Category: Social Media


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

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

So what should a good recruiter be doing for you?

Career Advice

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

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

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

Job Search

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

 Process Management

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

 Offer Negotiation

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

Post Placement

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

Conclusion 

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

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

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

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

Retail has been under the spotlight in recent months and there has been a lot of criticism levelled at the industry for being too slow to adapt to changes in technology and Social Media and the impact this has had on shopping behaviour. The focus has so far been on the customer – arguably this is where all the attention should be. However, what I find interesting is the lack of attention being paid to how Retailers can use Social media to engage their people. How many times do you hear about the ‘disinterested shop assistant’ when people complain about bricks and mortar shopping?

It is widely acknowledged that many organisations are using Facebook as a vehicle for driving graduate recruitment campaigns and LinkedIn often forms the backbone of a great deal of mid-senior management recruitment. What tends to be missing is how Retailers are using Social Media to engage with their own people. There is a general reluctance to officially endorse the use of Social media for fear of what can happen when employees have access to this platform (HMV have experienced this recently).

In the modern workplace the increase in the part time labour mix has led to more, not less staff, and more varied shift patterns. As a result, communicating with this work-force has grown more complicated than ever before. How does a Director communicate directly with his/her store teams? How does an Area Manager ensure the ‘message’ is landing with EVERY member of staff?

I am not a big user of Twitter, we recruiters have clogged up LinkedIn enough without doing the same to every other platform! However, what I do use if for is keeping abreast of news and developments as they happen. It would seem that Tesco have also realised that, if used responsibly, it has the capability to deliver a message to large numbers of people in a highly efficient manner. I have been following a few of their ‘Store Directors’ recently, a Store Director, for those that are unfamiliar, is the level above General Store Manager. Typically they will manage anywhere from 10-20 stores with eye watering turnovers. It is a big job with accountability for between 5,000 – 10,000 staff. Given these numbers it must be incredibly difficult to verbally thank your people and highlight best practice. The individuals I have been following, and I believe this is common practice in the business, are prolific in following up store visits and meetings with a tweet about what they have seen and experienced (It’s amazing what you can do with a fish counter on Valentines day!).

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The tweets range from a simple ‘well done’ to photos of great displays and more often than not, something personal. This public acknowledgement of a job well done must be incredibly satisfying and, while I don’t imagine every Tesco employee is using Twitter, I would hazard a guess that the tech savvy staff are sharing this in the stores. There are Store Director ‘Retweets’ of store staff, and vice versa, and conversations follow. It doesn’t feel like a broadcast, a criticism often levelled at corporate users. If Tesco, a business famed for its slick pre-agreed processes, is prepared to take its Social Media gloves off, why doesn’t the rest of Retail?

Of course there isn’t just the benefit of motivating your people through a very public thank-you; what this also creates is an opportunity for the front line staff to communicate upwards. Many retailers fail to tap in to the true value of their people because they are not engaged. I suspect that Tesco will reap huge dividends from the fact that store based staff can communicate an idea to their directors. Most employees are not motivated by cash, or indeed the fear of losing their job; what really engages and motivates an employee is having an influence on their working environment, being recognised and having the opportunity to bring their own ideas to the table.

In the future, I wonder if Social Media will be used by Retailers to generate strategy and tactics (CEOs are often mystified by the current pace of change) rather than just as a medium to market their products.

I would be interested to hear from other retailers that are using Social Media to talk to their people and how it has benefitted them. It would be great if you could share your ideas here.

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

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

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

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

How has Harrods developed your own career?

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

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

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

What has been your greatest challenge as Head of Resourcing?

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

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

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

How would you describe Harrods’ Employer Brand?

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

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

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

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

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

How have these changes affected staff turnover and satisfaction scores?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Russell Adams – Director, AdMore Recruitment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russell Adams

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

What Media Should You Use In 2013 To Find a Job?

It has become increasingly clear that with inexorable rise of Social Media that the art of looking for a job has become more complicated than ever before. The methods you decide to employ when looking for a job will depend on your industry, job function and level of seniority. Here is a quick round up of what Social Media sites and media  you should consider using when looking for a job in 2013. It is worth bearing in mind that our advice is focused on the UK Retail market.

Linkedin

Linkedin has become the recruiter’s (in-house & agency) tool of choice for ‘identifying’ suitable candidates. Most recruiters treat it as a secondary database.  It tends to suit people on at least their second job rather than entry level. While it is great for enabling you to be found, it doesn’t work particularly well as a ‘job board’ yet. Therefore you need to be very proactive to put yourself in the shop window. What Linkedin has enabled professionals to do is to load their ‘CV’ on to a platform (which is ostensibly a job board)  in a socially accepted manner. It is worth bearing in mind however, that you have limited control over how third parties use your details as the new profile (when printed via a PDF) mimics a standard CV format. That said, it is great for passive and active professionals. You can find a handy ‘how to create a profile’ guide here

Twitter

A lot of companies have set up Twitter feeds for vacancies however this tends to be a continuous stream of updates of new vacancies and is, as a result, not particularly targeted. Recruiters use Twitter to identify new candidates for specific searches but on the whole it is very time consuming and as a result not overly used for recruitment purposes. I suspect that there will be some innovative advances in how recruiters and candidates use Twitter in the next couple of years. In my opinion, if you are time restricted it is not worth investing significantly.

Facebook

Despite Facebook’s best efforts, it is unlikely that it will become a significant platform for job seekers in 2013. A number of recruiters have used FB prolifically at entry/graduate level but as yet it lacks the credibility of Linkedin. What is interesting though, is how recruiters are using it in the US to gather personal information about applicants. In our opinion it is not currently worth investing time in FB however if you do, you should carefully consider any content you load up.

Job Boards

Recruiters are investing less time in searching for CVs on the job boards than they did previously and it has been suggested that if you are mid-senior management level that loading your CV up could damage your credibility. Even the specialist boards are struggling to compete with Linkedin for new candidates. However, it is still a great place to look for a new job. The simplest approach would be to sign up for alerts (set your criteria) for several of the key websites. There are several decent generic boards with specialist boards servicing specific job functions. Feel free to email us directly if you need any specific advice (Retail & Hospitality markets only!). This remains a useful tool for the active candidates.

Publications (print & online)

The cost of advertising in print has become prohibitive for most volume based recruiters. While it does make sense for some specialist vacancies the reality is that recruiters will tend to use a combination of online adverts and targeted searches. If you have traditionally relied upon your trade publication for browsing vacancies, 2013 is the year to move your search online.

Pinterest

A very specific tool for visually led employers. We have seen the beginnings of a trend for recruiters to search for candidates and advertise positions within fashion, design or creative led positions. It is still very niche however well worth considering if you want to try something innovative.

And finally….Agencies

Clearly I have a bias here, but there is a growing trend for companies to move their recruitment mix from larger corporates to boutiques. More often than not, this is service and knowledge driven. With this in mind it is worth thinking about your network across the agencies. Boutique agencies will tend to be relationship and referral driven so it is worth speaking to a couple of trusted peers to get some recommendations.

I hope this helps and as always we would be keen to hear from anyone with any other suggestions.

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

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