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Naked Ambition Interviews Golli Motamen

16 December 2013

Golnaz Motamen is a Principal Consultant at award winning recruitment firm Randstad.

                                                       golnaz

Golli, as she is known, is a networking champion, always busy connecting people here in Melbourne. Naked Ambition met her for coffee recently and thought we’d send over a few of the questions you ask uis about CVs and careers and get her expert take on them.

Golli moved into financial services recruitment in 2003 after a career in banking and has worked with boutique financial services firms and top tier global investment banks. She specialises in recruiting front office sales and relationship roles across private, business and corporate banking.

Here are her thoughts on what matters in your CV, working abroad, passion projects and why you probably shouldn’t have that ciggie before a job interview.

In order to be truly successful – you have to love what you do – true or false?

False. 

I believe that to be successful you need to work hard. In order to work hard - through the tough times as well as the good times - you need resilience and motivation.

Motivation comes from different places for different people. I believe that whilst some of us are lucky enough to find a job which we are passionate about…..the majority of people don’t.  And that’s ok. I have known many people who do their job because it’s what they know and they do it well but they might not necessarily “love” what they do.

As long as you have a few side projects or have a finger in the pie that you have a passion for, you can come to work every day with motivation in order to do your job successfully.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career change but doesn’t quite know where to start?

Get networking with as many people as you can. And by this I mean people from different industries in different roles. This is easier to do these days thanks to LinkedIn.

Take them out for a coffee and pick their brains about their job. What does it mean to be an institutional banker? What does an average stockbrokers day look like? Exactly what do you do as an HR manager. Your findings might enlighten and surprise you.

Social media (LinkedIn) is the death of the traditional CV – true or false?

I think we are a long way away from the death of the traditional resume. It is good to keep your online profile updated but of course make sure it matches your resume. Over glorifying things or fudging dates will come back to bite you.

Are potential employers/recruiters really Googling and Face-stalking candidates?

Absolutely...which is why you always need to make sure anything that's online (about you) is in order and above board.

What characteristics do you really value when you interview someone?

The number one thing I look for as a recruiter is someone who is honest and transparent about their career history. I also look for people who are friendly and professional at interview yet down to earth.

Any examples of people who have really nailed it?

It depends what role they are going for but generally people who have a proven track record and examples to back up what they claim - they're the ones who win. It’s important to be yourself in interviews as well. This term “be yourself” gets thrown around so much when it comes to interviews but it really is true. The employer needs to see the real you not someone who is using lots of big words and being overly formal just because they are trying to impress.

Any massive fails?

This sounds like an obvious one but dressing for success is very important as is NOT smoking cigarettes right before a meeting. I can’t tell you how many times my clients have knocked candidates back because they smelled like an ashtray even though they have the right skills and experience to do the role. Going in with too much confidence sometimes lets people down as well. It’s good to be confident but you need to remain humble as well.

Best way to answer those awkward – what are your strengths – what are your weaknesses questions? (Other than NA’s personal cringe-fest – “I guess my biggest weakness is being a bit of a perfectionist”)

Strengths are always a lot easier than weaknesses. You can’t really get in trouble by highlighting your strengths. My clients ask the weaknesses question not necessarily because they want to know what they are, but because they want to know that you have taken the time to self-assess and reflect on what your weaknesses are and are aware of what you need to do to improve. I can’t tell you how many times people have been knocked back because they said “I have no weaknesses”. This is another no no.

Over your career what has changed most in terms of what clients are looking for in candidates?

The last few years have been tough for employers around the world as they are trying to do more with less resources so most employers are now looking for experienced candidates. Pre 2007 employers would consider people with the right transferable skills and a good attitude. Hopefully we will see that again in years to come but for now I encourage people to look for work in their specialised fields or something they have skills in. For junior candidates and grads, I highly recommend you do your research before accepting a role because you might find yourself working in that industry for a while.

What hasn’t changed at all?

The fact that employers can spot a motivated, passionate, proactive and hardworking candidate from a mile away and will not hesitate to snap them up!

This a big, broad question – but what does the future of work look like to you?

I think the future of work looks like a constantly changing environment and an environment where people are doing more with less.  Also gone are the days where people are overpaid and under delivering. A lot more is held at risk these days so most people will be on higher salaries with bigger bonus potential.

Many women are starting side projects – Passion Projects – alongside their careers, which we are big fans of. Always a scary topic to raise with your boss, but is this something employers could view positively?

I think it’s important to have some projects to feed your creative side or your passion if your work is not necessarily your passion. It’s fine to share with employers that you run an online florist business on the side if you are applying for an analyst role in a bank. But it’s not ok be running a business that might be a conflict of interest.

You spent two years working in London – is working abroad something you would recommend? From a personal view point and is professionally?

I cannot recommend this highly enough. Working in a place like London not only allows you to grow personally and professionally but puts you in a much stronger position with potential employers when you have returned home and are looking for work.

Employers tend to view you as a more worldly person who is (generally) in a stable place now that they have this big experience out of the way. Of course you might come home with the living overseas bug and want to leave again….and there is nothing wrong with that.

Your favourite career related (or otherwise inspirational) book?

An old favourite is ‘who moved my cheese’ by Spencer Johnson and a recent favourite is ‘Good to great’ by Jim Collins.

Finally, what would you tell 25 year old Golnaz?

Everything you are doing at work now is contributing towards something for the future of your career, even if it doesn’t seem like that now.

Golnaz Motamen is a Principal Consultant at recruitment firm Randstad. You can get in touch with her via her LinkedIn profile or via email

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