Graduating soon?


A number of opportunities await after graduation, but how do you decide which one is right for you? Getting a head start will give you more thinking space (and help you beat the competition!)


If you have read my previous blog, you would have seen that I have spent the past few months talking to graduates. What I am finding is that many are astounded at how difficult it really is to get a job in the field of their preference and the time this initial search is taking them . This comes as no surprise to me, since I was in a similar situation a few months ago. I've got to admit that I made sure to make every second count on my last semester, so I applied to jobs and opportunities quite early on.

You do not need the extra stress during your exams, so exploring your options and different avenues early on (preferably on your last academic year), puts you ahead of the competition and it means that you do not have to worry about it once you graduate. Imagine how good it must feel to have landed yourself a job knowing that all your focus and time can be put into your exams and organising your summer holiday? You do not want your 'last stress-free' summer holiday to be spent sitting in front of a computer applying for jobs and panicking.

As a previous graduate, who has gone through this and is now working full-time and speaking with graduates every day, I would suggest to start focusing on your post-graduate options now. The Christmas break is a brilliant opportunity to plan ahead. Below are a number of options which you could look at which might be helpful for recent or future graduates struggling to decide on a career path:

  1. Gap Year
    A change in location might give you a new focus and perspective. As well, traveling or accomplishing those things on your bucket list might be more difficult to achieve once you begin your full time employment. However, it is key to remember that a gap year is a great opportunity to gain new experiences and skills, whilst giving you time to reflect on what you want to do next, so feeling fulfilled by the end of it should be your aim. It will also help add additional 'life experience' to your CV which employers really value.
  2. Internship
    Internships offer the best of both worlds and are a great way to find out what working for an industry or a specific company involves. It is important to choose the right opportunity that gives you a good experience, especially since most internships are unpaid. This is also a great route to take before full-time employment.
  3. A Master's Degree programme
    This exposes you to a variety of subjects, aiding your personal development. If you decide to do a Master's degree then be sure that it fits with your long-term plans as it is not cheap. It is worth asking, will this help my employment prospects?
  4. Full time job
    Good for those who would like to go straight into work and put their theory into practice. This also allows you to start your career at an early stage, gain experience and earn money! However, if you are trying to put your degree to use and find a job within the field of your studies, bear in mind that it may be difficult to find the perfect role in a specific field. Finding your first 'proper job' is not easy so the idea of starting from the bottom should not put you off.
  5. It is all up to you
    There is no right or wrong answer. It is never too late to change your mind and chart a new way for your career. You will have gained so many transferable skills from university which will be relevant to many jobs. These jobs may not be immediately connected to your degree discipline but your degree will never go to waste. Some of these skills include things such as independence, critical thinking, organizational skills, team work, time management and many more. In our experience, many employers will be more interested in your interpersonal/life skills and abilities than your specific degree discipline.

Remember!

  • You have plenty of time if you get started soon
  • Do not compare yourself to your friends, your choice and decision is yours to make
  • You are definitely not alone

For those of you looking to go into full time employment after university, my next blog will give you a few tips on applying for your first 'proper' job, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

 

Grads, have you been applying for jobs but seeing no progress?


Recruiter to graduate guide, written by a recent graduate-turned-recruiter.


Only 6 months ago I was looking and applying for jobs myself, feeling rejected and not good enough.
Having been through intensive training as a recruitment consultant, I have now moved into my current role, recruiting graduates! During many conversations, I have been able to sympathise with the uncertainty in graduate's voices as they are trying to navigate their way through this new chapter.


The following tips are just a few which can help you stand out from a call list made up of hundreds of graduates. They are simple, effective and do not require much further research or work. Starting my journey as a recruiter, I quickly learned that the thoughts I had as a graduate, which included doubts over the skills I could offer to businesses full of experienced individuals, were far from reality. I have now discovered that graduates bring the flexibility, creativity, motivation and skills that a business needs to stay competitive and dynamic. Changing this mindset and incorporating some of the following tips could be your secret to success!

Set up a professional voicemail message
This is the first form of communication that recruiters will have if you happen to be away from your phone or, like most of us, are screening your calls! This will boost your credibility, make you seem more competent and encourage the caller to try you again. Keep it simple, short and to the point. Make sure you check your voicemails and text messages as most recruiters will try to call first before sending an email.

Have a conversation
When recruiters call they will be asking open ended questions. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, so do not take it for granted. Do not be scared to do most of the talking. If you get asked to talk about your current situation, try to provide some detail rather than a short answer. We like to know that people are capable of answering such questions and holding a natural and engaging conversation. Equally, the ability to communicate articulately is a skill many employers are looking for.


Naturally, your answers will vary, however a few tips include:
Currently working or in education (university) but looking for a new opportunity?
- Talk about what you are enjoying as well as what you are finding difficult (put a positive spin to this and think about what these tough situations have taught you).
- When making a point evidence it with examples, so mentioning figures and statistics is always a good idea such as KPIs, targets, number of assignments/exams completed
- What is important for you for your next role or any future plans you might have, for example studying abroad or any internships/training. (This will open up a new conversation as the recruiter will be able to tell you about the roles that they have available which might be suitable for you).

Unemployed and looking for a job?
-Previous employment and the things that you enjoyed there as well as the reason that you left (again, there could be many reasons for this however try to avoid blaming somebody else for your decision to leave work, and instead talk about everything you enjoyed and your transferable skills as a result of that job).
- If you are participating in any projects or events then talk about those
- Alternatively, feel free to talk about non-commercial elements such as your family, friends or hobbies/sport; we love it when personality comes through, just remember to keep the examples relevant.

Be aware of what is on your CV
As a recruiter, there is nothing worse than asking somebody to talk about their experience within their CV and hearing silence on the other side of the phone. A few tips to avoid the awkward silences include:
Know what is on your CV and be ready to talk about your roles and the companies that you worked for
If there are any gaps within your CV then address those. In order to represent you correctly, we need to understand the reasons behind any gaps.
If you would like to take this one step further and impress then try the following:
- Apply your experience to the job that you are seeking
- Talk about the organization's culture and how you would fit in
- What value can you bring to the organization which is different to other applicants

Ask questions
It is always favorable to ask questions at the end. This does three things, firstly, it shows that you have put some thought into your questions. Secondly, it increases your knowledge, allowing you to assess further if this position and company is right for you. Finally, it demonstrates enthusiasm and interest in the role!

Send a thoughtful follow-up note after your conversation
Sending a note that thanks the recruiter for their time and expresses your enthusiasm for the role goes a long way. A good tip is to mention something that you spoke about during the conversation. This not only shows commitment but it shows that you were paying attention!

I hope this is useful and will allow you to impress future recruiters. If you have found this useful, please feel free to comment and share as I would love to know what you guys think. If there is anything that you would like me to cover on my next blog post then please comment below with some topic ideas. Additionally, if you would like to know more about recruitment as a future career then please comment below or email me at [email protected]

Thank you.

 

Will consumer sentiment lead to another recruitment rollercoaster?

It’s my first day back in the office today and I’m feeling super positive about the year ahead. That’s pretty good considering that 2016 was one hell of a rollercoaster for us recruiters. Arguably, that’s a pretty odd statement as my business and (anecdotally!) my competitors, had a cracking year. So why was it a rollercoaster? Our clients, specifically in retail and hospitality, are hyper sensitive to consumer sentiment. I’m sure you have seen the surveys. Here is GfK’s survey - you’ll notice there are a few troughs! The graph above tells us that consumer confidence went from pretty positive at the back end of 2015 to Armageddon in July. There was a recovery before a further dip in November. Indeed, here’s a screen print from the BBC website today (Wednesday 04/01/17): It makes for pretty depressing reading. To top it off, footfall declined over the New Year period. Given that we know that Article 50 will be invoked in March and that Trump will be inaugurated later this month we can be confident that another rollercoaster year is ahead of us. As you would expect, if our clients lose confidence they cut costs and, as we all know, the quickest cost to cut is people related i.e. less recruitment. Or at least, that was the traditional approach. Over the last two years we have seen a bit more resilience in the jobs market. Our client base is a little less sensitive to macro change, and while remaining cost conscious, less susceptible to knee jerk reactions. Additionally, not all sectors of retail or indeed other industries are impacted by poor consumer sentiment. Value retail is likely to see a resurgence in 2017 despite ever increasing competition. Arguably, Tesco & Morrisons will reap the benefits of the strategic changes they have instigated over the last two years. Here at AdMore we have invested in other sectors too, such as apprenticeships recruitment and that sector is forecasted to grow by up to 50% due to the impending levy. So you see, whilst I believe that 2017 is going to be another rollercoaster ride for consumer sentiment and that some areas of recruitment are likely to mirror that, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. That said, if you are a candidate, a hiring manager or a recruiter; we will all once again need to be very, very, very resilient!
 

The REAL irony of recruitment

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There is a thread on LinkedIn that is likely to run and run and run. It was posted with good intentions and borne out of frustration. The update reads as follows: “Definition of irony = Chasing a recruiter for several months and time and time again, them NEVER calling you back when they say they will, NEVER replying to your emails, having members of staff who answer the phone blatantly lie to you, then you getting a Head of HR job and said recruiter chases you to meet for a coffee and discuss my needs for recruitment within 5 days of your start date. Now that is ironic in my book! This is not a recruiter or recruitment industry bashing thread but my own personal observation.” Unsurprisingly it has turned in to exactly what you would expect, a recruitment bashing thread. Unfortunately the real irony has been missed altogether. The real irony is that recruitment has turned in to a circle of abuse that only the abused can break. You probably know this statistic already, but here goes. People who have been bullied are twice as likely to bully themselves. The candidate that experiences the worst that recruitment agencies have to offer is the only one that can break this circle. They can break this circle when they become the client. The client is THE customer. The stakeholder with the greatest power to define how recruitment agencies treat candidates. Indeed there are lots of things we agencies can do to improve the experience for candidates - all of which can be measured and reported. Unfortunately it’s an expensive model. Even more unfortunately, most clients don’t want to pay for it. The very people who often complain about the conduct of recruitment agencies are utterly unwilling to invest their own time and their (employer's) own money in improving the candidate experience. That’s the real irony.
 

The use of NDAs in a recruitment process

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By Sophie Mackenzie We have worked on several high volume campaigns recently where there has been a requirement for candidates to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement) and this has prompted several queries from people who have been unfamiliar with the process. Here’s a brief guide! Why are they used? Otherwise known as a Confidentiality Agreement, an NDA is a legal contract used to prevent the sharing of sensitive information, normally for a specific period of time. Often used commercially to protect information regarding product patents etc. they can also be used in recruitment when it is important to control the sharing of information about certain vacancies. This could be for several reasons – the company may be undergoing a restructure or opening new stores and don’t want detailed information to be disseminated amongst the wider market and their competitors. They may need to hold back certain key pieces of information until other matters are resolved, for instance, contracts signed on property locations. Alternatively, the business could be acquiring a competitor or part of their supply chain. What does it mean? Simply, it is a contract in which you, the Candidate, agree not to share any information regarding the particular company, vacancy, location (the scope of which is outlined in the agreement). This is normally for a specified period of time. Once you have signed it, the company or the agency representing them, are then in a position to disclose the details of the company and/or vacancy. How does the process work? From an agency perspective, when briefing you on a confidential vacancy, we will explain that the role is highly confidential and before we can disclose any details, we require all candidates to sign an NDA. We are normally in a position to disclose some element of the opportunity so we know we are not wasting your time! The NDA will be emailed and you will then read and sign it before returning it to the consultant. Although it can be signed electronically, it will need to be sent as an email attachment so that there is an audit trail connecting it with you. Once it is received, you will then receive a call to go through the opportunity in full detail, as normal. Clearly, you need to respect the terms of the NDA and not disclose any details for the period specified. DO NOT be tempted to ignore it and openly discuss the role.
 

Do Psychometrics make recruitment processes better?

By Celia Grand-Pierre Coming back to England and as part of my Masters Degree in International Human Resource Management, I wrote my dissertation on Psychometrics and Personality tests. Even though my subject was very specific to recruitment agencies, their use is widespread amongst companies in general. I collected Research and data from 22 recruitment companies. You might be surprised that all firms are using those tests internally (to recruit their own people) and/or externally (on behalf of their Clients). However, they weren’t satisfied with the results (18 agencies out of 22 according to survey responses)... but they still use them without making any changes. Most of the blogs I will be sharing with you will deal with these types of tests - what they involve, how retail companies are using them and in particular, are they really being used appropriately? If not, what are the alternatives to this ‘fashionable’ process? Indeed they are more than ever, a fashionable way to select the ‘best’ talent to perform a job. However, are they really making recruitment processes any better? What are they? Psychometric tests “…have the goal of assessing various cognitive abilities from numeracy and literacy skills to spatial awareness and more”. Personality tests are “…intended to highlight specific personality traits that could indicate suitability for specific roles. These can come in the form of personality questionnaires, leadership tests, motivation tests and situational judgement tests” So why do companies use these tests (specifically numeracy and literacy tests)? There are three major reasons:
    • To measure the aptitude and ability of candidates on specific tasks
    • To understand the personality and behaviours of candidates to analyse the possible fit with the company
  • To filter a talent pool due to increased competition and number of applicants
  Are they currently reliable? Those tests have now been used for many years and in my opinion, they are not currently used at their best.
  • Using numeracy and verbal testing as PART of a process can reinforce decision making.
  • They should NOT be used as a filter in order to attract the best candidate. There is still no evidence that a candidate who scores well at these ability tests are better at their job than a candidate having a bad score.
  • Similarly, Personality tests are reliable depending on their context. Using them as a first stage of a recruitment process could be risky and companies could miss out on some talent.
The danger of using tests at the first stage of selection: One of my friends recently applied to a vacancy with a large corporate in the UK. What was the first stage of the process? A numerical and verbal assessment which she had to perform within 48 hours of applying. “Well that was fast!” she thought. “They are probably doing that in order to check the motivation of the candidate and to see how quickly I can react”. To be fair, for some companies this could be a reasonable way of thinking as thousands of applicants are hard to deal with. However, filtering candidates and applying tests as the first stage of any process is not about attracting the ‘best’ candidates, but about reducing the talent pool. There are plenty of fish in the sea. However, by doing this, are we not missing out on ‘good’ potential candidates? After all, some candidates struggle with these tests, for a variety of reasons (another blog for the future!). In my next blog, I will discuss the different approaches employed by companies when utilising personality tests to select candidates based on cultural fit.
 

LinkedIn’s analytics backfires for many employer’s job adverts

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By Jez Styles You might have missed it but LinkedIn’s share price collapsed after their latest financial statement. LinkedIn has been under increasing pressure to increase its revenue streams and, with a slow down in growth to 20% in the fourth quarter from 56% in the equivalent period last year, many analysts are predicting this slowdown to continue with predictions of just 10% in 2018. At the heart of this slow down in growth has been LinkedIn’s over reliance on its ‘talent solutions’ which makes up 63% of net revenue. LinkedIn has attempted to differentiate its ‘adverts’ proposition from the standard job boards and through the acquisition of several firms including Fliptop. Late last year LinkedIn updated its job advert page for premium subscribers to provide further information for prospective candidates on employers. Read more here: http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/15/linkedin-revamps-its-jobs-listings-with-big-data-analytics/ Sounds great right? What happens when the analytics don’t look quite so rosy? And let’s face it, not every company on LinkedIn is in hyper growth. Indeed I happened upon the following advert recently. ***Looks like an interesting position doesn’t it? I might even apply myself… Hang on, let’s just look at those lovely graphs and charts before I do though… Oh! hotel choc 1 It seems that headcount has dropped by 18%, so 1 in 5 employees have left in the last 2 years. Hmmm that doesn’t look good for job security does it? Average tenure is 3 years? Well maybe the salary and package will assuage my concerns… choc NN Well, there are no details about salary and package and LinkedIn tells me that these roles typically pay anywhere from £30 to £59k…which is pretty broad by anyone’s standards. I might just pass on this occasion. And herein lies the rub. The more LinkedIn tries to differentiate and provide more information the more they will expose the ugly truth of recruitment. Not every company is Google or Facebook. Dry analytics will make some businesses look great, a lot very average and many quite unattractive. They don’t tell you about the culture, the people and what it’s like to work for the company. Which means that fewer, not more, companies will invest in LinkedIn’s talent solutions. Which means prices will go up and features will go down on our subscriptions. This means further disenchantment with LinkedIn. And if you want to see the numbers behind what I suspect is a growing trend in user disenchantment – click here!   ***Apologies to the guys at Hotel Chocolat for flagging this, I really like their stores and I’m not entirely convinced these analytics are a fair reflection of their employer credentials. Hopefully this post might lead to a few more, not less, applications!  
 

LinkedIn is a decidedly rusting bullet for recruitment agencies

By Jez Styles If you are on LinkedIn as often as me (this blog would suggest you are not…) then you’ll see countless blogs and articles detailing the demise of agencies. New technology, new services and an increasing antipathy [with recruiters] played out on social media has created the impression that myself and my colleagues are dinosaurs, plodding on, oblivious to that rather bright light in the sky. LinkedIn has long been lauded as the ultimate agency killer. Back in the good old days ( I started my first recruitment job in 2007 so only got to see the good days for about six months but hey ho!) agencies would often focus their pitch to companies on their enormous database of candidates. Candidates that the said employer couldn’t reach themselves. And then LinkedIn came along and our database stopped being a selling point. Albeit, I understand, a lot of agencies still sell on this point (and perhaps rightly so…). LinkedIn’s member base has increased from 218m at the beginning of 2012 to 414m at the end of 2015. That’s a big database right? But there is something fishy going on. Only people who have worked with large databases before will understand this. If you are an in-house recruiter you are going to be sceptical about my motives for penning this, I don’t blame you. So, let’s look at some numbers from LinkedIn’s last financial statement. Membership has risen by the following:
  • 2013 – 277m
  • 2014 – 347m
  • 2015 – 414m
While Unique visiting members has risen by the following:
  • 2013 – 73m
  • 2014 – 87m
  • 2015 – 98m
There isn’t much explanation of these numbers in the literature I have read so I’m happy to be corrected …but by my reckoning these numbers mean the following. The percentage of unique members visiting LinkedIn is in decline:
  • 2013 – 26.4%
  • 2014 – 25.1%
  • 2015 – 23.7%
I also dug out the numbers for Q1 2012… it was 31%. This got me thinking. I have had a lot of conversations with colleagues and peers in the industry and anecdotally, everyone is reporting a drop in responses from candidates. So I checked with a colleague in our research team and she looked at the stats for responses to Inmails she has sent. Between Jan 2015 and December 2015, Liz had an Inmail response rate of 53.6% - that’s a pretty good return on investment and indicative of the care Liz takes to personalise and engage through her messages. However, from Jan 2016 to today that response rate has dropped to 24.2%. When I worked for a ‘large international recruitment firm’ I was fortunate to have access to an enormous database. I would go as far as to say it was better than LinkedIn is today. Top line numbers always look good. The devil is in the detail. Databases go out of date…and need a LOT of maintenance. …and people lose interest in being on said database and stop responding.                 so you end up with an ever increasing haystack And that is what has been happening (increasingly so) to LinkedIn. But, LinkedIn has one more very big problem. Its entire validity is dependent on its users updating their database.        the needles in said haystack don’t look like needles anymore That’s a bit of a problem when a declining proportion of users are returning to the site and as a consequence updating their profiles. So when an agency says that they have a ‘pool of talent’ that other agencies or recruiters can’t access I wouldn’t necessarily guffaw too quickly. Because this is exactly when niche specialist knowledge comes to the fore once again. Of course, this flags up one more question. Why is engagement in decline?      
 

5 Recruitment news stories from 2020

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By Jez Styles It is 2020 and all the wild predictions about changes to the world of recruitment are being realised. Here are 5 news stories from across the UK. February 15th, 2020. London. The Government’s flagship Social Media platform ‘LuckedOut’ signed up its one millionth user last month. A spokesman for the Department of Work & Pensions announced that the site had been an “incredible success story and had helped over 100’000 people return to work.” Critics of the platform believe the mandatory sign ups for those seeking benefits ran contrary to their human rights. Pressure group ‘Right to unemployment’ released a statement condemning the government for forcing the unemployed to sign up to the site to earn benefits. “As part of the conditions to earn benefits individuals have to post a minimum of 5 motivational quotes, 10 pictures of cats and ‘like’ at least 25 articles every day, we fail to see how this could be a good use of time.”   March 14th2020, Manchester. A man failed in his bid to overturn a dismissal from his ‘future’ employer yesterday. An employment tribunal heard that, Peter Parrot, was dismissed for Gross Misconduct before he had completed his interview process. As part of the selection process Peter was asked to complete a range of tests and gave consent for the company to analyse web based material, social media and test results. A Predictive analytics program found that Peter was 99.6% likely to breach the company’s code of conduct. ABC Enterprises, released the following statement: “This is a victory for employers everywhere who risk hiring unpredictable employees. We used the predictive analytics software to give us insight in to the likely success of candidates; the programme found that the candidate in question was certain to be dismissed in the future. Our legal advisors believed that we might open ourselves up to claims from other employers in the future if we failed to follow the normal disciplinary process and as such Peter Parrott was found guilty of gross misconduct.” Peter parrot has since been dismissed by his then employer and has been unable to secure further employment. Peter responded to the statement on LuckedOut: Cat innocent   April 10th 2020, Birmingham Following the banning of zero hours contracts in 2018, food Retailer ‘Fork to Mouth’ has sought to get around the legislation with the introduction of ‘minus hours contracts.’ All employees have been asked to sign up to the new term which requires employees to pay their employer should they not work a minimum of 47.5 hours. For every hour missed they repay the equivalent back. Employees have complained that some managers have created a rota system where employees work every other week which in essence means they are receiving no salary. Fork to Mouth’s HR director defended their approach and has refused to withdraw the minus hours contract. Former employees have taken to LuckedOut to voice their disgust: Cat fork   May 1st 2020, London Recruiting App Kinder (pronounced kin der) has announced record profits for the 3rd quarter in a row today. Kinder attributed their growth to the rapid collapse of the Agency recruitment market and their unique analytics software. Users upload every interaction they have with another person via social media sites or physically via their Mandatory Google Glass implants. Further data capture allows the app to map how the user responds to the individual via facial recognition and communications which creates a ‘kin’ score, the theory being that the more positively you interact with someone the more they are like a member of your family. Every user has a profile that is used to match hiring managers with employees via their kin score.  Kinder currently has a 96% market share of the recruitment market in the UK. Kinder’s CEO recently dismissed claims of privacy infringements and suggested that if people didn’t want to find a job [through their app] they could always sign up to LuckedOut. In response LuckedOut users shared a picture of a cat 276’000 times in one day: Cat Kinder   Sep 10th 2020, London The last recruitment agency to operate in the UK closed its doors today. Following Kinder's recent announcement of reaching 99.4% market share employers no longer need to use recruitment firms to fill vacancies. The news has been met with a mixed reaction across Social Media. On twitter the hashtag #whodoweblamenow trended for much of the day. A number of Teachers have noted a spike in former Students attacking the profession and blaming them for ruining their future careers. In response to the news users on LuckedOut liked a picture of a cat 1.2m times. Cat Bye  
 

A buyer’s guide to Retail Store SWOTs

By Billy Maddock, Partner AdMore Buying & Merchandising Who would not want to go shopping as part of their interview process? This enjoyable and proactive aspect of interview preparation is so important. Apart from the obvious reasons of identifying the culture and familiarising yourself with the product range, conducting a SWOT analysis is the most crucial part of the store visit for retail Buyers and Merchandisers. The SWOT analysis is useful for extracting more focused and specific information about the company you are interviewing for, and the market you are entering into. Here are some things for Buyers and Merchandisers to consider when conducting a SWOT analysis:
  • Determine what the ratio is between own brand and branded products. Are the products mainly own brand or branded? Where do the own brand products lie on the shelves in comparison to the branded options?
  • How are the ranges put together? Are they design led or trend led? What are the prices of the products? How competitive are these prices?
  • How broad are the product ranges? How many SKUs are on display? What is the availability? Which options are the slow sellers and are they being promoted accordingly? How is labelling and packaging used to support the promotional activity of heavily promoted products?
  • Does the retailer offer a good/better/best product option (depending on size of the store) to ensure the customer is offered a variety of choices? How are the goods displayed? Are they going to maximise sales?
When compiling the SWOT analysis, it is also important to consider:
  • The image of the store and its footfall. This fundamentally depends on the socio-economic factors of the town/city the store is located in, as different products will be promoted and different price points will be set in accordance to the location of the store.
  • What methods are in place that encourage repeat purchases and the return of consumers to the store? For example, Tesco club card points and the Sainsbury’s Nectar card. If the company you are visiting has a loyalty scheme, try and figure out how this can directly influence consumer behaviour.
  • What is the margin in comparison to competitors? (i.e. price differences on branded products)
  • Are there in-store concessions that could affect sales/ranges? If so, where are these concessions situated within the store? What are the tactics behind this?
  • What are the USPs? How does the retailer try and differentiate themselves from their competitors? (E.G. have they got a CSR policy?)
In order to go that one step further, visit more than 1 store. You could visit a huge flagship store (the M&S Marble Arch store – 170,000 sq ft.) as well as a smaller store (in a small town centre) and try to spot the differences by referring back to the points made above. To stand out further, visit a competitor. This is useful to make comparisons between the two as well as painting a picture of what the market looks like, especially if the market is an unfamiliar one to you. For example, if you are a Furniture buyer interviewing for a stationery buying position then it’s important to look at the products in more detail. It is highly likely that there will be other candidates going for the same vacancy as you for the same retailer, and if they have visited multiple stores and show some of the information discussed above in their interview, and you haven’t, that could be the difference. Don’t take the chance! Click here to follow us on LinkedIn