Application tips

First aid after a job interview: reduce stress & get the job

07 Aug 2021
Phew! Your job interview has come to an end. What a relief! Maybe you are (in)secure, (dis)satisfied or perhaps you have feelings of despair? This is absolutely normal. It is even normal for these feelings to change when mentally reviewing your job interview.

But now it is up to the recruiter and his or her colleagues. Together they will judge your application. In this article, you will discover useful tips on how to minimize your stress and optimize your chances of success after the job interview.

The recruiter as an advisor

After your interview, the recruiter will evolve from an evaluating role to an advisory role. So treat the recruiter as an ally, not as an examiner. Make proper agreements and ensure accurate communication. Help the recruiter, so he or she can help you!

A recruiter will hardly ever be the only decision-maker in an application process; this is usually done in consultation. It will be the responsibility of the recruiter to provide feedback to you and the company and to follow up on your application. And you are the one who can help with that!

job fairsFor example, when a recruiter is asking for additional information, such as a copy of your diplomas, an additional reference or an extra motivation, this will likely be to support your application and not because the recruiter is having doubts about your knowledge or skills.

Clear communication will make a good impression

Make sure you always communicate in a fast and accurate manner and inform the recruiter when you are no longer available. Honest and accurate communication is professional and … you never know if you will ever need this recruiter again.

To avoid nail-biting and sleepless nights, it will be useful to make clear agreements at the end of the job interview about the time period in which you can expect feedback. Agree on a specific time or at least a fixed time period. This way, you will not need to harass the recruiter on a daily basis with your calls and e-mails. Less is more!

There is no such thing as negative feedback!

Everybody is entitled to feedback! Both positive and negative feedback. But is there really something like negative feedback? Some tips on how to deal with ‘negative’ feedback:

Don’t consider ‘negative’ feedback as criticism but as advice that may help you in the long run. Although the initial message (you have not gotten the job) can be negative, the explanation does not necessarily need to be so.

Negative feedback is actually a positive thing: the recruiter wants to help you. So, therefore, don’t immediately start to defend but take a step back and try to identify the learning points that can help you in the future.

keep eyecontact during job interviewDon’t blame the messenger!

‘Negative’ feedback is no reason to become angry with anyone. Not with the recruiter and not with yourself. Applications are not about you! The job interview is used to find the most suitable candidate for a particular job. If this is you, then that’s a bonus!

Maybe this time another candidate was slightly a better fit. Try to accept this and appreciate the arguments and tips the recruiter gave you. Consider this as free advice. It will make you stronger if you put it to good use.

Dare to ask questions

If you get to hear a negative result (you have not gotten the job) and receive not enough feedback, then feel free to ask questions. However, apply these questions only to yourself and not to other candidates.

Questions like “Where should I pay more attention to in the future?” are best not asked immediately after the interview. This can make you look insecure. Ask these questions when you get (possibly not enough) feedback from the recruiter.

Interested in a new opportunity?

Then we would love to hear from you!

Follow up on the company’s activities

It is wise to also keep in touch with the recruiter after the job interview and keep yourself informed about future job openings at the company. You never know if your profile will qualify in the future.

Stay optimistic!

Did you not get your dream job this time? Don’t worry. Make sure you convert the feedback immediately into action points. Get started and learn from every experience. This can make you stronger but it can also pull you into a downward spiral of doubt.

Do you still remember how you learned to ride a bike? You often fell but eventually, you learned how to ride because after every fall you climbed on again as quickly as possible. In the same way, try to keep up the momentum in your applications. Go right back to work!

calling and leaving voicemail for job interviewHello Mr. President?

Maybe you are outraged by the attitude or performance of a recruiter. At such times you might want to speak to a ‘higher authority’. This is your right, but be careful … you might hurt the feelings of the recruiter which could reduce your chances in the future. Again, your recruiter is your ally. Treat each other with respect.

And finally: Money, money, money…

If all the steps of your application process went well, you may expect a salary proposal from the company. Your salary will usually be formulated by the recruiter or an HR employee.

A salary proposal is usually realistic in the context of a specific job at a specific company. One might consider your skills and experience, the budget of the company and often your position in the company. If you feel disappointed about the salary proposal, then keep your emotions under control and think about the following:

Don’t compare apples and oranges!

A salary proposal can contain several elements such as a company car, medical insurance, meal allowance, etc … So, evaluate the bigger picture and when you received another salary proposal then make sure to compare both proposals carefully.

Don’t fixate on salary calculations on job websites. There are many individual aspects (of yourself, the company, the sector, your intended position at the company …) determining your final salary. Salary calculations on job sites are often very general. Therefore consider these calculations as average indications and don’t fixate on the amounts you encounter there.

Consider all the factors

When evaluating, consider all the factors that determine your personal happiness. Perhaps a less paid job will offer a better work-life balance, reduced travel times, a better work atmosphere, more opportunities for training and growth. Do you want to work to live or live to work? Make a choice that suits you well.

Don’t compromise your application

Do not set unreasonable demands and be honest in your negotiations. If you don’t do this, the company might pull back. Poker bluff sometimes works, but you will be disappointed most of the time. So be honest and develop realistic expectations.

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Application tips

10 Tips for verbal and nonverbal communication in job interviews

26 Jul 2021
Good preparation for a job interview is half the battle, but your performance during the interview is obviously critical to increase your chances of success. In this article, we will discuss 10 tips for a good job interview. The focus will be on the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication.


Scientific research shows that our communication is primarily determined by nonverbal communication! What we say and how we say it is important, but our body language is possibly even more important. So during a job interview, you will need to pay attention to your verbal and your nonverbal communication.


Hello there!

The first impression is important. Very important! So start your job interview with a confident handshake and nod to your recruiter’s colleagues. This will give you an immediate advantage.

Physical care and clothing

It may sound obvious, but make sure you are looking good and clean. Avoid unpleasant odors like smoke and sweat, make sure your hands are clean and that your hair is not in a mess. A good candidate takes good care of himself or herself.

body language in a job interview

Start thinking about your ‘stage outfit’ a few days before your interview. This way you will have enough time to shine on stage without any additional stress. Choose an outfit that looks good, corresponds to the dress code and makes you feel good. Allow plenty of travel time! This way you will not need to run and sweat. Don’t smoke prior to your job interview and put a bottle of deodorant and a brush or comb in your bag. These are details that can make a huge difference.

Be confident!

During your job interview try to sit upright with your back against the backrest of your seat. And try to make direct eye contact. Don’t stare or look around all the time. Make sure you are giving the impression that you are alert and interested.

Don’t sit out the entire job interview in the same position. This will harm the quality of the interview and it will hurt your back! You can easily change your position by, for example, tilting your head to the right. Through this small movement, you will subconsciously look reliable and professional.

body language personal space Respect the personal space

Respect the ‘personal space’ of the recruiter. You don’t need to convince the recruiter by leaning as close as possible against him or her. Make sure you are not sitting or standing closer than 1 m and not more than 3 meters away from your recruiter.

Don’t exaggerate!

Ensure a balance between subtle movements and a ‘stiff’ posture. Try not to continuously wave your arms and hands throughout the job interview. This may be perceived as disturbing. The same applies to someone who is not moving at all.

‘Mirroring’ is a natural way of moving which lets you gain the trust of your recruiter. By imitating the movement of your recruiter in a subtle and natural manner (crossing legs, arms on the table, hand under the head…) you will indicate that you agree with the recruiter. This way you can make a subconscious ‘connection’.

Are you ready for a job interview?


‘The voice’

Speak with a clear volume and take care of your pronunciation, intonation and rhythm. Provide variety in your intonation and speak in a calm manner. Concentrate on your breathing while speaking. This avoids a hasty impression.

Further, avoid filler words, such as ‘yes’,’ uhm’ and ‘so’, and definitely don’t sigh after a question. Use short and simple sentences, finish your sentences and stick to the structure of the job interview.

Always look on the bright side of life

Always be positive when telling your story. Don’t tell just what went wrong in previous experiences, but also discuss how you solved issues and which lessons you learned while doing so. Always be honest in your answers and always emphasize the positive!

Beware! You know more than your recruiter.

Remember that the recruiter may not have the same background as you. He or she is not a technical specialist and may not have the same knowledge and experience. So don’t try to be the all-knowing professor during the job interview.

Provide thorough answers but avoid the small technical details. Distinguish between main and side issues. If something is not clear then the recruiter will ask additional questions.

Do you have any questions for us?

Yes, of course, you still have questions! Prepare some interesting questions about the company and your specific position prior to the job interview. This will emphasize your interest in the company in your position. Try to avoid open questions and questions to which you could find the answer on the website or somewhere else. Also, provide example answers. This way you can make it easier for the recruiter and you can showcase your vision.

Thank you!

Thank the recruiter for the invitation and his or her time and walk out in a decent way. Be aware that you may still be watched, so keep your dance of joy or your frustrations for a later time.

5 + 5 = 12!

Take care of your verbal and nonverbal communication during your job interview. The natural and subtle interplay between these two forms of communication is crucial to make a reliable impression.

For example, you can hardly claim that you have an open personality when you are holding your arms crossed during the entire interview. And you will not be credible when you are avoiding eye contact with every answer.

Nonverbal communication makes up a large part of our communication. Therefore body language will determine to a large extent the impression you will leave behind after a job interview.


body language joe navarro Obviously, this list of tips is not exhaustive. Do you have any additions or questions? Please feel free to share them using the comment form underneath this article. Do you want to read more about nonverbal communication? The bestselling book “What Every Body is Saying” by former FBI agent Joe Navarro won’t be your only source of inspiration it will be a good place to start for sure!

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Application tips

What (not) to do whilst waiting for a job interview

17 Jul 2021
Congratulations! You are about to have a job interview and you are ready to make an overwhelming impression. You just passed the reception and you are waiting for the recruiter to show up. What do you do while waiting for your job interview?

Do you sit down, do you look out of the window, do you check your emails on your smartphone? What you do now can determine your future! Your attitude and actions before a job interview can have a great impact on the first impression the receptionist and the recruiter have from you.

And that first impression is important. Very important! The following do’s and don’ts can help you make a good first impression while waiting for your job interview.

What to do whilst waiting for your job interview?

  • Sit down

Most candidates are nervous right before a job interview. Many stand up and walk around the room. This can make a restless impression. Therefore, try to sit back in your chair. You don’t need to run a marathon before your interview

  • Calm down

Concentrate on your breathing! Breathe in and breathe out slowly. Shut out all external stimuli and focus on the here and now. This way you can calm down. Your voice will sound less nervous as a result.

  • About the bathroom

You never know how long a job interview and/or assessment will take. So it is a good idea to ask whether you can wash your hands or use the bathroom before the interview. No doubt the interview will be more relaxed!

  • Keep cool

If you are in the bathroom, you might as well put your wrists under the tap and/or rub a few drops of cold water in your neck. You will feel fresher and more relaxed right away!

  • Search for the connection

Do you see business awards on the walls? Do you see company brochures lying on the table? Feel free to take a look. It will give you a nice starting point for the conversation when the recruiter shows up.

  • Check your resume

Nothing else to read? Then read your resume thoroughly. Make sure you are familiar with the content of your resume and make sure you can find certain paragraphs when you are asked about them.

In short, try to make a polite and relaxed impression before (and during) your job interview. A first impression can greatly influence how a recruiter thinks about you. Be yourself, but do try to keep your nerves under control.

Totally prepared for a job interview?

What should you NOT do whilst waiting for your job interview?

  • Don’t read irrelevant information

Don’t take your own reading to a job interview. Focus on the interview that is about to come. You can come across as indifferent when you read an irrelevant book/magazine while waiting for a job interview.

  • Don’t put on an act

Don’t take a financial paper or an annual financial report of the table if you don’t have a substantiated opinion on finances. Imagine what would happen if the recruiter asks you about your opinion and you can’t give a satisfactory answer.

  • Don’t play with your phone

The meeting room is not a good place to break your personal record on Angry Birds or to text your significant other to ask what’s for dinner when you come home. Turn off your phone and forget about it so that you cannot be disturbed during the interview.

  • Don’t look worried or indifferent!

People don’t like to see a worried face. A neutral, open and cheerful face is much more pleasant. Therefore, avoid frowning and ‘painful looks’. Give the recruiter every chance to start the job interview on the right foot.

In short: Be yourself but always make sure you make a relaxed, open and interested impression. The first impression is very important for the rest of your interview, so make sure to start off on the right foot.

Good luck!

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Application tips

6 tips for a video call job interview

08 May 2020
Make a strong first impression. Preparing for your job interview is essential, but your performance during the interview will determine your chances of success. This article gives you six tips on how to prepare for your video call job interview. Applying for a job by video call is not the same as doing an interview with a person in the same room. Additional factors need to be taken into account to ensure the interview goes well.
  1. Give your background some depth

People will pay attention to what you say, and also to what you show, so the background is important in your job interview. Choose a quiet background to keep the focus on you. Do not distract the interviewer with children or other family members moving around in the background. The room where you have the interview is your personal space and should therefore tell people something about who you are. If you show a messy kitchen or bedroom in the background, that does not present the image of yourself you want to project.

A bleak white wall in the background is a bit too quiet and boring. Choose a nice, tidy background with some depth to it. A painting, a photo wall, some plants or a bookcase make the perfect background. Books, a painting or travel photos also say something about who you are.

achtergrond sollicitatiegesprek

  1. Make an effort with your appearance

Your clothes also play a part in the image you project to the interviewer during a video call. Dress as if you were going to a job interview in person. Some companies are more casual than others. A suit and tie may not always be the right way to go, but a T-shirt and jeans are not suitable either. Make a little bit more effort than what is expected from you. Go for a style of clothing that makes you feel good. It is best to avoid patterns like stripes and checks and go for a plain colour.

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words

Of course you want to look picture perfect, and an important aspect of this is the eye level.  You do not want to look down on the people you are talking to, as this will look quite unfriendly. Position yourself at the same height as the camera by placing a shoebox or a pile of books under your laptop. Sit straight about an arm’s length away from your screen. This creates a beautifully framed picture of you.

A second element you should pay attention to is the lighting. Lighting from above is not flattering. Ensure good face lighting by sitting at the window and allowing the daylight to shine on your face. Do not sit with your back to the light, as this will make you unrecognisable during the interview.

Also make sure to read these five tips for non-verbal communication during a job interview.

  1. Do a soundcheck

Prepare your digital access as you would prepare the itinerary to your appointment.

  • Start with your internet connection. Check your Wi-Fi connection and internet speed to ensure a clear video call. You need at least 1 Mbps. Plugging in an Ethernet cable resolves a poor Wi-Fi connection.
  • Make sure the battery of your laptop, tablet or smartphone is sufficiently charged so you do not run out of power.
  • What channel are you using for the interview? Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Zoom or something else? Do you need to download an app or create an account? Sort this out well in advance rather than one minute before the start of your job interview. Test the application to avoid any problems during the call.
  • You also need to check that your camera is working. Pay attention to the above tips on how to present a good image.
  • Do a soundcheck with your microphone and speakers. Headphones with a microphone are not a luxury. They will ensure that you are well understood during the interview. Also read these five tips for verbal communication during a job interview.

wifi tijdens sollicitatiegesprek

  1. Mind your body language

The article ‘Body language during your job interview: tips for success already pointed out the importance of body language during a job interview. This is no different during a video call. If your body language tells a different story, you may come across as insecure, unreliable or arrogant. As an applicant, you absolutely want to avoid that.

  1. Do not read out notes you prepared earlier

To make a confident impression, sit up straight, lean against the back of your chair and make direct eye contact during the job interview . Avoid putting any prepared answers within reach so you are not tempted to read them. Doing so may come across as insecure and uninterested. It is useful to have your CV at hand in order to go through it together with the interviewer. If you still want to look at your notes during the interview, tell the interviewer what you are reading and why.

notes tijdens sollicitatiegesprek met video-call

Are you ready for a job interview?

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Application tips

The benefits of joining a consulting firm

20 Feb 2020
You love consulting and others tell you you're good at it. You have lots of knowledge and experience to share, you're a great team player, you're a big help for your client and the people you work with... but you can't market yourself.

This is a common problem that many consultants face at some point in their career. And it’s a problem you have to deal with. Otherwise you will have a hard time doing the job you like.

The solution to this problem is surprisingly simple: join a consulting firm. A good consulting firm offers all the benefits of a career in consulting combined with the security of a permanent contract. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Navigate this article:

You’re not alone!

In our previous article on consulting we wrote that top consultants are great marketeers. Top consultants are great at communicating their results and they continually grow and nurture their network to keep interesting projects coming their way.

However, not all consultants are like this. Chances are you’re among the majority of consultants who feel plain awkward about networking and marketing themselves.

Trust us… This is perfectly normal!

Marketing yourself can be a daunting task. Either your network is too small (when you start out), too cold (because you haven’t paid attention in a while), or you don’t like to market yourself (because you’re shy).

Luckily there is a solution: Consulting firms!

How do consultancy firms work?

Consulting firms come in different shapes and sizes. Their niche, services, geographical focus and client portfolio can vary significantly.

Pauwels Consulting, for example, is a Belgian consulting firm that delivers project sourcing, corporate recruitment and turnkey projects to large corporate clients in Europe. We specialize in engineering, life sciences and IT. We have a large team of full-time consultants, but we also work with freelancers to complement our permanent staff.

We deliver our services directly to our clients, but we also work with managed service providers (MSPs). Such MSPs handle a substantial part of a client’s HR and recruitment activities on behalf of the client.

In either case, every day we get requests from our clients to:

  • find experts to complement their project teams for the limited time of the project. This is mostly referred to as project sourcing or project staffing.
  • find experts to join their permanent workforce. This is often referred to as corporate recruitment or permanent staffing.
  • manage and execute projects from beginning to end. We call these turnkey projects.

Subsequently, we investigate whether we have available experts on board to meet our clients’ needs. If this is the case, we brief our consultants and we join them at their intake interview with the client or the client’s MSP.

If we can’t find the right consultant in our own staff (e.g. because all qualified consultants are occupied), we turn to our large network, job sites and social media to find:

  • consultants to join our permanent staff
  • freelance consultants to complement our team for the duration of our clients’ projects (and preferably longer).
So what's next?

Are you an engineering, life sciences or IT expert and are you considering a career in consulting?

What’s in it for you?

Joining a consultancy firm can secure, advance and enrich your career in many ways, but here are at least 3 major benefits of joining a consulting firm:

1. You can focus on what you do best

If you’re looking for a permanent job, consulting firms like Pauwels Consulting offer all the benefits of consulting with the extra security of a permanent contract.

This means that you no longer have to market yourself.

You can focus on what you do best: consulting. And we can focus on what we do best: interpreting our clients’ needs and finding the best experts to cover these needs.

2. The best education you can possibly get

In addition, consulting firms enable you to work in different project teams on various projects with the same or different clients. Working in different work environments is the best way for building your knowledge, expertise and professional network quickly and easily. This is the best education you can possibly get and an excellent way to secure your future as a consultant.

3. Extra benefits for (freelance) consultants

Consultancy firms also offer an additional benefit to (freelance) consultants. Most large companies don’t hire individual freelance consultants. They prefer to work with an MSP or a limited number of consulting agencies to ensure good quality, quick turnaround and competitive pricing.

Good consulting firms have a large and diversified client portfolio. If you’re a consultant and if you can cover a client’s needs, you may be able to land a job at a corporate client you would otherwise never qualify for.

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Application tips

The job application process in a nutshell

14 Feb 2020
Over the past few months, we have shared tips with you to help you find your ideal job and to increase your chances of success in the different phases of your job application.

These are the topics we covered to help you find & get your dream job:

In this article, we will summarize the most important tips of the past few weeks. From next week onwards we will give you practical tips about specific parts of your application process.

Stop dreaming and find your dream job. Now!

Many people don’t like their job. Many of us would prefer to do something else. But what would that be? Have you already thought about this? What does your ideal job look like?

There are several ways to define your ideal job. In our article How to define your dream job in 3 easy steps you could read how you can find your ideal job by answering 3 questions:

  • What do you want from your job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What does the market need?

If you answer these questions, if you prioritize your answers and if you then search for the point where your answers have overlap or show similarities, you will probably have a clear enough picture to start your application process with a clear goal in mind.

For more information on this strategy to identify your ideal job, please read the article How to define your dream job in 3 easy steps.

filling in linkedin profileProper written communication is a must

In our article 21 1/2 Tips for written communication during the application process, we briefly discussed how you can optimize your resume, motivation letter, emails and online identity for a successful application process. We discussed, among other things, that:

  1. You should always be honest about your knowledge and experience.
  2. You may want to customize your resume to every single job description.
  3. You should try to be complete and concise! Nobody likes to read long resumes.
  4. Everybody is unique. So avoid writing generic motivation letters.
  5. A job interview is not about you, but about the added value you bring to the table.
  6. Internet and social media are for public use. Keep an eye on your image and privacy!

For more information on these and other tips to further improve your written communication skills, please refer to our article about written communication during the application process.

3 Questions to rule them all

In our article 3 Questions to prepare for your interview we discussed how you can prepare for your job interview by answering some simple questions:

  • Where do you want me to start?
  • Who are they, what do they do and where do they want to go?
  • Who is sitting on the other side of the table?

You can hardly overestimate the importance of good preparation for your interview. In your preparation, concentrate mainly on the needs of the company and how you can be an added value in meeting those needs.

Again, a job interview is not about you but about finding the most suitable candidate for a particular job! Don’t emphasize on how good you are, but how you well you fit for this specific job! For more tips, please read our tips to prepare for your job interview.

Feeling ready for a job interview?

There is more to it than meets the ear!

The majority of our communication takes place via our body language. During your job interview, nonverbal communication is therefore just as important as verbal communication.

In our article 10 Tips for verbal and nonverbal communication during your job interview, we concentrated on a number of tips for good verbal and nonverbal communication during your job interview. We discussed, among other things, the importance of:

  • keep eyecontact during job interviewthe first eye contact and the first handshake
  • physical care and appropriate clothing
  • a confident attitude
  • a pleasant volume, intonation and rhythm in your voice
  • a positive attitude
  • brief and complete answers

We also focused on the fact that you probably know more about your future job than the recruiter does. And that this does not imply that you have to explain everything in detail. The recruiter will never be the only person deciding about your application. A content expert will also be involved. So wait patiently for the substantive questions and try not to be the all-knowing professor.

Help the recruiter so he or she can help you!

Even after your job interview, you can further optimize your chances of success. In our article First aid after a job interview, we focused on the fact that the recruiter will become an ally after the job interview. At that point, the evaluation has usually already taken place. If you are considered suitable for the job then the recruiter will do everything to support your candidacy.

Optimize your chances by making the job of the recruiter as simple as possible. Make it easy for him or her to help you. A few tips to survive and thrive after a job interview:

  1. Make sure you always communicate quickly and accurately.
  2. Good advice is often mistaken for negative feedback. Embrace good advice!
  3. Dare to ask questions if you get insufficient feedback.
  4. Apply like you mean it! Continue to follow the company.
  5. Stay optimistic! Learn, improve and continue.

Applications are intense experiences. There are often many emotions involved. This may have an amplifying effect but it can also pull you into a downward spiral of doubt. Make sure you learn from every experience. Then you will only get stronger!

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How to define your dream job in 3 easy steps.

20 Jan 2020
Are your looking for a job? Or are you looking for a better job? Then why not aim for your dream job? In this article you discover how you can find a job that suits your distinct strengths and ambitions.

What does your dream job look like?

Most job seekers look for a job that is in line with their education and experience. Unfortunately finding a job this way is getting increasingly difficult. The job market currently demands more flexibility from job seekers.

In order to find a good job these days, it is very important to know in advance what kind of job you are looking for. Being clear but flexible about your ambitions will help you greatly in your quest for a new and better job.

3 Important questions

There are many ways to define your dream job. In this article, we will help you define your dream job based on your own distinct strengths and interests. We will answer the following questions:

  • What do you want from your job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What does the market need?

If you answer these questions, prioritize the answers and look for their point of convergence, you will have a good indication of your dream job. This will enable you to start your job hunt with a sharp focus and a bigger chance of success.

Identify your strengths to find your dream job - Pauwels Consulting Job Application Academy

1. What do you want from your job?

Interestingly, most people draw a clear line between work and hobbies. But why would you wait until work is over to do the things you really like? Have you ever wondered what you would do for a living if you had the choice?

Action: Answer the following questions realistically and with an open mind. Think outside the borders of your current job or your logical career path. Don’t overthink your answers and let your thoughts go.

  • When was the last time that you enjoyed what you were doing, at work or otherwise?
  • What were you doing and why did it make you happy?
  • Where do your thoughts go when you should actually work?
  • What would your rather do all day? What are you really passionate about?

Action: Now think about your ideal work conditions. How would you like to work? Answer the following questions realistically and with an open mind.

  • Physical work, intellectual work or a combination of both?
    Do you prefer physical work, intellectual work or do you like a combination of both? All answers are good but if you have a clear preference it will make your job hunt easier and more efficient.
  • Self-employed or employee?
    The self-employed may enjoy more freedom than employees, but they also have to take care of their own administration and marketing. Employees typically enjoy more peace of mind, a secure income and social securities such as paid holidays.
  • Full-time or part-time?
    How many hours can and are you willing to work per week? When part-time work is not negotiable, flexible working hours can still be on the table. Be as transparent as possible about your expectations in every stage of your job hunt.
  • Home office or elsewhere?
    New technologies make working from home easier than ever. What would you prefer? Would you rather work from home, from an office, from a flexible workspace or would you prefer a combination of these workspaces?
  • One location or many locations?
    Depending on your job you can work at one location, you can work ‘on the road’ or you can work at different locations, e.g. on temporary assignments with different clients. What do you prefer?
  • One or more assignments at a time?
    Would you rather focus on one specific assignment or do you prefer working on multiple assignments at a time? The first option may bring more peace of mind while the second option may make work (even) more challenging.
  • Teamwork or working on your own?
    Some people are better at collaborating than others. That’s OK. It is important however to what you are better at. Are you a team player or do you perform better on your own?
  • SMB or multinational?
    The working atmosphere at small or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is often more personal than with large companies. As a result, you may have a bigger influence on procedures and results if you work in an SMB. Large companies may offer more possibilities to climb up the ladder, but they may have stricter hierarchies and procedures.
  • To manage or not to manage?
    Do you fancy a management position? Mind that not everyone can or wants to deal with big responsibilities. And as a manager or director, you often depend on external factors that are out of your control. This can cause extra work and stress.

Evidently this list with questions about your ideal work conditions is not exhaustive, but answering these questions can help you to determine your ideal work conditions for sure. Think about other relevant choices and write your answers down.

Action: If all went well you now have two lists with keywords regarding the content and the work conditions of your dream job. Since it may be hard to find a job that matches all these conditions, now choose the five conditions that are most important to you.

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2. What are your strengths?

Most young children are exceptionally creative. This is because most children are encouraged by their parents, family and friends to show their talents. This encouragement is a confidence boost that stimulates children to improve and show their talents to the world.

At school however, we learn how others (can) think about us. We learn about our weaknesses and how to overcome them. Extra classes, extra exercises… It often seems that school puts more emphasis on overcoming your weaknesses than on improving and using our strengths.

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses!

In the last few years however the so-called “strengths movement” tries to convince us to focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses. The rationale behind this idea is that it is more rewarding to use and improve your talents than to improve what you are not good at.

Now, discover your strengths’, the bestselling book from Marcus Buckingham is a good illustration of the strengths movement. The book is based on a 25-year study of over two million people and it comes with an online Strengthsfinder test that helps you discover your distinct talents and strengths. If you find a job where you need to combine these particular strengths to succeed, your chances of success and joy at work will seriously increase.

Action: Make a list of your strengths. Think about the feedback you get from others. When do you get positive feedback? Probably when you showcase one of your talents. Try to identify and describe your talents as precise and concise as possible.

Optional: Ask your family, friends and (if possible) colleagues to make similar lists of your strengths. The more complete the picture the better you will be able to define the strengths that distinguish you from other job seekers.

Optional: It may take a little bit of extra time and perhaps a minor investment, but try to take a personality test to identify your strengths. The above-mentioned book with its Strengthsfinder test is a good start but there are many alternatives.

Action: If you complete the actions above you should have one or more lists with your distinct talents and strengths. Have a good look at these lists and try to find and mark your 5 most distinct talents.

3. What does the market need?

The current job market is quite challenging, but the market is still driven by supply and demand. Follow up with the news and visit job boards to learn which sectors have job openings and what kind of jobs are needed most.

If ‘your’ sector is not doing well, try investigating other sectors that may benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Or if there are many layoffs in your area, try to look out for job openings in nearby areas before other job seekers do.

Also, keep a close eye on the shortage occupation lists in your country. You can find the shortage occupation lists for Belgium here. At this moment Belgian employers are particularly looking for nurses, teachers, engineers, technicians and operators.

Action: Find out which sectors can benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Try broadening your scope beyond your own sector and geographical area. Select the five sectors and areas you want to work in.

Defining your dream job

If you did all of the above, you have 3 lists. These lists describe::

  • Your 5 most important priorities regarding the content of your ideal job;
  • Your 5 most distinct talents;
  • The 5 sectors and geographical areas you would like to work in.

Now put these lists together and look for relationships. Focus on your own ambitions and talents and try to match them with the current demands of the job market. Preferably not the other way around. For example, if you just obtained your nursing degree but if you would rather not work full-time in the same hospital, project sourcing or home nursing may be a better fit for you.

Or if you have a degree in engineering or linguistics and if you want more flexibility to obtain a better work-life balance, you can often start as a teacher right away and obtain your teaching degree through evening classes.

Should you consider taking the leap to self-employment, consider whether the market needs your product or service or how you can create that demand. And determine whether you can take care (or have someone to take care) of your administration and marketing. These extra tasks are as important as your actual job!

Time to find your dream job!

In this article, we discussed how you can define your dream job by mapping your own strengths and ambitions to the needs of the job market. This step may seem straightforward, but in reality, many people don’t take enough time to consider what they really want to do for a living.

In our next article, we will share tips to improve your written communication when applying for a job. A good cv, a personal cover letter, a clear e-mail and a healthy web presence can seriously improve your odds of being invited for a job interview.

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Application tips

3 questions to prepare for your job interview

15 Jan 2020
Congratulations! Your resume and motivation letter have resulted in an invitation by a recruiter. You are invited for a job interview! What's next?

Now the idea of being interviewed for a new job is scaring the living daylights out of you. Don’t panic! With the help of 3 simple questions you will be able to prepare yourself for your job interview:

  1. Where do you want me to start?
  2. Who are they, what are they doing and where do they want to go?
  3. Who is sitting at the opposite side of the table?

Where do you want me to start?

Job interviews often start with the question “Can you tell me something about yourself?” This question may seem very simple, but your answer can be very decisive for your (first) impression on the recruiter. If you put too much emphasis on the present it may seem like you’re trying to cover up the past. And if you start your answer too far in the past the recruiter might think you are still living in the past.

In job interviews, answering open questions can be trickier than you think. Luckily there are some simple tips on how to answer open questions about yourself:

  • “Where do you want me to start?”
    Answer open questions like “Can you tell me something about yourself?” in a polite manner with a counter-question such as “Where do you want me to start?”. By asking the recruiter for a brief clarification you will be able to give a better answer. Never ask a recruiter “What would you like to know?”. When you are fully giving the question back it may seem that you are not prepared for the interview or that you want to test the recruiter. This is obviously not a good idea.
  • The “30 seconds pitch”
    When you are in an elevator and a recruiter or colleague asks you to tell something about yourself, what is your answer? Make sure you can introduce yourself in 30 seconds or less, well before you should step out of the elevator. You can practice a “30 seconds pitch” or an “elevator pitch” in front of the mirror. Make a story about yourself and then reduce it until only the most important aspects of your education, experience, ambitions and distinct skills are left. A “30 seconds pitch” is a superficial presentation. Forget about the details. They can be filled in later. Be brief and concise! You cannot practice this presentation enough. The presentation should sound natural at any time and any place.
  • “What is your added value for our company?”
    Before the job interview, think about your added value for the company you are applying with. Make sure this answer corresponds to and/or forms an extension of your presentation in your motivation letter. Use the answer to this question to highlight any skills you have built up in extra-professional activities, provided that they can help you with the executing of the job for which you are applying. This will highlight your skills and your personality.
  • “Once upon a time…” – the short version!
    During an interview, it is important to formulate your answers as a brief, concise and enthusiastic story. It is not nice for the recruiter when the candidate cannot bring his or her own story. It gets even worse when candidates have forgotten parts of ‘their story’; when they cannot explain certain parts of their resume. So walk through your resume a couple of times before taking a job interview.

Who are they, what are they doing and where do they want to go?

The answers to these questions are defining your interviewers. Make sure you know the answers to these questions before the job interview. This will help you to tailor your answers to the needs and expectations of your interviewers.

Usually, you can find all the information you need on the website of the company you are applying for. Concentrate especially on the following items:

  • History: Discover where, when and how the company started and where it is heading. There is no future without a past! You don’t have to remember all the strategic decisions, but try to know the overall evolution and milestones of the company’s history.
    Industry. Read more about the industry the company is operating in. See how the company is presenting itself in the market and how it is positioning itself with regard to the competition. Form your own opinion about this so you can articulate a substantiated and inspiring answer should you be asked to do so.
  • Structure: Check out, if possible, an organization chart of the company you are applying with. Maybe you know some people who work for the company? An organization chart shows the structure of a business. Find out where your job will fit in.
  • Mission and vision: Can you identify yourself with the mission and vision of the company you are applying with? If this is the case then you have come to the right place. Try to find some examples which show that you have the same values as the company you are applying with. This will help you make a positive connection during the interview.
  • News: Keep an eye on newspapers, magazines, brochures and social media to gather more information about the company and to respond to recent events such an award or a donation to charity. Responding to news is often a nice way to break the ice at the beginning of the job interview. It shows that you are well informed and that you are aware of and interested in the activities of the company.

Who is sitting at the opposite side of the table?

You may have your job interview with a recruiter from the company you are applying with, but you can also encounter a third party recruiting company. Try to find out who will be sitting on the other side of the table and search for information about your interviewers.

  • The number of partners in dialogue: How many and which people will be sitting at the table? Ask the recruiter beforehand which people will be present during the job interview and what their function is (e.g. supervisor, direct colleague, etc …). Bring enough resumes of yourself to the interview so everyone will have a copy.
  • Assessments: Sometimes you will have to take an assessment before, during or after a job interview to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. A language test is a classic example of such a test. Make sure you are honest in your resume and that you refresh your knowledge and skills before the job interview.
  • Formal or informal? Prior to the job interview, ask the recruiter how the conversation will be organized and what will be discussed. Also, check the dress code. You don’t want to be dressed too formal or (even worse) too informal.
  • Social media: In our previous article you could read more about the use of social media by recruiters. You can do the same! Do not forget to study the online profiles of your interviewers before the interview. This will give you more insight into the careers and values of your interviewers.

A good start is half the battle

In this article, we have discussed how you can prepare yourself for a job interview by answering 3 easy questions. A good start is half the battle. If you are able to answer these questions then you will make a good impression during the job interview.

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Application tips

How to break the ice before a job interview

14 Jan 2020
“How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice!” OK, this is probably not the most original nor the most appropriate icebreaker to use before a job interview. But you get the point, right? Icebreakers can certainly help you relieve tension before a job interview.

In this article, we will discuss some tips on how to break the ice before a job interview. And our tips do not involve any use of polar bears!


Most of us feel some sort of stress or anxiety before a job interview. The following tips can help you relieve tension before and during your next job interview:

    • Give the recruiter the opportunity to start the talking

Don’t feel obliged to take the first step. Usually, the recruiter will kick off the conversation with an easy question. The most popular opening question used by recruiters is probably: “Did you find the office easily?”. Make sure you prepare your answer well before entering the building!

If you don’t prepare your answer in advance and if you answer with a sigh or a long-winded story about a dreadful quest and lack of parking spaces… you will not make a great first impression. Try to prepare a positive response with a touch of humor instead to relieve tension and to start the interview on the right foot.

    • Keep it shortmind your posture during job interview

An icebreaker should not take more than 1 or 2 minutes… at most! Short answers and quick jokes are usually more powerful than long monologues. Don’t go on and on about the traffic or your hobbies. And don’t try to deliver a stand-up comedy act either.

    • Be professional at all times

Don’t talk about your nightly escapades and certainly don’t use political jokes or dark humor. Humour is powerful, but also a dangerous tool for communication. You never know how people will respond. You better play it safe!

    • Avoid awkward silences

Therefore, make sure to prepare a few icebreakers and/or interesting questions before you go to your next job interview. Preparing such questions may be easier than you think.

Start with visiting the website and social media channels of the company you are applying with and see if the company has been positive in the news lately. If you talk about current events and if you show that you know about the company’s recent achievements, you will make a good impression right away.

Do you have your icebreakers?

Then don't be shy and apply now!


  • Practice and learn

Many of us find it difficult to start a conversation with a stranger. If you feel the same way, try to practice first in situations where you feel comfortable (e.g. at your local bakery). Try to start a chat with a stranger standing next to you. The weather is a classic but simple subject to start up a conversation. But there are other ways that may even be easier.

The secret is in the connection with your conversation partner. If you see that he or she is in a good mood, try to respond to that. If you sense that he or she is frustrated because he or she has to wait, you can use your common frustration as a starting point. Try to empathize with your conversation partner. You will notice that the conversation will start up quickly!

verbal and non-verbal communic


    • Learn at your next party

If you want to (learn to) make new contacts, try to meet new people at the next party you attend. Don’t just stick with the people you already know. Don’t see strangers as a threat but as an opportunity to get to know new people.

Remember that you are not the only person who may find it difficult to connect with strangers. Therefore, at your next party look for a stranger who is standing alone and who is looking around without great focus. You are probably both in the same boat. That creates a bond! The other person will be happy and perhaps even thankful if you start a conversation.

    • Be the type of person you like most

Which kind of people do you like most? Most probably you like people who are looking at you when they talk to you, who are happy and who have a good attitude. Try to be this very person to the people you want to connect with.

Take care of your facial expressions and body language at all times. Make sure others want to come to you and talk to you when you approach them.

    • Silence is not always golden

You may not realize it, but silence is often interpreted as arrogance! So silence is not always golden. Always try to answer with a smile when others start a conversation with you and keep a number of icebreakers up your sleeve to start a conversation when you can and/or need to.

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Application tips

Visiting a job fair is top sports: 9 tips for success!

20 Dec 2019
Visiting a job fair is top sport. You can visit them 'anonymously' and get few results, but you can also profile yourself and go home with a number of job interviews or job offers.

In this article, we tell you how you can stand out to potential employers in a positive way during a job fair. We give you practical tips to optimize your chances before, during and after a job fair.

Stand out from the crowd

Winter is coming to an end, the days are getting longer and… the first job fairs are coming up! It’s high time to get ready! Because success at a job fair depends on 3 things: your preparation before the job fair, your visit to the job fair and your follow-up after the job fair.

In this article, we tell you how you can stand out in a positive way to potential employers and optimize your chances of success.

Prepare well for every job fair

Tip 1: Bring enough resumes 

A CV is still an important tool in the application process. After all, recruiters speak to many candidates at job fairs and they often have too little time to take notes.

That is why recruiters often use the received CVs after a job fair to determine which candidates they will invite for a follow-up interview. Make sure your CV stands out in a positive way.

In our article 21 ½ tips for written communication during the application process, we gave you some tips for a solid resume. Some important points for a good CV:

  • Make sure your CV is up to date.
  • Make your CV easy to read. Formatting is important!
  • Start your CV with a short version of your CV (summary of 2/3 sentences). This allows recruiters to scan your CV quickly and easily.
  • Don’t forget to include your phone number, link to your LinkedIn and email address. This is forgotten too often!
  • Add a professional photo. This way the recruiter will recognise you immediately when he or she looks at your CV after the fair.
  • Bring several copies of your CV with you. After all, you will speak to several companies.
  • Put your CVs in separate covers (one for each company you want to deliver your CV to) so that your CVs don’t crease.

job fairsTip 2: Determine in advance which companies you’d like to visit

Good preparation is half the work. Before the job fair, study the list of companies that will be present. You can usually find this list in advance on the website or in the brochure of the job fair.

Read in the brochure how the different companies present themselves. Make a list of companies where you want to work and then study their websites. Then update your list so that you only have the companies where you really want to work.

Then try to summarize in 2 sentences why you want to work for each company on your list and why you are a good choice for that company. You will certainly have to answer these questions. You’d better be well prepared.

Tip 3: The elevator pitch: what’s your story?

Chances are that a recruiter will ask you: “Tell me something about yourself”. Make sure you can easily tell him/her in 2 to 3 sentences who you are, what your ambitions are and why you fit in well with the recruiter’s company.

An elevator pitch should roll off your tongue. Practice your elevator pitch often and forget the reluctance to praise yourself. Dare to tell your story. After all, it is about your future!

In our article about the ideal elevator pitch you can read more tips for a good elevator pitch.

“Work the room during the job fair”

Tip 4: Dress properly

You only get one chance to make a first impression! So make sure you look neat and tidy. At a job fair, you don’t have to wear a costume or suit, but you also don’t have to wear a jogging or washed-out jeans. A good candidate is a well-groomed candidate!

job fairsTip 5: Pay attention to your verbal and nonverbal communication

In this article, you can read more tips on verbal and non-verbal communication during a job interview. A job fair is a test of your social skills. From a solid handshake to the tone and volume of your voice. Make sure you radiate peace and quality. Give a powerful handshake, speak clearly, slowly, eloquent and always be positive.

Tip 6: and… Action! 

When you research these companies, you’ll undoubtedly still have some questions. That’s good! This will kill two birds with one stone. If you ask intelligent questions at a job fair (questions the answer to which cannot be found on the internet and which show your personal ambition), you not only get answers to your questions, you also show that you are really interested in the company.

Also dare to ask ‘difficult’ questions about challenges, ambitions and the future of the company you are talking to. As long as you can link the questions to your own ambitions. Also, be critical about the answers you get.

After all, at job fairs companies are in a ‘war for talent’. Make sure you talk to all the companies you might want to work for. This is the only way you can be invited for a follow-up interview.

Tip 7: Inspector Gadget

One of the most annoying phenomena at a job fair (from a recruiter’s point of view) is the proverbial “Inspector Gadget”: the job seeker who tries to collect all the gadgets.

Ballpoint pens, balloons, USB sticks… don’t just take a gadget. Only take a gadget if a recruiter offers you one. That is correct behaviour and necessary for a good first impression.

Follow up on your contacts after the job fair

Tip 8: Make a personal report of the job fair

Make a personal report as soon as possible after the fair. Which companies did you find interesting and why? Which companies did you not find interesting and why? Which recruiter from which company did you immediately ‘click with’ and why?

Don’t wait too long with this report. After a few days, all companies and all conversations will look alike. Then the important details fade away. Networking is about making and maintaining a connection. And you only get connections with other people if you pay attention to the details.

job fairsTip 9: Send thank-you emails or a LinkedIn invite

Did you have some pleasant conversations and did you receive contact details of recruiters? Then send a polite thank-you e-mail. It is also recommended to add these people on LinkedIn.

Always make sure that you don’t appear to be too ‘pushy’ and that you define a clear call to action. End your thank-you e-mail or LinkedIn invite for example with ‘If you have any further questions I would be happy to help you’ and/or ‘I look forward to your response with interest’.

If you have spoken to several recruiters and/or employees of one company, you can send them all a personalized e-mail and/or LinkedIn Invite. Few job seekers do this. And this can make all the difference!

Be prepared, stand out, follow up!

In this article, we gave you 9 tips to get the maximum out of your next visit to a job fair. Good preparation is half the work, but don’t underestimate the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication during the job fair and a swift follow-up afterward.

Ready for a job interview?

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