Category: Employer Brand


 onboard

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

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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small-vs-large

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

I wrote this last night, full of excitement about tomorrow night’s Recruiter Awards, for which we have been shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category. The awards have given me a rare chance to reflect and have made me think about the growth of AdMore so far and how critical attracting the right people is to our future growth. We have been able to recruit some fantastic people, some of the best in our market but we will need many more people of this calibre to really help the business grow.  So why is it that people choose to work for a small, growing and successful company like AdMore rather than a large corporate organisation?

  • Your role will be broader and you will be able to do a lot of different things

One of the frustrations many individuals have working in large organisations is that the scope of their role is often too narrow and that is very easy to find yourself being pigeon holed. In a small, growing business you are more likely to be involved in a broader range of tasks and have the opportunity to participate in larger projects. With limited resources, your remit is also likely to be wider, offering a more interesting role incorporating Marketing, Social Media and PR for instance, in addition to your day job. With a smaller business you will also gain a greater exposure to senior people and to individuals with significant levels of experience, more so than you would ever get in a large corporate and this is likely to help you gain experience quicker and learn more from those around you.

  • Greater job satisfaction

Arguably, with less people you are likely to have a higher profile and it is clearer to everyone in the business when you have done a good job.  You are much less likely to have to jump through lots of different hoops to progress and are much less likely to have to fight against the politics of big corporate organisations. Being valued, recognised and rewarded for the job you do has a real impact on job satisfaction.  Performance in a small business is very transparent so as well as being recognised for your successes there is also nowhere to hide from your failures.

  • You’ll have more responsibility

In a small business more trust and faith has to be placed on the individuals, decisions are often required to be made quickly and so accountability for these decisions is there for everyone to see. This may not be to everyone’s liking but it does help individuals learn quickly and cope with high levels of responsibility and decision making.  Many individuals like this trust and freedom and the accountability that comes with it. This is great for developing your character and will also look good on your CV.

  • You’ll be given more opportunity

Joining a small but growing business should also present more career opportunities. This is particularly the case if you join at the ground level and the business expands rapidly.  Your close relationship with the executives and the breadth of knowledge you have of the business is likely to open up more senior roles as the company expands and hires more people. In undertaking a much broader range of roles you can also increase your marketability from a future career perspective. Small businesses are much more reliant on a number of key people and this also gives some security to the individual as the business is much more likely to be reliant on their knowledge and contribution.

  • The culture will be great and so will the perks

As most businesses get bigger, they will tend to put more rules and regulations in place in order to try to manage the increasing size of their workforce. As the business grows beyond a particular size it becomes very difficult to manage discretion and flexibility and these are often replaced by policies and procedures which, it can be argued, have a negative effect on employees.  Large organisations with shareholders to satisfy are constantly looking of ways to cut costs and be more efficient and changes they make have a huge impact because of their scale. These cuts will often be made to perks or cultural aspects and certainly the downturn has seen many businesses cut back in these areas. Small businesses can offer that flexibility and they often offer more perks, whether that be gym membership, a pool table in office or flexi-time. These perks are ranked strongly by potential employees as being important.

  • You will hold the values more strongly

Small businesses often have very strong cultures based around the values of the founders. In a smaller business it is easier to hold true to these values and not compromise in the way that big businesses often have to.  If you can find a business where culturally you fit and one where you really share its values then how the business behaviours and operates is much more likely to ring true.

  • You will learn the art of prudence

In a smaller business there tends to be a more natural focus on how to do more with less. You will develop a mind-set of how to achieve more not only with less money but also less time; Small businesses don’t have the time or the resources to be inefficient otherwise they simply won’t survive.  These skills in the current environment are very attractive and again will increase your marketability when you come to look for another position.

  • It’s easier to make stuff happen

Arguably, one of the greatest reasons is that it is just easy to make things happen – a lack of red tape, politics, procedures and other restrictions means you can just get stuff done. If you are not making the decisions yourself you will certainly be close to those who are and so it is much easier and quicker to influence these people and galvanise those around you to take action and make sure that the business moves forward. This allows you to focus all your time and energy on what needs to be delivered and not on how it needs to be delivered.

Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to working for large organisations whether that is paid training or the opportunity to work internationally in the same way there are risks of working for a small business whether this be job security or a lack of training and development. Working for a small company will be appropriate for people at different times in their careers but as you can see above people should seriously consider the benefits they may gain by working for a small, growing and successful business. Ultimately for me it comes down to your faith in the business – so do your research thoroughly. Don’t just rely on your own perception but canvas other people in the market – what is their reputation out there?  If the opportunity arises to join a business with a great product or proposition that has a strong track record of success and is really moving forward then you should really consider getting on board for the ride…

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recruitment

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

Next month, one of my colleagues celebrates his 10 year anniversary in Recruitment. He can hardly believe it has been that long. Like the rest of us at AdMore, Recruitment was his ‘second’ career following graduation and a successful period in the Retail and Hospitality industries.

Without doubt, few people choose to begin their career in our industry – often it is something that is suggested by a recruitment consultant who spots the potential, the spark, of someone who could be a success in this challenging role. Arguably, having previous career and overall life experience is of huge benefit in recruitment, not only because it enables you to empathise with the challenges and choices faced by people in their working lives but because it gives you some credibility with candidates and clients – so important in an industry which has very low barriers to entry. It will be interesting to see what impact the new Recruitment Apprenticeship which has been launched recently will have on encouraging young people to choose recruitment as career however there remains the issue of how we try to change the perception of the industry and position it as a career of choice rather than something that is ‘fallen’ into.

To kick off our little crusade, here’s my Top Eleven Best Things About a Career in Recruitment – other blogs to follow (along with the Top Ten Worst Things About a Career in Recruitment!?).

1. Wheeeeeeee!

People often refer to the rollercoaster of recruitment and it really is the best analogy to describe the ups (and downs) we experience on a daily basis. The highs are great – making an offer to a candidate (providing they accept), giving the good news to your client or hiring manager, knowing that you have found a solution for your candidate/client and are a step closer to hitting your target.

2. The people you work with

Ok, I can just imagine the collective eyebrow being raised and of course, we all know people who fit the stereotype of recruitment consultants. However, in my experience, the majority of people I have worked alongside in recruitment have been great fun, bright, hard working and incredibly positive. It is rare to find people who don’t moan about their lot (although many in recruitment have good reason to) but in recruitment, the over-riding characteristics are resilience and the determination to succeed. These are infectious qualities and preferable to other cultures where people complain constantly about their job but do nothing to change it.

3. Variety is the spice of life

Working in recruitment is interesting because, to be any good at it, you need to know your industry sector inside out. You need to understand the job roles that you are hiring, the company culture and the idiosyncrasies of the recruitment process. You have the privilege of hearing about candidates’ career history, family situation and aspirations along with any issues they have faced along their way. Every person you deal with is unique and this provides constant interest (and challenges which I will cover in my follow up blog Top Ten Worst Things about a Career in Recruitment!?).

4. Reward and Recognition

Recruitment can be financially lucrative for the top performers and if you are working for a company who pay acceptable basic salaries in addition to bonus or commission, you can make a healthy living. Senior in-house recruitment positions command significant salaries along with the benefits associated with working for large corporate businesses. Over and above the purely financial recognition, recruitment agencies are generally places where success is celebrated and when you are doing well, your achievements will be well publicised.

5. The challenge

Although the mechanics of recruitment are fundamentally simple (get briefed on vacancy, find candidate that fits, make introduction to client), in reality there is so much more to it than that. People are unpredictable and the real challenge is understanding this, anticipating any changes or pitfalls, planning or reacting accordingly and using your influencing skills to get a positive result. Recruitment tests your inter-personal skills every day and if you love people (warts and all!), this is a great career for you.

6. Stretch yourself

The longer you work in recruitment, the more experience you have of dealing with people at all levels and at all life stages. The challenges outlined above make you question yourself daily and having to use insight and empathy with your candidates and clients means that you develop your own skills accordingly. These inter-personal skills often spill over into your wider personal relationships. There is always something new to learn whether that is about what motivates people or about the new technological developments that are impacting how we source candidates.

7. Problem solving

When a client briefs you on a role, it is because they have a problem which needs a solution. Perhaps there are issues with performance in a role and a new skillset is required. Perhaps the ‘gap’ is holding the growth plans of the business back. Finding a solution to this problem requires more than finding a ‘bum for a seat’. You need to ask the right questions to understand the brief. You need to know what impact the hiring manager and the company culture will have on the search process. You then have to find someone who will have the right mix of skills, experience and behavioural qualities to truly ‘match’ the brief. The search process can be like an intricate jigsaw puzzle…for those who are intellectually curious; it is an interesting and rewarding process.

8. Accountability

The funnel analogy is widely used in recruitment and, although less so when recruiting senior level positions, it is a case of the more you put in, the more you get out. This isn’t just about volume; it is about the quality of each conversation, the quality of the contacts you make and the relationships you build. It is a very transparent industry – you can measure your own activity and often trace results back to their source. There are always lots of different factors which can affect your performance but there is rarely anyone else to blame. This makes you truly accountable for your results.

9. Entrepreneurial spirit

To be a success in recruitment you need to be commercial in everything you do – this is something that you can learn along the way but the ability to spot opportunities and an entrepreneurial spirit certainly gives you a head start. Recruitment consultants are often described as running their own virtual franchise, meaning that you are responsible for developing and growing your own sector and increasing your personal ‘brand presence’.

10. Relationships

When you get it right and are able to build genuine relationships with your candidates and clients, the role is really rewarding. This requires honesty and trust on both sides. There is nothing better than knowing you have helped someone develop their career and even if you haven’t been successful in placing someone, if you can give them some good advice and act as a sounding board, they will remember you. The litmus test is someone picking the phone up to you , sometimes years later, when they are either ready to make a move or are ready to brief you on a vacancy.

11. Talking to people

One of my colleagues (who shall remain nameless) was always in detention for talking in class and this was one of his suggestions about why he loves his job. Clearly, this is not about the ‘gift of the gab’ as this can have the opposite effect but there is no doubt that you need to enjoy talking to people. If you do, you will build rapport easily, ask the right questions, get the right answers and be able to sell yourself and your opportunities effectively. People are fascinating creatures and we are lucky to be able to spend our working lives talking to them!

If you would like any advice about a Career in Recruitment, please contact us.

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

Previous Blog Links:

In House recruiters: How to nurture the relatinoship with your recruitment agency

Be beautiful or useful

Winning hearts and minds: how to build your influence in an in-house role

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

 

For those of you who are as yet unaware of glassdoor.com, it is a US based site whose aim is to create a community providing a source of information about prospective employers, job roles and salaries based on anonymous reviews from employees. They have recently launched their UK site, glassdoor.co.uk .

The format of each review comprises Pros and Cons and Advice to Senior Management along with star ratings given for the following criteria: Compensations & Benefits, Culture & Values, Career Opportunities, Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance and CEO Rating.

It is a simple format and undoubtedly can prove a useful resource when researching companies or preparing for interviews.

Under each company profile, it includes a Recent News section which is useful for ensuring you are up to date with latest Press Releases, results or general news.

Understandably, the large, global businesses have the most reviews (often in their thousands) with some sectors being more broadly represented than others, particularly the Management Consultancies, Technology companies and Financial Services. I would guess therefore that reviews on these businesses are a pretty accurate reflection of working life within those companies.

Within Retail, the major UK brands are represented although many have a limited numbers of reviews – I’m sure this will change as more people in the UK become aware of its existence. Until there is a significant body of material on each company, I think it will be a while before it provides enough insight to accurately reflect what it is like to work for a particular company.

In their Community Guidelines, glassdoor are clear that participants should write balanced reviews without reverting to bitter or overly personal accounts of their own experience. Reviewers must be current or former employees of that business within the past 3 years and so there is reason to assume that the integrity of the reviews is good.

As always with reviews, you must take each contribution in context and look at the overall theme which emerges from a number of reviews. Other factors to bear in mind are the level of the person reviewing (junior candidates will have a different perspective than senior managers although their opinion is no less insightful or valid). Equally with the Interview section, where people provide sample interview questions and insight into their application process, it is wise to be cautious. Interview processes can change and your preparation still needs to be thorough enough to deal with any unforeseen eventualities.

We are all becoming increasingly reliant on reviews whether that is before booking a holiday or buying something and they can be an incredibly powerful tool. Recently, before leaving on holiday, I accidentally stumbled upon some Tripadvisor reviews on my destination. They were so bad that I was tempted to cancel, however I kept an open mind and sure enough, I had a lovely time albeit with my eyes wide open and expecting the worst! With something as important as your career, the more research you can do the better, and as long as you keep an open mind, glassdoor.co.uk should prove to be a useful addition to your ‘career toolbox’.

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How to avoid joining the wrong business

8 great smartphone apps to support candidates in their job search

cartoon-14-career-ladder

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

15 questions you need to ask before accepting an offer.

This year we have seen a significant increase in the number of candidates returning to the job market, albeit relatively passively in a lot of cases. Surprisingly, while the reasons can be poles apart such as redundancy or a lack of career progression, it can often drive similar behaviours amongst candidates. I have commented previously that a significant number of candidates have made the wrong decision about a career move because they have not completed their due diligence. While this list is not exhaustive, considering the following points before accepting an offer may help you in your decision.

Why is there a vacancy?

Ask this question when you are briefed by an agency, ask this question in your first interview and ask this question in your final interview.

How often is this position recruited?

This is a very difficult question to ask in an interview but you need to know the answer. Linkedin provides a good opportunity to do some research and it is worth making contact with a couple of past employees to informally ask them about how often the role has been / is recruited.

Why do people leave the business?

Ask everyone!

How many people have been promoted internally at my proposed level in the last 2-3 years? Who was the last person to be promoted and what did they do to achieve this?

How is the business performing financially?

Check out the last set of company accounts. This is particularly important if the business is small and relatively unknown.

What is my prospective Line Manager like to work for?

It is crucial you work hard to informally reference your new boss. Speak to people you trust to seek their opinion. Check out their Social Media (Linkedin/ Twitter) profiles.

What does your Sponsor(s) think?

It often takes someone without prejudice to give you some simple and much needed honest advice.

What was the average bonus payment in the last financial year and what was the average pay rise?

Do I fit the company culturally?

Look at the company’s values and working culture. Do you like what you see? Does the reality match up with what is described in their marketing material? Again, talk to employees past and present.

Why do they want me?

This is a difficult question to ask as you will want to believe it is because you are the best candidate. However, are there other reasons, for instance your inside knowledge of one of their competitors?

Does my consultant sound convinced that he/she is recruiting for a great business?

It is worth working hard to build a good personal relationship with your consultant as they will provide the odd snippet of information that could help you to make your decision.

Does the offer of employment and/or contract match what I have been told verbally?

Don’t be afraid to dig deeply in to the Terms &Conditions of the contract however be careful how you position your resulting queries.

When did the company last restructure and are there any plans to do so in the future?

Look for a pattern, you will be amazed by how often retailers restructure from one working model to another.

What impact will this move have on my personal brand or future career opportunities?

Am I taking this job because I want it or because I think I have to take it?

Think about the longer term implications of taking a job for the wrong reasons.

This is of course not an exhaustive list, and would welcome any thoughts and additions to the above.

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

 maslow

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

I have always been a big fan of Maslow (click here to learn more) and despite modern Psychological doctrine having exposed flaws in this theory of motivation I cannot help but feel that it has a great deal of relevance to how many candidates manage their job search today. I believe that the recession has fundamentally changed how many candidates view their future job selection and crucially what is most important. Having spoken to a number of colleagues within recruitment, and admittedly this evidence is purely anecdotal; we have seen a very real shift towards a ‘hierarchy of needs.’

Having spoken to many hundreds if not thousands of candidates over the course of the recession the first question that the majority of candidates will ask is; does it pay enough? Interestingly, prior to the recession the same question was probably being asked with a slightly different emphasis; how much can I earn? The key difference is that candidates are now focused on whether the salary will cover their costs rather than enabling them to invest. Arguably, it amounts to the same thing but it does indicate a rather different mind-set. I have found that salary has acted as a much smaller ‘barrier to entry’ than prior to the recession when candidates were more focused on achieving a significant uplift in package rather than merely covering their costs.

The second most important element is Job Security. Prior to 2008 the majority of candidates barely talked about security. Unsurprisingly, and against a backdrop of numerous business collapses this has become the second most important criteria.

The third element that most candidates will tend to want to judge is their cultural fit. One key consequence of the recession is that many people have taken jobs under duress (whether that is financial or emotional) that they might not otherwise have done so. Often, these individuals have been perfectly capable of doing the job but for whatever reason have not been a good cultural fit. In the early to mid part of the recession that led to further turnover and as a result, increased anxiety in the market.

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These first three elements, in blue in my pyramid, are I feel the most essential for candidates today. The next two elements tend to be asked by fewer candidates but interestingly they are perhaps the most important for future financial, intellectual and emotional prosperity.

The fourth element is a two way street! Will I be valued and will I value them (employer & colleagues)? Many candidates tend not to think about this prior to accepting an offer as the first three elements can often be all consuming in importance. However, this will often determine the longevity of the role. It has a particular relevance for Gen Y candidates whom often place this as a key requirement for future positions.

The final element, the famous ‘self-actualisation,’ in my pyramid is; will I grow?

Many candidates will ask what the opportunities for progression are but I think they are missing an opportunity here. In truth most companies will, during a hiring process, indicate there is room for progression without committing to anything specific. The more savvy candidates will ascertain what the company does to ‘grow’ their people. What is the performance review process, what support and development is there, do they even have an L&D team post recession, how much money are they prepared to spend on external education?

So what does this mean for recruiters? The way in which we attract candidates through technology and social media continues to evolve at a dramatic rate.  I believe that most candidates seek to satisfy the first three elements early in their job search with the further two elements being a focus further in to an interview process. Given the lack of confidence in the current jobs market it has become crucial that employers and their recruiters seek to address these basic needs early in any recruitment campaign. A failure to do so will only serve to reduce the pool of available talent!

NB: You will note that I haven’t placed any emphasis on whether candidates question their level of capability / competence to do the job. The reason behind this is that I believe most candidates have a much higher level of self-confidence in today’s market and to some extent rely upon the employer’s ability to select on capability.

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By 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.

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.

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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.

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Jenny Parry joined Harrods in 2008 and is currently Head of Resourcing. Here we talk to her about the Harrods Employer Brand and the many changes that have taken place in recent years.

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Jenny, you joined Harrods from Tesco, how did you find the transition?

 Although the fundamentals of retail are the same regardless of the products that you are dealing with, I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who helped me understand the transition into Luxury which was about a different approach to service, meeting the high expectations of Harrods and its customers, as well as personal presentation.

How has Harrods developed your own career?

Harrods has provided me with some great opportunities that have helped progress my career. I initially came to Harrods as an HRBP, a role I did for 18 months before moving onto a Project Manager role for the HR transition that we went through in 2011. Managing such a large scale project provided me with the opportunity to develop a whole new skill set as well as exposing me to other areas in the business, such as IT, and external companies.

Since the transition, I was able to develop my ability to work at a strategic level as the Head of HR, which then led to my current role as Head of Resourcing. This has once again allowed me to learn new skills and develop me further as an individual.

I was part of the first team from Harrods to take part in the Times Leadership Challenge which involved a rigorous fundraising exercise which tested my entrepreneurial spirit.  I have been to a number of IMS events and was lucky to be given a mentor who sits on our main board – all opportunities that I am extremely grateful for.

What has been your greatest challenge as Head of Resourcing?

Working for Harrods means our stakeholders have extremely high expectations and a drive to push the boundaries in whatever we do.  Consequently, the main challenge we face on the Resourcing team is being able to manage stakeholder expectations. Given the volume of roles we recruit at any given time, it can be difficult to meet the hiring manager’s expectations on timescales, particularly when we deliver an end to end recruitment process in-house. We therefore have to stay one step ahead, anticipating their future needs and providing evidence to the line managers about the recruitment market for their vacancies.  We also face the challenge of delivering both permanent and temporary recruitment in-house – maintaining contact out of season with the hundreds of temporary staff we employ can be difficult.

From an Employer Branding perspective, what qualities do you personally value?

I have been lucky enough to work for some great customer brands within the UK and there are lots of companies I interact with daily who I really respect for the work they are doing to improve the engagement of their employees.  For me, I always respect an Employer Brand that looks to give something back to the community they are part of, a company that allows you to develop and grow your career, a company that trusts you to get on with your job and gives you the autonomy to do the right thing and last, but by no means least, a company that has the same values that I have.

How would you describe Harrods’ Employer Brand?

The Harrods employer brand has gone through a mammoth journey over the last four years and today sits with the very best, not just within luxury retail but across the whole of the business sector. Having listened to feedback from both prospective candidates and our current employees as to what they expect when they apply for a job at Harrods, we now offer an unrivalled package which includes extensive learning opportunities, generous benefits, an open and honest culture and a focus on how we can help others as well.  This can be seen with a learning offering which not only includes over 60 different learning courses but an opportunity to earn a BA (hons) degree in Sales. We have a recruitment programme that looks to bring in A Level School leavers as an alternative to going to University and have also launched new initiatives around Armed Forces Resettlement and with the West End Skills Shop to encourage people to think about a career within Luxury Retail. In addition we recognise that people want to give something back to the community they live and work in so we now have the option for people to take paid time off work for charitable work. The success of this and the drive to help others has led to the company launching our first official CSR working group.

The benefits we offer are able to support you through every stage of your life whether it is your birthday, your wedding day or your retirement. The employer brand and communication department proactively engages with our employees and we have a charitable focus which has seen the store raise a significant amount for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Prospective candidates come to Harrods expecting a lot, and I feel today we are in the position to not just meet their expectations but exceed them.

How has Harrods changed as an employer over the last few years?

One of the biggest changes was the introduction of the Staff Survey in 2008. This provided the perfect platform for us to really start to understand what our employees thought of us. From the feedback we received we listened and worked hard to improve the working environment, the way we manage our people and generally to make working at Harrods simpler and easier for our employees. One instigator of this has been the introduction of the Satisfaction Forum that is headed up by our Managing Director and HR Director. Allowing our employees to speak to senior members of the company has provided a real opportunity for a strong two way communication.

How have these changes affected staff turnover and satisfaction scores?

Since the Staff Survey was introduced, employee turnover has dramatically reduced and engagement with the company has risen making the challenge of catching up with the retail average a thing of the past. Whilst the retail industry average of employees proud to work for their company is 79%, Harrods achieved 93% which clearly shows just how far the company has progressed in recent years.  Having continually broken records in sales over the last few years, I cannot agree more with the Macleod Report, which shows that by focusing on becoming a better employer, it isn’t just turnover or satisfaction that you impact but more engaged employees impact sales, profitability and customer experience.

Harrods has a reputation for being a demanding place to work, what makes it so challenging?

Our mission is to remain the number one luxury department store in the world and to achieve this we constantly need to exceed expectations in whatever we do.  This is quite a bold statement to make and one we take extremely seriously which inevitably leads to high demands. Whilst it is demanding however, there are generous rewards as a result, for example excellent commission, fantastic opportunities to develop yourself further, and the chance to work in a place where every day is completely different.

What is your greatest challenge in attracting top talent to Harrods?

The pace Harrods moves at means prospective candidates are not always aware of just how many changes the company has made. Increased investment has seen some truly stunning departments created, an improved employee restaurant, a dry cleaning service and most recently two new working areas for employees. The growth of the company has meant that Harrods can no longer operate from just the four walls of the Terracotta Palace in Knightsbridge, and has led to support areas moving into a modern head office in Hammersmith, and our distribution team moving to a brand new state of the art warehouse in Thatcham, West Berkshire.

For people interested in a career in Retail Management I think that people underestimate the opportunities and responsibility they will get working for Harrods. At all levels of Retail Management you are involved in budgets, merchandising, shop refits etc. and as all of the Directors are in the store daily, the exposure you get to some of the best retailing minds in the world is amazing.

In addition to this, a lot of top talent think of Harrods as only offering careers in retail, which is certainly not the case. Working behind the scenes of the store is a massive IT team which is always in need of top SAP and BI specialists, a team of web enthusiasts running our .com business, the biggest, and in my opinion the best, Chef Brigade under one roof in the UK, and a CRM department which is always increasing as we endeavour to find out more about our customers. There are some more bespoke roles where we need to fight harder to get access to the best talent: Online Analysts & IT specialists, Pastry Chefs, Interior Designers, Architect Project Managers and experienced Retail Managers. With career opportunities always coming up, I cannot stress the importance of prospective candidates visiting our careers site to see what we can offer them.

London is an incredibly competitive market place, how are you ensuring you are an Employer of choice? What makes Harrods a unique employer?

We know we are extremely privileged to be working for a well-established, globally recognised name. However we do not take this for granted and continually work hard to raise the awareness of people to the opportunities that we have.

We have a lot of our training accredited and run apprenticeships so people can come to work for us and not just get training that supports them in Harrods but also their future careers. We look to retain people by having a programme called ‘Your Future’ where people can express interest in a career move and we support them to get there.

There is no other employer like Harrods in terms of range of products you get to work with but also the theatre you are surrounded by. You only need to do a quick Google search to see how employees of Harrods celebrated the Jubilee this year, the Christmas Parade that we recently had to welcome Father Christmas to the store and recent exclusive celebrity launches that we have had.

How have you ensured that what you sell at interview matches up with reality, post-placement?

This is always something that is at the forefront of my mind. There are the usual statistical reviews that you can do to understand why people leave within the first few months of employment to make sure we are getting it right however it is much more than that. We have introduced Ambassadors for the shop floor employees so that there is someone on hand to help new starters find their feet and in addition, there is a robust probation training plan. For people moving into the support areas we have a bespoke induction plan so people get to know the people they will be working with and understand more about the role that they want to do. We have a broad spectrum of internal communication channels which are easily accessible to employees and will help them with any query or concern, no matter how far into their career at Harrods.

How has Social Media changed how your team has approached resourcing in the past 12 months and how do you see it changing in the future?

Social Media is a total game-changer – it’s revolutionised the way we communicate with each other, the way we consume, the way we give feedback – the list is almost inexhaustible! Most of all, it’s been an interesting, fun and important addition to Harrods Careers. As far as our approach goes, we haven’t necessarily had to change the way we think about the overall recruitment method because at Harrods it’s always been an end-to-end process whereby we engage with candidates from the beginning through to the final stage. However, what social media has given us is a totally new portal; one which is instant and highly interactive; it has given us the opportunity to reach millions of people at the click of a button; all which have, in turn, made us even more aware of our employee brand, the Harrods community and the importance of nurturing past and present relationships with employees to source future talent.

My colleague, Donna Price, is doing a fantastic job to further develop our Social Media strategy and objectives. This has already yielded results. It’s amazing to see our Twitter and LinkedIn followers grow daily thanks to our efforts in engaging people on a daily basis by responding and talking to candidates, and providing informative content about our company values. We aim to illustrate what it’s like to work at Harrods; we are opening the doors and breaking down barriers to show people they can build a lasting, rewarding career with us which is why social media is so important in our overall recruiting strategy.

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

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