Tag Archives: Transcend Executive Search

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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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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Is this the worst recruiter ad ever?

I promise you I have a sense of humour.  ( Many may argue otherwise, but I can assure you I do ).  I mention this if only to assure you that I haven’t lost that sense of humour before you go on to read what I have to say about this advertisement from job site www.TheLadders.com

Finding a job is a serious business.  If you are out of a job it becomes yet ever more serious.  Arguably a sense of humour can be a great asset in the face of tough circumstances, but if you are going to engage with someone, whether that is online or face to face, you want to know that you can trust that representation.

You want to know that the person with whom you are engaging is going to represent your career aspirations with professionalism and integrity.  If online, you want to know that the jobs board you are using is able to attract employers to the site that are consistent with your aspirations.  Even more so if you are paying for it.

www.TheLadders.com is one such site that you as the job seeker pay for access.  Google The Ladders, you get the following;

“With Career advice, Job postings, and Job search tools for professionals”,

www.TheLadders.com lays claim to offer  “Job search for professional jobs in the most comprehensive source of £50k+ ($100k+ in the US) jobs on the internet”.

Surely if you are offering job search tools and opportunities for professionals your employer branding should reflect such professionalism?  If you want to attract the very best employers to advertise their very best vacancies on your site, you have a responsibility to promote a professional image to ensure those paying for your site (the job seekers) can expect the very best in professional vacancies behind the pay wall?

Like I say I have a sense of humour.  Have a look at this advertisement from The Ladders.  Would you pay to join a site that claims to offer the cream of opportunities after having watched this?  Does it reflect the way you feel about your career?

I would love to hear your comments.  Is this the worst recruiter advertisement ever?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Know your worth

“The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.  Oscar Wilde.

Whether you are moving to a new job or approaching your annual pay review, when it comes to salary negotiation, it is vitally important to know both the price ( in this case of hiring you ) and therefore the value that you bring.  There is nothing cynical in that.  Why run the risk of selling yourself short?

Start with what your currently earn.  It is important to understand the value of your entire package.  I have been amazed over the years just how many people I have interviewed as a Recruiter who didn’t even know exactly their gross annual basic salary.

How much are your additional benefits are worth?  What is the value of your employers pension contributions?  How much is your healthcare worth?  Do you have a laptop, a mobile phone, a company car, a gym membership?  If so what price can you put on these benefits?  How about your holiday entitlement?  If you have a great annual leave deal or benefit from flexible working, what value can you place upon such a benefit for you personally?

How does your current deal compare to market rates?  You can talk to Recruiters who should have a good understanding of what employers are paying in your area for your skill set.

There are a wealth of salary surveys online that can give you a good sense of the salary range that your skills, talent, qualifications and experience would position you in.  However you should look to be more specific.  There are a number of great resources available online that enable you to compare your deal with that of your peers.  You might want to try

www.payscale.com

www.salarycomparison.org

www.salarydom.com

It is all very well knowing the value to your employer of your skill set.  Do you know the value to your employer of that which you have achieved?  Keep an up to date list of those achievements in your job that you feel have added significant value.

Can you quantify those achievements, put a number to them?  If you can’t, why not ask your employer to?   You cannot afford to be shy or humble.  With average UK wage increases in 2011 predicted at 2.7% against inflation at 3.1%, it will cost you.

Do your homework.  Know what you want, know what you need, be realistic, be reasonable.  Know your price, know your value, know your worth.

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On the road to recovery – the outlook for the jobs market.

A number of good signs for job seekers and recruiters alike this week.  On Monday Michael Page, the UK’s second largest recruiter, announced gross profit for the fourth quarter of 2010 of £119.8 million, up 32% on 2009.  When you dig in to the numbers, there is yet more encouragement to be found.  Permanent job vacancies were up 40%, with temporary vacancies up 10% in the same period.

Further investigation suggests confidence slowly returning to the jobs market.  Interesting to note comments from Steve Ingham, CEO at Michael Page, talk of the increase in permanent job vacancies being driven by “churn” in the employment market place, that is employees moving jobs, as opposed to new jobs being created.

Why should this be cause for optimism?  This points to people being less concerned about moving jobs.  Taking the leap to a new employer and the “last in first out” fear that can engender in tough times appears to be on the wane.  That’s a good sign.  Confidence has a huge part to play in the employment market just as it does in all areas of the economy.

This morning we had the results of the KPMG and Recruitment and Employment Confederation Jobs Market Survey for December.  Demand for permanent staff rose at the fastest rate for four months.  Demand for temporary staff rose at its fastest rate for six months.

The greatest demand for permanent staffing was in IT, professional services, engineering and accounting.  One of the areas to evidence skills shortages, sales, offers yet further encouragement.  Demand for Executive Talent amongst Transcend customers has been greatest for Sales and Marketing Directors.  Typically these have been newly created appointments in circumstances where employers, having cut back on sales and marketing during the recession, now feel they have opportunities to grow but realise they lack the talent to fulfil them.

Other areas where talent is in increasing demand but skills are short include project management and engineering.   Both evidence good signs.  So many projects over the last 3 years, unless under the auspices of “business critical”, have been shelved.  Companies are starting to re – invest, slowly but surely, to spend money again, having horded cash in tough times.  Projects are being kicked off and once again talent is needed to fulfil requirements.  An increased demand for Engineering talent endorses the positive results being enjoyed by the manufacturing sector.  Long may it continue.

We have yet to understand the full impact of the austerity measures on the employment market.  Public Sector job losses we know are inevitable.  More needs to be done in to encourage jobs creation in the private sector if the impact on overall unemployment is to be minimised.  At least the rhetoric from government supports this, we now need to see the evidence.  More needs to be done from a legislative viewpoint to encourage employers to hire staff, indeed to make it easier and cheaper to hire staff.  A reduction in the rate of Employers NI would be a good start.

I am encouraged by what I see, what I read, what I hear from customers.  There is real cause for optimism, cautious optimism maybe, but optimism nonetheless.

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Do less to achieve more

Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry, Smartphone, PC, Laptop, Tablet, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Connectivity, Globalisation.  Real time, face time, 24/7 do it now time.  All these tools were in invented to make us more efficient.  Did they work?  Do we achieve any more, or are we just doing more?

We live in a world of go, go, go.  It never stops.  We are fearful, stop and pause for breath and something will pass us by.  We cram so much in, or at least try to, that we have devalued downtime.  I am talking about real downtime, not lying on the couch, smartphone in hand tweeting, connecting, emailing.  I am talking about peaceful, restful, real, downtime.  Re – charging.

When was the last time you woke up in the morning off the back of 8 hours uninterrupted, beautiful deep sleep and leapt out of bed fully refreshed, full of ideas, creativity, energy?  Imagine just how productive you could be, how much you could actually achieve, instead of just do.

We have forgotten how to switch off.  I have forgotten how to switch off.

Regular readers know of the value I place on the excellent TED talks.  Here is yet another.  Ariana Huffington, Co – Founder of www.huffingtonpost.com delivers a short yet highly thought-provoking presentation on the power of sleep.  Give yourself permission to watch it.  Then go and take a nap.  You’ll feel all the better for it.

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