Making the move into a Resourcing Career

After leaving university I, like many others, felt very uncertain about the career path I was looking to go down and where to get guidance from. If this is you, don’t worry you are not alone! I began to use the graduate job websites such as Milkround, Target Jobs and Indeed, to have a look at what was out there but I was still unsure whether I wanted to enrol onto a graduate scheme. There are a vast range of websites and tools you can use and to be honest it was a lot to take in. On graduation, I found myself in the leisure industry which I enjoyed for 2 years but ultimately knew that this wasn’t the industry for me long-term. When the opportunity arose to move into the world of resourcing and recruitment, I have to admit it was not an option I had considered before but I went into it with open eyes. It is fair to say that the recruitment industry does not have the best reputation. My initial views of a recruitment role were that the job involved a lot of cold calls to potential candidates, trying to contact them multiple times in one day, texting, emailing until you got through to them. My perception was that recruiters would send across your CV for a number of roles that may not even be suitable for you, suggesting a lack of knowledge around the role and as a candidate being unsuccessful on most occasions. I suppose my experience with a few recruitment agencies in the past meant that I thought all agencies were like this, but I now understand that this is not true. There is a lot more care and time taken in the process which I have learnt during my time with AdMore. So what does my role involve? It is hard to summarise the role into a sentence as it is more complex than you might think and the role often varies. In essence I would say it is a combination of three key components: Assisting in finding the perfect candidate - supporting the consultants in their search. In order to find this “perfect candidate” (ie. the one that gets the job!) it is important to first get a detailed and clear brief as to what the client is looking for and the culture of that company. It is all very well finding the perfect candidate on paper but they also need to fit culturally and finding the right balance can be difficult. Once the brief is understood we then go about using the various tools we have to start the search - this includes getting job ads out there, carrying out searches on social media sites and communicating with potential candidates. Along with this comes the challenge of keeping to strict timelines ensuring consultants have a good selection of candidates to speak with, as well as adapting the search to any changes within the brief. The first brief you search for may change during the course of the process based on feedback from the client and feedback from the consultant. It is key to keep up to date with these changes and keep communicating with the consultant to make sure this is fed through to the sourcing team. Social Media and Recruitment Tools - staying in the loop with the latest tools and advances in social media. Social Media plays a big part and is used in the sourcing team’s daily role. It’s continuously changing and keeping up to date with this is pivotal to our role and the way we search. There are the sites which most people will be familiar with such as LinkedIn or tools such as using Boolean strings in your search, but it is also about finding new tools which can open up new doors to find even more relevant candidates. A recent tool which has been very useful in our recent projects is called ‘Prophet’ and is an extension available on Google Chrome; the tool can be used with a LinkedIn profile and searches the web to find a relevant email address for the profile. Tools such as this help to save time in carrying out the usual email search process and can open up paths to even further information. The power of social media will continue to grow and within sourcing it is important to utilise this as much as possible. To check out our blog on what makes a great sourcer for more information; Click here. Continuous Learning From understanding the difference between area management and buying and merchandising roles to building your knowledge of the Retail & Hospitality industries, there is so much personal learning and development to do in the role. Particularly for those of us who have not had any experience in recruitment it has changed the way I look at Retail, Hospitality and Leisure. Even walking down the high street my eyes have been opened to a whole different side of things. With bundles of specialist knowledge in our team I am constantly learning new things everyday which helps me to better myself and improve my knowledge. Asking questions and making mistakes is all part of the learning and development process but it is all about pushing yourself to continue doing this. Has sourcing been the right move? Having been in the role for 6 months I’m happy to say that the move for me has been the right one; both in terms of the job and the company culture. My initial views of recruitment agencies has been changed and I now see that the right agencies will take time to get to know the clients and their company culture as well as understanding their candidates, their experience and what they are looking for in a role. Now I work in sourcing I have also had the opportunity to view the job search process from the other side. I have a better understanding of what is involved in finding the right person for a job and have also been able to use my previously negative experience as a candidate to create a more positive communication channel with the candidates I speak with. So if you have recently graduated from university and you find yourself in a similar situation to me, my advice to you is to take your time and consider your options. Make sure you do your research around an industry/company and don’t rule out industries based on reputation or hearsay - different companies have different cultures. It is important to find the right one that suits you and if you are open to a role within sourcing I would recommend taking the leap. For more tips on what to do when you graduate, check out our blog
 

10 Years in Recruitment and how things have changed! Or have they?

Guest post by Mark Grigg

When I started in recruitment 10 years ago this month, I could never have imagined the fast pace at which things could and have changed in so many aspects of the recruitment cycle. Some, I hasten to say, for the better and perhaps a few for the worse. Here are a few of the areas where I have seen significant changes.

Relationships

One of the ways that the market has been negatively affected is that it there is much less personal contact than was expected 10 years ago. This has devalued consultancy at its best and provoked much bad press about the perceived "shark" culture in most consultancies.

In the past, job seekers (whether candidate or recruitment consultant) actively visited potential employers to find out if they had any openings. In my experience, with the on-set of technology this is far less prevalent. Also it is no longer considered "best practice" for larger, non-specialist agencies.

In today's job market, candidates email CVs to companies which they may never actually follow up. This leads to less personal contact and a lower likelihood of being hired. Often they have not invested time in researching the company culture and the intricacies of what the vacancy actually involves which is rarely evident in a short online advert.

There are lots of reasons in recent years why consultants and job seekers alike have chosen to hide behind a terminal or keyboard. If you are passionate about a new challenge,   relationships are critical to your success. Typically people do buy people, not a piece of paper or an email.

Social Media as a networking tool

Another change in the job market involves social networking. In the area of job seeking, it always pays to know the right people. Online networking was in its absolute infancy 10 years ago and has evolved massively to being an intricate part of any hiring strategy. In the past, you had to actually know someone personally before they could help you get a job, this I believe to still be the very important however; with social networking, you can virtually ‘know’ them and get help with your job search.

Social networking allows you to vastly increase your circle of influence and get to know people in many different industries who could potentially help you get a job. For retailers, embracing digital technology has been high on the priority list for the past few years. As customer service becomes ever more important across different media and platforms, demonstrating a keen interest in this area will only add value to your job search.

Recruitment - a quicker process or not?

The Internet makes everything accessible so it’s no surprise that the introduction and growth of technology has streamlined and quickened the recruitment process at the front end. Whereas hard line advertising in newspapers/press and offline job applications was still a large proportion of the day job 10 years ago, I cannot remember the last time someone posted a CV to me! The Internet has made the recruitment process much easier and simpler to handle. You can now email a consultant and within seconds expect a reply, mostly automated and extremely frustrating to job seekers, however a necessary evil for most recruitment firms! This also applies to posting vacancies as most job boards are now extremely accessible and user friendly. It takes minutes to load a vacancy whereas it would have taken days or weeks to appear in a publication - now it can be online within minutes for all to see.

The Internet

The internet has allowed recruiters to work on a much larger scale than they have done before. How? Well, as a recruiter with access to the Internet, you can post multiple job advertisements for many different roles and manage those communications from one place, whether that is your inbox, a special portal or software system. It means that you can do more work, advertise for more jobs and hire more people which of course is every recruiter’s aim. In my humble experience, in an industry that is over 100 years old, all of the above makes for a more time efficient recruitment process but what still remains vital for all successful recruiters or job seekers is the personal touch.

Search engines, such as Google, have made the research side of recruitment much easier and much more thorough too. In the past, it would have taken several phone calls and several meetings before we had all the information we needed about a client. Still an important part of the process but the time saved is now available to add value to the candidate. A quick google search can throw up most of the necessary information or is certainly a good place to start.

10 years ago, if someone had mentioned a Skype interview you’d wouldn’t have had a clue what they were talking about (until recently, me neither!). Now, it seems that interviews over Skype and other online portals are commonplace and often replace the traditional face-to-face meetings. Indeed, one client I recently worked with closely in the UK insisted that the Skype interview be part of the process. If you are recruiting for an American office but are based in the UK, you can now skype or use other specialist software; Thus cutting down vastly on time and money invested and avoiding the hassle of booking flights and arranging hotels.

Changes in recruitment legislation

This has changed for the better, professionalising the industry and regulating it much more closely and it has had major implications for recruitment at all stages of the sourcing and selection process. This can be seen in the type of advertised Job Titles that are now acceptable, the preparation of Job Descriptions, drafting of job non-discriminatory advertisements, the CV short listing process, interview questions, documentation of interviews, retention of interview records, and the reasons given to a candidate who has not been shortlisted or who has not been offered a job they have applied for.

In its most basic form recruiters must not only be fair but must be seen to be fair, in most cases treating people how you would expect to be treated yourself and not just seeing candidates as a product or an easy route to some commission.

In 2004 there were fewer tightly controlled preferred supplier lists (PSL’s). Employers handed out vacancies to a wide range of recruitment agencies on an indiscriminate basis without taking any steps to ascertain the professionalism of such agencies. This is unusual these days, recruitment companies are vetted much more closely before being put on a PSL.

Competency based interviewing or behavioural interviews were also not as widely used 10 years ago, whereas they have since become the norm as they give the interviewers a much greater insight and structure, allow clients to convey a more professional image and of course providing evidence if required about why a candidate may not have been successful.

Documentation of interviews was limited in the past but it has become more widespread in recent years particularly with larger agencies keen to earn external audit accreditations - particularly important within the Finance and Public sectors.

In summary, although the technicalities of recruitment and the tools that are used to improve the processes are vastly different from 10 years ago, in reality most is largely the same – it is how you get to the end result which differs.

For me, all the tools and speed efficiencies formulates the same old argument in recruitment -  Quality v/s Quantity - which can be qualified and quantified within many aspects of our trade.

Passionately I believe in adding value and that personal relationships make the better agencies stand out. Increasingly it is about what you can offer your client not what they can offer you. Whether you are candidate, consultant or client we must not lose sight of taking the time out of our very busy schedules for personal interaction which fundamentally has not changed and in my opinion will not change in the future.

Mark Grigg has spent the last 10 years in retail recruitment and we are delighted to welcome him to AdMore this month.

 

Settlement (Compromise) Agreements – what you need to know

Guest Author, Kevin Poulter is a Senior Associate in the employment department of London firm Bircham Dyson Bell LLP  

A Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) is a contract between an employer and an employee terminating the employment relationship. They provide an employer with certainty that a claim will not be brought against it by the employee through the Tribunals and Courts. For employees, a Settlement Agreement will typically provide something more by way of compensation than the employee might otherwise be entitled to, such as a financial payment or some other non-financial incentive such as a detailed reference.

Settlement Agreements are increasingly common. Just because an employer offers a Settlement Agreement does not necessarily mean they have done anything wrong. Agreements like this are used for certainty and completeness and should not be viewed defensively. Of course, there are exceptions and agreements can be entered into or offered when the employment has broken down beyond repair or used as a solution to effect a mutually agreeable termination (such as if someone is retiring or moving to another organisation).

Settlement Agreements - and any payment under them - are almost always made without any admission by the employer as to liability or blame.

Like all contracts, Settlement Agreements can vary in length and scope, according to the seniority of the employee, the type of organisation and any risks associated with termination.  They can be anything from one side of paper to 50 pages or more.  However, there are key terms which are typical to all such agreements.

Key settlement terms

You will always expect to find details of the employee and the employer; the termination date; notice and/or notice pay; legal advice and fees; the waiver of claims; reference details and; any announcement to other employees and/or customers, clients and suppliers.

Compensation amount: This will inevitably vary between every situation. The compensation or settlement payment will often include an ex gratia amount - something which isn’t required by law or by contract to be paid to the employee.  This is in effect what the employer is paying to reduce their risk of a claim.

Tax indemnity: A part or the whole of a compensation or settlement payment may be paid tax free.  If there is an element of redundancy pay or an ex gratia payment included within the compensation amount and it is paid as ‘compensation for loss of employment’, up to £30,000 may be paid tax free.  Where a payment is made, the employer will typically include an indemnity clause, meaning that if HMRC pursue the employer for any tax which it believes it should have paid, that liability will be passed on to the employee.  If the payment is a genuine compensation payment (and not, for example, a contractual entitlement to a bonus or notice pay) there should not be any risk, however the clause is a precautionary measure.  You can also discuss with your advisor the various ways of structuring a payment so as to minimise your exposure to tax.

Restrictive covenants: You may already have some restrictions in your contract of employment which will continue beyond the termination of your employment.  These will often include restrictions on where you can work for a period after termination, what type of company you may work for and/or any geographical location which is prohibited.  You will often be reminded of those restrictions or your employer may include new restrictions in the agreement as part of the ‘deal’.  You should review these carefully, particularly if leaving to commence employment with a competitor organisation.

Legal advice:  You must seek legal advice as to the terms of the Agreement.  This will usually be in a short meeting with a solicitor or other legal advisor of your choice.  There are some criteria that the advisor must meet to be suitable for these purposes.  Although there is no obligation on your employer to provide any contribution towards your legal fees, it is usual to include a nominal contribution of at least £300 plus VAT.  If the Agreement is more complex, this might be increased.  Your advisor will also be required to confirm in writing that they have provided you with the necessary advice.

Confidentiality: The terms of the Agreement and the circumstances relating to it will almost always be subject to a confidentiality clause, with very few exceptions.  This is likely to be taken very seriously by your employer who will want to protect this information, specifically in relation to payment terms.

The terms of any Settlement Agreement are negotiable, however, the extent of how flexible the employer may be will depend on the particular circumstances leading to it.  Your legal advisor will be able to assist you when considering this.

Dealing with the termination of your employment, whatever the reason, can be difficult and emotional. Professional advice is essential when you might not be thinking clearly. Settlement Agreements may seem very insincere, but they can prove to be a valuable method of dealing with the necessary formalities at the end of the employment relationship. It also seems likely that they are here to stay.  

Kevin Poulter is a Senior Associate in the employment department of London firm Bircham Dyson Bell LLP.  If you have received or may be offered a Settlement Agreement or require any assistance with negotiating or preparing an Agreement, you may contact him at [email protected] or by telephone on 020 7227 7000. You can follow him on Twitter @kevinpoulter or visit his website www.kevinpoulter.com