Blog - Red Flag Recruitment

How Do You Beat the Recruitment Competition?

Many of our clients tell us about their recruitment competitors in the local market.  Usually in hushed tones we are told how these “industry leaders” offer salaries and benefits beyond our wildest dreams; big salaries – yes, check competitive bonus structure – check, flexible working hours – always, Grizzly Bear wrestling on Thursdays – yep, naked Fridays – probably….

Maybe they are offering all of this and even more…but it doesn’t mean the competition for attracting talent is about to be as one-sided an affair as when Real Madrid pick-up the phone saying they want you to play up front.  In fact, if you play it smart you can leave the big boys trailing in your wake with a bloody nose wondering how you keep doing it.

In business, if you are scared by the competition you should have probably not even started the journey.  Of course you are respectful and mindful of what others can and do achieve, but never scared.  Recruitment is exactly the same and you do not need to be the equivalent of Real Madrid to tap into the best talent – but you do need know what your strengths are and how you use them.

Firstly – Be different….when it comes to your product or service I bet you position yourself as having unique selling points….you are less expensive, you are of a higher quality, you specialise in a niche field.   Exactly the same when selling your company to the jobs market.  You offer better career progression, you are more fun to work for, your commission structure is highly rewarding, you are an award winning company.  The list goes on….but be prepared to back it up and prove it because real talent will see through half-hearted promises.

Secondly – Small is beautiful….yes, you may be smaller than the global, multinational, blue chip money printing machine sat five minutes down the road.  But being smaller than your competitor is not a weakness.  It really is a strength to highlight.  A new employee can make a massive difference day-to-day, they help shape a company culture not just experience it.  The opportunity for career progression, for learning on the job and for actually developing yourself can be smaller with a small company.

Finally – Move quickly!  If you can move quickly and with flexibility then you leave the competition stranded.  Too often large companies have an elongated, bloated recruitment process which requires several decision makers to sign-off on one hire.  Do not mistake speed with being reckless – a bad hire can be costly.  But if you can demonstrate agility and flexibility through your recruitment procedures you can have the best talent sat under your roof.

Is The Graduate Job Dead?

Is the graduate job dead?  Is a University education the best means of stepping onto the career ladder?  Is it all worth it?

Fair questions to ask in today’s world.

My firm belief is a University education is worth it…whatever ‘it’ maybe!  But, stuff remember it is just that, remedy it is just an education.  It can never be taken away from you, it will hopefully have grown and developed you in a way you may not have experienced otherwise…..but in many cases it does not offer a golden handshake at the end, nor the start of a glittering career and a happy-ever-after moment.

Many graduates in today’s market have it tough.  Firstly, there are a lot of you….in fact it has never been more competitive.

The first key problem is that by encouraging people to go to University – you create more graduates – candidates with a “higher skill set” – but that does not translate into creating more roles that demand those skills.  The end result is that the number of graduates in the UK outweigh the amount of entry-level graduate jobs available.

So…what happens in that market…well graduates end up taking jobs they are over-qualified for!  In fact according to findings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 58.8% of graduates in the UK hold a non-graduate job…..

Second problem….Universities (and educational establishments as a whole) are not delivering the education they are now being paid for!  Graduates can leave ‘a good’ University with ‘a good’ degree classification, but employers are finding an increasingly large gulf between academic success and being a candidate ready for the world of work.

Look at what some of the large accountancy firms have done recently….more efforts have been made to engage with A-level students and offering them an alternative to traditional University courses.

Ernst & Young have decided to remove degree classification from the entry criteria as they can find no evidence that success at University correlates with career success.  Likewise Deloitte have changed their recruitment process so recruiters do not know where a candidate went to university.

In short…graduate recruiters are looking beyond academic success, they are looking beyond the record of achievement simply because it no longer guarantees career achievement.

So, what is a fresh faced graduate meant to do….well that is a whole new blog!  But…the most important thing is not to lack ambition, it is not to sit back and admit defeat.  The graduate job is still out there…..but you need to recognise there is increased competition for it and recruiters are looking beyond mere academic success.

The Hidden Value of The Summer Job

The exams are finished, illness the celebrations are but a fuzzy memory and the long, viagra hot summer months have threatened to appear….and around this time the fight for summer jobs really starts to heat-up.

I guess most students see the summer job as a means of earning some cash and reducing their financial woes – and we can all understand and relate with that.  Other though may recognise the summer job as being a way to strengthen their CV before trying to forge a career in their chosen industry sector.  Regardless of your motives, make no mistake, there will be winners and losers in the fight ahead.  The longer you leave it, the more inflexible you are, the greater your chance being unsuccessful in your job hunt….and then you have no money and nothing to add to your CV.

The most important thing to remember, the summer job is not a job for life.  Unless you are unlucky – your summer job will not kill you… it may scar you, but that is character building!  So if you have a chance to work in a retail outlet but the thought of it leaves you in a cold sweat with the urge to saw your legs off with a chainsaw before stepping in there.….have a reality check and remember what your goals really are!

Forget the money for a moment (and yes, I know that is vital), the summer job could put some real life skills on your CV.  Put it this way…I read a lot of CVs, my clients and fellow HR/recruitment professionals read a lot of CVs…..and we have seen a lot of candidates who for their gap year went travelling around the world and as part of the experience painted an orphanage in Cambodia for a week.  Some taught African school children for a day.  Others have even look after elephants for a weekend.  Nothing wrong with any of that and I genuinely believe all of these things can be thought of as wonderful moments in life.….

But, the cynic in me also thinks the candidate potentially has rich parents that footed the bill, and more worryingly, a number of orphanages in Cambodia could collapse at any moment from the sheer weight of paint on the walls being applied by British gap year students!  More to the point, these experiences, whilst impressive are now commonplace on a CV and one should question how much it really does impress your future employer.

A potential employer is more interested to read on your CV things such as “working with people”, “cash handling”, “working to targets”, ”administration duties”, “managing difficult customers”…..things that demonstrate a work ethic and not the stamps in your passport.

The summer job is not necessarily going to be glamorous, spiritually enriching, or financially rewarding, but it can start to lay important foundations on your CV which your peers miss out on.   How to find your summer job could and probably will be another blog sometime in the future….but in the meantime if you do find yourself stacking shelves or wiping tables this summer, just remember to put it on your CV, because trust me, your future employer will want to read about it!

Two Men In A Boat

We live in a world where it is typically easier to be more negative than positive, medical it is just human nature.  Your average employee can probably remember when they have been told-off by their boss but probably can’t remember the last time they were told they had done a great job.  Likewise anyone in a management position looking after people will probably admit they do not give enough praise.

But at what point should we listen to or ignore the negativity.  Let’s take feedback on a candidate after an interview.

I have experienced a couple of clients where when someone is successful in their application – the candidate was okay, they might have even been good.  When they are unsuccessful…..they are the worst candidate ever met, they gave the worst interview ever witnessed, and they clearly are not cut out to work in a given industry sector!  Funnily enough, I have been on the receiving end of that feedback when I interviewed for a position as a recruitment consultant…apparently I was completely unsuitable for the industry (after now working for more than a decade in recruitment I think I can say they were wrong).

Feedback at an interview should be balanced, okay maybe a candidate showed poor interview techniques maybe there were gaps in their knowledge, maybe they simply came across as wrong….but as an interviewer you do not need to provide a character assassination.

There was a story recently in the newspapers about two guys from Essex who had to be rescued by life boat crews.  They were bored, so with scraps of wood, insulation foam and glue they build a boat for a total cost of £9.  They then decided to take it to sea for a fishing trip.  They had no life jackets, one couldn’t swim and yes surprise surprise….they had to make an emergency call to be rescued after an oar snapped…albeit they had floated around in this boat for the best part of a weekend and they had caught some fish.

The feedback from the life boat crew was that they were “…stunned by the men’s stupidity…”  I have no doubt these two chaps were told they should never go paddling at the seaside unless supervised and under no circumstances should they try something as foolhardy as this ever again.  On the flipside the feedback from one of the gentleman concerned was “…next time I’ll get a little engine instead of oars…”

I’ll let you judge whether he is completely bonkers or whether he is simply determined not to give up on his goals. The key message for me though is when you are given negative feedback from an interview try and learn from it, understand what was good and what you can improve on. As an interviewer we have to try and offer both positives and negatives. And if you really have been told you are completely unsuitable, just remember worse things do happen at sea!

Zero Hour Contracts and the Modern Worker

The world of work has certainly changed in the last decade.  Like it or not one of the debating points in the current election is zero hour contracts…..Labour fighting for the working man are against them, viagra sale best cialis the Conservatives fighting for enterprise and business….well… yet they haven’t actually said either way.  Why let policy stand in the way of style and spin during an election?

One thing that is certain is that the zero hour contract is now a talking point that never existed ten years ago and the arguments for and against them have been and continue to be well debated.

Okay, in the service driven industry that seems to make up such a large part of our economy – businesses want flexibility with their workforce.  But, the strange thing is businesses also want staff loyalty, they moan about change, they don’t like the costs of training someone, they definitely don’t like it if a worker resigns or doesn’t show for work and to be frank the idea of having unhappy workers is not what a business owner gets out of bed for in the morning.  How many times have I heard “our people are the most important thing”?  So why not make a commitment to those people?  Why not start the working relationship with commitment?  Or put it another way – can a business ask for loyalty and commitment when workers feel it is not a two-way street?

Read on…

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