Emma Granholm: “Whose first impression counts?”

Emma Granholm Atea Gambit
Emma Granholm.

The writer Emma Granholm is Key Office Manager at Gambit (part of Atea). This column is published in both English and Swedish.

Most of us have probably gone into a job interview focusing on making a good first impression. You may have checked out the job location in advance to make sure you get to the interview on time (but not too early).

You’ve probably thought through your strengths and weaknesses and perhaps done your investigation online trying to figure out the company culture and, with that, the suitable dress code. It might be that you’ve answered a battery of questions and asked a few yourself. Then the long wait begins…

Reversed roles

These days there are a lot of tricks and tips available for applying jobs. As a recruiter, it is my experience that those who tend to follow the rules of a well-established job application process reach positive results.

It is a pleasure to be part of a recruitment process with motivated candidates who can communicate who they are and what their strengths and dreams are (and are able to provide relevant information right from the get-go).

We now see a large demand for skilled work force especially in the IT industry. This, combined with the fact that new generations have entered the market, has resulted in the labor market becoming the employee’s market. We are in a situation where it’s not just the job seekers who need guidance in landing a job but rather the employers who need to come up with ways to differentiate themselves from others.

Companies today need to take a critical look at their self-image and company culture. As difficult as it may be to take a careful look within, one may be certain that the candidates will do their homework and check out the company thoroughly.

In other words, employer branding has never been more important!

Employer branding has never been more important!

Two-way communication

As a recruiter I do welcome these changes in the labor market with open arms. Although I must admit that sometimes they do cause a grey hair here and there.

These days it’s not only the candidate who needs to deliver that good first impression but also those hiring need to return that favor!

We have moved forward from the more traditional ”we ask, you answer” approach to engage both parties in equal and meaningful conversation.

The whole idea is to find out if there’s a match when it comes to mutual interests and values. The recruiter should be able to answer inquiries regarding sustainability, remote work policies, electric car parking possibilities, charity involvement, employee benefits, equality work, efforts to promote work-life balance and what is the company doing to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?

Interesting tasks weigh a great deal when making the decision of accepting the job, of course. But what seals the deal is when the company’s and candidate’s values meet.

The company values ought to show in the day to day life and not just be displayed in written form somewhere. Concrete action is what speaks louder than words.

Since all employees are representatives of the company, the actual company culture will always show in one way or another. This naturally presents both possibilities and challenges to employer branding.

One single chance

As a recruiter at Gambit, my everyday life consists of CVs, phone calls, interviews, LinkedIn and networking. I’m always ready to talk about our values, available positions and resourcing needs.

I could almost lead an interview or write down a job description in my sleep. The challenge for us recruiters is that we may lose focus right in the middle of a recruitment process because of the strict deadlines and stress that comes along with it.

We are all human beings but recruiters usually only have one shot of making a good impression. A recruiter ought to come in to an interview as well prepared as the candidate – identifying the specific recruitment needs, expertly knowing the company culture one’s representing and understanding what the company has to offer to a candidate is key.

Sometimes it’s good to stand in the candidate’s shoes for a minute and try to analyze what factors led to proceeding to the interview stage, what kind of concerns and dreams the candidate might have and whether we as an employer can meet the expectations. And if so, how?

Only then can one take full advantage of the mutual encounter and hopefully continue with further negotiations. Impress the candidate and you just might be the one welcoming them to work.

Focus on the candidate

At Gambit, we strive to focus on our candidates’ strengths and qualifications on a much broader scale than just regarding the specific job description.

It’s our experience that people deliver better results when they get to do what they’re passionate about. I would say this is a contributing factor to Gambit’s success in terms of recruitment and steep growth in recent years.

Every time I welcome a new candidate to our office or login to Teams for a remote interview, I take a deep breath and focus on being there, being present. The candidate is worth all my focus and that is the exact message I want to come across with.



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