Category: Interviews


job-interview

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

I read an article late last year that has kept coming back to me in recent months. The article (a study by Lauren Rivera) from the December issue of the American Sociological Review suggested that Employers are often more likely to hire a person they would want to socialise with than the ‘best’ individual for the job. The article didn’t suggest that employers were hiring the wrong people, but that they would prefer to hire someone that they have bonded with, would perceive to be a future friend or who made them feel good about themselves.

Given the amount of focus on CVs, interview techniques, innovative job searches (etc, etc) most candidates could be forgiven for focussing on the ‘technical’ side of looking for a job. Getting ‘in front’ of an employer is for most candidates the primary focus and in an increasingly results driven culture it is easy to forget how important it is – to put it simply – that you and the employer like each other. Talk to any recruiter and they will confirm, if there is a shared past or common interest the candidate has a much better chance of getting the job. I believe this is particularly true in Retail where often there are no technical qualifications to differentiate one candidate from another.

So, if you are looking for a job, what can you do? Here are a few tips on how to build rapport and give you the best possible chance of landing a job offer!

  1. First impressions are crucial –  I wrote about how to create a great first impression (read here) in the first ten seconds previously. It is fairly obvious but if you don’t get the first impression right you will face an uphill battle to build rapport. You really want your interviewer to have an immediate gut reaction that they like you.
  2. Positive Body language – Smile, make eye contact, and lean in when you want to really engage. Again, you are appealing to the interviewer on a subconscious level. Where possible you should try to match your interviewer…
  3. Mirroring & Matching – This often seen as a bit of a ‘dark art’ but it is quite simple to do. The best way to learn how to do this is to just focus on one element at a time in every day conversations until you are a little more adept at combining several elements. Where possible you should match voice tone, speed and sound; breathing rates & body posture; speech patterns including specific buzz words and the level of detail. The interviewer will see a similarity in how you come across which was central to Lauren Rivera’s research.
  4. Use the person’s name wherever possible – There is a huge amount of research available but in essence people like to hear their own name. This is linked to how your brain reacts on a subconscious level and is linked to your development as a child. Read here for more information.
  5. Take a genuine interest in the interviewer and focus on them not the organisation – It is worth setting yourself some specific objectives about what you want to find out about the ‘person.’ The simple fact is that people tend to like talking about themselves. Be prepared to ask follow up questions and show genuine interest. Show empathy and indicate wherever there is common ground. Again, any chance you get to indicate commonality will give the interviewer the impression you could be a potential friend in the future.
  6. Similar activities , similarity matters – It is worth doing some research, via contacts and social media, in to what the interviewer does in their spare time and what they are passionate about. Are they a sports fan, do they go to the opera, do they have kids (and therefore do none of the aforementioned activities!)? Where possible you should get this in to the conversation. Once again, if there is a similarity of interests the interviewer will be inclined to move you up the shortlist.
  7. Compliment the person – Everyone likes praise (method of delivery is crucial for some though). If the opportunity arises give some compliments. Keep it relevant to the interviewer and try not to be too sycophantic!

Overall, keep in mind that you want to generate a sense of similarity between you and the interviewer.

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Previous blogs on interviewing:

Top ten tips for candidates from Assessment Centre Veterans

Top Tips For A Competency Based Interview

Top 10 tips for a successful Telephone Interview

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higher math

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

Whenever I brief a candidate that there is an assessment centre in a recruitment process I tend to encounter a range of responses. I use the word ‘range’ pretty loosely as in truth the vast majority of candidates dread an ‘AC’ at worst and are ambivalent at best. Occasionally, when working with sales driven businesses you will encounter candidates that positively live for ‘out of the comfort zone’ experiences. Overall, I think my favourite response is from the AC veterans, the guys who have assessed other candidates, been assessed on multiple occasions and probably helped to write exercises previously. They know how it works, what they need to do and more importantly…how to impress. And yes…sssshhhhhh… some even enjoy the experience!

Here are some tips from AC veterans I have worked with:

  1. Prepare. Ask your recruiter for a copy of the competencies/qualities that are being assessed on the day. There is a good chance that the day will include an interview so you will have a great opportunity to really impress. If you are unable to clarify the competencies then ask for a job description or research the business. For further tips for an interview click here; Top tips for a competency based interview
  2. Get your mind-set right. Sales based candidates can skip to point three…this is not a competition. Most companies use assessment centres because they are looking for multiple candidates and/or because it gives a different insight in to candidate behaviour. If you enter an AC with the belief that you need ‘to win’ there is a good chance this will influence your behaviour in the inevitable group exercise and also social situations. It is better to think about being the best you can be. Also, avoid comparing your performance to your peers on the day. Most AC’s have a benchmark score for passing the day so if you beat everyone else but still do not benchmark you will fail.
  3. You are always being assessed. I have attended numerous ACs where candidates have hit the benchmark score, but in the ‘wash-up’ an assessor has recounted a conversation or observation that has created a negative impression. Avoid taking a cigarette break if you can. If you do take a break be aware any conversation you have is still being assessed. Similarly, if lunch is included be sure to maintain good manners and dare I say it sensible food choices. If an overnight stay is involved – stay clear of the alcohol! Finally, be aware of your body language, do not lean, slouch or invade people’s space. Think about your facial expressions when part of any group conversations or exercises – be positive and smile…a lot!
  4. Network. At the start of the day you should make a note of all the assessors, ideally name and job function. Over the course of the day you should spend time with each individual. It is crucial that you prepare a bank of insightful questions prior to the day. They might be geared towards an HR or Operations Director or other relevant function. Assessors will tend to remember the people that have asked intelligent questions and truly engaged them. It is also worth spending time getting to know the other candidates; there are networking opportunities for the future.
  5. Plan each task. In the heat of the moment it is easy to just launch in to a task. However, it is crucial that you take the time to read all relevant instructions. I assessed an AC last year where 5 individuals in a Group task all failed to read one crucial piece of information which led to them all failing the task. You should plan your time and allow for unexpected changes to the structure of the exercise (normally about ten minutes before you are due to finish!). All exercises are generally designed to put you under pressure to complete within a tight time-frame. Do not panic and importantly, ensure you complete the exercise. Finally, if you are offered various materials you would be wise to use them. An obvious one would be the provision of a flipchart for a presentation. Use it!
  6. Nail the Group exercise. Most candidates hate Group Exercises, often describing them as fake or ‘not a reflection of real life.’ While this may be true they are also remarkably affective at putting candidates under pressure which results in a multitude of interesting behaviours that you would not see in an interview or other exercise. There are a few things you can do to ensure you are perceived positively. Most importantly do not ‘over dominate’ the exercise. Avoid (contrary to popular belief) being the person that writes notes or prepares the flipchart presentation, you will quickly end up being side-lined from the conversation. Use your peers name when addressing them and invite the quieter participants to voice their opinion. Express your own ideas and ask for feedback. Ensure the group is on target to complete the task on time and if required steer the group to complete tasks as required. Finally, stand by the group’s ultimate decision/conclusion. Do not fall in to the trap of criticising other group members if faced with ‘apprentice’ style questions from the assessors.
  7. Do not let one bad exercise ruin your day. Confidence is crucial on an AC day and a single exercise will not usually determine your success or failure. If you perform badly on one exercise you must pick yourself back up and move forward.
  8. Take Psychometric exercises seriously. Psychometrics are being increasingly used in advance of AC days to either highlight areas to explore over the course of the day or to provide additional evidence of capability.
  9. Be positive. Over the course of the day you will have numerous conversations and will experience a range of emotions.  It is important that you remain positive and that you express this. Do not fall in to the trap of making any negative comments about the assessors, the AC, other delegates, current employer, ex-boss or your consultant. I have witnessed numerous candidates ‘de-selecting’ themselves through a flippant remark to the wrong person.

I hope this helps and please share your tenth tip in the comments below or via our Blog page on LinkedIn:

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Do Today’s candidates have a ‘hierarchy of needs?’

8 Great Smartphone apps to support candidates in their job search

How to avoid joining the wrong business


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

 

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.

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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

As an agency recruiter for 6 years, I thought I knew a fair bit about recruitment and I admit, I shared many of my colleagues’ frustrations about the role of the In-House Recruiter: difficult to contact, process driven rather than commercial, a barrier to building relationships with Line Managers.  It was only when I made the move to an In-House role myself that my eyes were opened – so many things made sense and I couldn’t help but think “if I only knew then what I know now”!

As in all relationships, there are two sides to every story – for what it’s worth, here’s my view on how to build a fulfilling client relationship.

Plenty more fish in the sea:

The number of recruitment agencies operating in the UK is staggering. Many  are mediocre at best but many are excellent. The In-House recruiter is literally spoilt for choice – if one agency fails to deliver, they can easily give a new agency a try or brief one of their other proven partners. The only differentiating factor is the service you deliver. This isn’t just about providing candidates for the vacancy (candidates are rarely exclusive to one agency and most are easily accessible on Linkedin, providing there is the time for a direct search). What they want is a Consultant with a professional and genuine approach, who respects the process and can source the best candidates in the market which they themselves will struggle to find.

Size really doesn’t matter!

Take heart, boutique agencies everywhere! The days of winning business by flaunting the size of your, ahem, database and the number of national offices is long gone. In my experience, size rarely influenced my decision about which agency to engage. My most successful working relationships were with smaller agencies who were true specialists in their sector, had genuine networks and who really wanted our business. They also had the added benefit that I could work with the same person on each assignment without being referred to another office depending on the geography of the role. Consultants were often experienced with a mature approach and so conversations were direct, open and honest and any issues were solved quickly with the long term relationship in mind.

Play by the rules:

If the client asks you to upload CVs onto their portal, just do it. Love or hate these ATS systems (a view often shared by the in-house teams themselves), they ultimately enable you to stake your claim on a candidate. Most in-house recruiters will operate a first-come, first-served policy when it comes to duplicate applications. Yes, it will take longer than flinging a CV on an email and will require adding extra supporting info on your candidate (but shouldn’t you have this info to hand anyway?). By not following the process, you cause extra hassle for your client and to put it bluntly, for every agency that doesn’t use the system, there are plenty that will. Enough said.

Compromise:

Nobody’s perfect. I found myself on several occasions giving inadequate interview feedback, cancelling interviews at short notice and putting whole processes on hold for months on end – the very things that I had complained about when on the agency side. Even the most professional companies will make mistakes and let you down; such is the nature of recruitment on both sides of the fence. I really valued the consultants who would take this on the chin and move forward. I relied on them to communicate positive messages to the external market and as a result I was confident that our brand was protected. Consequently, I had real trust in those agencies and would fight their corner internally to ensure they were briefed on vacancies in the future – often on an exclusive or retained basis.

Communication:

The volume of emails can be crazy so if you don’t receive an immediate response from your client, bear with them. Make emails as clear as possible, get to the point and be courteous. An email sent in frustration with a tone to match will not be well received and will certainly never be forgotten. Also, make sure your auto-signature appears on each message, including on replies. Keep file sizes low if possible.

The Blind Date:

A good in-house recruiter will be open to strong speculative CVs providing they are sent to them in the first instance and providing they are pre-qualified by the agency (a well written email to accompany the CV is easier to forward internally).  Equally, they will be unlikely to respond well to unsuitable, blanket ‘specs’ sent with the aim of hitting the target stats for the week (I was monumentally unimpressed by an agency who sent 16, yes 16, spec CVs on one email, causing my Outlook to reach it’s limit at 5pm on a Friday afternoon when I was about to send my weekly reports!). There is nothing more likely to induce a “Dear John” email or a black mark on the PSL than indiscriminate speculative approaches.

Honesty:

The best agencies will be honest about what they can and can’t do.  Your client should respect you for turning down work if you genuinely feel you can’t do it justice – this will save everyone’s time and build confidence that when you do accept a brief, you will deliver a result.

Empathise:

Any decent agency trains their consultants to show empathy with their candidates, encouraging them to understand their motivations and uncover their reservations in order to build the relationship and make the process easier when it comes to landing an offer. Rarely however do they talk about empathy with clients. Until I did the role, I had no idea about the challenges faced by in-house recruitment teams. There is pressure from all sides: demanding Line Managers, HR Directors (often with different agendas to the hiring managers), internal politics, existing agencies and new agencies trying to get access to roles, administrative duties and the practicalities of managing email inboxes which frankly beggar belief. And that’s before they even start recruiting directly to reduce costs and increase the ROI for recruitment systems and Linkedin Recruiter licences.

Clearly, while the in-House Recruiter remains pressured in this way, they will rely on their trusted agencies to support them however, having an understanding of the politics and bureaucracy that often accompanies the role will enable you to offer the supportive service required.

Making a commitment:

So many agencies are purely transactional. They are only interested in specific briefs and when the going gets tough, they move on to work ‘closer to the fee’ with clients who will move quicker.  I understand the commercial pressures for an agency consultant however by taking a long term view and sticking with your client through thick and thin (recruitment freezes, restructures and cancelled vacancies) you will really stand out from the crowd. Often the in-house recruiter is as frustrated as you by these setbacks and will really appreciate the agencies that stay in contact when things are quiet. Undoubtedly, when things pick up again, you will be the first person they call.

So there you have it – if I think back to the agencies I really rated during my time In-House they all had one thing in common – they kept it simple, did the basics well and delivered quality not quantity – surely the key to a long lasting and mutually satisfying relationship!
Sophie Mackenzie

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This list is geared to individuals whom are actively looking for a new position. It’s not rocket science but as with everything in life, balance is crucial. If you are able to do a bit of everything on this list you will increase your chances of securing a new position immeasurably.

  1. Create a professional, simply formatted yet interesting CV. There are thousands of books and articles available to give you some direction however in short, it should be no more than three pages, have accurate contact details and have a summary of responsibilities and achievements for each of your roles (include full details of your most recent roles and just job title and company name for positions beyond the last ten years).
  2. Keep a record of all your applications and follow up! Emails will generally suffice; however call agencies/recruiters where you are particularly passionate about a vacancy.
  3. Register with roughly 3-4 key agencies. Ask for recommendations from your network. If you want the best from an agency it is better to be introduced via a senior contact. This places a greater level of obligation on the consultant to look after you. Ensure the agencies/recruiters cater for vacancies in your job function, industry and seniority level.
  4. Meet people. Meet old contacts from your network, consultants and potential employers. Speculative meetings may seem a waste of time initially but you never know where it will take you.
  5. Work your Linkedin Profile. Linkedin can be enormously time consuming however it is essential that you spend at least 10 minutes on various activities per day. In short, make new connections and get involved in various group discussions. This will raise 2nd and 3rd degree connections’ awareness of you. The best time of the day to do this is lunchtimes; a lot of the larger agencies only allow their staff to use LI between 12-2pm.
  6. Make direct approaches and applications. Most businesses have reduced the budget for agency hires and as a result they actively look to source candidates directly, particularly at mid management level. Draw up a target list of businesses that interest you and contact their resourcing team. It is wise to check with your network before doing this to ensure you are not missing a ‘warmer’ introduction.
  7. Apply for roles where there is an obvious and direct fit. The number of applications per vacancy is currently so high that employers will tend to choose the candidates who are the closest match for the position. If you are keen to apply for a role where there is not a close fit you should write a concise covering letter explaining why you are interested. It is often better to focus on why the business interests you rather than why you think you could do the job. This will enable you to stand out from other applications and adds personality to your approach.
  8. No matter how frustrated you get do not allow this to come across when dealing with contacts. Your contacts will work a lot harder for you if you come across positively in all your conversations.
  9. Set up email alerts and ‘favourites’ lists for vacancies. Do this with job boards, agencies and a select group of target employers. Check this daily and apply the moment the role appears. I recently received over 50 strong applications for a role within 48 hours of placing an advert with a specialist job board. I closed the advert down immediately as I would have been unable to review further applications.
  10. Prepare an ‘elevator pitch.’ You never know when you will receive that all important call about an application and you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression. Keep it short, informative and structured. Ensure that when you have the opportunity, however brief, you build rapport quickly with the recruiter and ensure they leave with the best impression of your personality and attitude. They will feel more confident about representing you if you are positive to deal with.

I hope this helps. If you think I have missed anything more obvious please add to the comments below. Happy job hunting!

Jez Styles

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

Linkedin Group

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AdMore Recruitment – Sophie Mackenzie

They say doctors make the worst patients – is the same true for ex-agency consultants who move in-house? Sometimes, certainly. Take a recent case when one of my colleagues drove to the other end of the country (a 5 hour drive) for a client meeting scheduled at 4pm. This was a new client, there was no history, good or bad and so this should have been an amiable introduction to form the foundation for the relationship going forward. Instead he received a frosty response and a grilling for 40 minutes where he was tarred with the same brush as the agencies preceding him and left with little or no inclination to work on the account. The client was an ex-agency consultant, full of bitterness about the agency world and rather than leveraging her background to build rapport and influence the agencies to deliver for her, she has taken the other path – looking down on the very industry that trained her.

This is a rare case however and I strongly support the view that the best in-house recruiters will have some experience in the agency world.

That said, it doesn’t follow that every consultant can make the move in-house. I know that there is a widespread view that in-house recruiters are failed agency consultants:  (those that can, recruit; those that can’t recruit in-house etc…) however in my experience of the industry this is certainly not the case.  Those making the move in-house generally do so for positive reasons – to find an environment where they can better employ their skills.

I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t the best agency consultant. I had colleagues who were more tenacious, competitive and better sellers. However the very skills which weren’t recognised in the target-driven agency environment were skills which I think made me a good in-house recruiter: relationship management, diplomacy, candidate control, communication skills, attention to detail and time management. Combine these ‘softer’ skills with a strong work ethic, a sense of urgency and a commercial outlook and this works really well in a challenging in-house role which can be highly pressured.

Some of my former colleagues just wouldn’t have cut it in-house – they wouldn’t have had the patience to deal with the internal politics and bureaucracy which forms the back drop for many resourcing teams. In an in-house role there is nowhere to hide –you can’t take a commercial decision not to work on a role if you feel it isn’t worth your while and your internal ‘clients’ are often high profile and incredibly demanding. This is a test of your influencing and communication skills – you need to be able to maximise your internal ‘brand’ in order to have some control over the hiring managers who left unchecked, have a tendency to hinder the process rather than expedite it!

There is increased pressure to source directly for obvious cost reasons however there is often little time to do this properly so you become adept at focusing your efforts and using agencies only on those roles where you really can’t do it yourself. There is also a massive difference in how you organise your time, driven by the incredible volume of email communication you receive in-house. Agency consultants are quite rightly encouraged to do everything on the phone and this is at odds with a corporate HR department where by definition, you are encouraged to keep an audit trail of absolutely everything.

Coming from an agency background was extremely powerful when working in-house. I knew all the tricks of the trade and so I was able to challenge agencies (in what I hope was a humorous and positive way) and ensure that our process was followed. I took a direct approach and tried to treat the agency consultant how I had hoped to be treated when I was in the same position – communicating openly about issues and time delays and trying to respond as quickly as possible to ensure they were able to manage their candidates’ expectations and therefore protect our employer brand in the market.

There were times when I could visualise some of my agencies mentally throwing darts at my Linkedin profile when I was forced to postpone an assignment due a corporate restructure or cancel an interview at short notice. It was embarrassing as I knew the work that the better agencies would have put in and the difficult position they would be in letting the candidates know.

Experiencing the ‘other side’ made me realise that there are some appalling practitioners in our industry but equally that there are some excellent recruitment professionals out there and I really enjoyed the relationships we made with these companies. I was genuinely pleased when they made a placement with us and was vocal in championing their brand internally.

My agency training enabled me to control the process and manage candidate offers effectively, negotiate to get the best commercial outcome for the business and, I hope, build genuine relationships with agencies based on mutual respect rather than disdain.

Most importantly, I never forgot what it was like to make that business development call and receive the inevitable frosty reception – this didn’t mean I tolerated the really poor sales approaches but it certainly made me treat consultants courteously and with respect.

I am interested to hear your opinion on this – what, in your view, is the best background for an in-house recruiter? Is it necessary to have experienced the agency world first-hand or are other backgrounds equally relevant?

Sophie Mackenzie

Having recently read a number of blogs on this subject I feel compelled to write this as I believe most articles are very one sided in their viewpoint. Most are focused on outlining to candidates the many reasons why, when they resign, they should not be tempted to stay by a counter offer. I don’t think I have read anything explaining the reasons why you SHOULD accept a counter offer but here’s the thing – there are times and there are circumstances when the right thing to do is to stay put.

To me it all comes down to the individual’s motivations for leaving the organisation in the first place. Often individuals are very happy in their careers, working for a company they respect, where they are paid well for the job that they do, where they are culturally aligned and where they feel valued. Sometimes the missing piece and hence their desire to move on is purely driven by their ambition to take on a more senior role with more responsibility. If the counter offer entails gaining that promotion and taking on that responsibility then why not accept?

You can ask why had the promotion not happened already however sometimes (particularly in the current market) there has to be a reason or a rationale to make things happen. Your resignation may just be that catalyst that makes things happen.  Only you as an individual will know how well you have been looked after and how genuine your employer’s intentions are.

As has been well documented, I would also caution people from accepting a counter offer based on either pure promises  or increased salary alone. This is an important and difficult decision for people to make, often with two competing parties putting you under significant pressure to stay or to accept the other role.  Certainly, these situations are rarely as clear cut as many articles suggest.

My advice if you are unsure is to talk to people you trust who are impartial to the situation and who will try and make you see the situation in a balanced and unbiased way.

Russell Adams

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

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