Will consumer sentiment lead to another recruitment rollercoaster?

It’s my first day back in the office today and I’m feeling super positive about the year ahead. That’s pretty good considering that 2016 was one hell of a rollercoaster for us recruiters. Arguably, that’s a pretty odd statement as my business and (anecdotally!) my competitors, had a cracking year. So why was it a rollercoaster? Our clients, specifically in retail and hospitality, are hyper sensitive to consumer sentiment. I’m sure you have seen the surveys. Here is GfK’s survey - you’ll notice there are a few troughs! The graph above tells us that consumer confidence went from pretty positive at the back end of 2015 to Armageddon in July. There was a recovery before a further dip in November. Indeed, here’s a screen print from the BBC website today (Wednesday 04/01/17): It makes for pretty depressing reading. To top it off, footfall declined over the New Year period. Given that we know that Article 50 will be invoked in March and that Trump will be inaugurated later this month we can be confident that another rollercoaster year is ahead of us. As you would expect, if our clients lose confidence they cut costs and, as we all know, the quickest cost to cut is people related i.e. less recruitment. Or at least, that was the traditional approach. Over the last two years we have seen a bit more resilience in the jobs market. Our client base is a little less sensitive to macro change, and while remaining cost conscious, less susceptible to knee jerk reactions. Additionally, not all sectors of retail or indeed other industries are impacted by poor consumer sentiment. Value retail is likely to see a resurgence in 2017 despite ever increasing competition. Arguably, Tesco & Morrisons will reap the benefits of the strategic changes they have instigated over the last two years. Here at AdMore we have invested in other sectors too, such as apprenticeships recruitment and that sector is forecasted to grow by up to 50% due to the impending levy. So you see, whilst I believe that 2017 is going to be another rollercoaster ride for consumer sentiment and that some areas of recruitment are likely to mirror that, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. That said, if you are a candidate, a hiring manager or a recruiter; we will all once again need to be very, very, very resilient!

Do you really want to change job?

Not enjoying your role? Feeling unfulfilled at work or just that it’s time for change? Simple really - just find a new job.  If only it really were that simple.  When people stop enjoying their role or feel they are stuck in a rut the natural thing for many people to do is to look for a new role.  But is the grass really any greener or will you just be jumping from the frying pan into the fire? For many people, it is much easier to consider changing roles rather than face the challenges of overcoming the issues or problems they have with their current role or organisation, particularly if some of those issues are related to them. So why might you be thinking about looking for another role and are they the right reasons to consider moving on?
  • Poor relationship with your boss.
  • You no longer feel challenged or stretched in your role.
  • You don’t feel valued, financially or otherwise.
  • There is no opportunity to grow or progress.
  • It feels like time for a change.
During the recession it has been very easy for candidates to dip their toe in the water as a lack of opportunities in the market has made this situation manageable. However I genuinely feel this is changing and as the market picks up, candidates - particularly those candidates in middle management - will find that they are being called about an ever increasing number of positions forcing them to be either active or inactive. So before you become an “active” candidate what do you need to think about?
  • Have you really tried to address the issues? Before jumping ship it is worth investing time in trying to see whether the issues you feel you have can be resolved. This won’t be easy and must be handled in the right way but given you are likely to have already invested so much time and energy in building your career in the organisation you should at least try and resolve any potential issues.
  • Be honest with yourself – it is in our human nature to deflect issues away from our own shortcomings and point the finger at those around us.  Is it something you can address, is it something you need support with, who could you use as a mentor to help you get past the problem?
  • Finding the right role might not be that easy either, the reality is that it will take considerable time, energy and effort.  It might feel like the easy option but often isn’t and you need to be careful that the new role will not just replicate the situation you find yourself in now.
  • Change is positive and it is important to keep yourself stretched and challenged but this doesn’t automatically mean you need to change roles. In fact for most people it is much easier to move internally into a role perhaps where they do not have direct experience versus trying to make that move through the external market. Make sure you have explored and evaluated the options before you make the move.
  • Take time to reflect – it is important you really think through where the dissatisfaction lies. What is it about the job you no longer enjoy? Are there other roles for which you may be better suited? It is important that any move takes account of these feelings to ensure you will be a success.
The big question people should ask is - is it really about changing role or is it about changing aspects of your life.  As someone once said to me, your job does not control your happiness, your mind does, but I do accept it certainly has an impact. Making a job move is a massive decision for anyone and will have a considerable impact on your career. Time and thought needs to be given about why you’re doing it and whether it is what you want. Will it really solve the issues you feel you have?  Searching for a new role without real conviction can be a dangerous game. For middle to senior managers there are a limited number of roles out there and so engaging with potential employers and recruiters only then to mess them about can be very negative for when you do really want to move on. If you are clear it is the right time for you to make that move then it is important you have a clear plan – read my colleague’s blog on how to create a successful job search campaign In today’s world most of us will work for a number of different companies during the course of our careers, these will often enrich our experience and provide us with breadth and diversity. There are many reasons to change jobs but just make sure you are asking yourself the right questions before you make the move.     Get your FREE CV Template

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!



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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A Retailers guide to looking for a job in 2014

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment Looking for a job in Retail has continued to grow ever more complex throughout 2013 and promises to continue to do so in 2014. As a recruiter I sometimes forget what it must be like to be a candidate coming on to the market for the first time in 5 years. In 2008, the last peak in the market, it was pretty straightforward - you wrote a CV, uploaded it to a job board and waited for the calls to roll in. At the senior end of the market, you met a few head-hunters and kept an eye on the broadsheets. Fast forward 5 years and the recession, coupled with technology, have completely changed the landscape. According to the BBC, at the entry end of the Retail Jobs market you are more likely to be assessed by a machine than a person!  www.bbc.co.uk/news/business Unfortunately, once you have beaten the machine you will then need to perform a David Brent style dance: currys-graduate-job-applicant-humiliated ! For C-suite and Board Directors not a huge amount has changed. There are of course fewer jobs and perhaps still a few too many candidates but all in all it isn’t that much more complicated. You’ll need a good Social profile, but in terms of how you look for a job you just need to dust off the little black book and make some calls. Having said that, the one key change will be looking for a job in the press. You won’t find much in the Sunday Times - the Appointments supplement is, well, not much of a supplement these days. For those in the middle, managers up to Board level, it just gets more and more complicated. So we have compiled a short review of the various methods you can employ that will hopefully save you some much needed time for interviews and research!

 The Three routes to market

Social LinkedIn has changed the jobs market in the same way Monster, Reed et al did in the early noughties. It has become a giant candidate database for agency and in-house recruiters while at the same time masquerading as a Social hub…oh and there are some interesting stories on LinkedIn Today…no wait, I mean Pulse. In 2014, if you are a candidate, passive or active, you absolutely must have a profile on LinkedIn. Ideally it will be accurate too! There are a few things to remember:
  • If you are actively looking for a job and you don’t mind your contacts knowing this then you should unlock your LinkedIn privacy settings.  This acts as a ‘mating call’ to recruiters, think of yourself as a peacock! Just to be clear, you don’t have to accept the advances of every suitor! TWEET THIS
  • Your LinkedIn profile should match your CV. Using inaccurate job titles or forgetting a recent job move or two will sow seeds of doubt in Recruiters. Honesty is the best policy. Also, please do not spell MANAGER as Manger – it doesn’t do you any favours!
  • Keyword optimisation, or SEO, was once the preserve of tech-savvy geeks. Adding a sprinkle of keywords is now de rigueur for your Social profiles and will ensure you can be ‘found’ a lot more easily. This is particularly recommended if you are on LinkedIn to catch up with contacts, ahem, and well you might get the odd headhunt approach too…
  • I advised last year (click here for the 2013 suggestions) that getting active on LinkedIn via LinkedIn Today and the Groups would improve your chances of being ‘noticed.’ As the recruitment world starts to get busy again, and do some real work, in 2014 I think this will yield fewer results. I am not saying stop participating altogether, just don’t expect a strong ROI on your time.
  • WARNING: If you have a Line manager or a recruitment team on LinkedIn there is a strong chance that they will also notice your activity on LinkedIn. I have spoken to a lot of candidates in the past few weeks that have been specifically told to remove the LI app from their company phone/laptop or have received ‘special’ attention as a result of their online activity. Likewise, several HR clients have indicated that it is something they watch with interest. The level of awareness on LinkedIn has changed dramatically in 2013 so it is worth thinking about what you are happy for people to see.
Twitter continues to grow its user-base and as a Retail & Hospitality recruiter it offers the next most interesting opportunity to engage and identify candidates. Twitter tends to sustain longer ‘conversations’ than LI and it is easier to develop stronger relationships as a result. Also, if you are an ‘active’ candidate you can get away with a bit of banter with recruiters and employers without coming across as overtly looking for a job. Perhaps more interestingly you can research prospective employers far more effectively as people tend to give a bit more away.
  • Don’t forget those all important keywords. Company name and Job title should just about do it!
  • Follow the companies and leaders of the companies that you are interested in. It is also worth following a few industry experts and key figures too. You’ll find that there is often better content on Twitter than LinkedIn which might help with research for interviews.
  • If you are keen to follow up on a job application, you’ll find that asking a question on Twitter is a good way of getting a prompt response. Bear in mind this is all in the public domain though!
  • Overall though, it is worth bearing in mind that most Retailers have not got a dedicated twitter careers feed – in fact only 21% of over 200 Retailers surveyed: Social Recruitment in Retail: 2013 Report
Facebook / Google+ / Pinterest / Friends Reunited (only kidding, whatever happened to them?) – each of these sites have their merits but in recruitment terms they are really not worth your time. In the same report: Social Recruitment in Retail: 2013 Report we found that just 24 retailers had a dedicated Facebook careers page. Of the 24, less than a dozen were what one might describe as active. Facebook does have aspirations to become a tool for recruitment and with data that is available it may well become important in the future. A couple of points below to bear in mind.
  • Be wary of posting anything too controversial on any of the above sites. Facebook does tend to elicit more candid posts than the other sites. Employers have begun using this site for research into prospective candidates so it is worth keeping this in mind when you get home from the pub in the middle of the night.
  • Pinterest is particularly popular in the design world so if you work in fashion or perhaps buying it would be worth looking at setting up a profile. For everyone else – it should be for personal use only!
My final point is that despite the hype, Social recruitment is a long way off being the most effective way of securing a position. Indeed a recent report from recruitment firm Kelly Services found that just “11% of UK workers had got a job through social media – a much lower figure than elsewhere in the world. - See more at: http://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2013!” Adverts & Applications Actually looking for a job in 2014 will be more complex than ever before. The job boards and specialist press have taken a hammering over the recession and while not a huge amount has changed there is perhaps a more even spread of positions than before the recession. With no one dominant player you will need to cover a lot of ground. A few points to consider:  
  • I wouldn’t bother too much with the printed press. Any industry magazine of note will now have a matching job board. As for the Newspapers, well, you have better things to do with your time!
  • There are a LOT of job boards to choose from now so in no particular order it is worth checking the following….take a deep breath: Inretail, Monster, Total Jobs, Retail Choice, Retail Week, The Grocer, Drapers, Reed, The Ladders, Indeed, Jobsite, Exec Appointments, Executives on the web, guardian jobs, Grapevine, The Appointment, Property Jobs, Property week 4 jobs, MAD, Marketing Week, Personnel Today…oh and LinkedIn has jobs too (IT IS NOT A JOB BOARD….honest).
  • Set up alerts for each of the boards relevant to you and ensure the alerts go to an email account that you check daily. 2014 will be a busy year and if you don’t get your application in early the chances are you will not be considered.
  • Wherever possible personalise your applications. A simple ‘Hi, how are you?’ does wonders.
  • I would also advise against loading your CV on to the boards if you are at Middle management level or above.
Agencies Everyone loves dealing with agencies so this will be the most enjoyable part of your search! Ahem. Like us or loathe us we have survived the recession and have come out leaner and unfortunately in some cases meaner ;) than before. In Retail and Hospitality the agency count has increased significantly with lots of specialists (AdMore included) springing up like mushrooms. In fact it seems that just as one large player departs the market several new ones grow up overnight! The job boards were supposed to kill agencies, and then LinkedIn was too - well we are still alive and recruiting. We have written about how to manage your agency relationships previously (Click here) so I won’t go over old ground but there are a couple of key points to consider:  
  • Start the relationship building now. Good recruiters will spot the candidates who make an effort in advance and are much more likely to go in to bat for them if they feel valued. Recruiters are often accused of being transactional, but it cuts both ways!
  • If you are passive in your search then 2 or 3 good relationships will suffice. If you are active or ,worst case scenario, out of work you will need to get in touch with a fair few agencies. There are no dominant players in the market currently so you need to ensure you have a decent spread. Either way, start with AdMore (click here to learn a bit more about us)!
I hope this helps and as always please get in touch if you have any questions.  

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8 golden steps to building your career network

By Russell Adams,AdMore Recruitment

Networking is in many respects a misunderstood area. To some it is a slightly mysterious, perhaps even murky world. To others it may simply be making the effort to stay in touch with people you have worked with in the past.

So what exactly is networking? Networking isn’t about collecting business cards. It is about having a group of individuals who you have a relationship with. Importantly, more often than not these are mutually beneficial relationships where there may be the opportunity to share knowledge and information for mutual gain. People often network without realising and as expected, it takes a number of forms. It can be as informal as catching up with ex-colleagues once a year through to joining a formal networking group perhaps centred around your expertise or indeed your local area.

Many people look to network when they decide to look for a new job. It is viewed as a valued technique to gain access to opportunities. By utilising your network you can leverage powerful support from those around you to assist in building your career. For instance by accessing more job opportunities or indeed gaining endorsements for applications you are making. Many people underestimate this aspect of job hunting, yet various statistics point to the fact that between 60 – 85% of roles are secured through networking. The biggest mistake most individuals make is that they only start "actively" networking when they are looking for a role. For many it may be too late to assist them on this occasion.

Networks are based on relationships and take time to build and develop. Click here to Tweet This

So what is the best way to go about building your network?

Step 1

Develop a networking plan - In order to get the most out of networking and in order to maximise your time it is a critical you have a structured plan. It is worth setting yourself some short and long term goals and this will shape your tactics. It may be that in the short term you are looking for a mentor, some like-minded individuals or indeed to break into another sector. Your plan should include both formal and informal networking.

Step 2

Make a list of contacts and make contact – this should be a list of both the people you already know and those who you should be in contact with. Developing a list of target individuals who you feel it would be beneficial to be in contact with is critical to your success in networking. Far too often people are just reactive to networking opportunities and not proactive in targeting the right individuals. Once you have your list, careful consideration should be given to how to best make contact with them. Ultimately this will depend on whether there is any form of relationship in existence? LinkedIn is a brilliant tool that most people don’t fully utilise. Not only can you use it to look up individuals but also use your existing network to get new introductions. It is critical that any communications are polite and upfront about why you wish to make contact, perhaps explaining why there may be mutual gain by connecting. I cannot emphasise enough that you must approach people in the right way. Try to make it about them, offer to help them. If you ask for help straight away it is unlikely to go down well.

Step 3

Use social media – I have mentioned LinkedIn already but Twitter is also a fantastic tool. It can help you identify movers and shakers in your space as well as give you the opportunity to join in the debate and raise your profile. Another consideration should also be writing some blog posts about your sector. My only word of caution here is don’t hide behind the technology. Social media is a creative way to start new relationships but it is important you move this rapidly to ‘proper’ conversation in order to fully leverage the relationship.

Step 4

Depth of relationship – in order to be able to leverage your network it is important the relationships you have developed are strong. Mutually beneficial relationships, like any relationship needs work. People often underestimate how much time and effort is required. Will your contacts go out of their way to assist you?

Step 5

Maintaining relationships – Given how busy we all are it can be difficult to find the time to fit in hours of networking but it doesn’t have to be like that. It will not always be about picking up the phone, it might just be a quick e-mail or indeed a short text. Don’t underestimate the impact – people will really appreciate the effort you are making. It is important for you to be seen to act with integrity and conviction. If you say you are going to do something, then do it.

Step 6

Leveraging relationships – One of the key benefits to building your network is gaining access to job opportunities. Even though the job market is improving, many opportunities are still being filled through companies directly sourcing and accessing the networks of the individuals currently in the business. From the employer’s perspective this type of candidate pool has been pre-qualified and won’t involve a recruitment fee. Where you have close relationships it is worth discussing your career plans and aspirations to see how individuals in your network may be able to help.

Step 7

Gain an endorsement. A major benefit of your network could be to get an endorsement. If you are pursuing a particular opportunity, do you know anyone in the organisation that would be willing to endorse you? Alternatively is there anyone in your network who may know the line manager who again can endorse you? You cannot underestimate the positive effect this will have on your application.

Step 8

Feed your network - it is important that you continue to invest in your network at every stage of your career. Failure to put time and effort into feeding your network means that it will not grow. You cannot just make time when you are looking for a new job. You need to develop and grow your relationship when you need nothing from them.

Although I have focused on this area, networking isn’t solely about furthering your career, there are many other benefits. Talking to people in your sector is going to help you in terms of building market knowledge and understanding any industry wide changes that are taking place. It could also be that there are some benefits in terms of contacts that may help you in your non working life. Most of all it should be enjoyable. You will have a natural affinity with some individuals and will hopefully develop some strong and beneficial relationships.

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Candidates: what to do when two agencies submit your CV for the same role

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

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A few years ago, I was looking for a new job and so, after years as a Recruitment Consultant, I was a candidate again, experiencing all the frustrations involved with looking for a new role as an In-house Recruiter. One of the biggest of these was dealing with recruitment agencies, a situation made all the more uncomfortable by the fact I worked for one!

The experience of being on the receiving end of varying levels of service from agencies made me empathise with candidates and hopefully made me a more considerate recruiter as a result. Don’t get me wrong recruitment agencies are an invaluable source of support, advice (and fundamentally, jobs!). However, there are ways to get the best from them as we have written about previously here. Equally, in a highly competitive market with a myriad of agencies competing for a limited pool of (strong) candidates and jobs, issues can arise, particularly when you are dealing with multiple agency contacts.

One of the main issues faced by candidates is when you are briefed on the same vacancy by two different agencies.

This problem arises when companies brief the same role to multiple agencies in the belief that this will be the most effective way to fill their vacancy. Whilst it has its advantages from a market coverage point of view, it also has some downsides. Sometimes there my be a lack of focus on the part of the agencies who have less incentive to work on the role and the potential brand damage that can occur when the impression is inadvertently given that the client is a. always recruiting (and therefore has a high staff turnover) or b. is desperate, disorganised or both. In reality it happens frequently and inevitably leads to agencies competing for the same candidates. Unfortunately for the client, this often means that the process comes down to speed (how quickly the agency can submit CVs) rather than quality (these are the right candidates for the role/business).

So what impact does this have on you, the candidate? As long as you get an interview, that’s all that matters, right?

Of course, your aim is to get a new job however when this happens you can find yourself the ‘piggy in the middle’ with both agencies claiming ‘ownership’ of your CV. This can put you in a difficult position with the agencies and sometimes the company themselves who have the unenviable task of sorting the mess out. It also makes you look desperate, disorganised or both!

So what can you do when faced with this situation?

Prevention is better than cure

There is a fine balance when job hunting, between casting your net wide enough to cover the market and taking care not to dilute your own personal brand in the marketplace. There are a limited number of vacancies in the market and it is impossible that one agency has (legitimate) access to all of them. Beware those that claim they do! It makes sense therefore to work with several agencies who you believe will represent you correctly and who have a strong network in your chosen field.

Choosing to register with more agencies than this could make life more complicated for you and will certainly require you to be more organised. More conversations to have (repeating the same information), more calls to take and more chance that an agency will misrepresent you and potentially damage your reputation in the market. If you do decide to go down that route I would highly recommend you set up a spread sheet where you can track who has spoken to you about which opportunity. Less is most definitely more in this situation, and by keeping close control over who you work with and who you allow to represent you, will minimise complications along the way.

Quality of the brief

Agencies tend to work in one of two ways. They will either be briefed by their existing client on a specific vacancy (they are likely to be on the company’s Preferred Supplier List - PSL) or they will approach companies speculatively with candidates they feel will be of interest. When approaching companies speculatively, the agency will either send your CV to a senior line manager in the hope they are tempted by your strong experience or alternatively will send your CV in response to hearing about a specific vacancy or seeing it advertised.

Either way, you need to be sure of which approach the agency is taking whenever they brief you on a role. If the approach is speculative, they should be open about this – it can be a highly effective way of placing candidates before a job vacancy reaches the open market especially when the consultant has a strong relationship with their contact.

However there is always a risk that the approach will come to nothing and, even if they know a vacancy is there, if they have not been legitimately briefed, they may be blocked from working on the assignment.

If an agency has been briefed legitimately, they will be able to give you specific information about the scope of the role, the salary, the reporting structure and interview process. If the client has provided one, they will be able to send you the Job Description. The agency’s job is to give you as much information about the role and company so you can decide if you would like to go forward. They should be selling you the opportunity but equally should be able to say why this could be a good move for you. By asking the consultant specific questions about the role, structure and business you will get a sense about how close they are to the business. I would also suggest asking them whether they have the role exclusively.

How will you be represented?

You can tell a lot about an agency and the individual recruitment consultant by the quality of questions that they ask you to understand your experience, track record and overall aspirations. Bear in mind that if an agency hasn’t taken the time to talk to you in detail about your CV and job search in general, they will be unlikely to be able to ‘sell’ your skills effectively to their client!

Give your permission and keep control

You should always know where your CV has been sent, whether in response to specific vacancies or speculatively. This enables you to keep track of your job search and know which agency is representing you for each role. It also ensures that you do not apply directly to a company that has already received your CV from an agency.

If you receive calls from different agencies about the same vacancy, try and clarify who has legitimate access. Once you have given your permission to be submitted, ensure you get confirmation from the agency that they are sending your CV for the vacancy and ideally confirm this on email. Ensure you are transparent with other agencies about who is representing you. That way, everyone knows where they stand.

Referring to my earlier comment about speed, be warned, there are plenty of agencies who will send your CV first and speak to you about the role later. This approach is fraught with issues for you as a candidate and is just poor practice. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to know an agency has done this until you receive a call from the company or the other agency telling you that you have been submitted twice.

What do you do when it happens?

Despite all the above, this situation happens time and again and can be for a number of reasons. Perhaps one of the agencies has sent your CV without speaking to you about the role and the other agency has taken the time to brief you properly and seek your permission. Understandably if unfortunate, companies often apply a ‘first past the post’ rule with applications and so all too often it is the agency that send you first that get to claim the fee, even if they have added no value to you or the client.

Many companies however will leave this to candidate preference and so will ask you to confirm who you spoke to first and who you would like to represent you. They may need you to confirm this in writing.

When making this decision, consider the following points:

  • Who has the best understanding of you, the role and the company?
  • Who has handled the situation in the most sympathetic way? Be wary of an agency who is aggressive or who puts you under pressure.
  • Who do you confidently feel will represent your interests in the best way.
  • Do you have doubts about the integrity of the individual involved?

If one agency comes out on top then you have your answer and are quite within your rights, like any customer, to decide which service provider you choose.

If you have a good relationship with both agencies and cannot decide between them, then you simply need to confirm which agency first spoke to you about the role in detail and let the company know.

Knowing how to handle this situation will mean that you can maintain positive relationships with the agencies involved and protect your reputation with the potential employer. Most importantly, if you do feel you have been poorly represented or have been submitted for a role without your permission, you can take the necessary steps with the culprit!

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Top tips for how to write a CV

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

As there are positive signs that the job market is picking up, you may well be feeling more confident about starting to look for a new role. Chances are it will have been a while since you updated your CV. Although it is something we always say you should do regularly, let’s face it, when you are happy and busy in your job, it is often the last thing on your mind.

However, as the job market becomes more competitive again, you need to be ready to move quickly and so the first job is to dust off your CV and get to work!

As someone who looks at a lot of CVs on a daily basis, I am still surprised by how many people send a poor CV out into the world to represent them. It makes me a little angry so in aid of keeping my blood pressure under control, here is my view on how to create a presentable CV and, in a highly competitive market, give yourself the best chance of securing an interview!

Which format to use

There are a myriad of CVs formats, most of which are downloadable and a similar number of schools of thought about whether you should keep it traditional or try to do something to stand out. This very much depends on the industry you are applying for. In creative or media roles, your CV is likely to showcase your design/digital skills and so there is room to be more radical. For other industries, the safest option is to stick to a traditional format with the aim being to give the reader the clearest understanding of your career to date. I fully confess to being a ‘CV classicist’ and don’t tend to be swayed by fancy graphics or gimmicks.

Beware the over-formatted CV

The bane of my life is an over-formatted CV. By this I mean one which has text in boxes and columns, numerous font types and sizes and an exaggerated use of bullet points. You may think this looks more ‘impactful’ however be aware that when CVs are added to a database, heavy formatting is often lost in the process. The answer to this is to PDF your CV however this can also cause issues if a system cannot ‘read’ the CV and also means that the CV cannot be corrected if a mistake is spotted.

By laying out your CV clearly and with sensible use of bold and bullet points, you should still be able to create a CV which is easy on the eye and will look the same to the reader as it does to you.

How long?

In the world of CVs this is the million-dollar question. People are given so much conflicting advice "it must fit onto one page" (even if you are a Managing Director?!) or conversely, it should contain detail on every role you have held (even if it runs to 5 pages?!).

In reality it is about common sense. If you are beginning your career, you may well struggle to fill more than one page however if you include all relevant information (Education, Qualifications, Interests etc.) you should be able to stretch to a page and a half. Equally, if you are a senior operator with many years of experience, it can be very hard to condense it down without losing some really valuable content.

As a general rule, a well-written CV should fill 3 pages and only go beyond this if you are at a very senior level. If you are at a senior level and have a CV of two pages, I would bet your bottom dollar that you are selling yourself short.

The key is to keep flowery prose to a minimum, use clever formatting (font size, narrow margins etc.) and be economical with your language without missing any salient points. Also, and this is just a little niggle on my part; it isn’t really necessary to have the words Curriculum Vitae at the top of the page. Your name will suffice and this will save you a valuable line of text!

Likewise, if you are short on space, don’t feel the need to write a long paragraph about your personal interests. One line is fine to give someone a flavour of your interests outside work.

Which order?

Absolutely the first thing that any recruiter (agency or in-house) will want to know is who you work for and what you do. Of course they will take note of other details but, for people who have to speed read hundreds of CVs a week, this is the salient point. Your CV therefore, should always be written in reverse chronological order. That is, your current or most recent role should appear at the top and descend backwards in time as the readers progresses down the page. The fact that you started your career as a paperboy has little relevance to your application*** (***unless you are a school leaver or recent grad whereby any work experience has merit). Also, please don’t use Work Experience as a heading for this section. This is your Career History* (*unless you are a school leaver or grad in which case that may be the best description).

Contact details

There is a worrying trend in the CV world of people not including their contact details. I won’t go on about this. Suffice to say that if you don’t include your telephone number, you are unlikely to receive a call inviting you to interview! Ideally, you should include your email address, your home address and a landline number if you have one. You need to be as accessible as possible and it is important that the reader knows where you live. On this point, if you are able to relocate, please make this clear. For obvious reasons, avoid using a work email address or number.

Content is king

Of course, layout and format is nothing without decent content. The challenge is striking a balance between providing enough detail and being overly verbose. The key is to be as specific as possible. If you list your achievements, ensure that you provide evidence. For example, it is not enough to say that you significantly increased sales. You need to say by how much and what you implemented to achieve this result. Ideally, you should provide enough detail to spark interest in the reader and hopefully you will get the chance to elaborate at interview stage.

It is important that you give the reader a clear idea of your remit. For instance, if you are a Store Manager, what is the square footage of your store, how many staff do you employ and what turnover are you responsible for? Equally for an Area Manager, there can be a big difference between a Cluster Manager looking after 5 stores and an Area Manager looking after 25 stores. Giving an idea of geography, turnover and reporting structure also gives the reader an insight into the scope of your role and how much accountability you really have.

Education and Qualifications

Unless you are a school leaver or recent grad, there is no need to list each subject you studied at school or the grade you achieved. You should still include, however, your place of education and a summary of the qualifications you achieved. For example: 8 GCSE’s at grade C or above.

Education should be listed in reverse chronological order starting with your highest qualification. I have seen numerous cases recently of people who have a degree burying it below their school information, or omitting it completely. If you have a degree, please ensure that it is clear to the reader. Some employers insist that candidates are degree educated so this could be the difference between you being asked to attend an interview or not.

The cardinal sin

Once written, you should check your CV for spelling and grammar. You should then check it again, use your spellcheck and get someone else to proof read it for you. I cannot stress how important this is. Cue previous rant in my blog Is it really that difficult.

Despite the much-lauded growth of the video-CV, ‘paper’ CVs are here to stay for the immediate future so it’s important to get it right!

While I head off to lie in a darkened room for a while, I do hope this helps you update your CV. I’m sure I have forgotten some points so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like further advice.

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The essential behaviours for a successful job search in 2013: think like a recruiter

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

  I have been reflecting over the weekend on some conversations I had with several candidates last week. In fact the conversations were similar to a lot I have had over the course of the recession and were unsurprisingly about the current state of the Retail job market. In short, the market is candidate rich and job poor. If you are out of work and looking for a new position, it is hard work and enormously frustrating. Every candidate has a slightly different story to tell about their own experience of the market, what they are doing to find a new position and how they are feeling about it. However the common themes that come up are:
  • People don’t call me back
  • My CV is disappearing into the ether and I’m not getting a response
  • I am struggling to get an interview
  • Processes are laboriously slow
  • There are lots of unplanned stages to the process
  • Jobs disappear and I get no feedback
  • Internal candidates keep popping up at the last minute
  • Employers seem unable to make a decision
  • There are a lot of speculative jobs
  • Recruiters (Agency and In-house) are only interested in a fee/result and have no empathy with my situation
Sound familiar? There was, however, one particular conversation that stood out last week. After a pretty lengthy chat with a rather demoralised candidate, the individual in question joked, "still it could be worse Jez, I could be a recruitment consultant like you and deal with this on a permanent basis." It was great humour coming from someone who has been through the mill recently and very insightful! In truth, active candidates that are on the market for more than a month get a very good taste of what it’s like to work in my profession. Recruitment is a roller-coaster - emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically...ok, maybe not physically! So, how do you survive the job search rollercoaster and get off the ride successfully? Tweet this   Stay positive: Be resilient. Your head will drop, you will get down, you will get angry, frustrated, despondent, anxious, stressed and then probably numb. This is normal. This is what recruiters feel several times a day. However, just like the guys from FISH (click here), you have to ‘choose your attitude.’ You have to pick yourself up after a conversation with a disinterested recruiter, take the positives from a bad interview and, well, get on with it. This is the single most important thing to do because the moment negativity creeps in, you will convey this in every conversation and interview going forward. This may sound a bit clichéd but, after a couple of tough calls, I often think about scenes from Rocky (none of the films after Rocky 4 though!)   Set yourself targets, goals and objectives. You will have heard that many recruitment firms set their consultants a myriad of what may appear senseless targets such as the number of CVs they send, number of calls, cold calls, interviews arranged, new relationships established…it can go on…and on! There are many reasons why these targets exist but in truth it often boils down to the simple fact that recruitment is not an exact science and it can be pretty hard to assess whether you are making progress. Generally though, the more activity you put in, the more you get back. As a candidate you need to set yourself some daily and weekly targets. This could be the number of applications (quality not quantity is crucial though), calls with recruiters, interviews arranged or LinkedIn time. If you are a retailer you will be used to working with pace towards seemingly unachievable targets so don’t forget this skill! You will also be accustomed to working in a structured environment and you shouldn’t underestimate the impact that not working will have had on you. Putting a structure (click here for some advice) in place for your job search will do a lot to keep you sane, particularly when things are not progressing. Perhaps most importantly, celebrate the small wins!   Focus on what you really want. I had a conversation with an Operations Director last week who was particularly frustrated with the lack of options in the market. Indeed, he had resorted to meeting companies that he didn’t have an affinity with. Over the course of the conversation he commented that he needed to refocus on what was important to him and not to attend interviews for companies that he didn’t want to work for. Not everyone has this luxury of course but it is important to revisit the objectives that you set yourself at the start of your search. Are you meeting companies that you really want to work for? Talk to any decent recruiter and they will tell you that focus is crucial to business development. The moment a recruiter starts moving too far away from their core market they are dead in the water! As a candidate you need to adopt the same approach.   Develop a thick skin…fast! Recruiters receive bad news every day, they convey bad news every day and to complete the loop, will normally get a bad reaction from a frustrated candidate every day. You need to be able to absorb criticism and negative feedback. The truth is you will probably get a lot of this or, perhaps worse still, no feedback at all. It isn’t personal so don’t dwell on it. Also, and this may be obvious but if you don’t practice sport, now is the time to start. Not only will you fill your time productively but it is a good way of working out your frustrations in a constructive fashion. Darts down the pub doesn’t count though!   Get out of your comfort zone and work every angle possible. Any recruiter with an ounce of empathy will have to make difficult calls on a daily basis, they will have to sell to people that don’t want to buy and they will generally have to do things that take them out of their comfort zone. Fortunately this sense of discomfort does dissipate but for candidates there is a strong chance that you will have to do a lot of things that you do not enjoy doing. I have often spoken to candidates about how they should use the Social networks (click here) to build their profile and for many this is an uncomfortable process. Recruitment is often a war of attrition and you need to work every angle. I am sure that most of the above is very obvious and probably is easier said than done! If you are a Retailer in need of some support please don’t hesitate to get in touch.   Click here to Follow us on LinkedIn

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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7 Tips for building rapport in an interview

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

I read an article late last year that has kept coming back to me in recent months. The article (a study by Lauren Rivera) from the December issue of the American Sociological Review suggested that Employers are often more likely to hire a person they would want to socialise with than the ‘best’ individual for the job. The article didn’t suggest that employers were hiring the wrong people, but that they would prefer to hire someone that they have bonded with, would perceive to be a future friend or who made them feel good about themselves.

Given the amount of focus on CVs, interview techniques, innovative job searches (etc, etc) most candidates could be forgiven for focussing on the ‘technical’ side of looking for a job. Getting ‘in front’ of an employer is for most candidates the primary focus and in an increasingly results driven culture it is easy to forget how important it is – to put it simply – that you and the employer like each other. Talk to any recruiter and they will confirm, if there is a shared past or common interest the candidate has a much better chance of getting the job. I believe this is particularly true in Retail where often there are no technical qualifications to differentiate one candidate from another.

So, if you are looking for a job, what can you do? Here are a few tips on how to build rapport and give you the best possible chance of landing a job offer!

  1. First impressions are crucial -  I wrote about how to create a great first impression (read here) in the first ten seconds previously. It is fairly obvious but if you don’t get the first impression right you will face an uphill battle to build rapport. You really want your interviewer to have an immediate gut reaction that they like you.
  2. Positive Body language – Smile, make eye contact, and lean in when you want to really engage. Again, you are appealing to the interviewer on a subconscious level. Where possible you should try to match your interviewer…
  3. Mirroring & Matching – This often seen as a bit of a ‘dark art’ but it is quite simple to do. The best way to learn how to do this is to just focus on one element at a time in every day conversations until you are a little more adept at combining several elements. Where possible you should match voice tone, speed and sound; breathing rates & body posture; speech patterns including specific buzz words and the level of detail. The interviewer will see a similarity in how you come across which was central to Lauren Rivera’s research.
  4. Use the person’s name wherever possible - There is a huge amount of research available but in essence people like to hear their own name. This is linked to how your brain reacts on a subconscious level and is linked to your development as a child. Read here for more information.
  5. Take a genuine interest in the interviewer and focus on them not the organisation - It is worth setting yourself some specific objectives about what you want to find out about the ‘person.’ The simple fact is that people tend to like talking about themselves. Be prepared to ask follow up questions and show genuine interest. Show empathy and indicate wherever there is common ground. Again, any chance you get to indicate commonality will give the interviewer the impression you could be a potential friend in the future.
  6. Similar activities , similarity matters - It is worth doing some research, via contacts and social media, in to what the interviewer does in their spare time and what they are passionate about. Are they a sports fan, do they go to the opera, do they have kids (and therefore do none of the aforementioned activities!)? Where possible you should get this in to the conversation. Once again, if there is a similarity of interests the interviewer will be inclined to move you up the shortlist.
  7. Compliment the person - Everyone likes praise (method of delivery is crucial for some though). If the opportunity arises give some compliments. Keep it relevant to the interviewer and try not to be too sycophantic!

Overall, keep in mind that you want to generate a sense of similarity between you and the interviewer.

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