Archive for February, 2013

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Retail has been under the spotlight in recent months and there has been a lot of criticism levelled at the industry for being too slow to adapt to changes in technology and Social Media and the impact this has had on shopping behaviour. The focus has so far been on the customer – arguably this is where all the attention should be. However, what I find interesting is the lack of attention being paid to how Retailers can use Social media to engage their people. How many times do you hear about the ‘disinterested shop assistant’ when people complain about bricks and mortar shopping?

It is widely acknowledged that many organisations are using Facebook as a vehicle for driving graduate recruitment campaigns and LinkedIn often forms the backbone of a great deal of mid-senior management recruitment. What tends to be missing is how Retailers are using Social Media to engage with their own people. There is a general reluctance to officially endorse the use of Social media for fear of what can happen when employees have access to this platform (HMV have experienced this recently).

In the modern workplace the increase in the part time labour mix has led to more, not less staff, and more varied shift patterns. As a result, communicating with this work-force has grown more complicated than ever before. How does a Director communicate directly with his/her store teams? How does an Area Manager ensure the ‘message’ is landing with EVERY member of staff?

I am not a big user of Twitter, we recruiters have clogged up LinkedIn enough without doing the same to every other platform! However, what I do use if for is keeping abreast of news and developments as they happen. It would seem that Tesco have also realised that, if used responsibly, it has the capability to deliver a message to large numbers of people in a highly efficient manner. I have been following a few of their ‘Store Directors’ recently, a Store Director, for those that are unfamiliar, is the level above General Store Manager. Typically they will manage anywhere from 10-20 stores with eye watering turnovers. It is a big job with accountability for between 5,000 – 10,000 staff. Given these numbers it must be incredibly difficult to verbally thank your people and highlight best practice. The individuals I have been following, and I believe this is common practice in the business, are prolific in following up store visits and meetings with a tweet about what they have seen and experienced (It’s amazing what you can do with a fish counter on Valentines day!).

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The tweets range from a simple ‘well done’ to photos of great displays and more often than not, something personal. This public acknowledgement of a job well done must be incredibly satisfying and, while I don’t imagine every Tesco employee is using Twitter, I would hazard a guess that the tech savvy staff are sharing this in the stores. There are Store Director ‘Retweets’ of store staff, and vice versa, and conversations follow. It doesn’t feel like a broadcast, a criticism often levelled at corporate users. If Tesco, a business famed for its slick pre-agreed processes, is prepared to take its Social Media gloves off, why doesn’t the rest of Retail?

Of course there isn’t just the benefit of motivating your people through a very public thank-you; what this also creates is an opportunity for the front line staff to communicate upwards. Many retailers fail to tap in to the true value of their people because they are not engaged. I suspect that Tesco will reap huge dividends from the fact that store based staff can communicate an idea to their directors. Most employees are not motivated by cash, or indeed the fear of losing their job; what really engages and motivates an employee is having an influence on their working environment, being recognised and having the opportunity to bring their own ideas to the table.

In the future, I wonder if Social Media will be used by Retailers to generate strategy and tactics (CEOs are often mystified by the current pace of change) rather than just as a medium to market their products.

I would be interested to hear from other retailers that are using Social Media to talk to their people and how it has benefitted them. It would be great if you could share your ideas here.

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


Sophie Mackenzie – Senior Partner, Research and Business Support. AdMore Recruitment

However good you are as a recruiter, the biggest issue when moving to a new company or indeed, moving into your first in-house role, is how to build your influence internally.

There is so much to learn: the hierarchical structure of the organisation, the different business units and what they do, your key stakeholders in HR and in the wider business, the recruitment (and on-boarding) process and the intricacies of the pay scales and benefits package. You may also be joining from a different industry so will have to get to grips with your company’s USPs, their competitors, their geographical reach and the idiosyncrasies of the different role types you will be recruiting. If this is your first in-house role, you may be recruiting cross-functional roles of which you have no prior experience eg. Legal, Marketing, HR. If you will be recruiting technical specialists, you will have to learn an array of jargon and technical terms in order to understand what skills to look for on a CV. In short, all this needs to be done while simultaneously working through your list of vacancies and it is unlikely the business will give you much leeway while you get up to speed.

The challenge doesn’t end there. Once you start taking briefs from your hiring managers and managing candidates through the process, you will quickly realise the level of influence you do (or don’t!) have and the extent to which you need to influence. Line Managers may be inexperienced at recruitment or have an unrealistic view of the market. Being able to influence them does not happen over night. If you think it’s hard getting time to meet your clients on the agency side, it can be equally hard internally. You will get used to ‘pouncing’ on hiring managers if you pass them in the corridor (that is if you even know what they look like!) in the hope of getting feedback on some CVs. You will become best friends with their PAs in the hope of grabbing a crucial 15 minutes in their diary before they fly overseas for a week.

In larger businesses, you may never get to meet your hiring manager and so you need to become adept at getting your point across on the phone and reassuring them that their vacancy is in safe hands. You need to ensure they know that you are an EXPERT in recruitment and that they can therefore trust you to advise them appropriately. Unfortunately, they will only truly appreciate this after you have successfully filled some of their vacancies. As Mae West said, “an ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises”.

So, knowing how hard it is to establish yourself in an in-house role, here is one tip to start increasing your sphere of influence.

As the in-house recruiter, you will often be the first point of contact the candidate has with your business. Chances are, you will be guiding them through the whole process, giving them feedback after interview, negotiating their offer and even looking after their on-boarding if you are delivering the 360° recruitment process.

Once the candidate starts you may never have contact with them again, particularly if you are working for a very large organisation. However, with a bit of planning, these candidates–turned- colleagues can be a powerful way for you to increase your influence internally.

  • We all know that, irrespective of the level you join a business, the first few days and weeks can be an anxious and lonely time. As their main point of contact throughout their recruitment process, offering to meet them for a coffee on their first day or in their first couple of weeks is not only a nice touch and surely good practice from an on-boarding perspective but gives you the opportunity to establish a relationship from the start. This is especially useful if the candidate is at a senior level and likely to be one of your internal clients in the future.
  • In this initial meeting, use the opportunity to get the candidate’s feedback on their recruitment process, good and bad. This can be particularly insightful, providing you information on the candidate experience you and your team are delivering and crucially, the experience the candidate has had if represented by an agency.
  • This is also a great time to ask the candidate for referrals – do they have any recommendations of former colleagues that you could approach? If they have restrictive covenants in their contract, this will prevent them from approaching former employees directly so this could be a useful way of getting round this, in addition to giving you access to passive candidates.
  • If your new colleague is likely to be hiring in the future, it is useful to understand their attitude towards agencies and who they rate. Depending on how much control you have over the PSL, knowing who your hiring managers have existing relationships with will help ensure you stay one step ahead when a vacancy goes live.
  • You should also use this as an opportunity for some PR. Make sure your new colleague knows what the recruitment process is and who they should contact if they need to recruit. Talk to them about any challenges you face attracting staff and what methods you use to source candidates. This is a great way to emphasise the critical role of recruitment in the organisation and to ensure that your new colleague takes this message with them as they begin their role.

By doing this with every candidate you hire, irrespective of level, you will soon build up your own network of contacts internally. By keeping in contact with them, you will learn more about differing business areas and functions and ultimately have more influence when they in turn start to hire their own teams.

Read my other blogs about moving in-house here: Leaving the dark side , a match made in heaven ,how to win the heart of an in-house recruiter

Sophie Mackenzie – Senior Partner, Research and Business Support. AdMore Recruitment


Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

“So you are well networked are you? Do you know Ade Moore?”

Slight pause…

“Oh yes, I know Ade Moore very well. He has just changed jobs. I mean, it hasn’t been officially announced but he told a few of his closest friends on Facebook, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me mentioning it. It’s not a big surprise that he was headhunted given that he had just posted a 10.45% increase in sales…roughly £114.63 million. It certainly explains why he put his house up for sale last week……..

…..No, no need to show me out – I know your office like the back of my glasses, ahem, I mean hand.”

It is most (sane) recruiters’ nightmare – being tested on your network knowledge. Do you know as much as you have claimed in the last 30 minutes – after all, you based your pitch on the strength of your personal network. We have all been put on the spot and although it is unrealistic to expect someone to have an encyclopaedic memory of all their contacts, there is always that niggling doubt that if you don’t seem ‘on the ball’ you won’t win the pitch. So how did the above recruiter know all that information…on the hoof?

Google Glasses. Well, for those of you who have not heard about this potential technological wonder, Google Glasses are being tipped as the product that could out-wow the not yet released iWatch. They are described as ‘augmented reality glasses’, if i have lost you now, watch here to learn more. In essence, you would wear the glasses as normal but with the handy addition of various applications streaming within your vision: maps, calendar appointments, text messages, targeted adverts…it would be voice activated and would theoretically respond to certain commands and key words.

So how else could Google Glasses aid recruiters? Here are some of my suggestions – tongue firmly in cheek of course!

  • Assessment of body language and verbal cues.

During an interview, the glasses could potentially give you an instant assessment of the mood and/or reaction of a candidate to a question. Did their reaction suggest you should probe deeper? It could also give you an instant assessment of a candidate’s frame of mind before the interview. Better brush up on Top 10 tips for creating 10 great first impressions in the first 10 seconds of an interview

  • Confidential retainer interviews.

It has been suggested that the glasses would be able to film and stream in real time. A client could watch a consultant interview a candidate and where appropriate ‘text’ a specific question during the interview to the consultant. Equally the client could ‘disengage’ once they have seen enough or rewind/fast forward the interview as desired. The candidate may have signed an NDA and never know who they were being interviewed by.

  • Social media history.

What have they said about a subject previously? If they are genuinely passionate about using Twitter for engaging customers, how come they haven’t tweeted for a few weeks? What did they say on Facebook yesterday…hmm they did post a photo from a pub in Soho rather late last night.

  • Name checking.

If a candidate drops a name or two during an interview, simply repeating the name back, could bring up a LinkedIn profile. Bingo!

  • Compliance.

Admin has never been a favoured task for your average recruiter. If connected to your database the interview could be recorded and uploaded. No more event entries and interview notes.

  • Rapport building.

Good recruiters do their research but the blaggers tend to rely on their ‘wit, good looks and charm.’ Yes…I do the research. If the rapport building is proving hard work, how about a quick question about which team they support…Ahhh Arsenal…dialling up BBC sport…….I hear they have put a bid in for blah,blah,blah.

  • IQ & EQ testing.

Could the glasses run a real time check on the grammar, tone, diction, accent, keyword use of a candidate and give a score? Might be worth wrapping the interview up early – this one’s a winner! In fact I’ll send her CV and Psych results to the client now, I might get a reply in time to arrange the next stage before she leaves.

  • Fashion Police!

Hmm, my Google glasses are telling me that her dress is sooooo 2012 (not that I would have noticed). Time to call a halt to the interview? Hopefully, the tech wont be based on QR codes…getting access to the tag on the inside pocket of their jacket could get awkward!

  • Automated verbal questions.

Big night out yesterday? Don’t worry, just choose one of your pre-recorded interview sessions, turn up the speaker and away you go. You are present…kind of. Just review the interview at a later date.

We would love to hear your own ideas – click here to continue the discussion on our LinkedIn group.

Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development. 

The most challenging, and by it’s very virtue interesting recruitment is often when you are resourcing for an employer whose brand does not quite match up with candidate perceptions. This can work two ways. A business may have a great employer brand but in truth be a difficult to place to work and develop a career. Conversely, there are many businesses that have a poor employer brand but are actually a great place to work. This mismatch often arises for two key reasons; firstly businesses change – a company may have had a high staff turnover previously but due to a change of CEO/HRD the underlying problems have been removed. The second reason is that many people confuse the customer brand with the employer brand. Yum! Brands (The parent company of KFC) are a great case in point. Potential employees think ‘fried chicken?’ but do not necessarily know the fantastic, employee- focused career opportunities they offer.

So, what can you do to educate candidates?

I was recently invited to a Retail networking event at Harrods. I’ll declare my hand early; I used to work in Harrods. It was an amazing experience and I can honestly say that it was the most theatrical and exciting place to ‘retail.’ However, it would seem that many candidates do not see Harrods as being an employer of choice. Following a period of change at Harrods (click here for more information) the Resourcing team have decided that now is the time to win hearts and minds.

The event was by invitation only (thanks to Linda Treen for the invitation!) and was aimed at attracting the top talent from retail that had thus far declined to attend a formal interview. It was typically Harrods – held in the Georgian restaurant where we were offered some beautifully crafted bacon rolls served with coffee and tea. The Retail Director, Paul Thomas, kicked off the day with introductions. This was perhaps the most powerful part of the day. There were 8 Harrods employees present; they came from Asda, Zara, Tesco and a collection of large and small retailers. Not the typical luxury backgrounds one might expect. They also had interesting career paths; it would seem that the path from Operations to the Support functions was well travelled. I guess that is the benefit of having the core of your business and its supporting Head office within a few miles of each other.

Following the introductions, a chap by the name of George Hammer talked about his own experience of setting up the Urban Retreat salon concession in Harrods. George is a classic entrepreneur and was quick to cut to the chase. Harrods is not an easy place to work quite simply because the standards and expectations are so high. As he put it, if you want to work somewhere spectacular you will have to take a risk. This is an interesting point, as this is absolutely about confidence. If you are confident in your ability then why would you not be successful? His most memorable quote being; “be exceptional, do not be average.” George is clearly an extremely successful entrepreneur, he was the founder of Aveda amongst many other concerns, however he seemed to connect with the audience and many of the candidates present were clearly impressed by his honesty and his passion for Harrods.

Paul Thomas went on to talk about his own career path (Asda – Saturday boy to Store Manager, Sainsburys, Harrods Food Hall) and then fielded some questions. Paul was candid about his own decision to join Harrods with the admission of a wobble during his notice period prior to joining – had he made the right decision?  He was keen to tackle the negative perceptions within the room. A few candidates opened up and to Paul’s credit he dealt with these in a way that encouraged others to raise their own concerns.  He talked about the operational roles being narrower, yet deeper, than normal. He discussed perceptions around a more mature workforce and the ‘stuffy’ stereotypes. He noted that in the four years since they have started measuring employee engagement, they have seen a marked improvement in scores. This willingness to meet these questions head on certainly engaged the audience.

I noted with interest the number of candidates that were keen to formally register their interest in Harrods following some further informal conversations. I suspect that the Resourcing team were slightly surprised to get such an immediate result. Jenny Parry, Head of Resourcing, told me that she was primarily hoping to get the message out there that Harrods is evolving.  Judging by the reaction from the candidates attending, I think they certainly achieved this. It would be interesting to know what other retailers are doing to actively manage their employer brand in what is proving to be a period of intense change in the retail industry, comments below please!

Join our group on LinkedIn for further updates and discussions.

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


AdMore are delighted to be selected as one of only seven consultancies shortlisted for this award which aims to recognise agencies who add outstanding value to their business partnerships and relationships over and above a solid professional service.

Giles Gallimore, Director of AdMore says “as a growing business, being shortlisted for this award is recognition of the hard work, passion and creativity with which we approach our job and is testimony to the efforts of each member of the team. This is a tough category and we are in very good company! We wish all our fellow entrants the best of luck.”

The winner of the award will be announced at the ceremony on 1st May at the Grosvenor House Hotel.


By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Over the past 5 years, Retail has had a torrid time navigating through one of the longest and hardest economic downturns. Rising costs of living, low pay awards and a bleak economic outlook have led to consumer spending being put under a huge amount of pressure.  Sadly, as we have all seen, a number of retailers have been unable to survive due to a whole host of reasons whether that be structural changes in their market sector or indeed the growth of online. As I discussed in my recent blog about the future of retail, there is a bright future but businesses need to continue to evolve.

One debate I have had recently was around the impact this has on the retailer’s resourcing needs. Over the last few years, cost cutting has been central to most retailers’ tactics as they fight to survive and prosper  in such challenging conditions.  The question is, how long can you just continue to cut controllable costs, what happens when you reach the end of this road and what impact does this have on the skills you need in your business?

WH Smith are a great example. Kate Swann has, without doubt, done a phenomenal job. The results released in in January were typical of those over the last few years – i.e. sales are declining but profits are up.  But, like most retailers over the last few years this has impacted the look and feel of the stores, and has come at a price. A lack of investment and aggressive cuts will ultimately have a negative impact on both the quality of your estate and the resource you have to manage the business. At some point, once you have driven your costs down as low as they can feasibly go, the strategy will need to refocus on really driving sales growth.  Look at the appointment of Matt Davies at Halfords – having been through a sustained period of cost cutting, clearly part of the attraction was his track record at Pets at Home in driving sales growth.

From a leadership point of view this requires a different skill set and arguably, a different profile of individual.  As we look towards recovery and with little cost cutting opportunities left, many businesses will be seeking those individuals with a track record and strength in driving top line sales. The only way to prosper for most businesses is by driving these top line sales.

As I discussed in my blog last week – the market in retail recruitment continues to be very challenging and setting yourself apart from those around you is critical if you are to be successful in your job search. Part of this must be around how you present yourself both on CV and at interview. 

So how can you ensure your CV remains on trend with these changing market conditions?

Assuming you have a well written CV, then you have a great starting point however you do need to consider what your current CV says about you. Do you come across as a sales driver or a cost cutter?  What does your executive summary say about you and your style? Look at the key statements – is the language you use positive, does it indicate the ability to spot commercial opportunities and realise genuine sales growth?

Your executive summary is important to describe and characterise you in the right way however this must be supported by your achievements. Go through your bullet points – do they show your strengths in the right area, is it balanced? Are your opening bullet points cost focused or opportunity focused? Have you described how you have utilised Social Media to drive footfall? Have you highlighted your ability to recognise and motivate talent in your team that is focused on growth? Have you led development initiatives that encourage commerciality? Many middle to senior managers will have been promoted and cut their teeth in times of austerity, how have you developed their capability to move their business units forward? Do you mention KPIs concerned with waste, loss, payroll reductions…or do you highlight footfall increases, £ per Sq Ft increases, Top line L4L sales, new product development, design initiatives etc.

Don’t rip your CV up and start again…just ensure it is in line with the market trend.

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


Giles Gallimore – Director, AdMore Recruitment

January done. How was it? How many interviews were cancelled because of the snow? How many sledging days were taken advantage of? How many client meetings were cancelled because of the inclement weather?

February is now here, phew,  I hear you say. The mornings are getting a bit brighter – with a hint of day light appearing through the window as you down the first cup of rocket fuel of the day.

Now February, the shortest month of the year. Not good news for those of us that could always do with a few days added onto the end of the month to get those last fees in….anyway, what do we think the key foci this month should be?

Firstly, do everything you can to complete your current assignments before the end of the quarter. Do you have the right candidates in the right processes and enough of them? Have you checked everyone’s holiday dates – client and candidate? Holidays, whether they are winter skiing, sun or half term with the kids, can be a real pain when you are trying to manage a smooth process.

Candidate applications will start to become more specific and the volume will recede slightly. January and February are key bonus times of the year, either with payments being made or visibility of what the bonus is likely to be. As such candidates will now be thinking more lucidly about whether they are going to change jobs or not. They will have clarity over what bonus they will receive and when it will be paid, giving them the incentive or encouragement to accelerate their search. Incidentally – it is VITAL that you are asking when their bonus is to be paid, how much it will be and what happens if they resign before payment. I have seen many offers turned down and many a process go awry, due to these criteria not being understood, and openly acknowledged early in the process by all parties concerned.

We all know that as people do resign and move that the opportunities then become vacancies. Are you ready to replace those candidates? Do you know who is leaving where and do you have the contacts details of the client to be quick off the mark and put yourself in contention for filling the role when it goes ‘live’?

Clients will generally be more receptive this month to meeting and to explaining their longer term plans (weather permitting…). April will still represent a key cut off for financial budgets and as such the planning starts now about how and where this is going to be spent. Which key positions are they looking to strengthen in their team? What new roles are being implemented?  Where do they foresee challenges in particular ie. skill-set wise or geographically? Most candidates at senior level will be on four week to twelve week notice periods and then you need to factor in an eight to twelve week interview process so the process for that key appointment for the new structure needs to start fairly soon.

This is a good month to be really adding value to your key clients: educating them on the market, understanding their challenges over the next six to nine months and trying to get ahead of the curve. What market research have you got that would be useful to them? How did their competitors fare over Christmas? What businesses are likely to be losing talent this year and why?

The knowledge and experience that recruitment consultants have is so often under utilised, being taken for granted by the consultant themselves or not leveraged properly by the clients. Set yourself apart and actively organise meetings with key clients to show them what extra value you can add to their business. Package this information in a manner that ‘gives’ the client something they are not getting anywhere else. If you are an expert, then show people and back it up with tangibles. If you are not, then think very carefully about what they are actually buying from you and why they should continue to do so?

February is also a good month to meet candidates. Either to update since the last time you met or to assess candidates who are new to you and the market. They have more time in February and more flexible diaries and so this will be easier to organise.  At the very least you should be continuing January’s push on updating your key candidates to see what is on their agenda this year, how you can assist them with their move and give any career advice they require.

Business Development. Who else is in your sector have you not made any contact with? What is your methodology to get yourself known to them and to make them aware of your ability, knowledge and expertise in your sector?  The pointers suggest that we will have a slow economic start to 2013 with the ‘triple dip’ tag hovering over us at the moment. All the people we have been speaking to in the industry expect a steady first half of the year to be followed by a much more buoyant back half of the year. Businesses will be looking to hire as we move into a brighter economic climate throughout 2013 and now is the time to be making these ‘cold’ clients aware of your services. Well-timed introductions at this time of year may create plenty of opportunities later on. Are you devoting the time now to broadening your sector and reach and are you setting yourself up for success in the back half of the year?

February is a short month, so no more rambling. Time to get on the phone and arrange those meetings. Now where is my Business Development Diary?  I am sure there are some PSL renewal discussions coming up…


By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Moving on from our terrible rhyme…Most business professionals in the UK now have a LinkedIn profile (if you haven’t got one click here) although begrudgingly so for some! LI is being utilised for a number of purposes however the primary focus is about creating a publicly accessible profile. Also, recruiters are now using LI as a secondary database: 53% of LinkedIn’s revenue now comes from ‘talent solutions,’ and candidates (active and passive) are reacting accordingly. However, the increase in the volume of profiles has made using LinkedIn as a database harder rather than easier. The ‘coding’ criteria on Linkedin, such as skills, are not particularly useful for recruiters so unless you are working to a very narrow brief and searching on specifics such as Job Title and Company it can tend to be rather laborious looking for suitable candidates for a vacancy.

If you are an ‘active’ candidate or just keen to maintain an up to date profile, then it would be sensible to ensure that recruiters notice you through your activity on LI rather than merely hoping you will be found. Of course this can be a time consuming process so please follow the guide below to ensure maximum exposure with a minimal investment of time.

Minute 1

People You May Know; spend one minute checking through this feature for anyone you feel would be appropriate to make contact with. Ensure you personalise your invitation requests, particularly if it is a person you have had limited contact with in the past. When you connect with people this will come up in their connections activity feeds. It is a great way of flagging your profile to second degree connections!

 Minutes 2-3

LinkedIn Today; you may never have looked at this before but it is growing fast and is a great source of interesting information. On a desktop it is under the News tab on the second row from the top. LI today is a blend of news stories from various media outlets in addition to Blogs and other business articles. You can follow specific topic areas such as ‘retail’ or ‘human resources.’ You can also save articles or follow specific blogging sites (Click here to follow ours!)

As with all activity on Linkedin you need to be proactive. Start with adding a comment to an article that is close to your passions / interests. This will flag up in other individual’s (who have commented) activity feeds.

Minute 4

Groups; there is a vast array of groups available on LI now with most specialisms catered for. It is worth checking for the groups with the highest levels of activity and most relevant to what you do. Again, the key here is commenting on discussions that genuinely interest you. I would focus on just a couple of groups. I personally use Retail Week predominantly as it is our industry publication.

Minute 5

Notifications; this is the flag icon next to the email icon on the top row. Having conducted a straw poll it would seem most people do not use this functionality. This is essentially a summary list of your activity, including who has looked at your profile, new connections and most importantly follow up comments to your own. If you spend one minute checking this you will ensure you do not miss anyone that has replied to you or shown interest in your profile. Try to keep the ‘conversation’ going. Hover your cursor over the specific notification, and then click to go straight to the relevant discussion.

Hopefully this will ensure you are able to do a little on LinkedIn every day to maintain your profile.

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


Colourful numbers scattered on white

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Last autumn I wrote a blog summarising the state of the retail recruitment market. With Christmas and sales out the way and following a wave of statistics published, I thought it was a good time to look back on the market but also to look at the consequences for individuals and how they manage their careers.  

Over the last few weeks a number of figures have been released and by and large they have all painted a pretty negative picture of the retail recruitment market reflecting the pain and challenges seen by a number of retail businesses.  With these statistics based on 2012 they may take some account of Comet but won’t factor in the impact of Jessops, Blockbuster and HMV.

Figures published by the BRC show that in Q4 2012 there was a small increase in overall numbers employed in the sector of 0.6% but that this was largely being driven by growth in the number of individuals working on a part time basis. A fall in the number of units by 3.6% is of no surprise and it will no doubt increase once the true impact of the recent administrations is felt. More worryingly was the forward looking survey which suggested that some 50% of companies were planning to reduce their headcounts in 2013.

Recent statistics from the Retail Choice job board show that in the 2nd half of 2012 the number of roles advertised fell by a staggering 25% with a fall in management roles being the major driver falling some 32%. This fall in numbers could be due to a number of factors. Firstly that the overall number of roles in retail is declining, that individuals are less willing to change positions in this volatile market or a broad trend away from always advertising such roles on job boards.   In reality I suspect it is a combination. Clearly with a declining store count on the High St, even with the growth in online retail the overall need for employment in retail is likely to be in decline. Secondly, the recent failings on the High Street will have given little confidence to individuals who are thinking of moving. If you are well rated and secure in your current role, you may need quite a large incentive to move to another organisation. That said I think for many individuals they have had this in the back of their mind for the last couple of years and at some point in order to progress their careers they will need to take that risk if they are not able to gain the progression they desire internally.  On my last point I do believe that job boards are still a mainstay of recruitment for roles at a variety of levels but the recruitment market is increasing in complexity and this is having a knock on effect on how candidates go about their job search. Whatever the factors behind the fall in jobs, the upshot is that competition for roles intensifies and Retail choice reports an increase in applications for each Management role of an incredible 50%.

As I wrote in my recent blog on the future of the High St  stores need to focus on providing a compelling reason to shop their bricks and mortar store and provide a customer experience. This in turn is leading retailers to look for individuals with a different skill set and experience than in the past. So it is not all doom and gloom. As the high street changes and has to adapt to the growth in digital, some job areas will continue to grow leading to a skills shortage in some specialist areas, examples of which would be e-commerce and visual merchandising.

Another interesting dynamic is that most retailers have spent the last few years aggressively cutting their cost bases and rationalising their businesses.  From the some recent conversation with senior retailers it is difficult to see in most organisations where they can cut further in 2013 and that for many the only way forward is to now starting aggressively growing their top line sales. I think inevitably this will lead to further movement in the market over the next year or so as businesses seek individuals with a different skill set who can help them drive growth.

So what does this mean?

Without doubt the job market for candidates is as competitive as it has been over the last few years. Most commentators agree that physical footprints will decline overtime and unfortunately this will lead to less demand for Store Managers, Area Managers, Regional Directors and Operations Directors and people need to consider the consequences of that. All of the statistics support this fact with the only real question being the pace at which the decline in stores will occur. As stark as this sounds it must be a consideration for individuals working in this area. For more central roles demand is likely to be more constant but again some areas may well contract as the nature of retailing continues to change. The changes will have some positive effect, clearly in specialist areas such as e-commerce there will be continued growth as this area of retail develops.

As the market becomes more competitive, individuals need to make sure they are proactively managing their careers, taking control trying to set themselves apart from others in the market. We have previously talked about the importance of how you manage your job search.

With no sign of improvement in outlook for candidates there has been much discussion amongst my colleagues around how individuals more proactively manage their careers with a clearer long term strategy.

Overall people need to think carefully about the skills and experience they have and which businesses may be interested in these. But more than that they need to think longer term about the skills and experience they need to gain in order to fulfil their career ambitions. Which skills are going to be most sought after in the future and how can they can these be gained?

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


Sophie Mackenzie – Senior Partner, AdMore Recruitment

I previously worked as a Recruitment Manager in the IT industry. When I resigned in July 2011 to join a specialist Retail consultancy there was many a raised eyebrow. There were gloomy headlines about the Retail industry and that has been pretty much the case ever since. There is no question that I have taken a leap of faith: faith in the potential of the business I have joined and the abilities of my new colleagues but also faith in the future of the UK Retail Industry. So why make this perilous move in the middle of a recession where, as usual, Retail gets the biggest hammering?

The thing is, I really love the industry. I love the variety, the heritage, the way it changes constantly and most of all, the people who work in the industry. There is a common thread that runs through most retailers – they are down to earth, pragmatic and real grafters. In most cases, retail businesses are meritocracies – rewarding the best performers and offering genuine opportunities for progression. Few industries can say the same. As the third generation of my family to work in retail, you could say it’s in my blood.

My Grandfather left school at 15 because his wages were needed at home and he started work in a fancy goods shop on the Golden Mile in Blackpool (a veritable Aladdin’s cave of toys, souvenirs, and ‘saucy’ seaside postcards!), working his way up to Manager. Before long, he decided to open his own shop, a local newsagents. Meanwhile, my own father left school at 17 and, after a couple of years as a bank clerk, joined Marks and Spencer as a management trainee. He remembers fondly the days when Blackpool was such a cutting edge place to be, that M&S used the store to trial all the latest ranges – how times have changed, sadly. 20 years later when my Grandad retired, my Dad left the corporate world to take over the family business.

Our shop was the hub of the village. Dad applied ‘big’ retail techniques to his small business and so, unlike so many of the newsagents and convenience stores you see – poorly stocked, windows obscured by posters and small ads – it was well lit and presented with a decent range of product and standards were meticulously maintained, not least by yours truly who worked as a Saturday girl while still at school. Although under increasing pressure from the tighter margins imposed by the newspaper publishers and the rise of the supermarkets, Dad didn’t take this lying down and tried to ensure there were other reasons for customers to come to the shop – a photocopier, fax machine (!), an extensive greeting card section and eventually a National Lottery machine. By anticipating changes in the market and through the sheer hard graft of he and my Mum they built a successful business. They had the largest delivery round in the area, employing around 40 local children to deliver papers, most who now have children of their own. They had a zero tolerance approach to lateness and poor performance but made a point of writing detailed references for them when they left for university or for their first ‘proper’ jobs. (Retail remains a great grounding even for those pursuing other careers, something Gen Y should surely be made aware of?)

After 25 years of 5am starts, 364 days a year, my parents retired and sold the business as a going concern. 8 years on, the shop has declined significantly – it is poorly stocked and shabby. Yes, market conditions are extremely tough and there are setbacks – the pub across the road has introduced Pay and Display parking which has affected the passing trade which the local shops benefitted from. However, the owner seems to have given up and the future looks decidedly grim. As my Dad said the other day “it’s not rocket science, you just need to think about what your customers need and adapt” however I think this simplifies it too much. If you really know retail and have energy and passion, then yes, it is relatively simple but that still doesn’t mean it is easy. You need to have the commercial nous to identify opportunities and get more from less, whether you are in a large multiple or a local newsagent. Running any small business is tough and in retail even more so. Being self-employed isn’t an easy option and, as in the retail industry as a whole, you have to have the right skills to succeed: commercial acumen, resilience and passion as well as an unwavering work ethic. As a recruiter, I know only too well how rare these qualities can be.

Clearly, the changes in the retail market are affecting everyone including the most cherished of brands and this is the new reality we must all accept. However, when I think about all the talented retailers who have been made redundant in recent months, I can’t help but wonder what they could achieve with ‘our’ little shop. What impact would it have for our economy if our ‘nation of shopkeepers’ had decent retail experience and we could find a way to harness the skills of the many individuals that have been displaced?

My parents are powerless to prevent the decline of their life’s work (and my Grandfather’s before them) and it is heart-breaking to see. However it is the brutal truth that, big or small, if you aren’t able to adapt, innovate, and do it quickly, the market will find a way to seal your fate. The challenge for all of us who love our industry is to understand this new landscape and do whatever we can to adapt, create new opportunities and ensure that these ruthless market conditions do not find us wanting. Above all, we must keep the faith!

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