11 things that make a great candidate

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Let’s face it, job hunting is no quick and easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort to create an application which might get you to the next stage in the recruitment process – but how do you stand out in the crowd? What differentiates you from the rest? What makes you ‘great’ and not merely ‘okay’?

Recruiters look for numerous qualities and characteristics – and they’re not all obvious. To give you a little insight, we asked ARM’s own consultants for their opinions. Here’s what they think makes a great candidate:

“From my point of view, I’d have to say when speaking to candidates, my favourite trait to look for would be hunger. I feel that if a candidate shares a hunger for either what they do or would like to do, then I would be able to work with them now and in the future. So a win/win.” – Jamie Appleby, Account Consultant, Automotive.


“Anyone who has achieved in reputable companies, in a niche market, will have currency; a specialist who has achievements should be attractive to any employer. Also it gives the recruiter an accurate appreciation of where to send / market / place that person.” – Chadi Malak, Director, Advanced Technologies.

“I look for passion within their niche/market, what they do ‘extra’ - whether that be attending conferences or extra curriculum.” - Holly Foxcroft, Recruitment Consultant, Cyber.

“Someone who is easy to talk to / build rapport with stands out. It’s important to feel at ease when speaking to them to understand their motivations for leaving their current job and also to understand their personal life to an extent (do they have a young family, married etc.).

"Without them feeling at ease with you, and vice versa, you struggle to get all the information required which may help matters further down the line.” – Daniel Smith, Account Consultant, Defence and Aerospace.


“I pay attention to what soft skills and technical skills the candidate can offer the company, those that are not on the job specification, i.e. that add value.” – Andrew Vaughan, Team Manager, IT Permanent. 


“Commitment. I say this because it takes away doubt in the recruiter’s mind that the candidate won’t say that they’re not looking anymore or will accept a counter offer. This can be established by asking: ‘What are your motivations for leaving?’ and ‘Under what circumstances would you accept a counter offer?’ Etc., etc.” - Charles Roberts, Recruitment Consultant, Infrastructure and Built Environment 

"Commitment and interest from the candidate from the start. You can tell from the first call - are they interested in the role and are they ready for a move? If you are selling too much on the first call then you have a higher risk of a rejection." - David James, Engineering Director.

 “Trying to blag it gets candidates nowhere, they’ll get caught out eventually. The more honest they are, the better job we can do in finding them the perfect opportunity!” – Rosy Hill, Junior Account Consultant, Engineering. 

“If they are honest from the outset then nothing is a surprise!” –  Deborah McFarlane, Head of Business Solutions. 

“In a market where candidates and skills are short, I believe a true partnership between consultant and candidate is most important. Having that relationship with a candidate really helps to fully understand their current situation, capabilities, motivations and future aspirations.

"As soon as you know these things, and the candidate entrusts their future move in you, this is really what makes a great candidate.” – Benjamin Wiggins, Recruitment Consultant, Manufacturing and Technologies.


“Bo staff skills, nunchuck skills, computer hacking skills – as long as they can code.” – Matt Seeney, Senior Account Consultant, Defence and Aerospace.

“If they have an informative, well written CV, it tends to mean they have good communication skills and with that comes good relationship-building and commitment to the process.

“Good communication means we can develop relationships with the candidates, where they can trust that we will do our best for them, and we can trust they will be committed to attending interviews and working more exclusively with us.” - Katherine Smallwood, Business Manager, Manufacturing and Technologies.


“Professional, but this has to be double-sided, i.e. when we behave professionally towards them, great candidates are the ones who are professional in return – and in my experience, some of these candidates have become great clients, too!” - Lorne Adams, Technology Service Delivery Director.

The above shows that a real mix of personal and professional attributes can help you demonstrate what a great candidate you are. Naturally, you don’t need to possess all of these, but bear them in mind when you’re pulling together your CV, your online application or even preparing for your interview.  Don’t be shy about your skills and achievements, develop a good relationship with your recruitment consultant, let your personality shine through – and you should be just fine!

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