How should a Buyer prepare for interview?

I recently caught up with a Head of Buying who I placed in her current role. We were discussing her disappointment that a lot of Buyers she had interviewed in the past hadn’t sold themselves to her. They didn’t talk about the results they had delivered for the business and if they did have the results / numbers they then weren’t prepared to explain how they had delivered them. This meant that she had to invest extra time and effort just to understand how good they were (or not). This is not the first time I have heard this from a client or indeed experienced it myself when interviewing. There is a variety of reasons this can happen: Short notice for interview means the candidate has a lack of time to prepare. Can you remember what you delivered 5 years ago off the top of your head and how you went about it? Can you talk confidently and credibly with those numbers in your head? It is rare to be able to do this without some level of preparation, particularly when nerves come into play. It can also happen when a candidate has been loyal to a business and has been there some time. When was the last time you had to remind people of what you have delivered and sell yourself? Probably in a performance review some time ago. Since then you have built a reputation internally so don’t need to revisit the numbers or the detail. This puts you at a disadvantage simply because you are out of practice at interviews and at selling yourself. I find it frustrating that really good candidates aren’t always successful in interviews for reasons like these. So, here is the advice I give my candidates about preparing for an interview…in short, Prepare! Obvious? You would be surprised. To thoroughly prepare for an interview, here are some considerations:
  1. Working in Retail gives you the significant advantage of being able to research your prospective employer by visiting a store (if it is a bricks and mortar retailer) or visiting their ecommerce site. Even if you did it a month ago by chance, do it again before the interview! Look at the range, the promotions, pricing, the store layout, what is good/ bad, how do you feel going in, and on leaving? You will be able to provide valuable insight for the business to consider and this demonstrates great commitment from you. This will really help the conversation if you are nervous as it gives some common ground to discuss.
  2. SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Even a one page of notes at first stage will be useful to show you have prepared, are keen and have some thoughts to bring to the conversation. This will also help you as a candidate to understand the business better and evaluate if this is a business you want to work for. It’s impressive to a client and can help you be the one they invite back. As the process progresses, you may be asked to prepare a SWOT on a product range specifically and this is your opportunity to demonstrate your creativity, commercial knowledge and insight into the market.
  3. Be prepared to discuss your Black Book. As a buyer, your industry contacts and supplier base form part of your professional ‘brand’ and any prospective employer will want to know what you will be bringing with you. This may need some discretion however it is worth thinking about this as part of your preparation.
  4. Highlight your key achievements for each of your roles separately from your CV, refresh yourself and do a STAR – Situation, Task, Action and Result or CAR. For further guidance on this, click here. These notes will be revision for you and give you confidence.
  5. If you have a JD, read it thoroughly and make notes where it highlights the key requirements and where you have that relevant experience. Combine this with your key achievements notes above, and it allows the interviewer to tick off what they are looking for. This is especially helpful if the first stage interviewer is a member of the HR or Recruitment team and is not the commercial line manager.
  6. Be passionate – show you want the job. Not any job - this job, with this
  7. Know the company - Look at the company website, look at the news on the business in industry publications, Retail Week, Drapers etc. Make sure you know what is going on right now and that you are able to list 3 reasons why you are interested in working there.
  8. Look at the company on LinkedIn. Have you worked with someone who now works there? If so, drop them an invite to ask them how they are getting on.
  I am sure there will be additional rituals you have in order to prepare - I tend to power dress and buy something new for the interview to give myself more confidence and ensure those first 30 seconds of impression count! The key is preparation and I can’t stress enough how important it is to allow enough time to prepare for any interview, after all, “retail is detail.” Good luck!  
 

How to find the right company culture for you

With a rapidly improving jobs market candidates are starting to enjoy more options when it comes to developing their career than they have experienced for a number of years. So, with candidates facing more career choices both internally and externally, making the right career decision is critical. We have previously talked about how to handle multiple offers (click here) we want to focus on how to make sure you identify the right cultural fit. Finding an organisation where you “fit” and where your values are aligned is as important as finding a role which has the right scope and challenge. So, what do you need to consider when identifying whether the culture will be a fit and is it really that important? Why is it so important to work in a culturally-aligned organisation? Working in an aligned culture is important on a number of levels.
  • Success - your level of success is likely to be greater in an environment where your style and behaviour are in line with those of the company and its other employees. Being great at your role is sometimes not enough to develop your career. In some cultures it is also about how you do your role and whether you are seen to embody the values and ethics of the business.
  • Happiness – most of us spend the majority of our lives at work and so working in an environment that doesn’t fit and where we don’t enjoy the working environment can have a very negative impact on our happiness. Different organisations have quite different expectations of their employees not only on a professional level but also on a social level. Some cultures are work hard/play hard and this type of environment won’t suit everyone. In a smaller business some of these issues can be magnified and therefore finding the right working environment will have a real impact on our happiness in the workplace.
  • Culture is more than just values – there are lots of definitions out there about culture but ultimately, it is a combination of how a business expects it’s employees to behave and work and how it treats them in response. It is about style and expectations. There are a lot of elements to consider when determining whether you think it is the right fit for you.
  • Horses for courses – often people assume that there are good cultures and bad cultures and that Google and Facebook are the best companies to work for in the world. Google has a fantastic culture but the point is that their culture won’t suit everyone. Yes, there are generic elements that make companies a good place to work but many elements of a culture are much more personal. For some people, joining a highly sociable business where the expectation is that you are out socialising with colleagues all the time is fantastic but for others it just doesn’t suit their lifestyle. When trying to assess a culture it has to be in the context of what is right for you as an individual.
  What cultural factors do you need to think about? Here are some of the factors which affect culture and whether someone will fit in:  
  • Social Life – are you looking for a highly social culture or one where there is much greater separation? What are the organisation’s expectations of activity outside of working hours?
  • Behaviours – what drives the culture and the people in it? How professional or fun is it (these needn’t be mutually exclusive!)?
  • Environment – do you feel you fit best in a highly structured, corporate, political environment or more so in an open, creative, unstructured environment?
  • Working patterns – what are the organisation’s expectations? Is there the freedom to work at home? Does the business have a long hours culture or expect you to undertake a significant amount of travel? Does it have reasonable expectations of its people?
  • Office – do you want a loud, social and open plan office environment or one with closed offices and very individual ways of working?
Again, it all comes back to what you believe is going to be right for you and the next step is to try and find out more about an organisation’s culture. How to research a company’s culture? Some would argue that the time to research the company is before you even make an application, saving you and others time if it is clearly not going to be a good fit. Whether it is part of your pre-application or indeed pre-interview research, it is really important that you conduct as much research as possible to understand culturally what the organisation is like to work for. There is a wealth of information out there for you to review prior to your interview.
  • Social Media – the rise of social media has significantly increased our accessibility to information about organisations. By looking at companies on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter you can gain a really useful insight into the attitude of the company and how it interacts with its customers and employees.
  • Glassdoor – this is a site that we use and is a great way to gain an insight into what it is really like to work for an organisation. It has a number of different features but in essence, it is a review site of organisations.   Clearly most organisations will have some negative reviews from disgruntled employees looking to leave but you can read between the lines to understand more about the realities of working in their culture.
  • Company website - an organisation’s website is a good indicator about how they want to be perceived in the market. It will give you some good information around size, market focus etc. It should also give you an insight into their strategy and goals. The point I would make here is that this is just a shop window; this is how they want themselves to be viewed and in some cases may be quite different from the reality of working for the company.
  • Backgrounds of other employees – using LinkedIn to identify the backgrounds of the other people working in the business/department/team may give you further insight. What type of businesses and cultures have they worked in previously and do they seem to employ like- minded people?
  • Use your network – do you know anybody that currently or has previously worked for the business? In some circumstances, confidentiality may prevent you from reaching out but in most cases you will be able to speak to people to find out the realities of working for the organisation. My word of caution here is that, of course, their overall perception will be governed by the extent to which the culture suited them personally however again, this is another tool that will help you build a greater understanding.
  What to ask at an interview to understand a company’s culture?  
  • Ask direct questions about the culture. Most interviews will of course try and be as positive as possible because they are trying to sell the opportunity however you will still be able to read between the lines and pick up some additional information about how the organisation works.
  • Ask about reward and personal development. This will give you a good indication as to its philosophy on people and how they are treated. How much investment does it make in its people?
  • Ask about leadership style in the business? Is the culture very direct and results driven or perhaps more values-led? What style will suit you best?
  • Ask about the company’s values and objectives – does the interviewer know them? Are they just written on a poster somewhere or is it the real DNA that determines how the business works day to day.
  • See for yourself -attending an interview gives you a great opportunity to get a true sense of the working environment. Not only from a physical perspective i.e. how it is laid out but also from in terms of its vibe and feel? Are people chatting? Is the energy positive or negative? Although this is only an insight, it will build upon the picture you are building.
  Due Diligence Making the effort throughout the recruitment process to really understand an organisation’s culture and how the reality may differ from perception will greatly assist you in making the right career decisions. Going for team drinks is another way to try and find out the “real” culture of the business, this will give you the best possible feel for the personality of the people you will be working with. Making the right decision As I have discussed the first part has to be about understanding what is important to you as an individual and what style of working will suit you best. Once you understand this you can better assess potential employers doing the necessary due diligence discussed above to see how well you will really fit into the organisation’s culture. Being successful is hard work for everyone but find yourself in the wrong culture and the odds are steeply against you. In reality, it will be very difficult to find a company culture that is totally aligned however it should be achievable to find one where your values can co-exist. Finding a culture where your values, beliefs and ways of working are in some way aligned should make for a much happier, rewarding and successful employment.
 

Now is the time to push your salary up!

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Now is the time to push your salary up! One of the best things that I get to do in my job, albeit not so much over the recession, is to advise candidates that they should be asking for more money.  
  • We are not in recession any more, we are in growth.
  • The jobs market is tightening; More jobs & fewer candidates.
  • Most retailers have by-and-large stabilised…even Tesco.
  You will have seen the press recently about large scale pay increases in the US, with Walmart, McDonalds and Dominos all making significant pledges: http://www.mlive.com/business. There is also a growing pressure on government, in the UK, to increase the minimum wage or move to a living wage model. But how does this impact you? Well, anecdotally, we have seen significant improvements over the past 12-18 months on salary & packages at the mid-senior management level (£50-150k). Indeed, the job market has tightened quite considerably since Autumn 2014. The unemployed candidate pool has shrunk to almost normal levels (in Retail at this level), with the usual ebb and flow one would expect in this space. The influx of people coming out of P4U and Tesco over the last 6 months has barely been felt with most people back in employment incredibly quickly. When you compare to the collapse of Woolies, Comet et al, it is a different world. Many people at mid level look at some of the less positive national employment data and wrongly assume that this applies to all job functions and levels. It doesn’t. Retail cut faster and harder than any other employment sector. A full year ahead of Lehmans, we saw this from late summer 2007.  8 Years ago! The public sector is still trying to align itself to the real world with various predictions of the budget not being balanced until 2020, or beyond (12 years to get the house in order… you are lucky if you get 12 weeks in retail if the numbers drop, but hey-ho!). Retail is now under-resourced in many functions, especially the newer areas such as digital. Over the recession Area Managers and Divisional Managers were seen as a cost centre, and were cut accordingly. As a result succession was stymied and a talent shortage is developing across the market. As growth kicks in, plenty of big retailers are knocking on the door of double digit L4L’s in some categories / geographies; and field managers will be seen as a profit centre. L&D is getting investment again too. I am seeing this talent shortage now - in the agency world you have the benefit of working with multiple clients so you develop a relatively balanced view. So demand is beginning to exceed supply and we all know what that drives. A cynic might accuse me of driving the wrong behaviours or expectations. Go for it, that’s fine. The reality is that many large employers have taken advantage over the recession because supply exceeded demand. So, at long last, I am getting the opportunity to say to some candidates… “Don’t undervalue yourself, you should be asking for more.” Happy days!   P.S. I am seriously going to regret this blog given I have a number of offers pending!
 

How to discuss your salary expectations at interview?

How to discuss your salary expectations at interview? What salary are you looking for?  This question is asked in most interviews but remains for many candidates, one of the most awkward and challenging questions to deal with at interview. The reason behind this is the fear of losing out – either losing out financially by ‘low balling’ your expectations versus what the company is happy to pay or on the other hand, pricing yourself out of the running because they feel your demands are too high. Clearly, neither side wishes to waste their time if your target salary is way off. As the employment market continues to strengthen and the market becomes more ‘candidate driven’, we are going to see an upward shift in salaries. Negotiating an appropriate salary in a rising market takes thought, consideration and understanding. So how is the best way to discuss your salary expectations at interview?
  • Don’t ask too early - When it comes to discussing salary at interview it is all about ensuring it is done at the appropriate time. From your perspective, asking about it too early can create a perception that you are purely financially motivated and mercenary in approach thereby potentially ruining your chances. For obvious reasons you will be much better placed to ask the question and hopefully agree a higher amount, once you have demonstrated your capability and culture fit and they are interested in you joining their organisation.
  • Deflect the question if asked too early - If the question of salary is poised by the client at an inappropriate time i.e. too early in the process, then do not be afraid to deflect the question. There are a number of ways to do this in a professional and courteous way. The first may be to suggest that you really need more information about the job before you can start to discuss salary. Alternatively, you could just try to bounce it back to the interviewer by asking what the budgeted salary is for the position or indeed the salary range they are looking to pay. It makes it difficult for them not to answer your question but you should be aware that some interviewers will still come back and ask you for a figure. A more positive approach could be to suggest that you can come to an agreement on the right compensation if the position represents a good fit for both parties or “perhaps we can revisit this question when we get to that point?”
Another possible way to deflect the question is to respond by stating that salary is not an important factor to you. However, if that is the message you wish to convey then don’t be surprised if, when it comes to negotiating your offer, your bargaining position has been weakened. You may want to position instead that you are flexible with regards to salary because of the attractiveness of the business, the role and future career potential. Which ever of the above tactics you choose it is really important that it is handled in an appropriate way. You may be a fantastic candidate with all the right skills and experience but mishandling the question at this early stage could well jeopardise your chances. Just to be clear though, you cannot deflect the question completely it is just a case of establishing the most appropriate time to have that discussion. Failure to discuss it at all could lead to them guessing what they believe you are looking for!  
  • Clarification – depending on how you identified the opportunity in the first place hopefully you will have some awareness of the salary parameters. If the role was advertised the salary bandings may have been outlined in the ad or if you were called by a recruiter then they should have indicated the bandings to you. If you have not been made aware, if asked for your salary expectations you have a good opportunity to push back and seek clarification from them before asking for some time to reflect.
 
  • Research the market - Prior to attending the interview it is worth researching your sector to try and best understand the market rate for the role you have applied for. Although every role will be specific in terms of responsibilities you should still be able to get a feel for a salary range or benchmark for the type of role. This can be used as a way of discussing your salary expectations based on what you understand the market rate to be rather than being pushed to provide a specific figure. There are a number of websites such as Glassdoor.com which may help with this.
   
  • Think it through – this may be a surprising comment to make but candidates often make changes to their salary expectations once they have really thought it through. In reality there are many factors and variables that will affect this figure and they should be taken into account. Make sure you have dedicated time to think about how that particular role, working patterns, office location etc. etc. would impact you and where the salary would really need to be in order for you to make a move. It will land poorly with the client if you provide guidance of one figure only to increase it by 15% at the end of the process. This is likely to be interpreted as brinkmanship and may erode the good will you have built up through the process.
 
  • Use a recruiter – clearly one of the major benefits of using a recruiter to secure a new position is the part they play in negotiations. With a strong relationship and a good understanding of the client they should be best placed to push the salary without jeopardising your application. It is generally in their interest (within reason) to negotiate you a higher salary and so, positioning this in the right way at the right time, they will be focused on trying to deliver an offer that is acceptable to both parties. Many of the comments above apply to you dealing with the consultant but it is important that you are fully open and honest with them to ensure they can negotiate effectively on your behalf.
   
  • It’s actually about the package – one of the major reasons in my opinion that salary is difficult to talk about is that actually it is all about the package. If the package for the prospective role is better than your current package on every level in terms of pension contributions, holidays etc. etc. then you might consider a modest salary increase because overall you will be better off. To be able to accurately weigh up your salary expectations it is really important to know the detail of not only your current package but also the package for the role you have applied for. Considerations should be made to the following factors and their importance to you - all of them will have a bearing on your desired basic salary. Pension – level of company contributions, car – does it include private mileage? Healthcare – single or family? holiday days, car or car allowance. When considering the offer they will offer base it on the information you have provided them with. So when they ask you for your current salary information, be as detailed as possible eg. list your basic salary, car (what this is worth), pension (%contributions), and benefits. Crucially include bonus potential and ideally tell them what you earned in bonus in the last qualifying period. It also makes it clear that all these things are important to you.
 
  • Negotiating - when it comes to the actually negotiation your salary, like any negotiation it will fundamentally be about how much they want you to join, how many other candidates they have to choose from and of course, from your perspective, how much do you want the job? Towards the end or at the end of the recruitment process when you are asked the specific question it is clear that you need to have a considered and rational view about why you should be paid a particular figure. It is important that this is not delivered in an aggressive or defensive manner but a calm and reasoned way. The rationale is very important and should be backed up by key points, whether that is to reflect the difference in packages, a greater commuting distance or the market rate. Explaining that you need more money to pay for your kid’s education is probably not going to wash. You should be realistic and look for a respectful increase on what you are currently being paid.
As a candidate, your negotiating power increases the later it is done in the process, assuming of course, that the client is interested in hiring you. However, the balance to this could be that if you are worlds apart in your views around what you are worth, then this may lead to ill feeling and a waste of time for everybody. It has to be said that much of the advice provided above could be looking at this question from an overly cynical perspective. After all, you would hope that most organizations would be paying a fair market rate for the skills and experience you would bring to the role and won’t be going into these discussions hoping to get someone “on the cheap”. However, let’s be realistic. In these days of austerity and cost control, if a line manager believes that they can secure you for a few thousand less, then in reality they are likely to do so. This isn’t without its risks of course. Paying you much below market rate would be risking your potential tenure in the role. It is important that if you give the minimum figure you would look at, be sure that you really mean it! Don’t assume that an employer will want to be generous – rest assured they will take you at face value. Think about your absolute minimum. Then think about how you would feel if they offered you that figure. If you are left feeling disappointed, with a bitter taste in your mouth and a knot in your stomach, chances are you have sold yourself short!!! Your minimum figure should be one that you will be happy to accept. Whilst my comments above will hopefully give you some ideas about how to handle the salary question unfortunately there is no single approach that will be right for every situation. Depending on the timing of the questions and the circumstances for both you and the client, you may need to handle the situation in a different way. Hopefully the advice above will assist you and ensure you are better equipped when asked the inevitable question.   salary cartoon
 

16 Reasons why Retailers make fantastic Recruitment Consultants: Part 2

16 Reasons why Retailers make fantastic Recruitment Consultants: Part 2 We wrote recently about why we believe retailers make great recruitment consultants (click here). In the first part of this blog we discussed the behaviours that are transferable, here we look at the skills and experience that many retailers acquire that transfer in to a job in recruitment. As I mentioned previously we are actively recruiting for our offices in Surrey and Solihull so if this strikes a chord please get in touch! You can look at our Facebook page or email my colleague [email protected] directly. Skills & Experience Change Management: Following a deep recession and significant changes in technology and shopping behaviour, Retailers have become accustomed to a state of flux within their respective markets. The most successful individuals and businesses are the ones that embrace change and where it is second nature. Within recruitment we have also seen some significant changes to our industry with a lot more to come. As a result individuals with experience of both managing and implementing change are best suited to our market. You know what good looks like: As a Retail and Hospitality specialist recruitment firm we recruit a broad range of roles, typically from Area Manager, Buying manager, HRBP (etc.) level upwards. If you have worked in retail you will know ‘what good looks like’ whether that is due to personal experience of doing the role or working with a range of people in support functions. This experience is crucial when working with our candidate and clients as it allows us to fully understand the positions we are recruiting for and also enables us to truly empathise. Leadership & People Management: Clearly this is a broad and complex subject but in my experience, the two core skills that often leads to a successful transfer into recruitment are; the ability to motivate direct reports, indirect reports and other stakeholders and; the ability to manage performance in a formal and structured manner. Retailers generally learn how to do this both on the job and in the classroom – an option not always available in many companies. Most large recruitment firms promote their consultants into leadership roles on the basis of their ‘billings’ history. Previous experience of managing people is extremely advantageous when your career accelerates. Managing complexity: Retailers are highly adept at managing a complex business, generally with a suite of KPIs, service metrics and reporting, big to-do lists and instructions and changes coming from a range of departments. Recruitment is often perceived to be straightforward but when you are dealing with people it is generally anything but! Stakeholder & Relationship Management: As mentioned above most retailers have to deal with a range of stakeholders with often conflicting priorities. An ability to manage this is often a highly honed skill. Within recruitment we constantly have to juggle a range of stakeholders, the crucial skill being that you have to be able to focus on the end goal and work towards achieving that while satisfying your stakeholder’s expectations! Strategy and tactical development: The degree of exposure and therefore capability will depend on the level that you have reached but retailers learn from very early in their career, at the very least, how to develop a tactical plan on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. This is particularly important in recruitment where you constantly need to evolve. In order to capitalise on market improvements you need a good plan to truly realise the opportunity. Operations Management: Depending on your retail background, the experience you have here will vary. By operations management I am referring to the management of the supply chain and the store operation. Food & ‘big box’ retailers tend to have the most advanced skill-set in this regard. Understanding the cause & effect of moving units from one place to another may sound simple but in high volume environments it can be incredibly complex. It may be surprising but large scale recruitment campaigns can benefit from a similar logical approach to understanding and planning workload. There are lots of other skills you will have acquired that transfer in to recruitment; way too many to mention! 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 dispelling a few of those on LinkedIn and Twitter. Please follow us and keep an eye out! For details about our current vacancies, please visit us on Facebook  
 

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