After all, it means positive and happy things are happening: It’s exciting and thrilling to know you have won through a sometimes long and protracted process, no doubt in competition against other equally good candidates, and you have come out on top. Well, done, congratulations all round, onwards and upwards.
But once all the niceties are out of the way, a job offer is in effect a legal contract between a prospective employer and employee. The problem with this, is that the employment contract only becomes valid on the day you actually start the new job. Now the long wait starts, working through your notice period or gardening leave. If you have a long notice period, this could mean 3 or perhaps even 6 months between giving notice from you current role to free yo up for starting the new job.
And during that time, things can change for both parties. What happens when something goes wrong during this time?
In a recent legal bulletin from the REC a similar dilemma is discussed, from the employer’s point of view. I thought it worth sharing here, as it has vital information about how the law protects a prospective employee where job offers are concerned. It does not make very happy reading!
My advice is to be very certain that you check all eventualities before accepting any offer, and to make sure that you are contractually covered for unexpected eventualities. Then try to negotiate your way out of that long notice period as soon as possible, to help avoid miss-haps. And if there is a long notice period in your new contract, take care not to accept blindly without considering the implications:
Question: We have unfortunately had to retract a permanent job offer made by us and accepted by a candidate due to unforeseen circumstances. The individual has now written to us to inform that he is going to bring a claim because he is now out of work having given notice to his previous employer. Please can you explain whether there is any potential liability in this instance even though there is no written contract in place?
Answer: The answer to this question will depend on whether the offer made by your company was conditional or unconditional. Generally on acceptance of an unconditional offer of employment, even if only done verbally, a legally binding contract of employment will be formed. In this instance the candidate could argue that on retraction of the offer your company is in breach of contract and he may potentially be able to claim damages i.e. a payment which places him in the position that he would have been in had there not been a breach. So in this case the individual could seek damages to cover the notice period that he would have been entitled to under the contract.
As for any breach of contract claim, the individual seeking damages would have a duty to mitigate his loss, in other words to minimise the impact of the loss sustained e.g. by seeking alternative employment at a similar level of pay in which case any damages awarded would be reduced. If the job offer was conditional on certain criteria being met, such as obtaining satisfactory references, checking that certain qualifications have been attained, or on receiving proof of the right to work in the UK, then the offer will not become a binding contract of employment until those conditions are met. If they are not met, then on retraction of the offer of employment, the candidate will not be able to claim compensation for breach of contract because there would be no legally binding contract in place.
Applying for a new job can be daunting, especially if you have been out of work for a while or are unfamiliar with technology and uploading a CV online.
Here are seven CV dos and don’ts:
1. DON’T make your CV too long.
Many recruiters will form an opinion based on what is in the top third of the first page, so put the most relevant information first. Two pages are more than adequate to get all your points across. You can always bespoke your CV with more relevant information once you have made the initial contact.
2. DO Use key words.
Many companies are now turning to technology to help them sift through all the applications and CVs they receive. If key words don’t appear your CV could be missed. Examples of key words would include the name of your industry (E.g. Automotive, Oil and Gas, etc), your job title (Keep it generic!) and specifics about systems or industry jargon (E.g. SAP, diesel engine, CAD, etc.)
3. DO keep personal statements short.
Research by secondcareers.co.uk found that recruiters preferred short personal statements and recommended that job-seekers avoid waffle such as “works well individually or as a team” at all costs. Only include it if you can be specific, if its highly relevant and if it will set you apart from the next candidate.
4. DO deal with potential problems.
A CV is devised to help you get an interview, don’t lie on your CV but tailor it to get key info across, if you have a big gap in your employment history be prepared to explain why. Skimming over or being devious is likely to get you discounted.
5. DON’T include irrelevant content.
Information about hobbies and interests don’t need to be included unless they make you more marketable for the role (or it is your first role)
6. DON’T supply reference names on your CV.
You want to be in control of your job search, the last thing you want is a prospective employer calling your current boss.
7. DON’T make spelling or grammatical errors.
It appears in most of the “Worst interview questions” lists. But simplistic, general and non-specific as it is, its is also a clever question used by the astute interviewer to assess a myriad of selection criteria. Especially when attention to detail, getting to the point quickly and focussing on what is important, appear high on the selection agenda.
This question is usually asked at the start of the interview. With this in mind, there are ways to prepare for it properly, so that you can get into the more detailed parts of the interview. Answering it well will make a good impression early on, but waffling and getting it wrong might shoot you in the foot totally, or set you back apace.
Getting an Elevator Pitch is a good way to approach this. Wikipedia defines an elevator pitch as a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. So you have now become your own product, with features and benefits relevant to the job specification!
There is also a strong likelihood that the follow-on questions will be based on the way you answer this question. So delivering a strong answer through your Elevator Pitch will certainly assist you in directing part of the interview, or at least give you a chance to introduce yourself fully and mention some working strengths early on in the interview.
1. DO start with you:
Obviously! But keep it short. Don’t start way back when, just give very broad brush strokes about the personal stuff because this is a job interview, so you should focus on your working background. But it is good to give a warm introduction to yourself, to personalise the meeting and to display your well-rounded background.
2. Do talk about your education:
Where you studied, what, and why you chose those subjects in particular. Especially if you are an Engineer or if you are being interviewed for a technical job, this is highly relevant. Again, broad strokes are better than finite detail, just give them a flavour so that they can probe it later on.
3. Do mention your experience:
This is where you can direct the interview, to a point. This is really the detail that the interviewer is after and they might interject with questions. Invite questions by talking about your relevant skills or experience. Allow the first question to develop into the rest of the interview as it follow a natural conversational course.
What not to do:
1. Don’t talk about salary at this point. Wait for the question to be asked.
2. Don’t go into unnecessary detail. Value your interviewer’s time.
3. Don’t waffle on. Use your elevator pitch and allow the interviewer to drive the conversation
Recently, I wrote a guest blog for Jobsite about how job applicants can get the best out of recruitment agency relationships. It attracted a whole lot of interest at the time, so I thought it might be useful to repost the content:
“When I started my recruitment career 24 years ago, I had a set of hanging files containing about 50 candidate records, I knew each one of them and it was my aim to place every single one. Now with the rise of internet based recruiting, agencies have thousands of candidates on their databases and this has contributed to a depersonalisation of the recruitment industry from the candidate’s perspective.
There are of course still many Recruitment Consultants out there who go the extra mile to build relationships and feel responsible for their candidates. However, there is always a lot of negative comment about the industry in this area. There seems to be a general mismatch between candidates’ expectations of the recruitment industry in general, and the reality of their day to day experience.
I hope the following points will assist with managing your expectations during your job search, and to give you more control:
1. Take responsibility for your own career
Agencies do not find people jobs, they search for potentially suitable candidates to fulfil their clients’ hiring expectations. The recruitment industry is hugely KPI and sales driven, so agencies are under pressure to perform. You will certainly still be able to find specialist consultants who are willing to give you personalised advice and assistance, but don’t set your expectations too high in terms of the success rates of your applications. Take charge of your own situation, give yourself the broadest possible exposure and don’t wait for them to call you – You will have to do most of the chasing!
2. Give yourself broad exposure
Register your CV with several agencies, and also post it onto the jobs boards like Jobsite. Make sure you have a lot of search words repeated in your CV as this will give you a higher ranking in the recruiter’s searches. You should also search for online jobs yourself, and if you see something you like send in your CV. Also Google the agency and give them a call to introduce yourself. Recruitment really is a numbers game and you will be successful if you embrace this in your job search, whilst managing the frustrations of making many applications and only getting a small number of responses. Make it easy for agencies to reach you, with ALL your up to date contact information on your CV
3. Don’t apply for jobs that are not relevant
Read the job advertisement and if you don’t fulfil the criteria, don’t apply. If you just apply to every single job you see, you may eventually be seen as an unfocused candidate and could even be taken off the agency’s database. Keep track of the jobs you apply to via the web. Agencies often advertise the same role on different sites, so if you have already applied through one site, do not send your CV again through another. You will save yourself time, your expectations will be managed and you will not create the impression of being desperate.
4. Build relationships
Choose 3 or 4 agencies that operate in your specialist area, and make contact with an experienced consultant. It is better to deal with specialist agencies rather than generalists, as this reduces the level of risk in your application. Introduce yourself to the consultant, explain what you are looking for and ask their advice. Also check how frequently they want you to check in with them for updates, and then make it a habit to have a quick catch up without becoming a pest. Remember, they are targeted and don’t have time to speak with you unless there is a real reason. You want to make sure you are first in their thoughts and on their database for the right reasons!
5. Working in partnership gives you competitive advantage
If an agency calls you, make sure you call back quickly or answer immediately as timing is sometimes crucial. If they arrange an interview, confirm that you have received the details and call them back straight after the interview. Give them your feedback concisely and be specific about what happened in the interview. Give them time to contact the client for feedback before you chase too hard. This all helps to build a relationship with your recruiter and even if you don’t get offered the first role, if you do well in interviews they will certainly put you forward to the next suitable role. If you under perform at interview or commit some of the most common faux pas (E.g arriving late, not grooming appropriately, bad mouth your last employer) they will think hard before including you on a shortlist again.”
A special message to all the lovely clients, candidates, followers and contacts that make my working life great!
If Valentines Day did not exist, No flowers, gifts or cards, We'd search to find another way To send you our regards.
Appreciation and respect,
Hoping our heartfelt message Has a warm and good effect.
But Valentine's Day is here again, So we send this poem to say: You're extraordinary, special, rare; Happy Valentine's Day!
Last week, I dipped my toe into the dangerous world of personal branding, based on my true belief that soon, the traditional method of applying for jobs with a CV will be something of the past.
Change is one established fact of life that will remain constant. And haven’t we come a long way in the world of recruitment?
Back then, we still sent out applications and searched for jobs in the newspaper and on jobs boards, so we needed a marketing document about ourselves that would grab the reader’s attention and make us stand out from the crowd. I even remember a training course that suggested using pastel coloured, heavy gauged paper so that your CV was visible in the pile!heavygauge
Of course, back in those days we actually used the newspapers to advertise our jobs, and the jobs boards too. There were limits to how exposed certain roles were to the market, and how many people had access to them. It was all a matter of budget and how much the potential employer could afford to spend, to get his job the best possible exposure and therefore, the best possible pool of potential candidates. All these candidates would, mostly, have sent their CV to us to apply for the job. Or they would have applied for other jobs previously, to get their CV on the agency’s database. That’s when agency databases still had value, and having X-thousand candidate records was in fact a selling point, if you worked in recruitment.
Nowadays, one job is advertised a zillion times on the web. It is Tweeted, shared, posted, retweeted, and sent around the globe several times. Candidates come from all kinds of sources. This is mainly because information is very cheap in the current age. We all have access to free communication through channels that constantly develop and give us even more opportunities to communicate.
Nowadays, if you want to be a candidate in this noisy market, you have to know what you are about because there is a real risk of getting lost in the noise.
Because there has been a subtle recent shift in the market: Now, it is not the jobs that are hard to come by. Believe it or not: High numbers of unemployment does not mean that there are lots of people available for work. It means that the people available for work in the market, do not have the necessary skills to fulfill the jobs that are on offer.
So now, the pressure for Recruiters is no longer on finding the job opportunities. The pressure is on finding the candidates. And that means, invariably, going out to the market proactively to build relationships with candidates who are probably not even actively looking for new jobs.
This complicates affairs for active candidates and job seekers, because you are not just competing with others in your same situation. You are competing against the huge unknown quantity of non-active job seekers too.
If you want to find a new job in this type of environment, it is imperative that you position yourself in the places that Recruiters (in-house AND agency) will expect to find inactive candidates: Invariably, all searches start on The Internet. This means establishing an online presence for yourself, being active on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, making sure that people know what you do and what you are about. So eventually, you probably won’t need a CV at all. What you will need, is to be resourceful, engaged and present online.
After all, they have to find you first. And then, they will still ask you to send your CV. Or they can just use your profile, thank you very much!
But sooner or later, I think the CV in its current form is going to be a thing of the past. Only time will tell!
Back in the day, when I first started my recruitment career (And I will have you know it’s not SUCH a long time ago!) such a thing as the Internet or online databases didn’t exist. In fact, we didn’t even have computers, other than for typing up CVs in WordPerfect – A job for which a special CV typist was employed. We hand delivered CVs to our clients, and the advent of the fax machine was a major technological leap forward in our communication with candidates and clients.
I had all my candidates in a hanging file system next my desk, my client contacts where in a Rolodex and clients trusted my judgement enough to arrange interviews directly on the phone with candidates I had interviewed, but whose CVs they have not even seen.
Shuffle on 20+ years (Yes, I am indeed that old!) and the face of the recruitment sector has totally changed. Sadly, trust went out of the window long ago, as soon as recruitment became commoditised and everyone forgot that there is no price to be placed on strong business relationships. However, that is probably the subject of a different, far more wistful blog post! This one is about candidates and CVs, so I will not digress.
Nowadays, if you want to be a candidate and find yourself a new job, you have to be in more than just one recruiter’s hanging files to have a ghost of a chance, at least. Your ksills are now a commodity too. Paper CVs have long gone out of the window and now, you have several electronic versions. In fact, your actual CV may soon be obsolete because technology is developing so quickly that you can now find a job without even having a CV at all, depending on the sector you find yourself in.
Of course, not all industries evolve at the same pace in this regard, and if you are an engineer then your technical skills will probably still be the most important thing. And having these written down on an e-paper CV, honestly and solidly, will probably still be valid for a long time. But if you work in Sales or Management, then I can almost guarantee that your online brand will soon have to be very close to equal your personal one, if you want to excel and do well. And what’s on your CV must reflect what can be found online, support it and extend it.
Because trust is thin on the ground nowadays, expect the recruiting manager or hiring manager to check you out online well beofr eyou even get to interview stage. And who knows? This may even be where they you first, so that you don’t even get to the point of applying for a job or sending in a CV at all!
They are likely to look at any (Or a combination of):
2) The number of Twitter followers you have, the last time you tweeted and what you tweeted about
3) The size and quality of your LinkedIn community
4) The number and quality of recommendations you have on LinkedIn and
5) Your Klout score.
This means that, eventually and in the not-so-distant future, your slightly old-fashioned CV will most likely be replaced by the breadth and depth of your personal brand.
And as candidates catch on to employers’ focus on their Internet presence, they will shift their methods accordingly. Taking the lead from innovative applicants like Shawn McTigue, who made this 2:50 video as part of his application to a Mastercard internship, more workers will take a creative approach to marketing their experience instead of sending out there CVs.
However we do it, we will all have to accept that a one-page summary of our professional histories, expertise, skills, and achievements – that which we think of as a “CV” – will no longer act as our differentiation in the job market.
Start working on your online brand now – Engage, share content, add value. It will be the best investment you can possibly make in your own future.