Blimey! I am shattered, but on a high.
I finally have the key to my new Training & Coaching Rooms, and have spent all day, since 5am moving stuff in. I can’t believe how many things I need for my job. When half of it was in my home office and the other half was in the attic/ car/ handbag/ my head, it didn’t look so bad. Now that it is spread out, it seems immense! Mind you; I feel strangely calm and organised. Perhaps that’s because I have so much space now, maybe it is just because it’s been a long time coming or maybe I have subconsciously taken my own advice with regard to turning chaos into calm. Whatever it is, I feel good!
I’ve still got lots to do, and have spent lots of time looking at the space today, thinking, “Yikes!” and also…”Yay!”
So, my premises is a massive change in my life, but it’s still the small things that mean the most. I thought you might like to see this cute picture my daughter forwarded to me on Facebook. (Disclaimer – I don’t condone violence, but I did get a warm fuzzy feeling when I read it! ;-))
P.S. In the midst of the chaos at the new Training & Coaching Rooms, I did manage to unpack the kettle and all related bits & bobs, so if you are passing, please pop in and say hello.
Jules Halliday – The Training & Coaching Rooms, 1 New Broadway, Tarring Road, Worthing, BN11 4HP
One thing I hear all the time from job seekers is that they don’t want to consider temporary work, particularly if it is through a recruitment agency. They often cite “it’s a waste of time” or “I might get offered a permanent role while I am working a temporary contract”, and even worse “Recruiters never call me!” and so forth.
Recruitment agencies often get a bad rep, but as an ex-Recruitment Consultant, I am on a bit of a mission to stick up for them, as I believe that they are often the catalyst to career longevity and success.
Look out for my other blog posts on how recruiters can work in your favour, before the end of the year, but to get you started (after you have finished reading this one, of course!), you can read here for 7 Steps to Choosing a Recruitment Consultant.
So, let me give you 5 reasons to consider temporary work, and I do hope you will really think about it.
If you are out of work and are refusing to consider temporary work, you are, in effect, wasting your time. The longer you are out of work, the harder it will generally be to secure the job of your dreams. Employers don’t necessarily discount those who are unemployed (trust me; I get long term unemployed clients into work every week), however, when push comes to shove, they are more likely to hire someone who has taken a small step forwards in order to stay on the career ladder rather that someone who has done nothing other that job search and sit back waiting for the golden goose to lay their career egg.
Regardless of the temporary job role on offer, it will teach you new skills, which will most likely be transferable to your chosen career, even if you don’t think it initially. What are you going to learn while you are unemployed? Maybe something, but will it be valuable to a future employer? Ask yourself objectively what you have to gain by refusing to consider temporary work. Don’t dig deep; if you do, there’s a likelihood you will justify the reasons why. Be honest, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.
Meeting new people is often the key to finding a permanent job role. My regular readers and clients will tell you that I always bang on about “People buy people” – if you are sitting at home, or not getting out there to meet new people, you are significantly reducing your chances of broadening your professional network and ultimately finding a new permanent role. Taking a temporary role can be the step forwards to introducing you to new people, and it will give you the chance to impress them.
People move on. It’s December right now and temporary roles are in abundance, particularly in retail, warehouse and logistics roles BUT and I mean BUT, just because the roles have been advertised as temporary, it doesn’t mean you have to wave “Cheerio” on 31st December.
Many companies will be looking to retain some of their temporary workers through the early part of the year to cope with the demand of the inevitable sales and returns season. Best of all, some staff will leave. Yes, peeps, you heard it hear first! Some will leave, some will be fired, some will become pregnant and some will retire. Shocker! Great news for you, right? If people leave, the Boss will have to hire replacements, and you have as good a chance as anyone, providing you have done a good job, but here’s the kicker…you have to have actually accepted the temporary job in the first place! You’re just as good as anyone else out there, you know you are!
I bet you were wondering when I would come to that, weren’t you?
Lots of employers hire recruiters and recruitment agencies to source temporary staff as they have a ready made candidate base. If you haven’t registered with them, you could be missing out on some great opportunities.
In most instances, the recruitment agency will become your employer and outsource you to the company looking for temporary staff. The great thing about this is that you get the chance to build up a good professional relationship with the agency and prove that you are a good, reliable worker. This means that even if the temporary contract comes to an end, you are more likely to step into another role if the agency values you.
When I worked in recruitment, I would recommend that my candidates took temporary roles to build up their CV and while they were out working, I would be constantly searching for a permanent role for them so that when the contract finished, there would be something more stable for them to go to.
If you struggle to provide good references, then this route is even better for you, because once you have worked for the agency, they will be able to provide you with a reference and speculatively talk to their other clients about you, which is often a great way to get your foot in the door of a company who may not advertise their vacancies or consider your application otherwise.
I do hope you will consider temporary work in the future if you are struggling to find a new permanent role. For details of agencies and other help available, visit www.allukjobsites.com or register your CV on CV Library where recruiters will be able to find you. For coaching, give me a call or contact me by email here.
Great news! Together with Northbrook College, I will be running a Hospitality Academy in January and already, there seems to be quite a buzz surrounding it I don’t want anyone to miss out on this fantastic opportunity, so please do share this post to anyone you know in the hospitality industry in Sussex. Places will fill up fast for candidates and employers, so go quick!
If you are 19 years old and in receipt of any benefits, you are eligible to apply for a FREE place to gain 2 industry recognised qualifications and get the chance to be selected for a job role or apprenticeship with local companies in the hospitality industry. You don’t have to be unemployed eg. You could be working, but be in receipt of child benefit.
If you are a Sussex employer operating in the hospitality industry, we would love to hear from you. We are looking to select local employers who can offer interviews to our candidates.
The course is 26th – 30th Jan 2015 at the Northbrook College, Kingston Buci Employment Programme Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea and has strictly limited places. Full details can be found HERE.
To book as a candidate please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Employers; for further information, please either contact me on 07900934073 / email me at email@example.com
The countdown begins…there’s only 3 more days until I open my new premises in Worthing and I am so excited!
I will be taking over the building that The Web Shot Company and Attic Solutions are currently residing at 1, New Broadway, Tarring Road, Worthing, BN11 4HP. It’s right next to West Worthing train station.
I’ll be using part of the premises as my office, which will be a better place for me to meet clients and conduct coaching; offering a nicer environment and more privacy. The other parts will be a training studio and coaching consulting room, which I plan to not only use myself, but also give other Trainers and Coaches the opportunity to have a regular base or one off venue bespoke to the training and coaching environment as opposed to having to hire out church halls or pricey hospitality venues.
Jules Halliday – The Training & Coaching Rooms will also be available for businesses to hire to conduct their own training sessions or staff, client and business meetings.
I haven’t got a set date to officially open yet as I want to take things slowly – I’m also crazily busy! I’ve got walls to knock down, rebuild and no doubt change my mind, but that’s half the fun, right?
Big changes, but not much will change with my daily work. I’ll still be training at Northbrook College, writing, coaching clients, CV writing and generally running around like a headless chicken; just that the new premises will give my current and prospective new clients a much better experience. I’m not just doing it on my own. The gorgeous Megan will be my new PA, so she will certainly be learning a few skills along the way (and doing lots of my techy stuff) while being my right-hand woman to boot.
Watch this space for more updates and photos! Bring it on!!
In the meantime, I have time amid the chaos to write a new CV for you. Click here for more info.
Job seekers; are you having a nightmare with your job search? Searching for a new job can become a job in itself, so whether you are an unemployed job seeker or looking to move to pastures new, I have 9 top tips for you to simplify your job search, so that you not only save time, but are more effective.
Decide on which career path you wish to follow. If you apply for lots of different roles, you will have to cater your CV to each and everyone of them, which will take up so much of your time, the chances are you will be left feeling frustrated. Look at your previous experience and skills then apply for the jobs that best suit these.
Create a plan for your job seeking. There is an abundance of online job boards out there, but not all will be suitable for you. Use a CV distribution service (click here for a free one), which will enable you to fill in a few details about your career to date, upload your CV once and BINGO! your CV will be sent to the most appropriate job boards based on your skills, experience, location and salary. You’ll receive an email telling you which job boards have been selected and individual passwords for each. You can then choose to receive notifications from them (and they won’t send you any spam – lovely jubbly) then, sit back and relax while appropriate jobs flow into your inbox. This beats staring at a computer screen for hours every day staring at the same old jobs over and over again.
It is all very well placing your CV online, but if employers and recruiters can’t find you, you are wasting your time. Read my article here on how to make sure your CV is searchable online.
I always recommend that job seekers only work with up to 3 different online job boards at any one time. The reason for this is that most recruitment consultants use a huge selection of job boards to post the same vacancies, so for the candidate, this means that they see the same jobs on different boards. This in itself can make your eyes go squiffy and your brain wobbly! If you are using the CV Distribution Service as detailed above, you don’t have to worry about this tip because your CV will already be winging its way to job boards targeted to your requirements. For the other job seekers out there who are perhaps looking for more general job boards, I can recommend the following:
CV Library is a great site and one that I used every day when I was a recruitment consultant.
If you are currently unemployed and receiving Job Seekers Allowance, your Job Centre Coach will probably encourage you to use Universal Job Match as your primary method to search for a job. That’s fine, but there are a whole host of other options available to you that I would recommend you consider. Choose which method or methods are going to be the most convenient and effective for you, so that you don’t over complicate your job search. I have an article over at All UK Jobsites to help job seekers, entitled Different Ways to Search for a Job Effectively, which will help you. Click here to go direct to the article.
You don’t have to do all the hard work yourself. Recruitment consultants work with employers to fill vacancies, many of which are not advertised, so if you aren’t registered with at least one, you could be missing out on some golden opportunities. Check out my blog on how to choose a recruitment consultant here.
Talk to everyone you meet and ask them what they can do to help you. Many of the people you come into contact with will know of opportunities in your local area or if they don’t; they will start to see opportunities they perhaps wouldn’t have seen before. You’ll be surprised how many people will be willing to help you, but you have to ask them first. Don’t be shy! Just think – you have the potential to have lots of additional job seekers out there searching on your behalf!
It’s easy to apply for jobs then hope you will get lots of replies, but sadly this doesn’t happen. More often than not, job seekers get frustrated when employers or recruiters don’t acknowledge or respond to their applications. Set up a spreadsheet or even just a notebook where you can track each application, the date you sent them, to whom and the impending deadline. You can then use this as a tool to follow up or write off applications. Do follow up. I know of many candidates who were offered an interview on the back of this as the employer saw them as assertive and organised.
No matter how dedicated or determined you are to find a new job, everyone needs a break. Use your computer in short, concentrated bursts rather than sitting staring into the screen for hours on end. Take at least a couple of days off a week from online searching. The jobs will still be there tomorrow and it will minimise the annoyance of seeing the same jobs advertised over and over again.
Let me know how you get on. Good luck!
Have you subscribed to my newsletter? I offer monthly tips and exclusive discounts to my subscribers. Don’t worry – I won’t pass your details on to anyone else. I hate spam! Sign up using the newsletter box in the right hand side of this page.
Zero hours contracts are a real hot topic at the moment and I am expecting this to be a conversation during my course today with the news that jobseekers will be no longer allowed to refuse this type of employment under the new Universal Credit benefit scheme.
Previously, those in receipt of jobseekers allowance and associated benefits were able to refuse to accept zero hours contracts without their benefits being affected, due to the potential sporadic work load the casual contracts dictate. Under the new Universal Credit benefits system, claimants who turn down zero hours contracts without good reason (ie. the Job Centre deems them unsuitable), may be sanctioned and therefore lose their benefit entitlement for more then three months.
There has been much attention in the press regarding zero hours contracts and one thing I hear often is that they are most common for workers under the age of 25 and for the over 60s. I am not seeing this. I perform job searches every day with my learners and many of them have been offered zero hours contracts regardless of their age. In fact, I don’t see any difference with age or type of work. Zero hours contracts, in my experience are becoming almost the norm in a variety of sectors, particularly teaching, retail, industrial and commercial office type roles.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) took a snap shot view of zero hours workers for the first two months of 2014 and established there were 1.4 million workers in the UK who fell into this category. In a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the need for flexibility to cope with the peaks and troughs of the business year was highlighted by 66% of employers, for many of whom, zero hours contracts are an essential part of their recruitment strategy.
When I talk with my clients, the number one reason for them rejecting (or not considering) zero hours contracts is the uncertainty the casual contracts provide. For those claiming benefits, they fear that if they don’t have regular work, they will then have to go through the process of re-signing on and will face financial hardship in the interim period while their claim is reassessed.
Without regular hours from week-to-week and month-to-month, it can be a challenge to budget and plan ahead for financial commitments. Many workers report that their hours are cancelled at short notice or they have to hang around waiting for the phone to ring. This can make arranging childcare or other family commitments tough, and with many workers living in fear that if they decline hours, they will then not be a priority for the next offer of work. Even planning an afternoon trip or a day out becomes an almost impossible task.
With the upcoming elections, we are hearing lots of promises from MPs to entice us to vote for them and Ed Milliband is very much pushing zero hours contracts to the forefront of our minds. His Labour government are promising to put a stop to the worst abusers of the system (the hiring organisations) by introducing the right to compensation for workers if their shifts are cancelled at short notice. They are also promising abolish exclusive contracts and state that they will ensure that workers will not be obliged to be available outside of the contracted hours. We’ll see…
On the flip side of the coin, there are pros to being on a zero hours contract. There’s the flexibility for starters – if you won’t be penalised for declining hours of work, and are not solely dependant on the regular income – the irregularity of work can free up time to do something else. Many employers and workers enjoy this flexibility, and for some, this can work particularly well, such as students, parents (fitting around school holidays), seasonal workers and those with more than one job or source of income. If taken advantage of in the right way, zero hours contracts can provide a clever use of your time.
Just like any job, regardless of the hours and salary, it’s what you make of it. Are you better staying on benefits or accepting a zero hours contract, which can help to build up your CV and get you back out there into the big, bad world? Everyone has a different situation, so I am not sure if a one-size-fits-all approach will work, however, work is work, so surely doing something is better than nothing in the grand scheme of things? A zero hours contact doesn’t lock you into a life of staying with the same company. You could accept the role until something better comes along.
Should you add a photo to your CV? NO!!!! End of article…only kidding.
Seriously, though, should you add a photo to your CV? I am seeing an upsurge in photos on CVs, and (pulling an exasperated face) an increasing number of employers asking for one, which is very naughty indeed. The answer is still no, but let me give you a few reasons why.
Even if you are stunning and have the cheekbones of a super model, including a snapshot of your smiling face does not mean that you can do the job better than anyone else, and you could be opening the doors to discrimination. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (of the pay cheque), so even if you are drop dead gorgeous, that in itself may put off a potential employer.
Many job roles at this time of year, particularly on the South Coast, ask for photographs to accompany applications for promotional or customer facing positions, such as bar staff, life guards, nightclub workers and vacancies in tourism. Why? Because they want to hire a good looking bunch of staff to pull in and keep the punters. This is wrong on a large scale.
But, it’s not just about a symmetrical visage. What if the employer discriminates against you due to your age, race, colour or perceived nationality? Yes, yes, I know that they aren’t allowed to – it’s against the law – I know, I know, BUT it’s not a peachy world out there and some employers WILL discriminate whether they are doing it consciously or subconsciously.
The Race Relations Act (1976) prohibits employers to discriminate on the grounds of race, colour or nationality and the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations Act (2006) was passed to prevent age discrimination in the recruitment process. Great! However, it still happens. Whether you can prove it or not, is an entirely different matter.
You should be recruited based on your ability to do the job, and not solely on what you look like.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, for example, a theatre director can stipulate the looks required for an audition of a character part, but this is an exception and largely, common sense.
So if you are asking yourself “Should you add a photo to your CV?”, then my answer is still a big, “No” and if an employer is asking to see what you look like or stating that you have to look a certain way as a prerequisite of the role, you may like to ask yourself if you would really want to work for such a person.
For more information on discrimination and an article I have written for All UK Jobsites on Questions An Interviewer Should Not Ask, click here.
To find out how to get the employer to like you as a person, read my blog post here.
How to NOT get a job is one way of looking at how to save yourself time, energy and inevitable frustration when it comes to job searching. Time and time again, I hear from candidates who have sent multiple job applications to companies advertising roles that they “know” they can do. That’s great if you “know” you can do the job, but the employer may not have the same opinion.
I can clean (in fact, I love cleaning!) I clean my home, know which products and cloths to use, and even have a posh pair of rubber gloves that I won in a raffle – true story! I believe I do a great job, but that doesn’t mean I can be a professional cleaner.
We are coming through to the positive side of the double dip recession and the employment market is buoyant again, however, in most industries, the hiring managers have a smorgasbord of talent to chew over, where those without relevant experience will be spat out.
So, whether you think that you can be a cleaner, or another job you “know” you’ll be good at, you need to take an objective look at your CV and assess any prior work experience. If you have worked in similar roles – great! You can now ensure that they are highlighted on your CV, so that the employer can see that you are a strong contender.
If you don’t have any relevant work experience, please ONLY apply for a position if you can truly demonstrate on your CV that you have transferable skills from other roles. It really doesn’t matter what you think, or what you feel you can do, if it’s not absolutely clear to the employer that you are a much better candidate than all the rest of the applicants. Your CV must be worded in such a way that the employer understands your reason for applying and your suitability for the role.
It is very frustrating for employers to sift through hundreds of CVs and applications of people who are, quite simply, wasting their time. You just won’t get the job and you will never get that time back. Save yourself from yourself! Time is your greatest gift – spend it wisely.
I don’t think I have ever come across anyone who enjoys filling out a job application form – I’m not a fan, myself! Unfortunately, more and more employers are using these as part as their recruitment process as an alternative to CVs, so it’s important that you fill them out correctly.
Each box and request for information should be fully completed, however, I would question whether you should fill in personal details, such as your age and other personal information that could potentially be used to discriminate against you…but, hey, that’s another blog post!
Here are my top 10 tips on how to complete a job application form:
1. Take your time to fill in the form. You shouldn’t rush, as mistakes can be made.
2. Use a black biro pen if it’s a handwritten application. It’s easier to read, particularly when printed or photocopied.
3. Write in block capitals unless stated otherwise. Again, this is easier to read. If it is an online application, don’t do block capitals – use normal text.
4. Use the information on your CV as a guide and transfer it onto the form. Unless your CV is rubbish, then you need me to do a new one for you!
5. Ensure you complete the boxes that ask for additional information or general comments. Use the opportunity to market your skills and experience. You can put your personal profile in these sections, BUT don’t use any of the naff words I wrote about recently. See here.
6. If there are any specific question on the application form, make sure you take your time and really think about your answers. You’ll be surprised how many candidates don’t. Keep your answers succinct and to the point.
7. Work History should only go back 10 years maximum unless otherwise stated. It’s OK to use a separate piece of paper if you need more space rather than trying to squeeze in illegible text.
8. If there is a section asking for your reasons for leaving your previous roles, keep your answers brief ie. Career progression, end of contract, contract ended (if you were sacked!), relocation and so on. Avoid being ambiguous by stating personal reasons or private as it may look like you have something to hide.
9. Salary requirements may be asked for. In this instance, make sure that you have researched the role and know the average salary range of similar positions. Realistically state a range that you require that won’t price you out of the market or undersell your skills.
10. Proof read your application form over and over again as though your life depends on it. Ask a friend to help. A fresh pair of eyes may pick up mistakes you have missed.
Don’t forget to post your application form or send it via email before the deadline and with a cover letter. Very important!
Have you subscribed to my newsletter yet? Go on…I dare you It’s only once a month and I don’t do spam!
When you are presenting a pitch, speech or answering job interview questions that ask for a scenario or examples, it is crucial that you adopt the golden rule of presenting, which is the 20/70/10 technique.
Each story you tell or each speech you give should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Obvious eh? Yep, but time and time again, I coach people who struggle with getting their point across succinctly while keeping their listeners engaged.
Adopting the 20/70/10 technique is a simple strategy, yet is without a doubt, the golden rule of presenting.
Your introduction is key to setting the scene of what you are about to say. It’s the carrot you dangle in front of your listeners to entice them to prick up their ears for the main content. This should be 20% of your overall content.
The next 70% is your main story – the point you have to get across – the bulk of your presentation.
The final 10% is the ending. Short and sweet. There’s nothing worse than listening to a speaker or interviewee, who keeps talking, and talking, and talking when in actual fact their story has finished. Wrap up what you have to say quickly so that the listener is left on a high, wanting more and is still basking in the enjoyment of your main content – the 70%.
Right, I’m signing off now…before I start waffling! If you need help with public speaking, presentations or job interviews, call or email me.
Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for more tips.
I attended the Eures job fair at Gatwick last week, where I delivered four workshops for job seekers. The event was busy with candidates and companies promoting their vacancies. During the breaks, I noticed that many of the attendees were walking round collecting flyers, free pens and badges. I’ve attended many job fairs over the years, and my observations have been the same. It got me to thinking – did they all really, honestly get the most out of the event? I’m not convinced.
There will be many more job fairs in the UK before the end of the year, so should you choose to attend some, here’s 6 tips to making the most of job fairs and recruitment events.
1. Have a plan
Decide what you want to achieve from the job fairs and make a plan. It is easy just to turn up and browse, but think of it like the difference between window shopping and purchasing a well thought out, high quality product. What you get out of the event is the “product.” Take the time to plan what your desired outcome is, whether it is a job, networking contacts or an outlet to practise your confidence and conversations with employers. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
2. Check the exhibitor list
Most job fairs will advertise the list of exhibitors before the event either on their website or promotional materials. Use this to your advantage and find out which employers and companies will be in attendance, so you can plan your strategy.
3. Do some research
Conduct some background research on the people you plan to visit, so that you can have good quality conversations and a list of questions to ask. Visit their website if they have one. Ask questions about the company culture, the positions they recruit for, where you might fit within the organisation and their recruitment processes.
4. Take your CV and/ or business card
Make sure that you can be contacted after the job fairs by taking your CV and/ or a business card. Take a folder with you, so that the document doesn’t get crumpled up in your bag or pocket. Ask the companies you are visiting to read your CV while you are there and ask for feedback. This might take a bit of getting used to, but I promise, it will help you enormously. Remember, they are there for the whole day and can’t run away, so take advantage of this. Don’t hold them prisioner, though – that’s just plain wrong!
5. Don’t walk away empty handed
Collect business cards and company literature from everyone you speak with. When you get home, re-read everything and decide who you want to keep in contact with.
6. Follow up
It would be a waste of time if there were opportunities at the job fairs you attend, yet you didn’t follow up. Use the business cards and literature you have collected and make a point of emailing the person you spoke with to thank them for taking the time to speak with you. Do this within 1-2 days after the event so that you are still fresh in their mind. This should open up the lines of communication and a reply email. After a week, if you haven’t heard anything, call them to remind them how fabulous you are and that you are serious about working for their organisation. Don’t worry – you’re not being pushy! If you want it…go get it!
Good luck! I hope to see you at future job fairs.
Have you subscribed to my newsletter for exclusive content and discounts?
Choosing a Recruitment Consultant that can really help you with your next job role can be a tough decision and one that may take a significant amount of time initially.
More than 70% of job vacancies are not advertised. Many are filled through word of mouth, via social media or internally as staff move up the career ladder. Just as many are in the hands of recruitment agencies, who work to quickly put their existing candidates in front of their clients (employers), so unless you are registered with them, you may miss out on opportunities for which you are suitable. So how do you go about choosing a Recruitment Consultant that is right for you?
In most towns and cities, there is a good selection of recruitment agencies, however, it is vital that the recruiter you choose understands your sector. There’s no point in registering with Office Angels, for example, if you are looking to work in construction. Choosing a Recruitment Consultant that is a specialist in your field of work will mean that they have a good understanding of the career path you want to take and can offer you valuable advice.
You may want to find work as a chef, however, cooking up a storm in a café is very different from a 5 star hotel or Michelin Star restaurant. Likewise, there can be significant differences in the offerings of a hospitality and catering consultant depending on their specialist sub-sector. Always ask which career areas they recruit for and for what types of establishments. They are unlikely to give you their full client list, however, they will be able to tell you things like 5 star, country house hotels and health spas, for example, as opposed to pub grub, fast food and bistros. Ask the Recruitment Consultant to share with you examples of their recent successes. You need to know that they are actively placing candidates into job roles regularly within your sector.
It would be easy to assume that the larger the agency, the more jobs they will have. Perhaps there may be some truth in that, however, when choosing a Recruitment Consultant, square footage won’t guarantee success. You only need one Consultant that has the drive and passion to help you into work who has an appropriate client base and the expertise to pitch you into roles. The larger the agency, may mean more jobs, but this in turn could mean more candidates and less individual attention for you. Don’t let the size (or indeed glossy office interiors) sway your decision when choosing a Recruitment Consultant.
The mistake many candidates make when choosing a Recruitment Consultant is that they aren’t detailed enough in their requirements. Being vague, doesn’t give the recruiter enough to work with and can be frustrating for both parties. The recruiter simply won’t have enough information to match you with suitable job roles and you will end up wasting each others time. Talk to the recruiter and be really clear about your goals and aspirations. They are sure to offer you some advice and guidance, but don’t be sidetracked (unless you are being unrealistic!) A Recruitment Consultant worth their weight in gold will listen to what you want and make suggestions to enable you to explore all the options available to you. This is very different from you coming up with a wish list, them simply not being able to deliver and you being coerced into a career path that suits them. If they are a real expert, you will feel confident that any change of direction will be realistic and orchestrated with support from the Recruitment Consultant. If they can’t help you on your way to the job of your dreams, then it’s time to move on and find one who can.
If this is your first experience of choosing a Recruitment Consultant, you may already have preconceived ideas as to how they operate or what the recruitment process will be like. Do a bit of investigating to establish whether your recruiter is a leader or a follower. Do they have a strong social media presence and appear to be well connected? You can find clues on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook pages. I don’t mean stalk them online – I definitely don’t mean that! What I do mean, is to look for evidence that they are on top of their game and not just reading CVs and talking on the phone. Do they have testimonials publicly available? What reputation do they have locally? Recruitment Consultants are essentially sales people, so aim to do some research to gain information, which could substantiate any claims.
OK, so this sounds a tad obvious, but your relationship with your next Recruitment Consultant will be a close one if you are both working effectively together. It is imperative that you actually like the person that is trying to find you a job. Building a relationship of trust, integrity and professionalism is an absolute must, however, if your personalities don’t gel, the road you travel together won’t be such a comfortable ride.
And finally… Don’t be brushed off by any Recruitment Consultants that are not prepared to speak with you or meet you face-to-face until you have emailed in your CV or filled out a registration form. YOU are the one that is deciding if they are suitable. You are a person – not a piece of paper. If they aren’t interested in what you have got to say, then find someone who will listen, and therefore be rewarded by the commission they will receive when they place you in your next role.
In my last blog post, I wrote about removing certain words from your CV to make it more effective and therefore significantly increase your chances of securing an interview. Now I am going to write about letters. No, I haven’t lost the plot or become off-the-scale picky; I am referring to the No 1 reason your CV will be rejected by recruiters.
Every recruiter and employer I have spoken with on the subject of CVs comes up with the same top reason for rejecting applications in the initial pre-selection stage, and that is spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. (OK, that’s technically three, but I think we can tar them with the same brush and club them together – hence the is and not are preceeding them!)
On average, your CV will be scanned visually for only 8-10 seconds in the first instance, then some earmarked for the read later pile. Even so, spelling and grammar mistakes can stick out like a sore thumb to even readers with limited recruitment experience so it is crucial that you don’t allow these errors to cloud the judgement of the recruiter. It would be such a shame if your CV has some fantastic content, but ends up in the shredder.
Personally, my biggest bug-bear is the use of American-English spellings. Specialize, maximize, organize and prioritize are serial offenders on most of the CVs I read. Great if you are applying for jobs overseas, however, in good old Blighty, these words should have “s” in place of the “z.” It may seem fussy of me, but if you have stated on your CV that you pay attention to detail or have excellent admin skills, (and if you have, I recommend that you read my last blog on words that should be banned) mistakes such as Americanisms can throw your claims into question. Check your computer’s language settings to ensure that you are typing in UK English.
Proof read, proof read and proof read again. Get someone else to cast a fresh pair of eyes over your written work. Read it backwards, upside down or standing on your head if you have to, just make sure that it is error free before you press the send button.
Basic errors are unforgivable by most recruiters such as the muddling up of similar words – your, you’re – their, there, they’re – two, to, too and the incorrect selection of punctuation for common CV words such as company, companies, company’s or customer, customer’s, customers’. Oh yes, my favourite (or not)…I have 10 years experience…apostrophe, please! It should be 10 years’ experience.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a spell or grammar checker will identify all the problems with your CV. It won’t. CVs are not written in the same way as a book with regular paragraphs, so errors will slip through or worse still, your PC or tablet will auto correct words you actually had right. As the computer tries to second guess what is coming next or how the sentence should read, it can change certain words to fit in with what it thinks it should be. Typically, small words like to, it, in, on, at, if and of may auto change without you realising, which will in turn make your sentence not read in the way in which it was intended and could result in your CV being rejected.
Another clanger is the use (or not as the case may be) of capital letters. Time and time again, I see Cvs with capital letters missing from place names, postcodes, titles and companies. Even worse IS A CV WRITTEN COMPLETELY IN CAPITALS. This is regarded as shouty text, so put a silencer on your words by only capitalising the first letter of words in which they should be used.
Put yourself in the mind of the recruiter. If you know that the number one reason your CV will be rejected is the above, then maximise (with an “s”) your chances of success by casting a beady eye over yours and make the changes today.
Author Jules Halliday
Your CV should start with a personal statement or profile, which is supposed to be a summary of your career to date and why you are the right candidate for the role. In short – it’s your chance to shine, to sell yourself and entice the employer or recruiter to read the rest of your CV.
The rest of your CV should be a document that highlights key achievements and gives an overview of your work history so much so that the reader will begin to visualise you in the role and offer you an interview as they want to find out more about you. It’s the paper equivalent of carrot dangling.
It never ceases to concern me that so many job seekers, I believe, could have secured interviews and in turn, employment if only their CVs actually marketed their real skills. Let me explain…
Every day, I see similar profiles along the lines of this example:
“I am a hard working individual with a flexible attitude who takes pride in their work. I am self-motivated and have the ability to work on my own initiative or as part of a team. I am punctual, reliable and pay attention to detail. I have a proven track record of prioritising my workload and can work to tight deadlines ensuring standards are met. I have excellent customer service skills and would relish the chance to work for a company where I can utilise my skills.”
Well, that’s lovely and just like the majority of CVs out there, BUT it doesn’t tell the employer what you can do. What skills do you have? Why should they hire you? Are your top skills being reliable and punctual? Of course not! You are so much better than that!
Other vocabulary offenders are loyal, friendly, excellent communication skills, people person, perfectionist, passionate, dedicated, sociable and proactive. There are many more, but I am sure you are starting to get the picture. These words and phrases including the above example profile just don’t tell the employer anything about you and makes you look the same as every other competing candidate out there.
It doesn’t bode well if all your CV claims is that you are just a bog standard applicant who can only stipulate the basic requirements of most job roles as selling points. When you work for most companies, it’s an expectation that you will be reliable, punctual, hard working and loyal. If you want to keep your job then the basic standards to achieve will be that you will prioritise your workload and meet deadlines or targets. Everything described above is a given – these words and phrases will not make you stand out from the crowd. Think of the poor reader who will be nodding off at the repetition of each CV and application form in their pile of doom.
There seems to be a current trend for including a section after the profile labelled “Key Skills.” If you have any key skills that are relevant to the job role, that will set you apart from other candidates, then by all means go ahead. Stating that your key skills are any of the above offending words or phrases such as cash handling, key holder or computer literate will not have any recruiter jumping for joy shouting “Hold all applications! I have found the perfect candidate! This person can handle money, lock doors and surf the internet!”
Absolutely every word or phrase on your CV or application should add value. It should show the potential employer how you will be of benefit to them and scream out why they need you. There is no need to add a key skills section unless you have something amazing to add that really needs to be highlighted outside of your profile. Resist the temptation to follow the crowd and stuff your CV or application full of unnecessary words that will only serve to detract from what you can actually do; how brilliant you are.
So, now’s your chance to take a look at your CV and see if there are any vocabulary sins that just make you look like a carbon copy of the next person. Make the changes before your next application. Just think – if you show you are different from everyone else and highlight your real skills, your CV will escape the shredder and be placed firmly on the interview desk.
To find out more about CV writing services, click here.
Have you subscribed to my newsletter yet? Check out the link on the right of the page. Lots of exclusive content, offers, career tips and absolutely no spam.
Author Jules Halliday
Oh, I love a bargain! That feeling of making a purchase and saving a whole heap of money without leaving the house has tempted me; like many others to embrace the relatively new concept of daily deals sites. Without so much as putting on shoes and a coat, I and other savvy shoppers can surf the net and with a few clicks, can book days out, leisure activities or have shiny new products winging their way to us all from the comfort of our own homes. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Yes, you’ve guessed it…there’s a huge “but” coming. Well, actually, more like an exasperated sign and a growing disbelief that even in such tough economic times where retailers are going out of business faster than a rat up a drain pipe; it has appeared to me in my recent experiences that shopping to grab daily deals is more hassle than it’s worth.
Take Mighty Deals, for example. They proudly state a 100% risk free, 7 day money back guarantee and further claim “1. Buy your deal 2. Receive your voucher 3. Redeem your deal 4. Enjoy! It’s as easy as that!” I beg to differ.
At the beginning of December, I ordered 6 products from 2 merchants via the Mighty Deals site for Christmas presents. The first merchant, The Internet Shop UK stated on the voucher that all orders would be despatched during the first week in December. Here, I ordered 4 of the same item, which had to be ordered using 3 vouchers and subsequently 3 amounts of postage paid. When my orders hadn’t arrived within 10 days, I emailed both the merchant and Mighty Deals (no response to phone calls) yet the only response I received was that they would contact me soon. They didn’t. Further emails and calls ensued without response and I finally received my items in 3 separate packages in the week before Christmas with one day to spare. Phew!
Not so lucky with the second merchant Urshu, who sent me one of the 2 items within their stated 10 day delivery period. I paid for 2 items and 2 lots of postage, however they ignored all my emails and telephone calls. 6 weeks of contact began with complaining to Mighty Deals via their online ticketing system that I had not received the second item. Each time, I would get an auto-responder to say that they would get back to me in 3 days; they didn’t. This was then followed up by emails saying that my case had been resolved! Mighty roar!
To cut what is beginning to be a very long story short, I eventually got contacted by a customer service adviser to tell me that I needed to contact the merchant. (Are you kidding me?!) Lots of repetitive emails back and forth and eventually Urshu contacted me last week to say that they would refund my postage by cheque. This arrived this today and yep, you’ve guessed it; I haven’t received a refund for the product from Mighty Deals who once again have disappeared off the planet.
Out of pocket…out of my mind!
It certainly doesn’t fair any better for the daily deals site Living Social. A simple purchase on the 21st December has led me on the wildest cat and mouse chase I have known in retail land with the same old scenario; no product and dismal customer service from both the daily deals site and the merchant My Avarice who have ignored all my calls (direct to voicemail) and emails with the exception of yesterday to say that my order would be with me soon. Living Social on the other hand have exchanged useless emails, with me having to repeat myself to clarify the situation. The second to last email from them yesterday said “Please note that delivery can take up to 10 working days. If you have not received your item by the 4th of March, please let us know and we would be happy to chase up the merchant.” After replying to them stating that 10 and a half weeks was an unacceptable time frame to wait, I was just pacified with a final email saying my transaction was with the merchant (I paid my money to Living Social) and I should contact them. They then gave me a non-existent phone number and incorrect email address.
Living Social do state on their lengthy terms and conditions that they are a marketing site and without boring you (although you can find it all on their website) with the full text, they pass all responsibility onto the merchant and the buyer for any purchases. Smashing, but I made my purchase on their site and paid them for the product before they recompensed My Avarice minus their slice of the commission pie.
So, my question is this:
When I run training sessions on customer service, I aim to get my learners to realise that great customer service can only be defined as meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations. There are of course many techniques that can be adopted to teach or hone customer service skills and ensure staff uphold the organisation’s standard operating procedures, however, I believe that the only way to tap into the needs of the customer is to listen and actually hear what they say – or in my experiences above; read.
In my cases with the daily deals sites, I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable. Send me my products or give me a full refund. Nice and simple. How on earth has the process of ordering goods online become so complicated?
The thing that baffles me most of all is the time it has taken to not even gain a satisfactory resolution. Time costs money, so surely it would make good financial sense to refund me for my purchases and close the cases? That’s not even a customer service issue; it’s common sense.
I have also had my fair share of non-delivery and subsequent refunds from the daily deals sites Wowcher and Groupon. 2 out of the 4 products I ordered for Christmas presents failed to arrive from Wowcher, however to their credit, they did refund me promptly. A meal out in London proved to be a complete disaster from a voucher purchased on Groupon; the deal was nothing like the description and the place was closed when we arrived despite having booked. Groupon was fantastic, sending a profusely apologetic email and adding credits to my account.
The main difference to me is the communication and accountability by both Groupon and Wowcher. Although the less than perfect transactions were a pain in the neck, I still felt valued as a customer. Mistakes do happen from time to time, but they were rectified promptly and I was not ignored. They met my expectations in handling my issues. They served their customer.
The internet is growing daily, and with more and more retailers opting to trade online, customers choosing the convenience of home based shopping and competition to secure business fierce, surely providing great customer service should be at the top of the agenda for those determined to survive in e-commerce?
Is a non-face-to-face shopping environment a smoke screen of acceptance for the beginning of the death of great customer service?
Does getting a deal mean that the customer is less important and therefore the cost saving is a bartering tool of acceptance that their needs don’t have to be met or exceeded?
So, are daily deals sites really a bargain? Sadly, not all of them are proving to be for me. I value my time and my hard earned cash so will be choosing to make future purchases with retailers who value my custom.
Author Jules Halliday
For those of you who have met me, especially those who have attended any of my courses or presentations; you will know that one of my mantras (I have a few!) is “People Buy People.” I’m not talking about the slave trade here; I am referring to people wanting to do business with you or offer you a job because they actually like you, trust you and see you as a human being.
You can be the most prolific business owner or a highly skilled candidate, but if the person you are trying to impress doesn’t engage with you, then a long-term professional relationship is unlikely.
Whether you are applying for jobs or pitching for new business, always, always aim to get in front of the person; meet them face-to-face or at the very least, have a telephone conversation. It is so much easier to like someone if you can hear their enthusiasm, passion and sincerity, which is of course much harder to establish with only the written word.
In recent years, job seekers have hidden behind the smoke-screen of online applications firing out CV after CV hoping that one will eventually stick and land them a dream job. Of course, CVs are important for much of the application process – I know; I write them! – However, they can be more effective if used in conjunction with actually speaking with the key people who are ultimately the decision makers and hold your career prospects in their hand.
One of the biggest bug-bears I encounter on a daily basis is spam emails. I can sense you nodding your head – you too? I just delete them and as yet, I don’t think I have missed out on anything important. I just don’t see the point in mass emailing other businesses or individuals to pitch for sales. I won’t buy in this way. I would be much more likely to buy from someone (or at least recommend their product or service) if they met me and spoke with me – with the exception of people who cold call my house and try to sell on my doorstep!
Building relationships will be a more effective route to achieving what you want. Gone are the days when we expected and accepted the hard sell. 70% of job vacancies are not advertised – many of the positions are filled by people who know someone; someone they have spoken with; someone they like. Business networking meetings are booming in almost every UK town – people are meeting face-to-face, building relationships and crucially trust. People buy people.
So what is the next step to success? Simply step away from your computer from time to time and say hello to the big, wide world out there. We all survived, got jobs and built businesses before the invention of the world wide web. Use email, social media, websites et al to back up or compliment the relationships you are hoping to build and develop.
Go on…I dare you…let me know how you get on.
Author Jules Halliday
I have to admit, I am not a fan of hobbies being included on a CV. When I have recruited staff in the past, I haven’t really given two hoots what the candidate’s personal life entails; rather that they can do the job they are interviewing for. Don’t get me wrong; it’s lovely to know that staff have a life outside of work, but that for me is only of real relevance when they are actually hired and relationships are truly being built. Then I want to know all the gory details!
Including hobbies on your CV can actually be detrimental to your interview success if they don’t add value to your application ie. The job. Let me explain…
Until you are in front of the interviewer, you are (in most instances) just a piece of paper. The tough part for you is to make it past the pre-selection stage and secure an interview invitation. Then you can WOW the person sitting before you, correct any misconceptions and show that you are the right person for the job.
Including hobbies on your CV may conjure up negative connotations about your personal life, for example, you may innocently enough state that you like music, attending gigs and socialising with friends – nothing wrong with that, but a person who doesn’t know you and chooses a conservative existence may well interpret your hobbies as “party animal who I may have issues with their Monday morning attendance.” Perhaps you like kite-surfing, motorbiking or potholing; great that you are adventurous, but the reader may well be visualising you with bruises or broken bones. You just don’t know who is reading your application and making decisions based on assumptions, so tread with caution when you include hobbies on your CV.
Every single bit of text on your CV should add value to the role or organisation and set you apart from the other candidates.
Aim to only detail activities that show a quality that is a pre-requisite of the role or can demonstrate something you may be lacking in your work experience, but can demonstrate by things you are involved in outside of the workplace.
Examples are hobbies like team sports, which can not only demonstrate teamwork, but physical fitness, loyalty, leadership and passion. If you are applying for a leadership role such as a supervisor, manager or team leader, but haven’t a career role to draw on, think of anything in your personal life that can show that you are capable of organising, motivating, inspiring and leading. Are you on the Parent/ Teacher Committee at school? Have you organised any events? Perhaps you are a Scout or Brownie Leader? I don’t know – you do!
Look at the job description and person specification closely for key words. Look for words such as responsible, organised, team player, tenacious, practical and so forth. If you don’t have any career examples then include hobbies on your CV that will allow the recruiter to visualise you performing the quality desired.
The bottom line is, workers are hired for their ability to do the job. Yes, a recruiter will choose someone they like, but don’t be fooled into thinking that even if you have something in common outside of the company that that will seal the deal. It won’t.
Finally a word of caution.
As a potential employee, you are protected by a variety of legislation that prevents interviewers discriminating against you. There are certain questions an employer should not ask, including those about your personal life. If, however, you have details of your personal life on your CV, they can ask away as you have essentially given them an invitation to do so. You can read my article on questions an interviewer should not ask over at www.allukjobsites.com or click here.
So, my advice is…if in doubt, leave hobbies out.
For more on what to include or leave out of your CV, click the link below.
Author Jules Halliday