Social Recruitment in Retail – infographic & report

Social Recruitment in Retail

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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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Do Candidates want ‘Dear John’ rejections to applications?

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment

We have written recently that the market is showing signs of recovery and that job flow is increasing. Indeed, I have personally seen a marked increase over the summer when I had been warning candidates earlier in the year that things would slow down…you live and learn! It is all hands to the pumps and well, I am having to work that little bit harder!

So, on Sunday night I decided to clear the weekend’s email and CV applications with the view to walking in to a clean slate first thing Monday morning. I spent around 90 minutes reading CVs and responding where required. I cleared about 60 CVs. 90 seconds isn’t a lot of time to spend reading a CV but the volumes are so high that you just do not have the time to do much more. I receive anywhere from 40-60 applications per day. On average around 80% of the applications will be from candidates whom have absolutely no relevant industry or job experience. A large proportion will be from School leavers looking for their first £90k job!

 If the candidate is not right for the role I do respond (it is a company policy and one that I support wholeheartedly) via email. Yesterday I received this response from one candidate who I had informed was not right for the position he had applied for:

"Wow! Job Rejection on a Sunday Evening!!  That"s a new one!

"a number of applicants who more closely fit our clients stringent criteria"...blah! - a new collection of words different from what I usually get from you people.

"Should we be handling any other assignments"....never heard that one!

Yet another lip-service bullsh*t response where you are clearly lying.

"We will be in touch"....When what you really mean to say is..."we don"t think your CV OR yourself will make us any money so we will sign off with a patronising kiss off line and promptly shred your CV and never contact you again"!

Why don"t you a**holes be honest for once.

C**K!"

The individual in question lived two hours from the job location, had no management experience (having applied for a middle management role) nor any directly relevant functional job experience. His application was speculative at best and interestingly there was no personalised message.

I would like to respond to each of the points he makes:

  • Yes, I was working on a Sunday evening. I value my job and what I do, I have a young family to support and I am committed to doing the best I can. I was working out of hours. I know it isn’t ideal to receive a negative email on a Sunday evening, is Monday morning better or Friday afternoon?
  • Yes, I had received applications from more relevant people. My job is to shortlist the best candidates on the market for my client. Why? Because they do not have the time, resources or experience to do it for themselves. I am paid to find the people that my client wants.
  • "You people."   Not much I can say to that really other than that stereotyping in any form is offensive.
  • We do handle other assignments and regularly get back in touch with candidates we have rejected previously. Equally sometimes a role does not come up. We do not have crystal balls (although a colleague of mine thinks his are golden?!) The irony is that I might have been able to help this individual with the client in question as they are expanding and may have suitable roles in the future. However, would I ever represent a candidate who sends abusive emails like this? No.
  • "We will be in touch, we don’t think your CV will make us any money etc."   We are paid by our clients to complete assignments according to their wishes. Fortunately, I do enjoy my job; I wouldn’t work with anyone else and genuinely appreciate the candidates and clients I work with. The candidates never pay me any money but I provide career and job searching advice on a daily basis, often to people that I will never make any money out of. Why, because I do think we should give a little back, but also because many individuals are polite enough to email or call with a genuine request for help.
  • "Why don’t we be honest?"  To be fair this is probably the best question. Are recruiters honest all of the time? Probably not, the industry does have its fair share of amoral individuals. There are however plenty of us, who have to tread a fine line between being ‘honest’ and destroying the confidence of people at what is often a vulnerable time in their life. On a daily basis I speak to candidates that have made mistakes in their careers that will often have far reaching consequences. It would be honest to tell them this…but will it help? I find giving people encouragement, support and waiting for the right time to give occasionally unpalatable advice is a far better policy.

So, back to the point of the blog, do candidates want acknowledgement of an application?

I suspect the overwhelming answer is yes. I receive emails like the one above several times a month but I receive ten times as many with simple thanks for letting them know (and this always makes me take the time to consider if I have any other vacancy for them which may be suitable).

Recruiters are not a bunch of arrogant, self absorbed, unfeeling idiots. We know looking for a job is tough, lonely and at times degrading (the poor chap last week at an interview for Currys springs to mind). Taking your frustration out on the very people that you may later rely on for future help is at its best ill considered and its worst infantile.

What do you think?

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The challenges of a career in recruitment

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

I recently wrote a blog titled Top Eleven Best Things About a Career in Recruitment and jokingly mentioned that I would be writing this follow-up blog. In all seriousness, Recruitment is a very challenging career and anyone considering making the move into our industry should do so with their eyes wide open. In my view the pros far outweigh the cons, however in the interest of balance, here are some of the issues which can make the role so difficult. People have minds of their own!

Dealing with people is fundamental in recruitment – it is what we do, day in, day out. Every action you take, decision you make and issue you face is related to a person and so it follows that every single situation is unique. Once you have chalked up some experience in recruitment, you will have seen a huge variety of scenarios which helps you deal with different issues, however achieving this level of recruitment ‘zen’ is a long and painful process!

People can be unpredictable, unreliable, change their minds and lie. However strong you believe your relationship with a candidate is, they can still cause you problems if you do not anticipate possible complications. The same goes for clients.

Negative image of the industry

Most relevant for those working on the agency side, the perception people have of recruitment consultants is pretty unflattering, down there with Estate Agents on the popularity scale! We are seen as aggressive, sales focussed, arrogant and unscrupulous. Although I have met a few people who do fit that description over the years, the majority of people working in the industry do not fit this stereotype at all. Unfortunately, if someone has had a negative experience of a Recruitment consultant, it can be very difficult to win them over, but therein lies the challenge!

The Ups and Downs

Although the highs are great and accompanied by financial reward and recognition, the lows are tough to handle. There are so many factors which affect your success and you have to learn to anticipate these and avoid them where possible. At some point you will experience a slump when your CVs are rejected, jobs are filled internally, none of your candidates gets an offer and one of your placed candidates ‘backs out’ at the last minute. Those who build a long term career in this industry quickly learn how to cope emotionally with the stress caused by these setbacks.

Targets

Recruitment is a sales role. You are expected to ‘sell’ yourself, your candidates and your clients, develop new business, grow existing accounts and deliver against often-stretching revenue targets. While it is not about helping someone find a new role, this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. Chances are, if you have the right qualities to succeed in Recruitment, you will thrive on targets and on beating your competition. If you are very lucky, you will work for a company where you are measured not only on your financial performance but on the quality of your relationships - repeat business, candidate and client testimonials etc. The phrase ‘you are only as good as your last quarter’ will resonate with most recruiters!

Frustration

The only joke I can ever remember is this one. Patient: "Doctor, Doctor, people keep ignoring me" Doctor: "Next!" This describes how recruitment can feel sometimes. Picture this. You have worked hard to understand your client’s business and have advised them about how best they can fill a problem vacancy based on your experience of recruiting day in day out and your knowledge of current market conditions. They don’t take your advice and insist on proceeding as ‘normal’. Several weeks later, the role still isn’t filled and you now get the blame for not delivering.

When you have a proven track record with the client and they trust you it does minimise this issue but it can still happen. Perhaps it’s because there are so many recruitment agencies all operating with varying degrees of integrity and experience that clients simply don’t view us as ‘experts’ or perhaps they don’t believe we have their best interests at heart? It takes time to build up a reputation in recruitment and often it is our own lack of conviction which perpetuates this situation. We should be more willing to politely walk away from business if the process is not collaborative.

Equally, on the candidate side, the perception some people have of recruitment professionals is so negative that candidates will often go into a conversation expecting the worst. This means that as a consultant who is genuinely trying to understand their situation, you spend most of the call trying to overcome barriers that need not exist. Again, this is something we must work hard to overcome by building trust over time.

There are countless other daily frustrations: candidate no-shows at interview or pulling out of a process with no explanation, clients cancelling interviews at short notice or changing the job brief – the list is endless! However ultimately, the skilled consultant will help minimise the impact of these issues by firstly anticipating possible complications and learning to ‘read’ people and secondly, by maintaining tight control of as much of the process as possible.

A thankless task

 Most relevant for in-house recruitment positions (in an agency, you may not get a thank you from your client but you will hopefully hit your bonus target). Recruitment teams in-house rarely get the credit they deserve from the wider business as recruitment as a discipline/professional is not valued in proportion to its importance to the business! They tend to get all the pressure when there is a vacancy but little credit for finding the right person and often hiring managers have little interest in a) how they have found the candidate and b) how much money they have saved the business by sourcing directly. Line managers are more likely to complain that the process has taken too long! Recognition is more likely to come from HR who, particularly if they hold the budget, will thank you for your efforts to source directly.

Some of these factors have been exacerbated during the recession and so, for those of you who have managed to hang on in there, you should find it a little easier once the market improves.

Despite these downsides, Recruitment is a great industry to work in – challenging, fascinating and exciting! For any advice about starting a career in recruitment, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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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
 

Can the launch of glassdoor.co.uk help you to identify your employer of choice?

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment- Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.   For those of you who are as yet unaware of glassdoor.com, it is a US based site whose aim is to create a community providing a source of information about prospective employers, job roles and salaries based on anonymous reviews from employees. They have recently launched their UK site, glassdoor.co.uk .

The format of each review comprises Pros and Cons and Advice to Senior Management along with star ratings given for the following criteria: Compensations & Benefits, Culture & Values, Career Opportunities, Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance and CEO Rating.

It is a simple format and undoubtedly can prove a useful resource when researching companies or preparing for interviews.

Under each company profile, it includes a Recent News section which is useful for ensuring you are up to date with latest Press Releases, results or general news.

Understandably, the large, global businesses have the most reviews (often in their thousands) with some sectors being more broadly represented than others, particularly the Management Consultancies, Technology companies and Financial Services. I would guess therefore that reviews on these businesses are a pretty accurate reflection of working life within those companies.

Within Retail, the major UK brands are represented although many have a limited numbers of reviews – I’m sure this will change as more people in the UK become aware of its existence. Until there is a significant body of material on each company, I think it will be a while before it provides enough insight to accurately reflect what it is like to work for a particular company.

In their Community Guidelines, glassdoor are clear that participants should write balanced reviews without reverting to bitter or overly personal accounts of their own experience. Reviewers must be current or former employees of that business within the past 3 years and so there is reason to assume that the integrity of the reviews is good.

As always with reviews, you must take each contribution in context and look at the overall theme which emerges from a number of reviews. Other factors to bear in mind are the level of the person reviewing (junior candidates will have a different perspective than senior managers although their opinion is no less insightful or valid). Equally with the Interview section, where people provide sample interview questions and insight into their application process, it is wise to be cautious. Interview processes can change and your preparation still needs to be thorough enough to deal with any unforeseen eventualities.

We are all becoming increasingly reliant on reviews whether that is before booking a holiday or buying something and they can be an incredibly powerful tool. Recently, before leaving on holiday, I accidentally stumbled upon some Tripadvisor reviews on my destination. They were so bad that I was tempted to cancel, however I kept an open mind and sure enough, I had a lovely time albeit with my eyes wide open and expecting the worst! With something as important as your career, the more research you can do the better, and as long as you keep an open mind, glassdoor.co.uk should prove to be a useful addition to your ‘career toolbox’.

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What should your Recruitment Consultant really do for you?

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

So what should a good recruiter be doing for you?

Career Advice

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

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

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

Job Search

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

 Process Management

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

 Offer Negotiation

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

Post Placement

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

Conclusion 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what can you do to educate candidates?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recruiters – It’s February, Is your plan working?

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Giles Gallimore - Director, AdMore Recruitment

January done. How was it? How many interviews were cancelled because of the snow? How many sledging days were taken advantage of? How many client meetings were cancelled because of the inclement weather?

February is now here, phew,  I hear you say. The mornings are getting a bit brighter – with a hint of day light appearing through the window as you down the first cup of rocket fuel of the day.

Now February, the shortest month of the year. Not good news for those of us that could always do with a few days added onto the end of the month to get those last fees in….anyway, what do we think the key foci this month should be?

Firstly, do everything you can to complete your current assignments before the end of the quarter. Do you have the right candidates in the right processes and enough of them? Have you checked everyone’s holiday dates – client and candidate? Holidays, whether they are winter skiing, sun or half term with the kids, can be a real pain when you are trying to manage a smooth process.

Candidate applications will start to become more specific and the volume will recede slightly. January and February are key bonus times of the year, either with payments being made or visibility of what the bonus is likely to be. As such candidates will now be thinking more lucidly about whether they are going to change jobs or not. They will have clarity over what bonus they will receive and when it will be paid, giving them the incentive or encouragement to accelerate their search. Incidentally – it is VITAL that you are asking when their bonus is to be paid, how much it will be and what happens if they resign before payment. I have seen many offers turned down and many a process go awry, due to these criteria not being understood, and openly acknowledged early in the process by all parties concerned.

We all know that as people do resign and move that the opportunities then become vacancies. Are you ready to replace those candidates? Do you know who is leaving where and do you have the contacts details of the client to be quick off the mark and put yourself in contention for filling the role when it goes ‘live’?

Clients will generally be more receptive this month to meeting and to explaining their longer term plans (weather permitting…). April will still represent a key cut off for financial budgets and as such the planning starts now about how and where this is going to be spent. Which key positions are they looking to strengthen in their team? What new roles are being implemented?  Where do they foresee challenges in particular ie. skill-set wise or geographically? Most candidates at senior level will be on four week to twelve week notice periods and then you need to factor in an eight to twelve week interview process so the process for that key appointment for the new structure needs to start fairly soon.

This is a good month to be really adding value to your key clients: educating them on the market, understanding their challenges over the next six to nine months and trying to get ahead of the curve. What market research have you got that would be useful to them? How did their competitors fare over Christmas? What businesses are likely to be losing talent this year and why?

The knowledge and experience that recruitment consultants have is so often under utilised, being taken for granted by the consultant themselves or not leveraged properly by the clients. Set yourself apart and actively organise meetings with key clients to show them what extra value you can add to their business. Package this information in a manner that ‘gives’ the client something they are not getting anywhere else. If you are an expert, then show people and back it up with tangibles. If you are not, then think very carefully about what they are actually buying from you and why they should continue to do so?

February is also a good month to meet candidates. Either to update since the last time you met or to assess candidates who are new to you and the market. They have more time in February and more flexible diaries and so this will be easier to organise.  At the very least you should be continuing January’s push on updating your key candidates to see what is on their agenda this year, how you can assist them with their move and give any career advice they require.

Business Development. Who else is in your sector have you not made any contact with? What is your methodology to get yourself known to them and to make them aware of your ability, knowledge and expertise in your sector?  The pointers suggest that we will have a slow economic start to 2013 with the ‘triple dip’ tag hovering over us at the moment. All the people we have been speaking to in the industry expect a steady first half of the year to be followed by a much more buoyant back half of the year. Businesses will be looking to hire as we move into a brighter economic climate throughout 2013 and now is the time to be making these ‘cold’ clients aware of your services. Well-timed introductions at this time of year may create plenty of opportunities later on. Are you devoting the time now to broadening your sector and reach and are you setting yourself up for success in the back half of the year?

February is a short month, so no more rambling. Time to get on the phone and arrange those meetings. Now where is my Business Development Diary?  I am sure there are some PSL renewal discussions coming up…

 

A Candidate’s Guide to Working with Recruitment Consultants

Far from being a passive way of looking for a new job, getting the most out of working with a recruitment agency requires input from the candidate’s side too. Agencies will give you access to industry knowledge, market information and jobs that aren’t advertised directly, as well as support and advice with your general career management. We have included some generic advice here in relation to what to do and what not to do to enable a recruitment agency to assist you in the most effective and efficient way.

  • Send an email and ideally include the reference number of the role that you are applying for.
  • Keep your CV format simple, ideally using ‘Word’, so that the recruitment agency can upload it into their system easily. If suggestions are made around improving your CV then take the feedback on board and make the amendments.
  • Have a short summary of what skills you have that make you marketable, what achievements you have that make you stand out from your peer group and be very clear about what type of role you want.
  • You should also be flexible. A good recruiter will suggest roles that you hadn’t thought about and that could be ideal for you, while remaining in the parameters that you have originally stipulated.
  • Rapport with a recruitment agency is paramount and requires effort and input from both parties. Be honest at all times in terms of your background and your activity levels when looking for a new role.
  • Keep your key contacts updated on your progress in the market but don’t be overly persistent in terms of frequency of contact. Good recruiters repay loyalty with loyalty and will put you forward for their best opportunities. Look on your consultant as a career partner, not just an agent.
  • How you handle your job search is a key indicator of your organisational skills and your planning ability. It is absolutely critical that you keep control of your CV at all times. You must keep a record of which companies you have applied to directly or through an agency and when that application was made to ensure that no duplicate applications are made
  • Never let an agency send your CV to a company without them telling you who that company is or without signing a Non Disclosure Agreement first.
  • No matter how keen you are to move on in your career, try not to register with multiple agencies that you do not know or trust at once. Most big employers are currently placing vacancies with more than one agency, as they feel that creating competition between agencies in the same sector will give them a better result. This creates the opportunity for you to be put forward for the same jobs by several recruiters if you are not controlling your CV. Employers will be concerned if they receive your details from multiple agencies.
  • Respond promptly to any communications and check your email as well as your phone. This can sometimes be tricky if you’re still employed elsewhere but let the agency know the best times to contact you and always be available then. Unfortunately the right career move can be like waiting for buses – nothing for ages and then several roles come along at once. It is then often a case of the client being under pressure to fill the vacancy quickly, meaning you need to be in a position to respond when needed.
  • Research thoroughly before any interviews, the company, the role and the type of person that they are looking for. Remember that you are not only representing you but the agency as well and that what you do and say is a direct reflection of both.
  • Call the recruiter after any interviews to give feedback on how you view the opportunity. Remember, the more specific the feedback then the easier it is for the agency to represent you and your interests.
  • Keep in contact if things change on your side and let the agency know straight away. For example, you have an offer or employment or you’ve decided to change your search parameters for example by moving house or area.
  • In summary, show that you value the service that your recruitment consultant is giving you and be a good ambassador for them whenever they introduce you to one of their clients. If recruitment agencies have doubts about how well you will perform in an interview, they will be reluctant to introduce you to their client
  • Remember that a recruiter needs to place the right people in the right roles to get paid, so it’s in their interests to overcome any objections the employer may have. For this reason, don’t try to disguise or cover up your situation if there are historical work issues that may cause problems with a new employer. Good recruitment consultants will have a number of years experience in the market and will know when things are not quite right. Your best hope is to be scrupulously honest, no matter how difficult, and let the agent handle things with the employer.
  • Most importantly, if there is anything else that you obviously should be telling the recruiter, don’t wait to be asked. Never leave the recruiter in the position of having to say: ‘I don’t know’ to their client.

It does take time to build up trust with a recruiter and it is a two way relationship. Pay attention to your instincts. If you feel that a recruitment agency is not putting you forward for enough vacancies, or is putting you forward for jobs that don’t seem to match your criteria, question them. Let them see that you are fully engaged and that you expect them to live up to your standard.

Good luck with your career move.

Russell Adams