Daring to be Different: the IKEA HR team share their IKEA experience.

IKEA are embarking on an exciting growth programme which of course creates challenges when it comes to recruiting additional resources to support this expansion. A key focus for this recruitment is in the HR team where they are looking to recruit co-workers from a variety of backgrounds. The environment is unique, as is their approach to recruitment which is focused on the person rather than the CV. Crucially, a classic HR background is not a pre-requisite. More important is a passion for people, an understanding of how to deliver strategy and processes within teams and of course, an alignment with the IKEA values. An understanding of the Retail environment is helpful of course, particularly given the scale of the IKEA store operation! However, it is not essential and the team are interested in people from different backgrounds who can bring a fresh approach. As part of the campaign to source HR Managers in Training, we thought it would be useful to talk to the existing team to find out where they have worked previously, how they have found the transition and what their role entails. As you will see from the following interviews, every member of the team brings a unique perspective to their role which we hope will inspire you to consider IKEA as an employer of choice. Thank you to the IKEA team for their support – you can read their stories here:   Dominique Sayce, HR Manager   Debbie Cox, Recruitment and Competence Development Manager   Darren Taylor, Deputy Country HR Manager, UK&IE   Aoife McCarthy, HR Manager, Dublin   Lisa Duxbury, UK&IE Recruitment Specialist   To read more about these vacancies at IKEA, click here
 

Interview with Debbie Cox, Recruitment & Development Manager, IKEA

Name:                                     Debbie Cox Role within IKEA:              Recruitment & Competence Development Manager Biography: IKEA FOOD manager Gateshead store & Wembley store; Assistant Store Manager Oslo, Norway; IKEA FOOD Country Manager Norway & Denmark; IKEA FOOD UK Competence Developer; numerous secondments and projects. Debbie, you joined IKEA from being a foodcourt manager in 1994, how did you find the transition? It was over 20 years ago now, but I remember it not being so easy. I"d come from a typically British hierarchical retail catering background where direction was created for me. Suddenly, I had to create my own direction. Once I got used to this, it was incredibly exciting, but I had to learn a thing or two about myself along the way. One thing I will say though...the people around me in IKEA were – and are – never less than welcoming, helpful and friendly. This is why I knew joining IKEA was the right thing for me. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? I"d not done HR before joining IKEA, and I guess that speaks for itself! The opportunities to take your career in different, and unexpected, directions are very much alive in IKEA. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? Influencing skills are key – the ability to get buy-in from colleagues is essential for success in IKEA as all leaders have a certain level of autonomy. Perseverence; things can take time in IKEA and you need to be able to stick with it. A strong identification with the IKEA culture & values – you have that, you’ll be able to achieve anything. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? A fresh outlook. Open to ideas and contributing ideas – no matter how off the wall they may seem. A willingness to put themselves in new situations. Passion. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? Recruitment. I’ve only just taken this on as part of my role and not having a HR background, I know nothing about it. It’s probably only in IKEA where this is seen as a good thing! I guess I bring fresh eyes, a new perspective , and can challenge received wisdoms. We’re about to go in to expansion mode so there’s a lot of recruiting to do and it needs to be done differently than we’ve done it in the past. What will your next role be within IKEA? No idea! That’s the beauty of it. It could be anything. I’ve never had a career plan, but just walked through the doors as they opened! And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The fast pace, the freedom to set your own agenda, the space to be who you are. To read more about opportunities to join the HR team at IKEA, click here
 

Interview with Dominique Sayce, HR Manager, IKEA

Name:                                     Dominique Sayce Role within IKEA:              HR Manager Biography: Area Manager for Aldi Stores Ltd: A regional role achieved through the fast track Graduate Programme, which covered between 4-6 stores around the Bristol area. Responsible for an average of 125 employees, and weekly turnover of £750k+. A wide ranging role which entailed area recruitment, financial planning and forecasting, area wide recruitment, inventory auditing, coaching and development, cost control, competitor analysis , full HR responsibility and project work which included National Apprenticeship Roll Out for the South West, new store opening in Fishponds and restructuring of training programme for Store and Area Managers. Finance Consultant for Michael Page Ltd: Specialising in the qualified and executive finance arena, I covered the Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucester region specialising in qualified accountants  through to Director level recruitment. Dominique, you joined IKEA in December 2014, how have you found the transition? The transition into IKEA is an ongoing journey – one in which I have only recently started. It truly is a different world, but one in which you get a lot of helping hands along the way, pulling you through and guiding your every step. Never before have I worked in an environment where it is in everyone’s interest to watch you succeed and you are actually encouraged to take your time, learn the ropes and get to know everyone before you actually step into your official role. As corny as it sounds, I feel like I can be myself and let down my barriers to really get to know my colleagues and co-workers. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? I would say it is more so the environment that differs, as opposed to the expectations of the role. The responsibility of HR throughout the commercial realm is to lead and develop staff, to spot and nurture talent, to provide robust systems and processes to ensure fair and diverse recruitment and to overall, provide a safe and enjoyable working environment for all employees. However, IKEA actually provide the environment where the needs and happiness of the employees is a number one priority. It’s not governed by targets and KPIs, it is more focused on leading by example and creating the type of environment where employees naturally enjoy coming to work, are motivated and proud to represent IKEA and want to work together to really drive the business forward. From an HR Manager perspective, I feel as if I have the scope to spread my wings, really get close to employees to understand truly their needs and perspectives and then build upon those findings and relationships to create processes and systems which suit our store. The UK IKEA “HR Guidelines” are there as a support function; they set the structure for how to conduct business, but we have real autonomy on a local level to adapt our processes and focus to cater for our co-workers. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? It is a wide role and often quite hard to pin down each and every aspect of the HR Manager role, but I would summarise the key qualities to be: approachableness, honesty, humbleness and passion. It is commendable to try new things, to dare to be different and to strive for improvements throughout the store. It is ok to make mistakes, to learn from them and not be scared to go to plan B, C or even D! Passion shines through. In order to drive changes and success, it is crucial to have your team and co-workers behind you. By leading through people and by example, passion is infectious and creates the “feel good” factor. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? Apologies for the “thesaurus” approach to this question, but I truly believe that each co-worker (regardless of job role or seniority) displays the following characteristics: openness, honesty, passion, motivation, dedication, humbleness, desire to improve and find new ways of working, keen to share best practice, ability to build relationships and more that anything, have two ears and one mouth! What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself. IKEA truly is an anomaly in that your values, personality, attitude and passion are the key drivers to success. If you are someone who is a people person, who believes that relationships are the key to success, is ambitious and eager to find better ways of working, and ultimately wants to work for a firm where you are employed for who you are – come to IKEA. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? Given I am new to the role, my biggest challenge is learning the IKEA Way. Coming from quite a hard commercial background, it is a very different way of looking at business. I am being encouraged to walk and then crawl, having been used to being expected to run from day 1. Also, relaxing into an environment where the focus is on building relationships and getting to know the entire business. What will your next role be within IKEA? Quite hard to say as I have currently only been in my role for 2.5 months. Nonetheless, the freedom internally to move disciplines means that I can get quite excited about the freedom to consider options such as Logistics Manager or Business Navigation. That said, there are always numerous opportunities which will be arriving due to the extension and upcoming project plans for the UK. And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The best thing about working for IKEA is the autonomy to shape your role, to experiment and bring new ideas to the table and the freedom (and expectation) to truly spend the time getting to know co-workers and building relationships. Not many companies offer this opportunity. In so many firms nowadays, the expectation is to be up and running as soon as possible, delivering targets and meeting KPIs. Never have I ever worked for a firm such as IKEA, who genuinely place so much pride and emphasis on the strength and relationships of their employees.    To read more about the opportunity to join the IKEA HR team, click here
 

Interview with Lisa Duxbury, UK&IE Recruitment Specialist, IKEA

Name:                              Lisa Duxbury Role within IKEA:       UK & IE Recruitment Specialist Biography: I joined IKEA as a co-worker in the Lakeside store working in customer services. After 18 months I joined the HR team as HR Administrator, and then went on to other roles in HR including store Recruitment Specialist, L&D Specialist and HR Generalist. I took part in some internal development programmes to then move on from the store and take the role of the HR Manager in our UK & IE Service Office. I have been in my current role for 2 years. Lisa, how did you find the transition when you joined IKEA? I joined IKEA way back in 1997! I remember getting lost in the store and meeting so many new people in the large store teams. But I remember feeling connected to IKEA very quickly and very soon feeling at home! How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? Really having a voice in the People Agenda in your unit! By working alongside the store team everyday and working in a multi functional way we can really ensure that we are making our stores a great place to work. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? Openness to learning, being a strong leader and having a passion for developing people. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? Being open to learning new things, being self aware and being you. I like to see a connection between people and the business together if possible. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Just be yourself and be open. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? Looking after candidates in a good way so whatever the recruitment outcome, everyone has a positive experience meeting IKEA. What will your next role be within IKEA? I’d like to work in the store again! And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? Working with likeminded people who share the same values and passion for making IKEA a great place to work! To read more about the opportunity to join the IKEA HR team, click here
 

Interview with Darren Taylor, Deputy Country HR Manager UK&IE, IKEA

Name:                                     Darren Taylor Role within IKEA:              Deputy Country HR Manager UK& IE Biography: University Graduate -1996 Experience in a main stream DIY and food retailers - 1993 - 1997 Darren, you joined IKEA from Do It All DIY in 1997, how have you found the transition? I joined IKEA in 1997 from, at the time, a main stream DIY chain where I was a warehouse supervisor. The transition for me was very natural; the fast paced retail environment that IKEA offered suited my strong work ethic and offered me career opportunities as well as an environment to grow as a manager and a leader. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? Over the last 17 years in IKEA I have had a number of roles, starting as a trainee department sales manager in the cook shop area and then spending the next 13 years working with the IKEA commercial functions in various roles in four IKEA stores. In 2011, I decided to try a different direction and diversified by taking a position as a Store HR Manager in Nottingham. I then joined the Country HR team as the Deputy Country HR Manager in 2014. As a Store HR Manager there were a lot of similarities and transferable skills which I used before and still rely on daily. A passion for working with the customer and leading a team of co-people is a common theme through my career; I use these skills today as much as I did in all of my previous roles. The HR manager role in IKEA gives you freedom to develop a short, mid and long term approach to working with a “People plan” in your local market. The key is to engage the 300+ co-workers and management team in your store, while at the same time you have the opportunity to develop and lead the business from the front, making key decisions within the store to secure the IKEA brand. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? The key skills for this role are, having a passion for people; this includes both the customer and co-workers alike. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? The candidates who stand out are the ones who are comfortable with who they are, being self aware of their skills, how they lead, what they want to personally develop, how they can contribute to IKEA’s growth as a brand. What is also important is having a passion for home furnishings and how to connect this to customers’ and co-workers’ lives, needs and aspirations. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself, be open, passionate and inspire; it’s not necessarily about what you have done in the past but more what you can do in the future. Enjoy the interview and share your views. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? IKEA is growing so fast in the UK&IE ; with our customer and co-workers’ needs constantly changing and evolving, my biggest challenge today is to make sure we are living up to our vision, HR idea and core values in all of these diverse and exciting markets . What will your next role be within IKEA? My career has been very varied and has changed direction many times, however I always feel comfortable with the fact that you can have many different careers in IKEA without moving company. My ambition is to be a Country HR Manager over the next 3-5 years, in a European country; lets see where the next few years takes me.... And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The best thing for me is the freedom to grow both personally and with the business. Every day there is a new challenge, but each one is exciting and stretches me to become a better person, leader and retailer. To read more about opportunities to join the IKEA HR team, click here  
 

Interview with Aoife McCarthy, HR Manager, Dublin, IKEA

Name:                               Aoife McCarthy Role within IKEA:       HR Manager, Dublin Biography: I have 13 years experience in HR, 11 years as an HR Manager across a number of different sectors – telecommunications, sales and retail. I have worked with Xerox, Google, Manpower and CPM Ireland. Aoife, you joined IKEA from CPM Ireland in September 2014, how have you found the transition? I will be honest, it has been intense. Changing jobs can be challenging as you absorb yourself in the new culture and the learning curve is significant, no matter how much experience you have. It’s like starting school again! I was also returning to work from maternity leave for the first time so adapting to life as a working mum was equally challenging. But since joining IKEA, I have not looked back. It has been an incredible experience so far. The first thing I noticed about IKEA was how welcoming everybody was - the co-workers had such a wonderful spirit within them, it immediately felt like home and I knew I was part of something very special. Within a few weeks, I felt like I had always been there. Understanding the culture is one of the most important things before making the transition to a new job. As a new mum, IKEA have been so supportive as I adapt to striking the balance between home and work. I really don’t believe I would have gotten the same level of support in another company. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? People are at the forefront of IKEA’s business strategy which isn’t always the case for some companies. Everything we do at IKEA aims to support our co-workers. The biggest difference for me as an HR Manager in IKEA is supporting the store as Duty Manager at weekends. This is a fantastic way of keeping close to challenges in store and utilising this information in driving the people agenda forward. It also keeps me close to the co-workers and ensures I am continuously building relationships. I also work in partnership with our Business Navigator which is different to previous roles. Our relationship is critical in steering the business in the right way and we support each other in decision making. Also, I never had to wear a uniform until joining IKEA – I love not having to think about what I’m wearing, it’s at least an extra 25 minutes of sleep each week when you know what you’re wearing the next day!! In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? As an HR Manager, you need to be people focused, commercially astute, decisive and highly energetic. You need a high level of empathy while being able to adapt to an ever changing daily agenda. You also need to be a very strong leader. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? I really believe that if you are committed to putting the customer first, have a high level of integrity and the desire to learn while learning from mistakes, you will be very successful in IKEA. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself. It is as much about IKEA being right for you as it is you being right for IKEA. If it’s really right for you, you might actually enjoy yourself at interview, I know I did! What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? My biggest challenge currently is prioritising. There are so many exciting projects on the HR agenda, I am eager to get me teeth stuck into all of them however I also need to manage the day to day operational issues in store. What will your next role be within IKEA?      I always thought that I would stay within HR for the rest of my career but IKEA has taught me that if you are a strong leader and you have the ability to learn quickly, you can do anything and IKEA will support and develop you. I would love to be an Assistant Store Manager some day! And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The people. They are IKEA’s best assets and I am so proud to be a part of them.   To read more about the opportunities to join the IKEA HR team, click here
 

How do you know whether you are being engaging at interview?

In some ways, attending an interview is like a first date: two potentially interested parties meeting for the first time to see if there is a spark, a connection which warrants further exploration! Arguably, an interview is more like speed-dating – more likely to be conducted under pressure in a limited time frame rather than over a lingering 3 course meal. Like mobile phones and Facebook (!), speed dating didn’t exist when I was young, free and single so I have limited experience of this phenomena however I know of one marriage at least which has resulted from it. When it comes to interviewing, you have a very short amount of time to win over your audience. It is no cliché to say that first impressions count (we have written about this here) . Getting things off to a positive start is crucial – some people may make their minds up about you instantly and so the rest of the interview will either be spent reinforcing their positive first impression or doing everything you can to turn them around! But how do you know how it’s going? What indicators should you be looking for to ascertain whether you are being engaging? Body Language We all know the classic negative body language indicator of folded arms. Likewise, crossed legs, sitting back in their chair, fidgeting, looking around the room or checking the time may all be a sign that your interviewer is losing interest. Positive indicators are: leaning towards you, ‘open’ body language (arms and shoulders relaxed), taking notes. From the first handshake, your interviewer’s body will be giving you clues about their level of engagement. Don’t be alarmed if you pick up on some of these negative indicators early on in the interview – it may not be about you. They may have just finished a meeting or a discussion with their boss, they may be thinking about a deadline they have to meet later in the day. Your job is to get their attention and make them glad they spent an hour with you! Eye Contact Put simply, if someone likes you, they look you in the eye. To clarify, a continuous hard stare may be an indicator that they are unimpressed however, if your interviewer looks you in the eye regularly and it feels naturally part of the conversation, then chances are they are engaged with what you are saying. Active Listening There is an art to listening well. You have to show someone that you are listening and when someone is engaged with what you are saying, they will do this subconsciously. Nodding, responding to what you are saying with facial expressions or an encouraging “hmm” and reflecting your words are useful indicators. When someone is actively listening you will feel that you are being heard. Smiling A smile is often faked but if this is the case, it will be glaringly obvious. A genuine smile however will make you feel encouraged and will help you relax. If your interviewer is smiling, they will be enjoying the interview and hopefully thinking ‘great, I have found someone I would like to work with’! Rapport Call this rapport or chemistry – it is almost impossible to define but we all recognise it when we experience it with someone. In an interview situation, this may be something as simple as using the same phrases/language or laughing at the same thing. It is usually more obvious when discussing your interests outside work when there is more chance of finding shared experiences. If your interviewer opens up about their own personal life – talking about their family for instance, this is a good indicator that rapport has been established. Closing the deal We have all been interviewed by someone with a poker face who is impossible to read. I have taken feedback from candidates so many times when they say that their interviewer ‘gave nothing away’ and this is a proven technique for some interviewers. However, you will often find that if it has gone very well, the interviewer will not be able to help themselves! They may give some definitive feedback or make it clear that you will be invited back for the next stage. In some cases, they will get so carried away that they will make an offer there and then – be wary if this happens and, while being suitably grateful and pleased, suggest that you need to discuss with your family and will give them an answer asap. Chances are, your gut reaction will let you know whether it has gone well however, take heed – I know of one candidate many years ago who was so pleased with how their interview went, they hugged the interviewer on their way out! Probably wise to keep Public Displays of Affection out of the interview process...
 

16 reasons why Retailers make fantastic Recruitment Consultants: Part 1

16 Reasons why Retailers make fantastic Recruitment Consultants: Part 1

So, cards on the table…

The retail & hospitality market is back in growth and we are recruiting! We try to avoid selling ‘stuff’ on this site because we have always seen it as our way of giving something back to the communities that support us. This time though, we believe that you, the reader of this blog, are the type of person that we want to recruit for our business. You may already work in recruitment, if so that’s great you are welcome too and we would love to talk to you about why we believe AdMore is a great place to work; or you may be a retailer. You might be just starting to think about doing something different. I’ve been there. When I left HMV in 2007 I got in touch with my now colleague Sophie Mackenzie and said “I love Retail but I want to do something different, I’m just not sure what.”

So let me tell you, whether you are an Area Manager, Store Manager, Buyer, HRBP, Property Manager or any other role in Retail why you should think about recruitment…and hopefully AdMore.

I will split this over two posts as I want to talk about Behaviours first and then Skills:

Behaviours

Resilience

I am not sure I need to explain this one given the rollercoaster most retailers have been on over the last few years. To be fair even in the good times it isn’t easy. There is rarely any respite, no rest period and little time for reflection. Retailers get two days off a year. When your average person is enjoying their May Day Bank holiday, Store managers and their teams are working harder then ever. It isn’t any easier further up the ladder either. Preparing for a 7am Monday morning board meeting, trying to shore up some shocking Like for Likes late in to a Sunday night certainly requires some resilience – and not just for the individual but for their families too. In recruitment we are often on a rollercoaster too - good and bad news comes every day, not always in equal measure.

 

High energy & Results Orientation

These days pretty much everything that a retailer does is measured in some way. The larger chains have engaged in some very detailed time and motion studies to increase productivity and that only serves to ratchet up the focus on results. Retailers live and die by their numbers. Even customer service scores and employee surveys are often boiled down to a single number. Are you above average? Did you top the region, the company or the industry? As with previous points, where Retailers really impress, is their ability to combine an orientation towards ‘getting a result’ with doing it the ‘right way’ – through their people and with customer at the heart of their decision. Oh, and with vigour, passion and good humour! We recruiters are also results orientated, the good ones keep the customer at the heart of what they do…

 

Customer & Service Orientation

We have all had poor experiences in a shop before but on the whole the service offered, in my opinion, is far higher than in other industries. The reason why I believe this is of particular importance is that the provision of service is generally one of many tasks that frontline and back office support retailers have to provide. Remaining focused on the customer when you have a refit taking place, maintenance issues, conference calls from head office, an audit, stock deliveries and a multitude of other tasks in your in-tray is both an art and a science. This isn’t just applicable at store level either, the demands being placed upon Directors and CEOs has reached stratospheric levels with an increasing uptake of Social Media. I have spoken to numerous Directors recently who are increasingly dealing directly with customer issues, in real time over Twitter…24/7.

Many of you will have experienced a bad recruiter before, often forgetting who their customers are (not just the client). Recruitment is changing at a similar pace to retail and the firms that keep a good service ethic will be very successful.

 

Self motivated

Retail is a very, very, very tough industry. Success or failure is often on a knife-edge. You have to be able to take the knocks and enjoy the wins. Most managers, regardless of job function, are highly self-motivated in retail. Recruitment also requires a high degree of self-motivation.

 

Empathy

In Retail and Hospitality you have to be able to empathise, you have to empathise with your customers, your colleagues, your team, your line manager, his/her line manager, your colleagues in HR, your suppliers, your shopping centre manager…the list goes on. Great retailers manage to maintain a balance. Great recruiters do too - telling a redundant candidate that they haven’t got the job that they desperately wanted requires tact and a huge dose of empathy.

 

Ownership & Accountability

With highly visible KPIs, strong processes and structure comes accountability. With accountability comes ownership! This swings both ways, when you are doing well you will receive the plaudits…when things are not going so well you will be held accountable. Retailers understand this relationship between success and failure and they own their results. You only have to listen to a politician on the radio to realise what a fantastic attribute this is! Recruitment is the same, some people over complicate what we do but in essence we are paid to get a result (in the right way). If you are working a retained assignment there is no room for failure, you have to own your work.

 

Urgency & Pace

I suspect that this is the most under-rated behaviour of all. Retail has always been a fast paced industry, driven by consumer demand, trends & perishable product. Quite simply, if you do not ‘get it right’ first time you will lose a sale to the competition. You snooze – you lose. With the onset of Social Media and internet shopping the urgency of delivery has become even more important. Most retail jobs are highly task focused and great retailers are able to prioritise, Urgent vs. Important, and deliver a result with pace. Having recruited for a number of organisations in other industries, Line Managers often talk about the need for an injection of urgency and love the pace that retailers operate at.

 

Drive & Passion

The beauty of the Retail Industry is that anyone can enter and anyone can do well. Of course degrees and other technical qualifications will help but if you have high levels of drive and you are passionate about what you do, you WILL be successful. The same is true of recruitment.

 

So, if you live close to Surrey or Solihull get in touch. We are looking for Recruitment Consultants and Researchers. You may think we pay low basic salaries. We don’t! You may have other negative perception(s) about a career in recruitment; well we are planning to dispel a few of those over the coming weeks on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Please follow us and keep an eye out!
For details about our current vacancies, please visit us on Facebook

 

 

Do merchandisers make the best buyers?

Do Merchandisers make the best Buyers? Buyers and Merchandisers are often seen as being totally different. The perception is that each role requires a completely different skillset, one more creative and one more analytical. Sometimes even requiring a different personality! It is true that people often take very different paths to reach these positions - a Buyer because of a love of design and product development, and a Merchandiser because of a love of numbers and analytics. However in my experience some of the best Buyers actually started their careers in merchandising before moving to the other side! I have been lucky enough to interview a lot of Buyers at different levels and have found that Buyers who started their career in merchandising, unsurprisingly, are highly commercial and very focused on the numbers. This in turn leads to several things - they are extremely results driven and highly successful at margin forecasting and developing commercial plans. Crucially, they also know how their counterparts in the Merchandising department think. They appreciate the fine balance of creating a range plan; of accurately forecasting trends and planning stock levels; getting the product to market first to hit margin targets with the caution of managing the OTB and having the right exit plan to minimise mark downs. Analysing the seasonal trends that need to be considered in order for product launches to hit peak hard can be challenging. Even Merchandisers who go on to be Buyers can’t predict the weather and this year is particularly prudent. An unprecedented long, warm summer required quick thinking, a flexible supply chain and strong relationships with suppliers to adapt in order to maximise and extend summer trading. Buyers that have a merchandising background often find it leads to a very positive working relationship with their merchandising colleagues - always advantageous when they need to work so closely together especially in unpredictable circumstances like dealing with the weather! A Buyer who focuses on product development, trend and the look and feel of product is balanced by a Merchandiser who looks at the WSSI to manage the OTB, ensuring stock is maintained and accurately planned to meet sales targets. A person who has the blend of both skills with be extremely successful but I see more merchandisers go into buying than the other way round. Merchandising is a relatively new department in some retailers and means that a lot of Buyers have had to do the financial modelling and range plans - B&Q and WH Smith’s are just two examples. These Buyers are highly sought after because of this balance between creativity and analytical skills (planning and forecasting a range) and the positive working relationship they can go on to have with a Merchandiser. Therefore I believe Merchandisers often make the best Buyers!   ps. as a Buyer, don’t underestimate the power of using a testimonial from a Merchandiser on your CV or on your LinkedIn profile. It’s incredibly powerful and says a huge amount about your ability as a Buyer and as a negotiator and influencer. This also works vice versa!
 

What recruiters really want to see on a CV

What recruiters really want to see on a CV There is so much advice out there about how to write a CV, some of which can be found on this very blog! There is no question that people struggle when it comes to writing a CV and need guidance about how it should be structured however, this is only part of the story. As confidence returns to the economy, more people will decide to take the plunge and change jobs. In this highly competitive market, you need to ensure that your CV stands out so, over and above making sure it is well presented, what will make you more attractive? What do recruiters really want to see on a CV? In recruitment, whether working for an agency or directly for a company, we see a myriad of CVs on a daily basis. We are used to screening CVs quickly to ascertain whether they match our client’s brief however, rest assured, we are doing more than giving CVs a cursory glance. With limited time to speak to every candidate who applies, we need to look for clues in a CV which indicate whether a candidate is strong and also whether they are likely to match the values and culture of our clients. Here are some of the things recruiters like to see on a CV: Track record Recruiters love to see hard evidence on a CV. Tangible results and achievements, preferably with specific numbers, £s and % increases will set you apart from other candidates who use generic statements about their performance. Saying you’re good isn’t enough – you need to prove it. Brand consistency This very much depends on the individual situation and the preference of each client however, seeing a candidate who has worked for a number of competitor brands can make them attractive if this is important to the client. Conversely, the client may be looking for someone who has worked in a variety of sectors in which case brand variety will work in your favour. There is no question though that having worked for a market leading brand, whatever the sector, is extremely powerful. Clear progression Evidence that you have been promoted or been given greater responsibility is clearly an indicator of good performance. Seeing clear progression every couple of years will make you an attractive candidate and is particularly important if you have worked for a long time in the same company. Extra-curricular activities Are you a member of a working party in your company? Are you a mentor or coach for someone in your team? Anything which suggests that you go above and beyond your role remit gives the recruiter an indication that you are a. committed, b. passionate and c. a good candidate. After all, to be invited to do extra-curricular activities, you generally have to be good at what you do. Giving back CSR is important for most companies now and so evidence that you are involved with your company’s CSR programme or indeed involved with voluntary activities in your personal life can indicate a cultural alignment which will be of strong interest to some companies. Whether it is holding the post of School Governor or fundraising for a local charity, your willingness to give something back gives insight into you as a person and your value-set – something which is very important for many of our clients. Out of hours Tread carefully when listing hobbies and interests and use sparingly making sure they are interesting and different. Some would argue that spending time with family should be a given and does not qualify as a hobby!? Coaching your child’s football team or running marathons gives the recruiter yet more information about you and is useful as an ice breaker in an interview. Testimonials Used sparingly for added impact, testimonials on your CV can be hugely powerful however they must be from a credible source. Referees The credibility of your referees speaks volumes, especially if they are from your current company as this indicates that you are confident about your performance in your current role. Always take care of course to specify on your CV that the referee should only be contacted with your express permission and after you have resigned. And what Recruiters may worry about… Mind the gap! Recruiters are very good at spotting anomalies on your CV so be careful to explain the reasons for any gaps. Change in status Any significant change in status – a perceived reduction in remit/responsibility or drop to a lower grade/role will raise questions. There are often legitimate reasons for this (career change, relocation for instance) so it is worth adding a note to explain. Attention to detail There is simply no excuse for spelling or grammatical mistakes on a CV. A lack of attention to detail suggests to the Recruiter that you don’t care.   As ever, the key is to make yourself as attractive as possible to recruiters, giving yourself the best possible chance of being invited to interview. Paying extra attention to some of these areas will hopefully tempt recruiters to give you a call.   For further reading about CVs, click here: 6 reasons to keep your CV updated Is it really that difficult? Top tips on how to write a CV     Get your FREE CV Template