The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Archive for May 2015

Looking for a new #job? Here’s how to get started!

leave a comment »


beg jobSetting your objectives when starting out on a job search

1.         Know what you want

When setting out on a journey, it is only natural to plan a route, get a map, and program the satnav so that we know the best, most direct route to take. And of course, our map indicates where our destination is so that we know when we’ve arrived.

It is surprising how many candidates, when setting out on a job search, have no idea of where they’re heading or what they expect to achieve.

The reality is that, without a very clear plan, your job search will be frustrating and extended.

2.         It’s a competitive numbers game

During 2009 the economic recession caused large numbers of redundancies, flooding the market with senior and experienced people who have possibly not been in the job market for many years. At the other end of the spectrum, graduate opportunities decreased and it is more difficult for fresh graduates to get jobs within their academic areas. Of course, the job market doesn’t only consist of new entries and experienced starters but the diversity adds strain at opposite ends of the job spectrum. Added to the normal churn of people looking for work for totally individual reasons, the volumes of job applications have increased exponentially.

If you don’t know what you want, you won’t recognise it when it turns up. And the likelihood of it turning up, realistically, is a lot smaller now than it was a few years ago due to the sheer numbers of applicants in the market. It’s a lot more competitive.

So my very first piece of advice would be: GET A PLAN!

3.         Make sure you know what you do (And don’t) want

Take some time out and write down what you really want. Not only the financial expectations, but the type of job, kind of organisation, location, level of seniority, etc. Are you planning a career change? Do you want to do exactly the same as before? Where are your flex points? On which points can’t you be flexible?

And as you go through this, keep doing a reality check. The past is gone, what you had in yesterday’s job is unlikely to return. But if you knew what you enjoyed about the last job, and which bits you disliked, you can get a picture of what would suit you best. And then do a reality check again.

You might have to take a drop in pay to get back into employment. If you can be flexible to location, you widen your catchment area and so, increase your opportunities.

4.         RESEARCH! And prepare for a long haul

If you haven’t been in the jobs market for a long time, do some research. What applied even just a year ago, is no longer applicable so it’s really important that you know how to calibrate your expectations.

Making lists and writing down all the information you have about yourself, your expectations and your flex points will give you sound information on which to base your CV. Or CV’s: You might need to do more than one if you have a broad skill set, or want a career change.

The ideas and plans you put down now will inform your actions during your job search. You might become frustrated and despondent later on, so returning to this information will help you get back on track and maintain focus. It might take some time to get re-employed; having something to keep you on course will be useful in keeping you motivated.

Prepare for a long journey. The reality might turn out to be a lot shorter, but realistically the perfect job is not going to turn up quickly. If it does, count yourself lucky. If it doesn’t, don’t beat yourself up because many other people are in exactly the same situation.

Having a plan will keep you focussed and objective. It will also maintain your realistic expectations if things don’t go the way you want them to.

The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 4: Understanding Agencies

leave a comment »


QuestioningIt is true that a large proportion of jobs never get on the open market. Organisations will normally explore many internal sources first, before placing jobs with agencies. Using a recruitment consultant to fill a job is an expensive strategy for any hiring operation.

However, the recruitment industry operates on a hugely diversified scale and the range of services on offer to employers means that it is quicker and easier to get a vacancy filled rather than do it internally. Many large corporate employers, who have high staff numbers and many vacancies, have in some cases outsourced ALL their recruitment process to external agencies.

Annually, the recruitment industry is worth about £22bn in the UK. It is a substantial and robust contributor to the UK economy. Realistically, every job seeker is likely to engage with a recruitment consultant during a job search. £22bn in fees represents a huge number of temporary, contract and permanent jobs being placed through agencies. Knowing how to deal with them, and what to expect from them, is crucial to reduce frustration and increase the likelihood of finding that desired job offer.

1. Who pays the fee?

In the UK, it is illegal to charge job seekers for finding jobs. Recruitment agencies, as all businesses, are commercial enterprises and require turnover to be continually successful. The fee is paid by the recruiting employer.

This focuses the relationship between recruiter and client (Fee payer). A different dynamic exists between recruiter and candidate (Job applicant).

The agency must always have the best interest of the client in mind, because that is were the transactional value is.

The candidate’s best interest is represented by the fact that ultimately, there is a job for everyone and the agency, through their relationship with the fee paying employer, is a catalyst to achieve this objective.

2. What is the client paying for?

Selling people is tantamount to slavery. The agency does not own the skills and experience of the candidate, and for this reason has no business offering it for sale. In fact, this is a fact that many recruitment agencies themselves don’t always understand! This is why the Gangmasters Act was brought to life a few years ago – To protect workers from abusive agency practises.

During a recruitment process, the recruiting employer pays for a service that provides them with a candidate pool. Sometimes, the candidate pool is provided by only one agency, but more commonly the service is divided between several agencies and the fee is only paid when a successful introduction is made, and the introducing agency walks away with the spoils.

3. It is a highly competitive business environment

The open agency market is highly competitive because in a “No solution, no fee” environment, it is crucial to win the fee for obvious commercial reasons.

This has developed a high focus on volumes in recruitment, and in most agencies consultants are targeted on a daily basis to deliver KPI’s related to volume. The fact is that, the more activity that is put out, the higher the likelihood of achieving a win.

I don’t personally agree with this form of recruitment, as I believe it to be detrimental to all parties involved. However, regardless of the seniority of the position being recruited or whether it is for a contract or permanent placement: The current recruitment market is driven mostly by volume.

For candidates, the unfortunate fact is that their CV often becomes a means to an end. The end is most certainly to the candidate’s interest: After all, getting the job is the primary objective. But expecting an agency to work solely on a single candidate’s behalf is unrealistic.

4. But its not all about numbers

At the risk of painting a very negative picture, I have to point out that not all recruiter / client relationships are based on volumes and competition. The industry has evolved to a point where recruiting clients have a wide range of choice. People are very important in the recruitment process, and many clients prefer to use the same agency or consultant over and over again because they have established a communicative business relationship. Many long standing business relationships exist where the consultant develops a deep and detailed knowledge of the recruiting business, and is in a position to offer a truly consultative service to both client and candidate.

Sometimes, for difficult to fill or senior roles, clients will retain the services of a recruitment specialist by paying a proportion of the fee upfront. In this case there is no competition from external sources, and the agency will actively search the market to find the most appropriate skills for the client.

These two scenarios are far more constructive for the candidate as information passes freely due to the limited volumes involved.

5. So what about the job applicant?

Finding a new job is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Regard agencies as the magnets that would attract the needle. After all, this is what potential employers do when the engage agencies. The more magnets you have working on your behalf, the more needles you will find.

Of course, not every job you are offered will be appropriate and you should be entirely in control of the process. Remember, you own your skills, experience and personal information. You should never be placed under any obligation, asked to pay a fee for job seeking services in the UK, or have your details sent anywhere without your express permission.

Without candidates, recruitment agencies can not exist. Without agencies, it will take a lot longer to find a job. It is in a candidate’s interest to develop good relationships with recruitment agencies but is equally important to understand what to expect.

Ask the agency how competitive a particular process is: If you know how many other agencies are involved, you know what to expect. If it is a widely assigned role, the likelihood of success decreases. If it is a retained or exclusive arrangement, then you know you will have better communication and a more controlled process.

Use this understanding to your advantage, and you will have a far more positive job seeking experience. Expecting anything different will leave you feeling frustrated.

%d bloggers like this: