Career Advice

Elchemie is a specialist recruitment company in the technical and scientific field


  • typing and formatting: this is something so easy to fix with today’s technology, errors in typing and sloppy formatting do not give the potential employee a good impression about the professionalism of the company
  • vague and/or long job descriptions: long and vague job descriptions that do not actually specify what the job requirements are will attract all the wrong candidates, resulting in a lot of waste of time having to wade through unsuitable CVs, rather be specific, state all the non-negotiable requirements clearly first, then add the nice to haves.


For example

  • if you need a candidate with a master’s degree in chemistry, ask for it, do not ask for a tertiary scientific qualification only
  • if you need somebody with 10 years experience in production management in the decorative paint industry, who has managed teams of at least 100 people, ask for it in so many words
  • if you need somebody who has sold prop shafts to the mining industry for trucks and heavy equipment, specify that, you don’t want all the candidates who have ever sold a prop shaft for a passenger vehicle to apply
  • incorrect job descriptions: many job descriptions make the job look more desirable, mundane or not so nice duties are suppressed or not even mentioned, after a few months the new employee often leaves because the position is nothing like the job description, therefore describe the job fully, with warts and all, much cheaper than training another new employee

The following are either involuntary or voluntary mistakes, errors, incorrect information found in CVS


Your CV is your first sales tool in your efforts to “sell yourself” to a potential employer, making sure your CV is as perfectly presented as possible and as correct as possible is definitely worth the effort


1. Typing, grammatical and formatting errors
a. these are totally preventable errors, in these days of spellchecking, typing errors should be a thing of the past

b. make sure you do a spell check, ask somebody else to proof read your CV, or read the CV from bottom to top, this often helps to notice errors easier

c. send out your CV in PDF format, the formatting of Microsoft Word and other such documents can get jumbled up if the potential employer opens your document in a different program


2. Length of CV
a. make sure you summarise your CV

b. use bullets

c. do not leave empty lines

d. unless you apply for any type of artistic position, do not insert pretty pictures

e. if you are an engineer and wanted to insert a picture of a plant, process diagram etc, rather do that in an appendix

f. make sure you add as many facts as possible, but use simple, short, powerful statements, you’re not writing a novel

g. check with the norm is for the country that you sending your CV to and for the type of position that you are applying for, in the USA they want extremely short CVS, in South Africa a CV that is 3 to 4 pages long is quite acceptable


3. Confidential information
a. make certain you do not divulge confidential information

b. if you mention projects that you have handled, clients you have dealt with, think carefully about what information is confidential and what is allowed in the public domain

c. do not divulge any financial information about your current employer


4. Reasons for leaving
a. make sure you add reasons for leaving for each company that you have worked for, but be careful how you word your reason for leaving statement (rather than saying “working conditions were atrocious”, say something like “wanted less strenuous working conditions”)


5. Incorrect information on CV
a. make absolutely certain that all information on your CV is correct

b. do not change starting and ending dates of jobs you have held, for example, if you were retrenched and held 3 or 4 contract jobs before securing another permanent position, group the contract jobs together under the heading “contract positions” and add a statement that you held various contract positions until you were able to secure a permanent job. Making employment periods of either the previous job or the next job longer can get into trouble when employment periods are verified by the recruiter/potential employer

c. do not exaggerate or blatantly lie about your position and duties

d. provide full details about referees, never try and pretend your good buddy at the company where you were dismissed was actually your manager to get a good reference, rather be honest about such mishaps

e. ensure your remuneration details are correct, most potential employers ask for a pay slip

f. make sure information about qualifications is correct, if you have not completed the qualification make it clear that you still have subjects outstanding to complete the qualification

g. add achievements or career highlights to your CV but again, make sure there are your achievements and not your managers, colleagues etc, do not claim an achievement for yourself if you were part of the team

h. if you get caught out, you will definitely not get that job you want, potential employers value honesty above all

I was sent this via email and thought it really interesting


Bad email habits – August 2014


Are bad email habits wasting your time? Are bad email habits distracting you, wasting your time, and causing miscommunications with clients, employees and others? Making a few simple changes to the way you handle email will help you improve focus, save time, and communicate more effectively.
Here are five bad email habits that could be holding you back—and positive alternatives to get you moving forward.


Bad habit #1: Sending emails late at night, early in the morning, and on weekends. This sends clients the message that you’re on call 24/7, so they treat you that way—which ultimately stresses you out. It also sends employees the message that you expect them to be on call 24/7—which stresses them out.
Instead, try: Limiting the hours during which you and your employees send work-related emails. Prohibiting email from, say, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., will give everyone time to unplug, rest, and recharge.


Bad habit #2: Using email to discuss topics best suited to other means of communication. Overly complicated emails lead to confusion, while scheduling meetings by email leads to endless chains of “reply all.”
Instead, try: Finding alternate ways to communicate complex or sensitive subjects. Use calendar tools to plan meetings, IM or chat to discuss simple topics, and phone or in-person conversations to deliver bad news or hash out complex issues.


Bad habit #3: Setting alerts to be notified of every incoming email. Getting pinged every time you receive an email is distracting and makes you less efficient and productive.
Instead, try: Turning off alerts (unless you’re waiting for a very urgent email). Set specific times to check email, such as in the morning, before and after lunch and in the late afternoon.


Bad habit #4: Using vague, unclear subject lines. Generic subject lines like “Hey” or “Meeting” or “Question” require recipients to open the email to see what it’s about and makes it harder to search for relevant emails later on.
Instead, try: Using specific, detailed subject lines to speed comprehension and save time.


Bad habit #5: Sending overly long and complex emails. With more users checking email on their mobile phones, an email that’s too long will likely never get read—it will just get ignored.
Instead, try: Limiting email length to five brief sentences, max. When more detail is necessary, use attachments.
Also consider using email rules to automatically sort incoming messages so you can focus on the most important ones first, and unsubscribing to emails you no longer want to receive (instead of just deleting them every day). By changing your bad habits, you’ll gain control of your email, become more productive, and communicate more clearly with employees, partners, and customers.

It does not matter what you call it, but as this is the first item that the potential employer will read when they open your application it is crucially important to spend some time on it and to write a concise factual profile summarising your qualifications and your career so far, future career plans or aspirations, list skills and expertise, briefly describe your personality, write at least some of it in narrative format to show that you can express yourself clearly and in a concise manner, you can use bullets to highlight information that you want to make sure is noticed.

Make sure you state facts: list years of experience, state the size of the teams that you have managed, the size of budgets you have compiled/controlled, how many projects and at what value have you managed and completed on time and in budget (for example: I have 10 years experience in operations management in the chemical industry leading teams of up to 500 OR in the last three years I managed 5 projects of between 7 to 10 million Rand which were completed on time and within budget)

Do not use descriptions like: highly organised, strong business sense, result orientated, highly accomplished, dynamic leader, good communicator and similar platitudes – they are not facts but opinions, these are overused statements, they sound like canned selling, there are no numbers and statistics, a potential employer wants to see facts and proof.

Employers are now frequently using performance based interview questions and it is important that you are well equipped in the interview .
1. Practice describing and demonstrating each of your strengths with an example (about 4 ) Keep the answers short – interviewers mostly remember the examples you give. Practice this at home before the interview so that it ties together and becomes real i.e. add dates, facts and specific details.
2. Think about your weaknesses and describe how you overcame each and how you are dealing with your weaknesses. Saying you do not have any weaknesses means you cannot become better at whatever you currently doing.
3. Be honest and do not fake your achievements.
4. Ask the interviewer about critical challenges involved in the job you are being interviewed for. Think about any of your achievements that required solving as similar problem.
This will help you get the job you deserve!

The recruitment process is a long process and the following tips will help in employing the very best candidates for your company.
1. Do not make unreasonable demands.
2. Do not make snap judgments
3. Give unemployed people a chance, do not assume that the unemployed are not good employees.
4. Do not judge by appearance
5. Do background checks

If you are looking for good employees the employment process needs to be done with a positive attitude and an open mind. We at Elchemie will make recruitment easier for you by screening and short listing only the best candidates, interviewing them and conducting reference checks

To all jobseekers:

I recently received an application from to a position from a candidate, who was already on our database, I had sent his cv to a client previously, but he was unfortunately not included in the client’s shortlist. He did not have the required experience for the position he applied for and I emailed him asking why he applied for this job, it is a waste of time. Below is the email correspondence.

The moral of the story is:

• We are recruiters
• Our business is placing people in jobs, for which our clients pay us
• So of course we READ ALL cvs we receive, even if we receive 395 unsuitable ones and only 5 suitable ones
• Our clients expect us to send them only cvs that comply with their jobspecs, which are usually very specific (if the client needs extensive experience in and understanding of mining processes but you have only worked in the food industry – THAT IS NOT A MATCH)
• If you do not hear from us after sending your cv, please consider that it is impossible for us to respond to 395 candidates telling them their cv is not suitable.
• And the candidates whose cvs are a match to the job advertised – you know we contact you. And we have placed many of you in great new jobs!

We would love to find jobs for EVERYBODY who send us their cv, but the day is only so long…. But we really try and it is very disheartening if jobseekers swear at us like this candidate did.

Cheers, the Elchemie team


I recently received an application from to a position from a candidate, whose cv was already on our database, I had sent his cv to a client previously, but he was unfortunately not included in the client’s shortlist.

He did not have the required experience for the position he applied for and I emailed him asking why he applied for this job, it is a waste of time.

This was his response
thank god you replied evin if i qualify you dont treat my applications fair i believe you should jst send my application to the recruiters dnt screen them cos ur unfair in most cases. well i believe i can do the job so what!!!!

To which I applied:
The client requires the following for this position:
I listed the requirements for the position as provided by the client.
Please state your experience and if you can prove that you have the required experience, I will forward your cv.

Please remember that fair discrimination centres on the requirements for the position, if extensive knowledge of and experience in the pulp and paper industry and chemical sales (at least 5-10 years) is required to carry out the position then rejecting a candidate not possessing that experience is fair discrimination in the eyes of the law.

Please do not accuse me of treating your applications unfairly without reason, just think about this – I receive up to 400 cvs for many positions I advertise, and I read ALL of them.

And usually only very few, maybe 3-5 candidates actually match the client’s requirements.

That is a lot of work for me, which is wasted time.

So if candidates only apply for positions that they actually qualify for I could possible market some candidates to clients instead of having to read unsuitable cvs!

Then he replied:
i dnt need your position anymore your attitude sucks!!!! and remember your ATTITUDE DETERMINES YOUR ALTITUDE  thank u!!!!!

My final words to him:
Thank you for your response, which unfortunately is not very professional. There is no need to use rude language. We will remove your cv from our database.
And my email had nothing to do with attitude, just facts, and the fact is that you are applying for positions you are NOT QUALIFIED FOR.

Then he replied:
thnx go ahead n remove me  check whr did this rude arrogant language started from before you talk about being professional i dont need you to succeed in my career  check all the positions i have applied through you n tell me which one i ddnt qualify n how was your judgment  if realy you are to help me u should have done that long time ago your not the only agency if i may remind u go ahead n thnk u very much for your extrmly very bad service

This candidate is unemployed

What you should never do in an interview

For a successful interview there are certain things that you should never do, if you are serious about getting the job, take the following to heart.

1. Do not be late or too early for the interview: make sure you allow ample time, taking traffic into account to arrive on time for the interview. If something unforeseen happens, a roadblock, an accident in front of you etc make sure you call the client or your recruitment consultant to inform them that you might be late. If you are 10 to 20 min early, wait in reception, read your interview notes, relax.

2. Make sure you prepare for the interview: make yourself familiar with the job specification and the company. Get as much information as you can from your recruitment consultant.

3. In the interview focus on what you can do for the company not what they can do for you: explain how you can add value to the position you applied for and to the company using examples from your experience. Listen carefully to the question and answer the question, your answer should be short and concise and to the point.

4. Strengths and weaknesses: try and come up with genuine strengths and weaknesses, use an example to demonstrate your strength, explain that you are working on improving your weaknesses.

5. Do not lie in the interview: do not exaggerate experience or knowledge, do not claim credit for achievements that are not yours.

6. Do not ask about salary, benefits, working hours, perks etc in the first interview: this is usually addressed in a second interview, but be prepared just in case the interviewer does ask the question. Make sure you understand your salary package (many people do not), add some payslips to your interview folder.

7. Do not ask why they should not hire you: keep it positive, ask when you can expect feedback, ask if you should phone them, but do not be too pushy

Spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes tell employers that you don’t pay attention to details.
Simply running a spell checker over your resume isn’t enough. You could end up with a sentence like this: “Please find the attached resume that highlights all my kills.”
In an International survey, 76 percent of executives said that one or two typos in a resume are enough to nix an applicant’s chances.
“Reading your resume out loud line by line makes it easier to catch mistakes”. “It only takes a few minutes but it could make a huge difference.”

Using buzzwords like results-oriented, team player and motivated could kill your chances.
Adjectives like innovative, motivated and dynamic have been used so often that they’ve lost their impact. Steer clear of these words whenever possible and focus on quantifying your contributions instead.
Top 10 overused buzzwords
1.Extensive experience
6.Proven track record
7.Team player
9.Problem solver

Mistaking responsibilities for accomplishments will greatly reduce the impact of your resume.
Simply listing your responsibilities without illustrating how you have made a difference at a company won’t cut it.
“I’m particularly surprised by senior executives who just list their positions and responsibilities without quantifying their accomplishments”. “If you want attention, explain how you brought value to a company. Don’t just tell me that you did your job.”

Paragraphs that are packed with long sentences are a pain to read.
Breaking up your sentences with bullet points makes it easier for readers to scan your resume. But keep it short. “Stick to 3 to 5 bullets per job and try not to exceed 5 sentences per bullet”.

Irrelevant hobbies could make you appear strange rather than well-rounded.
“Unless it is a hobby or activity that complements the position, there’s really no reason to include what you do on your spare time”. “Charities that you support or a membership in a professional association are a better fit.”  Other executives said they mainly focus on the applicant’s work history or skills, so think twice before listing your interests.

Using an unprofessional email address is childish.
Using a humorous email address full of nouns and adjectives might be fine for your personal correspondence, but not for a job application. “For a professional email address, just use your name”.

Submitting a resume on colored paper is often a red flag to employers not to hire you.
Although most applications are now sent online, following up with a printed resume on colored paper is rarely a good idea.
Colored paper can make it difficult to read the text and is simply irritating. Stick with white or maybe even cream to be safe

You’ll kick yourself if you forget your contact information.
Don’t forget to include a phone number and current address. “You’d be surprised, but sometimes even something as simple as a phone number gets overlooked”.

Nothing sends a resume to the shredder faster than addressing it to the wrong company.
Whether you’re sending it via email or snail mail, make sure you address your resume to the right company.
“It all comes down to how much care you take when replying to a job ad”. “Mistakes happen but it’s easier for an employer to just set your resume aside.”

1. Is the company financially sound?

People often join a company that’s expanding without having much knowledge of their financial security. If it crashes, it takes you down with them. Investigate as much as possible.

2. What are the company’s objectives in the short, medium and long term?

Will you be working for a forward-thinking or a plod-along company? If the company is not innovative and creative with its competitors, it probably won’t be around for long. Check this out.

3. How long has the department in which you’ll work, been in existence?

If it is a new department, then you’ll have to prove yourself with the rest of the team – teamwork, challenge and creativity should be your key words, to prove success long term.

4. What is the management style of your new boss?

If your prospective boss makes comments during the initial interview, such as “I do this, my staff won’t do that…” then he/she is clearly a bureaucrat who gives orders and won’t be keen on employee input.

Bosses should use the term “we”, “us” and “the team”. Insist on meeting the manager. If you can’t, don’t join the company – how can you report to someone you have not met. There could be a personality clash.

5. What is the staff turnover in the company and/or department?

If it’s high, it indicates that it is not a very happy place to work at – keep out.

6. Ask to meet members of your prospective team and see the office you will be working in.

If e.g. Susan had done this, she would never had taken the job that landed her in a warehouse, instead of a smart office she expected. And you might just pick up a vibe, a culture, peculiar to that team, which differs from yours.

7. If possible, ask to meet the person who is presently holding the post.

If they reject your request, they’re either hiding something or it is impossible because she/he has e.g. left the country or moved on to another company. Then ask why he/she left and how long did he/she hold the post.

If you can speak to the previous employee, ask the person questions such as: What is the boss’s management style, does he/she make unfair demands, does he/she expect one to work late etc. These are important indicators whether you will cope in that environment.

8. What is the company’s policy concerning increases, reward systems and incentive schemes? Is there a good performance appraisal system?

Will it make a difference if you work 8 or 18 hours? Or is everyone paid the same, regardless of input? If the company e.g. doesn’t pay overtime or offer increases, it kills initiative and commitment and you’re likely to get frustrated.

9. What career advancement is available for you in the company? What is its policy regarding training and development?

One of the main reasons people leave companies, is because of a lack of career development/training.

They are challenging for the first couple of years and then…nothing. Look on the bright side – people with well developed skills will always find jobs. Ensure that this matches your idea of career advancement.

10. And always remember:

You have the RIGHT to ask questions.

Now make that crucial decision:

Are you going to take the job or not?