LinkedIn’s analytics backfires for many employer’s job adverts

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By Jez Styles You might have missed it but LinkedIn’s share price collapsed after their latest financial statement. LinkedIn has been under increasing pressure to increase its revenue streams and, with a slow down in growth to 20% in the fourth quarter from 56% in the equivalent period last year, many analysts are predicting this slowdown to continue with predictions of just 10% in 2018. At the heart of this slow down in growth has been LinkedIn’s over reliance on its ‘talent solutions’ which makes up 63% of net revenue. LinkedIn has attempted to differentiate its ‘adverts’ proposition from the standard job boards and through the acquisition of several firms including Fliptop. Late last year LinkedIn updated its job advert page for premium subscribers to provide further information for prospective candidates on employers. Read more here: http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/15/linkedin-revamps-its-jobs-listings-with-big-data-analytics/ Sounds great right? What happens when the analytics don’t look quite so rosy? And let’s face it, not every company on LinkedIn is in hyper growth. Indeed I happened upon the following advert recently. ***Looks like an interesting position doesn’t it? I might even apply myself… Hang on, let’s just look at those lovely graphs and charts before I do though… Oh! hotel choc 1 It seems that headcount has dropped by 18%, so 1 in 5 employees have left in the last 2 years. Hmmm that doesn’t look good for job security does it? Average tenure is 3 years? Well maybe the salary and package will assuage my concerns… choc NN Well, there are no details about salary and package and LinkedIn tells me that these roles typically pay anywhere from £30 to £59k…which is pretty broad by anyone’s standards. I might just pass on this occasion. And herein lies the rub. The more LinkedIn tries to differentiate and provide more information the more they will expose the ugly truth of recruitment. Not every company is Google or Facebook. Dry analytics will make some businesses look great, a lot very average and many quite unattractive. They don’t tell you about the culture, the people and what it’s like to work for the company. Which means that fewer, not more, companies will invest in LinkedIn’s talent solutions. Which means prices will go up and features will go down on our subscriptions. This means further disenchantment with LinkedIn. And if you want to see the numbers behind what I suspect is a growing trend in user disenchantment – click here!   ***Apologies to the guys at Hotel Chocolat for flagging this, I really like their stores and I’m not entirely convinced these analytics are a fair reflection of their employer credentials. Hopefully this post might lead to a few more, not less, applications!  
 

LinkedIn is a decidedly rusting bullet for recruitment agencies

By Jez Styles If you are on LinkedIn as often as me (this blog would suggest you are not…) then you’ll see countless blogs and articles detailing the demise of agencies. New technology, new services and an increasing antipathy [with recruiters] played out on social media has created the impression that myself and my colleagues are dinosaurs, plodding on, oblivious to that rather bright light in the sky. LinkedIn has long been lauded as the ultimate agency killer. Back in the good old days ( I started my first recruitment job in 2007 so only got to see the good days for about six months but hey ho!) agencies would often focus their pitch to companies on their enormous database of candidates. Candidates that the said employer couldn’t reach themselves. And then LinkedIn came along and our database stopped being a selling point. Albeit, I understand, a lot of agencies still sell on this point (and perhaps rightly so…). LinkedIn’s member base has increased from 218m at the beginning of 2012 to 414m at the end of 2015. That’s a big database right? But there is something fishy going on. Only people who have worked with large databases before will understand this. If you are an in-house recruiter you are going to be sceptical about my motives for penning this, I don’t blame you. So, let’s look at some numbers from LinkedIn’s last financial statement. Membership has risen by the following:
  • 2013 – 277m
  • 2014 – 347m
  • 2015 – 414m
While Unique visiting members has risen by the following:
  • 2013 – 73m
  • 2014 – 87m
  • 2015 – 98m
There isn’t much explanation of these numbers in the literature I have read so I’m happy to be corrected …but by my reckoning these numbers mean the following. The percentage of unique members visiting LinkedIn is in decline:
  • 2013 – 26.4%
  • 2014 – 25.1%
  • 2015 – 23.7%
I also dug out the numbers for Q1 2012… it was 31%. This got me thinking. I have had a lot of conversations with colleagues and peers in the industry and anecdotally, everyone is reporting a drop in responses from candidates. So I checked with a colleague in our research team and she looked at the stats for responses to Inmails she has sent. Between Jan 2015 and December 2015, Liz had an Inmail response rate of 53.6% - that’s a pretty good return on investment and indicative of the care Liz takes to personalise and engage through her messages. However, from Jan 2016 to today that response rate has dropped to 24.2%. When I worked for a ‘large international recruitment firm’ I was fortunate to have access to an enormous database. I would go as far as to say it was better than LinkedIn is today. Top line numbers always look good. The devil is in the detail. Databases go out of date…and need a LOT of maintenance. …and people lose interest in being on said database and stop responding.                 so you end up with an ever increasing haystack And that is what has been happening (increasingly so) to LinkedIn. But, LinkedIn has one more very big problem. Its entire validity is dependent on its users updating their database.        the needles in said haystack don’t look like needles anymore That’s a bit of a problem when a declining proportion of users are returning to the site and as a consequence updating their profiles. So when an agency says that they have a ‘pool of talent’ that other agencies or recruiters can’t access I wouldn’t necessarily guffaw too quickly. Because this is exactly when niche specialist knowledge comes to the fore once again. Of course, this flags up one more question. Why is engagement in decline?      
 

6 reasons to keep your CV updated.

6 reasons to keep your CV updated.

Before we know it, Christmas will be over and people’s attentions will be focused on 2015. Traditionally this time of year is not only for celebration, but also for reflection. This often leads to a mental review of our careers - how has our year been? What have we delivered and of course, where is it going? For many of us it is a time to think about changing position and with that, the need to dust off the CV. For some this may be a quick update from last year’s document but for others it may be the first they have written in 20 years.

Updating, writing or re-writing your CV from scratch is a task that can take hours to complete and can be challenging as you try and remember your achievements, development and journey. The easiest way to avoid this situation is to make sure you update your CV on an on-going basis, but why take the time and effort?

Be Ready - However content you are in your role, you never quite know what is around the corner. I wonder how many of the Phones 4U people saw that situation occurring? Insolvencies, redundancies and changes in personal circumstances are often unforeseen. Being ready and having a CV in such situations can clearly give you an advantage over others. It is always best to be prepared.

Dream job – Similarly, albeit on a more positive note, you never know when you may be approached or see your dream role advertised. You may be travelling on business with no way of writing a CV before the deadline and may miss out – how frustrating. Having an up to date CV allows you to react to approaches and adverts with speed, without compromising the quality of your application or the chances of securing the position.

Keep the version with agencies updated – Agencies are clearly a great source of job opportunities, but whether they call you and the opportunities they brief you on will largely be determined by the information they hold on record. If you have taken the time to keep the document updated then it is advisable to share this with the agencies you have relationships with. This will ensure that, even when you are not actively looking, you will be considered for relevant roles and hopefully only called about roles that are relevant.

Internal use – In many companies internal opportunities often involve a selection process. This may involve written applications, a CV or just an interview. Either way if you have taken the time to keep your CV updated you can use it as the basis to apply or at the very least to refresh your memory around what and how you have delivered and better prepare yourself for an interview.

Personal Development – it is very difficult to retain over time all the achievements, projects etc. that you have delivered in your various roles. It is also easy to lose sight of your personal development during this time and how you have worked to improve yourself and your effectiveness. This is a very popular area that is probed and discussed at interview and so keeping this updated and recorded as part of your CV, should help you be better prepared. This can also help focus you on your strengths and weaknesses improving your awareness of where you need to develop.

Appraisals – the vast majority of organisations have an appraisal scheme but individuals will be appraised at varying timescales. Making notes and regularly updating your CV will again give you a strong reference point when it comes to prepare for this process.

These factors are not just about your CV but also your LinkedIn profile. Everything that I have talked about above can equally be applied to LinkedIn, indeed if not more so. With your CV you arguably have full control over who views it. Depending on your settings, LinkedIn is much more accessible to the wider market and therefore may have a larger impact on your job search, particularly when you are not actively looking. I do accept that you need to be sensitive with the public information that you are providing but you can still outline your role and responsibilities and what you have a achieved.

However, the reality is it is not easy to remember or indeed to find the time to regularly update your CV every couple of months. So if you do find it difficult to have the discipline to keep your CV updated on an ongoing basis, and I do understand that, at the very least I would set up a file to store and record relevant information. This could be relevant to your role, training courses you have attended, dates of promotions, projects you have delivered etc. Having this information to hand in one place will certainly make life easier when you do sit down to update your CV.

Spending the time and effort will pay off in the long run and in my opinion deliver you a more credible, accurate and stronger CV.

 

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2014 Retail Social Recruitment & Engagement Report

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Which Retailers are using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to recruit in 2014? In our 2014 report on Social recruitment in Retail we have looked at Follower numbers, activity levels and follower engagement. There are significant differences to how employers use the different social channels and despite the noise suggesting that Social recruitment is replacing traditional recruitment methodologies it would appear that there is still some way to go before that is the case. While many recruiters see LinkedIn as their primary sourcing tool, a significant number are using it for ‘data mining’ purposes only. Indeed, most employers are still relying on the traditional forms of candidate sourcing whether that be through online advertising (print is nearly dead), job board searches and the use of recruiters (in-house, managed vendor or agency). Using the social media channels, for data mining only, misses the real opportunity that social recruitment presents through educating and engaging your prospective employees over a longer period. We have mentioned in a number of blog posts recently that the market is turning. We have been in an employer driven market since early 2008 and while the balance is still, just, in favour of the employer it is changing quickly. While it is a qualitative opinion, I believe it will be a largely candidate driven market when retail recruitment hits its peak in September. As an employer if you haven’t got an engagement / employer brand strategy in place before then you are likely to find it very difficult to attract the highest calibre candidates. You may not have noticed the environment getting tougher yet, but you will, and as the economy picks up and as employment conditions improve (unemployment down to 6.8% at time of writing) you will find it harder and harder. In the last upturn leading up to 2007 candidates did less research, didn’t have smart phones and were probably not checking you out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. So which retailers are in pole position to capitalise on what is going to be a highly competitive market? At the bottom of the page is a link to our FREE 2014 Retail Social Recruitment and Engagement report which details the top retailers for followers, activity and engagement. Here are a few highlights: Apple is the most followed retailer with Vodafone hot on their heels. As both companies are clearly likely to attract followers for numerous other reasons I think it is fair to say that IKEA are the most followed pure retailer. In reality the top 10 is heavily influenced by Retailers with extensive international portfolios. Bang & Olufsen saw the biggest percentage increase against 2013. Tesco are still the leading careers feed on Twitter which is highly impressive given that they switched their tweets off last August! There have been significant gains for Primark, Boots, Harrods and River Island. Selfridges saw a whopping 593% increase in followers versus 2013. Swaroski, Boots (again!) and Next saw increases on their Facebook careers pages. Indeed Swarovski are currently in a league of their own, with over 18’000 page likes. Once again, Selfridges enjoyed a 710% increase in followers versus 2013. I’m not sure what the recruitment team at Selfridges have been putting in their tea but it seems to be working! Its all well and good having lots of followers but without activity (updates) you can’t have engagement (shares, likes, comments, retweets etc). The top retailer for delivering regular activity was Boots with Home Retail Group (Argos, Homebase and Habitat) just behind. Interestingly the engagement levels were relatively modest and when scored it has thrown up a few surprises. The top retailer for engagement was Onestop, the convenience retailer. Their posts seemed to elicit a very positive response from their followers through some very interesting content. The report has thrown up a number of questions, the most obvious being just how ‘social’ can recruitment ever be? By its very nature it requires a modicum of discretion. We will attempt to address this, and several other points, in a future blog(s) in the weeks to come. Download the latest Retail Social Recruitment & Engagement Report
 

Are LinkedIn closing the loop on email?

A short blog this one but a very interesting development for anyone that uses LinkedIn regularly. I tried replying to a message that I had received via a LinkedIn contact earlier.  When I hit reply (via outlook) the address came up as – “Conversation on LinkedIn.” I hit send without really registering this change and immediately received a bounce-back.   Has anyone else experienced this? Now this may not seem all that significant but in essence all communication is clearly being moved to within the platform – thus closing the loop, or should I say net?  So if you want to engage in a conversation…you will absolutely have to log into LinkedIn. This will theoretically increase engagement and therefore the potential for LinkedIn to push adverts and sponsored posts. However, I think that this is likely to be part of a wider plan to tap in to a new revenue stream that up to now they have resisted rolling out across the board. Inmail already exists as part of the premium packages but has lost its impact in the last 18 months (there are plenty of blogs out there already about this). So it seems almost inevitable that LinkedIn are likely to charge for messages within the platform, much like Facebook already does. Would you use LinkedIn as prolifically as you have in the past if you have to pay for messages?
 

LinkedIn’s discontinuation of company ‘products and services’ is another backwards step

LinkedIn announced last week that they are to discontinue the ‘products and services’ pages – click here: http://help.linkedin.com . This is the latest in a number of ‘tweaks’ that have in my opinion seriously undermined the usefulness of the site. In just twelve months we have seen LinkedIn today replaced by Pulse which theoretically ensures a greater quality of content. I say theoretically as I genuinely believe that quality has dropped sharply. Following on from this, the ‘signal’ feature was removed. Signal allowed users to search for keyword phrases in updates; in essence it allowed you to see what was being shared across the platform. For AdMore this was essential as it allowed us to respond to comments on our blogs – something we can no longer do. Additionally the ‘publisher’ pages were deleted. Late least year in a further degradation of the usefulness of the site personal updates were removed from individual profiles. If I want to see what my colleague Russell has liked or shared I would have to trawl through hundreds if not thousands of updates on the main feed. As a result, the information that I used to glean from the personal profiles has reduced dramatically, which means I spend LESS time on the platform. The discontinuation of the Company ‘products and services’ page (click here for ours: linkedin.com/company/admore-recruitment-limited ) is in my opinion a huge own goal. It will have a number of negative side effects:
  1. A lot of companies have invested time AND money building up this page. The graphics cost money to create and it takes time to request and manage the recommendations. There has been little warning of the change other than the introduction of the ‘showcase’ pages last year. Will we invest in developing the showcase pages given LinkedIn’s propensity for discontinuing features without consultation?
  2. Companies have used this feature to create a social ‘validation’ of their services. For our business it has been fantastic, candidates, clients and prospective employees have all commented on our recommendations – they have a much greater value than the usual testimonials you see on corporate sites. Indeed we have been interviewing for posts within our own company and several interviewees have commented positively on our recommendations.
  3. ‘Engagement’ is a social buzzword that is often over used but the recommendations genuinely drove engagement on multiple levels. The company page will just be a stream of updates now. Great but not overly compelling.
A number of threads have bee started on the LinkedIn help centre forum (have you ever been there?) with a lot of disgruntled users. The reality is that LinkedIn will have this and forthcoming changes fully mapped out, but it would be great if you could contribute to the thread: community.linkedin.com/questions  (if you feel as strongly as we do of course!). A few comments indicate just how angry people are about this: “LinkedIn does it again. They"ve made an arbitrary decision to remove content previously entered by its subscribers. On April 14 all the hard work done by subscribers who created product and services pages will be sent to the trash bin by LinkedIn. I have a number of clients who paid to have their products and services pages created for them. LinkedIn has decided that their investment means nothing.” “I just spent several hours for a client creating multiple services on their company page and getting people to recommend them. What a waste of their dollars.” “The sudden decision to remove the "Products and Services" tab is detrimental to our companies LI page. We have 23 products/workshops with multiple recommendations. I see no value in merging over to a showcase page that has no similar capabilities. The 200 character limit is ludicrous, it is a glorified Tweet.” To be fair, a LinkedIn representative has waded in with the following response: Hi All, I just wanted to chime in and let you all know that we are absolutely listening to the feedback we are getting on this thread (and elsewhere as well). I also want to note that any admins of Company Pages will be receiving an email from us this week that has instructions on how to obtain a copy of the recommendations on your page. We know that you have spent a lot of time and effort in getting those, so we are going to ensure that you do not lose them. If you would like a copy sooner than that, you can obviously start manually copying and pasting them into a document of some sort at any time. We appreciate everyone"s take on the direction we are going with our Company Pages and remember to be on the lookout for the email from us this week with further instructions. Thank you. Derek Homann LinkedIn Community Team   So, LinkedIn, a highly sophisticated and cutting edge social media platform suggests that we ‘cut and paste’ our recommendations in to a document. For me, this underlines just how detached they have become from their customers. The whole point of the recommendation is that it is a public endorsement that can be attributed to a real person. Sorry LinkedIn but this is yet another own goal. For a small company like ours our marketing budget is precious. We have invested heavily in LinkedIn. We set this blog up last year partly in response to the removal of the ‘publisher page.’ We will continue to invest a greater proportion of our time and money in the blog and perhaps Twitter, Facebook or Google . LinkedIn does not have a divine right to business networking, there are plenty of other mediums - some traditional!
 

Your Job Search – How to Create a Successful Campaign

How to create a successful job search campaign

Two years ago, after 6 years as a Recruitment Consultant, I left my job without anything to go to. This was a massive leap of faith and I must stress, this is not something I would ever recommend you do!  However, 6 weeks into my gardening leave, I found a new role and I haven’t looked back since.

The experience of looking for work and of being a candidate again was interesting, terrifying and bewildering at the same time. As a professional recruiter, I knew the job market and (thought) I understood how to market myself effectively however I still learnt a lot from the experience and here are some of the main points to consider before entering the job market.

Set your strategy

Create a project plan outlining your different approaches and the channels you are planning to use to market yourself. This should include direct channels (sending your CV directly to a company), recruitment agencies, your own network and social media.  We are in a multi-channel market place and social media has an important role to play in marketing of both products and people. If you are unsure how to use social media effectively, seek advice!

What is your Unique Selling Point?

What qualities do you possess that make you stand out from your peers? Seek 360° feedback from people you trust. In order to sell effectively, you need to fully understand your product…You!!

Define your goals

Before you do anything else, think about what kind of role you are hoping to find and what you can realistically hope to achieve. Deciding what you want to do and are qualified to do will dictate where you target your efforts and also how you market yourself.

What is your personal ‘brand’?

This is the message you convey to the market and to future employers. Your ‘brand’ should be a positive representation of your skills, experience and personality and this should be consistent across all the media you use to engage with others eg. Your CV, Linkedin, Twitter etc. Don’t forget that your brand message should also be consistent in person so think about body language, presentation and how you communicate with people around you.

Identify your target market.

Knowing which companies you want to target will help you refine your ‘message’ and ensure it is delivered to the right place. Research companies and brands to identify those which fit with your goals and align with your values.

Re-write your CV

Merely updating your CV is not enough. It may be several years since you last looked at it so it is worth looking at the whole thing and checking that it is representing you accurately and is in a format that will be well received in the current market. At the very least, you will have achievements to add and your skills and experience will have progressed. This is your shop window - it must present you in the best possible light and accurately reflect your brand message.

Create/Update your Linkedin Profile

Like it or loathe it, Linkedin is widely used by recruiters when sourcing candidates (some would argue that it is its principle function!). Your Profile must be up to date and must portray you and your experience in a positive light. I found Linkedin invaluable when I was looking for a role as it enabled me to identify key individuals in my target companies and where appropriate, make an approach.

Set yourself targets.

Like any good campaign, it should be SMART (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). Setting specific time frames for a job search is very difficult – timescales are often a moveable feast and you will need to remain flexible and organised to keep track. Be prepared to review your time frames and re-adjust if processes are delayed or postponed. This will help you remain focused and ensure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Conduct regular brand reviews

As you progress along your job search campaign, you may reassess your goals and identify new companies to target which you hadn’t previously considered. Ensure that you keep your message clear.

Review your strategy

It is important that you regularly assess the effectiveness of your strategy and if necessary, make amendments. Has your target audience changed? Do you need to try a different approach? The more exposure you have in the market, the better idea you will have of your own marketability. You may need to amend your brand ‘message’ following the feedback you have received along the way.

By managing your job search campaign in a pro-active and positive way, you will be master of your own destiny and ultimately increase your chances of landing the role you want.

Click here to download a free CV template.

 

How to research your interviewer

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

No matter how well you prepare for an interview (see our previous blogs here and here for some advice), there is one element which you will not be able to control – the person doing the interview!

Even in the most structured competency based interview, although designed to minimise subjectivity, you will be at the mercy of the interviewer and winning them over is a key aim in addition to demonstrating that you can actually do the job in question!

We have written previously about how you can build rapport quickly in an interview but what other measures can you take to impress?

Well, as ever, preparation is critical and in addition to doing your research on the role and the company, you should ideally research the person you are meeting. Here are some tips:

Make sure you have their name and job title

Sounds obvious but it is so important that you know who you are meeting. There is a big difference between meeting a junior member of the recruitment team, an HR Manager or your future boss. Each of these individuals will have a slightly different perspective and agenda. Here’s what I mean:

A junior recruiter – is likely to be conducting a ‘vetting’ interview to ascertain that you possess the key criteria for the role before they put you forward into the formal process. This could well be conducted over the phone. Click here for our advice on Telephone Interviews.

An HR Manager – will be focused on ensuring that the interview process is consistent and is likely to conduct a competency based interview as a result. Click here for top tips on how to pass a competency based interview. Their knowledge of the role in question will dictate how in depth the questioning is but one thing they will definitely be interested in is how you fit culturally with the company. They will be looking for potential issues (gaps on your CV for instance) so that they are confident if they ultimately put you forward to meet the hiring manager.

A hiring manager (future boss) – they will be focused on whether you can do the job, whether you will fit with the team (will they like you) and how soon you can start.

Once you have ascertained which category your interviewer falls into, you can tailor your approach accordingly.

General research

When you set out to research your interviewer, first reflect on what information you would like to find. Key areas may be:

  • Shared history (companies, sector, University, home town)
  • Shared interests (hobbies, training courses, education)
  • Clues about their personality and management style (overall tone, language used, anecdotal evidence)
 

LinkedIn is the obvious place to start to research your interviewer, particularly to understand what their career path has been and to see whether you have any common ground eg. companies you have worked for or mutual contacts.

Understanding which companies they worked for and when may give you insight into their experience and management style. For instance, if you know they worked for a company during a period of intense growth, this may indicate they have a strong entrepreneurial style and are used to managing change.

It is worth checking what University they attended and what they studied. Any school information will give you an indication of where they come from which can also be a nice introduction if you hail from the same area.

Reading testimonials, if they have any, will give you insight into what they are like to work with. It is also worth reading their recommendations of current and future employees as they will often include hints about the qualities they admire in a colleague or team member.

Try to look for key words and phrases that are repeated in the profile. As NLP practitioners would advocate, using these phrases in your interview (provided done so in a natural way) will help ensure your answers resonate with the interviewer.

Remember, if you are not connected to them, googling part of their Linkedin profile may enable you to view their complete profile.

Google Search can often produce interesting results particularly if your interviewer has been quoted in the press or has contributed to any conferences or industry publications.

The company website will sometime list detailed biographies of their senior team so it is worth checking this out too.

Twitter is increasingly used by recruiters to identify candidates and flipping this on its head, can be a useful tool to get ‘inside the head’ of your interviewer – providing they have a Twitter feed of course. This should give you snippets of insight about their interests and even sense of humour – all useful to help you build rapport.

PDF search Searching for PDF documents in a search engine is a great way of finding additional information for instance if the person in question has published any articles, presentations or attended any conferences.

Verbal References are useful if you have any links within your network to people who know the person in question either as peers, previous employees or managers. Clearly, discretion is important here – you don’t want word to get back that you have been interrogating a mutual acquaintance!

Director inventories such as the Institute of Directors or DueDil are useful particularly if you are meeting a Director for a small business.

Using the information

Once you have done the general research about the person and in particular their career history, you can start to make some deductions (although be wary of having too many pre-conceptions).

For instance, if the person has recently joined the company themselves, they may well still be adjusting to the culture and the successful recruitment of this role may well be a way to prove themselves internally.

Equally, knowing that the HR Director you are meeting was formally in a senior operational role should give you valuable insight – this is a powerful combination!

Using the information gleaned during your research requires thought and planning. Think about how you can build rapport quickly and establish common ground. Clearly the skill here is doing this in a subtle and natural way.

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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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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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