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During my day to day work I’m often asked how is the market?  

And so with that in mind, here are just some of my thoughts and observations on emerging trends in recent times… 

  • Firstly, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in Consultancy/ Interim led work, probably born out of cost-cutting and short term measures companies have taken because the medium to long term is hard to predict.  
  • Hiring for experience has never been more important to help companies steer through challenging times. Resilience and agility are top of the attributes wanted. 
  • The shift to remote working has, in many cases, removed geographical barriers that previously may have existed for many employers therefore increasing the potential talent pool they can consider hiring from. 
  • As businesses look at improving their P&L (to deliver shareholder value), decisions on moving to less expensive office locations or smaller head office premises form part of an overall bottom line improvement strategy – in line with changing employee working habits i.e. less time in the office and more at home.
  • We’re experiencing much shorter time to hire timescales due to the utilisation of video interviewing and less time spent travelling attending multiple face to face interviews. 
  • Candidate priorities have shifted. Generally speaking, their focus is more than ever on work-life balance, job satisfaction and being aligned to products, culture and company values rather than salary i.e. wanting to work for an employer they truly believe in and are intrinsically aligned to. 
  • Working from home and screen time fatigue is setting in for many. For some, the novelty of WFH has passed, potentially leading to a decrease in productivity for those who aren’t as disciplined with their daily routine. People are missing face to face office comradery with their colleagues.  
  • People are re-learning the power of good old fashioned networkingKeeping in touch with work friends, colleagues and old work acquaintances. It’s a great strategy to helping you secure your next job role.  

As the industry continues to re-shape itself to meet new consumer demands and behaviours, I’m convinced more new trends and work-related behaviours will emerge over the coming 12 months. 

As a final note, whilst the market is still incredibly challenging due to world events, I’m optimistic that over the next 6-12 months the need for the very best talent will never be greater as businesses turn their attention away from ‘survival mode’ into ‘thrive’ mode and therefore putting people and structures back in place for a big 2021 and beyond…

What are the new trends and working behaviours you have you seen emerge as a result of the global pandemic? 

Which trends have you embraced and hope will stay for the long term?

Please share your experiences. 

When you are looking for a job, you need to make an informed decision. You need guidance in so many areas, but where can you find the answers?

With a myriad of choices in front of you, any search can seem a noisy and confusing place to start with. If you are not deliberate in the way you navigate your search, where you find the information and whom you ask for help, you risk missing out on valuable insights.

Here are five key “go-to” sources of guidance for any candidate in their job search. While everyone will have different needs, here are my tips to make the most of them:

Family and friends. Your family and close friends know where you have been, and they are invested in ensuring that your next step is personally fulfilling. You can be candid with them about your fears and they will be honest about their thoughts. They can offer you feedback on the types of roles that you are applying for and the cultural fit of the organisations that you are looking at. They know you best, so they will help you avoid any clouded thinking. They will most likely be the most honest opinion in the room.

Your network. Before you embark on your search, your wider online and offline network will hold the answers to many of the questions that you might otherwise ask recruiters or employers. Finding out information through your network early will make later conversations more worthwhile and many of these chats lead to opportunities as well. Think about all the people you’ve worked for and with over the years, who do they know that they could introduce you to? What advice could they give you based on what they know about you? Most people are only too happy to help when asking for their honest opinion. Reciprocal networking is incredibly powerful, so always help others because you never know when you might need it yourself.

Recruiters. While recruiters are increasingly considering the softer aspects of a candidature (as software starts to handle the basic selection questions), their basic role is to cross-examine a candidate’s work experience in relation to the job description. They offer a crucial benchmark and reality check for any candidate – if you tick the “functional” boxes with a recruiter, you can confidently explore deeper during the employer interview. Pick no more than three – a good headhunter/ niche recruiter will always be aware of the key roles in their industry, and the closer your relationship, the more chance you have of being successful.

Employers. When you are sitting opposite your future employer, you need to investigate the cultural and behavioral fit. Sure, they will want to probe your functional suitability for the role, but if they offer it to you, you have to be confident that you would “fit in.” If an interview is superficial, you will not be able to be confident at an emotional level. It has to click for both parties – good interviewers will want to understand this as well. Again, do you know anyone at that organisation and could you gain an insight into the culture ahead of an interview?

The internet. From Glassdoor, company blogs, industry presentations and even stalking the CEO on LinkedIn, there is so much additional information on the internet and social media that can inform your decisions. LinkedIn activity is an obvious “must,” and there are communities such as Gated Talent that offer additional benefits.  Remember to build your own online presence and profile, as prospective employers are increasingly looking at your ‘digital footprint’ to further examine suitability and fit – it’s important to give the right impression the first time.

In conclusion, any job search will be a noisy cacophony of information hitting you from all angles, but if you are deliberate in terms of what information you are getting from which source, utilising your own personal network to its full potential and staying close to the right people you will have the best chance of securing a fantastic role.

As we approach 2020, If you’re thinking of discreetly seeing what the market looks like, want general advice on how to tackle a job search or partner with someone who can work with you long term on developing your career then drop me a line for a confidential discussion.

When you are about to be tested, it is impossible to ignore that edgy feeling of nervousness.

When we think about what is riding on an interview, adrenaline starts to pump that little faster and our minds start to race.

Nervous energy that we have been keeping under wraps for so long threatens to bubble over. Try as you might, you can’t suppress the nerves, but are there other ways in which that energy might be better served? It is a well-known law of physics that energy cannot be destroyed; only transformed, so how can interview candidates use this to their advantage?

With the right approach, it is very possible to use your interview nerves as your fuel.

Usually, the nervous energy starts to appear well before the day of the interview. You will probably feel nervous the moment that you get the confirmation. At this point, it is important to acknowledge your anxiety. Write down the things that you are worried about and maybe talk them through with someone you trust. Importantly, make sure that you aren’t moping around allowing yourself to feel powerless in the face of decisions that you won’t be making. You can always do something to influence outcomes – use your nervous energy to visualise success rather than resign yourself to the possibility of failure.

As the interview approaches, question your thought patterns. Are your nerves starting to distort the reality of the situation? You can’t allow negativity to influence how you prepare for your interview, so take the opportunity to visualise success and transform your nervous energy into an enthusiasm of what might be. After all, every job search has the potential to be one of those great transformative moments in life. This is certainly something to be excited about rather than to dread.

For many people, the biggest impact of nerves only really kicks in on the day itself. Have a plan about how to deal with your nerves and take strength from the knowledge that you have (most likely) done it before. If you know that you can channel the nervous energy into something positive, you can even afford to welcome feeling nervous.

Arrive early at the interview, adjust to everything around you and tell yourself that the interviewer wants to give you the job as much as you want to get it. They want to get the best out of the interview, so don’t let your nerves get in the way. Make sure that you speak slowly and press the brake pedal on your frantic thoughts – a mindful interviewee who pauses a lot is someone who will get their message across clearly.

Lastly, don’t let yourself obsess about any aspect of your search. When you have left the interview, don’t overanalyse what you could have done better. You will get feedback soon enough, but you need to move on to the next bit of job search activity as soon as you can. Wallowing in retrospective nerves about how you might have done is the worst way to spend your time.

How you use your nervous energy could make all the difference.

War on TalentWhen you are competing for shelf space against the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle, you have to maximise every possible competitive advantage.

Many firms go head-to-head for a while, but far from all last the distance to cement their place in the fight for the customer’s attention. Initially, they might have a great product, an efficient supply chain and a slick marketing operation, but there is one variable that will always change over time…

The talented people who underpinned this success might leave.

This conundrum is understood and embraced by companies world over. People will leave for various reasons (you can’t chain them to their desks), so while you would like to retain your best people for as long as possible, you have to work out how you can consistently attract a stream of motivated and passionate people to your team.

Top talent has to be replaced by top talent, but how do you do it? Surely everyone wants to work for a prestigious company like Coca Cola? Well, actually, that really isn’t the case.

When we think about how the best SMEs in Food & Drink attract talent, it is worth looking at how their ‘proposition’ is key at enabling them to get ahead of the competition in the attraction and engagement of top talent.

So, how is an SME more attractive for potential employees than a Blue-Chip?

Firstly, people love the immediate impact that they can have in an SME – typically roles are broader and the lack of silos makes decision making easier. Job satisfaction comes when your purpose is reflected in your results. Smaller companies survive and thrive in a culture of innovation, something that is arguably far harder in an oil tanker of a blue-chip. There is often a greater flexibility in terms of progression in smaller firms – your career is not limited to your designated functional vertical. Also, many experienced professionals come to a point in their lives where balance is important – flexible working hours for a little while as you are a new parent for example is not always possible in the big leagues.

That is all interesting to consider, but what are some of the practical ways in which smaller companies can approach their recruitment and overall process? Especially if budget is an issue…

Well, to start with, many can make an effort to stand out on social media. Social has levelled the recruitment playing field and meant that any company can share their brand – plus its free!

Employer brand sites such as Glassdoor are increasingly influential, so make sure your values and culture are suitably reflected. Smaller companies also often have highly engaged employees who are happy to refer people from within their networks. Also, think about offering a referral incentive scheme – cash. This can work well to identify new talent – good people tend to refer on other good people.

Keep the recruitment process thorough but with momentum. Many large blue chips have overly engineered and lengthy processes which are a turn off for many and you’ll lose good candidates by deliberating. Remember, you’re an SME, so being able to act swiftly and decisively is your USP to a prospective candidate.

I love working with SME clients. So many candidates are keen to enjoy the benefits of working at a smaller company that often has big ambitions.

Talent is a battlefield where only the best SMEs win against the industry goliaths. Hopefully some of these observations and tips can help you play your part!

As part of my job I often I get asked “should I specialise or should I keep my skill set broad to appeal to a wider prospective Employer base”? Well, I think there’s pro’s and con’s to doing both and whilst not an easy question to answer, for what it’s worth, I do have an opinion on what could be best for you!….

First let’s look at both sides of the argument…..

The Specialist

As someone who specialises within a certain field typically you’ll have a greater depth of experience in that said area. You’ll focus all of your effort, knowledge, training and development etc. on that one specialist area. You are seen as an expert in your field. You often are paid handsomely because you hold a knowledge and skill level that can be in demand and not easily matched.  When presented with job opportunities that match your skill set you will find it easier in securing positions given the deeper level of expertise compared to the wider population.

On the flipside, if you’re in a market where there is a downturn in demand for your skill set then you run the risk of having to re-train in new areas if your specialty becomes obsolete. In addition, often most people at some point in their career will fancy a change or have the desire for something fresh and if you’ve only ever worked in one area this change can be challenging, although not impossible.

The Generalist

As a generalist you will poses a greater variety of skills and may be very good at doing many things in differing environments. However typically as a generalist whilst you may poses a broader set of skills you may not always be at the same level of expertise as specialists at any one area. A great advantage of being a generalist is that you can appeal to a broader range of Employers. You can also diversify into different areas as the economic landscape and demand on said services peaks and troughs.  On the downside you may miss out on certain jobs because you’ve been beaten to the post by someone with more experience which I’m sure we’ve all heard before!

My advice is that in the early part of your career it’s important to develop a wide range of skills within a particular industry – critical in fact. Allow yourself time to gain as many useful skills as possible and in doing so, try to understand what you enjoy doing the most. It’s fine to have an ‘end goal’ position your striving to get into however often to get into those dream jobs you’ll need to gain other closely related experience. For example, some of the best Marketers I’ve worked with have spent time in Sales and some of the best Sales people have spent time in Marketing. Often to get to a senior level you have to experience other (related) job roles. The same association can be made of Finance & Operations, HR and Operations, NPD & Technical etc.

So in summary, don’t be afraid to broaden your experience in your early career. Identify what your good at and importantly what you enjoy. Once you have that then don’t be afraid to develop into that specific area further and excel in it. You’re better off doing a few things brilliantly in a well selected (in demand) area than being a ‘jack of all’ in many. Because after all, no one cares much for Mediocracy.

If you’ve been through an interview process in the last 5 years then you’ll perhaps have noticed how much more common place Psychometric Testing is as part of an organisations recruitment process. Like the vast majority of the population, the thought of being tested/ analysed in areas like Numerical & Verbal competence, Situational Judgement, Personality Profiling can be a frightening thing. However, below is some useful information that will help you understand what they are all about – and hopefully even help you to become better at them!

So what are Psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests are an objective way for Employers/ Recruiters to measure the potential of candidates to perform well in a job role. The power of psychometric testing is that there is a strong correlation between test scores and job performance, i.e. if you score highly in a psychometric test, the chances are that you are going to perform well in the job. As an employer, their predictive qualities make psychometric tests very attractive. Add the fact that they can be administered quickly and efficiently on a large scale and you can see why psychometric tests have become the norm.

7 Tips for success

Tip 1: Practice, Practice, Practice

Often you’ll be allowed to practice a series of example questions to give you an idea of what the test questions will be like. Take these example questions seriously; they are your best chance of familiarising yourself with the particular type of psychometric test you are taking. Of course, the questions on the real test will be different, however by practicing you’re familiarising yourself with what’s to come and you’ll reduce your anxiety.

Tip 2: Who’s behind the Psychometric Tests

Most organisations/ recruiters will outsource to a specialist test publisher e.g. SHL, Saville Consulting, TalentQ, Thomas International etc. As soon as you find out which company has designed the psychometric test you can go directly to their website and find out even more information about that specific test, such as the time limit, whether negative marking is being used, and whether they have example test questions.

Tip 3: Plan your online test session

If your psychometric test is online you will be able to choose where and when you take it. So think about when you work best: is it in the morning or later in the day? Also, choose a quiet time when you are least likely to be disturbed. Turn off your phone and any other distractions before you start the test. Use a computer you like to work on and make sure you have everything you need before you start your test: a calculator, pens, paper, Carol Vorderman if she’s available etc. Oh and make sure you’ve been to the loo before your psychometric test starts as some psychometric tests can take up to an hour!

Tip 4: Understand the question

Understanding the question is different from reading it. Perhaps read the question, think about your answer and then re-read the question to check you are about to attempt what is intended. During your psychometric test it is very easy under the pressure of time to dive head-first into answering a question only to find half-way through that you’ve misunderstood the question.

Tip 5: You probably don’t have time to double-check answers

During exams you may be used to double-checking your answers. Whilst this is admirable in some test scenarios, in a psychometric test the time limits are so tight that the time you spend checking an answer is probably better spent answering another question. Most people don’t get to the end of their psychometric test within the time limit. There is obviously a balance to be struck with checking answers during your test. Rushing through your test to the end is too fast, and double-checking every question is too slow. A good balance might be to pause at the end of each question and look back at the question; does it look right?

Tip 6: The speed vs. accuracy

Your psychometric test score is not always about how many questions you get right. The results of your aptitude test will include accuracy and speed ratings showing how many of the attempted questions you got right and how quickly you answered those questions. If you rush through your test you might score highly for speed but low on accuracy. Different companies place different weighting on the importance of speed and accuracy, so have a think about the type of company you are applying to and what sort of person they are looking for. In most tests the company will be looking for both speed and accuracy.

Tip 7: Ask for feedback

If the company is following industry-standard best practises, they will provide all candidates with feedback after their test, even to candidate who is unsuccessful. These best practises are guided by the British Psychological Society and all psychometric test administrators should adhere to them (although they are not legally bound to). Feedback is useful for finding out how to improve your test performance next time.

In summary, Psychometric testing is common place across most industry sectors and at all levels. Therefore, if you enjoy doing them then great. However, if the thought of them keep you awake at night with worry then learn to love them. Get good at them and embrace them. It could be the difference in securing that all important dream job!

So, you’ve got yourself an interview and now’s the time to shine….

For some, interviews are a natural, enjoyable and sometimes easy process that most of the time will result in a job offer. You find selling yourself is easy – after all, who knows you better than you! However for some, the thought of an interview for that dream job can keep them awake at night. Nerves take over and influence the things you say, the way you behave and even how you think. Interviews, like most things in life are something you get better at with practice. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, below are some useful tips to maximise your chance of success.

Continue Reading…

So. There’s this thing out there now called ‘Social Media’ – anyone heard of it???

On a serious note we all have Social Media (in various forms) coming out of our ears! According to industry experts if you’re not active on the social media scene then you’ll be in the minority now as 60% (2015) of the UK’s population have active Social Media accounts. e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, Tinder etc. say no more….

Having just returned from LinkedIn’s 2015 Social RecruitIn event in London last week and listening to key notes from thought leaders such as James Caan CBE (pic below), Peter Cosgrove of CPL and Lou Adler I am optimistic about the balance that Social Media can play in the Recruitment world – the balance between Art & Science as they cleverly described it. And yes, it’s not lost on me that LinkedIn needs buy in from us Recruiters/ Employers in order for them to succeed.

James Caan CBE @ LinkedIn Social RecruitIn event London (Oct 2015)

James Caan CBE @ LinkedIn Social RecruitIn event London (Oct 2015)

A word of caution though. Whilst SM poses an interesting opportunity it doesn’t come without its potential pitfalls…..

For many (me included) Social Media at times has seemed like something to get involved with because you have to. Something you get involved with because you don’t want to be seen as a Dinosaur, old fashioned or outdated. SM, in a professional/ work sense has never struck me as a natural evolution to good old fashion techniques such as picking up the Telephone and talking! However, when it comes to the Recruitment game, harnessing the power of Social Media can be truly amazing – allowing you to reach greater numbers of people faster and to communicate in a less intrusive way that candidates sometimes prefer.  In many respects through the technology available today, the visibility on talent has never been greater. Due to this greater visibility however, no longer is there a mystic or mystery about someone’s network or contact book which they may have taken years even decades building. Through free tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc. anyone can pretty much find anyone these days and therefore on the face of it, its incredible easy to reach out to people. Almost 80% of companies are actively using Social Media to recruit for their own organisation and this is of course good for those companies – reducing cost per hire, building employer branding etc.

Well, as good recruiters will know the identifying of people, whilst not easy, has never really been the hard bit. It’s that initial engagement with the candidate, understanding their situation, carefully managing them through the many stages of making life changing career decisions that will affect various things including their career, family, work-life balance etc. It’s the ‘Human’ parts of the process that an email, DM, Tweet can’t impact and hence why the more experienced a recruiter, the more in demand their services. Anyway I digress – I, like many others are learning to harness SM to our benefit and for the benefit of candidates and clients alike.

My advice to job seekers/ toe-tippers/ anyone who is considering a career move is in the same way that organisations can leverage Social Media to give them more available reach/ choice when recruiting candidates, you can also leverage Social Media to build your own brand. Give yourself a platform for prospective employers and recruiters to identify you and bring you greater choice when scouring the job markets. Harnessing tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter etc. can give you more insight into brands and organisations and therefore you can make more informed decisions about how you feel about them before you even meet them. It’s not a 1 way street.

A word of caution though, it’s widely accepted that ‘you are what you post online’ and with more and more employers and staffing agencies utilising SM to conduct (off the record) background checks its worth checking you’ve deleted those embarrassing drunken photos from last weekend’s Stag party before you apply for that dream job! No one wants to see that. A good rule of thumb I was once told was to ask yourself would you be happy for your Grandparents to see it?

In summary, Social Media can be brilliant for many people for many different reasons – I can only speak from the Recruitment and Staffing perspective however in the future it will play a bigger part of our daily routine, an intrinsic part of everyday life so embrace it. Use it to your advantage – reach out to lost contacts, keep more informed of daily news, industry trends, get the latest advice from industry experts and perhaps get yourself that next promotion as a result.  You have to view Social Media as just another form of communication. Another form of communication alongside the Telephone, the Fax, the Email and the Letter (for all those born pre 1997 I have a picture of a Letter below for illustration purposes).

A hand written letter - I know, Amazing!

A hand written letter – I know, amazing!

But remember, treat it with the same respect you would in other forms of communications.

So, you’ve got yourself an interview and now’s the time to shine….

For some, interviews are a natural, enjoyable and sometimes easy process that most of the time will result in a job offer. You find selling yourself is easy – after all, who knows you better than you! However for some, the thought of an interview for that dream job can keep them awake at night. Nerves take over and influence the things you say, the way you behave and even how you think. Interviews, like most things in life are something you get better at with practice. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, below are some useful tips to maximise your chance of success.

Continue Reading…