Category Archives: Recruitment & Job-Hunting Tips

The only way is up! Actually this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you have to play the long game.

As a recruiter I speak to professionals about their career options on a daily basis. Many people say they will only consider another job if it’s a step up or if it presents a significant increase in salary. Sometimes these people are short sighted.

Consider this scenario; you are an Internal Auditor and would like your next job to be a Finance Manager. You apply for many Finance Manager jobs but are unable to get to the interview stage.

Perhaps you can pause and consider things from the hiring manager’s perspective, there are likely to be other candidates applying for the same job and many of them may already be Finance Managers.

What can you do differently to achieve the desired results? One option may be to look at internal options in your current place of work. Perhaps there is an opportunity to temporally cover for the Finance Manager when he / she is on vacation. In the short term it is in your interest to volunteer for a lateral assignment, or expand your workload, often without any increase in pay. The experience gained will position you one step closer to a Finance Manager role.

An alternative approach could be to apply for Financial Accountant roles instead of Finance Manager positions. After a couple years as a Financial Accountant you may have gained the desired experience to move into the Finance Manager position.

A third option could be to volunteer, in your spare time, as a Finance Manager for an NGO or Industry Committee that needs assistance in this area.

All three options provide the same result; relevant work experience. This will make your profile more desirable to hiring managers and assist in the career advancement that you seek.

Have you recently been retrenched or made redundant? Are you considering your next career move? Is this your first time job hunting in over a decade?

Trinidad and Tobago is largely dependent on a sector that has been in global decline for approximately two years. The Oil and Gas industry is in the throes of ”Lower for Longer Prices”, in addition the T&T economy has  been adversely affected by a lack of diversification and economic stimulation. Under these circumstances it’s not surprising to observe that a percentage of the mature working population have found themselves in a position they never envisioned; jobless with families to feed and mortgages to pay.

My advice; do not become complacent or procrastinate about jumpstarting your job search, we are in a challenging job market that is far from candidate driven. The first step toward finding a new role involves writing or re-vamping your CV, the key is to ensure you create an achievement lead CV.

Next up, the job search. Ideally you want to have a planned systematic approach to job hunting. Keep your activity levels high and engage in job search activities on a daily basis. It helps to structure your day, perhaps you can put aside an hour or two for perusing the press and online job boards. Also liaise with a reputable Recruitment Agency. Ensure you don’t duplicate efforts or apply for the same job multiple times through various avenues. Apply for jobs that are relevant to your skill-set. Also keep an open mind; be prepared to take on contract assignments. The working world is changing, be open to changing with it. Gone are the days of “A job for life”. Consider contract or project based work.

Make sure to prepare adequately for the interview; understand the company and its culture. Also you should know your CV inside out and be ready to answer questions about everything you have listed.

When negotiating your remuneration have realistic salary expectations, remember that it’s better to gain employment and sustain a marginal reduction in salary. The alternative may involve remaining unemployed for six to nine months or even longer.

Best of luck with your job search!

When searching for that first job Caribbean students are often trapped in an exasperating chicken and egg scenario. You need work experience to be considered for the position but employers are reluctant to give you that first job until you have work experience.

The secret to getting past this initial challenge is to work hard during your undergraduate years. Good grades always help but grades will only get you so far. How does one bridge that gap between University and work? The answer: look for internship opportunities and enroll to gain work experience during term breaks or apply for one of the few coveted “on campus jobs”. If you take an assignment every summer you are likely to gain six to nine months’ work experience while at university. Also don’t shy away from taking low level roles and working your way up. This is an excellent way to learn the ropes; many of the world’s strongest leaders started their careers this way.  The key to success is humbleness, once you get an opportunity be prepared to use your initiative, offer to assist with tasks, and maintain a high level of mental engagement so you learn quickly on the job.

Are you interested in changing jobs or casually looking at your options?

It’s important to note that most people don’t move for money. Motivation for career change often comes from a desire for career progression or a need to find a culture fit that’s more suitable.

With this in mind I advise candidates to take a practical approach to salary negotiations. A good rule of thumb is to expect an increase in salary of 10% or less. Also you should think of justifiable reasons why you deserve that 10% increase. Experienced professionals often move jobs because that are primarily focused on the role, remuneration is secondary.

To be through you may want to conduct research to understand what the current market rate is for similar jobs within your industry, bearing in mind that in Trinidad and Tobago the same job could have a vastly different salary range across different industries or different size businesses.

Also remember that good negotiations are based on give and take. If you are pushing for a higher salary be prepared to work long hours to deliver outstanding performance in return.

Susan’s Snippets
Christmas is in the air, carols and parang are on the radio, glitter is in the malls, and of course parties are inviting. For many businesses, this is their busiest time of the year. For recruiting companies, it’s probably the quietest as decisions on hires are often postponed until January So, for us it’s a time to catch our breaths, tidy our files, and strategise for the upcoming year. Then we are prepared for the recruitment rush in January. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year to all our subscribers.

Sign Before You Resign
You’ve aced the interviews, negotiated the best package, and now the great news – they want to hire you! You’re excited and can’t wait to tell your boss that you’re out of there. Of course you want to be fair and give your current employers as much notice as possible, so once the start date is agreed, you tell your company you’re leaving on that date. Only one thing bothers you: your new employers haven’t sent you the actual offer to sign yet. As time goes on, and you keep getting put off, or worse, no response to your phone calls and emails, the harsh reality sinks in. There is no offer and you have no job to go to.

Does this nightmare scenario sound familiar? Sadly, I have heard it many, many times. What happens to these job-offer victims? If they swallow their pride and ask for their old job back, they are marked as disloyal and a high risk to leave. Therefore, they will be overlooked for promotion and the better career opportunities and even training. Chances are they will leave within the year, quite humiliated.

They could take their chances on the job market which means risking a few months with no income. Again, this can be quite a blow to their self-esteem if they suffer rejections from other employers, and this can turn into a repeated cycle if their low-self-esteem and depression is the reason they don’t get the job offers.

I remember one case where the prospective employee resigned his current job so he could start researching the project he was to work on in his new job. He didn’t know that after his would-be employers told him that he got the job, the person who used to do that job approached them to work with them again. They didn’t tell this job-offer victim until the day before he was due to start work. He was devastated and felt cheated because he actually started doing the work.

Many years ago, a friend of mine accepted a dream job abroad. She gave up her rented accommodation and was at the airport waiting to board the plane when she was approached by a representative of the company to say that the job was no longer available. Can you imagine how she felt, with no place to live, no job, no income and carrying all her worldly possessions? She ended up staying by me as I lived close to the airport. It was months before she got another job and moved out.

I know of a recent case where the victim was a returning national, and on the basis of a verbal offer, he gave up his job, sold his house, sent his family back to Trinidad, and even turned down other offers. In fact, he uprooted his life on the expectation of this high-paying job. Eventually, the hiring company informed him that they felt it was imprudent to make such an expensive hire in these uncertain times.

One common thread in all these cases is that the hiring company that changes their minds about the hire, never tell the job-offer victim until the very last minute. They avoid all contact with the person, who ends up digging themselves deeper into trouble. In almost every case, the job-offer victim did not insist on signing a contract of employment before announcing their intention to leave. They want to accommodate their new employer as much as possible and the paper-work just seems to be a minor issue. And we’re not talking about fly-by-night companies either. Most of the time, the would-be employers are well-known and respected companies, even at a global level.

Please, please, always sign an employment contract before you resign. Even if this delays your new start date, it is better this way than you being left high and dry. You have been warned!

Tell Us What You Think
We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets
As you may have seen in the local newspapers, CRS is still celebrating our 10th anniversary of service.

I have been particularly moved by the glowing testimonials we’ve received from candidates and clients and these are now published on both of our websites (see for the I.T. recruitment reviews). Thank you all for your support and I am glad to have served you over the years.

Employee vs Employer Market
Are we in an Employee or Employer market right now in T&T? It depends on what industry we’re talking about.

There are some I.T. skills which are very hard to find e.g., I.T. Salespeople, Project Managers, Internet Security Specialists to name a few. Most other I.T. skills are readily available, and so I would say it’s still an Employer’s Market for I.T.

Employers usually have the luxury of being able to choose an I.T. employee from a selection available, and so personality and other soft skills are the main criteria to fit the team. Having said that, there has been a steady demand for good I.T. staff and this has caused salaries to rise in recent years.

Really good, experienced people in any discipline always command a premium rate because there are so few of them around. When employers cannot find the skills they need and they are desperate, then you will see tactics like poaching and counter-offers taking place to get/keep necessary skills to do the work.

Even when candidates really do not have the experience or depth of knowledge required, they may still be rare enough to find their salaries shoot up when they decide to test their marketability. I have heard of at least one case where an Oil & Gas Engineer went to his employers saying he’d got a job offer. They counter-offered and a battle took place over him.
When the dust settled, he was still in the same job at nearly double his original salary. The irony was that he wasn’t considered all that great at his job; it’s just that there wasn’t anybody out there to replace him.

It’s definitely an Employee’s Market right now for several disciplines within the Energy Sector in T&T, such as Civil/Structural Engineers, Process Engineers, QA/QC Specialists, Quantity Surveyors, Drillers and so on. Service companies are having a tough time finding resources at prices that they can afford after bidding for projects. Sometimes there is no other option but to bring in ex-pats at many times the cost of local employees.
The benefit of that, in theory, is that the experienced ex-pat can pass on his international expertise and knowledge to our locals.

There is a lot of good talent undergoing training within the Energy industry in T&T and one day, they will have that knowledge and experience to make them in demand internationally. They will be the ex-pats called in around the globe to help Oil & Gas companies get the job done and bring their locals up to a world-class standard. When that time comes, CRS will be in a position to help them find those lucrative jobs anywhere in the world. We have eyes on the world!

Tell Us What You Think
We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets
I have to apologise for the extra long gap since our last newsletter. This has been due to an unprecedented demand on my time to deal with new business, internal reorganisation and other issues. It is my intention to always keep this newsletter going on at least a bi-monthly basis.

This issue’s topic is a short extract from a presentation, entitled “Globalisation of Recruitment – Leveraging of Technology”, that I gave at the recent HRMATT Conference & Exposition in Trinidad.

Newsflash – The Information & Communications Society (ICTS) has announced that nominations are being accepted for their inaugural Excellence in ICT Awards for both individuals and projects. See for more information and application forms. The deadline for applications is Friday November 2, 2007. There is great prestige associated with being a nominee so consider entering yourself or other deserving people.

Coping with Emailed Resumes
Many of you have to get involved with recruiting at some point. This means that job vacancies are advertised and you have to deal with the influx of resumes in the form of paper, CDs, emails and so forth.

To make your life much simpler, I recommend that you accept resumes only in the form of emails. Don’t even advertise an address or a telephone number – just state that all resumes should be sent to, for example, These days, most jobs require an ability to communicate by email so it shouldn’t be that hard for applicants to comply with this.

The great advantage of doing this is that you can leverage technology to make the recruiting process much more effective and efficient.

Would advertising produce a deluge of emailed resumes? There is an abundance of software out there that will scan emailed resumes and extract skills to automatically create candidate records. You can then use the software to find candidates on this database that match your particular skill requirements. The software will also allow you to track the recruitment process so you are in control.

You will save a lot of time and the search for the right candidate will be far more accurate. Try searching on the Internet for “recruiting software” to see which product suits you best. Of course, your company may prefer to design and create its own recruitment software. In all cases, considerable thought and effort must go into setting up a “skills catalogue” to define the names of the skills that will be used in the skill extraction process as well as the skills search process.

One big advantage of receiving all your applications by email is that you can set the receiving email address to automatically acknowledge receipt of the applications. For example, say you advertise that all job applications are to go to You can set an option on that email address to always respond with a message like “Thank you for submitting your application to Company X. We will review it and contact you should we find that you are suitable for an existing vacancy”.

It is much quicker, easier and cheaper to have standard acceptance and rejection emails, compared to corresponding by letter or telephone. It is not a substitute for the personal touch during the recruiting cycle, but it sure helps automate handling of the rejects.

Also, you no longer need a filing cabinet for all those job applications, and a big garbage bag (for the unsuitable résumés). Emailed applications can be quickly filed in appropriate PC “folders” and unsuitable ones are simply deleted. Now all those potential candidates are easily accessible (and searchable) whenever you like.

Plus this process lends itself to easy back-ups. No fears of a fire or flood wiping out your filing cabinets full of carefully collected paper resumes that are not copied anywhere else! You are in control and the recruiting process appears slick and very professional to the applicants.

Of course it is always easier to use a recruitment agency that embraces all this technology and does all the leg work for you and then all you need see is the screened, short-listed candidates. Happy recruiting!

Tell Us What You Think
We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets
It’s back to work now that everyone has returned from their “Summer” holidays. That means that more new jobs are coming on the market and I have been asked to share some of the résumé writing tips that we give our candidates to help them portray themselves to best effect.

6 Tips for Writing a Winning Résumé
There is plenty of advice on the Internet on how to write good résumés and what to put in it. Space does not allow me to go into great detail here, so this is my own view of of a few things that I have found to work well.

1) Proper English, accurate spelling and good grammar
We were all taught this at school yet it’s surprising how many people do not even bother to do a spell check before sending out their résumés. This portrays you as sloppy and uneducated, and you won’t get a second look from the HR department unless they know that you won’t be required to write any reports or documentation.

2) Good layout of information
Remember that most HR people have to skim through hundreds of résumés sometimes to pick out the good ones. They may take 10 seconds to decide if yours is worth considering. Make sure that they can quickly and easily pick out what YOU want them to read. So give them a brief outline of your skills and put your most recent jobs at the top of your list of companies worked. Clearly state what each job entailed and the skills used.
Education, courses taken, references, hobbies, etc., can be placed after this as they would only look for this detail if you have already caught their attention. CRS recommends the layout given on our website
Always write in the ‘first person’ rather than the ‘third person’ as the latter style makes it look like someone else wrote the résumé for you.

3) Keep it short and concise
You may have had a busy career with a long list of jobs, each with interesting skills to high-light. If your résumé is more than 3 pages long, then cut it down! No one will find the time to read your accomplishments of 10 years ago and may skip your recent ones as well if they are faced with a volume of information.
Keep any job description over 8 years ago to 1 or 2 sentences. Any skills used then are probably irrelevant now in the fast-paced world of technology. You can leave out minor jobs altogether, so long as this doesn’t leave a significant time gap between jobs listed.

4) Put in dates
Always put in dates for your jobs and education. Otherwise it looks like you are trying to hide something.

5) Don’t be too fancy
As an agency, we hate when candidates put in fancy colours, complicated formatting, tables and graphics as we have to do a certain amount of style changing to conform to our own standards, put in our logo, etc. Avoid referring an employer to your online résumé as this takes time on their part and they may be unwilling to make the effort.

6) Skills Matrix
We encourage our technical candidates to put their skills with competency level, years experience and when last used, in a chart format at the back of their résumés (see Our clients have found this extremely useful as they can then quickly assess whether someone has the skill profile that they are looking for.

Good luck with writing that killer profile of yourself!

Tell Us What You Think
(Referring to our last newsletter “Retaining I.T. Staff”)

What makes you want to work for a company? Usually it’s because you admire the challenges that the employees in that company face in terms of the solutions that they develop for their customers, you are eager to work with the technology that this company has available or quite simply the expertise that is available makes you want to just bask in the glow of brilliance (ok I’m laying it on a bit thick.. but you get my drift). Money issues are secondary concerns.
We all have our bills, but in my opinion many people would take a pay cut if they are able to go to work somewhere that challenges them to work creatively, productively and encourages communication of ideas… It just means they would have to come up with creative budgeting measures.
Companies need to do some re-evaluating. Are they willing to be looked at as a revolving door, knowing that people view you simply as a stepping stone, or do you want to be seen as a company where I.T. personnel aspire to work because they know that they would be able to grow as the company grows? … Shelly-Anne

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets

Thank you for the interest shown in the launching of this newsletter.  If you know anyone else who might like to read it, then please feel free to pass it on to them.

After the first newsletter was sent out, I received some disturbing news that certain local agencies are using CRS’s name to convince people that they are genuine about finding them overseas jobs for a fee. Please scroll down to the next section “Tell Us What You Think” to read my comment on this.

Retaining Technical Staff

It’s common knowledge that it’s an employee’s market in the Energy industry worldwide. Here in Trinidad, there are not enough skilled and suitably experienced people working in the industry and they are being desperately sought after by several companies, often bidding for the same work.  So how does an employer try to keep their in-demand staff?

From my own experience, there are 3 main elements that will affect whether an employee is happy or not – the job itself, the office environment and commutation concerns.  If all 3 are good, then this employee is very happy and will not leave.  If only 2 are good, then this employee may be content but would be open to better offers.  If only 1 is good, then this person will be looking for another job.

If none are present, then you have a seriously unhappy individual who is desperate to leave. Clearly, this is a simplistic view and people will have different emphases on which elements are important to them.

1) The Job
Job interest is particularly important to technical people who thrive in a challenging role. If the job becomes too much the same, day in and day out, then they will get bored and look for something more stimulating. Development and training in new skills is important for an I.T. professional to maintain their marketability.

Often, the nature of the work is more important to an individual than the salary, though an underpaid person will probably feel discontented. A highly paid individual is unlikely to be more happy just because of their salary. Nevertheless, people may be tempted to move jobs simply to earn very high salaries, presumably because they (or their families) can enjoy luxuries because of it.

Working long hours for a long period of time is extremely stressful and can lead to ‘burn out’, so why do people do it? Often, staff are motivated to make whatever personal sacrifices are necessary to complete a project by a deadline imposed by their employer. But afterwards, the ‘down’ after the ‘high’ of the adrenaline of team effort can lead to depression and demotivation.

2) The Office Environment
By office environment, I mean the building, the office arrangement and the people the employee has to work with. If the office is shabby or the desks are too close together or otherwise unpleasant to work in, then this is bound to affect the people who work there.

In addition, office politics can have seriously debilitating effects on a person’s psyche, whereas being part of a cheerful and supportive team is very uplifting to most people. How well employees relate to their boss and how well respected they are in their jobs are also major factors in how happy they are at work.

3) Commutation Concerns
Commuting to work can be very stressful and occupies a great deal of unproductive time if it involves travelling for over an hour in slow moving traffic. Some people get round this by changing their hours of work to come in either before or after the morning rush hour, but this still means having much less personal time at home. ‘Telecommuting’ or working from home is becoming more popular because of the increased difficulty in getting to work in a reasonable time.

All I can advise is that companies who want to retain their staff should listen to the concerns of their employees, and be prepared to change those elements that are within their power to change in order to maintain a happy working environment for everyone. The reward is a contented and productive team and a low turn-over of hard-to-replace staff.

Tell Us What You Think
(Referring to our last newsletter “Job Scams”)

It has been brought to my attention that there are companies who advertise in the Classifieds section of the local newspapers and offer overseas job-finding services for a fee. This fee is “refundable” should they not find you a job. Please note that Caribbean Resourcing Solutions (CRS) is not associated in any way with any agency or company purporting to find overseas jobs for individuals.

The following website has some interesting comments about one of these companies, Caledonian Offshore:

This is a common scam. Please be very wary and investigate the company name on the Internet before handing over any money to an employment agency for foreign jobs.

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.

Susan’s Snippets
Well, the “Summer” vacation is just about over and it’s back to earning a living. Hopefully, you are fired up and ready to reach for the stars. This issue is focusing on how prospective employers should treat and respect “star” candidates. Hopefully you are one of them.

Hiring Stars – What not to do
There’s a big difference in the pace of life between a developed country and a developing Caribbean country. T&T wants to reach developed status by the year 2020 and Jamaica has a deadline of 2030. One area that will probably be hardest to bring to developed status is the speed of doing business. Any business professional who has ever worked in North America or the UK/Europe will tell you that it is frustrating when Caribbean clients take a long time to make decisions (and it makes it hard to plan cash flow).

An example of this slow responsiveness can be seen in the hiring of staff. While I have not been a recruiter outside of Trinidad, I have experienced being a candidate in the UK. Over there, the recruiters in the agencies that I signed up with worked very fast (as we aim to do at CRS) and employers made their hiring decisions very quickly. This was necessary as good candidates would receive a choice of job offers with corresponding pressure to accept by a short deadline. I can remember trying to delay decisions or having to reject offers because the company I wanted to work with took longer than the rest to make their offer (it worked out in the end).

In the Caribbean as elsewhere, it’s always hard to find great candidates with a strong track record. Yet there are employers who appear to believe that they can take their time and that these “star” candidates will still be happily waiting around for them. The feedback we get from these top talents is that they feel ignored and disrespected, and this is a turn-off. So much so that even if they have not secured another job, they will turn down the offer from the slow moving company as this tardy response reflects badly on how the company operates.

Another huge turn-off to candidates is having to do repeated interviews. Two interviews is normal, three is OK for more senior people, but four or more and the recruiter has to bring all her persuasive powers to bear to get that candidate to turn up. So many interviews suggests that the employer does not value the candidate’s time or that they can’t make up their minds about them. Either way, it comes across as offensive, and believe me, it makes people ANGRY.

The final no-no in hiring top people is to make a lower offer than what was originally advertised. There was a case many years ago of a highly-skilled foreign yachtsman who CRS submitted for a position for which no locals had the qualifications. We told him the salary range given to us was very reasonable by local standards, though clearly much lower than what he was accustomed to earning. Anyway, after much persuasion he attended an interview. The hiring team were very excited as they had little prospect of seeing anyone else to fit their requirement. They made him an offer on the spot – about $2,000 below the minimum they had given us. Well, my man just got up, walked out, jumped on his yacht and sailed away, never to be seen again! That time, we were also the angry ones as we felt undermined and made to look unprofessional. Everyone lost!

When you are trying to woo rare talent (or any kind of talent) please respect their time and their sense of worth. It’s always an employee’s market when it comes to star candidates. Once insulted, they will never take the job and the company’s reputation will be put in question. Good luck with your head hunting!

Tell Us What You Think
(Referring to our last newsletter “Hiring Friends”)

A well written article, and should help reinforce that the correct process of recruitment could save much time and money over the long term. After all, if you recommend the person and they do not perform – who’s reputation is going to suffer??! … Susan


Appreciated the article, so relevant to my region, where someone is always a “good” friend or a distant relative who really needs a “job”. HR personnel have a hard time dissuading Department Managers etc to step back and allow the Company’s hiring policies and guidelines to run its course to enable the “best” person for the job to get the job. In a highly technical company HR personnel seems almost limited at times to push for transparency since they rely on the advice of the technical mangers to recommend the best candidate for the job, and they unfortunately are also often the same ones pushing for their “friends” etc to get the job… Tricia

Have you had an experience where hiring someone’s friend has turned out to be a disaster? Please tell us about it…. Susan

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of CRS News. And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you would like to share with us, please send those too.