An Interview with Mary E. Clark, Director of Professional Recruitment Australia

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It’s probably fair to say that most jobseekers have a story or two to tell about recruiters and those stories are not always complimentary! Primarily it’s through the frustration jobseekers feel; the lack of control in the process, the “brick wall” they experience and the conviction that if they could just get in front of the employer themselves, they could nail the job.

Well, like most matters, it’s a two-way street. Some candidates can’t be a walk in the park for recruiters either! So today we’re going to talk with Mary E. Clark, Director of Professional Recruitment Australia, a Brisbane-based recruitment company to understand the other side of the job search.

Let’s begin!

How do you feel about candidates who are not ambitious? For instance the 50 year-old candidate who has never risen above System Administrator?

Mary: First, I would consider the circumstances surrounding this unambitious candidate. Is he bored, under-utilised, not channelled in the right role, under a great deal of personal stress, using the role as a filler job while studying some other passionate interest, suffering from a lack of self confidence? There are so many external forces affecting a candidates’ outlook.

The glass is “half full” to me. I view a 50 year-old systems administrator candidate as someone who is passionate about systems administration and is fulfilled in his or her career. Until…my instincts-–which are a collection of learned experiences and not a sense, advise me otherwise.

“To love what you do and know that is matters–what could be more fun?”

Have you ever told someone he/she was “over qualified?” Was that just a euphemism to mean something else that you were bound by client confidentiality not to release?

Mary: You must be authentic in your relationships. Conversations have to be real. Use candour especially when it comes to a candidates’ career. While many fear “real” it is the unreal conversation that are costly for the individual and the company. I have found when the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over and we tackle goals together. Fortunately, my clients believe as I do and allow me to fully disclose interview feedback. One of the reason many clients and candidates seek my recruitment expertise is because I am brutally honest.

I’m particularly interested in what to do with the persistent candidate? Is it a good strategy for the candidate to keep on calling? How is the recruiter relationship best handled?

Mary: Persistent candidates are simply in search of accurate information. It is the core of a recruiter’s role to provide candidates with enough information to make informed decisions on their careers. If you think the phone call from a persistent candidate is an intrusion to your day then you are in the wrong business! That call is an opportunity to potentially have a candidate become a client. Sun Tzu states “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”. So, my advice to the candidate is if your strategy is to keep calling a recruiter to ask “What are you doing for me?”, present some tactics each time to develop your career plan. Such as, what courses you are enrolled in, certifications you have recently received or technology user groups you are participating in or results from a Teckchek assessment ( Give us something we can sell to our clients and differentiates you.

What is your pet hate when it comes to resumes?

Mary: Pictures. Save your picture for LinkedIn or Facebook profiles. A recruitment agency database is not for social networking.

Also resumes with heaps of colours and decorative fonts. This creative flair is too distracting to my eye. Most recruiters read in depth at least fifty resumes in a day. So content over appearance is my recommendation.

What is your pet peeve when it comes to job candidates? (I had an interviewer tell me that some candidates text or are casually slurping coffee as they walk in the door).

There are two things and they are intertwined. First is when a candidate is late to an interview with me and does not call to let me know. The second is when you advise a candidate not to do or say something in the client interview and they do so anyway. My conclusion is most candidates who do not value the role of the recruitment company therefore do not value my time (so they are late) and do not value my insight and expertise (so they mess up in client interviews). If the candidate was invoiced for my time and expertise like a lawyer or accountant would do for a similar consultation — I think they would then listen to my advice!

The more you know about someone the greater you can influence them.

Can you give an example of the worst thing said or done by the candidate during an interview?

Mary: This is rather funny now. Five minutes into an interview, a very polished candidate asked to be excused to go to the toilet. He never came back! I waited along with a client representative for 10 minutes staring at each other. At first we thought maybe he got lost coming back to the conference room but he vanished from the building. I called his mobile to see what happened but never got a reply. The client commented to me “Wow Mary, I heard you interrogate your candidates in an interview but wow!

Mary E. Clark can be contacted at: |
Results through Connectivity, Participation and Knowledge


  1. Gayle Howard

    Updated my blog! An Interview with Mary E. Clark, Director of Professional Recruitment Australia: It’s probably fa…

  2. Go and Get Staffed

    A rare article published about someone from the recruiting business. Hope you’d feature us soon too Gayle! 🙂

  3. Daniel Garcia

    I especially like the answer to question 2. I’m a big fan of “no bullshit” which means a whole more than just been truthful.


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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.