anyone has even stepped through the door.  I know, I’ve done it myself!


This follows through to the interview.  You have been given major clues as to their language so use it here too.  It’s good practise when rehearsing (I will be sharing lots more tips on your interview preparation soon), to bring in this language so it becomes second nature.  Also, listen to the language of the question, and use it back to them in your answer.

I told you it was simple, yet deceptively effective.  That’s the power of marginal gains.  When you know what it takes to excel, you can confidently approach your next step up the career ladder and revel in getting the job you deserve.

If you found this useful and would like to know more, please come join us in our GenWomen Career Winners Community.  Here I share lots of strategies and techniques that I usually only share with my clients.

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