Author Archives: Lee Cooper

About Lee Cooper

The Perfect Career Guy, Connector, Recruiter, Entrepreneur, Blogger, Arsenal Fan, Sports Junkie, Coffee Drinker, Mountain Biker, Runner! Best of all, Dad.

Want to get ahead in your career? Some examples of what not to do!

Looking for a job is a serious business.  If you are out of work it’s no laughing matter, finding employment can be an incredibly stressful experience.  From time to time to shed a little humour,  to offer a little light entertainment can help.

A survey published by career site www.careerbuilder.co.uk offers fascinating ( and indeed entertaining ) insight in to what not to do on your job application.  Some of the highlights include ;

The job seeker who cited God as his referee!

One job seeker who boasted that he was a direct descendant of the vikings!

An Applicant who gave only a name and number and the phrase ” I want a job ”

A CV written in rhyme!

An application sent from the email address ” loves beer”!

Standing out from the crowd is incredibly difficult.  However there are some basics that you should apply that will greatly enhance your chances of success.  Like all good advice, there is little by way of startling revelation.  The simple consistent application of best practice gets results.

Want to know what employers want to see?  Careerbuilder.co.uk surveyed 700 employers.  The following link will take you to the newspaper article highlighting the key findings of the report.  There is some great advice to be found here.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8339278/CV-howlers-revealed-by-employers.html

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The EU, Quotas and an apology

A health warning on today’s post, for two reasons.  First, expect a rant.  This morning two of my favourite subjects caught my eye, the European Union and the subject of quotas.  Second, be prepared for an admission that I might have been wrong.

Shocked?  You should be.  I suspect this may be my first public admission of my own fallibility since 1987 ( I lost an argument over which one of the Farris Brothers played lead Guitar in INXS , it was Tim, not Andrew ).

Back to matters at hand.  Namely the EU and Quotas.  So here we go.  Ready, aim…….

Wait a minute.  Here comes the admission.  It looks as though for once I owe our good neighbours ( in that enormous waste of our hard-earned cash, I had to get it in somewhere ) in Brussels an apology.  It seems that for once they might actually be needed to do some good.

The subject of quotas is on the Agenda again and I am not talking about Fish Stocks.  This time it is back to the issue of diversity in the workplace, in particular in the boardroom.

3% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are Women.  In Europe, only 12% of Board posts are occupied by Women.  In the UK, the picture is a little better.  In the FTSE 100 the number of women in Board Posts is up in the last 10 years from 6.9% to 12.5%.  A step in the right direction, but there are still only 79 female Executives on the Board of Britain’s largest companies.

It makes no sense.  This is not 1811, this is 2011.  Organisations the world over are ignoring 50% of the population when it comes to picking top talent.  The debate rages on and yet little changes.  It’s a nonsense.

A 2010 report by McKinsey stated

“Operating results of companies which have greater gender diversification are 56% higher”

In 2007, A Goldman Sachs report evidenced

“closing the gender gap could boost U.S. gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic growth, by as much as 9%, and up to 13% in the euro zone”.

Based on the stats, business doesn’t seem to be getting the message that Talent is not defined by gender, race, sexual orientation or religious belief.  It is not defined by geography or culture, by nationality or heritage.  Get the message, pick the very best you can afford to deliver the very best value to shareholders, customers, employees, the wider world.

I don’t want to be told who to hire.  I don’t believe in quotas, it encourages all sorts of problems when it comes to hiring, but if the message doesn’t get through, politicians will step in and a quota is what we will get.  Politicians and Business don’t mix (with any degree of success).  Quota’s and Business don’t work.  If Business Leaders don’t wake up, then a quota is what we will get and we have only ourselves to blame.  For once, the politicians might just be right.

I’ll leave you with a sense of just what we are up against in the battle to get this message through.  Recently Josef Ackerman, CEO of Deutsche Bank, was reported to have commented that having more Women in the Board Room would make board meetings “prettier and colourful”.  I’ll leave you to make your own judgement.

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Filed under Corporate Governance, Employee Engagement, Hiring

Never knowingly underdressed

A couple of articles over the weekend focused on the decline of the business suit.  One such article on the BBC website highlighted a recent poll of 2,000 British workers by online bank First Direct that “found that only one in 10 employees wears a suit every day, more than a third of staff opt for jeans and only 18% regularly wear a tie”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12418046

This got me to thinking as to the impact of the ever-changing face of workplace attire on the interview process.  Knowing your audience is crucial to interview success.  Doing your homework as to the culture, the people, the environment in to which you are heading is a crucial part of your interview preparation.  So, what to wear?

A simple rule of thumb applies.  You are unlikely to be criticised, to lose out on a job opportunity, for being overdressed.  You are however very likely to be ruled out for being under – dressed ( in every sense of the phrase ).  So don’t hedge your bets.  Once your through the door you have earned the right to sit alongside your colleagues in board shorts and flip-flops if that’s de rigueur.  Until that happens, step up, smarten up, sharpen up.

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Filed under Interviews

Work / Life Balance; Fact or Fiction

So just what is this thing we call work life balance?  Does it even exist?  Is it something that deep down we all know that we should aspire to, or even better should actually achieve?  Are we scared to try?

In this last couple of years its gotten harder for sure.  The work place has gotten tougher, business has gotten tougher, just hanging in there has gotten tougher.  Technology has advanced to such an extent that the line between work and home has gotten ever more blurred.  Will we ever find the answer?

There is no such thing as perfect work life balance.  Don’t let anyone ever tell there is.  This is not something that can be answered in a text book.  Do your best to do what works for you.  Do your best to do that which leaves you fulfilled.

Regular Readers now my views on TED talks.  Simply awesome.  Here Nigel Marsh, Author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” gives his take on the ongoing battle for work / life balance.  Give this a look, it leaves you asking some challenging questions as to just how you spend your time and why.

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Filed under Corporate Governance

Permanent Recruitment rising at its highest rate in 6 months

The latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation / KPMG Labour Market survey is published today.  It evidences the number of people securing permanent employment rising at its fastest rate in 6 months.  Permanent hiring grew to 57.4 on January’s index (anything above 50 represents growth), up from 54.9 in December (no surprises here, December has always been a slow month for permanent hires).  The previous high had been 56.3 in August 2010.

The number of people securing permanent employment has been rising for 18 months.  What this report doesn’t tell us is what percentage of these hires are full-time versus part-time.  However the number is growing.  Sure, if you are out of work it is not growing fast enough, but it is growing.  Sure we have yet to feel the impact of the Governments Austerity measures on public sector employment, but the number of people gaining permanent jobs is growing and has been for 18 months.

So who is hiring?  IT, Accounting, Engineering and Construction were highlighted as those sectors growing permanent hires at the fastest rate and in the highest numbers.  Boardroom Hiring was also evidenced as on the increase.  So business is hiring.

The more we hear about a jobless recovery, the more we are likely to have one.  The more people hear the economy is weak, the less confidence they have to hire.  I am not suggesting that the media should lie ( heaven forbid! ) I just think more attention, column inches and air time needs to be given to the positives when they appear.

On the strength of this survey, there is good news to be found in the employment market.  Lets not hide our light under a bushel.  We don’t know for how long it may last but for now, shout it loud, permanent employment is rising at its fastest rate in 6 months.  Long may this trend continue.

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Filed under Hiring, Job Creation, Recruitment

What place the Unions in 2011?

The Trade Union Movement was legalised in the UK in 1871.  From what I read, at the time working conditions, whilst rapidly improving, were still pretty dreadful.  Workers had little by way of rights and many Employer treated employees with a very straightforward management style.  You turn up, you get paid, you don’t turn up, you don’t get paid.  Should you continue not to turn up, don’t bother coming back.  Can you imagine that today?

No such thing as maternity leave, paternity leave, flexible working, contracts of employment, notice periods, sick pay, death in service benefit, pay reviews, annual pay increases, appraisals, redundancy payments, duvet days, chill out rooms, company gyms, health club membership, private health cover, flexible benefits, days off in lieu.  Need a trip to the Dentist?  Tough no pay.  Need to collect the kids?  Tough no pay?  Wife had a Baby?  Congratulations, now get back to work.

The Unions have done an incredible job since the Tolpuddle Martys to ensure that work, pay and conditions are something that we can be proud of in the developed world and rightly so.  Clearly some parts of this planet have a long way to go, but on the whole working conditions have improved immeasurably.

So what do we need Trade Unions for in 2011?  Are they an invaluable defender of workers rights, or simply an over – bloated, unnecessary relic of a bygone era?  Workers have never had it so good, have we?

Union Leaders are some of the best paid, do they deserve it for the greater contribution they make, for the goodwill of the working majority?  Are they simply self serving, rewarding themselves handsomely from members subscriptions whilst embarking on a shameless quest of self promotion?

So what’s your view?  What place the Unions in 2011?  Let me have your comments, I would love to listen.

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Apprenticeships and The Apprentice the answer to jobs creation

To kick of Apprentice Week, Business Secretary Vince Cable is to announce the UK Government is committing £1.4bn to Apprenticeships in 2011.

This is a great move and part of an overall strategy to encourage 100,000 additional apprenticeships by 2014.  This at a time when UK Manufacturing is growing at record rates and 70% of employers in a recent survey claiming skill shortages as one of the biggest barriers to future growth.

Apprenticeships have been undervalued and undermined for years.  For too long successive Governments have espoused the virtues of higher and further education to the detriment of practical, hands on learning, giving Apprenticeships second class status.  They are not.  They are of enormous value.

Not everybody is academic, but everybody has something to offer.  If you are practically minded, the opportunity to further your career with a combination of practical skills and theoretical learning is not to be dismissed.

Apprenticeships are crucial to encourage the skills needed to facilitate future growth and to ensure the UK has the skills we need to remain competitive globally.  The more done to encourage those best suited as to the virtues of such a pursuit the better.

At the same time Entrepreneurship is also essential to encourage the creation of jobs.  This is one area of Economic policy that is yet to be sufficiently addressed by Government.  Sure, the rhetoric is that we cannot afford tax cuts.  Can we afford not to?

Business is mobile.  If you do not create the conditions, the environment, in which talented people with great ideas are encouraged to start business, this essential fuel of economic prosperity will soon start to dry up.

Don’t get me wrong, the successful entrepreneur will find a way to make his or her’s business work regardless of the circumstances.  It is that determination regardless of circumstances that contributes to their success.  That is my point, if it can’t be done here, if it is easier to do elsewhere, then elsewhere it will be done.

Who will create the jobs, the Apprenticeships of tomorrow?

Todays announcement is a great step in the right direction.  Encourage Apprenticeships and encourage The Apprentice.  The next generation of Lord Sugar‘s are just as essential to future prosperity as the skilled trades.

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Filed under Careers, Job Creation