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”
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.
The only constant is change. For some, change is scary, for others it’s exciting.
Right now we are living through the scariest and yet most exciting of times. It used to be said that if you always do what you always did, you would always get what you always got. My sense is that in many cases this is no longer the case. The rulebook is being ripped up. The old ways of doing things are being challenged. Disruptive methods and technologies are challenging our assumptions and expectations and our comfort zones are being stretched daily.
Never is this more evident than in the jobs market. It’s a scary place. How an earth can you make sense of it all? How can you use the multitude of platforms and routes to market to reach out to those people who will have a positive effect on your career?
How do you stand out?
Your CV alone is no longer enough. You are a brand. You need to sell yourself relentlessly online and offline. You need to step outside your comfort zones, to stretch them daily to get to where you want to go if you want to succeed. Nowhere have I seen a better example of this than in this campaign by 2010 UK Graduate Kyle Clarke.
Innovative, purposeful, confident, bold. Kyle epitomizes the initiative, get up and go self-starting attitude that you need to succeed. Be inspired by him. Take the initiative. Be different. Go Kyle!
The number of people claiming jobless benefits in December dropped by 15200. According to the International Labour Organization, unemployment fell by 7000 in the three months to the end of November. Positive news at long last. At 7.8%, unemployment is clearly unacceptably high, but could we be starting to see a small chink of light in the long dark unemployment tunnel in the UK?
Data from the Association of Executive Search Consultants suggests “that the global executive search industry has returned to growth. New mandates rose by 11% in the most recent quarters, and revenue per consultant rose by similar amounts across the industry”. More positive news, albeit clearly a global statistic, but senior management talent is increasingly mobile.
Research from the Interim Management Association tells us that the number of Interim opportunities are increasing. With so much Interim work project focused, unless projects have been considered business critical they have been shelved over the last 18 months. Slowly but surely clients tell me that having been in survival mode they are now starting to look forward and invest in the future. All this bodes well.
Anecdotally, HR Directors tell me recruitment is back on the agenda in 2010. However, budgets remain constrained. The challenge for HR Professionals is to look at ever more innovative and cost effective methods of attracting talent. However this may prove easier said than done. A popular mis – conception for the Executive Market is that if you are hiring there is a great deal of talent to choose from. I don’t agree. Talent is reluctant to move in this climate, preferring the perceived security of the devil you know versus a potential last in first out scenario.
Employers are going to have to ensure absolute clarity of the proposition as well as the efficiency and quality of process in order to maximise the potential to attract the best. Any sense that employers may have that the price to pay to attract the top talent has been reduced is not matched by the statistics. Surveys evidence that there hasn’t been the downward pressure on salaries that we have seen in previous downturns.
Some good news in the employment market is very much welcome for all. However the challenges organisations face to ensure they continue to attract the business critical talent they need to thrive are as prevalent now as ever they were. The very best companies will need to be innovative, creative and as focused on ever on developing an Employer Brand that attracts the very best people. The war for talent continues.
I am starting to see evidence from employers of an increasing trend toward re – engaging the services of Interim Managers. From my experience, both anecdotally and statistically, the volume of interim management assignments in the last 18 months has been in decline. With so much interim work being project based, unless those projects have come under the banner of “business critical” they have tended to be shelved in order to cut short and medium term costs.
However increasingly I am finding that the clients that I work with are starting to evidence a cautious optimism in their approach to 2010. Having spent the last 18 months cutting costs aggressively, they are now starting to take the view that standing still or simply surviving is no longer enough.
Those that have worked hard to repair or strengthen balance sheets now find themselves in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them. Many, if not nervous, are certainly cautious and as a consequence remain hesitant to hire permanent staff. Increasingly the use of Interims as a route through which to source the talent needed to manage change, implement a critical strategy, plug a critical management gap, integrate an acquisition, improve process and drive efficiency or simply to hire an experienced Senior Level “Big Hitter” with a proven track record of delivery is proving an attractive option.
Whilst we cannot deny unemployment is on the rise and for those out of work the outlook is bleak, talent is as hard to find at an Executive level now as ever it was. Those in work are reluctant to move, for fear of being “last in, first out”. The use of Interim Managers can provide crucial access to the exceptional talent business needs to drive the return to the sustained economic growth that will improve employment prospects for all.
We hire for experience and fire for attitude. Why not therefore make attitude the basis of our hiring decisions? Clearly experience is the one thing that we can give any candidate coming in to the business. Attitude is one thing that for sure we can’t give them.
All of us at some point are guilty of making experience the basis of our selection decisions. By this I refer typically to who the candidate has worked for or the sector they have been employed in. Whilst I understand the need for having easy ways of pre – screening CV’s I would go so far as to suggest this is lazy. Is it really risk averse to hire someone who understands our industry language, systems and processes, products or services and indeed customers without considering whether they truly fit with the values, culture, vision and strategy of the organisation? .
To make matters worse, us recruiters can be the worst exponents of putting job seekers in to convenient boxes, not least because of the increasingly key words search based recruitment environment in which many now live. This is exacerbated further with the increasing pressure on frontline recruiters in a tough climate to focus on the short term and generate fees based on perceptions of best fit and lowest risk in order that they keep their own jobs.
I genuinely believe employers lose out by making previous experience the basis of the hiring decision. Experience is the one thing as employers we can give the candidate; attitude is the one thing we can’t give them. How often as employers do we hire for experience and fire for attitude? Make attitude, chemistry, fit, the intangibles in the recruitment process the basis for hiring and invest heavily in training, development and employee engagement in order that your key staff are entirely aligned and equipped to meet the key objectives of your business. If you can achieve this the impact on the attraction and retention of people who can transform your business will be greatly enhanced. You may well be losing out on a potential superstar but not opening your minds to those from outside your sector.