Applying for you first job after graduation?


Deciding on your first ‘proper’ job after university is a big decision. A few things that made my decision slightly easier are described below.


Whether you are still at university and getting a head start by exploring your options for next year, or whether you are a recent graduate with offers on the table but finding it challenging to decide which is right for you, here are some key factors which are worth thinking about.


My job search journey began around Christmas last year (during my final year at university) and I found that getting a head start allowed me more thinking space - I highly recommend anybody still at university to do the same. Making a decision will most likely be difficult and will require time and energy so being organised and knowing what you want is a good first step. But how do you know what you want and what is right for you? At the end of the day, this is new for you!


Aside from your parent-approved must haves, such as a good salary and benefits, other things to consider include:


What is the training like?
You want to work for an organisation that supports and encourages you to grow. In order to learn and grow you need great training, especially as a recent graduate with little or no commercial experience. This was one of the most important factors I considered when I was making my decision about who to apply for.


Career opportunities?
It is important to understand what your future with the company looks like. A good way to check whether the company offers this is by researching or asking questions about the existing team and their growth opportunities and/or promotions. How achievable is this? Who will be there to guide you through your growth? How quickly have other grads been promoted?


Company size, big vs small
Bigger companies usually have established ways of doing things including training, progression opportunities as well as the role you are required to do. They are also well-known, so working there will add value to your CV and could set you apart for future roles. Larger companies could also have the funds and resources for a wider range of benefits.
On the contrary, smaller businesses typically have less formality and can be more flexible. As well, you get to wear more hats working for a smaller company, exposing you to more job functions and giving you greater variety and responsibility in your role.

Ask yourself, how achievable are those promotions and which company size is more suitable to you as an individual?


Company culture
This is something that might be slightly tricky to figure out during the initial research or initial interviews, however some things to keep in mind when analysing this are the following:
Are the employees you meet happy to be working for that company? And with one another? And most importantly, do they feel like their work is valued? Do they have clear objectives for their next promotion? Most companies are now on Glassdoor, a useful website to get information about the company. Be open minded however, and make sure you look at the reviews overall rather than focusing solely on the negatives.


Values and vision
This remains one of the most important factors as you need to be passionate about what you are doing in order to be passionate about work. Do the company’s values match your own? If not, can you turn a blind eye to things that you might not feel that strongly about or agree with?
I want to conclude this blog by saying that applying for your first ‘proper job’ is not easy. The main thing is to be aware of what you want to gain out of the company or role that you have in mind and to be organised. Take charge and be organised.


Additionally, manage your own expectations. As a recent graduate with not much commercial experience you are likely to have to start from the bottom. Don’t let that put you off!

The next blog will be on managing your expectations when applying and landing your first job after graduating.

 

5 Recruitment news stories from 2020

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

A buyer’s guide to Retail Store SWOTs

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

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.

 

Top Eleven Best Things about a Career in Recruitment

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Next month, one of my colleagues celebrates his 10 year anniversary in Recruitment. He can hardly believe it has been that long. Like the rest of us at AdMore, Recruitment was his ‘second’ career following graduation and a successful period in the Retail and Hospitality industries.

Without doubt, few people choose to begin their career in our industry – often it is something that is suggested by a recruitment consultant who spots the potential, the spark, of someone who could be a success in this challenging role. Arguably, having previous career and overall life experience is of huge benefit in recruitment, not only because it enables you to empathise with the challenges and choices faced by people in their working lives but because it gives you some credibility with candidates and clients – so important in an industry which has very low barriers to entry. It will be interesting to see what impact the new Recruitment Apprenticeship which has been launched recently will have on encouraging young people to choose recruitment as career however there remains the issue of how we try to change the perception of the industry and position it as a career of choice rather than something that is ‘fallen’ into.

To kick off our little crusade, here’s my Top Eleven Best Things About a Career in Recruitment - other blogs to follow (along with the Top Ten Worst Things About a Career in Recruitment!?).

1. Wheeeeeeee!

People often refer to the rollercoaster of recruitment and it really is the best analogy to describe the ups (and downs) we experience on a daily basis. The highs are great – making an offer to a candidate (providing they accept), giving the good news to your client or hiring manager, knowing that you have found a solution for your candidate/client and are a step closer to hitting your target.

2. The people you work with

Ok, I can just imagine the collective eyebrow being raised and of course, we all know people who fit the stereotype of recruitment consultants. However, in my experience, the majority of people I have worked alongside in recruitment have been great fun, bright, hard working and incredibly positive. It is rare to find people who don’t moan about their lot (although many in recruitment have good reason to) but in recruitment, the over-riding characteristics are resilience and the determination to succeed. These are infectious qualities and preferable to other cultures where people complain constantly about their job but do nothing to change it.

3. Variety is the spice of life

Working in recruitment is interesting because, to be any good at it, you need to know your industry sector inside out. You need to understand the job roles that you are hiring, the company culture and the idiosyncrasies of the recruitment process. You have the privilege of hearing about candidates’ career history, family situation and aspirations along with any issues they have faced along their way. Every person you deal with is unique and this provides constant interest (and challenges which I will cover in my follow up blog Top Ten Worst Things about a Career in Recruitment!?).

4. Reward and Recognition

Recruitment can be financially lucrative for the top performers and if you are working for a company who pay acceptable basic salaries in addition to bonus or commission, you can make a healthy living. Senior in-house recruitment positions command significant salaries along with the benefits associated with working for large corporate businesses. Over and above the purely financial recognition, recruitment agencies are generally places where success is celebrated and when you are doing well, your achievements will be well publicised.

5. The challenge

Although the mechanics of recruitment are fundamentally simple (get briefed on vacancy, find candidate that fits, make introduction to client), in reality there is so much more to it than that. People are unpredictable and the real challenge is understanding this, anticipating any changes or pitfalls, planning or reacting accordingly and using your influencing skills to get a positive result. Recruitment tests your inter-personal skills every day and if you love people (warts and all!), this is a great career for you.

6. Stretch yourself

The longer you work in recruitment, the more experience you have of dealing with people at all levels and at all life stages. The challenges outlined above make you question yourself daily and having to use insight and empathy with your candidates and clients means that you develop your own skills accordingly. These inter-personal skills often spill over into your wider personal relationships. There is always something new to learn whether that is about what motivates people or about the new technological developments that are impacting how we source candidates.

7. Problem solving

When a client briefs you on a role, it is because they have a problem which needs a solution. Perhaps there are issues with performance in a role and a new skillset is required. Perhaps the ‘gap’ is holding the growth plans of the business back. Finding a solution to this problem requires more than finding a ‘bum for a seat’. You need to ask the right questions to understand the brief. You need to know what impact the hiring manager and the company culture will have on the search process. You then have to find someone who will have the right mix of skills, experience and behavioural qualities to truly ‘match’ the brief. The search process can be like an intricate jigsaw puzzle…for those who are intellectually curious; it is an interesting and rewarding process.

8. Accountability

The funnel analogy is widely used in recruitment and, although less so when recruiting senior level positions, it is a case of the more you put in, the more you get out. This isn’t just about volume; it is about the quality of each conversation, the quality of the contacts you make and the relationships you build. It is a very transparent industry – you can measure your own activity and often trace results back to their source. There are always lots of different factors which can affect your performance but there is rarely anyone else to blame. This makes you truly accountable for your results.

9. Entrepreneurial spirit

To be a success in recruitment you need to be commercial in everything you do – this is something that you can learn along the way but the ability to spot opportunities and an entrepreneurial spirit certainly gives you a head start. Recruitment consultants are often described as running their own virtual franchise, meaning that you are responsible for developing and growing your own sector and increasing your personal ‘brand presence’.

10. Relationships

When you get it right and are able to build genuine relationships with your candidates and clients, the role is really rewarding. This requires honesty and trust on both sides. There is nothing better than knowing you have helped someone develop their career and even if you haven’t been successful in placing someone, if you can give them some good advice and act as a sounding board, they will remember you. The litmus test is someone picking the phone up to you , sometimes years later, when they are either ready to make a move or are ready to brief you on a vacancy.

11. Talking to people

One of my colleagues (who shall remain nameless) was always in detention for talking in class and this was one of his suggestions about why he loves his job. Clearly, this is not about the ‘gift of the gab’ as this can have the opposite effect but there is no doubt that you need to enjoy talking to people. If you do, you will build rapport easily, ask the right questions, get the right answers and be able to sell yourself and your opportunities effectively. People are fascinating creatures and we are lucky to be able to spend our working lives talking to them!

If you would like any advice about a Career in Recruitment, please contact us.

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By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.