The Blog

Category Archives: Time Management

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!!)


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..

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

Top 5 Interview Tips

Top 5 Interview Tips

It’s just a couple days to that big interview and you’re beginning to get nervous? Sounds familiar? Here are some helpful tips to get you in the right frame of mind so you can be prepared to put your best foot forward and leave a lasting impression on the interview panel.


As the saying goes; if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.It’s a certainty that you will be asked specific questions about the company. Regardless of the role you are applying for make sure you’ve done your homework on things such as size of the company, latest product launches, merger or acquisition just to name a few.Another common mistake most candidates make is researching the company but not the industry.You do not need to know absolutely everything but being aware of the latest developments gives you the ability to converse with confidence and impress the interview panel.


Keeping in mind that interviews can vary widely, there are still some questions that are almost guaranteed to pop up. It makes sense then to prepare answers to these common questions e.g. about your personal strengths and weaknesses, why you are the best person for the job, why that particular company etc.


In the ideal world appearance shouldn’t matter, but the harsh reality is that you are often judged before you even utter a word. Simple things matter; make sure your clothes fit correctly, polish your shoes and keep the accessories to a minimum. Keeping in mind it’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed


Think back to point number 1 – Good preparation is the key to staying in control.Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people, and they may be nervous too!


Always have some questions for your interviewer.This demonstrates your interest in the role and the company.Prepare a minimum of three questions, which will give you more information about the job and some which delve deeper into the company culture and goals of the organisation.

Effectively Manage the Interview Process

Effectively Manage the Interview Process

The interview has always been at the heart of the recruitment process.Traditionally an interview gave an employer the opportunity to meet, evaluate and select the best talent for their organisation. However, times have changed and the process is no longer one-way – it’s two-way, and often a candidate’s first impression of an organisation. Regardless of whether a candidate is successful or not, it is important for an organisation’s employer brand and reputation to ensure the interview process is handled effectively and represents a positive experience for all involved.

Most candidates we’ve spoken to about their interview experiences agree that their first meeting with a company greatly shapes their opinion of that company and their desire to be a part of it or not.That is why I am so pleased to write this article, which offers insights and recommendations to help you understand what a good interview process can do for your organisation.

You the employer are being interviewed as well

A critical but often overlooked step at the beginning of any relationship is the interview of a potential employer by a candidate. Companies should understand the dual nature of the interview process. It plays a major part in shaping a candidate’s opinion of the company and their fit into the corporate culture. Generally speaking employees are commonly regarded as brand ambassadors for their company, and the same attitude should extend to interviewer as well. The key is to realise that the interview process is now a two-way process, and to secure top talent an organisation has to make a good impression.The interview is often a candidate’s first impression of an employer, and will affect how they interact with the company in the future irrespective of if they are hired or not.To protect the brand image and integrity of your organisation it’s important to manage the interview process as carefully as any marketing campaign.

Always give feedback to candidates after an interview

There has always been an imbalance between the amount of effort and commitment a candidate puts into a process and the feedback (or lack of it) they receive at the end. As organisations become more rigorous in their selection processes, candidates applying for available positions are often expected to do more pre research, perform tasks, and meet more people ultimately jump through more hoops. If they’re not successful, they will be keen to get something out of the process, apart from the feelings of disappointment.

The reality is a candidate will think more highly of an organisation if they give feedback, even negative, than none at all.Overwhelmingly, most candidates that I have spoken to have expressed that the way they received the feedback wasn’t as important as the fact they received it at all. Job-seekers are looking for constructive and helpful feedback that will serve as learning’s for their future job search. Feedback should be sufficient and appropriate, to ensure that it is helpful to candidates. While it is appreciated that giving feedback can be difficult, stating it clearly, quickly and sensitively will make that difficult messages easier to deliver, and receive.

Don’t delay the recruitment process unnecessarily

There is no one size fits all approach to how long an interview process should take; it often depends on the role, employer and the pool of potential candidates. However, the most in demand professionals seeking new employment can have more than one job offer under consideration.The best way to lose top talent is to be slow. The length of the interview process should be determined by a range of factors:

  • Level of position – Generally, the more senior the position is, the longer the recruitment process usually takes
  • Job description – Roles that require a very specific candidate with a specialised skill set tend to take longer than other interviews
  • Time of the year – The festive season and New Year generally tends to be a very quiet period, and spikes in certain sectors around key dates, such as end or beginning  of the financial year
  • Economy and recruitment market – These factors impact each industry differently and may either increase the demand for certain professionals, creating skill shortages or generate an oversupply of candidates. In demand candidates such as those with highly sought after IT skills will need to be quickly procured whereas organisations can afford to be more fastidious with candidates that are in over supply

An organisation will be able to judge if their process is too long.Commonly, they will lose potential candidates who have taken other opportunities. If this is a recurring trend, it may be time to audit your process.


The interview process is generally a forum where candidates try to impress. However in a market where significant skill shortages are emerging, making it increasingly difficult to engage top talent, candidates can be more discerning when choosing their career paths. Our research has shown that the interview process is held in a different regard to job-seekers than simply a vehicle to securing employment.It plays a part in shaping their opinion of the company as a whole, and how they communicate about the employer brand to others. By assessing your current interview practices and implementing some simple guidelines, the interview process can be positively  managed to ensure a smooth and at the bare minimum a satisfactory experience, even for those unsuccessful in joining an organisation.

Time.. got the Time Part 2

Time.. got the Time Part 2

Searching for your next career move is a continuous process. Keeping everything up to date means that over time the basics will only need limited attention. By having “all your ducks in a row” you can be ready when that elusive perfect opportunity arises!

Have a Recruiter on your side!

Now clearly we would say this (And we do!!) – but it’s for a very good reason!. Don’t underestimate how many candidates we are speaking to, so don’t just assume that as you have spoken to us six months ago that we will remember you for the dream job we are currently working on

Recruitment is a 2 way street – we actively need the best candidates – and by us working as a team then we can get to know YOUR strengths and have your CV sitting on the top of all the right piles. Give us a call – stay in touch. Value the work that YOUR recruitment team can, and does, do on your behalf.

You want to succeed – we want to help you. Lets work together!

Social Networking

We all have a social presence – but is yours working for you.. or against you?

Our world is increasingly transparent and we all need to be more aware of the images we present through social media. Take some time to review your profiles – looking at LinkedIn as a particular focus. Update your career history, ensure that you are members of relevant groups (make a comment or 2?). Spend some time making sure you have the right connections. Take 5 minutes to look at LinkedIn Today – and make sure that you are not only up to date with prospective employers, but that you are up to speed with the latest and most relevant news.

On that note – it’s worth remembering that it’s a short jump from LinkedIn to Facebook.. so it’s all well and good being the consummate professional on one site – whilst having full photographic evidence to the contrary on the site next door..

Go for a drink – and make it count!

Recruiters love a genuine referral, in fact,who doesn’t?! I hired our builder purely through the referral route! I want someone who is tried and trusted – and if someone else is prepared to recommend them, then that can be a bigger draw than any CV! So bearing that in mind – have a think about your professional network and how they can actually help you secure your next role. Many previous colleagues may have moved on to pastures new in the last few years and could be able to introduce you to the relevant people internally. Failing that – if other members of your professional network have been approached about good roles – are they recommending you when asked?

Keep your network healthy and make that next coffee (beer?) worth something extra!

Take some time updating your CV

Let’s make no bones about it – your CV is YOUR sales document. It isn’t the only thing that gets you an interview – but it most definitely is a BIG thing! There is lots of talk of the downfall of the CV, but it is still vital that you have your employment history written down in a formatted way. Yes, Social Media plays a part, but when it comes to applying for a role, your résumé will need to be clear and concise.

There will be more to follow on this subject –  as a recruitment agency we consider ourselves experts in the world of the CV! We see a lot of CVs that are little more than badly thought out lists!

So change your thinking on the CV – this is the document that is your first “first impression”. It’s the “why you should hire me” sheet.

Check back very soon to make sure yours will get you through the doors you want!!


JOB DESCRIPTION: A UK based software and services company that provides systems to the financial services market with an international client-base is looking to add a C# Developer to their current team.They are seeking a developer to work with the Development and Support group on their leading edge financial applications. Candidates will be considered with

Our Clients