Category: job search


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

When asking candidates what type of business they wish to work for, one of the most common responses is that they are looking to work for a people focused business. On further probing, I often find that candidates struggle to articulate exactly what a people focused business means to them and a large proportion find it difficult to talk through what elements of culture they would look for in this type of business. I think in many instances, candidates tell me what they don’t want in an organisation rather than what they do want. They tend to focus on things that they don’t like about the organisation they currently work for as opposed to the desirable elements of a people focused business. What I also find very interesting is that they often don’t look at it from the perspective of cultural fit. Their desire may sometimes be a little ideological – that they want to work for a paternalistic company who treats it employees incredibly well putting them above any other objectives, without considering whether that is the culture that would best suit their own values and behaviours. The balance of these objectives against other business objectives will vary and businesses can be very different in their approach with different people suiting different cultures. What is clear and understandable is that individuals want to work in a culture where they are valued, feel empowered and rewarded for what they do.

In my view, a people focused business is one where the ideology of the organisation is that by hiring, engaging and rewarding great people you will be able to more effectively achieve the company objectives. Surely all businesses act in this way? As we are all aware, this is far from the truth.

So what exactly does a people focused look like and what are the signs to look out for?

  • A supportive culture. A people focused business is one where people are truly at the centre of its actions. One where the individual gets out as much as they are putting in. It will be a business where people feel listened to and this may manifest itself through forums and surveys as well as the openness of the culture.

 

  • Strong internal communications. High levels of communication are important in ensuring you are engaging and motivating your workforce and should lead to a greater sense of belonging and working towards a common goal. Again a great step in maximising the potential of your people.

 

  • A training and development team. Many businesses talk about the development they provide but when you ask about specific programs that are in place or budgets allocated they can provide little evidence. Truly people focused businesses will invest in people with the belief that this will increase productivity, aid retention and lead to stronger long term profits.

 

  • A structured appraisal system. Linked to the development of people is having a structured appraisal system that provides a sense of purpose, clarity of expectation and provides transparency and structure to Line Managers about how they manage their people. Again, this is a good indicator about the focus the business places on its development strategy.

 

  • Strong benefits and conditions. It is not only about how you treat and manage your workforce but also how you reward them. To attract and retain the best people, it is important that the benefits package is designed to support the individual.  This is not about necessarily offering the highest salary in your sector but is about what else you can do to provide the individual with a work/life balance to try and ensure you get the best out of them. This could range from gym membership to time off to support a local charity. All these elements are designed to improve the emotional and physical well being of the individual with the view that this will improve their productivity and contribution to the business.

 

  • A Wellness policy. The more cutting edge people focused businesses may have gone a step further and have introduced a Wellness policy. This area is growing in popularity and involves taking a more holistic approach to the care and well-being of your employees. The advocates of this philosophy believe that taking a more involved and caring approach will have significant benefits longer term not only in terms of the loyalty and motivation of the workforce but also in productivity.  Businesses introducing such schemes are likely to have a strong people focus.

 

  • Effective performance management. A people focused business isn’t about having a soft culture where poor performance is tolerated. It is about having an open, transparent culture where expectations are clear. Again, it is not about what is said but the actions that are taken.

 

  • A robust selection process. Placing importance on recruiting the right people who culturally fit the organisation and share the right values is a sign that people are really at the heart of the company’s strategy.

Many businesses will describe themselves as people focused but are they really? Whilst the list above provides some indicators, ultimately it is about culture and about behaviour.

I saw one business recently describe itself as a people focused business that does what ever it takes to deliver. So, what does it do when these elements conflict? What happens if getting that result has a negative impact on their people?  To really understand if a business is people focused you need to talk to their employees and focus on not what it says, but what does it actually does. A useful website to visit is http://www.glassdoor.co.uk which provides employer reviews by existing and previous employees.

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

We wrote previously about the importance of maintaining your Linkedin profile to ensure a consistent brand message as employers are increasingly reviewing candidates’ social media presence. We have compiled the following points for those of you who are less familiar with the functionality or indeed what recruiters look for. There are a couple of key points to remember as you build your profile; Firstly you should have a clear idea of what your personal brand is ahead of writing the profile and secondly to ensure you are easily ‘found’, you need to optimise your use of key words.

  • Customise your Linkedin URL

Set your LinkedIn profile to “public” and add a unique URL to your profile (for example www.linkedin.com/in/jezstyles). To do this click on ‘edit profile’ and next to where it says ‘public profile’ click edit again. This also makes it easier to include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature, which is a great way to demonstrate your professionalism. It will also ensure you rank higher in search engines such as Google.

  • Use an informative and accurate Profile Headline

The default setting is the last position you held. There has been much debate on various forums and there are two opposing views; your headline should reflect your last position; Or, your profile should reflect where you see your ‘brand’ being positioned ie “Operations Director for FTSE 250 Retailer.” You will often see “Looking for opportunities.” While this may reflect your employment status it creates a negative impression. Andy Headworth, at Sirona Consulting wrote a great blog about this – read here.

  • Upload an ‘appropriate’ Photo!

This may be obvious but do keep this professional. It should also reflect the brand you are keen to portray. Fashion candidates should ensure they are dressed in a manner that reflects their current or target market. An ex colleague of mine recently, and to be fair temporarily, uploaded a picture of himself sporting a rather impressive pair of spectacles despite the fact that he rarely wore them (you know who you are!). It is best to ensure your photo reflects what you look like in real life!

  • Provide Contact Information?

You can provide contact information on your profile (either on the summary page or in the specific communication fields) so that people can get in touch with you outside of the parameters of LinkedIn. It is worth doing this if you are active in your job search and you wish to reduce the barriers to simple communication. If you are nervous about doing this you can amend your privacy settings so that this is only visible to first degree connections.

  • Add relevant websites

You can add up to three websites and it is worth utilising this function. I would suggest adding your company website particularly if you work for a niche brand, your Twitter link, your blog or any other website that you are personally invested in.

  • Complete your Education

Get as much detail in here as you are comfortable with and do not be shy about including any summer courses or distance learning. If you work within a functional specialism such as property, it is worth mentioning that you are chartered and the year you qualified.

  • Develop a professional Summary & Specialities statement

Your statement should incorporate a short paragraph summarising your experience to date. It is worth highlighting some unique experiences, what differentiates you from your peers or any outstanding awards or achievements. Overall, it should be a clear and concise representation of your ‘brand message.’ It has also become common place to add a list of keywords or phrases to the bottom of this section. The keywords are crucial as this is often what recruiters search for when looking for prospective candidates ie. if your job title is not an industry standard term you could add appropriate key words to ensure you can be easily ‘found’.

  • Ensure your Experience (Career) is fully complete

As we mentioned in our previous blog, recruiters are beginning to cross reference LinkedIn Profiles with CVs. It is essential that the dates and job titles are consistent. It is worth detailing responsibilities, accountabilities and achievements where possible. This is another opportunity to add keywords thus ensuring you optimise your search position. However…your LinkedIn profile is not a replacement for a CV, so if you are looking for a new position you will still need to put one together.

  • Languages

Don’t be shy about adding languages. British retailers are increasingly expanding overseas and language skills are increasingly in demand. Similarly, international retailers looking to move in to the UK will be very keen to identify candidates that can communicate in their native language.

  • Add Applications

It is worth checking adding useful applications (via settings) such as WordPress (for your blog if you have one), Box files (any documents you may wish to add such as a recent presentation) or Slideshare for any presentations you may wish to upload. These applications will often reveal a side of you that your CV does not such as how you think or feel about certain topics. Again, ensure that anything you add is consistent with your ‘brand message.’

  • Ask for recommendations from a diverse selection of contacts

This doesn’t come naturally for some people however it adds a high degree of credibility. I found myself, by accident rather than design, looking at two candidates last week for a position I was recruiting for. Instinctively I was more interested in the candidate with good quality recommendations from people I respect than the individual who had none. It is worth including at least one recommendation per position.

It is also sensible to call your contacts to let them know you are planning to send a request and giving them some steer as to what you would like them to focus on, once again to ensure a consistent brand message.

  • Join ‘Groups’

It is worth joining a number of groups on LinkedIn, particularly groups that are relevant to your Industry, Specialism or Job function. Not only are the groups useful in terms of information but they will also add to the brand message you are keen to portray. They will also provide you with a vehicle to further develop your profile over a period of time (further blog to follow!). You can find our group here

  • Add Skills & Expertise?

This functionality was added to LinkedIn in the UK last year (2012). Essentially you are ‘self coding’ yourself in the way recruitment firms do within their databases. The only drawback with the functionality is that there is a temptation to add skills that are aspirational rather than experience led. Having spoken to a few colleagues and other contacts in the industry it would seem that the search functionality which accompanies this is rarely used. On the flipside it will improve keyword searches. In my opinion this is not essential but perhaps worth doing to once again strengthen that all important brand message.

  • Honours (Honors) & Awards

This section allows you to highlight specific achievements. It is worth adding one or two elements to this section although it isn’t essential!

  • Privacy Controls

You can find this under ‘settings’ via a drop down box from your name in the top right of the screen. Depending on your account type you can set varying levels of privacy. Bear in mind that if you go for the highest settings you will be difficult to find, although clearly, this is not a problem if the purpose of the account is to stay in touch with colleagues etc. Via the settings function you can also become a member of the ‘openlink network,’ this enables other non first degree connections to send you direct messages. This is of particular use if you are actively looking for a new position.

  • LinkedIn Today

The news function on LI Today has changed quite dramatically in recent months with a greater influence being placed on Influencers and the larger news sites. LinkedIn are automatically opting people in to following specific influencers. If you find your timeline is filling up with articles that are not of interest you can amend who you follow by; click Interest from the top toolbar, click influencers, click all influencers and then click the tick button to ‘unfollow.’

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

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.

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

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

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

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

  • Get the basics right.

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

  • Put solid foundations in place:

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

  • Map the business:

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

  • Build your network:

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

  • Seek external support:

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

  • Talk, Talk, Talk:

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

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

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Further blogs on how candidates can leverage their recruitment consultants:

What should your Recruitment Consultant really do for you?

10 Questions every candidate should ask their recruitment consultant

A Candidate’s Guide to Working with Recruitment Consultants

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

1) Get the Environment right:

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

2) Prepare.

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

3) Sit in front of the mirror.

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

4) DO NOT actively listen when asked questions.

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

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

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

6) Use regular pauses.

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

7) Vary your pace, pitch and tone.

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

8) Practice a CV run through.

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

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

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

10) Ask Questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Urgency & Pace

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

  • Customer & Service Orientation

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

  • Commitment

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

  • Compliance & Standards

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

  • Competitive

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

  • Drive & Passion

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

  • Resilience

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

  • Results Orientation

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

  • Receptive to and engaged with change

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

  • Ownership & Accountability

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

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

What the numbers tell you about your future career in retail

Retail: my tale of faith, love and survival

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

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

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

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

  • Greater job satisfaction

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

  • You’ll have more responsibility

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

  • You’ll be given more opportunity

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

  • The culture will be great and so will the perks

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

  • You will hold the values more strongly

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

  • You will learn the art of prudence

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

  • It’s easier to make stuff happen

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

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

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

The retail sector has continued to take a battering over the last twelve months, not least with a number of high profile company administrations. This has resulted in a large influx of candidates coming on to what was an already an overcrowded and highly competitive market. It can be a heart-breaking situation for many candidates who have developed an excellent skillset and still have the passion and drive to grow their career. However, if you are flexible and open to new ideas there are a wealth of opportunities out there. Retailers tend to pick up a broad and highly transferable skill-set. Indeed, there are few other industries that could better prepare you to move to a different sector. If you are keen to consider options outside of traditional retail, the first step to understanding what you could do next is first identifying what your transferable skills are:

  • Leadership & People Management

Clearly this is a broad and complex subject but in my experience, the two core skills that are often in demand are; the ability to motivate direct reports, indirect reports and other stakeholders and; the ability to manage performance in a formal and structured manner. Retailers generally learn how to do this both on the job and in the classroom – an option not always available in many companies. This skill is perhaps in itself the single most important as it really does allow retailers to move in to virtually any industry where people management is the key requirement.

  • Profit & Loss Management

Most retailers offer varying levels of accountability however broadly speaking, most have a strong understanding of the key lines in a P&L and what pulleys and levers they can operate to drive a result.

  • Business & Project Management.

Again, this can cover a multitude of things but in this case I believe that retailers have an excellent ability to manage a broad range of objectives. The skills employed will be time management, priority identification and ensuring task completion.

  • Strategy and tactical development.

The degree of exposure and therefore capability will depend on the level that you have reached but retailers learn from very early in their career, at the very least, how to develop a tactical plan on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.

  • Sales & Business Development

Not every retailer is given the opportunity to ‘sell’ or indeed develop their business on a wider context, however those that do are able to develop a highly transferable skill. This, coupled with people management ability is in high demand currently as many companies are looking for an additional edge in a stagnant economy.

  • Coaching

Arguably this could sit under general people management. However, retailers will often develop this skill in matrix management structures whereby they are coaching individuals that are not direct reports.

  • Customer focus.

There are very few industries where managers are exposed to customers directly in such volume and regularity. Retailers have to react to market changes at pace and with a high degree of accuracy. Balancing customer focus with profit is not always straightforward.

  • Operations Management.

Depending on your retail background the experience you have here will vary. By operations management I am referring to the management of the supply chain and the store operation. Food & ‘big box’ retailers tend to have the most advanced skill-set in this regard. Understanding the cause & effect of moving units from one place to another may sound simple but in high volume environments it can be incredibly complex.

  • Relationship management.

Retail Managers up to Director level will generally develop the ability to manage multiple relationships often with stakeholders with varying agendas. The ability to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders is often overlooked but is in high demand in numerous industries and job families.

  • Change Management.

Given the scale of change that the Retail Industry has faced and continues to face, the ability to manage change has become essential for most senior retailers. Change management is often a combination of the aforementioned skills with a set of behaviours that allows for a successful delivery.

I have generally found that it is a combination of these skills that most attracts employers to ‘fish from the Retail pool.’ I would love to hear from people that have changed industry and what enabled them to make a successful transition.

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Previous blogs:

How to avoid joining the wrong business

What the numbers tell you about your future career in Retail

Retail: my tale of faith, love and survival

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