The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market in the 21st Century

Archive for the ‘Recruitment’ Category

Guide to #Job hunting: 5 Mistakes hiring companies make

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hiring-mistakes-300x225Over the past 24 years in recruitment, I have probably seen the best and worst of hiring strategies and recruitment errors. In the past, companies got away with making crucial errors in their recruitment processes or hiring decisions because the market was soft and it was easy to rectify the mistake (usually a miss-hire) by finding a replacement. But as the jobs market becomes more and more competitive this is no longer possible, and the cost in time and pain of miss-hiring is no longer that easy to overcome.

If you are a candidate seeking another job, then being aware of these pitfalls will assist you in judging whether you are in a process that will succeed or fail. There is a far better chance of getting a stable, long-term new job if you can identify selection processes that are not going to be prone to hiring errors.

These are the main pitfalls:

1. Lack of a clear objective

Often, hiring companies aren’t specific enough about the duties, skills, and competencies they need.  Concocting “wish lists” of super-human attributes, combined with unrealistically low pay scales relative to expectations of the experience needed, will create havoc in a talent search. Hazy, ambiguous descriptions along with generalities like “good written and oral communication skills” don’t help either. It is much easier to hit a clearly defined target. This does of course mean going back to the basics of developing a job and person specification, but the longer term benefits are real and calculable.

2. Having an unrealistic idea of what kind of candidates might be available and the money it may take to hire them.

There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, and waiting for one is as unrealistic as searching for one. The only way to become realistic about what the market might bear is to research it, especially in this economic climate as it changes so rapidly. Know what and who is available and the commensurate earnings expected and then plan accordingly. The number of quality candidates active in the market is drastically lower than it was even last year. My clients are often shocked that the salaries locked in by inflexible pay structures won’t allow them to hire the quality or experience they wish for. The rules of supply and demand are in play here: Good skills and experience have become a commodity and this is driving up salaries, whilst also limiting the candidate pool. I’m not saying throw all caution to the wind. I am saying be prepared to negotiate to attract the best talent, or be satisfied with the second choice.

3. The confused objectives of too many or inappropriate decision makers 

Studies have shown that once the number of people in the interviewing and hiring process exceeds three, the probability of a bad hire is greater. The reason so many people are usually involved in the interviewing and hiring process is that organisations, naturally, want to spread the risk of decision-making. But better hiring decisions would probably be made if only a small number of people (In my view, 2 is optimum) manage the process objectively.

But having the wrong people in the decision making process is equally risky. Most managers will claim that hiring good people is the second or third most important function they have, right behind making a profit. So why delegate screening or interviewing of candidates to subordinates who have no real understanding of the organisation’s needs, or subordinates with hidden agendas? If hiring is one of a manager’s most important functions, he or she should take the time and make the effort to do the whole job from start to finish. How can they afford not to?

4. Processes that take too long.

It used to take about 30 days to fill a vacant position. Now it takes between 90 and 120!  And even longer for more senior or complex roles. When the hiring process takes too long, good candidates are lost to more decisive companies, it refelcts badly on the hiring company’s brand, and it gets harder and harder to fill the vacancy. The “shelf life” of quality candidates is increasingly short – This has now become a competition! Maintaining the momentum with candidates (Especially after the first interview, when only the one or two “choice” candidates remain) is crucial to keep them motivated about the process. If things take too long to progress, they simply lose interest and wander off to find other employers who respond more rapidly. Slick, quick process impress candidates and make them feel worthy of a job in the organisation. Slow processes that crawl at a snail’s pace, laden with red tape, puts calibre candidates off and might be a crucial element should they have to decide between two job offers.
5. Poor interviewing techniques.

Preparing a list of questions to ask every candidate, recording the answers, and comparing the responses (Quickly) equate to efficient and objective recruitment. Sadly, this rarely happens.

It is often down to a lack of experience on the itnerviewer’s behalf. After all, its not something they do every day. “Tell me about yourself” is the first question down the wrong road. Most interviewers start with random questions to “get to know the candidate” and never recover. They make copious notes, and then three weeks later try to compare the candidates about whom they remember very little.

A structured, disciplined interview technique that is applied to every candidate in exactly the same manner is the only real way to compare candidates. It is so simple and yet so seldom practiced.  Tight, controlled interview processes with rigid structures applied fairly across all candidates, in a short space of time, deliver the best results. It might be worth bringing an experienced interviewer into the process and to rather observe than conducting the interview personally – This is a real and practised technique that delivers results when a decision maker lacks confidence or experience to interview.

Help for ex-#Unipart #Automotive staff. Definitive Guide to #Job Hunting: Understanding social media

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I'm onlineJust about everyone is using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to network – both for personal and professional reasons. Are you ready for companies and recruiters to find you on all these social media sites? If not, you should be.

Companies and recruitment agencies are increasingly using social recruiting to source candidates for employment, as well as to investigate applicants they are considering hiring. It’s important to be aware of how companies are using social media to recruit, so you can use employers’ recruiting tactics to your advantage and position yourself to be discovered by companies seeking candidates.

Romany Thresher is the MD of Direct Assist, a company that provides Social Media assistance for business owners and busy consultants who need help increasing their online visibility. She says:
“I believe social media is creating an equal opportunities and business without borders market.  We are no longer limited to the confines of our cities and countries.  If you are struggling to find work because of your location, background, or lack of job opportunities you can find work online using social media.  The top 10 demand jobs in 2014 did not exist in 2004.  Early adopters of the new communications medium will stand out from the crowd of people who are still looking for jobs using old methods.

Living in a virtual world almost 24/7 I see a trend taking place where the best positions, business and career opportunities are being taken by those who are connected and building their network. Invariably, someone will know someone who needs what you have to offer.”

But remember, even if you’re only using these sites for personal networking, it doesn’t prevent your employer or prospective employers from checking out what you post.

An inappropriate post on a networking site could knock you out of contention for a new job, or even cost you the job you already have. Every single tweet you post can be found on Google and they can come back to haunt you.

What Not to Do When Using Social Media

  • Don’t embarrass yourself.
  • Be aware that people are reading everything you post.
  • Don’t say anything about your boss online that you wouldn’t say to him or her in person.
  • Don’t take a chance of hurting your career.
  • Don’t do it on your bosses time if you are lucky enough to be in employment

Positioning Yourself for Social Media Success

So what can you do to use social media to boost your career and enhance your prospects of finding a job? How can job seekers capitalize on what companies are doing?

Social recruiting is a new endeavor for many companies and they are still experimenting with what works from a recruiting perspective, and what doesn’t. That means there are no hard and fast rules on how to connect and position yourself to be found, but there are tactics you can use to make the right connections with people in your industry and career field.

It’s important to communicate with connections in your industry, even when you don’t need them. Starting when you already need a job is really too late. Take some time, every day, to connect with who you know and who you don’t know – yet. However, don’t just connect with random people. Identify those with whom you have something in common: education,  industry, experience, professional associations, etc.

Networking Before You Need To

Build your network well in advance of when you need it. Talk to your connections on Twitter or the other networking sites. Join Groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, post and join discussions. Be engaged and proactive in your communications. By building a network in advance, you won’t have to scramble if you unexpectedly lose your job or decide it’s time to move on.

The contacts you make online will help you transition from technology to person-to-person communications. For example, a relevant tweet can lead to an @reply (a reply in response to your post) or a DM (direct message) from a hiring manager.

Use your online connections to connect with ‘real people’ online. These human connections will serve you well in the long run and help you get a foot in the door at companies of interest.

Growing Your Network

Are you active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook? How broad is the base of contacts you’ve made?  All those contacts ) are there if I need them, and you can help them, as well.

Take it one step at a time – and one contact at a time – and you’ll be able to build your own career network. It won’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t have to. Work on your network when time permits, remembering that your network might be key to getting your next job.

Then be sure to use your network wisely and carefully, thinking carefully about what you post, so you’re using it to help, not hinder, your job search.

#Unipart #Automotive – The human story continues

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aftermath-rubbish-pileOne day after Unipart automotive went into liquidation, the reality of the situation has hit the market like a bomb.

There has been a massive influx of job applications into motor factor branches across the country, and available jobs are being snapped up.

Sadly, there will be more people redundant than there are jobs in the market.  Eventually, things will settle down and it will become clear what the future is going to hold. But there is no doubt that, as in any man-made disaster, the human cost of this event will take a long time to recount.

This morning, I received the following message on LinkedIn:

“Good morning Cathy,

I hope you are well. I was wondering whether you would be open to helping some former colleagues of mine.

I was a Unipart Branch Manager up until 7 weeks ago when I decided to take on a new opportunity.

Unfortunately, my former team find themselves in the situation that has been created as a result of the Unipart decline. As they don’t have LinkedIn accounts, would you be willing to give me your contact details so that I can pass them on to my team?

To give you an idea of how they operated, together we turned one of the biggest loss-making branches into the most profitable branch in 2013. They are exceptionally hard-working and dedicated and they would be a great asset to any company.

Any assistance you would be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. “

The spirit of humanity I have seen expressed during this past week has been truly inspirational – This message is an example of that.

My advice to all Unipart’s newly redundant employees will be the same as the advice I always give when I do redundancy counselling: Proceed with caution and care. Make decisions based on your ethics and values, not out of desperation. Give yourself time to recover from the shock, the loss and the inevitable grief that accompanies any job loss. Don’t fall out of the frying pan just to end up in a new fire. Reconsider your options. Do you really need to leap directly into another job, or will your statutory redundancy payment allow you some breathing space to reassess your situation? Is the job you are accepting one in which you will thrive and settle, or is it a stop gap? Be aware of the future implications of short-term decisions.

From next week, I will be blogging content from my e=book “I lost my job – What now?” based on all my outplacement and redundancy support knowledge and experience. I will be happy to speak to anyone who needs advice and assistance.

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 25, 2014 at 9:49 am

Posted in Recruitment

Guide to #job hunting: Are you a frog ab

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Guide to #job hunting: Are you a frog about to be boiled? http://wp.me/pIWOg-lY

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 25, 2014 at 8:55 am

Posted in Recruitment

#Unipart #Automotive – The walls tumble down. But what about the people?

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WallsAnd there it is, at last – news about the final fate of Unipart Automotive. Wales Online have the most clear report so far: Administration with only a few branches bought by The Parts Alliance and Andrew Page, salvaging only a handful of jobs resulting in 1,000+ redundancies.

It is heartbreaking.

This morning, I had a call from a Branch Manager prior to him making the announcement to his staff. He asked if I would mind my details being passed on to them for job seeking assistance. Still, even in the midst of such disappointment and shock, these people care about each other and want to do the right thing.

I did make an offer of outplacement weeks ago, but this was ignored. It is so sad that the human fall-out of corporate strategy is always overlooked. Unipart’s employees have been immensely loyal and stalwart. I take my hat off to every single one of them.

Now, I brace myself for the onslaught on the jobs market. Already, my phone has been ringing off the hook this morning.

The sad thing is that many of Unipart’s staff never contemplated looking for new jobs. They have no CVs, they have not attended interviews for years, job seeking is an alien concept to a lot of these newly redundant people. Many are entirely unprepared for a changed jobs market that is now online and hugely competitive.

The lucky ones based in the acquired branches will TUPE across to The Parts Alliance and Andrew Page. Many will find new homes with companies like Euro Car Parts, who have been aggressively targeting the branches in the past few weeks. Several more will go to smaller factors. For the rest, who knows? I wish them the best of fortunes in finding new jobs quickly.

When I do redundancy support workshops, I always council redundant employees to take a few days off before launching into the jobs market. Rest, recover, repair from the shock. The grief process for losing a job is the same as for losing a loved one. In effect, they all did love Unipart and wanted to work there forever. Now, a choice has been made on their behalf in which they had no power. Getting over that may take some healing time.

There will be some other opportunities available at The Parts Alliance, depending on geographic location and business requirements. I will welcome contact from all Unipart ex-employees to discuss these. If I can help a good person get into a good job, I will do my best to assist.

Good luck to you all

 

 

 

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 24, 2014 at 10:56 am

Posted in Recruitment

The #Unipart #Automotive story – Last man standing?

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TitanicEvery day, it seems, there is a new take on the continuing saga detailing the impending demise of Unipart. Today, Tyrepress reports that yet a new bidder has stepped into the ring, whilst the previous front runners like  ECP have now slightly receded in the race for acquiring the market share of the struggling titan.

What still remains unclear, is what the future holds for Unipart’s employees. Will a rescue deal mean they still have jobs? Whatever happens, it seems a certainty that there will be job losses. But the ongoing lack of information and communication is compounding an already distressing situation for hundreds of employees.

I can’t help but think of the sinking of Titanic in this context. No one wanted to believe that the unthinkable would happen: That an unsinkable ship would end up doing exactly that. The incomprehensible denial of the facts resulted in chaotic disaster management. The partying on board continued unabated until the ship was listing so badly that there was no choice but to accept that it was, in fact, definitely going to sink.

What happened next was very similar to what is going on in Unipart at the moment: Immediately, some people opted to jump ship and seek their own fortunes under their own steam, literally leaping off the deck into the freezing waters. Others opted to fight for a place on a life boat, of which there were far too few for the numbers on board. Yet others decided to keep on partying, patently accepting their undeniable fate with great British (most of them, anyway) aplomb. And finally, the band kept on playing as the ship went down.

I see several similarities here, the biggest concern of which, for me, is the race for life boats.

Those who have already decided to take the leap managed to extract themselves from the contest and hopefully, have secured jobs that will sustain their careers and livelihoods. I am pleased to say I have assisted a few of those.

There will also be those, like the band on Titanic, who stay stalwart until the end, regardless of how the end may look for Unipart. At worst, it will result in their redundancy and at best, a benevolent acquisition will mean secured futures through TUPE.

However, as soon as information about any major decisions hit the news, the scramble for the available jobs in the market will mean carnage. Just as it did for those seeking salvage on Titanic’s lifeboats.

When the recession hit in 2009 and all the motor and parts manufacturers announced major redundancy programs, the market was flooded with far more experienced people than the jobs market could sustain. Not all of them got jobs right away. Some had to take massive drops in pay to remain employed, often in jobs that did not match their qualifications nor experience. This hampered their future job searches. Some struggled for years to find jobs, having to retrain in order to remain employed. Some (Like me!) became self-employed. Others, even now, are still job hunting. Salaries were driven down, retention rates suffered and the actual cost of hiring for companies went up due to the volumes of applications and miss-hires involved.

Losing one’s job is equally as distressing as suffering a bereavement or getting divorced. It is necessary to deal with the associated grief constructively in order to move on. I believe that, for Unipart’s employees, there will be a great deal of personal challenge involved in coping with the change and shock.

Future employers should factor this in. Chasing and harrassing already stressed people by phone (Sadly, a factor that is pre-eminent in aftermarket recruitment) is rubbing salt into the wounds. Why should people who are still loyal and emotionally bonded to Unipart through complex psychological contracts, respond to aggressive telesales style headhunt calls? I know several who will prefer to be the last man standing as the ship goes down, than to be seen as abandoning their team and their post.

The reality of their situation is starting to dawn on Unipart employees. They should be looking for employers who will value them, treating them with dignity and respect as they exit a difficult situation. They need to find employers who will support them through their change processes. Employers who will look to the long term and offer career advancement opportunities and a brighter future. Regardless of the fact that job losses are looming, Unipart employees deserve the right to make their own choices.

That way, the likelihood of making good choices based on facts rather than bad choices based on desperation, is a lot higher.

But soon, a choice must be made. I would urge Unipart staff to think carefully about what they do next. “Every man for himself” is still an adage that holds firm. It’s great to be remembered for standing at attention whilst the ship went down. But it’s better to be remembered for making positive choices that resulted in good outcomes for everyone concerned.

There are employers in the UK parts aftermarket who care about their staff, who have capital to invest and who have strong, profitable businesses based on the quality of their people. The Parts Alliance (Owned by Hg Automotive) are one of those. Contact me if you want to know more.

But make a decision soon. Once the race for lifeboats start, it may be too late.

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 22, 2014 at 9:29 am

Posted in Recruitment

Guide to #job hunting: Handling the 5 mo

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Guide to #job hunting: Handling the 5 most common #interview questions http://wp.me/pIWOg-k7

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 21, 2014 at 9:01 am

Posted in Recruitment

Unipart #Automotive and its loyal employee base – A recruiter’s view

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goldfishesThe UK automotive parts aftermarket distribution sector is a complex market where people are concerned.

I have always thought of it as a large fish bowl, with the same number of fishes vying for a limited amount of space in a confined environment. Getting into the fish bowl is very difficult, and getting out can be even harder. Everything that happens inside the fish bowl is very visible to everyone outside, and if one fish gets ill it can effect the whole ecosystem.

The current news of events at Unipart Automotive is typical of this.

So how is all of this impacting on recruitment and jobs in the motor factoring sector?

In fact, the initial external impact has been very small. So far!

Unipart Automotive has been a long-standing, highly respected and somewhat iconic brand in the parts aftermarket. They have always invested well in their people. Many employees have long service records, and there is a very loyal employee base that has given the company stability over the years. It has been a safe, secure and supportive working environment for a lot of people. I believe that this investment is now being repaid with well-earned loyalty.

Despite all the negative news, uncertainty and an apparent lack of communication, Unipart’s loyal employee base are holding fast.

One would expect a flood of CVs and job seekers at the first bit of bad news. So far, this has not happened.

I have not seen an increase of Unipart employees applying to all the branch based roles I am advertising. I have had a few phone calls from worried people and past contacts who want to assess their chances of getting new jobs. But overall, the real risk of not having a job if things really go belly up, seems to be weighed against the chances of a buyer being found. Hope against hope, Unipart Automotive employees are waiting for salvation.

The overriding current response I am seeing seems to be one of disbelief and shock, although the company has been in general trouble for a long time now. The lack of news or communication is compounding this, and instead of mobilising the workforce they appear to be stupefied and paralysed. Sooner or later, the begrudging acceptance  that their job security is hugely compromised will have to start sinking in. But for now, on the whole employees seem confused and uncertain, not knowing what the immediate future will hold but compelled by loyalty and trust to sit tight and wait for a miracle to take place.

This is a real testament to Unipart Automotive as an employer. The values they have instilled in their employees are now prompting staff to keep fighting the good fight, in the face of a very limited and debilitated trading environment.

Whilst salaries are being paid, I believe that this will continue and there will not be a mass exodus.

However, as soon as the big news hits or they can no longer sustain staff payments, there will be a massive influx of candidates on the jobs market. This will have a massive impact on all employers and recruiters in this market. There is always a war on for talent, but supply and demand needs to be managed as in any other market. 1,600 desperate job seekers flooding in will immediately drive salaries down, increase the cost of administration and totally de-stabilise the market. It will also protract the current skills shortage, in the long term.

The industry has an aging population and not much appetite for trainees when there are ready-skilled people available to hire. My concern is that hiring will take place willy-nilly, plugging current gaps but causing a bigger succession problem in the future.

My heart goes out to every Unipart Automotive employee at the moment. I do hope that there is some solution found that will allow a paced transition rather than a flood. This will be the most positive outcome in a market that is already reeling with change on a daily basis.

 

 

 

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 11, 2014 at 9:46 am

Posted in Recruitment

What are you REALLY saying? 15 body language blunders for #sales or #job interviews

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Body language3Until we get to know someone, our brain relies on snap judgements to try to categorize the person, predict what they will do, and anticipate how we should react. You may have heard that you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, but the truth is, your brain has made up its mind (so to speak) about a person within milliseconds of meeting them.

According to research done by a Princeton University psychologist, it’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. Your brain decides from the information it has—in other words, how you look—whether you are trustworthy, threatening, competent, likeable and many other traits.

As a member of Toastmasters International, where we develop public speaking skills, body language is regarded as equally important to speech content. It really is about HOW you say it, as much as WHAT you are actually saying!

If we want to build trust-based relationships, being aware of what we project with our physical body is very important. Whether you’re applying for a job, asking for a raise, or meeting with a new client,  just being mindful of our body language can influence the other person’s perception of us and the outcome of the situation.

15 Body language blunders to watch out for:

  • Leaning Back too much — you are perceived to be lazy or arrogant (especially if this is paired with reaching out with arms akimbo, or hands behind the head!)
  • Leaning forward — can seem aggressive. Aim for a neutral posture.
  • Breaking eye contact too soon — can make you seem untrustworthy or overly nervous. Hold eye contact a hair longer, especially during a handshake.
  • Nodding too much — can make you look like a bobble head doll! Even if you agree with what’s being said, nod once and then try to remain still.
  • Chopping or pointing with your hands — feels aggressive.
  • Crossing your arms — makes you look defensive, especially when you’re answering questions. Try to keep your arms at your sides.
  • Fidgeting — instantly telegraphs how nervous you are. Avoid it at all costs.
  • Holding your hands behind your back (or firmly in your pockets) — can look rigid and stiff. Aim for a natural, hands at your sides posture.
  • Looking up or looking around — Fidgety eyes are a natural cue that someone is lying or not being themselves. Try to hold steady eye contact.
  • Staring — can be interpreted as aggressive. There’s a fine line between holding someone’s gaze and staring them down.
  • Failing to smile — can make people uncomfortable, and wonder if you really want to be there. Go for a genuine smile especially when meeting someone for the first time.
  • Stepping back when you’re asking for a decision — conveys fear or uncertainty. Stand your ground, or even take a slight step forward with conviction.
  • Steepling your fingers —  Steepling can  be perceived as arrogant, devious  and scheming behaviour. (Think Mr Burns in The Simpsons!) It is also possibly weak and seeking affirmation or begging, especially if it looks like  prayer position with palms touching.
  • Standing with hands on hips — is an aggressive posture, like a bird or a dog puffing themselves up to look bigger. The same goes for hands in pockets – This can also be regarded as overly relaxed, slouchy and even rude.
  • Checking your phone or watch — says you want to be somewhere else. Plus, it’s just bad manners.
  • So, what should you do? Aim for good posture in a neutral position, whether sitting or standing. Stand with your arms at your sides, and sit with them at your sides or with your hands in your lap. Pay attention so that you naturally hold eye contact, smile, and be yourself.

If you discover you have a particular problem with one or two of the gestures on the list, practice by yourself with a mirror or with a friend who can remind you every time you do it, until you become aware of the bad habit yourself.

 

 

 

 

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

Posted in Recruitment

Guide to #job hunting: 5 questions great

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Guide to #job hunting: 5 questions great candidates ask at #interview http://wp.me/pIWOg-hb

Written by Cathrine Richardson

July 7, 2014 at 9:05 am

Posted in Recruitment

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