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Keeping it Personal – The Human side of Digital Agility

Keeping it Personal – The Human side of Digital Agility

Agility isn’t only applicable to insurance – it’s cross industry and in our industry etc etc… job search on the go, flexible working, tailor made careers …

It’s not only Insurance that needs to limber up! Our world has changed – we are digital. We expect digital. The world is at our fingertips and we can’t see why everything shouldn’t be done on the move.

Gone are the days of plain old library books – even the task of choosing a real physical book is now something that requires an online presence.

We don’t do waiting. We do google.

And recruitment is one of those areas that agility is crucial in. The downtime during the daily commute = job searching.  Scrolling through a FB feed = personalised Ads.   Flexible working patterns can relate anywhere as the City truly needs never to sleep now the online world is global. The old rules need not apply anymore – jobs can be truly mobile and work can be done anytime, any place, anywhere..

Recruiters need to harness this mobile world and use it to bring a truly agile service to the industries they serve.

Luckily – Recruitment lends itself to digital agility easily. A strong online and mobile presence , the ability to search and be searched for from all devices, a social media savvy frontage are all the precursors to providing a personalised recruitment offering.

Networking sites, job boards and online applicant systems are all ways that technology has revolutionized recruitment; radically changing how employers and recruiters find potential candidates. Applicant tracking systems and new AI software can help HR departments manage the massive influx of resumes that online digitally agile job hunting leads to.

AI-powered systems can do a great job sorting through candidates, but the risk is that non-traditional candidates or candidates with unusual experience that could offer an alternative perspective on a role could fall through the rules-based system, even such a one that can”learn” and therefore improve with ‘experience’,

Applicant tracking systems might be the most noticeable way technology has impacted recruitment ,however behind the scenes there are more changes afoot. Technology has changed recruitment forever, and how the industry has had to adapt – and become agile , just like the candidates it is trying to recruit!!

Data Data

Big Data is certainly a useful tool in the world of recruitment and many other businesses can’t get enough of it. The old adage of “knowledge is power” certainly seems to be being applied to the collection of data. But what good is that knowledge is it is applied incorrectly, or worse, not applied at all?

More data can mean more confusion, allowing tiny details to “skew process and drive people to take action on things that don’t matter, while ignoring the real underlying problems with the recruiting function.”

Analytics and AI are becoming increasingly sophisticated and “intelligent” – with some able to sort CVs at a thousand paces. But with Big Data comes big responsibility – which is where the human touch still maintains a critical role.

Bias

Going Digital can also help businesses not only remove unconscious bias by removing anything from a resume that might identify gender or race. However it can also help bring a specific positive bias into the recruitment process; for example, if a company looks at their workforce and realizes they have predominantly male developers, they can use technology to target female developers in the recruitment process. This can be as straightforward as helping companies to rewrite their job specs to remove any biases in the phrasing. Studies have shown that even unconscious gendered wording can bring about a hiring bias.

AI based systems(assuming the algorithims are correct!) don’t have any selection biases involved!

Global Search Capacity

Geography is no longer the boundary it once was. Global job boards and online application have made job search a truly global affair.

Telecommuting and true agile working mean that recruiters can draw from a candidate pool they may have previously had to overlook. A more diverse talent pool enables recruiters to find professionals with far more specific skill sets than ever before. This talent diversity and ability to provide agile working environments helps drive competition which in turn raises the innovation and service that a company provides.

Flexibilty vs Control

Companies don’t relinquish control easily – and it is probably this aspect of agile working that has been found the most difficult by many! However a company that is prepared to truly embrace a more flexible approach to the traditional world of work is likely to reap the rewards. If we are prepared to accept a 24 hour society in other aspects of our lives then it stands to reason that the world of a basic 9-5 may well have seen its heyday.

Allowing employees the freedom to work however and wherever they work best – whether from home, in an office or from a coffee shop – creates a paradigm shift where employees work from a position of “desired duty” instead of “required duty.”

This mindset shift creates an overall sense of ownership; employees feel like they own their own career pathways. Technology presents endless tools and resources for agile working and the best way to utilise them is to start with a scientific approach : Observe, question, hypothesize, experiment and analyze. Look at new sourcing channels, try new regions, or leveraging social media to build mindset and trust. If employees can (and should!) work in new ways then change your recruitment approach to match!

The new rule is that there are no rules…

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.

Great!

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

7 Key Soft Skills for Career Success

7 Key Soft Skills for Career Success

Softly Softly…

So today at Saxus – we are about to go all touchy feely – and talk about some of the less tangible aspects of career pathway.Your “soft skills” – you all know – that section in our CV where we all cheerfully list great communication and people skills. But what does this actually mean? We all seem to want to have that elusive “team-working” element to our career, those “leadership qualities”….

But how do you truly embody what it means?

How do you turn “soft” (and therefore somewhat nebulous!) skills into something real – and totally knock out when it comes to gaining and keeping employment?

Firstly – we need to consider what these skills actually are!

“Hard skills” are easy!! Is that a contradiction in terms? Not so – your hard skills are those that are job specific.They are your minimum standards to actually be able to do a job.They are also the skills that are easiest to acquire provided you undertake the relevant training.They are clear, definable, easily demonstrable and testable. Easy!

“Soft Skills” are so much more than just a test!! These skills are much more about relationships and attitudes and may ultimately be the determining factor in your levels of success.These are the skills that are the differentiator – after all there are hundreds of IT professionals out there with C++ or java skills – you can all operate the same technologies – but it’s your “soft skills” that will make you stand out. They are your own personal Unique Selling Point!

Good news is you can train them and improve on them so don’t panic! Bad news is – it can be much harder and there is no clear measure of your success, no exam you can pass. However – even by reading this article is going to pay dividends for you when it comes to improving your soft skill-set. A lot of work you can do in this area relates to Emotional Intelligence (EI) – the ability to recognise and manage emotions in yourself and others – and there is lots of further reading you can do in this area.

The Key Soft Skills:

  • Communication Skills

Ever seen a job advert that doesn’t want people with good communication skills? Neither have we! This is the “killer skill” – and nearly always top of the list when it comes to a soft skill-set description! Closely followed by good team-working….

If you do nothing else when it comes to thinking about your soft skills – then consider this at least! Individuals with strong communication skills are excellent at relationship and rapport building, not because they are great talkers but because they are great listeners! Communication is a 2 way street and those people that listen effectively are able to alter their communication to suit the circumstances.

It’s like we all have told our kids… “2 ears and 1 mouth – for a reason”!!

  • Self Motivation

This is relatively self explanatory – and easily practised! Self starting individuals are able to get on task – by themselves!! They don’t need constant reminders and can be counted on to keep on task. Being resilient and adaptable help enormously here as these skill subsets really help when you need to keep going in challenging circumstances.Good news here is that even the most basic of tasks – like cooking a new meal from scratch can help with this.Self motivated individuals tend to be positive ones – and can be some of the best people to work with.

  •  Decision Making 

Frequently in work, as in life, it’s not the actual decision you make that matters – it’s the fact that you were not paralysed by making it! The ability to make choices and move on is valued by employers immensely, and is often an overlooked ability!

  • Team-Working Skills 

This is another area that we all cheerfully list out on our CV – but what does it actually mean.Well for starters that ability to listen and adapt goes a long way in being a successful team player.Using your EI to recognise strengths, weaknesses and emotions also helps. Being able to lead, make decisions where appropriate, delegate or step in… These are all team working skills. Good news is that there are many course available to help in this area – and if that isn’t your bag – try an adventure race (yes I am serious!!) – There is nothing like a bit of mud, cold and adversity to help pull a team together… you may ask for feedback on this one as I will be putting my own advice into practice in September!!!

  • Creativity and Problem Solving Skills

Some people believe that you are born either with or without the ability to think creatively – and whilst it’s true that there are definitely some people who find they have innate talent in this area – it is far from true that we can’t improve on them.There are many “puzzles” in your daily paper that help to stimulate the mind to work in directions you hadn’t previously considered.Use books like the Mind Gym (see Further Reading!) to help you train your brain… and here goes a radical idea…. Talk to kids!! They aren’t as constrained by the dictates of society as we are, and will frequently come up with some incredible methods of solving problems that we would discount out of hand!!

  •  Time Management and ability to work under pressure

Some people do seem to thrive on stress and so it’s been suggested that the ability to work under pressure is an “attitude” rather than a skill…But there is a reason why Pilots spend many hours in flight simulations! It is because the ability to perform under pressure is trainable! Practice does make perfect – and if you know your stuff – you almost go into autopilot in these situations.This is definitely an area you can hone! And Time Management sits hand in hand here – as the ability to be in control of your environment (time) helps to keep that pressure under control too.There are many time management tools out there these days – your phone can schedule your life – so maximise the time you have effectively to help ensure that you get the job done!

  •  Leadership Skills 

There are many leadership training courses available and much has been written about how to develop your leadership skills – we will cover these in more detail in another blog post!! Needless to say – this is one area where it’s often useful to have others input rather than just attempt to up-skill all by yourself. In the meantime – take a look at what makes a good (and bad!) leader – just being aware can help you to make positive changes here!
An awful lot of improving in the area of Soft Skills– is down to being more aware – of yourself, of others and of what is happening around you – so take a look at our further reading list. Be proactive – take on the challenge of improving in all areas of your career – and please let us know if you find a great read or tip – we can all benefit from a little bit of “softly softy”!

Further Reading:

The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner

By Peggy Klaus

Unshrink: Yourself, Other People, Business, the World

By Max McKeown and Philip Whiteley

Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual

By John Sonmez

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

By Daniel Goleman

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman

Emotional Intelligence: How They Determine Our Success – Increase Your EQ by Mastering Your Emotions

By Dan Miller

Mind Gym: Achieve More by Thinking Differently

By Sebastian Bailey

5 Difficult Interview Questions and How to Respond

5 Difficult Interview Questions and How to Respond

One smart CV and cover letter later – you are here – Interview Territory!! Be warned you are likely to face a few tricky interview questions, which is why we’ve put together a few of the most common ones so you can be prepared to answer.So far – your written words have been interesting enough to get you a foot in the door.Now is when the real hard job of creating the right impression starts.

In essence, an interview is an elimination round.This is where you quickly discard candidates that aren’t going to be the right fit and who don’t stand up to the rigours of the interview process.We can’t give you all the answers but we can give you some suggestions as to how to turn those “killer” interview probes into “nailed it” replies!

Bear in mind that this only really covers generic interview questions – we know that it goes without saying that your technical knowledge of role specifics must also be able to stand up to rigorous testing, and that you must equally prepare for that section – be ever sure that you are fully up to speed with all those technologies you highlighted in that CV. It doesn’t do to nail all the general interview spiel and then not know your java from your elbow!!!!

So – if you are ready… Your 60 seconds starts now……

1.Could you tell me a little about yourself?

AAArgh….. This is my least favourite interview question and one that truly throws an enormous amount of candidates.Say too little and you look like you are hiding something, say too much and you could end up sharing anecdotes that really were best left at the bar… Interviewers like this question as it helps them to assess your communication abilities, your delivery style – and your personal “poise”. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover 4 topics: early years, education, work history and recent career experience.The emphasis must be on the latter topics and highlight professional experiences that relate to the position you’re seeking and which support your credentials. Better yet, prepare a personal “branding statement “ that quickly describes who you are and what you can bring to the company.

2.What is your biggest weakness?

Ahh – the classic interview question.I have yet to attend an interview without this question being asked, and it’s always been a standard in my bag of questions when on the other side of the fence. So knowing that – you need to be ready for this one. It is used a lot – so interviewers will expect you to be ready for it – and to have put some consideration into the answer.The interviewer isn’t really expecting you to reveal your innermost fears at this point – it’s an interview, not a therapy session! So plan to use this question to your advantage. Let’s assume that you’re a detail driven workaholic and that you neglect friends and family when working on important projects. Turning these weaknesses into positives is relatively straightforward; by saying that you’re very thorough and remain involved in projects, even if it means working additional hours at times.

An alternative strategy is to mention an area where you’re seeking improvement, and then highlight the steps you’re taking to meet that goal, for instance, an IT professional earning additional certifications. Never draw negative attention to yourself by stating a weakness that would lead an employer to think you are not the best person for the job. The focus of your answer should be on your strengths

3.What didn’t / did you like about your last job?

This can frequently be used as an opportunity to trip you up into giving away a bit of information unwittingly that shows up a concealed weakness!! Be careful, for instance, of complaining of long working hours, you may need to start at 8am in the new role too!!  So you need to be prepared with an answer that highlights the more positive aspects of moving on.

If you currently have a job, it’s vital that you don’t use this as an opportunity to trash your boss / company (you never know who is chatting in All Bar One on a Friday night!). Moaning about current employers at an interview is a really big NO – it not only shows bad form, but also raises the issue that you may be a person who cannot tackle problems as they arise.You need to focus on why you’re now seeking greater opportunities, challenges or responsibility. Concentrate your answer on areas that are relevant to the proposed position and be specific. Avoid saying, “I liked the environment.” Instead, try saying “I enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of a team.” When discussing least-liked aspects, outline an area of responsibility that’s not critical to the job you’re seeking. But be sure your answer indicates that you either performed the task well or that you learned something useful.This shows stickability, even if this was an area that didn’t particularly interest you.

If all else fails and you need a “get out of jail free card” – then using outdated technology as a scapegoat can be a useful technique.

4.Why is there a gap in your work history?

In today’s economy there are so many talented professionals who have been pushed back into the workforce pool – so if this one is you – then don’t be ashamed to simply explain that you were a part of a downsizing. If you were fired for performance issues, it’s best to merely say you “parted ways” and refocus the discussion on how your skill set matches the current position.

It’s vital when you answer this question to highlight what you’ve been doing during any period of unemployment. Freelance projects, volunteer work or taking care of family members all let the interviewer know that time off was spent productively.

5.Why should I hire you? What sets you apart from other applicants?

And as if by magic – that is the next question….

The interviewer is trying to find out if you are actually ready for the job, Do you fully understand what it entails, how you could handle it and your willingness to work hard.

You must prepare this answer. Go back to that CV and cover letter and pick out key areas in your skillset that are particularly relevant to the role. Review the job spec and requirements very closely and choose areas where you can match your experience, career progression and achievements to those areas. Discuss YOUR specific talents – but keep it relevant to the role in hand. And back it up – a proven track record of results added to your best matched qualities.

Your job here is to demonstrate why you are the most qualified candidate – and have the evidence to back it up!

Being properly prepared for these questions will help you enter the interview room calmly and ready to deal with whatever is thrown at you.Interviewers are looking for someone who not only WANTS the job, but who has done their homework and is ready to hit the ground running.They don’t expect you to have every answer – but they do expect you to have done some research and be willing to apply yourself. Being interview ready shows your commitment and the type of person you are, far better than a CV!!! For more in-depth tips on how to prepare for interviews have a read of our previous post. Top 5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Voting with your heart or your head…

Voting with your heart or your head…

So – as the clock struck midnight on Monday – the end of this coalition Parliament became official. Great Britain is now formally engaged in the process of a General Election.

Now my 8 year old is immensely interested in everything – including Politics. And at times the inside of an 8 year olds brain is remarkably accurate. I paraphrase – but in essence my child asked “but WHY does it matter… they all just say the same things and then nothing really changes. It’s a bit like school dinners being healthier Mummy… they still only give us one piece of fruit a week…”

So there we have it – in the eyes of the future generation – they have already sussed out that Politics is not the same as politicking. It’s quite a sad indictment of a democratic system that other countries are fighting to emulate!

So why should we sit up and take notice of THIS election… is there anything we can actually do that has the capacity to change a tired and worn out system?

Now I am no great Political commentator – in fact – my interest in most politicians is limited at best. And I find that worrying – it’s been less that 100 years since women were given any kind of vote, and already we are as disenfranchised as the men. My opinion of Politicians is that quite frankly, they spout an awful lot of hot air. Most of the policies are “similar” – or at least not dissimilar enough to give you any real sway one way or the other.Take a look at where the parties stand on key issues in their current manifesto pledges.

In terms of our own business, the jobs market – well apprenticeships certainly seem to be the latest “trend”. The Tories want to do this by cutting 3Bn off the benefits budget, with some fairly swinging cuts and hard line “community project” work. The cynics amongst us would remark that it seems less of a community project and more a form of youth servitude…The less cynical would comment that the money has to come from somewhere and at least the Tories are clear that hard choices are ahead. Labour on the flip side seems to rafts of initiatives – but I am not quite sure that the “mansion tax” or taxation of bankers bonuses will quite provide enough wherewithal to deliver..

I genuinely don’t know what the answer to our current democratic debacle is. I feel compelled to vote – but my main motivation is encouraging my children to take more notice of Politics as a whole – not because a Party has convinced me of its leadership qualities. More often than not I feel I am voting for the “least worst” option, or a tactical vote designed to keep someone out, rather than vote someone in.

So take a look at these below… its 2 alternative options to a standard cross in a box.

spoil your vote

newsbeat election survey

Perhaps worth a consideration in helping our choices on the 7th May…

Judging a Book By its Cover

Judging a Book By its Cover

We are all guilty of making snap judgments – and as we all know – you only get one chance to create that “First Impression”.

So in the current market it’s vital that you take every opportunity to make your mark.And that includes your cover letter!!

This document doesn’t just support your CV – it adds to it.You can show a little more of your personality here – it’s not just a standard template.This letter will be the first thing a recruiter or future employer actually reads about you – so it needs to make them want to keep on reading!!

Practically Speaking:

Tailor the letter to the Job! Sounds simple, but if you applying for a creative position then why not “break the formats” a little with your letter.If the role you are applying for is very traditional – then using a more standard conservative approach is definitely best!

Be positive! Just that!! But not boastful – just upbeat and honest.

Fancy Graphics not required! This is not the place to show off your word-processing skills. Use a standard, easy to read font.Make it clear and well spaced.

Keep it short (ish) – 3 key paragraphs should cover it!

  • Why you are writing (your interest and general qualifications)
  • Why you are qualified (highlighting specific accomplishments)
  • Thank you (and a request for information on the next step)

Ideally – address your letter to a named individual.This may mean you have to do some research (and actually call the company concerned to find out!!) – However it really shows you have a degree of commitment to the role you are applying for

Useful to know: If you did manage to use a name, then end your letter “yours sincerely”.If you have had to use “Dear Sir or Madam” – then end “yours faithfully”!

It’s ok to use a list and it can be an easily read way to show the employer you have the skills they need.Take three or four of the key requirements and list your matching qualifications in the next column.

The 5 big No Nos!

  1. Spelling and punctuation errors– just not acceptable, at all! And PLEASE don’t rely solely on spellcheckers as it can only detect if words are spelled correctly, not if they are used correctly.This very basic mistake can turn people off faster than almost anything else.It shows a lack of care… Not the first impression you were after!
  2. Outrageous lies– It’s a little too easy to be caught out these days” Don’t make claims you can’t back up
  3. Negativity and sarcasm– No one wants to read a list of reasons why you are leaving.. Be positive and confident. Sarcasm is not well received either – this is an introduction – not a chat with your mates
  4. Inappropriate personal details– Not needed on a CV… Not needed here!
  5. Confused language and unnecessary waffle– Be concise (I fail often with this!).Try and keep your sentences short and to the point!

A Cover Letter may not actually win you a role – but it can certainly help OR hinder getting you that all important interview! Your cover letter needs to show, at a glance, why you’re a leading candidate for the job. Recruiters and employers don’t have time for generic documents; they want to hear about YOU!

Take some time to review your cover letter as well as your CV and ensure that we know quickly why it’s you we should be talking to!!

Chess – or how to choose which move to make next?!

Chess – or how to choose which move to make next?!

Firstly – if this article applies to you – then Congratulations!! You have clearly been paying attention to the ramblings of the Saxus Team and are now in that wonderfully challenging situation of having too many parties and not enough shoes!

NO – in all seriousness – Whilst it’s a great feeling to be having to choose your offer – it presents with some difficult considerations. Today we are going to share a little wisdom about how to make sure that those “shoes” fit!

When we talk about “offers” here – I want you to also consider the “counter offer” from your current employers the same way!! Bottom line – if everything was ideal in your current role – you would not have been for that winning interview in the first place. So if your current employer comes back with an upgraded package I would like you assess that in pretty much the same way as though it were two new jobs..  Weigh up the pros and cons objectively and decide which role works better for you. But with a counter offer you then need to add the killer questions at the end… why haven’t they put these things forward sooner? Will the promised changes actually happen? How will my proposed move affect my credibility if I then stay on?

So keeping that in mind – here are the considerations that the Saxus Team apply when looking at the chessboard of your career:

The first thing that most people consider when it comes to choosing between jobs is Money.. But just for a little while I am going to ask you to lay that to one side and consider other reasons to choose one company over another. The reason for this – well – Money is the easy part. It’s a given, and therefore whilst it should be one of your considerations – it MUSTNT be the only one. Consider other factors first to see what fits – and then look and make sure that the money isn’t a preventative factor. But choose a job for the money alone – and I predict that whilst it may be a short term gain – you won’t be making the best choices for your long term future!

Instead consider other, less immediately tangible, factors:

Job security – do your research, check out how safe this proposed next move is.  Permanent vs Temporary? Redundancies over the last few years? Are they hiring in other areas? How is their business looking?

Work Life Balance – this frequently can be the killer question. The job on paper looks great, fantastic package, good prospects, great place to work… its just the commute is 2 hours each way and you have a young family… When it comes to evaluating this – be brutally honest. This is perhaps the question that really answers “is it worth it??” – There is no point in having your perfect job if its at the detriment of all other aspects of your life!

Career Progression – take a look on LinkedIn at some current employees profiles- are they moving on with the company – or taking the plunge elsewhere. Depending on your own career plan, pick a company that offers you room to grow to make the move worthwhile.  Make sure that there is plenty of access to ongoing training and support. Or instead choose a company that also values long term commitment to totally fulfilling one role. Just make sure you choose the right mindset to fit with where you see your career path taking you!

Company Culture – you can spend more time at work than you do with your family – and I am pretty sure that most of us went on more than one date before deciding to settle down. So given that your job is an equally important relationship – it helps to be sure that the feel of the place matches up!

Your Future… make sure that the move you are making reflects your own career plan. We are assuming you have one – as we at Saxus like to think that all our readers consider their career a critical part of their life.. If you don’t have one; Get One!! Think about geography, future lifestyle and ,yes, your financial future.  If this move doesn’t help with the plan – don’t make it.

Perhaps the biggest and best advice we can offer you is to have fully weighed up your options before making the final call. Make sure your career strategy is solid and your have thoughts several “moves” ahead, making sure that your reasons for looking for a new job are part of the bigger picture and not purely an exercise in financial gain!

2015 is the Year of the Candidate

2015 is the Year of the Candidate

According to a recent article by cityam.com this is not in fact the Year of the Goat …. it’s the Year of the Candidate..

Finally a chink of light is showing at the end of the Recession Tunnel as many city analysts and recruitment experts alike agree that this could be the Year to dust off your CV and start looking once again into the Jobs market

As recently as last week the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) highlighted the current skills shortage in the UK job market – leading to pay scales potentially soaring for the right candidates.

A survey carried out by CBI and Accenture at the end of 2014 revealed that 50% of UK based companies are planning on increasing their workforces in 2015 – with job growth expected across ALL parts of the country.The biggest increases in 2015 are predicted to be in permanent roles – but that doesn’t exclude temporary contracts – as December 2014 saw the highest increase in temporary appointments for 6 months.

Traditionally January is “The Month” when it comes to dusting down your CV – and this is backed up by research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).They have found that 37% of UK workers are hoping for a career move during 2015.Add this to planned increases in UK workforces – and it’s a huge positive for candidates, as whilst there will be more of you out there in the work market, finally those bottlenecks to career progression should be easing.

It also shows a marked return of “ambition to the UK workforce” – with 59% of those surveyed citing career progression as their primary reason for re-entering the jobs market. Other top reasons were “more interesting roles” and “better pay”.

This all adds up to good news for candidates as employers will need to sit up and take notice – not only of those candidates looking for work – but also of their current crop of talented employees. As the jobs market picks up – employers will need to work harder to retain AND attract top calibre staff.

However – with all this positivity comes a note of caution “It’s a concern that the UK’s growing skills gap is now seen as the number one workforce threat to the long-term health of its economy. Companies and the Government need to work together to find ways to develop skills within the workforce and help employees move into higher skilled and better paid jobs” Katja Hall – Deputy Director General CBI

So – make 2015 the Year of the Candidate – if you are considering a career move – the time is right!

But even if it’s not.. its most certainly the time to commit to those goals we discussed in an earlier blog post  going public-goal setting with a difference – so that when and if you do decide to throw your hat into the ring – that you will be THE candidate just ready and waiting to plug that skill gap..

Top 5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Top 5 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

I have spent most of my adult working life in the recruitment industry and I think I’m in a good position to shed some light on this topic given the share of interesting stories I’ve heard over the years about candidates who were not quite what they appeared to be and failed to live up to expectations at interviews.These are my top five mistakes to avoid which would give you a much better chance of having a positive outcome.

  • 1.Showing up late 

Nothing is worse than a making a bad first impression before the actual interview has started by turning up late.Of course, there are unforeseen occasions when an accident blocks traffic or the train breaks down.So it’s essential to make sure and give yourself enough time for these possibilities.Manage people’s expectations of you from the off and if you are late, let them know! It’s always better to be early than late, you can always have a coffee nearby until the interview time.

  • 2.Getting straight to the salary

It’s always better to ask about the salary at the end of the interview when you just made a good impression.Let’s not forget it’s called an interview and they haven’t offered you the job yet; so behaving like they are wasting your time unless it’s worth your while … is a sure way to create a bad impression.

  • 3.Showing off

This isn’t “The Apprentice” – calm down! We have all been guilty of being creative with our CV’s but exaggerating too much can be spotted by a skilled interviewer who would either call you on it or simply put you down as untrustworthy – both credibility and trust are core to most people and their business. A failure to be honest and transparent at this stage will prove costly.

  • 4.Failing to do your homework

Everyone has the internet and access to more information than ever before; so there’s no excuse! The less you know about the company is a direct reflection on you and shows them how little you care. I’m not suggesting you treat the organisation like your wedding or your final exam at college; but please do brush up on the latest news and what the company is about, it’s the bare minimum expected of you!

  • 5.Asking no questions

No interest, no curiosity, no forethought do you think you know it all? Even if you really don’t have any questions ask at least one it shows that you are interested in the role or the organisation and willing to learn more. Show the interviewer you have done your homework and are genuinely interested.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Iain Brassell, Managing Director of IS Recruitment, a specialist and well established IT recruitment agency in Manchester, IS Recruitment (ISR) is a leading supplier of professional IT staff across both the UK and more specifically, the North West. ISR provides both Permanent and Contract IT staffing services covering the full IT lifecycle. Iain can be contacted via 0161 973 2533 or enquiries@isrecruit.com

8 Tips for Job Hunting in 2015

8 Tips for Job Hunting in 2015

It’s always good to start a new year in a positive frame of mind with a plan of action, particularly where job hunting is concerned.Whether you’re thinking about a career change or looking for your first job we’re here to help.By making job hunting a priority early in the year, who knows where you could be this time next year.Here are some resolutions to get you started.

1. Set Targets

Set yourself some targets e.g. in terms of application how many you make per day, and per week etc.Try to be consistent and keep it up until you have some interviews lined up.

2. Efficient & Targeted

Focus on making targeted applications even though job hunting can be a numbers game, sloppy applications aren’t worth the bother, so only apply for as many as you can do well.

3. Mind the Gap

It’s a good time as any to start a course.If you have considerable knowledge gaps on your CV you might want to do something about it to improve your employability.

4. Take time to network

Polish up your LinkedIn profile to make yourself more visible to potential employers and recruiters.Attend some networking events in your industry; let it be known that you’re interested in working in that particular industry.Make contact with people, and follow up introductions with an email. Click here for 3 top tips to attract recruiters on LinkedIn.

5. Flexibility

It’s very easy to get complacent and stuck in a rut with your current role, or become fixated on getting one particular role. Just being open minded will lead to lots more opportunities.

6.Stay positive and keep focused

Job hunting can require a lot of time, and persistence. If you don’t hear back from a potential employer or an interview doesn’t go well, dust yourself off and try again. Don’t give up!

7. If at first you don’t succeed try again

Interviews are something you become good at as you go along.The more you do, the better you will get at it, so don’t be despondent or downhearted if you don’t get the job you want. You’ve gained valuable experience that will serve you well for the next time.. Click here for Top 5 Interview Tips

8. Get some help

Our trained and knowledgeable consultants will help point you in the right direction, or can set you down a path you hadn’t even thought about Get in touch today, and make 2015 the year that you found career success!

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