16 reasons why Retailers make fantastic Recruitment Consultants: Part 1

16 Reasons why Retailers make fantastic Recruitment Consultants: Part 1

So, cards on the table…

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

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

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

Behaviours

Resilience

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

 

High energy & Results Orientation

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

 

Customer & Service Orientation

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

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

 

Self motivated

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

 

Empathy

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

 

Ownership & Accountability

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

 

Urgency & Pace

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

 

Drive & Passion

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

 

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

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15+ great website links for Retail & Hospitality interview research

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment

15+ Great Website Links for Retail & Hospitality interview research

Apparently Monday 6th January was ‘Massive Monday’ in recruitment (definitely not a reference to working at desks all year and eating stodge solidly for two weeks). I’m not entirely sure about that but I do get the sense that there is going to be a lot more recruitment activity this year than in 2013. The economic data would suggest that things are picking up, and the recruitment ‘churn’ is showing signs of gathering pace. We have certainly seen a significant change in a) mind-set and commitment to hire and b) the volume of vacancies.

So, if you have made a New Year’s resolution to look for a new position and you have written your CV (Free template here), then you may be close to securing an interview or accepting an offer. It is likely to be a competitive market this year so it is imperative that you set yourself apart with some good quality Retail & Hospitality interview research. Our clients generally feedback more favourably on the candidates that have clearly researched the company and the market vertical. You could of course ‘wing-it’ with a simple read of the corporate website and a quick google search, however if you are looking to go a little deeper it would be worth checking out some of these sites for additional analysis.

Industry Magazines: Retail Week / The Grocer / The Caterer / The Morning advertiser .

Industry magazines are still pretty much the top place to go when you are looking to build a base of knowledge or to read recent news stories. Depending on which sector you are looking to specialise in you may find there are other useful sites to visit, for example if you are looking for a job in Pharmacy retail it might be worth checking the Pharmaceutical Journal (not a light read!). The Retail Week site will require a subscription for detailed viewing but it might be worth doing so for a short period. There is a lot of information in their Resource Bank including a league table of over 200 retailers with detailed financial information.

TIP: If you want to access an article without paying a subscription fee you could try running the keywords (I just cut and pasted the headline below) through a search engine and then clicking the link to the site, hey presto you can read the full article!

Before:

After:

Glassdoor My colleague Sophie wrote a blog earlier in the year about the launch of the UK Glassdoor site here in 2013. If you haven’t seen the site before it is a ‘compare the market’ / ‘trip advisor’ combination for companies. There are reviews from current and former employees alongside interview advice for specific information. There are still gaps for many UK based retailers but you could get lucky with some of the information that is on there. Mint If you are looking for a greater level of detail in your research then Mint can provide information such as company hierarchies and financial performance that is unlikely to be in the public domain. You can get a free trial initially but as with other sites you will need to subscribe for the juicy information. I would advise that you only use this site if you are interviewing at board level given the potential cost involved. Conlumino , Planet Retail  and Verdict Retail are three companies that specialise in Retail analysis. As with other sites there are various options for either free information or subscriptions. They are worth looking at for predictions of future performance and analysis of business models. The Social Sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+. A lot of companies are posting content unique to those sites. To generalise, the majority are using LinkedIn for Recruitment purposes, Facebook for Consumer branding, Twitter for a combination and Google+…not so much. If you are looking for a job in Retail check out our FREE report on over 200 retailers for details on which Retailers are using which channel for recruitment purposes. If you are researching an interviewer ahead of an interview the above sites can provide an excellent level of insight. There are more tips for researching individuals here . We will also publish another blog with specific guides on how to use these sites later in the month. News sites For further analysis and recent news it would also be worth checking the FT, BBC, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. All have excellent business sections so there will be a good level of coverage for the larger retailers and of course a broader view on the economy. It always pays to add a broader context to any specific research you are carrying out. Duedil A great site for those candidates who are considering joining a less well known company. Smaller companies can be tricky to research and importantly you will want to understand their financial position before accepting an offer. Duedil offer information from companies house which you can access for free with detailed reports being available to purchase on an ad-hoc basis. Some of the information could be old though so check what you are buying before you make a purchase. Boolean search Finally, not a specific site but more of a search technique. If you are looking for very specific information then it might be worth running a ‘Boolean string search’. In essence this is a way in which to bring up targeted results on a search engine using specific text and key words. This should really be a last resort and there should be something very specific that you want to find! The link above will take you to a site that offers information on how to look at an individual’s LinkedIn profile via a Google search who is not a 1st degree connection. It is an advanced technique and perhaps one for the back pocket! There are plenty of other sites and techniques to keep in mind for both research and keeping up to date with industry news. I tend to use pulse on my phone to personalise various news feeds and ensure I can browse multiple articles more easily.

There are of course other useful sites which I haven’t mentioned, it would be great if you could add them in the comments below.

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Top tips for an On The Job Experience interview

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

So, you’ve had great feedback from your first interview and are on track for a final interview. Before that is confirmed however, there is the small matter of an OJE to get through.

An OJE (on the job experience) is regularly used as part of the recruitment process in the Retail & Hospitality sectors and typically involves spending anything from a few hours to a whole day, out in the field or in store, getting a feel for the role you are applying for and the culture of the company.

It can take many forms. Irrespective of the level of role you are applying for, you may be asked to work in store to see what it’s like at ‘grass roots’ level. You may be asked to go out on the road with your line manager or alternatively, with a prospective ‘peer’. Whatever the format takes, this part of the recruitment process is fraught with potential pitfalls and can cause you to come a cropper!

Drawing on our years of supporting candidates through these stages, here are some tips to help you prepare and get the best from the experience:

If you are spending the day at ‘grass roots’ level, perhaps working on the shop floor or in a restaurant, the key is rolling your sleeves up with the rest of the team. Build rapport with your colleagues and make it clear you are there to learn and find out about the company (now is not the time to share with them your thoughts on how things could be improved…).

  • Talk to customers about their experience. Talk to staff at all levels. Remember to smile!
  • Get a feel for what is done well and what the opportunities are for improvement – you may well be asked about this if you are invited to final stage.
  • You can be sure that the team will be asked for their feedback so bear this in mind. You may have interviewed well, however this is where they want to see if you can ‘walk the walk’ and apply your skills in the real world.
  • Be vigilant too. One of our candidates famously did an OJE at a funeral services company for an Area Manager role and had the misfortune of spending the day with a member of staff who had missed out on a promotion to the very role he was applying for. Such was the extent of her wrath that she took great delight in showing him some of the more ‘grizzly’ aspects of the role – he is still having nightmares to this day!

If you are invited to spend a day on the road with the line manager or someone at their level, ensure you are prepared with a raft of insightful and intelligent questions. This is an effective way of showing your interest, enthusiasm and knowledge whilst getting them to do most of the talking. You could well be with them for several hours so be prepared to maintain your energy and focus – no mean feat!

  • Chances are they will be taking you to visit key stores on their patch and this will undoubtedly include some high performing stores and some with performance issues. Your ability to assess different stores and draw conclusions from your observations is clearly part of the test. In preparation, it may be useful to familiarise yourself with the format for conducting SWOT analyses, click here for more info.
  • Remember, you need to strike a balance between giving an accurate analysis and using diplomacy, bearing in mind that the state of the area as a whole will reflect ultimately on your companion for the day! That said, missing out glaring  issues will raise questions about your operational capability so it is more about how you deliver this information.

Spending any time with a prospective peer is tricky. You need to navigate any potential political minefields and to do this, you need to assess the situation at the start of the day. By asking the right questions, you should be able to gauge how open you can be with the individual and what their own situation is. Remember that they will hopefully be a future colleague and winning an ally at this stage could prove invaluable. The rule about diplomacy applies here too – being overly critical of one of their stores will not go down well so focus on the positives and only give negative feedback if specifically asked. If you feel that you can be relatively frank, this is also a great opportunity to ask questions that you may not necessarily ask in an interview situation eg. what is the work/life balance like?

Finally, some practical points to consider:

  • Make sure you have a decent breakfast – you don’t know how long it will be before you have lunch and it may be difficult to grab a snack along the way.
  • As with any interview, plan your journey and know who you are meeting. Having their mobile number is useful too.
  • Make sure you have cash in case you want to buy your companion a coffee en route.
  • Dress appropriately, particularly if spending the day in store – you need to be comfortable and need to mirror the rest of the team. Your recruiter or HR contact should guide you on this.
  • Clear your diary for the day. An OJE can often over-run and you don’t want to be worried about getting to another meeting later in the day.

Good Luck!

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What the numbers tell you about your future career in Hospitality?

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development Reading through the latest hospitality report from the Caterer.com job website released this week unfortunately doesn’t make particularly happy reading. Whilst the Governor of the Bank of England talks about signs of recovery, it is clear that the Hospitality sector is still having a challenging time which naturally impacts on the people that work within it.  So what are the numbers telling you about the sector and your employment prospects?

Looking at the numbers from the Caterer report there is a clear decline in the number of vacancies with a fall of some 10% on the previous year. Unfortunately for job seekers, this was matched by a 4% increase in the number of job applications. This reinforces what we are seeing in the market, that the job market in hospitality remains extremely competitive. In fact, looking at the previous caterer report we can see that in fact the decline in roles has actually accelerated from an 8% decline to a 10% decline and that the increase in applications has also accelerated, moving from a 2% increase to a 4% increase.  Such dramatic falls can be reconciled by a number of factors, firstly that due to the on-going economic uncertainty people are "sitting tight" which is actually reducing "churn" in the market.  However it can also be attributed to the continued economic challenges that are causing businesses to remain cautious about their investment in people.  Without doubt though over the last four years, many businesses have chosen to invest in developing and retaining their existing staff as the most cost effective people strategy.

Across the sectors, there has been mixed performances. Some sectors have fared better than others with the Pub sector continuing to face very challenging times. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, over the last 5 years there has been a 14% decline in the number of pubs.  Interestingly according to those statistics in 2011 5,505 new pubs opened but some 6,115 closed indicating the significant churn and instability in that sector.   This also reflects the changing nature of the market as pubs adapt to trends in the market with many now diversifying into more food-led operations.

However, there are some good news stories out there and reading the M & C report each day certainly gives me some hope. As expected, there are always winners and losers and in this highly competitive sector, those businesses that have their proposition right and are able to communicate this effectively to their customers are prospering.   Whitbread for instance recently released some stellar results with like-for-like sales up 3.7% and yesterday The Restaurant Group’s shares reached an all time high on the back of the strong results they released yesterday showing a 4.5% increase in their like-for-like sales.

The Hospitality sector continues to be an incredibly dynamic and exciting industry.  Trends and customer needs are constantly changing. New concepts, designs and formats are constantly being designed and launched and those that satisfy and capture the needs of the market will reap strong rewards.

So what do these statistics say about your career in Hospitality?

Firstly, it shows the sector continues to face challenges and that the competition for roles remains as intense as ever. This reinforces the need for candidates to prepare effectively for their job search and to ensure that, when they do secure an interview, that they are able to perform exceptionally well. By conducting thorough research into the brand including site visits and SWOT analyses when appropriate, ensuring that you are able to provide tangible examples of your achievements and by giving evidence that you possess the capabilities required for your target role, you will have an edge over your competition.

It also shows that different sectors are performing better than others and within each market there are clear winners and losers. With rapidly changing customer needs, businesses need to change, adapt and evolve and those that do will outperform the market strongly. By keeping in touch with developments in the sector as a whole, you will be able to assess where the growth areas are likely to be and which businesses will offer you the most career development. Industry publications such as the Caterer and the M&C report are invaluable however, keeping in touch with your personal network of contacts is also hugely effective in keeping tabs on what is happening in the industry and what opportunities this could present for you.

To be successful in your job search in the current market, you must focus on those roles where your skills are most transferable and where your experience is most relevant. By doing this, you will maximise your chances of success when a precious vacancy arises.

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An overview of the Hospitality Jobs market

Having recently written a blog about the retail recruitment market I am now turning my attention to the hospitality jobs market to see whether the market is as tough for candidates looking to find new roles.

As in the retail sector, I think most candidates are often pleasantly surprised when they first come onto the market to find another position, by the volume of roles that appear to be out available matching their skills and experience.  However as has been highlighted in the recent Hospitality Employment Index statistics provided by the Caterer.com and People 1st, the competition for these roles is higher than ever.

I am afraid to say that on the surface the statistics do not make encouraging reading. The number of overall vacancies is down some 8% compared to last year and in some categories such as management roles in the restaurant sector they are down a massive 45%.  Unfortunately the competition for roles has also increased with the number of applications only falling by 2% during the same period.

However, as always we should try and put some perspective on these headline grabbing figures.  What the statistics show is that the current job volumes are some 30% higher than in 2009. To some extent during the recession we have seen a much stronger focus on retention and development in the sector. This may be an additional factor in explaining the underlying statistics. As always these statistics only show part of the picture and just reflect the volume (and level) of roles posted on the job board.

Looking at the performance of some of the key players in the market, despite the miserable weather and conflicting expectations brought by the Olympics, the market has held up well.  Looking at recent announcements, Greene King reported a like-for-like sales increase of 5.1%, Mitchells and Butler LFL of 3% and The Restaurant Group LFL of 3.25%. As always there are winners and losers however with continued growth in some areas of the market the need for high calibre individuals remains strong.

As we all know, the hospitality sector is all about people and being able to inspire, lead and motivate teams to deliver great product and great service. Many businesses continue to invest in retaining and recruiting the best people to drive and maintain that competitive edge. Being focused on recruiting middle and senior appointments we have seen strong demand for individuals since the end of the summer and are watching with interest to see how the market unfolds over the coming months.

As has been the case over the last couple of years it continues to be difficult for candidates to secure positions in different sectors, so my advice to candidates is to look at businesses where your skills and experience will be most transferable.  The expectations of clients is rightly very high as they look to drive their business by hiring candidates with experience and a strong track record of success.

Without a shadow of doubt for the vast majority of middle and senior management candidates the market out there remains tough. However, whilst the job board figures are certainly negative, as we come out of recession, the market will inevitably pick up.

Russell Adams

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