Category: Executive


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

I was recently asked for some advice by a friend who had been headhunted. The salary on offer constituted a significant uplift and, although he didn’t know a great deal about the company in question, he was understandably intrigued enough to attend an interview. As the process progressed, he started to weigh up his options and subsequently came to me for my perspective as a recruiter. As is often the case, his head was spinning as the approach had come out of the blue (he was not actively looking for a new role) and what he needed was a reality check so he could consider the offer rationally.

So, here is the advice I gave him which I hope will come in useful if you ever get the call!

  • Firstly, I must clarify what I mean by headhunted. Being headhunted in its purest sense is when you have been specifically targeted by an organisation (usually a competitor) for a specific role, usually based on a recommendation or based on research which indicates that you are a proven top performer. The approach could come from the company directly, indeed some blue-chip companies are now hiring ex-headhunters to join their in-house teams to set up their own internal ‘search’ function. Most likely, the approach will be made by a search firm that has been engaged by the company. This is different to being contacted by a recruitment agency who have identified that you may be suitable for one of their client’s vacancies.

 

  • When you receive a headhunt call, it is worth establishing the credentials of the person calling. By nature, if you are not active in the market, it can be hard to track you down and so search firms may need to take a cloak and dagger approach in order to make contact, often calling you at your workplace. They should say who they are and which search firm they work for, even if at the initial stage they cannot reveal the name of their client. Bear in mind that you may also be asked to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) if the brief is confidential.

 

  • A search is generally done in response to a specific role so the company should be able to give you a detailed brief, if not a copy of the Job Description. The top search firms will produce a detailed overview of your experience, skills and behavioural qualities which they will submit to the client if you are included in their shortlist and as such they will need to meet you face to face.

 

  • Usually you will be headhunted because of your specific skillset/client base/black book/track record and the approach will probably come from a competitor who knows about you. In this case, you should know a lot about the company but it is still really important that you do your research. This is even more important if you do not know the company. You need to find out what their market is, how they are performing financially, who their clients/customers/major accounts are, what their growth strategy is and most importantly (and harder to find out), what they are like to work for, how they treat their employees, what opportunities there are to progress internally. This is where you need to hone your research skills. Use the internet to find out company information and to read latest press releases, news articles etc. Scour the company website for latest annual reports. Glassdoor.co.uk is a useful source of information about company culture as it collates reviews from current and former employees (although generally at low to mid levels). The most powerful method of finding out about them is to speak to your network – do you know anyone who has worked for them recently or who works for them now?

 

  • Keep your ego in check! It is hugely flattering to be properly headhunted, particularly on the back of a specific recommendation of your work. It is easy to get swept away as you are ‘wooed’ by your suitor showering you with compliments, offering you all manner of riches and generally making you feel very special. This will be all the more powerful if you are feeling a little disgruntled in your current role – perhaps a promotion has been promised but not delivered or the company is not paying out bonuses. It may be a fantastic opportunity but you should still do your due diligence before you make any decisions. Equally, be careful not be too aloof – just because you have been approached doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed the job – you are merely entering the selection process and so you will still have to prove your worth.

 

  • In the words of Jessie J, “it’s not about the money, money, money”! If it is just about the money then be very careful indeed. If you heart starts to race thinking about the salary on offer, stop and think. Then, get a blank piece of paper, a calculator, your P60, current contract and details of your benefits package and start to do your sums. You need to compare the new offer and your current package like for like. Separate each element of your package out and work through them line by line. How do the car allowances compare? Does the new offer include personal mileage? What about health cover – does it include cover for all the family or just you individually? How are bonuses calculated, when are they paid and how much has typically been paid out in recent years? What impact will a move have on your pension, share scheme, equity? Only by doing this exercise, will you really have an accurate picture of what this move will mean for you financially.

 

  • If you currently work for a large organisation and the headhunt has come from a smaller company, weigh up the relative opportunities presented by staying in your current company (strong brand on your CV, more opportunities laterally, more security) versus making the move to a growing business (more rapid progression, bigger role).

 

  • “Discretion is the better part of valour”. ON NO ACCOUNT, feel tempted to tell your current boss/colleagues that you have been headhunted. While this may give your ego a gentle stroke in the short term, it could plant the seed of doubt in the mind of your employer. Equally, breaking the confidence of the search firm may seem inconsequential, however be aware that reputational integrity, once lost, is almost impossible to recover. These firms have the ears of the most senior HR and Line Directors in your industry and it is prudent to maintain a positive relationship, even if you decide not to pursue the approach.

 

Clearly, this advice is equally relevant whether you have been headhunted or have applied for a role however the big difference with a headhunt call is your state of mind. If you apply for a role, you will have spent time preparing your CV and generally getting in to the mind-set required to find a new role. You will be ready to leave your current company and chances are you will have drawn up a list of your target employers.

A headhunt call, by its very nature, will catch you unawares and you need to understand the steps you need to take if you decide to proceed so you can ultimately make the right decision for your career.

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

In a market where organisations are increasing their proportion of direct hires, do you still need to be talking to recruiters and what are they actually doing for you?  Are they really adding any value and what are they doing that you couldn’t do yourself? Indeed with LinkedIn it is now easier than ever before to be found by organisations looking to hire. So are recruiters really adding any value? The answer to that question will definitely depend on who you are talking to. Sadly the industry is lightly regulated and with no formal qualifications it is very easy for poorly trained individuals to operate without much scrutiny or redress. As we are all aware, the market is still tight. With strong competition for most roles it is likely that you will need to engage the services of recruiters in order to try and access the best opportunities in the market.

So what should a good recruiter be doing for you?

Career Advice

A specialist recruiter should be able to give expert career advice and both challenge and assist you in your career goals and objectives. They should be highly knowledgeable in your field and very well connected.  Your recruiter should be a career partner and not just an agent that will place you in a role.

Recruiters can and should provide impartial career advice. When paid commission you need to appreciate that some may have a short term attitude and advise what is best for them and not for you as the candidate. However, the best recruiters will take a look term approach, appreciate that people will remember great advice and certainly never forget bad advice. Although in the short term they may lose out on a fee, longer term if they do the right thing then you are much more likely to engage them when you are looking to recruit. So look out for the signs that they are thinking long term.

Recruiters can if they are willing provide advice across a range of areas including advice on CV’s and Interviewing. They typically do not change for these services but do it as a way of adding more value to the candidates. Again they are likely to only provide in depth advice to those individuals who they have built a relationship with.

Job Search

In addition to some of the added value areas, fundamentally you want your recruiter to give you access to the best jobs in the market. So, do plenty of research and ask plenty of questions; what roles are they recruiting? Who are their key clients? Are they recruiting the types of roles you are interested in? The competition out there is fierce and through building a strong relationship with key recruiters in your sector you can try and ensure you gain access to these roles. A good recruiter should always call you back. In the current market, recruiters are incredibly busy, there are large number of candidates on the market chasing relatively fewer roles, however if you agree up front how to communicate and how frequently then you should be able to find a way that works for both parties.

 Process Management

A good recruiter should “coach” you through the recruitment process.  They should be using their in depth knowledge of the client and the individuals within it to guide and advise you on how to position yourself. They should be able to give you a strong insight into the culture and how you will fit.  The are also likely to get in depth feedback from the client after each stage so make sure they are sharing this information with you, so you can understand what you may need to do more or less of.  In fact a really good recruiter will always think long term. The better ones will coach you through a process even when they aren’t representing you but it is with a client they know. They will appreciate the long term benefits of doing this and the potential for the future.

 Offer Negotiation

Whilst there are a multitude of reasons for moving jobs, increasing your salary and benefits is often an important aspect.  Your recruiter should be instrumental in negotiating the right salary for you.  They should know the client well and will have a real feel for what the client may be willing to pay for someone with your skill set.  But make sure they are clear about your parameters because as much as you want to receive the best offer you also don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are jeopardising a potential offer because the recruiter is demanding an unachievable  salary on your behalf. Also make sure you understand the full package. The benefits on offer may vary considerably from your current role and other roles you are considering and it is wise to look at the package as a whole. This will both influence your thoughts around basic salary but also may give you some leverage. Make sure you have this information early in the process. Like any negotiation the Recruiter will be aiming to find middle ground that is acceptable to both you and the client. It is ok to push but get a feel for where those boundaries lie.

Post Placement

A good recruiter won’t just place you and collect their fee, they will support you through your notice period and then though your induction into the business. They should provide you with an insight into the key players in the business you are joining, the culture and advice on how to integrate into the business. They should keep in touch and ensure that your induction runs smoothly, feeding back to the client where appropriate.

Conclusion 

Identifying and then building a relationship with the right recruiters will be critical if you are determined to make the best career move possible.

So how can you ensure your recruiter is doing all these things for you? Firstly please choose wisely. It is best to get recommendations and check their credentials.

Secondly to gain this level of advice, support and opportunity you need to invest time in building a relationship with the recruiter. This is easier said than done when working in a demanding and consuming role, so select a small number of well connected recruiters. For some additional advice on job hunting please read our recent blogs Looking for a job in 2013and How to avoid joining the wrong business.

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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!

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

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By Russell Adams – Director, AdMore Recruitment

Tradition suggests that January is one of the best and busiest times to start your job search and looking at my phone log and inbox this week, that certainly appears to be the case.  But is January, potentially the busiest and most competitive month, really the best time to start your job search?

Arguably why would you want to be job hunting when the candidate flow is at its peak?  It is all too easy to find times in the year when not to search though. What about December when people perceive the market to be quiet or August, when everyone is on holiday ? Indeed any time when there will be fewer vacancies and more candidates. You can read more about our thoughts here

We cannot deny that activity does vary from month to month due to some of these factors however I don’t believe it has anywhere near the perceived impact.

A phone call at 8.30am on Monday reiterated to me the incorrect perception candidates have, when I was asked about the state of the 2013 market and what new opportunities had come up on the first Monday of a new year!  In the first week of January the market isn’t suddenly flooded with new vacancies and, let’s face it, in the current market we are rarely talking about brand new roles so the labour market is reliant on people resigning to start the musical chairs.

The job market and your job search are not linear. Simply waiting for the absolutely perfect job search ‘moment’ then jumping in with full determination and gusto before landing that dream job rarely happens.

So when is the best time to look for a new role?

Many would argue the best time to look for a position is when you need one.  I don’t totally agree with this statement – actually the best time to look for another position is when you are happy at work but anticipating that in the future, your career aspirations will not be met.  I think that good candidates manage their careers proactively, which is not about always looking out for the next role, but making sure that, both internally and externally, you are spending enough time on developing and building your network. Which businesses you would like to work for, what research can you undertake on that business, how can you network with existing employees? Starting your job search ISN’T SIMPLY SENDING OUT YOUR CV, it is about planning your job search and looking at what activity to undertake – Our How to create a successful campaign offers some handy pointers

Job searching is a time-intensive activity and it is important that individuals allow enough time. Launching your job search when you are about to move house or are in the midst of a renovation project for instance, isn’t the best idea. Your job search will take time and commitment so you need to make sure it is the right time for you.

It may be common sense however the reality is, that it is about you and your own situation. It is not just about timing and if timing becomes your only rationale you will more than likely not find the right opportunity. So don’t let the market dictate but take control and enter the job market when it is the right time for you.

What you should however start doing this month is thinking about your job search, your career management and those activities that will support your career development in the coming months.

Taking the time to invest in this strategy before you really need a new job takes the pressure off and allows total objectivity. Even more importantly, you won’t be seen by prospective employers as really needing a new job and from that perspective; you will be in a position of relative power.

My advice is to be process-centric rather than results- centric. In doing this, you may just discover that now really isn’t the right time for you to send out that CV.

Russell Adams

 

You are out of work, made redundant after spending the best years of your life working your way up the career ladder. The pay out is good, but won’t last forever. You have taken some time-out to ‘re-charge the batteries,’ the summer of sport is over  and the September transfer window has been and gone. Time to get out there and find that dream job. But hold on, the phone isn’t ringing. The jobs don’t seem to be out there, only those that don’t really appeal.  However,  you need to get back into work. Better to be in work than out of it, right?

This is a dilemma we discuss a great deal in the office, both  with clients or candidates and it is a very tough call. As the market picks up, it is a problem that more and more people will face. So, do you stick or twist?

Unfortunately, there is no right answer; it will depend on your personal circumstances. However, there are some factors to take into account. As you become a little more flexible in what you are looking for, you will get interviews. You interview well, and the process moves forwards, but there is a nagging doubt in the back of your mind. Is this the role you see yourself doing?

Firstly, as a candidate you are in control of the process as much as the client. When the offer comes, don’t feel bullied into accepting. Take your time; if you have other options consider them. A good hiring manager/recruiter will be fully aware of your situation and will not put undue pressure on you. If it is the right business they will understand it has to be the right move for you. If you do feel you are being boxed into a corner, ask why?  Why do they need a decision today? Why do they need you to start Monday? There maybe a valid reason which, again, a hiring manager would explain. However, if the pressure is coming to accept within a short time frame then question if you are the best hire or are you just a ‘filling a gap’.

Secondly, how will the move look on your CV? Consider how the role will be perceived by future employers. If you take a drop from say, Regional Manager to Area Manager, it could well pigeon hole you for future roles. Take a look at our blog is the recession creating a lost generation of middle management in retail for more detail on this. If the role can offer you progression and stretch then it must be considered as an option. Client side, we hear a great deal of feedback stating that the candidate was ‘too senior’ or ‘would leave when the market picks up.’ Personally, I would prefer a Premiership- standard right back playing for my team rather than a Conference League one! Let’s not underestimate how difficult it is to find employment. It is a process that most people don’t enjoy! If the business is the right one and they delivered on all they spoke about while courting you, then you would have no reason to look elsewhere, would you?

Do your research. Can the company back up what is says?  A quick check on Linkedin will give you an idea of how many present employees are at your level (and also tell you how many are looking for ‘opportunities!’)

What if you do accept the offer and it doesn’t work out? Do you really want to be going through the recruitment process again? Contacting recruitment agencies, picking up with your Linkedin contacts, sifting through the job boards? No, you don’t. It’s a pain, and one that not many people enjoy. After all, who wants to be talking to recruitment consultants all day?!  Do consider the impact this could have on your CV. One or two short term career moves are acceptable, any more than that can put off potential employers.

Finally, and most importantly, you may just need to be back earning a salary. Do your sums, work out when you need to be back in employment. A recruitment process can typically take anywhere from 3 weeks to 4 months! If you do turn down the first offer, make sure you have weighed up all the options. The market is not as bad as you think. Good clients are still hiring good people. The first offer you get maybe your dream job, but if it isn’t, don’t accept what could potentially be a damaging move.

Shane Horn


1. Get the basics right!

Ensure you know who you are meeting, where you need to be, how you are going to get there and what the dress code is. Matching the company’s expectation regarding image is particularly crucial if you are attending a meeting with a fashion business, but equally don’t turn up ‘suited and booted’ for a meeting with a DIY retailer! Ensure you have relevant contact numbers in your phone should you run in to problems.

2. Who is interviewing you?

You can give yourself a real edge in an interview if you have researched the individuals you are meeting. If you have managed to secure an interview there is a good chance you have the experience to do the job so your ‘fit’ becomes critical. You should try to find out a little about the background and personality of the interviewer. This should enable you to build a good level of rapport early on. There is plenty of information available on internet searches and you should utilise your network to fill in the gaps. It is crucial that you fully understand the organisation’s culture, values and long term goals.

3. Know your experience.

Try to ascertain what the structure of the interview will be and prepare accordingly. For instance, most interviews will be ‘competency based’ incorporating structured questions. Typically, you will need to provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated the competencies required for that specific role. This type of interview does call for preparation so that you aren’t left fumbling for decent examples. Write down key examples of how you have dealt with situations relevant to the role, such as, people management or strategic planning. This will help you remember what you have achieved and ensure you analyse exactly what you did to achieve a result. This will really pay off in the pressure of the interview.

4. Prepare insightful questions.

If an interviewer is undecided whether to progress your application, the quality of your questions could swing it your way. Clearly you will want to know about the individual and company you might be joining however avoid basic questions about benefits or working hours. Instead focus on areas that indicate that you have thought deeply about the role and how you might be able to add value. This is an opportunity to demonstrate behaviours that you might not have been able to highlight in the interview. Take a notebook and pen with you and record key information, this will demonstrate a professional and considered approach.

5. Be clear about why you are applying for the job.

In the current environment there is some scepticism about why people change jobs so you need to ensure you do not allow any confusion to arise. Be clear and specific about why you want the job you are interviewing for. This should be positive, regardless of circumstance, and leave the interviewer feeling like you have targeted her/his business specifically. If you have been headhunted…avoid using this as an answer, it can sound a little arrogant!

6. Ensure your Linkedin profile, CV and interview answers are consistent.

If you work in a target focused environment and quote dates and achievements ensure that they match up! It is very easy to become complacent about what you have achieved so it is worth ‘revising’ your career to date. If you state in your opening paragraph on your CV that you have excellent empathy skills you need to demonstrate this throughout your interview in the way you communicate with your interviewers and how you recount experiences from the past. In short, ensure your ‘brand’ is consistent!

7. What will be the most awkward questions you will have to answer?

A good interviewer will spot potential weaknesses in your CV and interview answers as much through what you don’t mention as what you do. If, for example, you have failed to achieve a cost reduction target, ensure you are honest about the reasons why but most importantly talk about what you have learnt from this experience and what you would do differently. Think about your ‘soft spots’ ahead of the interview.

8. Research the business and the industry.

How has the industry changed in recent years, are there any external factors such as government legislation that is likely to make a significant impact? What is the company doing differently, what projects are they involved in? This will give you an opportunity to ask a couple of questions that will demonstrate the quality of your research. Try not to be controversial however  try to indicate you have a rounded view of the macro economic environment.

9. Visit the business.

If you are interviewing with a business with a customer facing offer such as a retailer you should visit several sites. Appraise the business from an employee, customer and competitor perspective. If you have a negative experience, do not be afraid to share this in an interview, however present this constructively as an opportunity to capitalise on.

10. Be yourself.

It is crucial that you do not do or say anything that you are uncomfortable with. Ultimately if you find yourself ‘acting’ there is a high probability that the company or role is the wrong fit for you. You should come across as ‘rounded’ and try to give an overview of what else you are involved in outside of work. Common ground outside of work will often work heavily in your favour. Think about what you are comfortable with sharing ahead of the interview and how it will be interpreted.

Jez Styles

To continue my ‘Jekyll and Hyde- esque’ musings  about my experiences in-house and in agency, I thought it only fair to write a follow up to my recent post “How to win the heart of an in house recruiter“. Having reflected on the frustrations experienced on both sides of the fence, I tried to think what advice I would have given myself when I first moved in house in order to most effectively manage my agency relationships.  I should point out that these points were relevant to my personal experience where I had full autonomy over my part of the PSL – I understand that this is often not the case.
Firstly, you need a PSL

By this I mean a genuine list of preferred suppliers that are proven, vetted and that you actively want to work with rather than an unwieldy list of anyone who has ever sent a CV.

I know this is hard to manage. A random speculative candidate that a Line Manager wants to meet often results in agencies being signed up to the TOB leading to a random selection of agencies who you have no relationship with and who you will never actively brief again. We all know that this is an effective way for agencies to get on the radar and can sometimes result in uncovering a gem of an agency (and candidate) who can really add value. This is easy to control. Sign new agencies up for a trial period and make it clear to Line Managers that this is the case. If the agency then proves their worth, you can extend the agreement.

If you have a PSL, respect it. Trust the agencies on your PSL and give them the opportunity to really support you. To do this they need visibility of vacancies and an understanding of the wider business and your recruitment priorities. If you want to focus on recruiting some vacancies directly, tell your PSL and get your agencies working on those difficult vacancies which you won’t have time to work on. If agencies know they have a strong (and fair) chance of earning a fee, they will move heaven and earth for you and will be spreading positive messages about your employer brand in the process.

Ask for recommendations

Most of your Line Managers will have been placed by an agency or will have used them to recruit in the past. Choosing agencies that they like and respect will ensure they are engaged in the recruitment process from the start. Most agencies will say they are great so ask for testimonials and ask for details of other placements they have made either in your wider business or with your competitors. In the brave new world of Social Media, it is so easy to cross-check with In-House recruiters in other businesses. Agencies need to be aware of this and ensure they deliver a service which will stand up to scrutiny on LinkedIn Forums and Groups.

Meet the agencies you are working with.

I know how hard it can be to find time to do this but it will pay off and if you are genuinely committed to finding recruitment partners for your business, this is the place to start. This is your opportunity to lay down the ground rules and most importantly for them to buy in to you and your knowledge. If you want agencies to deal with you rather than accosting your Line Managers at every opportunity, they have to feel confident in your abilities and trust that you are there to facilitate a mutually beneficial result. By showing that you are willing to commit to them, this will be rewarded by better service and more flexibility. Also, I actually found my meetings with agencies a welcome relief from the constant conference calls, internal meetings and process management.  It was good to talk to commercially minded people who are focused on results, particularly in larger organisations which by their very nature can be stifled by bureaucracy, lengthy decision making processes and internal politics.

Behaviour breeds behaviour.

It is a real shame that agencies are so often tarred with the same brush, inevitably the same brush that paints the whole industry in a negative light. Let’s face it, we all understand where this comes from. There is no excuse however for treating any supplier the way so many recruitment agencies are treated. Starting off any relationship with the attitude that your expectations are so low that the other party goes away with limited incentive to represent your business well, is counter-productive to all involved.

Reward good behaviour.

Good agencies so often lose out to their less scrupulous peers. Take the case of a duplicate candidate. One agency has clearly spent time selling your business to the candidate and understanding the candidate’s suitability for the role. The other has clearly sent the CV without covering the candidate first. I know this puts you in a difficult position but in cases where the candidate confirms which agency is representing them correctly, it would be great to see this acknowledged fairly or at least with a 50:50 fee split.

If you can get to a point where you have a group of agencies who you trust and in whom you have confidence in their ability to fill your vacancies and represent your brand effectively, you can then concentrate on delivering the best and most cost effective recruitment strategy to your internal stakeholders.  Surely, a recruitment ‘nirvana’ worth fighting for!

This list isn’t exhaustive and I would love to know your thoughts:

What are the key ingredients for having an effective and motivated PSL?

What tips would you give someone taking on their first in-house role?

What is the best example of an agency relationship you have experienced – what does excellent look like?
Sophie Mackenzie

 

An ‘employer of choice’ can easily be described as one that inspires talented workers to join them and to stay with them. However, it is often difficult to ascertain whether a potential employer is one that fits this definition when you are considering a career move. There are a number of lists, awards and websites dedicated to sharing best companies to work for however there are of course many other companies that offer excellent opportunities. Here are a few points to consider when looking for your own ‘Employer of choice.’

Research the business

It is worth looking at the basics; the company mission and values. Does this match up with press statements and reviews? Talk to people in your network, what do they think? Look at awards and honours that the company has received that are linked to their ‘employer brand.’

Utilise your recruitment consultant
Recruitment consultants gather intimate knowledge of their clients’ organisational culture and values, company structure, career opportunities available, employee benefits and employment details. By working more closely with your consultant you will be able to access this knowledge. It is worth asking some specific questions:

  • How has the career of the person currently doing the position developed
  • What internal or external training is offered?
  • How would they describe the management/leadership style within the company?
  • Is the package on offer competitive with market rate?

Interviews – a two way process

This is a great opportunity for you to assess your potential line manager. It is worth trying to establish how well defined the company culture is and how this manifests itself.

  • How are employees’ contributions valued?
  • What career progression is available and is there a structured approach to succession planning?
  • How is the L&D function valued within the organisation and how does the business interact with its customers and environment?
  • Does the interviewer’s style match what you have researched?
  • What is the quality of working relationships, how do different functions interact with each other?
  • How much TRUST is there in the organisation? Are people trusted to do a good job? You can assess this by looking for signs of; openness (give and ask for feedback), honesty (what I say is what I mean), reliability (I will do what I promise to do) and acceptance.
  • Pay close attention to the environment, is the building cared for? Does the working environment provoke a positive feeling?

What is most important to you?

The reality is that few businesses will be able to deliver everything perfectly. Therefore it is worth putting a list together of what is important to you. Prioritise the key points and use this to guide you when assessing whether you wish to make an application or accept an offer.

Have we missed anything out? What would be on your list to understand what for you makes an ‘employer of choice’

Far from being a passive way of looking for a new job, getting the most out of working with a recruitment agency requires input from the candidate’s side too. Agencies will give you access to industry knowledge, market information and jobs that aren’t advertised directly, as well as support and advice with your general career management. We have included some generic advice here in relation to what to do and what not to do to enable a recruitment agency to assist you in the most effective and efficient way.

  • Send an email and ideally include the reference number of the role that you are applying for.
  • Keep your CV format simple, ideally using ‘Word’, so that the recruitment agency can upload it into their system easily. If suggestions are made around improving your CV then take the feedback on board and make the amendments.
  • Have a short summary of what skills you have that make you marketable, what achievements you have that make you stand out from your peer group and be very clear about what type of role you want.
  • You should also be flexible. A good recruiter will suggest roles that you hadn’t thought about and that could be ideal for you, while remaining in the parameters that you have originally stipulated.
  • Rapport with a recruitment agency is paramount and requires effort and input from both parties. Be honest at all times in terms of your background and your activity levels when looking for a new role.
  • Keep your key contacts updated on your progress in the market but don’t be overly persistent in terms of frequency of contact. Good recruiters repay loyalty with loyalty and will put you forward for their best opportunities. Look on your consultant as a career partner, not just an agent.
  • How you handle your job search is a key indicator of your organisational skills and your planning ability. It is absolutely critical that you keep control of your CV at all times. You must keep a record of which companies you have applied to directly or through an agency and when that application was made to ensure that no duplicate applications are made
  • Never let an agency send your CV to a company without them telling you who that company is or without signing a Non Disclosure Agreement first.
  • No matter how keen you are to move on in your career, try not to register with multiple agencies that you do not know or trust at once. Most big employers are currently placing vacancies with more than one agency, as they feel that creating competition between agencies in the same sector will give them a better result. This creates the opportunity for you to be put forward for the same jobs by several recruiters if you are not controlling your CV. Employers will be concerned if they receive your details from multiple agencies.
  • Respond promptly to any communications and check your email as well as your phone. This can sometimes be tricky if you’re still employed elsewhere but let the agency know the best times to contact you and always be available then. Unfortunately the right career move can be like waiting for buses – nothing for ages and then several roles come along at once. It is then often a case of the client being under pressure to fill the vacancy quickly, meaning you need to be in a position to respond when needed.
  • Research thoroughly before any interviews, the company, the role and the type of person that they are looking for. Remember that you are not only representing you but the agency as well and that what you do and say is a direct reflection of both.
  • Call the recruiter after any interviews to give feedback on how you view the opportunity. Remember, the more specific the feedback then the easier it is for the agency to represent you and your interests.
  • Keep in contact if things change on your side and let the agency know straight away. For example, you have an offer or employment or you’ve decided to change your search parameters for example by moving house or area.
  • In summary, show that you value the service that your recruitment consultant is giving you and be a good ambassador for them whenever they introduce you to one of their clients. If recruitment agencies have doubts about how well you will perform in an interview, they will be reluctant to introduce you to their client
  • Remember that a recruiter needs to place the right people in the right roles to get paid, so it’s in their interests to overcome any objections the employer may have. For this reason, don’t try to disguise or cover up your situation if there are historical work issues that may cause problems with a new employer. Good recruitment consultants will have a number of years experience in the market and will know when things are not quite right. Your best hope is to be scrupulously honest, no matter how difficult, and let the agent handle things with the employer.
  • Most importantly, if there is anything else that you obviously should be telling the recruiter, don’t wait to be asked. Never leave the recruiter in the position of having to say: ‘I don’t know’ to their client.

It does take time to build up trust with a recruiter and it is a two way relationship. Pay attention to your instincts. If you feel that a recruitment agency is not putting you forward for enough vacancies, or is putting you forward for jobs that don’t seem to match your criteria, question them. Let them see that you are fully engaged and that you expect them to live up to your standard.

For more detailed information please visit our career centre

Good luck with your career move.

Russell Adams

As the only woman at AdMore, my working life is a daily education into the male psyche. The intricacies of the Premier League (or Conference League for some of my less fortunate colleagues), the relative advantages of petrol versus diesel and the latest plot line of Game of Thrones – the list is endless.  I have great affection for my colleagues and men in general (I even married one and gave birth to another) and really appreciate the positive aspects of the male character: their sense of humour, their competitiveness and their penchant for giving direct and open feedback and in turn, to take it and move on without holding a grudge. However, I sometimes find myself yearning for the company of a female colleague in order to restore the balance.

This got me thinking. I have always believed that working environments are generally more positive and effective when there is an equal balance of men and women. Having worked in both male and female-dominated workplaces, I know this to be true.

This poses an interesting dilemma for HR and Recruitment professionals – one which is as old as time and still exists today. When it comes to recruitment, how do companies ensure that they achieve a balance, while still ensuring that they are hiring the best-qualified person to do the job?

I found this was a particular issue when I was a Recruitment Manager in the IT sector where there was a shortage of women entering the industry. This caused problems in some areas where, in roles which were client facing, requiring employees to build relationships and diffuse conflict situations in order to deliver on key accounts, it was widely acknowledged that women were better placed to succeed as they tended to possess the skills and behavioural qualities required. Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?  I don’t have the answers however my point is this – we all perform better when we are in the company of our metaphorical ‘other half’.  At the risk of reverting to gender stereotypes, male employees temper the emotional intensity of women and in turn, female employees can diffuse some of the aggression that comes with a concentration of testosterone.

Take my son’s nursery as an example. The balance has been disturbed in the last month by older children starting school (of which there were 4 girls), now leaving the boys in the majority. I received a note last night informing us that they are now having issues with the increasing tendency to play games involving guns and weapons and accompanying language – the words ‘kill’ and ‘dead’ are creeping in – the children are 3?!!!!).  An interesting insight into the nature/nurture debate perhaps but certainly an illustration of my point – by ensuring that there is an equal balance of genders, we bring out the best in each other and each bring different strengths to the equation.

I am interested to know what companies are doing to attract more female candidates (if indeed they have a policy to do so).  What are the best attraction techniques to ensure that there is a representation of both genders amongst applicants?

Until we eventually hire another female, I will continue my efforts to bring out the feminine side in my colleagues. In the meantime, I heard an interesting piece of news recently. Research in the US has discovered that groups of male mice, when in the company of just one female, are able to sing in perfect harmony….what an interesting thought!

  • Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?
  • What are companies doing to attract more female employees?
  • What are the best attraction techniques to ensure an equal representation amongst applicants?

Sophie Mackenzie

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

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