Fringe detail can pay dividends

By Mary O’Brien-Killeen, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers (Claremorris)

Mary O'Brien-Killeen
Mary O’Brien, Career Coach, Claremorris. Tel: 094 95 42965.

Q: I’m going for interview next week and I feel I have prepared properly. I have researched the company extensively, got my examples written down on paper, and even got my father to do a mock interview with me (and we didn’t even argue). Is there anything else I can do? I’m thinking about the small things now, as I feel I have the big stuff covered. What suggestions would you have? (EK, email).

A: It’s an excellent question. Around the fringes of the job application process, a great deal can happen to influence your chances. Act as if you are always being watched by the employer – this will keep you on your toes throughout.

So reply to their emails promptly. Pay attention to the grammar and spelling. Be respectful – and, more than anything else, put a capital letter on their name, and, indeed, your own name. Text speak has no place in correspondence of this nature.

Answer your phone in a mannerly way even if – particularly if – you don’t recognise the number. Get your voice message sorted: a bit of fun with your friends (“Hi, it’s Enda, improving this world, one Jager Bomb at a time…”) might not be quite what you want your prospective employer hearing.

Be nice to the people you encounter from the first phone call through to the ‘bye now’ as you leave the building after the interview. Receptionists get asked their opinion, you know. “She seemed very nice” can go a long way. “She was rude,” can hole your campaign below the water-line.

Anyway, for all you know, the receptionist might be the owner.

On Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms, don’t comment negatively about the company beforehand or afterwards. Have your referees primed that they may get a call, and tell them the kind of jobs you’re going for a the minute so they can tailor their advocacy the right way.


“He was a great man mixing mortar” might not be the most comforting evidence for a recruiter checking out your teaching credentials. Or “he was a great man doing the two times tables with the young kids” won’t have a site foreman knocking down your door. Have referees in place who can talk about the right sector.

Turn up on time. If you’re male, tie your tie up the full way, rather than leaving hanging loose and pulling to one side in the style of a man who’s last to leave the wedding reception. Small things that can make a difference.

Appoint your own boss

  • If you’re job-searching, consider having someone who keeps you on your toes. A boss, if you like: but a boss you appoint.
  • It could be a friend or a family member. They should have the wherewithal to ask you if you did what you said you were going to do.
  • Did you tweak the CV to meet that job spec?
  • Did you personalise the job letter?
  • Did you contact the former colleague who is well connected?
  • Did you go see the recruiter?
  • Did you make a check back call to the recruiter?

Persistence pays. Salespeople sell because they stick at it – not to the point of being irritations, but far enough to explore the possibilities. You don’t know which of the things you said you were going to do will actually turn out to be the action that pays off – but if you don’t do any of them, you can be pretty sure that all of them will lead to nothing.

Mary O’Brien-Killeen is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Claremorris, Co. Mayo.

Make a booking HERE  for CV Preparation, Application Form writing, Interview Training and Mock Interviews.

More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE