Interview questions you may be asked at Operations Director level

By Russell Adams,AdMore Recruitment

Before focusing on some of the questions you are likely to be asked at interview, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of preparation for interviews at Operations Director level. Whilst people always talk about preparation, senior candidates need to ensure that if they are interested in pursuing a role, they are able to dedicate enough time to present themselves in a credible way. You are likely to be put through a robust and probably lengthy recruitment process which will be designed to test and stretch, assessing both your capability and cultural fit for the business you are considering joining. Leadership, management style and culture are critical at this level, as is the need to fit with rest of the executive or leadership team. In addition to the traditional interview process, it is highly likely you will undergo psychometric testing and a possible assessment with an Occupational Psychologist. These steps are designed to provide a rounded picture of you as an individual from an intellectual, personality and capability perspective.

My personal opinion is that as the interview process moves forward, the importance of preparation increases. The risk for senior candidates is to assume that their experience will speak for itself however this is a highly competitive market and you must be able to provide evidence to back up your track record and be able to demonstrate your behavioural qualities which are so critical in a senior position.

I recently met a senior candidate to talk through his preparation for a third interview. Having met the client twice, he was in the position of understanding the three areas of potential concern the client had about him as an individual and his ability to deliver in this role. As a result he had used a "mind map" to develop a clear plan and strategy of how he would provide evidence to the key stakeholders in the next interview to overcome these concerns. By completing this preparation and seeking the counsel of others he was giving himself the best possible chance of overcoming these potential objections.

During the selection process clients will be looking to identify your capability across a number of key competencies and will question you accordingly. I have listed some of the major competencies below and some questions that you could possibly be asked:

Leadership

Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. In today’s world it is accepted that it is about engaging individuals to maximising their discretionary efforts. From a client’s perspective they are looking for you to provide evidence of how you have led your team to deliver great results.

Typical leadership questions may include:

  • Why do you believe you are the best person for the role? Although somewhat crude at a senior level, it is about the individual’s ability to illustrate a clear view on what they feel they can bring to the position.
  • How do you inspire others around you that are looking to fill your shoes?
  • When have you found recently that old solutions no longer work?
  • Describe a time where your team did not agree with your proposed course of action, how did you manage that situation?
  • How have you communicated your Vision and ensured your team are fully engaged? How have you measured this engagement?

 

Strategic Insight

Being ‘strategic’ in simple terms is having the ability to develop a plan to gain a future advantage. From a client’s perspective they will be looking to assess your ability to think in time, i.e. that you can hold past, present and future in mind at the same time to create better decision making and speed of implementation. Also, that you have the ability to create, analyse and implement a clear strategic vision and plan.

Typical Strategic Insight questions may include:

  • What will stop you achieving your goals?
  • When you envision your business in three years - what does it look like and what will it take to get it there?
  • What do you foresee as the possible future in your sector and potential opportunities that you may be able to exploit through your business's product or service?
  • How do these ideas and decisions tie in with your company's mission, vision, and goals?
  • As you develop a strategic vision for your organisation what are the key criteria that you should focus on?
  • How do you adapt your leadership style in a growth business versus in a turnaround situation?
  • What is your opinion on our current strategy? What would you do differently?

Change Management

This could relate to change in the mission, strategy, operation or culture of the business. The economic downturn has forced most businesses to adapt and change and there continues to be considerable structural change in the retail sector. These challenges have required businesses more than ever to rethink the way they do business. Clients will want to understand examples and evidence of where you have delivered change within an organisation. What actions did you take, what challenges you faced and how these were overcome.

Typical Change Management questions may include:

  • What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken? How did you mitigate this risk? Did it pay off?
  • What are the most common reasons why change fails in most organisations?
  • When have you broken the rules in order to deliver the right result?
  • How have you restructured your business to ensure it is "fit for purpose"?
  • How has technology changed the way in which you approach your role?

 

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is about managing relationships with a broad range of individuals or groups who have a vested interest in the various outcomes of the business. Your ability to effectively manage these challenging and sometime conflicting relationships is essential when operating at a senior level.

Typical Stakeholder Management questions may include:

  • How have you sought to gain the buy-in of your fellow directors to your strategy?
  • How do you deal with underperforming peers who are impacting your business?
  • How have you utilised Social Media to engage different groups?
  • How have you balanced the short-term versus long-term demands of investors?

Commerciality 

Commerciality concerns your ability to exploit business opportunities and deliver great results. It is imperative that you know your numbers inside out as you are likely to be questioned hard about the results you have delivered and how you have achieved them.

Typical Commerciality questions may include:

  • How is your business performing year to date?
  • How does this compare to other regions, divisions or competitors.
  • What is your lasting legacy at company X?
  • In the last three years how have you balanced the need to cut costs whilst delivering for the customer?
  • What action have you taken that has had the biggest impact on sales?
  • Explain our brand?
  • Who do you view as the biggest competitive threat to our business? Why?

  

General questions 

  • What are you looking for in an employer?
  • Why do you feel you have succeeded where others have failed?
  • How do you ensure your team are bought into your vision and company strategy?
  • How would you deal with one of the direct report’s for this role who believes this role should have been theirs?
  • What are you going to do if you are unsuccessful in securing this role?

 

Fundamentally the client is measuring you on the evidence that you provide, your ability to articulate that evidence, the results you have achieved and how these have been delivered.

So, preparation is key – whilst you aren’t going to be asked all of the questions listed, you will undoubtedly be asked about questions covering these competency areas and it is critical that you have prepared examples and are clear about the messages you wish to convey.

As a client said to me yesterday, "I can only assess the candidate against the evidence she gave me during the interview…"

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What should your Recruitment Consultant really do for you?

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development. In a market where organisations are increasing their proportion of direct hires, do you still need to be talking to recruiters and what are they actually doing for you?  Are they really adding any value and what are they doing that you couldn’t do yourself? Indeed with LinkedIn it is now easier than ever before to be found by organisations looking to hire. So are recruiters really adding any value? The answer to that question will definitely depend on who you are talking to. Sadly the industry is lightly regulated and with no formal qualifications it is very easy for poorly trained individuals to operate without much scrutiny or redress. As we are all aware, the market is still tight. With strong competition for most roles it is likely that you will need to engage the services of recruiters in order to try and access the best opportunities in the market.

So what should a good recruiter be doing for you?

Career Advice

A specialist recruiter should be able to give expert career advice and both challenge and assist you in your career goals and objectives. They should be highly knowledgeable in your field and very well connected.  Your recruiter should be a career partner and not just an agent that will place you in a role.

Recruiters can and should provide impartial career advice. When paid commission you need to appreciate that some may have a short term attitude and advise what is best for them and not for you as the candidate. However, the best recruiters will take a look term approach, appreciate that people will remember great advice and certainly never forget bad advice. Although in the short term they may lose out on a fee, longer term if they do the right thing then you are much more likely to engage them when you are looking to recruit. So look out for the signs that they are thinking long term.

Recruiters can if they are willing provide advice across a range of areas including advice on CV’s and Interviewing. They typically do not change for these services but do it as a way of adding more value to the candidates. Again they are likely to only provide in depth advice to those individuals who they have built a relationship with.

Job Search

In addition to some of the added value areas, fundamentally you want your recruiter to give you access to the best jobs in the market. So, do plenty of research and ask plenty of questions; what roles are they recruiting? Who are their key clients? Are they recruiting the types of roles you are interested in? The competition out there is fierce and through building a strong relationship with key recruiters in your sector you can try and ensure you gain access to these roles. A good recruiter should always call you back. In the current market, recruiters are incredibly busy, there are large number of candidates on the market chasing relatively fewer roles, however if you agree up front how to communicate and how frequently then you should be able to find a way that works for both parties.

 Process Management

A good recruiter should "coach" you through the recruitment process.  They should be using their in depth knowledge of the client and the individuals within it to guide and advise you on how to position yourself. They should be able to give you a strong insight into the culture and how you will fit.  The are also likely to get in depth feedback from the client after each stage so make sure they are sharing this information with you, so you can understand what you may need to do more or less of.  In fact a really good recruiter will always think long term. The better ones will coach you through a process even when they aren’t representing you but it is with a client they know. They will appreciate the long term benefits of doing this and the potential for the future.

 Offer Negotiation

Whilst there are a multitude of reasons for moving jobs, increasing your salary and benefits is often an important aspect.  Your recruiter should be instrumental in negotiating the right salary for you.  They should know the client well and will have a real feel for what the client may be willing to pay for someone with your skill set.  But make sure they are clear about your parameters because as much as you want to receive the best offer you also don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are jeopardising a potential offer because the recruiter is demanding an unachievable  salary on your behalf. Also make sure you understand the full package. The benefits on offer may vary considerably from your current role and other roles you are considering and it is wise to look at the package as a whole. This will both influence your thoughts around basic salary but also may give you some leverage. Make sure you have this information early in the process. Like any negotiation the Recruiter will be aiming to find middle ground that is acceptable to both you and the client. It is ok to push but get a feel for where those boundaries lie.

Post Placement

A good recruiter won’t just place you and collect their fee, they will support you through your notice period and then though your induction into the business. They should provide you with an insight into the key players in the business you are joining, the culture and advice on how to integrate into the business. They should keep in touch and ensure that your induction runs smoothly, feeding back to the client where appropriate.

Conclusion 

Identifying and then building a relationship with the right recruiters will be critical if you are determined to make the best career move possible.

So how can you ensure your recruiter is doing all these things for you? Firstly please choose wisely. It is best to get recommendations and check their credentials.

Secondly to gain this level of advice, support and opportunity you need to invest time in building a relationship with the recruiter. This is easier said than done when working in a demanding and consuming role, so select a small number of well connected recruiters. For some additional advice on job hunting please read our recent blogs Looking for a job in 2013and How to avoid joining the wrong business.

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What do you do when your Retail Employer brand needs a refresh?

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

The most challenging, and by it’s very virtue interesting recruitment is often when you are resourcing for an employer whose brand does not quite match up with candidate perceptions. This can work two ways. A business may have a great employer brand but in truth be a difficult to place to work and develop a career. Conversely, there are many businesses that have a poor employer brand but are actually a great place to work. This mismatch often arises for two key reasons; firstly businesses change - a company may have had a high staff turnover previously but due to a change of CEO/HRD the underlying problems have been removed. The second reason is that many people confuse the customer brand with the employer brand. Yum! Brands (The parent company of KFC) are a great case in point. Potential employees think ‘fried chicken?’ but do not necessarily know the fantastic, employee- focused career opportunities they offer.

So, what can you do to educate candidates?

I was recently invited to a Retail networking event at Harrods. I’ll declare my hand early; I used to work in Harrods. It was an amazing experience and I can honestly say that it was the most theatrical and exciting place to ‘retail.’ However, it would seem that many candidates do not see Harrods as being an employer of choice. Following a period of change at Harrods (click here for more information) the Resourcing team have decided that now is the time to win hearts and minds.

The event was by invitation only (thanks to Linda Treen for the invitation!) and was aimed at attracting the top talent from retail that had thus far declined to attend a formal interview. It was typically Harrods - held in the Georgian restaurant where we were offered some beautifully crafted bacon rolls served with coffee and tea. The Retail Director, Paul Thomas, kicked off the day with introductions. This was perhaps the most powerful part of the day. There were 8 Harrods employees present; they came from Asda, Zara, Tesco and a collection of large and small retailers. Not the typical luxury backgrounds one might expect. They also had interesting career paths; it would seem that the path from Operations to the Support functions was well travelled. I guess that is the benefit of having the core of your business and its supporting Head office within a few miles of each other.

Following the introductions, a chap by the name of George Hammer talked about his own experience of setting up the Urban Retreat salon concession in Harrods. George is a classic entrepreneur and was quick to cut to the chase. Harrods is not an easy place to work quite simply because the standards and expectations are so high. As he put it, if you want to work somewhere spectacular you will have to take a risk. This is an interesting point, as this is absolutely about confidence. If you are confident in your ability then why would you not be successful? His most memorable quote being; "be exceptional, do not be average." George is clearly an extremely successful entrepreneur, he was the founder of Aveda amongst many other concerns, however he seemed to connect with the audience and many of the candidates present were clearly impressed by his honesty and his passion for Harrods.

Paul Thomas went on to talk about his own career path (Asda - Saturday boy to Store Manager, Sainsburys, Harrods Food Hall) and then fielded some questions. Paul was candid about his own decision to join Harrods with the admission of a wobble during his notice period prior to joining – had he made the right decision?  He was keen to tackle the negative perceptions within the room. A few candidates opened up and to Paul’s credit he dealt with these in a way that encouraged others to raise their own concerns.  He talked about the operational roles being narrower, yet deeper, than normal. He discussed perceptions around a more mature workforce and the ‘stuffy’ stereotypes. He noted that in the four years since they have started measuring employee engagement, they have seen a marked improvement in scores. This willingness to meet these questions head on certainly engaged the audience.

I noted with interest the number of candidates that were keen to formally register their interest in Harrods following some further informal conversations. I suspect that the Resourcing team were slightly surprised to get such an immediate result. Jenny Parry, Head of Resourcing, told me that she was primarily hoping to get the message out there that Harrods is evolving.  Judging by the reaction from the candidates attending, I think they certainly achieved this. It would be interesting to know what other retailers are doing to actively manage their employer brand in what is proving to be a period of intense change in the retail industry, comments below please!

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

 

Balance of the Sexes – How do we achieve gender balance in the workplace?

As the only woman at AdMore, my working life is a daily education into the male psyche. The intricacies of the Premier League (or Conference League for some of my less fortunate colleagues), the relative advantages of petrol versus diesel and the latest plot line of Game of Thrones – the list is endless.  I have great affection for my colleagues and men in general (I even married one and gave birth to another) and really appreciate the positive aspects of the male character: their sense of humour, their competitiveness and their penchant for giving direct and open feedback and in turn, to take it and move on without holding a grudge. However, I sometimes find myself yearning for the company of a female colleague in order to restore the balance.

This got me thinking. I have always believed that working environments are generally more positive and effective when there is an equal balance of men and women. Having worked in both male and female-dominated workplaces, I know this to be true.

This poses an interesting dilemma for HR and Recruitment professionals – one which is as old as time and still exists today. When it comes to recruitment, how do companies ensure that they achieve a balance, while still ensuring that they are hiring the best-qualified person to do the job?

I found this was a particular issue when I was a Recruitment Manager in the IT sector where there was a shortage of women entering the industry. This caused problems in some areas where, in roles which were client facing, requiring employees to build relationships and diffuse conflict situations in order to deliver on key accounts, it was widely acknowledged that women were better placed to succeed as they tended to possess the skills and behavioural qualities required. Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?  I don’t have the answers however my point is this – we all perform better when we are in the company of our metaphorical ‘other half’.  At the risk of reverting to gender stereotypes, male employees temper the emotional intensity of women and in turn, female employees can diffuse some of the aggression that comes with a concentration of testosterone.

Take my son’s nursery as an example. The balance has been disturbed in the last month by older children starting school (of which there were 4 girls), now leaving the boys in the majority. I received a note last night informing us that they are now having issues with the increasing tendency to play games involving guns and weapons and accompanying language – the words ‘kill’ and ‘dead’ are creeping in - the children are 3?!!!!).  An interesting insight into the nature/nurture debate perhaps but certainly an illustration of my point - by ensuring that there is an equal balance of genders, we bring out the best in each other and each bring different strengths to the equation.

I am interested to know what companies are doing to attract more female candidates (if indeed they have a policy to do so).  What are the best attraction techniques to ensure that there is a representation of both genders amongst applicants?

Until we eventually hire another female, I will continue my efforts to bring out the feminine side in my colleagues. In the meantime, I heard an interesting piece of news recently. Research in the US has discovered that groups of male mice, when in the company of just one female, are able to sing in perfect harmony….what an interesting thought!

  • Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?
  • What are companies doing to attract more female employees?
  • What are the best attraction techniques to ensure an equal representation amongst applicants?

Sophie Mackenzie

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

 

Use our Linkedin Profile tips to build a quality profile

We wrote last week about the importance of maintaining your Linkedin profile to ensure a consistent brand message as employers are increasingly reviewing candidates’ social media presence. With the following Linkedin profile tips we have compiled the following points for those of you who are less familiar with the functionality or indeed what recruiters look for. There are a couple of key points to remember as you build your profile; Firstly you should have a clear idea of what your personal brand is ahead of writing the profile and secondly to ensure you are easily ‘found’, you need to optimise your use of key words.

Customise your Linkedin URL

Set your LinkedIn profile to "public" and add a unique URL to your profile (for example www.linkedin.com/in/jezstyles). To do this click on ‘edit profile’ and next to where it says ‘public profile’ click edit again. This also makes it easier to include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature, which is a great way to demonstrate your professionalism. It will also ensure you rank higher in search engines such as Google.

Use an informative and accurate Profile Headline

The default setting is the last position you held. There has been much debate on various forums and there are two opposing views; your headline should reflect your last position; Or, your profile should reflect where you see your ‘brand’ being positioned ie "Operations Director for FTSE 250 Retailer." You will often see "Looking for opportunities." While this may reflect your employment status it creates a negative impression.

 Upload an ‘appropriate’ Photo!

This may be obvious but do keep this professional. It should also reflect the brand you are keen to portray. Fashion candidates should ensure they are dressed in a manner that reflects their current or target market. An ex colleague of mine recently, and to be fair temporarily, uploaded a picture of himself sporting a rather impressive pair of spectacles despite the fact that he rarely wore them (you know who you are!). It is best to ensure your photo reflects what you look like in real life!

 Provide Contact Information?

You can provide contact information on your profile (either on the summary page or in the specific communication fields) so that people can get in touch with you outside of the parameters of Linkedin. It is worth doing this if you are active in your job search and you wish to reduce the barriers to simple communication. If you are nervous about doing this you can amend your privacy settings so that this is only visible to first degree connections.

Add relevant websites

You can add up to three websites and it is worth utilising this function. I would suggest adding your company website particularly if you work for a niche brand, your Twitter link, your blog or any other website that you are personally invested in.

Complete your Education

Get as much detail in here as you are comfortable with and do not be shy about including any summer courses or distance learning. If you work within a functional specialism such as property, it is worth mentioning that you are chartered and the year you qualified.

Develop a professional Summary & Specialities statement

Your statement should incorporate a short paragraph summarising your experience to date. It is worth highlighting some unique experiences, what differentiates you from your peers or any outstanding awards or achievements. Overall, it should be a clear and concise representation of your ‘brand message.’ It has also become common place to add a list of keywords or phrases to the bottom of this section. The keywords are crucial as this is often what recruiters search for when looking for prospective candidates ie. if your job title is not an industry standard term you could add appropriate key words to ensure you can be easily ‘found’.

Ensure your Experience (Career) is fully complete

As we mentioned in our previous blog, recruiters are beginning to cross reference Linkedin Profiles with CVs. It is essential that the dates and job titles are consistent. It is worth detailing responsibilities, accountabilities and achievements where possible. This is another opportunity to add keywords thus ensuring you optimise your search position.

Languages

Don’t be shy about adding languages. British retailers are increasingly expanding overseas and language skills are increasingly in demand. Similarly, international retailers looking to move in to the UK will be very keen to identify candidates that can communicate in their native language.

Add Applications

It is worth checking adding useful applications (via settings) such as Wordpress (for your blog if you have one), Box files (any documents you may wish to add such as a recent presentation) or Slideshare for any presentations you may wish to upload. These applications will often reveal a side of you that your CV does not such as how you think or feel about certain topics.  Again, ensure that anything you add is consistent with your ‘brand message.’

Ask for recommendations from a diverse selection of contacts

This doesn’t come naturally for some people however it adds a high degree of credibility. I found myself, by accident rather than design, looking at two candidates last week for a position I was recruiting for. Instinctively I was more interested in the candidate with good quality recommendations from people I respect than the individual who had none. It is worth including at least one recommendation per position.

It is also sensible to call your contacts to let them know you are planning to send a request and giving them some steer as to what you would like them to focus on, once again to ensure a consistent brand message.

Join ‘Groups’

It is worth joining a number of groups on Linkedin, particularly groups that are relevant to your Industry, Specialism or Job function. Not only are the groups useful in terms of information but they will also add to the brand message you are keen to portray. They will also provide you with a vehicle to further develop your profile over a period of time (further blog to follow!).

Do you need to add Skills & Expertise?

This functionality was added to Linkedin in the UK earlier in the year (2012). Essentially you are ‘self coding’ yourself in the way recruitment firms do within their databases. The only drawback with the functionality is that there is a temptation to add skills that are aspirational rather than experience led. Having spoken to a few colleagues and other contacts in the industry it would seem that the search functionality which accompanies this is rarely used. On the flipside it will improve keyword searches. In my opinion this is not essential but perhaps worth doing to once again strengthen that all important brand message.

Privacy Controls

You can find this under ‘settings’ via a drop down box from your name in the top right of the screen. Depending on your account type you can set varying levels of privacy. Bear in mind that if you go for the highest settings you will be difficult to find, although clearly, this is not a problem if the purpose of the account is to stay in touch with colleagues etc. Via the settings function you can also become a member of the ‘openlink network,’ this enables other non first degree connections to send you direct messages. This is of particular use if you are actively looking for a new position.

Hopefully there are a couple of useful pointers here for you, if you have anything else to add it would be much appreciated, please comment below. We will also write a follow up blog shortly with some useful suggestions on how to manage your profile proactively thus ensuring you competitively position yourself on a consistent basis.

Jez Styles

www.admore-recruitment.co.uk

 

Is it really that difficult?

By his own admission, my Dad’s political views lie just to the right of Attila the Hun, so it’s fair to say we rarely agree on anything. However, as I listened to one of his recent rants about the education system and level of literacy among the ‘youth of today’, I started to think about the hundreds of CVs I sift through and the many common CV errors.

I am always dismayed by the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in CVs however, given the level of roles we recruit for, the culprits are not school leavers or grads but experienced senior candidates

Maybe my Dad has got a point but in these days of the spellcheck, it’s worrying that so many CVs are published with glaring spelling mistakes.  In a market that is fiercely competitive with recruiters receiving large volumes of candidates, first impressions really do count.

Clearly there is no substitute for the human touch – a spellcheck won’t recognise words spelled correctly but used in the wrong context.

Is it really that difficult …? The most common and grating example of mis-spelling on CVs is "Manger" instead of "Manager".  A simple mistake like this says so much about the candidate’s attention to detail and gives such a poor impression it can tarnish an otherwise strong CV.

Combine this with the increasing trend for PDF CVs (don’t get me started) and this means that the Consultant representing you isn’t even able to correct your mistakes (before you even start discussing whether it should be our job to do it!) We are dealing with Senior candidates  - is it so wrong for us to expect well written, grammatically correct CV’s?

When I recruited in-house, spelling mistakes on CVs were often a deal breaker for my hiring managers, particularly in an industry where multi-million pound contracts and bid processes were the norm and therefore attention to detail was a pre-requisite.

The answer: use the spellcheck and then check again before sending your CV out into the world for all to see. It is a massive frustration within our industry and one so easily corrected. As we all know, you only get one chance to make a great first impression – make it count.

On that note, I’m off to get my pedantic colleague to check my spelling…!!

 Sophie Mackenzie

 

Is the recession creating a lost generation of Middle Management in Retail?

There has been a lot of publicity recently about a lost generation of graduates and school leavers who cannot find work.  Equally the steady rise in redundancies that has continued unabated throughout and beyond the recession has affected large numbers of people. Those of you who are in work will naturally feel relieved that you are in employment and ‘safe.’ At the start of the recession the vast majority of recruiters and businesses used the ‘sell’ of job security as a means to both retain and attract talent. The vast majority of candidates placed this at the top of their wish list for their next job. Of course this was going all the way back to 2008 and for some as early as 2007 when Retailers starting cutting costs with dark clouds gathering in the US over the sub-prime crash. Large numbers of retailers have taken the opportunity to soak up this surplus of talent. Between 2009 and continuing through 2011 it became common place for Retail Directors to take Regional Manager positions, Regional Managers to take Area Manager positions and Area Managers to take Store Manager positions. This downwards pressure on the job market has continued and there are plenty of businesses out there whom are still capitalising on the opportunity. Another product of the recession has been Operational restructuring. Store closures aside this tends to predominantly affect Area Managers through to Retail Director level. Large numbers of retailers have quite simply removed a layer of management, typically at Regional level. As a result a large number of chains now have a model where an area manager will lead a group of up to 40+ stores and report directly to the Retail Director. It’s a big jump for a Store Manager to make and an even more unlikely move for an Area Manager to move to the one and only operational role above them. So to recap, there are less layers of management, less positions and increasing numbers of senior operators whom are settling for a role that is a step below where they have operated previously. That safety that candidates have been flocking to in recent years is beginning to look like stasis or to be more dramatic a career trap.  How long are you willing to sit it out? The reality is, depending on whether you are a glass half empty/full type of person, we are likely to see recession / negligible growth for at least another 3-6 years. Given that lots of people have been in lockdown mode for the best part of 3 years, the risk averse among you will potentially not be looking for a promotion or external career advancement for up to 9 (YES NINE) years. Guess what, when you start looking for a job at that point, your drive and ambition will be challenged and to be realistic you will probably struggle to make another move upwards. Are you feeling quite so comfortable with being safe now? Interestingly there have been more of those elusive ‘passive’ candidates coming on to the market at the start of 2012. The Executive’s candidate board that is Linkedin is testament to the change in mind-set. Lots of candidates see no issue with loading their profile on to Linkedin with the hope that they will be ‘found’. I suspect that a large number of these people will take a more aggressive approach to their career advancement in 2012. Will those that do not be left behind?