Tag Archive: job search


killbill

Shane Horn – Senior Partner, AdMore Recruitment – Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

The Competency Based Interview is now widely used and so you will undoubtedly face one as you move through your job search process. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills and ability to do the job you are being assessed for. You can view a more detailed description here

So what is the best approach and how do you ensure that you walk away from the meeting confident that you have performed well?

  • Plan and prepare.

This may sound obvious, but interviews take practice. There will be a number of questions you will naturally ready for, but there will be many that are designed to challenge you. The key here is to have examples ready but you must deliver them in a natural way. A good interviewer will be able to spot a formulaic, pre-planned answer, and will ask you again if they want to challenge you further. You may be able to give an example of dealing with a difficult situation, but can you name three? Can you name one outside of a work situation? You can learn more here

  • Understand what the competencies are that you are going to be questioned on.

Most companies, unfortunately not all, will supply you with a list of core skills, or competencies that you will be assessed on. Most will appear on a well written job profile, but if you don’t have them, ask. A good agency will be able to help, as they will most likely have had candidates in the process before. A direct hiring manager will also have access to the information. If they don’t want to supply the information, try to understand why. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t got a job offer because they wanted to be fully briefed.

  • Use the CAR approach

You may have the best examples to give, however if you can’t articulate them, you will fall down. You may have heard of STAR, but CAR – Context, Action, and Result is a lot simpler to remember. The easiest approach is to set the scene of the example, tell the interviewer what you did, and what the result of this was. This will allow you to tell a story in a natural style, and to talk through your situation in a clear way. It also allows the assessor to question you – this is a good thing! The more the interviewer questions you, the more engaged they are.

  •  Don’t allow the interviewer to put you off your game!

Some classically trained interviewers will follow the ‘script’, showing no emotion and won’t even ask you any questions. They may have a huge amount to get through in a short period of time. Don’t let this put you off! Be confident in your ability to answer the question. There should be an opportunity at the end of the interview to build rapport so use this time wisely.

  • Expect the unexpected

More and more clients are aware that many questions can be prepared for, so expect a few curve balls. Most recently, a client of mine asked “what piece of living room furniture would you be?” Not technically a competency based interview, but one that will make you think. Also, I have known interviewers to throw a role-play into the middle of an interview to show evidence of the example a candidate gave. So be prepared to be able to back up what you say! Some of the oddest interview questions of the last 12 months can be found here

We haven’t covered general interview tips, but you can find more information here and here

I would be interested to hear of any other key points you may have, or any testing questions you may have been asked.

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people-waiting-out-of-focus

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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linkedin-job-hunt

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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 onboard

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

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

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

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

  • Get the basics right.

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

  • Put solid foundations in place:

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

  • Map the business:

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

  • Build your network:

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

  • Seek external support:

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

  • Talk, Talk, Talk:

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

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

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Further blogs on how candidates can leverage their recruitment consultants:

What should your Recruitment Consultant really do for you?

10 Questions every candidate should ask their recruitment consultant

A Candidate’s Guide to Working with Recruitment Consultants

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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Colourful numbers scattered on white

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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bstn601h

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to avoid joining the wrong business

8 great smartphone apps to support candidates in their job search

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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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