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

Definitive Guide to #Job Hunting: Illegal #Interview Questions

leave a comment »


Not allowedMost job seekers and very often, interviewers have no idea what an Illegal Interview Question sounds like.

Interviews are discussions and most questions are asked sincerely in an attempt to make conversation and to find out more about the interviewee. But often, certain questions might also be asked with a view to discriminate or to exclude a person from a role. Whether intentional or not, the law addresses certain particular areas and ignorance is not an excuse. My suggestion would be that both interviewers and interviewees are sensitive to these and deal with them constructively to avoid potential litigation, and to ensure an objective recruitment process.

Here are a few examples of common stonkers that could potentially cause litigation on grounds of discrimination:

1. Age
Inappropriate:

  • How old are you?
  • When were you born?
  • When did you graduate / complete high school?

Appropriate:

  • Confirming that you are the appropriate age for the required hours or working conditions (Minimum wage and Working Time Directive)

2.Nationality

Inappropriate:

  • Are you British?
  • Are your parents or spouse citizens?
  • Are you, your parents or your spouse naturalized or British born?

Appropriate:

  • If you are not a British citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the UK?
  • What is your visa status (if no to the previous question).
  • Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility?

3.Criminal Record

Inappropriate:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever spent a night in jail?
  • Do you have a record?

Appropriate:

  • Do you have any unspent convictions? (A rigourous set of rules apply to the declaration of spent convictions, and there are certain jobs that are excluded and where declaration of all convictions are compulsory.)
  • Doing a CRB check

4.Disability

Inappropriate:

  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What’s your medical history?
  • How does your condition affect your abilities?

Appropriate:

  • Can you perform the specific duties of the job?
  • What reasonable adjustments must be made to assist you in fulfilling your duties?

5.Marital status or Civil partnership

Inappropriate:

  • Questions concerning spouse, or spouse’s employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
  • Is this your maiden or married name?
  • How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?
  • Are you planning to have children?

Appropriate:

  • Can you work overtime?
  • Can you meet specified work schedules?

6.National Origin

Inappropriate:

  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where are your parents from?
  • What’s your heritage?
  • What is your mother tongue?

Appropriate:

  • Verifying legal work visa status to verify eligibility for employment – Are you eligible for employment here?
  • What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?

7.Maternity

Inappropriate:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • How old are you? (To a woman between age 25 to 40, which is the average childbearing age in the UK)

Appropriate:

  • After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.

8.Race

Inappropriate:

  • What race are you?
  • Are you a member of a minority group?

Appropriate:

  • None

9.Religion or Belief

Inappropriate:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Which religious holidays will you be taking off from work?
  • Do you attend church regularly?
  • “Our uniform excludes turbans” or anything else that relates tothis subject.

Appropriate:

  • Can you work on Saturdays? (If relevant to the job)

10.Sex or Sexual Orientation

Inappropriate:

  • What are your plans to have children in the future?
  • Are you gay?
  • Will you be strong / tall / fit enough to do the same tasks as the men?

Appropriate: None

Definitive guide to Job Hunting: When did you last Google yourself?

leave a comment »


GoogleSo why didn’t you get called for that job interview you so wanted? Or why did the job offer not turn up as anticipated?
When did you last Google yourself?
The reality is that it is becoming very commonplace for job applicants to be “checked out” online before proceeding with the recruitment process. And it is absolutely crucial to make sure that what people find online supports the image you are portraying during your job search.
Google favours social networking sites so it is likely that your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profile will trend highly in the search rankings. And regardless of the security protocols you set (Interestingly, many Facebook profiles are public) they will draw conclusions from what they find.

So what are the pitfalls?

1. Inappropriate Pictures

Pictures of you in full party mode, chugging it down or falling over in the gutter might be a laugh to your friends. But that is NOT what you want a prospective employer to see!  Unless you make sure that your security settings are watertight, especially on Facebook, simply don’t put them online.

2. Complaining About Your Current Job

You’ve no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it could be found by others is not the best career move. Use this measure: If you won’t say it out loud in front of your boss or colleagues, then don’t post it online for the world to see.

3. Posting Conflicting Personal facts

Disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. Make sure that you are honest about your background and qualifications, and support this with the information you post online. Don’t over – or under state your experience, job title or qualifications. Inconsistencies mean a high risk factor to potential employers and they are likely to simply avoid it by cutting you from the list.

4. Statuses You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss to See

Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn’t make you look as professional as you’d like, can seriously undermine your chances of landing a new job. We have all heard of people losing jobs because of inappropriate statuses like the Receptionist who posted “I’m bored” during working hours. Worse even, are things like “Planning to call in sick tomorrow” or “I hate the time this project is taking”. It doesn’t only put your current job at risk, but future employers are most likely to avoid you too.

Manage your online profile

You can manage how you are viewed online by simply checking yourself out from time to time. If you see something that is risky, even if it was posted by someone else, just get it changed. The future investment will be worthwhile!

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 9 – The value of Agency Databases

leave a comment »


databaseRecently I was doing some research and came across a book written by one of the best-selling career coaches in the UK. I was quite surprised about his views on how agencies use their databases!

According to him, recruiters only consult their databases when they are bored or desperate.

I totally beg to differ!

A recruitment agency is valued by the quality of its database. An awful lot of financial and time resource go into keeping the database lean, streamlined and up to date so that they can respond rapidly to customer demands.

The cost of advertising is extremely high, and it makes commercial sense for an agency to consult its database first when a new job requirement arrives. If a shortlist can be populated from the database, there is a significant cost saving AND its quicker – The candidates are usually known to the agency and its easier to reach them to qualify their interest.

On the other hand, especially in specialist or highly technical areas, the value of having a good number of aged applications on an agency database can not be overlooked. I can think back to several occasions when I revived contact with aged applicants and successfully placed them in new opportunities  although they were not actively job hunting.

In the current competitive jobs market, the agency with the best candidate demands the fee and it’s important for them to build their databases through a range of activities, including networking and relationship building. These exclusive contacts are highly important to the agency – If they have access to candidates different to those of their competitors, it gives them a real commercial advantage.

So, contrary to what is being preached in the job search handbooks found in the mainstream bookstores, my advice for any candidate will be the following: Actively work to get your CV on agency databases. However, make sure that you are selective – There is no point in registering with too many generalists. If you target agencies that are specialists in your field, those that you know deal with organisations for whom you would like to work (Either now or in the future), and those who actively work to maintain fresh and up to date data, you will actually be increasing your opportunities of finding a new job and also maximising opportunities for your CV to be included in future searches.

Respond to their requests for refreshed information when it’s periodically sent out, and keep them updated with changes to your CV or contact details.

Just one word of warning: Make sure the agencies with whom you register conform to the Data Protection Act.  And don’t put too much personal information (like your NI or bank account number) in your CV. This way, you protect your own privacy whilst also maximising your opportunities to find that perfect job opportunity.

Written by Cathy Richardson

April 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

Posted in Recruitment

The Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 5: Get the Best out of Agencies

leave a comment »


AgencyHOW TO ENGAGE WITH AGENCIES

You never know what you are going to find when you set out on a path to find a new job. Allow the agencies to work with your data to give you the widest possible exposure but don’t expect individual treatment until you embark on a recruitment process (I.e. go for interview). Until then, your CV is purely a number in a huge pool of candidates and it’s the agency’s task to match it to potential opportunities.

1.         The Employment Agencies Act

More than one agency might be working on the same brief, so you might be matched to the same job more than once. Always go with the agency who tells you about the job first. According to the Employment Agencies Act, your CV should only be put forward to jobs that you are told about. In effect, you have to give your permission for your CV to be submitted. You must be told about the job first. Often, because it’s competitive, Agencies will take a flyer at sending your CV in without speaking to you first. If this submission turns into an interview in competition with an agency that actually played the game properly and spoke to you first, thereby losing out time wise to the more aggressive agency, your judgement will be crucial to how the agencies will deal with you in future. If you know what your rights are, you can protect your own position whilst keeping both agencies on side.

2. Don’t carpet bomb your CV

Because of the high unemployment rates, agencies literally get thousands of online job applications every day. It takes a lot of time to sift through these, and the associated cost of registering new CV’s and posting them to databases can become very high. For the recruiter, it can be desperately frustrating to get the same CV day after day after day; applying to every totally unsuitable role on the Internet and creating spam in already overfull Inboxes. You can help by reading the ads before you apply, making sure the job is suitable for you first. Bear in mind that agencies will readvertise jobs until an offer is made. Keep a record for yourself: If you have already applied to a particular job, don’t send your CV in again. If you do, it creates an impression of desperation that might keep you out of the selected shortlist.

3. Engage personally

If an agency to which you have already applied is advertising a job that interests you, why not give them a call? Your CV is already on file; they can look it up quickly and give you feedback there and then. You save them having to look at yet another ad response, you get the opportunity to talk to a human being and create a positive impression for yourself, and you might even be reinforcing your suitability for the role.

4. But don’t pester

Rest assured: Because an agency will get a fee if they place you, they are unlikely to forget about you. Once your CV is on their database it will be exposed to every single search they do. If you are remotely suitable, they will be in contact to talk to you about the job. If you follow-up daily or weekly, you become the “candidate from hell”, to be avoided at all cost because too many pointless phone calls waste time. Of course you are urgently looking for a job, but remember that the agency only has limited control over the process and they don’t get access to every job in the country. Use the time you spend on making these calls more productively: Engage with a range of agencies.

5. Choose your representatives carefully

It is good for every job seeker to be registered with as many agencies as possible to give you the broadest exposure. However, it is also a good idea to choose 4 or 5 specialist agencies that operate in your specific field. They are likely to get more exclusive opportunities specific to your search. Develop relationships by engaging in intelligent, quick phone calls and e-mails.  These are the agencies that are likely to work with your details if they believe you are a strong candidate, utilising their networks to create opportunities were other agencies will only respond to existing requirements. But remember: Because they work in the same sector, these agencies are in competition with each other. Be careful about giving blanket permission about submissions to avoid conflicts of interest.

6. Return agency calls!

A recruiter will call you if there is something immediate and specific on offer. If you don’t return the call, or take weeks to do so, you rob yourself of an opportunity. You also create the impression that you are not interested. The same goes for e-mails asking you to make contact about specific jobs. Even if it is just to say ” No thanks”, the opportunity to engage gives you a chance to further establish your credibility as a top calibre candidate. Make sure the phone numbers on your CV or agency record is up to date so that you can respond to urgent messages quickly.

How to answer the 5 most common interview questions

leave a comment »


interview answersYou walk into the interview room, shake hands with your interviewer and sit down with your best interviewing smile on. They are likely to have a full list of questions for you, apart from going through your CV and seeing if you have the skills for the job at hand.

So do you “wing it”? Will you spend the next 5 minutes rambling on about what an easy-going, loyal, dedicated, hard working employee you’ve been? If this is the case, you stand a good chance of having bored your interviewer to death thus creating a negative first impression. It’s far better to consider the potential questions and try to prepare the best answers to make your best impression possible:

1. Tell me about yourself.

Because it’s such a common interview question, it’s strange that more candidates don’t spend the time to prepare for exactly how to answer it. Perhaps because the question seems so disarming and informal, we drop our guard and shift into ramble mode. Resist all temptation to do so.

Your interviewer is not looking for a 10-minute dissertation here. Instead, offer a razor sharp sentence or two that sets the stage for further discussion and sets you apart from your competitors.

2. What is your greatest strength?

The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the job you are applying for.

For example:

  • When I’m working on a project, I don’t want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule.
  • I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter and I’ve earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.
  • My time management skills are excellent and I’m organized, efficient, and take pride in excelling at my work.
  • I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations

3. What is your greatest weakness?

There are several different ways you can answer, including mentioning skills that aren’t critical for the job, skills you have improved on, and turning a negative into a positive.

Another option is to discuss skills that you have improved upon during your previous job, so you are showing the interviewer that you can make improvements, when necessary. You can sketch for employers your initial level of functioning, discuss the steps you have taken to improve this area and then reference your current, improved level of skill.

If you use this strategy be sure not to mention anything that you improved upon that is related to the job for which you are interviewing. You don’t want your qualifications for the job to be questioned.

4. Why should we hire you?

Your answer to this question should be a concise “sales pitch” that explains what you have to offer the employer.

The best way to respond is to give concrete examples of why your skills and accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job. Take a few moments to compare the job description with your abilities, as well as mentioning what you have accomplished in your other positions. Be positive and reiterate your interest in the company and the position.

Keep it short, specific, and positive.

5. Why are you leaving this job / Why did you leave your last job?

Be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. The interviewer may wonder if you will be bad-mouthing his company next time you’re looking for work.

Written by Cathy Richardson

April 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

Posted in Recruitment

Guide to #Job Hunting 15: The power of preparation for #interviews

leave a comment »


prepared-not-scaredIt is impossible to stress how important it is to prepare for interviews!

On 2 occasions during this past week, different clients have given me similar feedback: “If only John / Jane lived up to the expectations raised in their CV! They knew nothing of our company (In one case didn’t even realise the company had no manufacturing facility in the UK!), didn’t know what our products or markets were and gave weak examples to support the experience claimed in their CV.”

The clients were left disappointed, having had their time wasted. Sadly, this also reflected on my own service delivery, and I was disappointed too because I spend time with all my candidates before interview to give them all the information I know about the company and role. All they have to do is build on the bricks I have already given them.

However, I’ve also heard from a client how impressed they were with the depth of research an interviewee had done, being able to bring up and discuss relevant business issues outside of his CV that proved his abilities. This set him apart from being a borderline “No” based on his CV, to a resounding “Yes!” based on his research and ability to deliver it concisely.

With so much competition for jobs and the tight current employment market, it still amazes me that candidates waste the interview opportunity. The hiring client wants you to do well; he’s already bought into your CV by spending his valuable time to see you. Why not grab the opportunity to amaze him even further with your information-finding skills and interest in their organisation?

Especially in sales or commercial jobs, interview preparation is crucial. A good sales person will know his customers and competition, understand his product’s routes to market, the issues that affect pricing and the supply chain. By proving at interview that you have the ability and knowledge to find this information, and use it to position your own objectives and abilities, you show that you have the natural traits of a good sales person on top of the information you provide in the CV. Of course, not preparing sufficiently proves the opposite and you will get short shrift from line managers who have achieved their own positions through doing exactly the same thing properly.

#Recruitment and the Data Protection Act – Did you know this?

with one comment


Data safeToday, I received my renewal notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Because I last paid this a year ago, it has been out of mind for a while. Best practice with candidate details mean that I naturally store everything on a secure database, and that I don’t send candidate details anywhere without their express permission. The same goes for client information: All data is stored on my database, safe from prying eyes. And I use it with great care and consideration.

I don’t really think about it – It’s an internal process that has simply become part of my daily working practices. But this renewal notification has drawn my mind to it again, and I wonder how many candidates and clients are aware of it?

To quote from the ICO’s leaflet: “The Data Protection Act 1998 places obligations on organisations that use personal information and gives individuals certain rights … every organisation (data controller) the process personal information (data) must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office …. Failure to notify is a criminal offence.”

There are 8 data protection principles embodied in the Act. Summarised, they require that data shall be:

1. fairly and lawfully processed;

2. processed for limited purposes;

3. adequate, relevant and not excessive;

4. accurate;

5. not kept longer than necessary

6. processed in accordance with the data subjects’ rights;

7. secure; and

8. not transferred to countries outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection.

Before you next engage with a recruitment agency, it may be worth asking the following questions:

  • Is your recruitment agency registered with the ICO, or are they contravening the Data Protection Act?
  • Do you know what they are doing with your personal data, how it is stored and how secure it is?
  • Do you give permission every time your CV is sent out somewhere?

If they are not registered, you are vulnerable. Food for thought, methinks!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,191 other followers

%d bloggers like this: