Tag Archives: The Recruiters Little Black Book

Employers Charter – A step in the right direction.

Yesterday saw David Cameron announce The Employers Charter, measures announced to give businesses added confidence to grow and create jobs.

Something had to be done to stem the flood of applications to Employment Tribunals witnessed in 2010, which increased 56% on 2009 to 236,000.  The average cost to employers to defend themselves was £4000.

it is absolutely right that legislation exists to protect hardworking, dedicated employees from those less scrupulous employers.  However the balance had been lost, the power placed squarely in the hands of the employee.  Employers of all shapes and sizes had become nervous, fearful even, of dismissing an under – performing employee for fear of the repercussions.

That is not healthy.  It certainly does nothing to encourage employers to hire.  Quite the opposite.  It costs nothing for the under-performing employee to launch a claim.  That in itself encouraged a whole host of “chancers” to pursue a payout, having been advised by the no – win no fee brigade that they had nothing to lose to pursue a claim.  The wasted management time was enormous, the legislative cost vast, nobody wins.

The answer to this has been to introduce the prospect of a fee for employees to fight an unfair dismissal claim.  A great idea, certain to prevent any such chancers from trying their luck.  Those that know or can be advised that they have a genuine case for unfair dismissal will pursue such a claim and have every chance of winning, rightly so.  Employers are afforded a greater degree of protection and will as a consequence feel more confident about the prospect of hiring.

To add to that confidence is the proposal that companies would have greater freedom to dismiss under – performing workers, extending the current period from one to two years.  I am not convinced this measure is necessary.  If someone is not performing in your business, you know early enough.  If they have been performing and after a period of say 12 months that performance starts to tail off, it is managements responsibility to look at the reasons behind that decline and to performance manage that employee back to “health”.

After all, you have invested enough time, money and resource getting them through the door, getting them trained and in to the DNA of your business that it is absolutely right to support them.  Still the principle behind the move strikes me as a positive one, business friendly, jobs friendly.

If you are a committed, motivated, hardworking employee you have nothing to fear in the new legislation.  I for one applaud these steps.  We have allowed an entitlement culture to develop.  If something goes wrong, who can I blame?  How much can I get?

A nonsense.  If you are a responsible, hardworking, decent, honest person then you have nothing to fear in this change.  If you are the kind of person who thinks life owes them a living, then I am afraid you are wrong and you will get what’s coming to you.

I am all for the Employers Charter.  The reaction from business and employers groups would appear to be broadly supportive.  A step in the right direction.  Next step, tackle the cost of employing someone and reduce the cost of Employers NIC’s.  Now there’s a thought!

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How to ace a job interview

Everyone is looking for that nugget of gold, that stellar piece of information that can fundamentally transform your interview technique to become an absolute sure-fire interview winner. I am sorry, there aren’t any, no startling revelations, no lightning bolts.

Like all good things, success at interview is about keeping it simple. Pay attention to the basics, the little things, the details. And repeat. Over and over again, until you are set in to a routine that you know works for you, that gives you confidence, makes you comfortable.

So what are those basics?

I came across this excellent resource, www.howdini.com the site that encourages you to “get yourself a guru”. So what’s there take on the job interview? See for yourself.

Let me know what you think, as always I would love to hear your comments.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Davos 2011 – Fondue, Cheese, Chocolate and Jobs.

This week sees the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Amongst the fondue, cheese and chocolate, their is important work to be done by the great and the good in Business and Government to take advantage of rising business confidence as evidenced by the Business Confidence Survey from Global Accounting Firm PWC.

PWC interviewed 1,201 CEO’s from 69 countries over the last three months of 2010.  The headline finding from the survey evidence that business confidence has returned to levels not seen since before the economic crisis that started to engulf the world in 2007.  48% of those surveyed are “very confident” their business will grow in 2011, an increase of 30% on the same period in 2009.  Such confidence levels have not been seen since January 2007 (when they sat at 52%).

Yet more encouraging is the fact that this confidence is not driven by any specific region.  Confidence levels are up across the globe.  Unsurprisingly, the most bullish of those polled were to be found in India and China followed by the perhaps less obvious Thailand, Columbia and Paraguay. The least confident were found to be business leaders in Western Europe.

The exception to this rule came from Austria and in particular Germany, where a staggering 80% of CEO’s polled were “very confident”as to the performance of their business.  What is clear from the survey is that this confidence is driven by a belief in the growth of the global economy as opposed to more localised markets.  A presence in emerging markets is essential for sustained success.

So what does all this mean for jobs?  More good news in so much as just over half of those polled plan to hire new staff in 2011, with just 16% expecting to cut headcount.  This is up from 39% on the prior year.

Just where those jobs will be created is the big shift and it keeps shifting.  Increased skill levels globally mean that global business can select talent in the region that best meets its customer need.  The war for talent is truly global.  Those countries that offer high standards of education and develop rich pools of talent, that create the conditions to encourage inward investment, that retain flexibility of labour and offer working terms and conditions that protect employees and give them the freedom to flourish will win.

Employers know this.  At no other time in history has business been so mobile, so global.  Governments that are experiencing rising unemployment must get out from behind the fondue at Davos and listen to those Business Leaders, engage with them, debate with them.  Those that don’t will lose out, those that do will enjoy economic prosperity for years to come.

So much of business and economic growth is about confidence.  That confidence is there.  Time to seize it.

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Change your life in two pages…(or, how long should my CV be?)

I had an email from an old friend last week asking for my help in resolving a debate taking place amongst his peers at work. How long should a CV be? As the hiring Managers, they wanted 2 pages but recruiters and job seekers alike were sending CV’s ranging anywhere upwards from 3 pages.

As a Recruiter, knowledge is power (yes, I know, I suffer from delusions of grandeur!) The more in depth, detailed information I have about you the better placed I am to introduce you the job you want. However that information should come when I interview you. It is up to me as the external recruiter to ask the right questions of you to ensure you give me all I need. I suspect I may be one of a dying breed in this respect.

Many recruiters (both internal and external) don’t read CV’s. The CV arrives through some form of online portal and is dropped automatically in to a database where keyword searches throw up the pre – requisite skills the hiring manager needs to fill the job order. Therefore from a candidate perspective you need to ensure your CV is content, keyword rich, highly visible to search engines.

You can’t afford to leave anything out fear of the search engines missing you and the opportunity passing you by. So you err on the side of caution, work on the principle of more is better.

Culture has a part to play. Over the years I have interviewed lots of South Africans. Their CV’s would make Tolstoy proud. They appear to work on the principle the longer the CV, the more you will have achieved. On the other end of the spectrum I have only today seen the issue of the one page CV come up. As labour markets become ever more transient and global war for talent hots up, cross border issues will arise when it comes to CV’s. So what’s the global view?

My last search returned 3.6 million results. It’s all a matter of opinion, clearly there are many. So for the record, here’s mine.

Two pages.

Your CV is simply a catalyst for conversation. You have to grab my attention and you have a short time in which to do it. Jaguar Land Rover recently announced 14000 + applications for 1500 vacancies. The competition is fierce. Every word must count.

I need to know fast who you are, how to contact you, what you are qualified to do, who you worked for, what you did for them, what you achieved whilst you were there and what impact those achievements had on the business. 60% duties and responsibilities, 40% achievements. Make sure you can quantify those achievements, put some numbers to them, evidence the contribution to the top or bottom line. Then you’ve got my attention. I want at most your last 10 years and will really focus on the last five in detail. The rest is history.

I want to know a little bit about you outside the work place, what your hobbies and interests are, just enough to want to know more. I don’t need to know it all, just the bits of which you are most proud that you consider wholly relevant to the post.

If you don’t get shortlisted for interview, it is not you that is being rejected, it is your CV. You need to work on it. It should be a living, breathing, up to the minute document of which you are intensely proud. There can be no sense of that’ll do. It should be fine tuned, fine tuned and fine tuned again.

Give it the attention it deserves. Its two pages that lead to a conversation that could change your life.

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Where will the new jobs we need come from?

All over the developed world we hear a similar story.  Rising unemployment in the face of improving (in various degrees) economic conditions.  Take the United States.  It’s gross domestic product has recovered from the recession far better than in Britain, Germany, Japan and Russia, yet the unemployment rate in the US remains significantly higher than in those countries, particularly Germany and Japan (where admittedly labour laws make it much more difficult and costly to lay workers off).  America is producing more and relying on fewer people to do so.

Last week Steve Ingham, CEO of Michael Page, the UK’s second largest recruiter, attributed a 40% increase in permanent job orders to “jobs churn” ie people moving jobs as opposed to new jobs being created.  The unemployment numbers in the UK are, in the grand scheme of things, flat.

A 6% fall in GDP ought to have caused a similar fall in employment numbers, but it didn’t, mainly due to employees being prepared to take pay cuts and cuts in hours rather than face unemployment.  Unemployment in the 3 months to November 2010 in the UK was 7.9%.  In the same period 2009 it was 7.8%.

There are some encouraging headlines to be found in private sector jobs growth.  In the nine months to September 2010, the private sector in the UK added 184,000 employees.  In the same period public sector employment fell by 77,000.  We had net jobs growth, surely a good sign?  Those organisations that are hiring are only replacing headcount that was cut, and in many cases cut too fine, during the recession.

Youth unemployment in the UK is perhaps the most worrying sign.  A record 951,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 are out of work.  Where will the jobs come from that will stimulate the employment market and prevent a generation of disaffected young people?

For as long as I can remember the drive in business has been for more and more and more efficiency.  Improving productivity has been the name of the game.  Do more with less.  We have invested (rightly) so much in technology that we no simply no longer require the same number of people to produce substantially more.  That trend is only going in one direction.

It is innovation that will drive new jobs growth.  The jobs we need are going to come from new and emerging industries, companies that today don’t exist will appear tomorrow and grow to employ thousands.  10 years ago we never had Facebook.  Twitter didn’t exist.  Google was an infant.  Between them they employ today thousands of people.  The Ipod, the Ipad, the Blackberry.  They have all come about in the last 10 years.  What will be the product developments of tomorrow?

We need governments across the globe to create the conditions to encourage entrepreneurs.  We need to make it easy and inexpensive to employ someone.  We need the law to continue to protect the rights of individuals in employment.  Those rights must be balanced with the flexibility employers need as the business grows.

Emerging technology, new energy, healthcare?  What are your predictions?  Where will the jobs growth we need come from?  I would love to know your thoughts.

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What is the future of the recruitment industry?

There are some unusual, unpredictable, disruptive things going on.  The status quo is being challenged, our assumptions being questioned, that which we knew to be true undermined.  World order is being turned upside down.  Much of it we cannot answer, its scary, exciting, it creates opportunity.  Some people are grabbing it, some people are stood frozen, helpless, like a rabbit in the headlights.

Take retail.  The traditional model is under enormous pressure.  Look at HMV.  It has no substantial high street rival and yet it is in ruins.  We all know what happened.  Itunes.  We download our music.  Online rivals don’t have the additional costs that come with staff, utilities and town centre property.  Online, the world is your shop window.  The internet now accounts for £1 in every £10 we spend shopping.

The business press is full of its usual doom and gloom and focusing heavily on retails woes.  Yet look at the success story that is ASOS.  UK sales have risen by 59% in the last three months.  International sales at ASOS have risen 159%.  So what is it that ASOS is doing that many other retailers aren’t?    They have taken a traditional model and applied technology to deliver a better experience for customers at a better price.  It has become the “one stop fashion hub” for 15 to 25 year olds (and older!).   This month they launch a fully integrated Facebook store.  Brilliant.

I should confess here, I hate shopping.  I have about a one hour shopping tolerance, therefore online is a lifesaver for me, clearly I am biased.  In the spirit therefore of balance, lets talk Books.  I love them.  Give me a bookstore and a coffee and I am a happy man  My local Borders had a Starbucks and I had no mobile signal in the store.  I used to hide out in there.  My refuge has gone.

The kindle was Amazon’s biggest selling item in the UK last year.  My wifes 79-year-old Grandmother has one and she loves it.    We can read at the touch of a button and its brilliant.  Even for a book lover like me.

So what about the recruitment industry?  In 2007 recruitment in the UK was a £27 billion business.  In 2010 it was £19 billion.  At the same time employment levels have dropped from 72.6% to 70.3%.  Clearly we have had extremely challenging economic times and unemployment has increased significantly, but to the extent that we have lost 30% of our market?

Historically the value in a recruitment business was in its database.  That and its people.  What distinguished one recruiter from another was the calibre of candidate on its database and the ability of its people to deliver the right candidate to the client.  We protected that database as if our lives depended on it, rightly so.

Now that database is published to the world.  Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin.  The world is connected.  Our ability to filter, to cut through the noise, is still of enormous value but increasingly employers are becoming smarter at filtering for themselves.  75% of hires in investment banking are direct hires.  The CiPD evidences 72% of vacancies never make it to the public domain.  Never a truer adage not what but who you know.

What is going on here?  The times they are a changing.  The recruitment industry has not changed its model for 80 years.  Innovate or die.  It is time for revolution.

What will we look like in five years time?  Historically we were a bricks and mortar model.  Is this still necessary?  We are still a handshakes, face to face business, but increasingly we can reach an ever wider pool of talent virtually.  How will this effect the customer experience?

I have some views, too many for one blog post.  It occupies my mind virtually every waking hour.  I am taking steps, making plans to address it ( Watch this space ).  In the meantime, what is the future of the recruitment industry?  HMV or Itunes?  What will be the recruitment equivalent of ASOS?

This is an important debate for an industry that I love.  I would love to hear what you think.

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A smart investment in future talent

Last week KPMG, the global consulting firm, announced plans to launch a 6 year training programme to turn 100 of this years school leavers in to Accountants.  The specifics see KPMG working with 20 schools in disadvantaged areas to recruit 100 school leavers in to BSc Accounting and Finance.  This will then be followed up by a two-year post degree training programme leading to a professional accounting qualification.

Tuition fees and accommodation costs will be covered by KPMG for the duration of the degree programme.  Starting salary post degree for accounting trainees will commence at £20,000 per annum and is expected to rise to around £45,000 once the training course has been completed.  The target is for around 400 pupils per annum to be recruited in to this scheme.

Last year we had McDonalds announce they were to introduce and support degree programmes for staff.

https://transcendexecutivesearch.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/mcdegrees-are-you-loving-it/

Is this part of a wider trend amongst employers to support further and higher education?  Clearly the rising costs of tuition fees inflames passions, as we have witnessed from the recent student demonstrations.  The issue of employee engagement is firmly on the agenda and talent attraction and retention is a challenge for so many.

KPMG, like many firms offering training schemes, suffers from having many who qualify leave to other businesses who then benefit from that investment.  Will starting early and supporting education and professional training in this way strengthen the psychological contract between employer and employee?

I for one am not convinced.  Employee engagement is an ongoing commitment.  However, this is not just about a great pr move, it is part of a genuine commitment to invest in giving school leavers a better future.  We should not just rely on government to fill in the gaps.  The private sector needs to take a longer term view about the talent of tomorrow.   I for one applaud KPMG, McDonalds and those like them for investing in that future.

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