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December is the month of Preparation

December is the month of Preparation

Its hard to believe the end of 2017 is racing towards us.

December – Advent Calendar time. And it’s the concept of preparation that strikes me today.

It seems as though a lot of changed during 2017 and that the pace of this change is getting ever faster. Yet some of the key issues we faced in 2017 haven’t actually gone away.

Finding and retaining good quality talent is just as relevant in the final few weeks of the year as it was at the beginning. In fact – if anything its more critical. The skills gap and shortage of tech talent is still there – It is time to listen to the rhetoric. In turbulent political and economic times it is challenging to find a way to plug the leak that is the high attrition rate amongst good staff. And yet when we break down what actually makes an employee stay – it would seem that Christmas is an excellent time to make a start on doing just that. Money is less important than you might think, (which is good in today’s climate!) and in the season of goodwill – it is easier to focus on giving – which for the most part is what contrbutes to an employee’s feelings of satisfaction at work.

So for today – in this festive season – let’s take a moment to review – to prepare – to make sure that 2018 truly does become the year that good people feel valued and appreciated at work.


Some key facts to consider:

IT professionals get twice as many recruitment mails than other professionals!

Contributing factors to employees leaving range from lack of career advancement to culture to lack of recognition. Money is a factor – but get the career aspiration loop right and recompense becomes a much smaller problem than you may think.

It costs your business about half an annual salary to find a replacement employee.

And those new employees are far less engaged and therefore more likely to move on faster which creates cultural uncertainty and higher stress in those remaining employees.

The bottom line is that there is very little point in having an excellent hiring strategy if you then forget all about the employee the minute they sign on the dotted line. Recruitment needs to come hand in hand with retention. And that strategy needs to fit your unique company culture. We know the talent is out there – but the competition is fierce. If your organisation won’t look after its key assets – someone else will!!


Top Tips:


Have an optimal onboarding process

Promote your company culture

Develop Effective Leaders

Recognise and Reward

Train and Develop

Provide Challenges

Offer Flexibility

Pay attention to top performers

Offer an attractive compensation package (think past purely salary here!)

Work – Life balance

Be fair

Be honest about change

Foster good teamwork

Corporate Yoga

Corporate Yoga

Historically, “Flexible Working” has been seen of the domain of the working mother. Trying to return to a previous career – juggling work demands and the school run. It conjures up images of telephones in one hand and a screaming baby in the other. Harried women trying to “have it all”



Agility is a not a modern phenomenon – there has Always been the need to be able to do things differently – to maximise the opportunities that all elements of the workforce are able to offer, in a way and time that suits life. But more often than not, the stuffed shirts of the boardroom decided that change was not in fact a good thing, That innovation , god forbid, may actually increase productivity and perhaps mean change for themselves. And so we carried on doing what we always did.. and guess what…

The outbreak of the 2nd world war truly started a work revolt. Women were managing traditionally male dominated jobs and the home – and guess what – necessity truly was the mother of invention and this proved that looking at things differently still got the job done.

Back in those days the game of Women’s Football had a greater following than the mens…

But back then there were not the opportunities to practice genuine agility in the workplace. The modern technologies that we take for granted as a means to stay connected just didn’t exist. There was a genuine need to be always physically present at work.

But today we don’t have those restrictions. Technologies have moved on so much that there is a strong case for advocating more , not less, agile working. And before I become accused of too much femininism – there is no reason that this need to have a role that fits around the school run / life should continue to be the mainstay of women.

Surely the holy grail of work should be the ability to get the job done – in way that is most productive to the business whilst still allowing a high quality of life. A balance that leaves the employee empowered and ready to work during those “agile” hours?

So what does Agile Working mean?

Its an incredibly difficult definition to make – perhaps because quite simply there isn’t just one definer.

The RICS highlighted the fact that work is an activity, not a place – and that points us towards remote working – but it again it cant just be as simple as that. Some jobs do require you to be in a certain location..

So I would argue that Agile working isn’t just about time and space, its also about doing work differently, being more effective. Being outcome focussed rather than hours driven.

The Agile Future Forum whose aim is to provide leadership and practical support to disseminate agile working practices, considers these practices across the 4 dimensions of: time (when do people work?), location (where do people work?), role (what do people do?) and source (who carries out work?).

But however you choose to define it – the aim of agile working must surely be to ensure that you capture the most effective talent – utilising the right people, process, technology to ensure the most effective outcomes of a task.

Task Driven working – without restrictions as to how and where that is carried out.

It sounds amazing – and something we should all aspire to. Yet the concept of allowing more people to work in this more innovative way has been a slow burner. There is a reluctance to relinquish direct control over staff members – a fear that performance will drop without big brother peering through the office window. A reluctance to give up that concept of office “facetime” – the more hours I am here the better I must be.

This is an antiquated old school tie attitude – and one that needs vast readjustment. But like all leaps of faith – they require a degree of trust. Trust in your staff (which brings us back to the need to hire well!), trust in your technologies and trust in yourself.

By all accounts BT is trying to adopt a truly agile approach – they are using it in call centers – allowing carers to come back to work – in a virtual call center – sometimes even in shifts as short as 30 minutes. And they are finding it pays dividends. Ironically staff are now “working” longer hours – the need for “facetime” gone – and commuting down means that employees are actually able to devote more at work time.. to work. KPI performance has increased and employees are happier.

Plot this against the national return to work rate for mothers which sits at approximately 40%.. at BT that figure is over 90% – directly reported as being due to the adoption of agile working practices.

Sickness rates are down and the ability to employ a more diverse workforce is up. Stress related illness alone is reporting a 35% decrease. Cognitive diversity breeds innovation – and the ability to become a more socially inclusive employer brings business benefits and personal ones.

A side effect of this agility is also an improved carbon footprint. Sustainibility is high on the government agenda and BT has witnessed agility bring improve its sustainability.

But agility can’t happen all by itself. A company must have a cultural mindset that welcomes innovation and strong trust in its people. Cost per head – technology is cheaper than space – so business wise it makes financial sense to consider a different approach. Diversity improves innovation and empowered and engaged employees deliver far more when they are genuinely trusted to get on with task focused work.

And so on that note – I will stop working for my agile employers on a Tuesday night and sign off happily… (as Tuesday nights when the kids are in bed is a time and a place that works for me… Task completed, no boundaries!!)




Love it or loathe it – Halloween is upon us once again!

Superstitions and Folklore abound on All Hallows Eve – black cats, jack-o-lanterns, trick or treating and various other delights involving rather a lot of dead or spooky things!

In fact the tradition of Halloween is said to be a rather more Christian affair. Starting on Oct 31st “All Hallows Eve” supposedly starts off the festival observing Allhallowtide –  the time in the Christian Year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs and all the faithful departed believers.

Not quite so scary now hey!!


A lot of superstitions have their roots based in something relatively sensible, and the hauntings of Halloween got me to thinking about the superstitions we carry with us to work!

The really interesting thing about “superstitions” is that they may actually work!

Superstitions can give people a security and an elevated sense of belief in their own abilities and talents. Just think of the All Blacks and their Haka – that may take on an extra level of superstitious confidence and RWC2015 finals – on Halloween!

In the workplace – superstitions tend to be more of the lucky tie and socks variety – but I am taking a wild guess that most of us carry some form of “lucky” behaviour / clothing or ritual with us. Be that coffee in a certain mug or making the early train..

Here at Saxus and ISR we have a number of “lucky interview outfits” that apparently always have always worked – well, the people concerned now work here – so enough said!!

So enjoy the hauntings of Halloween, revel in the All blacks Haka – but for a bit of serious work advice take a read here:



Good Morning Sunshine!

Good Morning Sunshine!

Whilst browsing some news articles this morning,this jumped out at me!!


It was 6:20am and I was already at my desk – in my pyjamas (I work from home!) – doing everything that pre-children I swore I would never do… Tea, dressing gown, not at all ready for “work”. And yet – this quiet hour between 6 and 7am has become one of my most productive.

The way you start your day has an awful lot to do with how it will finish.

I am NOT a morning person. I don’t like the cold, not keen on the dark and I really love my bed. Yet this first hour of my day really sets me up.


What changed?

Well… to put it simply – my attitude. I could get up and GetON. Or I could get up and whinge. One way meant the work got done – which fires you up for more.

The other – well – you know how that one looks.

So stop pressing the snooze button. Welcome the day. Get up and Get ON – see how your start can affect your finish.

Your morning may not look how quite you imagined – but the results may surprise you. And there is no one size fits all for a morning routine. What matters is that it works – and it sets you up for the day ahead.

For me this means no procrastinating. Straight up – slippers on it’s true. But that first cuppa counts and that initial hour of quiet pyjama’ed productivity makes all the difference. I never thought I could love mornings.. but there is a quiet satisfaction in my new routine.


Take a look at the habits of some seriously successful people here..

Fresh, Bright and Female… Careers Open to Talent – welcome here!!

Fresh, Bright and Female… Careers Open to Talent – welcome here!!

I recently highlighted an excellent blog post which I hope you will have taken the time to read..

And I wanted to follow this up with a few ramblings of my own.

The “traditional” working picture – doesn’t exist anymore. Or at least – it shouldn’t! in a 21st century digital age – I sincerely hope that we no longer expect women to chain themselves to railings in order to have a voice. And it’s actually much more than that. Technology should be breeding diversity – in the workplace, workforce, work structure – work everything.

The diversity debate should no longer focus purely whether women can enter a “man’s” world. But more it should actively be looking to be totally inclusive – and how to present that a career is open to talent!

This is a subject that is especially close to my heart – as one of my children is deaf… so we have inclusivity issues in abundance right on our doorstep.  Human beings are pre-programmed to want to fit in and feel accepted. In the workplace (and especially the city) – that picture has been one of a MAN in a suit. It becomes pretty hard to walk into an environment where you feel that already you are the exception rather than the rule. Think men in Nursing if you want an alternate career example.

Recently Saxus tweeted about Exceptional Minds – an example of how harnessing “non traditional” employees has huge benefits for everyone concerned. Our world is a smaller place as a result of technology – supposedly with opportunities presenting themselves. Yet we still choose from the same small pool we always chose from. Stereotypes abound – and we are missing so much talent through their fear (and ours) of challenging the status quo

Well – I would like to confront this “Stale Pale and Male” paradigm. I would like to suggest that we investigate our inner bias – and ask if we are choosing our next hire because its’ like looking in a mirror? Or because they are the best person for the job?

Genetically speaking – our species becomes stronger through a more diverse gene pool.  The same holds true for work.


If you always do what you always did.

You will always get what you always got

Interested in Diversity in Insurance – take a look here


Images courtesy of Baranski

Climbing the Career Ladder

Climbing the Career Ladder

IT is where it’s at! Demand for skilled technical staff is outstripping supply and nearly half of organisations were planning to recruit technical staff according to the IET’s Skills & Demand in Industry Report 2014.

Almost every company, in every industry, now has a digital strategy or has incorporated innovative IT into every strand of the business. The “digital agenda” and cyber security is driving an increase in hiring activity.


That means there are more jobs to go around.

So the time is now to ensure that you are in the IT crowd. This is a busy time and a competitive marketplace, filled with opportunities – make sure you are best placed to be climbing the career ladder!!

Customise and Control your CV

In short – tailor and target your CV to the role you are applying for.  Employers don’t want to be searching through line after line of text. Highlight areas that show roles specific skills. A good sharp, customised CV show attention to detail – a great thing to show a future employer!

To ensure a more successful viewing of this now perfectly aligned CV – you need to be aware of application processes. These wonderful technologies can now allow thousands of application for a single job through online systems. You need to be sure that your CV is getting in front of the right people AND for the right roles – otherwise all that tailoring was for nothing!


Don’t over egg the custard

We all know that IT brings with it many advantages…you are applying for a role in IT!! So perhaps showing off through fancy HTML  / graphics and dingbats fonts isn’t the best way to show off your skills. Formatting is being taught in primary schools – so leave flashy graphics to your kids powerpoint presentations – and stick to presenting a great role specific CV as suggested above!

On a more practical note – some companies use automation to check CVs – so anything that can’t be scanned – will be dumped!!


Clean up your online presence

We are cyber voyeurs these days. Its true – any employer worth their salt will have screened possible candidates’ online presence. We check your social media, your blogs and what online groups you may contribute to. So make sure your private stuff stays private – and think about your online feeds. It may only take a minute to fire off that tweet – but it can stick with you (positively and negatively!) for a lot longer!


Employment history

This is important. And here is where it’s critical that you read the job spec correctly! Make sure you pick the bits from your previous employment history that are relevant to the role you are currently applying for. Ideally show your your work supported the business and not only the IT department. Show what impact you have made – not just a task list.

If this is your first job – then include any volunteering / shadowing that you have done – both to show a willingness to work and learn – and also to show that you have been gaining practical experience.

Show you can do IT anywhere

IT sits anywhere!! That is in part why demand is so high! But it now means you’ll have to provide evidence that you can work with the people who use IT systems, not just the people who build and maintain them! This means that whilst technical skills are important, the ability to learn fast, deal with pressure, be creative in solving problems and communicate effectively are equally needed!

So when putting that CV together (tailored to the role of course!!) make sure that you highlight evidence of your ability to work collaboratively across departments!!

Show your personality

Being employable isn’t all about the technical skills you have, In fact increasingly employers are hiring for potential rather than purely a skillset. So do show that you are a well rounded individual. You don’t just go to work to deal with a machine – you need to be part of a unit – and that is where you personality comes in..


BUT… not too much..

What role you played in the primary nativity is a step too far!! Pick the key “extras” and stick to those. Adding too much “filler” can actually be detrimental as it can look as though you have cut and pasted a hobbies list!!!

Don’t lie

Quite why some people think that lying on the CV is a good idea is beyond me!! Emphasise the good bits by all means – but just don’t make it up.

You will get caught!!! Maybe not straight away – but lies have a nasty habit of coming back to bite you when you least expect them to!


Need more Help?

That’s what we do!!

Contact Saxus Solutions at:  0207 953 9760

Not your average Recruitment Company…

Not your average Recruitment Company…

Ruth Maskrey is our Senior Delivery Consultant. Ruth hails from sunny Stockport and prior to joining ISR spent her formative work life as a Soft Skill Systems Trainer and credits this as one of the keys to her success in the recruitment sector. Ruth is one of those rare individuals with an infectious personality who always has a smile on her face and a positive outlook, even in difficult situations. Ruth loves dealing with people, and is always committed to delivering outstanding service to everyone she interacts with and this comes across clearly to everyone who has the pleasure to speak with her!

Let’s see what Ruth had to say……..



Most = helping the candidates through their journey – knowing they have put the effort   and energy into the interviews, taken on board the preparation you have given them and then be offered the role J

Least = knowing a really good candidate has withdrawn from the process when it’s been a struggle to find somebody with the right skills


Candidate commitment


Placing somebody in a role which took around 6 months from the start t to the end, the candidate relocated from Cheshire to London.  Met him recently and he loves his job and his family have settled into their new home

  • WHERE DO YOU SEE Your Career IN 10 YEARS?

Managing staff / mentor


Market yourself, add more information on to your CV, be professional but friendly on the phone and don’t use the word “like!”


Be quicker with constructive feedback on why somebody isn’t right for the role

Tell us what you’re not looking for


Work life balance – knowing you have commitments but also knowing you have a role to fill


Trampolining – I used to compete before my kids were born and recently started going to an adult class – my mind says I can still do it but my body disagrees – brings back happy memories and my competitive streak!

Spinning – it’s a challenge every time I go, but so proud of myself for getting through the class alive





Que sera sera


Laying in a bubble bath watching Jeremy Kyle on YouTube


Contact Ruth on:

0161 972 4863
07463 071 240


Move up or move over – how to use technology AND talent to deliver your business

Move up or move over – how to use technology AND talent to deliver your business

More than ever before – IT sits at the heart of everything “business”.It is no longer a question of having an IT department, it is now more that IT its an overarching business principle.Business now is totally dependent on being digital – and this means changing the way we have traditionally viewed our IT departments!

Digital places IT at a critical juncture: change or be changed. IT MUST be a partner in driving business value; How exciting that IT is truly instrumental in marrying technology AND talent to realise business outcomes and innovation.

Managing your IT talent is becoming ever more critical to business success.The traditional role of the IT professional no longer exists and an increasing number of “new IT professionals” are now embedded throughout the organisation, meaning that innovation can and will happen independently of the IT department! This requires a balancing of the skills triangle – Business + digital + technology, and IT leaders MUST help the workforce adopt new roles accordingly.

The pool from which IT talent can be drawn from is also now a global pond.IT workers are highly mobile and can be from a broad geographical and cultural base.This requires a shift in focus to managing IT diversity which as well as managing a need for more business and market savvy IT professionals than ever before.

On the whole this is a massively positive change – IT professionals are now genuine partners in driving change across the organisation. But as we all know – “ Mindset” is a slow turning ship however reluctance to embrace the new distribution of your IT department throughout the business will slow the rate of advances to be made.

So what should you do about this? Well it will require a degree of reinvention and a move away from the traditional company structure! Invent a new IT organization; new structures and interaction models that make best use of skills and capabilities across the whole organization.

Now is the time to fix those “legacy issues”. Proactively start strategic workforce planning. In order to deliver multispeed IT a huge degree of flexibility is required.Your plan needs to consider how to re-skill, attract and source talent that matches both the digital demand of the business and IT.

Technology Goals

So think about Refining the “IT department” – into the IT business.This subtle yet critical mindset shift will help to bring about a more genuine partnership role. IT will now be a driver in business innovation.

And IT professionals…. there is a mindset and cultural shift for you here too. As IT becomes a more integrated department – this will require more than just typical skills. Ensure that you are “skills savvy” (see blog post on soft skills) and be ready to deliver innovation wherever it’s needed throughout the organisation!

10 top tips to maximise your Telecommute

10 top tips to maximise your Telecommute

Working from home is a most excellent idea – I should know… I am one of an ever increasing number of telecommuters, freelancers, self-employed – or just those of us who actually find that the work life balance afforded by working at home is significantly improved.

On the face of it – working at home makes perfect sense.The commute is short, you don’t need to worry about someone eating YOUR sandwich, and you can get on with the job at hand without all the noise and distractions of the office.

However, there is NOTHING more distracting than being at home.The temptation to sneak in a load of laundry, make a coffee every 5 minutes, make dinner or just catch up on Andy Murray is overwhelming. And whilst the peace and quiet can afford you more time to concentrate – the reverse is also true – the quiet itself can be distracting!

Expert studies show that on average a “telecommuter” is more productive than their office counterparts. “Homeworking” has been shown to reduce staff turnover and improve morale, as well as reducing absenteeism and decreasing stress levels!

I personally find working from home has been the best career move I have ever made.It allows me to carry on with a career and juggle the demand of a home and family.I have been in one way or another, a “telecommuter” for the whole of my career and have discovered that there are a few key tips for making this work for employer and employee


1. Get a Room: Sounds obvious – but you really need a room or designated area of your house that is set aside purely for work. Having your work and home life mixed up together is a recipe for distraction. Ideally your office should be somewhere the kids don’t go and is organised professionally.Confidentiality rules still apply to home-workers so get into the habit of ensuring that the work you do at home follows the same structure as that you would have done in the office.Keep your room free from other house “clutter”.This is not the place for drying your laundry and the kids’ football kit!!

2. Dress the part: Whilst I am not advocating a full business suit every day – I am recommending clothes!!! Home is a place where we relax and chill out. Pyjamas are associated with lazy Sundays mornings and are not conducive for turning on a work brain. Getting dressed is all about walking the walk. It sets your mind up that you are going to WORK. Not just going downstairs where there may be some work – and the difference is huge! Get up at a regular time and follow a morning routine similar to one you would use for heading to the office; shower, coffee and breakfast (see Tip 5!) and dressed!

3. Keep it professional: I think this may be the hardest and most important tip I can give you. It is all too easy to think that working from home means things aren’t as critical as when you are in the office. NOT TRUE! The rule I apply here is that if it isn’t ok in the office – then it isn’t ok in my Home Office.I schedule work hours that are realistic and achievable (and stick to them!), the kids and cats are not welcome during these hours! If my friends call – I am working!!! I have a to-do list – and I make sure I get it done in the time I have allocated that day. But equally – if a task sometimes takes longer – it is equally important not to allow work to encroach into “home time” – replan it for the next day.Having a schedule focuses the mind into Work Mode. Laundry and dinner are not welcome here!

4. Take a break: Research has shown that productive workers tend to focus for 52 minutes and then disengage for 17. These breaks help the brain to come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle challenges again. It is all too easy to lose track of time without the distractions of the office – and just procrastinating can be a big challenge – so can working too hard and too long! Ensure that you do take a break, get some fresh air (maybe even use those 17 minutes to sneakily cook dinner or empty the dishwasher! By scheduling your household distractions into a work break – it does stop them being so tempting – and also gets them done!! But keep to schedule!!! No extras!)

5. Eat Healthily: The temptation to just wander into the kitchen is huge while working from home. Without co-workers and office buzz around you it is all too easy to use food as a distraction… Your waistline will not thank you for the extra biscuits that no-one saw you sneaking – and your productivity levels won’t either! Eating too much OR too little isn’t good for your health or your job! Schedule breaks, ensure you do stop for lunch – and use task completion as a time for a coffee (and ok – ONE biscuit!)

6. Reduce Web Clutter: It’s great that we can keep multiple tabs open at once – and it’s incredibly useful when researching articles (I should know!). But when you are in your “work time” then shut down the Facebook tab, close off hootsuite and turn off the BBC sports feed that tells you how Andy Murray is getting on RIGHT NOW! The temptation to look and procrastinate (I will only look for 5 minutes turns into “just one more game / set / match”). The highlights will be on later – and if you get on during scheduled work time – you may just catch the end of the match live!!

7.Task vs Email: Set times for answering the phone and your emails.Voicemail is there for a reason – and it is all too easy to allow yourself to be deviated from the task by constant email checking. In that professional plan of yours – have a “comms slot” – where you bulk answer calls and messages, helping you to stay on task.

8. Stay Flexible: all of the above doesn’t mean you must rigidly stick to the 9-5 of the office environment. One of the major reasons many people choose to work from home is the flexibility it affords them. If you are a keen cyclist and its winter – of course it makes sense to cycle in the middle of the day, when it’s light. But ensure that you stick to Tip 2 above – and ensure that by keeping things professional you can plan to have this amazing life that allows you to work AND play at a time that works best for everyone.

9. LEAVE! Counter intuitive? Not so – sometimes you just need to get out of the house. If the distractions / quiet are becoming too much then head out to your nearest coffee shop – wifi is everywhere so change your scenery and use that as a boost to keep you focussed!

10. Don’t forget about the office altogether: Just because you are a remote worker doesn’t mean that the office has actually vanished! Whilst there are many benefits to working at home – there are also benefits to real interaction with other human beings! In fact this is one of the areas I miss the most.Take the time each day to speak to someone – check in! Stay in touch, And ideally make sure that you take the time at least once a month to meet up with your colleagues – Yes – it maybe just to catch up on the gossip, but it helps you stay connected and that is critical to maintaining motivation!


Finally – Remember Why You Work!! I said 10 tips so I will call this “advice” instead… But it’s critical to remember the reasons why you work in the first place. One of the biggest downsides to working from home is that it is ALWAYS there! This is why things like closing the door at the end of the day, and sticking to working hours are critical.Working from home shouldn’t translate into working at all or any time of the day and night. Being efficient and self-disciplined in your approach will actually buy you back a work life balance that is enviable – provided you stick to your professional approach! Telecommuting can be an excellent solution for employees and employers with advantages such as increased productivity and decreased stress. But it is important for the remote worker to still feel connected and a part of the team. Using these tips to stay professional at home will help as will continuing to think about what you want out of your job, and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Keep sight of your aspirations, because more than any tip or tool, that’s what will keep you motivated.

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