Archive for May, 2013


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

I’m a retailer, first and foremost. You only have to ask my wife how annoying I can be re-merchandising a store I have followed her into! I now just so happen to recruit people into the industry I love. Yes, it is tough going, but retail businesses are still looking for great people, that is something that hasn’t changed over the years!

What has changed however is the lay of the retail land. Omni-channel, Click and Collect and the newest buzzword ‘showrooming’ weren’t around 3 years ago, let alone 19 years ago when I started my retail career with Next! But what hasn’t changed is the key focus for all retailers great and small – the focus on the customer and service.

What prompted me to think about this was a pretty poor experience over the weekend where multi-channel retailing resulted in both a loss of sale (and a grumpy wife!)

We were looking to buy a shelving unit in a well known department store. We saw one we liked but were informed that the product was only available to buy online. Not a problem I thought, when I get home I will log in to their website and purchase, select my delivery date – happy days! However, the product wasn’t on the website. It was nowhere to be seen! No mention of it, and no idea if it was out of stock or just old season. So, how can it go so wrong?

Purchasing a product has never been easier. We can do it sitting on a train, over the phone, heck, we can even walk into a store and buy it on our lunch break!  Regardless of the method of purchase this experience falls down with bad service. How often have we heard a friend mention they have ordered a product for it to then mysteriously be sold out? Or received poor, ill informed product knowledge on the high street?

Consumers are an intelligent bunch. There is a lot of talk of the rise of the Mamil, (Middle Age Men In Lycra). Although not quite middle aged, I am one of a growing band of men happy to spend a fair bit of cash on my bike. Halfords have been very clear they are looking to take a large chunk of the market, and have recently launched a huge customer service program costing hundreds of millions on pounds. There is talk of recruiting specialists into each store that ‘know their stuff’ (although Jessops may testify this is not always a great commercial move). Anyone that has recently visited an independent bike retailer will tell you that making you feel like an idiot for not knowing your groupset from your chainset is as just as bad as the sales assistant knowing next to nothing! Consumers want choice, and great service, and the Mamil is tech savvy. They will spend hours reading through magazines, forums and reviews looking for the next product that will shave a few seconds off their PB, or save them a few grams. This, I think, is why the likes of Wiggle, Chain Reaction and Evans Cycles have got it right online. There is choice, they have knowledgeable staff, (you can hide behind an email and not look stupid!) and items are delivered on time or even to store in the case of Evans Cycles.

The Mamil is not just a new breed of male, ahem, ‘athlete’ but a new brand of consumer who wants to be treated well and maturely. It is too simple to expect the customer to come into a store without an expectation of service.

Mothercare have recently commissioned a survey to assess how consumers respond to a smile. Funnily enough they spend more – is this really surprising? It shouldn’t be! If staff need to be taught to smile, then frankly they are in the wrong industry.  It doesn’t matter how much you spend on websites, logistics or stores, if the consumer doesn’t get a warm fuzzy feeling then they will go elsewhere.  The choice is huge for the consumer, it’s competitive and with the help of social media, it is now transparent. If you don’t get it right, your customer will let you know about it!

Customer service is expensive. To have the right people  properly trained is not an easy task but the opportunity cost of not getting this right is huge (the old retail saying  – you’re only as good as your worst member of staff still rings true!).

Retail is, in its simplest form, straightforward. There are a large number of retailers getting it right, and those looking to change focus should be applauded. Getting people to part with their hard earned cash is tough, and as the consumer changes so does the world of retail. But, at its core, Service is key, and that hasn’t changed since I started my retail career all those years ago!

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

I thought about writing this blog at 3.30am last night. I had been up for over an hour with my two year old twins whom have been very unsettled by a recent house move. Probably somewhat naively I assumed that our relocation from Kingston to Wokingham would have little impact on the kids. You always hear how children are quick to adapt and given their age I thought they would barely notice any difference. Mum and Dad were still around so what was the problem?

What I hadn’t appreciated was that my little girl has developed a genuine affection for her friends in the various playgroups she attends and that she has reached a point where she craves interaction with the people she knows. Our little boy, being a boy, is a bit oblivious to people but does like his routine. He knows what he likes (Peppa Pig, hiding & big slides) and in Kingston he knew when he was arriving at a favourite playgroup. Overnight they have lost their structure, routine, friends and probably some security through familiarity. Reflecting on this at 3.30am I felt a little stupid, how could I not have foreseen this when day-in day-out I witness a mixture of good and bad new-job-on-boarding processes for the candidates I talk to.

Recruitment consultants are generally paid by companies once a candidate starts in their role. What you may not appreciate is that there is generally a ‘rebate period.’ In essence if a candidate leaves within a certain timeframe the recruiter will have to pay part of the fee back to the company. Rebate periods can be as little as 4 weeks and as high as 12 months. It is a bit of a bone of contention in the industry as recruiters often feel powerless to control how an employer on-boards their employees; and this on-boarding is often what makes or breaks a successful transition. Indeed, I read a stat recently that suggested that 22% of employees leave their job in the first 45 days of employment. However, I don’t want to get in to a debate about that as there are plenty of good reasons why rebate periods exist, I would prefer to concentrate on what we as recruiters can do to ensure a successful job transition. If you are a candidate due to start a new role it is worth bearing in mind that we recruiters (that are focussed on long term relationships…) can/and should offer post placement support:

  • Get the basics right.

Arguably on-boarding starts with the overall candidate experience through the hiring process but the first tangible difference a consultant can make is to ensure a candidate receives a full offer and contract PRIOR to starting. Do not be afraid to push your consultant if you are concerned about any detail in the contract. For example, if you have a query about the pension scheme it is best to get this ironed out prior to starting and through your consultant. You will not have time once you have started to get in to the detail and many employers will assume that as you have started that you will have no queries.

  • Put solid foundations in place:

Ask your consultant to set up a coffee chat with your line manager prior to starting; this is particularly important if the notice period ranges from 3-12 months. It is crucial that you work on your relationship with your new line manager prior to starting.

  • Map the business:

Meet your consultant for a coffee prior to starting your new role and ask them to map the function or indeed the wider business for you. Not only should your consultant be able to talk through the organisational structure but they may also be able to provide insight in to specific individuals, personality quirks, likes/dislikes, interests and as always the politics. This should ensure that you are able to develop a targeted networking plan.

  • Build your network:

Ask your consultant to introduce you to any other relevant contacts they may have in the organisation. That may be through a simple LinkedIn introduction or through an exchange of contact numbers. The chances are the consultant will have placed other people within the business so the contacts should be warm!

  • Seek external support:

At a more senior level your consultant should be able to connect you to a mentor. This would ideally be someone who has operated in similar roles that has a genuine passion for coaching.

  • Talk, Talk, Talk:

Do talk to your consultant over the first few weeks. We do want you to do well, not just be because it means we get paid but because most of us actually like people! If you have any problems your consultant may be able to offer solutions that are not immediately obvious. Do not be afraid to ask for advice about cultural or personal nuances that you have encountered.

So if I was to apply my own advice to my children’s recent change, what I should have done was take the kids to a few playgroups in advance of the move and ideally put the foundations in place for a few friendships. It sounds so simple on reflection…ah well on to the next parental mistake!

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Further blogs on how candidates can leverage their recruitment consultants:

What should your Recruitment Consultant really do for you?

10 Questions every candidate should ask their recruitment consultant

A Candidate’s Guide to Working with Recruitment Consultants

While we have seen an increase in the use of Skype and other video based technology it would seem that the use of the Telephone Interview is back on the rise. It is an inexpensive method for judging cultural and or behavioural fit and is often the first stage in recruitment processes; Forming the backbone of a labour intensive campaign or quite simply an ‘informal chat’ for a senior executive. It is however, full of pitfalls for candidates. Here are ten easy to follow tips that will ensure you create the best impression possible.

1) Get the Environment right:

Try to avoid conducting the interview in a busy, noisy environment or indeed in your car. A private office where you will not be disturbed is perfect. Too many telephone interviews are interrupted by questions from colleagues, or the barista behind the counter at Starbucks! Ensure you allow enough time for the interview and do not assume it will be a ‘quick ten minutes.’  Use a landline for receiving the call. Poor mobile phone reception is the single biggest reason why many telephone interviews fail to take place. While they are technological wonders, our mobile phones are surprisingly unreliable at the worst possible time when it comes to their most fundamental function; making and receiving calls.

2) Prepare.

This is a fantastic opportunity to have your notes and CV in front of you during the interview. Make sure you summarise your notes focussing on key points to avoid scripted answers.

3) Sit in front of the mirror.

This may seem a little odd but quite simply it will give you an indication of how you are coming across. Do you look animated? Is your head up? Perhaps most importantly are you smiling? If not then try to focus on doing so, this may translate in you feeling more confident and therefore sounding more positive!  Alternatively you could try standing up and walking around. If you are more comfortable walking and talking then ensure you are in the right environment to do this. Many people feel they are more animated when upright and this allows for a greater level of focus.

4) DO NOT actively listen when asked questions.

A common mistake to make, however actively listening in a telephone interview can disrupt flow as you will find the interviewer may stop talking. This can lead to a disjointed and awkward conversation.

5) Ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat back the question.

If you are slightly uncertain about the question either ask the interviewer to rephrase or indeed paraphrase this back. You should try to avoid doing this repeatedly but it is better to get your answer right first time.

6) Use regular pauses.

Leave healthy pauses after every two or three sentences to allow the interviewer to either drill further down or confirm they have heard enough.

7) Vary your pace, pitch and tone.

It is very difficult to convey energy and empathy over the phone so it is important that you vary your speech. The monotone interview is the bane of all interviewers!

8) Practice a CV run through.

The structure of telephone interviews will often vary but a standard format will be CV based. If you are asked to run through your career history you should qualify how long this should last. Do they want a 30 second elevator pitch or a detailed 30 minute conversation? Either way, plan ahead!

9) Build rapport early on but avoid too many jokes!

As with all interviews first impressions count. Good interviewers will try to break the ice early on. Reciprocate and avoid coming across as ‘cold.’

10) Ask Questions.

Like most interviews you will get a chance to ask questions. If an interviewer has a solid day of telephone interviews you will probably stand out more if you ask an insightful question about the business/role and more importantly about them.

I hope this helps and as always feel free to add some suggestions to the comments below. Jez Styles

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Colourful numbers scattered on white

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

Reading through the latest hospitality report from the Caterer.com job website released this week unfortunately doesn’t make particularly happy reading. Whilst the Governor of the Bank of England talks about signs of recovery, it is clear that the Hospitality sector is still having a challenging time which naturally impacts on the people that work within it.  So what are the numbers telling you about the sector and your employment prospects?

Looking at the numbers from the Caterer report there is a clear decline in the number of vacancies with a fall of some 10% on the previous year. Unfortunately for job seekers, this was matched by a 4% increase in the number of job applications. This reinforces what we are seeing in the market, that the job market in hospitality remains extremely competitive. In fact, looking at the previous caterer report we can see that in fact the decline in roles has actually accelerated from an 8% decline to a 10% decline and that the increase in applications has also accelerated, moving from a 2% increase to a 4% increase.  Such dramatic falls can be reconciled by a number of factors, firstly that due to the on-going economic uncertainty people are “sitting tight” which is actually reducing “churn” in the market.  However it can also be attributed to the continued economic challenges that are causing businesses to remain cautious about their investment in people.  Without doubt though over the last four years, many businesses have chosen to invest in developing and retaining their existing staff as the most cost effective people strategy.

Across the sectors, there has been mixed performances. Some sectors have fared better than others with the Pub sector continuing to face very challenging times. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, over the last 5 years there has been a 14% decline in the number of pubs.  Interestingly according to those statistics in 2011 5,505 new pubs opened but some 6,115 closed indicating the significant churn and instability in that sector.   This also reflects the changing nature of the market as pubs adapt to trends in the market with many now diversifying into more food-led operations.

However, there are some good news stories out there and reading the M & C report each day certainly gives me some hope. As expected, there are always winners and losers and in this highly competitive sector, those businesses that have their proposition right and are able to communicate this effectively to their customers are prospering.   Whitbread for instance recently released some stellar results with like-for-like sales up 3.7% and yesterday The Restaurant Group’s shares reached an all time high on the back of the strong results they released yesterday showing a 4.5% increase in their like-for-like sales.

The Hospitality sector continues to be an incredibly dynamic and exciting industry.  Trends and customer needs are constantly changing. New concepts, designs and formats are constantly being designed and launched and those that satisfy and capture the needs of the market will reap strong rewards.

So what do these statistics say about your career in Hospitality?

Firstly, it shows the sector continues to face challenges and that the competition for roles remains as intense as ever. This reinforces the need for candidates to prepare effectively for their job search and to ensure that, when they do secure an interview, that they are able to perform exceptionally well. By conducting thorough research into the brand including site visits and SWOT analyses when appropriate, ensuring that you are able to provide tangible examples of your achievements and by giving evidence that you possess the capabilities required for your target role, you will have an edge over your competition.

It also shows that different sectors are performing better than others and within each market there are clear winners and losers. With rapidly changing customer needs, businesses need to change, adapt and evolve and those that do will outperform the market strongly. By keeping in touch with developments in the sector as a whole, you will be able to assess where the growth areas are likely to be and which businesses will offer you the most career development. Industry publications such as the Caterer and the M&C report are invaluable however, keeping in touch with your personal network of contacts is also hugely effective in keeping tabs on what is happening in the industry and what opportunities this could present for you.

To be successful in your job search in the current market, you must focus on those roles where your skills are most transferable and where your experience is most relevant. By doing this, you will maximise your chances of success when a precious vacancy arises.

For further advice on your job search, please read our blog “How to look for a role in 2013

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

This recruitment issue is as old as time itself however it still occurs regularly and causes no end of consternation for everyone involved.

For the in-house recruiter, it places them in the middle of two battling agencies – never a good place to be!

For the agencies, it can be a frustrating problem which can ultimately end in loss of revenue.

The biggest victim in this is the candidate (although they are often the culprit – I will explain shortly…) as this can put them in a very uncomfortable position, damage their candidate ‘brand’ and even potentially jeopardise them getting a new role.

We have been asked by clients several times recently for advice on what they can do when this situation occurs so we thought it was worth sharing our thoughts. As ever, no hard and fast solution but perhaps if more people understood the consequences, we could reduce the frequency with which this still occurs.

Why it happens

There are several reasons why this happens:

An agency sends the CV of a candidate to a client without their permission or knowledge.

Sadly there are plenty of agencies who are still doing this. I understand why – in a competitive market when clients are using multiple agencies for the same vacancy, the process becomes more about speed than quality. Combine this with the micro-managed agency environment where consultants are measured on the number of CVs they send out, it is simply not conducive to any focus on quality or service. This is compounded when the client is happy to use the agency purely as a ‘CV shop’. There is simply no need to add any extra value. There are major issues with this approach. Firstly, it creates risk for the candidate. They may not want their CV to go to a particular client for confidential reasons. It also damages their brand as they are no longer in control of themselves a s a ‘commodity’. For the client, this means that they are looking at CVs of candidates who may or may not be interested in their brand, may not be culturally right and may not even be interested in the job!

A candidate forgets – or lies – about having sent their CV

Looking for a new job is a complicated, time-consuming and bewildering business.  Candidates are overwhelmed by non branded ads on job boards so, when they submit their CV, they have no idea which role they have applied to. Some agencies use this submission as permission to forward their CV straight to the client without speaking to them first so they may never know who has seen their CV. I’m sure we have all had the experience of having spent an hour on the phone, covering a candidate on a role, selling in the company, covering any objections and getting their permission to submit their details, only to find a week later that they went on to the company website and submitted their details direct! Grrr! Often this is done without realising the consequences although occasionally, a candidate will think they are increasing their chances by letting their details be submitted by rival agencies. These things happen and all of us involved in the process need to help candidates navigate these pitfalls by being as explicit as possible about what our actions will be so they can keep track.

One agency submits the CV on the ATS portal, one agency sends it direct to the hiring manager

In theory and when used correctly, an ATS should alleviate this issue, especially if the client adopts a first past the post policy or uses the duplicate alert function correctly. The problem of course is when agencies (that are most likely not on the PSL) bypass this process and send CVs directly to line managers.

So, what to do?

  • If you have an ATS portal, honour it. If agencies submit CVs direct to line managers but the candidate has already been legitimately uploaded to the portal, favour the agency that is a. on the PSL and b. is following your process correctly.
  • Use the duplicate alert on the ATS and penalise agencies that bypass this without your permission eg. by using their own email address rather than the candidate’s.
  • Be wary of CVs that are submitted very quickly after giving out a job brief. Has the agency actually spoken to the candidate? Have they given their permission to submit their application? Asking further qualitative questions about a candidate will help you gauge what value the agency is adding (why are they looking to leave their current role? What interests them about your business? How will they fit culturally?)
  • Ask for a cover sheet to accompany each CV. This is something we used when I worked in-house and it became very clear which agencies really knew their candidates. I know they are the bane of most recruitment consultant’s lives, but too bad! The information on a standard cover sheet is information that a good consultant should be getting in the initial registration call so it really shouldn’t be an issue to complete it.
  • When the CV is submitted by two of your favoured agencies, ask everyone to be transparent. If the candidate experience is important to you, ask the candidate who they want to represent them. Chances are they will favour the agency that had added the most value and who has spent the most time speaking to them about the company/role. By feeding back to both sides, any agency who isn’t adding value will understand that this is really important to you and your recruitment brand and will hopefully do better next time. The agency who ‘wins’ this particular battle will feel justified in spending time doing their jobs properly.
  • Beware of any agency who deals with this situation aggressively – chances are they are treating the candidate in a similar way which is simply unacceptable. In these situations, a good agency will put their own interests aside and ensure that the candidate is protected. Sadly, they often lose out because of this.

All of us working in recruitment have to accept that you will win some and lose some. Those of us who are trying to maintain high standards of integrity will take this on the chin. I like to think that the laws of karma will prevail…here’s hoping!

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

Previous Blog Links:

https://admorerecruitment.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/winning-hearts-and-minds-how-to-build-your-influence-in-an-in-house-role/

https://admorerecruitment.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/a-match-made-in-heaven-how-to-get-a-psl-that-works-for-you/

https://admorerecruitment.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/how-to-win-the-heart-of-an-in-house-recruiter/

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

I recently wrote about the Top 10 transferable Retail skills (Click here). When I wrote that blog I found myself having to separate behaviours from skills and competencies. There is a strong appetite across many industries for Retailers not just for the skill-sets that they acquire but also for the behaviours that they exhibit. These behaviours, often under rated and generally taken for granted, are not unique to Retail but when combined with a typical Retailer’s skill-set they are very…very powerful.

  • Urgency & Pace

I suspect that this is the most under-rated behaviour of all. Retail has always been a fast paced industry, driven by consumer demand, trends & perishable product. Quite simply if you do not ‘get it right’ first time you will lose a sale to the competition. You snooze – you lose. With the onset of Social Media and Internet shopping the urgency of delivery has become even more important. Most retail jobs are highly task focussed and great retailers are able to prioritise, Urgent vs. Important, and deliver a result with pace. Having recruited for a number of organisations in other industries Line Managers often talk about the need for an injection of urgency and love the pace that retailers operate at.

  • Customer & Service Orientation

We have all had poor experiences in a shop before but on the whole the service offered, in my opinion, is far higher than in other industries. The reason why I believe this is of particular importance is that the provision of service is generally one of many tasks that frontline and back office support retailers have to provide. Remaining focussed on the customer when you have a refit taking place, maintenance issues, conference calls from head office, an audit, stock deliveries and a multitude of other tasks in your in-tray is both an art and a science. This isn’t just applicable at store level either, the demands being placed upon Directors and CEOs has reached stratospheric levels with an increasing uptake of Social Media. I have spoken to numerous Directors recently who are increasingly dealing directly with customer issues, in real time over Twitter…24/7. Now that is…

  • Commitment

I am not sure there are many 9-5 jobs left these days but in Retail that simply doesn’t exist. There are 0hr contracts, ever evolving shift patterns and an unceasing workload. The level of commitment will vary from shop to shop and business to business but I can only comment on my own experience from HMV. I can remember many late nights preparing stores for opening, refits, layout changes and I always found my respective teams (on relatively modest salaries) to be utterly committed. In Retail you just cannot achieve your core goals without dedication and commitment. It’s a hackneyed phrase but tasks are often split between JDIs (just do it – or JFDI as it was in HMV’s culture!) and nice to haves. Retailers accept this and just get on with it.

  • Compliance & Standards

Retail is Detail. I used to hate that phrase but the truth is it is spot on. Retail is about routines and processes. If you are unable to drive continuously high standards your business will fall apart very quickly. Retailers will have this ingrained in to their behaviours from the first day they start their job. Often the tasks are repetitive and boring but they do underpin the fun stuff. Delivering this compliance while balancing customer needs is not simple. I still find myself inadvertently tidying CD sections in my local HMV store and tutting at dirty or cluttered windows. Retailers will take this behaviour with them in to every role they undertake.

  • Competitive

Clearly this is a behaviour that needs to be moderated in the right way, however, there are few industries that are quite as competitive. Just look at the number of high profile administrations in recent months, let alone years. Retailers are used to competing and thrive on the challenge. Every single minute of every single day they are competing not just externally but often internally. Retailers are battered with KPIs and scorecards and there is nothing worse than being bottom of the table…actually scratch that, second isn’t much better! This competitiveness is often a result high levels of…

  • Drive & Passion

The beauty of the Retail Industry is that anyone can enter and anyone can do well. Of course degrees and other technical qualifications will help but if you have high levels of drive and you are passionate about what you do, you WILL be successful.

  • Resilience

I am not sure I need to explain this one given the rollercoaster most retailers have been on over the last few years. To be fair even in the good times it isn’t easy. There is rarely any respite, no rest period and little time for reflection. Retailers get two days off a year. When your average person is enjoying their May Day Bank holiday, Store managers and their teams are working harder then ever. It isn’t any easier further up the ladder either. Preparing for a 7am Monday morning board meeting, trying to shore up some shocking like for likes, late in to a Sunday night certainly requires some resilience – and not just for the individual but for their families too.

  • Results Orientation

I mentioned KPIs earlier. These days pretty much everything that a retailer does is measured in some way. The larger chains have engaged in some very detailed time and motion studies to increase productivity and that only serves to ratchet up the focus on results. Retailers live and die by their numbers. Even customer service scores and employee surveys are often boiled down to a single number. Are you above average? Did you top the region, the company or the industry? As with previous points, where Retailers really impress is their ability to combine an orientation towards ‘getting a result’ with doing it the ‘right way’ – through their people and with customer at the heart of their decision.

  • Receptive to and engaged with change

I think it is fair to say that this doesn’t apply to all Retailers and that the industry has had change thrust upon it to some extent with the advent of the internet and other external pressures. Having said that the industry has adapted and behaviourally Retailers have become accustomed to a state of flux within their respective markets. The most successful individuals and businesses are the ones that embrace change and where it is second nature.

  • Ownership & Accountability

With highly visible KPIs, strong processes and structure comes accountability. With accountability comes ownership! This swings both ways, when you are doing well you will receive the plaudits…when things are not going so well you will be held accountable. Retailers understand this relationship between success and failure and they own their results. You only have to listen to a politician on the radio to realise what a fantastic attribute this is!!!

As I mentioned earlier these behaviours are not unique to Retail but the combination is rare and it certainly explains why leaders from other industries are so keen to tap in to this Human Resource.

What the numbers tell you about your future career in retail

Retail: my tale of faith, love and survival

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Recruiter Awards 2013 winners logo

Disclaimer: this post contains self-congratulation (apologies…we’re still very excited!)

A week ago, AdMore attended the Recruiter Awards for Excellence 2013 where we were winners of our category – Best Newcomer.

This was our first time attending the awards and it has made me reflect on what this means for us as a company and how valuable the whole experience has been.

Entering the awards took time and effort. We submitted our entry in January, although it took a couple of months of preparation and polishing before we were ready to hit ‘send’. The questions for each category are challenging and really make you think about how you operate, what value you are really adding to your customers and crucially, what makes you different to your competition.

For a business who aims to do the simple things exceptionally well, we also had to give examples of creativity and innovation and importantly, be able to back this up with evidence. There is, quite rightly, an emphasis placed on quality of service and so it was important that we had testimonials from both candidates and clients. Irrespective of the end result, going through this process as a group was invaluable – encouraging us to analyse what we do well and what we must improve upon.

As an industry, we are often judged (both fairly and unfairly!) and so entering the Recruiter Awards gave us an opportunity to be assessed by our peers and by credible industry leaders. The list of judges is impressive and ranges from in-house recruitment leaders and senior directors of international agencies to industry commentators and futureologists.  These people really know recruitment and most importantly, are passionate about the industry.

When we were notified that we had made the shortlist, we were delighted!  For a small business, just getting that far seemed a big achievement and made the hard work of putting together our submission worthwhile. Very quickly, our thoughts turned to the awards ceremony itself. Our table was booked and dinner jackets dusted off…could we, just maybe, win the category?

The event itself was excellent – a great venue, good food and the atmosphere you would expect from a group of recruitment people enjoying a cocktail or two! After a welcome from DeeDee Doke, the Recruiter magazine’s genial Editor and the event’s sponsor Eploy, the evening was handed over to the comedian Ed Byrne who did a great job of lightening the increasing sense of anticipation in the room.  Announcing the nominees and winners of each category was Alan ‘voice of the balls’ Dedicoat and when he read our name out as winners of our category, it was amazing! The OSCARS it may not have been, however the sense of joy, shared experience and frankly sheer amazement that we all felt, will I’m sure remain with us for a long time.

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As a team building exercise, it doesn’t come much better and, although it clearly helped that we won, I would recommend the experience to anyone who takes pride in what they do. We have a shiny trophy for the office and lots of great PR and marketing opportunities – invaluable for a small business. On a more serious note, it has given us a much needed boost in what continues to be a tough market and it has been a little recognition for the founders of AdMore who took the risk of setting up in the midst of a recession. Most importantly, it provides a benchmark and a standard that we have to live up to.

We don’t and won’t get everything right but we are determined to try. What struck me most about all the winners and the nominees last week was that they really cared and that can only be a good thing for our industry.

Irrespective of the outcome, we got so much out of the experience and I would highly recommend it…you never know, you could just win!

So, in the great tradition of awards ceremonies, a few “thank yous”:

To our candidates and clients who we will endeavour to support in the best way we can

To the Recruiter magazine and sponsors of the event for a fantastic night

To the lovely team at Oakleaf Partnership, our table-mates on the night, for their warmth and encouragement

To our families for their support

And last but not least, to the whole team at AdMore – the hard work continues!

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

It is a thankless task, and one that is constantly ridiculed and looked at with derision from ‘the other side of the fence.’ The role of an in-house recruiter is tough, caught between the cross fire managing process, expectations and the worst of all: a hungry bunch of agency recruiters! However, not all is lost, that same bunch of recruiters can be your biggest ally if you manage them well. Some handy hints to get the best out of your PSL can be found here and if you follow the tips below you are on your way to less of a headache!

  • Build your team around you

The agencies you have carefully selected to be on your PSL should be working with you. If they are not, get rid. Agency recruiters are used to hearing bad news, don’t think by not answering their call they will go away. Explain what is not working, and why. Call a meeting, or give them a warning, but don’t let the situation drag on. Those that want to work with you will understand the tough job you have and will be honest with you. Get a team of recruiters that ‘get’ your situation. If you can’t speak to them on a Monday because you are in meetings all day, tell them not to call. If you prefer e-mail, tell them not to call!

  • Knowledge is power

It sounds obvious but recruitment consultants spend a lot of time talking to people – candidates you are looking to hire and clients who have similar needs to you. They will know first hand the challenges in the market. Ask their opinion – recruitment agencies are sitting on a wealth of information about salary expectations, market moves, and competitor challenges. Some of the information will be confidential of course however  you can gain a huge amount of market knowledge which you can then share with hiring managers and your wider resourcing team.

  • No nasty surprises

Be clear with your team of agency recruiters. Yes, terms and conditions have been signed, and it is all in there but be clear if there are points that might cause confusion in the future. If you have a 3 month ownership policy in place, tell the agency. If your payment terms are 120 days, tell the agency. No doubt the terms you have in place will be something you have very little control over so explain that this is what we are working with. The agency has a choice to work with you or not and being upfront will save numerous calls and emails further down the line.

  • Admin is a time killer

If you have limited admin support, why can’t the agency help? If you are booking in a number of interviews, get the agency to book them in your Outlook calendar. Be clear about the available time slots and ask the agency to attach the CV if necessary to make the whole process as easy as possible for you.

  • Banish the unwanted

A constant problem for in-house recruiters is the barrage of cold calls and unwanted speculative emails. They have a huge impact on your ability to do an already time-heavy role. If you use a mobile, put your trusted agency numbers in your contacts list. I always made sure I didn’t answer a call from any number I didn’t know. This would save me hours through a week. Also, if you are getting emails from the same source over and over again set up a rule in Outlook to ensure those unwanted emails go straight to your deleted items.

  • Everyone is on the same side

Share as much as you can with your agency team. If you have engaged an agency then I am sure you want them to fill the role?! Tell them the competencies that will be assessed and the hiring manager’s interview style. If you were prepping your direct candidate you would share as much information as possible, so why not with the agency?

  • Not all jobs to all recruiters

Just because an agency is on your PSL it doesn’t give them a divine right to work on every role you have to hire. There will be roles that you will hire direct so again, be honest with the agency. This will help limit speculative applications and ensure that when you do give a role to an agency, they have an expectation they can fill it! If you are briefing 3 agencies, again tell them who they are competing against. Recruiters are a competitive bunch!

Of course some of these points will be easy to install, where others will be impossible depending on your set up. If I could recommend one thing it would be to be honest, treat recruiters how they want to be treated: fair, with respect and as a partner.  If they don’t want to be part of your team, put them on the subs bench – there are plenty of players keen to be in your starting 11.

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