GleeTalks: Women in Tech

Welcome to GleeTalks: Your fix of industry tips, tricks and inspiration. We have been busy interviewing some of the industry’s leading experts, to gain an insight into some of Marketing and Digital’s secrets to success. In this session, we have James Orton (Digital Director) and Momena Ibrahim (Client Services Manager) of Stickee: a creative technology agency that creates enjoyable and immersive software and digital experiences that stick. James and Mamina are not just representatives of Stickee, but they are established ambassadors of the Tech industry – they aim to level the playing field in the male-dominated industry, one female hire at a time. So, what’s their story? Find out below…

Tell me about Stickee – what makes stickee unique to any other digital agencies?

James: We are more of a technology-based agency than a creative agency. We are problem solvers, making the complex simple; clients come to us with a brief and we provide unique solutions to suit their needs. A good example is the work we’ve been doing with NatWest, supporting their sponsorship of the England Cricket Team. NatWest wanted an exhibition that would show off their new voice and facial recognition security features. So, we built a facial recognition app to work alongside the VR game we had created for them previously; people could go up and see which England cricketer they looked like. The results would give a percentage score out of 100 so something like, ‘you’re 63% Joe Root, but there’s only one you.’ It was a great, interactive and creative way to promote NatWest’s security. They’ve been using our VR cricket game ‘Balls!’ for two seasons now and the reception from the public has been fantastic.

Do you take these products from conception right through to completion as a company?

James: Yes. We have an R&D team that work on things like that, but we are really collaborative – everyone likes to jump in and help out on major projects.

What does the future look like for Stickee?

James: We are going through a period of tremendous growth at the moment, in the last couple of years we’ve added clients such as Asda, NatWest, EE etc so it’s been an exciting ride. For me, the future is about two things; firstly growing our client base and forging further long-lasting relationships and secondly the development of current and new members of the team – greater skills for us means bigger & better projects for the company and the team to work on.

Why is it important to have females on board the team?

James: Having a mixed team is great for culture. I want to continue producing the best products that we can, in order to do that we have to have different perspectives. It’s the same in every job, if you don’t include women then you’re not including the perspective of 50% of the population. You have to have balance.

I’ve got a daughter myself and she comes into work quite often and I want her to see that women are working alongside me, that that’s the norm. She’s only seven and schools don’t really offer a lot of coding-based learning – but she absolutely loves it.

So, you go into schools with these events?

James: We’ve held events at local schools with the hope to inspire future generations. We teach children about coding and give them an insight into an industry that they may know little to nothing about. The tech that they are teaching in schools… is not where it needs to be if they hope to produce top tech talent. So, it’s important to me that we give back – and that’s why we hold our events.

Momena: We’re just trying to get our faces out there. We recently attended an event at the University of Birmingham. We’ve been really proactive in trying to recruit more women, especially at careers events. It’s important that the women attending these events can see female presence within our company – I think a lot of people assume that this is just another all-male company – so we do what we can to put ourselves out there and be as approachable as possible. Not just for our company but for tech in general.

How have you found trying to hire women?

James: It’s been tough, as the shortage of women in the field makes it a smaller talent pool to find the resource in. In the UK, about 17% of tech job roles are filled by women, as a company, we’re in line with the national average. In an ideal world, it would be 50/50 but I would like to think by the end of next year we will be nearer to 30%. That is reliant on the talent that’s out there though.

Momena:  As James mentioned, it can be difficult when there are fewer women than men even in the interview process. When trying to increase the number of women in digital, we know it’s not just about hiring women for the sake of having women. It’s about having women who feel empowered and happy and valued within the company.

What do you look for in a candidate?

James: Talent, ambition and skillset. The next step is all about culture; will they fit in here? If you don’t consider the cultural fit of people it will affect the atmosphere in the workplace, especially when you’re the size we are.With the talent pool being so small at the moment training and development is more important than ever. We are finding ourselves hiring more interns & junior members of staff that fit in with our company culture and training them up.

Momena: As a close-knit company who regularly organise social events for the team, a positive attitude is important to us. We try to keep the morale high; If you’ve got big deadlines and it’s getting a bit difficult at work, you want to be surrounded by people who remain positive when things are getting a little tough. So, it’s skills, culture and attitude – that’s what’s important to us.

So Momena, tell me about your background and how you’ve worked your way up to where you are now…

Momena: I’m a local girl, from Solihull, I studied at UoB. In my final year, I did an internship here [at Stickee], in a marketing role. Despite me being a student, who hadn’t even graduated yet, I always felt that my voice was heard here. As a young woman, that’s what you need. Especially when you are the minority in a company. I felt valued and it gave me the confidence I needed to speak up. Progression just happened organically; James recognised my potential, he offered me a role in project management and here I am today.

Given that the talent pool is so small, and male-dominated, when/how did you decided that tech was the career path for you?

Well, I didn’t start out in a technical role; I started out in marketing, project management etc. Fortunately, I was in a role that highlighted my strengths, in a company that valued my potential. I think that, in this industry, women struggle to see progression for themselves within a company; they fear that men will progress more quickly, and they don’t feel like they can speak out. It’s about challenging that. Thankfully here, we have a diverse group, not only in gender but in age; even the well-established men who are in their thirties or their forties will make the time to listen and hear you out.

What is the importance of having women in the team (for you personally)?

Along with adding to company culture, it also benefits clients to see a diverse team – they get different perspectives, they get different people and personalities that they can work with. I do feel privileged that I can represent our company, to face clients and show them what kind of company we are. Having female representation also encourages more women to come; when you have women start, it’s nice to see other women around, which breaks that stereotype.

What would you advise anyone that wants to get into the digital workspace?

Don’t be afraid and go for it. We feel that there are going to be more struggles than there actually are. Push yourself out of that comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to ask, because if you don’t ask you don’t get. When James asked me to change roles, I had no previous experience it that role, but I had to make that decision. So, I asked myself – do I want to push myself? Do I want to progress? You won’t know until you try it. So, I say try it; see how it goes and push yourself, because you will, and you can succeed. There are lots of avenues within digital/tech companies, along with data and development, there’s sales, marketing and HR as career prospects.

Is there anything you would like to add?

James: There are a lot of female leaders in technology now and the majority of them aren’t coders. There’s being in technology and then there’s being technical and I think that they are two different things. We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done (and I think most of that is culture). The first step is to give women a voice at the table and include them in the decision making – whether that is in technical or non-technical roles. Even if they cant fill the technical roles, open up spaces for women in other areas of the business.

Artificial Intelligence: Friend or Foe?

Is anyone else feeling extremely laid back about the onslaught of Artificial Intelligence?

It’s not a biggie really, is it? Nothing to fuss about. The media is fussing about it, but the media  are always fussing about something or other, aren’t they? No one needs to worry. I’m not worried: I’m fine. It’s fine. It’s all going to be fine.

Just to bring those of you who’ve been chilling in an underground bunker for the last few years up to speed, here’s the gist of what seems to be going down with AI:

  • AI is going to consume the job market.
  • AI is going to consume the job market at warp speed.
  • AI will proceed to be far better at doing human jobs than any of us ever have been or ever will be.

Fair enough, I guess. Us fleshy, weepy, invariably error-prone mortals do seem like strikingly weak contenders in contrast. And we can laugh it off, can’t we? Perhaps at a pitch that’s just a notch too high to be convincing, but we can laugh it off all the same. It’s all just a great big laugh. Or not a big deal at all. One of the two.

I suppose, if I was really pressed on the topic – if someone was to scream in my face, lightly showering me with spit, that sort of thing – there are just some mild reservations I could hazard. Nothing major, mind. Just a few passing qualms like:

  • WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
  • IS THIS THE END?
  • SHOULD WE CRY?

But no – no – it’s fine. It is fine. Let’s take a collective deep breath. We are going to stay CALM. Repeat after me: you are floating peacefully on a lilo in the centre of a big, turquoise pool. You are smugly clasping a fruity, boozy cocktail ft. a tiny umbrella. You are safe here. The robots can’t take your job here. Your job here is to relax.

The thing about AI taking over our jobs is… it looks like it might actually be fine? Maybe even… better than fine?

I won’t pretend the statistics aren’t intimidating. The fact for instance, that more than half the workforce will need reskilling in the next 5 years as a direct result of AI is more than a little disturbing. But let’s take a firm minute to note that ‘reskilling’ doesn’t mean the same thing as ‘replacing’. AI looks as if it’s actually teed up to take over the kind of routine, low-skill jobs that not too many of us want to be doing anyway. You know; the sort of roles that are at first brightly described as, “quite easy, actually,” before the charm wears off and they’re replaced with phrases like, “totally f*****g mind-numbing,” or, “completely and utterly soul-destroying.” Really, it’s the exact sort of repetitive, unstimulating work which makes people feel like a cog in a machine that the machines will be taking over. Which is good, isn’t it? No one wants to be a cog.

75 million jobs are estimated to be displaced globally by AI by 2022. But 133 million jobs are estimated to be created as a result of AI by 2022 – which will result in a global net increase of around 58 million roles. Not bad stats there, really. Not bad at all.

Just to quickly dismantle the next flurry of fears (I’m way ahead of you) – these fresh new jobs are also not meant to be exclusively techy. We’re not all doomed to become IT gurus and machine operators. Granted, demand for advanced IT skills are expected to grow by as much as 90% between 2016 and 2030, and the need for basic digital skills is expected to grow by as much as 69%. But there’s also going to be an estimated 26% increase in demand for social and emotional skills, 33% for entrepreneurship, and 19% for creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing. In many respects, it appears as if this gigantic shift in labour trends could ultimately pave the way for more high-skill, varied, and innovative roles than what we’re familiar with in the here and now.

What I’m saying, guys, is this: we’re not really on the cusp of being booted out the workforce forevermore. The future, as ever, is a little blurry, but trust me when I say that it appears more bright than bleak. Whether AI will open the doors for you to utilise your soft skills, put your leadership abilities into practice, draw on your digital know-how, or flex your creative genius, one thing is for sure: being human certainly won’t stand you in bad stead for whatever happens next.

Credit: Clare Toner

Three Things Millennials Want – And Why

Here’s the thing about what millennials want: they want quite a lot of things.

Call them entitled, call them naïve, call them ‘Generation Me’. At the end of the day, you don’t have to like them. But seeing as they’ll make up half the working population by 2020, you will have to hire them. For the purposes of attracting and retaining the members of this much-discussed generation, it would help if employers understood where they were coming from.

I’ll do my best to explain.

  • Work-Life Balance.

We’ve all been beaten over the head with this phrase a bit, I won’t deny that. If it was a snack, it would be tasteless by now. But the thing about things that are insanely ubiquitous is that they tend to be insanely popular. Which is what the concept of work-life balance is to millennials. Insanely popular.

This really is one to keep in mind if you’re an employer, because unlike most trends, the idea of having a decent balance between one’s working life and one’s personal life probably won’t drift out of fashion any time soon. Flares and frosted tips will come and go, but I’m afraid this concept is here to stay. The reason for that being is that it’s, well, quite reasonable. When you think about it, who wouldn’t want a balance between work and leisure time?

70% of millennials will select a job on the basis that it allows flexibility – more than any other generation. But then, that’s not surprising, seeing as their mentality is ‘work smarter, not harder’. This might mean some of them coming in for a handful of days a week and working from home the rest of the time. It might mean them making up the hours they’ve missed without fearing a disciplinary if they need to pick their kids up from school. It might mean that some work through the night, and others start at dawn.

It sounds chaotic in theory, but research indicates that this fresh take on our approach to working hours can give businesses a big productivity boost. A study by HSBC reported that 9 out of 10 employees consider flexible working to be their biggest motivator; trumping financial incentives. So, before you shell out a guilty Christmas bonus because you’ve insisted that half the staff miss seeing their children in the school nativity play, perhaps pause and consider who you’re really hurting by offering money over flexibility. Millennials are notoriously shameless when it comes to job-hopping – and they won’t stick around for long with an employer who expects staff to sacrifice everything for their job.

  • Engagement

Have you ever seen a character in a film who can’t stand their job?

You know what I’m talking about; that guy with a slack jaw and glazed eyes, doing the same repetitive tasks day after day in a cubicle that, for some, inexplicable reason, is always a sludgy pea-green.

Have you got the image in your head?

Ok, well that there is pretty much the definition of disengagement. It’s not a fun notion for most people, but for millennials, that’s a worst nightmare of apocalyptic proportions; right up there with watching climate change melt their iPhones and destroy their beloved avocados. Remember that they’ve spent a greater percentage of their lives being bombarded with more information from the media than any generation before them, and most of them have had to think about where they fit into a vast, global network from a young age. As such, they’re quite keen to know where their place is in the grand scheme of things.

Luckily, keeping up employee engagement levels is largely a matter of exercising a combination of empathy and common sense. I suggest that you:

  • Give praise for a job well done.
  • Clarify what needs to be done for them to progress quickly in their career.
  • Ensure they know how their work is helping others and/or the business.
  • Don’t make anyone work in a cubicle.
  • A Cool Office.

Yes, I suppose you could sniff and insist that your office is ‘perfectly functional as it is’ but guess what – so are prison cells. Unlike inmates, millennials looking for work are able to be quite selective about the environment they’ll be spending a good deal of their time in. Research has found that as much as a fifth of millennials in the UK have decided against accepting a job due to an uninspiring office design. Chew that one over.

Now, let’s talk about what I mean by a ‘cool office’. By cool, I don’t mean ‘lavish’ or ‘extreme’. Huge companies (see: Google, Nokia, Facebook) might have the kind of budget where swarms of architects and interior designers can be summoned to build kaleidoscopic, intricately decorated empires of Disney-like proportions, but that’s a fairly extreme take on a cool office (a bit like all of us agreeing that Buckingham Palace is a ‘nice house’). Obviously, those offices definitely are cool, and most millennial staff probably would quite enjoy hurtling into meetings on a zip wire before going to play with penguins in the chill out zone, or whatever it is they do in these places – but there’s an aspirational wedge of middle ground for the rest of us to perch on. Come sit.

When it comes to creating an appealing aesthetic, think less Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, more the IKEA home office range. You don’t have to squander thousands on an overhaul of the entire building if the space is a little basic. Create a few breakout areas away from the desks, avoid a joyless colour scheme, throw in a smattering of plants, and you’re basically there. If you’ve got a hefty budget which you want to devote to splashing out on a cutting-edge revamp, feel free to up the ante.

Credit: Clare Toner

The Case for the 4 Day Work Week

It started fairly slowly.

A mobile phone here. A laptop there. Then came the World Wide Web. Wireless internet. MSN Messenger. Soon after, we had the iPod. LinkedIn and Skype, Facebook and YouTube. Kindles.

Just over a decade ago, the first iPhone was launched, and everything sort of exploded.

We adapted swiftly, eagerly settling into our new lives as dedicated digital junkies. Phones grew bigger and sleeker, laptops got smaller and lighter. Tasks that once gobbled up hours, days and weeks of human labour became effortless; a matter of holding a thumb over a button.

Then – around the time that we began to implement self-service checkouts – vague fears started to circulate. If machines do the jobs for us, doesn’t that mean it’s only a matter of time until they start to take our jobs from us? Is the standard-issue mortal going to be muscled out of the economy by the suave, immortal algorithm? Are we all ultimately doomed to bend to the will of AI, spending the rest of our days nervously fanning sex robots with palm leaves and feeding them virtual punnets of grapes?

You’d think so, really, wouldn’t you? I mean, it might happen. There’s certainly data to suggest it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. A study from Centre for Cities found that 3.6 million UK jobs could be replaced by machines in 2030 – a prediction which we can all agree is pretty daunting. But there’s something weird about it, and it basically boils down to this: if our careers are to be largely superseded by machines and the whole evil takeover is happening already, then why the hell are we all still working so much?

As it stands, 3.3 million people in the UK are currently working more than 45 hours a week, with 1.4 million working a full 7 days a week. Considering that workers spent the 19th century securing the right to an 8-hour workday, and the 20th century tackling the whole two-day weekend issue, it seems regressive that so many today are denied access to work within these retro parameters.

Anyway, not to worry; the TUC are on it. If you followed the news last week, you’ll know that Frances O’Grady is far from being a happy bunny. The general secretary reckons it’s high time that UK employees were treated to a nice, long, 3-day weekend – complete with a salary injection. 

Lovely idea, isn’t it? As far as suggestions go, I’m not sure I’ve ever come across one so seemingly reasonable in theory, yet so gloriously decadent in practice. If you see her in the street, consider yourself duty-bound to offer a standing ovation while pelting her enthusiastically with red roses. I, personally, can barely type her name into Google without going misty-eyed.

According to Frances, a lot of people are using technological advances to treat their employees unfairly. Rather than spreading the benefits evenly, allowing everyone to work for less time and more money, it seems that a lot of company managers and shareholders are instead electing to keep all the gains for themselves. What’s worse is that due to the ‘always on’ nature of modern technology, many of these employees are actually having to work more. Which isn’t very nice for them, really, is it? Not nice at all.

Fond as I am of our dear Frances, she’s not the first to request that we take measures to protect employees from digitally-induced burnout. France have implemented a law called ‘the right to disconnect’, meaning that companies with over 50 employees are not permitted to let work spill into post-office hours. Germany have taken concerted action to preserve work-life balance; the Labour Ministry in 2013 told its supervisors not to contact employees outside of working hours, and Daimler, the German car company, deletes emails sent to employees while they’re on holiday.

The UK is also not the first place to test the waters for a 4-day working week. The American programming-education company Treehouse attempted a 32-hour workweek in 2016, and found that, conversely, it reduced the work ethic of their employees. Meanwhile, in the city of Gothenburg in Sweden, the six-hour workday resulted in employees that were overall happier, healthier and more productive – but couldn’t be continued because it was too expensive. Unsurprisingly, it looks as if there are a few kinks in this masterplan that need smoothing out before us Brits whack out the party poppers to celebrate the golden era of the 3-day weekend.

A change of this magnitude involves a lot of variables – and while increased health and happiness for employees is a positive goal for us all to work towards, we should consider the logistics around executing such a major adjustment. Will a 32-hour workweek actually boost productivity, and if so, will that boost be sufficient enough to cover the costs of the entire nation working a day less every week? Does working less hours for the same pay inevitably pave the way for a complacent workforce, as with Treehouse – or does it actually increase the sense of drive and well-being, but ultimately lack economic feasibility, like in Gothenburg?

If we want to look to a more inspiring application of the model, it might be best to settle our gaze on the other side of the world. New Zealand’s trust and estate management firm Perpetual Guardian has successfully instigated a 32-hour workweek, all the while keeping everyone’s wages neatly intact. By reducing weekly working hours from 40 to 32, they’ve seen a significant enough productivity spike that they’re now considering making the change permanent. On a practical level, it does seem like a prudent means of meeting the demand for work-life balance – not to mention our ever-climbing technological advances. Why fret about AI taking over our jobs when we can utilise it to work for less hours and higher wages? Just because our machines keep working smarter, doesn’t mean we can’t too.

Ask a Glee Consultant

A recent Forbes article caught our eye with the title, “Ten Questions Recruiters Ask That Are None of Their Business.” We had a read through and…well, we have some quibbles (don’t get us wrong, we like Forbes). With a few exceptions, most of these questions that a recruitment consultant might ask a candidate are usually backed with a legitimate reason. We know this because we asked one of our consultants.

Maria is a distinguished recruitment professional who specialises in the Real Estate agency market. With over 15 years experience within the Built Environment Industry, Maria has worked both in-house and agency roles, giving her a holistic understanding of what a great recruitment process entails. So, we asked Maria to delve into her wealth of knowledge, to get into the mind of an established recruiter and find out for once and for all: are these questions really that bad? Here’s what we learnt…

Q: “What’s your current salary?”

A: “None of your business.”

Actually, it is. If (and it’s a big if) they try to use your answer to put you forward for a lower paid job than the one you already have (or a role that you have no interest in whatsoever, but simply matches the figures on the salary you disclosed). If that’s what they’re up to, then feel free to sass them seven ways to Sunday. Remember, however, that a reputable consultant isn’t going to be looking to swindle you – they’re just trying to gage your expectations.

While you would normally be entitled to huff at this brazen line of questioning from a relative stranger, this is a pretty normal thing for a recruitment consultant to ask you. It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s hard for a recruiter to negotiate on your behalf if they have no clue what you’re earning already. A quality recruitment consultant will use that information to track down the best possible market rate for you and ensure that you get a genuine career opportunity – or the equivalent of a promotion.

Q: “What do you dislike about your current job?”

A: “No tea, no shade, but-“

Granted, there are better ways of phrasing this question (we’ll get to that in a moment). However, there’s no need to be taken aback if a recruitment consultant does ask you this – they’re not just looking for you to dish a bit of dirt on your organisation.

Think about it: through knowing what you aren’t satisfied with, a recruitment consultant can then more easily identify what sort of culture and environment would best suit your preferences. Frustrated with being micromanaged? They could look to place you under a manager with an engaging leadership style. Is your current role too repetitive? They could try to find you a role of a more varied nature.

That being said, while the motive behind the query is innocent enough, they could word it better. For instance, a better, more open-ended way to say this might be, “why are you looking to move?”

Q: “Which other companies are you interviewing with, and where do you stand in those interview pipelines?”

A: “Why do you need to know that?”

Knowing where you stand with other potential roles, as well as how far along you are in the interview process, will allow the recruiter to determine the urgency of putting you forward for other opportunities so they can negotiate the best possible package for you. This also means they will be better informed to liaise with the employer about who they’re up against, so they can explain what they would need to do to secure you for their business.

Q: “What is the lowest salary you would accept?”

A: *Mouth agape, awkward silence ensues*

This is it! They’re trying to loop the wool over your eyes and bundle you into a role so poorly paid you’ll be dressed in rags and counting pennies for the rest of your wretched, frugal existence!

…Aren’t they? Let’s do a bit of scene setting.

A recruitment consultant finds a role they suspect is ideal for you.

You know, the whole shebang; lovely people, fascinating job, a dream cultural fit, offices to envy Google – which they tell you. They call the client and let them know about you. The client is excited to meet you. The recruiter then gets in touch with you to confirm the details…only for you to mention that actually, the salary isn’t really high enough for you to accept. Much too low, in fact. Then the recruiter has to call the client and not only disappoint them by disclosing that they actually won’t be able to meet you – their dream candidate – but also makes themselves look like they haven’t done their homework in the process.

In other words, the recruitment consultant needs to know your minimum expectations before they try and negotiate a package with the client. A big part of their job is liaising between the candidate and the client, so if the recruiter wants to maintain a reputation for being consistent, they need a very concrete idea of what each side is looking for. As for thinking they’re going to try to put you in a low paid role, remember that recruiters make commission through getting a percentage of your salary – so it’s in their interest to try and get you as high a salary as possible.

Q: “Have you ever been dismissed from a job?”

A:  “I’m not sure how that’s relevant.”

Fair enough – this question is a bit iffy. A recruitment consultant might go over your CV and ask why you left previous positions to understand your motives and what circumstances you would like to avoid in future, but it isn’t really their place to ask directly if you’ve ever been sacked. Feel free to proceed with caution.

Q: “How’s your financial situation?”

A: “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”

Don’t worry, we agree – this isn’t something that a recruitment consultant has much of a right to ask you at any stage. Whether you’re juggling overdrafts like an indebted acrobat or frantically siphoning your millions into offshore accounts in the Bahamas, your personal finances aren’t any of their business.

Q: “How long have you been job-hunting?”

A: “Enough to pay for LinkedIn premium so you had better be worth it.”

This is simply a means of determining where you’ve been and how unique your CV is. It’s helpful for a recruitment consultant to know how long and how actively you’ve been searching for so the same efforts aren’t being made more than once. Also, if you have applied for a large number of jobs, it makes them aware of what you’re going for and up against so the recruiter can then negotiate what is best for you.

Q: “What kinds of pay increases have you received at your current job?”

A: “Is that information truly necessary?”

Not a heinous question – but really, the current salary should be the main point of focus here, so although it could be used to determine how you’ve been rewarded for your efforts, it’s not a particularly necessary one.

Q: “Are you working with any other recruiters?”

A: “I am actively job hunting.”

You’ll be hard pressed to find a recruiter who doesn’t ask this! This question is ESSENTIAL to prevent the duplication of efforts. A company may choose two or three recruitment agencies to recruit for the same position – so it’s handy for your recruitment consultant to have an idea of what organisation they’re up against, and where your CV has gone.

Be warned – high-street agencies may saturate the market with your details, so it’s best advised to maintain control over where your CV does go. A professional agency, meanwhile, will devise a target list and investigate which opportunities are available.

Q: “ How badly do you need a job?”

A: “I’m open to the right opportunity.”

Hmm – again, dodgy phrasing – but a recruiter will do a much better job of getting you what you want if they know how urgently you need to be back in work. If you’re in a position where you’re prepared to wait for a role that’s just right, the recruitment consultant will know that they can spend more time doing research and making enquiries to really ensure that they source your dream job. In any case, a good recruitment consultant will naturally do their best to ensure that the roles they put you forward for tick all your boxes, but they might make more flexible suggestions to you if time is of the essence.

When you take everything into consideration – yes, there are certain details about your circumstances that are nobody else’s business but your own. Whether consultants chose to ask these questions or not is dependant on their experience, intentions and reputability. We hope this Q&A has helped to clarify the difference between a necessary question and a query that’s downright nosey.

The fact is, if you’re content in your current position, you wouldn’t be seeking the services of a recruitment consultant in the first place. You know that, we know that, they know that – so why do some of these questions spark so much suspicion? Recruitment consultants aren’t out to get you; most of the time, they’re simply trying to understand your circumstances. The more they know about you, your expectations and what is and isn’t negotiable, the better equipped they’ll be to cater to your aspirations.

It’s best to be open and honest with your recruitment consultant – after all, they’re on your side.

Credit: Thea Fraser/Clare Toner

**EXCITING NEWS!**

Gleeson Recruitment Group are expanding their services into more sectors in the Thames Valley region. Their luxurious Reading office is already established in placing candidates within the Life Sciences and Finance industries. Now, they are keen to mirror their Birmingham headquarters and offer services in Human Resources, Marketing, Executive Search, Engineering, and IT.

To do this successfully they are rolling out a campaign to recruit people who share the same values of the group – trust, transparency, and integrity – from Resourcer level through to Consultant, Team Leader, and Business Partner level.

“This is an exciting time for us. The existing relationships we have obtained within the finance and pharmaceutical market provide us with an established platform to build on. Expanding our divisions will enable us to cater to our clients with wider business needs. The Reading team is made up of distinguished recruitment professionals, meaning that we have the right resources in place to support great talent.”  – Spencer Marsh, Operations Director.

The Reading office currently has a team of 12 working on both permanent and contract roles. They already have plans in place to move into a larger office space (located in Davidson House, Forbury Square, Reading) to meet the demands of their increasing headcount. Gleeson Recruitment Group also have bases in Birmingham and London; they all offer a relaxed and fun work space for their consultants. They maintain a huge emphasis on building and maintaining close relationships with both clients and candidates by encouraging regular face to face visits.

Established in 2011, Gleeson Recruitment was set up by three Directors with the vision of creating a business founded on trust, transparency, and integrity. Everyone who has joined since believes in the same values, which has been the main driving force behind their success to date. Fast forward to 2018 and the business is now recognized by clients for excellent service levels, collaboration, family orientation, support and trust.

For more information please visit https://www.gleeson-rg.com/work-with-us or contact the team on 0118 900 1100.

Influencer Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

The blogging industry is booming, and the beauty market is gaining some serious momentum. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring writers and make-up artists who have taken to blogging or vlogging to share their passion whilst earning some extra income. But how do you differentiate yourself from the thousands of faces already out there? What separates the standard social media influencer from the thought leader with a cult-like following?

The key is marketing.

Though traditional or ‘outbound’ marketing is effective in spreading brand awareness, modern consumers are less responsive to adverts found on the television, in magazines and direct mail. Consumers crave a connection, they want to see a personalised approach to customer-driven marketing. As a result, social media influencers are dominating modern marketing. What separates the amateurs from the all-stars is their ability to market themselves as a brand.

Jemini Dalal, our marketing extraordinaire says, “gaining experience in the marketing side of the industry is invaluable. It will help you gain the knowledge and the tools you will need to create, excel and expand a business of your own.” It’s difficult to know where to start, but we’ve broken it down into five fundamental marketing principles that will help you kickstart your marketing career.

Content Driven Media

Brands use influencers to communicate messages, opinions and campaigns to a wider online audience because influencers have the ability to create a rapport with their audience. When it comes to creating content for brands, it is imperative that as much energy and focus is put into producing personalised, helpful, and informative content as is put into the product and brand. Be a story teller. Make your content unique and interesting. When you build a story around a product, you are showing consumers how to use the product and how it may fit into their lifestyle.

That being said, you should only ever affiliate with brands that you would recommend to others. Blogs, vlogs, and how-to’s are only successful if they come across as authentic as followers can sense when an influencer has a genuine passion for the brand. Relationships between the influencer and the consumer are based on a sense of honesty, trust and loyalty. If your content comes across as disingenuous, customers will see it as a transparent vehicle designed simply to drive sales.

Empires are built on a foundation of credibility – once you lose that, getting it back is easier said than done.

Keep it Coming 

Keep your content fresh and keep it coming. It’s no secret that the more you post the more followers you gain. However, if you want people to see you as a thought leader, a trend setter, a make-up extraordinaire, then you need to stay relevant. It boils down to two key factors:

  1. Make sure that you are posting frequently.
  2. Ensure that the content you are posting is engaging.

Setting up an RSS feed is an effective and low maintenance way to supply your feed with regular and relevant content. Sending posts out at a set time each week will build anticipation for new content; consumers know when to come back to your page, generating a consistent flow of interaction. There are dozens of free RSS feeds online – give one a go, you won’t regret it.

It is also important to keep yourself updated on the latest industry news and articles. This will not only keep you in the loop with the latest beauty trends but will help you to spot gaps in the market. Your content needs to come from somewhere and knowing where to look for inspiration could be what separates you from the amateurs. Show your followers that you’re not just about the sales and promotion but make-up is your life and you are obsessed with the beauty world as a whole.

It’s your passion, not just your job. 

Know Your Strengths

Nowadays, consumers are compelled to make their buying decisions through people they know in person or the influencers they follow online. The relationship between the influencer and the consumer is built on a foundation of mutual interest, loyalty and authenticity. If you’re a social media influencer, your followers are likely to take your opinion as that of a peer.

Consumers use e-commerce as a form of entertainment; how many hours of your life have you spent scrolling through endless webpages, filling electronic baskets and wish lists with items you have no intention of buying? A lot of us find the act of researching and browsing more compelling than the actual purchase. However, if a consumer has seen a review about a product, or even a friend or influencer using it, they are far more likely to commit to buying the product.

It’s word of mouth marketing: they trust your opinion to buy the product. If they like the product they will recommend both you and the brand to their friends and family – which will generate exposure to a wider audience. Everyone’s a winner. 

Special Offers, Promotions and Events

Everybody loves a bargain. Beauty bloggers are known for their sneak peek reviews on unreleased products and exclusive discount codes. It’s their way of giving something a little something back to their loyal followers. There are a number of ways in which special offers, promotions and events can be used to create a buzz around the product that you’re promoting. For example, Instagram competitions (whereby participants must like, share and tag three friends in order to be entered) are a fantastic tool used to expand your reach, increase your following and encourage audience engagement.

Social media feeds are no longer chronological. No matter how far down you scroll it’s almost impossible to see every post. Feeds are now shown by order of interaction – the more likes, shares and comments a post gets, the higher up it appears in news feeds, the more people it reaches. As a result, it’s imperative that you encourage immediate interaction, else you risk your post not being seen at all. Setting a time limit on special offers and promotions gives your post urgency – the resulting engagement will ensure your posts appear in the feeds of a wider audience and keeps your brand in front of mind.

Respond to Feedback

Responding to feedback, whether positive or negative, opens up a platform for conversation between you and your subscribers. It validates your authenticity. Answering to questions, comments and reviews shows that you’re a real person who cares not only about the information that you are putting out there but also how it is received. Prove to your subscribers that their opinion is appreciated. Don’t just say thank you – responding to negative feedback gives you credibility. It will also help you to recognise and understand where there is room for improvement.

Whether you’re an established influencer looking to elevate and expand your current business, or you’re a self-taught superstar trying to figure out where to start (or neither, we believe this guide will help any aspiring influencer) we hope this guide has given you some useful insights into the marketing side of the industry.

Remember – in this industry, success is measured by audience engagement, so if you want to thrive, be genuine with your followers.

 

Credit – Thea Fraser

Temp Employees: The Last Minute Superheroes You Didn’t Know You Needed

You know the situation: the work is piling up. Morale is flickering. Your employees are waning. The struggle is real. You need an efficient way to strengthen your workforce – but time is of the essence. Who can you turn to? What do you do?

…CALL A TEMP!

That’s right: temp staff are out there to save you in times of trouble. They are untapped heroes; valuable resources sitting silently at the side-lines, waiting patiently to increase your productivity, improve your flexibility, and keep you moving along the right trajectory in times of transition. Whether you need a candidate to provide specialist knowledge and skills for a specific project, or to reinforce your team during times of peak trade, believe us when we say there’s someone out there with the right skill set to fill that yawning employment gap.

As far as we’re aware, the benefits of hiring temp staff are infinite – but let’s just stick to five in this instance, shall we?

Temporary doesn’t mean inexperienced.

Temporary staff are often brought in to help deliver a project in a timely fashion. One common misconception is that because their work is conducted over a short-term period, a compromise on quality follows. In fact, this is rarely the case. If you require a specialist in a particular area, there are thousands of temps with expert qualifications and years of experience under their belts. Hiring a temp saves you time and money on unnecessary training – and the job is still completed by a qualified professional.

Access to new skills.

Candidates who temp regularly have had exposure to a wider variety of company cultures than most, and can therefore comfortably approach a new work environment with fresh perspectives and an accomplished skill set. Experienced temps can often bring a new injection of energy to an already existing team without drastically affecting the overall dynamic. Both temporary and permanent members of staff can also learn from one another in exchanging best practice, which may save you future training costs.   

Take action immediately.

Most temporary staff can start almost immediately. If you’ve had an unexpected absence, need cover for maternity, or demand for your services has reached a sudden peak, hiring temp staff is a swift and cost-effective way to provide much-needed back up. Once you’ve teamed up with the right recruitment agency (ahem), finding the right temp is straightforward; no tedious interview process, no vetting through references, and no waiting for lengthy notice periods. Fast track hiring means signing up for immediate impact.

Control your costs.

Taking on temps can be a real lifesaver when you find yourself in need of emergency cover. This is partially because it allows you to take on additional staff without increasing your permanent head count and cost. Additionally, temp staff cater to the specific needs of the business – but only for as long as they’re needed – meaning you don’t have to budget for an entire salary. Recruiting agencies may even offer benefits to temporary staffers, meaning that you could save further costs on insurances, paid sick leave and pensions.

Eliminate the risk of a bad hire.

Taking on a temp contract will give you the time to find a strong candidate for a permanent position, as sourcing the right person for a role can be a lengthy process. Temp staff can help to alleviate some of the pressure on the rest of the team while providing you with extra time to find the right person. Temp contracts will also allow you to see how a candidate may or may not acclimatise to your environment. Consider it an unspoken trial period, if you like. Should they prove to be a valuable asset to the team and someone who you can really see flourishing in your business in the long run, then go ahead and offer them a permanent position. If it doesn’t feel quite right, no harm done – the end of their contract is already on the horizon.

So, when you next find that times are tough and demand is high, remember that you can always call on a temp. They might just be the short notice saviour you need to fight inefficiency and protect your workforce from burnout.

Credit: Thea Fraser [Edited by Clare Toner]

Be More Beyoncé

Once, I read that Beyoncé used to run a mile on a treadmill whilst singing continuously. As someone who feels breathless when merely casting a glance in the general direction of gym apparatus, I find that impressive. But perhaps that doesn’t surprise you – she is the Queen B, after all.

Because some people just have it all, don’t they? Nothing, it seems, is beyond their reach. They see it, they want it, they get it – and they do with a winning smile and the kind of ease that renders us indignant, wondering where exactly it all went wrong for us normal-folk.

But here’s the catch: Beyoncé wasn’t born famous. She might be a superstar – an icon, even – but the truth is, she’s a mere mortal, with 24 hours in a day to play with, just like the rest of us.

What does this mean? It means that achieving excellence isn’t about having more luck than blood coursing through your veins. It means that perhaps the sought-after charmed life isn’t as mysterious as we think. In other words, being your best self isn’t a matter of good fortune, but a formulaLet’s see if we can break it down.

Be Ambitious. Beyoncé didn’t get to where she is today by accident. She’s grafted, setting ambitious goals and using a combination of hard work, strong willpower and sheer determination to make herself one of the world’s greatest performers. While I personally believe that my own singing powers are best kept within the four walls of my shower, Beyoncé’s unwavering dedication has helped me to realise that no matter who you are, there is always room for improvement. She’s taught me not to let doubts or fear of failure hold me back. There are always more things to learn, research and analyse. Pushing yourself to progress within your chosen discipline is the key to gaining authentic self-belief.

Stay motivated. “As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am.” – Beyoncé: The Billboard Music Awards Q&A.

It’s one thing to climb to the peak of your ability and show the world that you are the best at what you do. It’s another to maintain the ability to deliver quality work with passion, consistency and vigour. Beyoncé has never allowed her accomplishments to make her complacent. She keeps pushing, continuing to explore her limits. In doing so, she continues to evolve. While this has certainly stood her in good stead from a financial perspective, it is unlikely that money is Beyoncé’s sole motivator. Knowing how to spot opportunities for development over the course of your career – then seizing them – will not only bring personal fulfilment, but also help you gain wisdom through the learning process.

A healthy work/life balance.  Despite being a global superstar with a ferocious work ethic, Beyoncé still finds time for her family and friends. She may adopt her sassy persona on stage, but when she’s home she is a mother, daughter, sister and a wife. I believe that no matter what line of work you’re in, having a boundary between work life and home life is imperative. It keeps you grounded, it keeps you healthy, and it keeps you happy. If the demands of Beyoncé’s career allow her to maintain a healthy work/life balance, then yours should too!

Understand the value of a strong team. This is perhaps the most important feature of the superstar formula. Beyoncé has been able to achieve all that she has because she has a strong team behind her.  She trusts the people around her – and they return that trust. If you believe that Beyoncé could have achieved all that she has without her strong support network, think again! Teamwork is an incredibly powerful tool that should be utilised at every opportunity.

Cultivate your alter-ego. Until fairly recently, Beyoncé’s used her on-stage persona, Sasha Fierce, to enable her to overcome her nerves and own the limelight. While this self-assured, sassy and feisty alter-ego gave Beyoncé the assurance she needed to have her ‘UH OH-ing’ her way into millions of hearts and minds, we no longer hear too much about Sasha. Beyoncé has evidently become more comfortable with who she is both on and off stage over a period of time – but having that persona in the earlier stages of her career clearly helped her to overcome her initial discomfort. Whether you’ve got a big presentation coming up or you’re expected to speak in that dreaded quarterly board meeting, creating and cultivating your own alter-ego might not be a bad idea to help you face your fears and give you the confidence boost you need.

Beyoncé is a global superstar and whether you love her or hate her, you can’t deny that her resolve, strength of character and work ethic are admirable. Fear not – I don’t intend to crack out a microphone in my local gym any time soon. I simply wanted to share a few admirable traits of Beyoncé which I’ve taken into account to help me achieve my personal goals. Can you make the formula work for you?

Credit: Thea Fraser [Edited by Clare Toner]

My Date With Glee

Picture it.

You’re waiting in a café to meet them for the first time. Out of courtesy you’ve arrived early. You’re a little apprehensive – though you know they’re interested. The minute your profile caught their eye, they’ve been in hot pursuit of you. You’ve had missed calls, friendly texts – even an email. Once the two of you got talking, you agreed a face to face meeting was the next obvious step.

The thing is, as usual, you don’t know what to expect. A quick run through your mental roster reminds you of some off-putting previous encounters. You’ve met your fair share of those slick, pushy types. All glib flattery and no substance, giving you a feeling that they’re using well-rehearsed moves on you. That uneasy sense that they’re using you as a means to an end; a quick fix to fulfil their immediate needs. Sure, they have the gift of the gab…which they use liberally, jumping in and talking over you whenever you try to tell them a bit about yourself. They make assurances with bravado, but skirt around your attempts to dig a little deeper, always giving answers which seem suspiciously vague.

Then again, meeting a relative stranger in the flesh always brings an element of uncertainty. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you wouldn’t be here if you were content with your current situation. Maybe you feel a passing niggle of disloyalty – but it’s just a lunch, really, isn’t it? An innocent bite to eat, while you casually put out the feelers for what else is out there. There’s no crime in exploring your options, after all.

Because lately, things have felt a little stale. A little…off. It all seemed so great at first, but now it’s almost like you’re part of the furniture. You rack your brains, trying to think of the last time you were made to feel truly appreciated. Six months ago? A year? Longer?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who you can rely on? Someone who cares about your well-being in the long-term?

No need for further conjecture: they’ve arrived. From the get go, things are looking promising.

They certainly don’t seem like the others. For starters, it’s clear they’re genuinely interested in what you want. There’s no silky promises, no indication that they think they know what’s best for you before they’ve tried to get to know you. You immediately get the sense that you can trust them, though you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. Perhaps it’s all those insightful questions they’re asking relating to your previous conversations, or the way they lean in and listen to your answers without hastening to interrupt. Maybe it’s that their undivided attention has reminded you of your worth, making you recognise why you put yourself out there in the first place.

You realise you don’t want things to end here. How could you, when you’re starting to get the sense that you’ve found The One?

That special someone who knows to be tactfully honest with you when things don’t quite go your way. The type of person who cares about your future, and will do everything in their means to help you move forward. Someone who you can see yourself building a real, long-term relationship with. At last, you’ve bagged yourself the real deal. No one ever said that finding the recruitment consultant of your dreams was easy.

But isn’t it worth it to live happily ever after?

Do you feel ready to grab your briefcase and run off into the sunset? Then give us a call on 0121 631 1751.

 

Credit – Clare Toner

“Birmingham, I choose you!” – Why Birmingham is the best location for Channel 4 new HQ

At this point it’s pretty common knowledge that Channel 4 are looking to move a fair few jobs (300 plus, according to reports). To create a new ‘National HQ’ outside of London. But the question on everyone’s lips, where? Well, why not Birmingham. West Midlands Growth Company have put forward a pretty compelling bid to the government and Channel 4 as to why Birmingham should be its new home. So we here at Gleeson thought we’d also put our 2 pence in and list a few reasons why Birmingham is the ideal new destination for Channel 4.

So let’s get into it:

Birmingham from the sky
Birmingham from the sky

More Businesses Are Moving Into Birmingham

Big firms in London such as HSBC and Barclays are moving more of their business into the city centre. The West Midlands in general has more businesses being created than any other area of the country. With affordable office space all over the city, it makes Birmingham an attractive location for relocation. With 90% of the UK market within 4 hours of travelling distance, a central location makes Birmingham the perfect city!

Speaking of entertainment channels moving their work to Birmingham, the BBC moved all of its social media and digital work for BBC Three into the Mailbox earlier this year. So there is already a strong case study as to why Channel 4 can also benefit from a Birmingham move.

Birmingham Is the UK’s Most Investable City!

In a report published by the University of Birmingham, as a result of heavy investment into the city and surrounding area over the last 10 years, Birmingham has been referred to as offering what is often described as ‘a cosmopolitan lifestyle without the price tag’.

If you want to see proof of investment in the city, just walk into Grand Central train station (The result of a £600m investment) or take a trip by Snow Hill and see the construction of new office buildings. These projects are allowing more retail businesses to move into the city and reap the rewards of the ever growing population and their disposable income.

The Channel 4 HQ in Birmingham would be one of the biggest investments into the cities development of not only its infrastructure but its people too. An investment of this size for culture and media would

A Rich History of Culture and Diversity

 All you have to do is go into the past, to the weekend of the 26th and 27th of May for Birmingham Pride festival to show how diverse the city is, Birmingham is on average one of the youngest and most culturally diverse cities in Europe.

With a rich and multicultural population where around 124 languages are spoken, it would be easy for Channel 4 to find people from different cultural backgrounds to help curate their original content and help them target all audiences in the UK. Of course, we here at Gleeson would be more than happy to help resource and place these potential candidates into the Channel 4 family.

Hotbed of Digital & Tech Talent

“Greater Birmingham has the most tech and digital businesses of any core city in the UK outside of London” As we probably know more than anybody, there is a large influx of digital and tech talent in and around Birmingham with companies heavily recruiting right now in the region. With tens of thousands of students graduating from some of the top universities in the country, it’s not hard to see why. At Gleeson, we are seeing a large influx of high level graduates seeking employment in Birmingham, as a result of the development of digital and tech companies in the area. With the city having places such as the Innovation Hub and Silicon canal, Birmingham is starting to carve its identity as a ‘Tech and Digital’ city. Channel 4 moving into the city would cement that identity.

*We’ve also got Universities that are top ranked for film production and creative writing too. So that definitely helps!

A lot of Startup companies

Birmingham also has the highest number of startup ventures in any city outside of London in the UK. From creative to tech, professional services to retail, startups are helping to reaffirm the fact that this city and region is a cauldron for innovation and development across a whole host of different sectors and industries. With the city hoping that Channel 4 brings it business here, this is a KEY selling point. As you can see the strengths in the digital and creative industries for Channel 4 to collaborate on for key projects.

We’re seeing this first hand, with more smaller businesses and startup companies in the Birmingham area looking for candidates who can become key assets in the early inception of their business development.

The Future is Bright, But Channel 4 Can Make It Brighter

With more investment planned for the city and surrounding areas mapped out for the next 20 years, it’s pretty easy to see why the future is so bright for Birmingham and how it is probably the most attractive proposition for Channel 4 to take under serious consideration.

HS2, Commonwealth games, continuous property development and the Birmingham Smithfield regeneration project. These are just some of the exciting projects that will solidify the status of ‘Second City’. This means a higher creation in jobs and development of key skills over the next few years as a result.

So, Channel 4 – it’s time to end the search for your second National HQ. The wonderful city of Birmingham awaits!

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If you have any job needs for marketing or digital. Please feel free to view the list of roles we are currently recruiting for and how you can contact us directly here

Credit: Dan Krishan

The GRG Guide to Interview Prep

There are two basic premises in the approach to interview prep, which can be summed up in the following (admittedly clichéd) expressions.

  1. Better safe than sorry.
  2. It’s not rocket science.

To summarise: be as prepared as possible – but don’t overthink it.

Kick things off by getting in touch with the kind soul who arranged your interview and have a run through the basics. That means ensuring you have a detailed job description, finding out who’s conducting the interview (and more importantly, what their expectations are), and verifying what the office dress code is.

A word on office dress code.

In this diverse and vibrant world that we live in, there are many occasions where you’ll have the opportunity to express yourself through the medium of fashion. Unless the real inner you could be described as an extremely smart, clean, and capable member of society, an interview is not one of these occasions.

This means nothing with marks, stains or creases. This means no extravagant head wear. No feather boas. No leathers. No masks. This means erring on the polished side of common sense – whatever the office dress code is.

By the way: an office with ‘no dress code’ does not translate as an excuse for you to saunter in, grinning, in ripped jeans and flip flops as you smugly flash every tattoo in your repertoire. As far as interviews go, ‘no dress code’ simply means ‘something slightly less formal than a full suit’. You’ll still need a shirt or a blouse, and that garment will still need to be clean and pressed. And yes, you will still need to polish your shoes.

Company research.

Don’t fall into the trap of preparing for questions which only relate to your suitability for the role itself. The interviewer will have expected you to have done your research on the company. Thanks to the internet, this shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Try these on for size…

  • How big is the company? When was it founded? Do they have multiple offices?
  • What do they have to say about their products/services?
  • What are their core values?
  • Are there any recent developments that you could bring up during the interview?

Interviewer research.

If you’ve got the name of your interviewer, have a peruse on LinkedIn and see if you can track them down. Then proceed to do a little (light) research. I will reiterate: there is no need to delve too deep here. Cyber-stalking might seem like a bit of harmless fun, but you don’t want to pick up too much irrelevant knowledge. You could mention that you both went to the same university, for instance, but there’s no need to bring up the fact that you both worked in a supermarket when you were 16. Yes, shelf-stacking is monotonous, and yes, it might well have hindered the trademark teenage joys of sitting in a local park listening to the gentle clink of a Bacardi Breezer bumping against your braces – but really, such grievances are neither here nor there.

On the subject of not taking it too far, make sure you stick to LinkedIn only when doing background research on your interviewer. Starting an intimate Instagram or Facebook-fuelled trawl through their personal life will most likely work to your detriment. Casually throwing in the name of their household pet or hastening to tell the interviewer that you’re right for the role on the basis that you, a Libra, are compatible with them, an Aquarius, will – at best – alarm them. So, when it comes to social media platforms, keep it strictly business, and use it only to determine things like how long they’ve been at the company, how swiftly they’ve progressed there, and whether they’ve been commended for anything lately.

Conjure up some success stories.

Don’t lie, obviously; but think of a couple of occasions throughout your life which give you a vague stirring of pride and boil them down into three compact tales of achievement. Such accounts will make you memorable and will help to verify traits that are difficult to quantify – like using your initiative, judgment or ability to work in a team to tackle a challenge.

Go to bed.

Not fully dressed, face down on the sofa, hand plunged into a half-empty bag of Doritos. Your interview outfit should be laid out, alongside your scuff-free shoes. Alarms and back-up alarms should be set. You’ll need to know exactly how you’re going to get there, and how long it will take you. Once you’ve figured this out, tack on an extra half-hour to mitigate any hold ups. It is incredibly unlikely that the interview will go well if you arrive late.

Would you like to put this process into action? Take a look at the jobs we are currently recruiting for here.

Credit – Clare Toner

The Intern ‘Work-Study-Life’ Balance

Since last June, we’ve had the pleasure of taking on our first ever Marketing Intern, Leah Miller! As part of learning at work week, we thought we’d take the opportunity to interview her about her experience.

Why did you choose to do a placement year?

I thought a placement year would be an excellent opportunity to gain actual industry experience before I graduate. Obviously, when you’re in a classroom, it’s all very theoretical, but I think it’s important to understand what working is like and how to put theory into practice. I think it’s hard enough for graduates to find a job as it is, but even harder if you have no experience, so it makes sense to take a year out.

Could you tell us a bit more about your course?

Most people who decide to do a sandwich degree do the placement year in their third year and go back to university for the fourth year.

However, my university offered the opportunity to combine the final year of studying while doing a placement. When I saw this, I thought: great. It’s essentially saving me a year of my time and provides the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace.

How did you manage to learn everything for university?

Before I started my placement with Gleeson Recruitment Group, we had block teaching for four weeks, and we learnt 80% of our final year content. Then we were left to do the assignments – including a dissertation. In January, I then went back for one last week of teaching. So essentially my whole final year was condensed into the space of 5 weeks!

How have you found it so far?

In all honesty, I underestimated how challenging it would be. As soon as I left school, I worked part-time jobs in addition to full-time education; I remember thinking: surely this can’t be too different?

This has been completely different. I really underestimated the challenge of working full-time whilst completing my final year of university.

As the year has gone on, I’ve gotten used to working 9-5 and then coming home and completing work from 6pm-10pm. I do often feel like the work is never-ending and like I’m always trying to finish. I’ve been able to keep focused on the bigger picture and think I’m quite lucky that I have saved a year of my time by doing a sandwich degree this way.

Do you have any advice for someone who also has to balance work and study?

Here are three of my personal tips:

  1. Procrastinating isn’t something that you can afford to do in this situation. When you get the work, do it straight away. The last thing you want is to be stressing about deadlines when you’ve got a full-time job to go to.
  2. But with that being said, you have to find time for yourself. Make sure you still have a social life and go out with your friends and family. If it makes you feel better, then have a day to binge-watch Game of Thrones to give your mind a rest.
  3. Don’t let your sleeping pattern go down the drain – pulling together your dissertation at 2 in the morning may seem like a reasonable idea when you have nothing to do the next day, but when you start work at nine it’s far from ideal!

Would you say it’s been worth it?

Yes, definitely – I think more students at university should take a year out to do a placement because it puts you in a much better position for when you do graduate. Not only that but if you start working for a specific business function (e.g. HR) and decide you don’t like it, then you have the chance to move on and do something else.

My Millennial Mentor

Let’s have a quick recap of what life was like for a budding recruitment consultant in 2007.

Email had only just superseded the fax machine as the gold standard of communication (fearful myths that each one cost 10p to send had run rampant up until this point). A Collins page-per-day A4 diary was combined with two inches of laminated card to form a ‘manual’. Access was provided to a database with over 10,000 contacts, alongside a hardwired phone and instructions to pick up the Yellow Pages and “make sh*t happen”. A very basic form of LinkedIn had just snapped into existence. Recruitment, it seemed, was simple. Hit a letter picked at random on the database, acquire a client, longlist, shortlist, interview and place the role.  One hundred calls a day. A new client every week. I lived and breathed KPIs. I was – at best – a trained telephone monkey.

Over the next 10 years, I persisted and became more efficient. 100 dials a day became 50; I knew who to call and when. While I felt that I was improving at my job, my methods of communicating and sourcing information still needed work. Meanwhile, change crept in – and for too long, I didn’t notice. The market became saturated. Recruiters with the same tired message were bombarding hiring managers with voicemails that they didn’t want and didn’t need. The keepers to the iron gates had learned to identify recruiters by tone. One by one, the gates closed. Subtle changes took hold so gradually that it was hard to see that the entire landscape had shifted while I was obliviously rooted to the same spot I’d been taught to stand in. Everything, it seemed, was now a case of luck over judgement.

Technically speaking, I’m a millennial. But a millennial taught by the old guard. My mentors were good – but their way of thinking was entrenched in a system that was old before I’d arrived. I followed orders, delivered against metrics and generated revenue. What had I brought to the party in terms of new ideas during that time? Had I changed the industry? Revolutionised the way companies partner with recruitment firms? Broken new ground in any way?

No.

Which meant that it was probably a good time to start.

I wasn’t necessarily seeking a millennial, but I’m a firm believer in hiring those who are smarter and more driven than you. Nonetheless, a young millennial felt risky. I’d seen similar hires made by previous companies. Promising interviews followed by individuals smacking of entitlement, no work ethic, and the frustrating sense that they were just along for the ride. I went ahead with it anyway.

My millennial was a graduate from a top-tier university. He was clearly intelligent and had enough of a spark for commerce to ease my concerns. I did my best over the following months to indoctrinate in him the proven method that had worked since the dawn of recruitment. I taught him cold calls and prime selling time ethos. I shared the methodology and persistence that had ‘successfully’ won clients for the last 10 years. In response, I was given a host of quizzical looks, blunt accusations of inefficiency and an endless reel of “WHY?!” On a wholesale basis, he attacked our way of life. Eat, sleep, prep, repeat – under review. Initially, it didn’t sit well with either of us. I felt that he was all about shortcutting a proven process. He felt that I was a dinosaur.

He wore a wireless headset, sauntered around the office with total freedom, submitted eye-watering expenses, gave up paper and blogged about it. BLOGGED! What is blogging? Giving away trade secrets? Highlighting your client base to competitors? A means of shaving hours off prime selling time for a cause with no immediate impact on producing opportunities? This was a young man who did things his own way with no regard for the rules. Proven rules. Rules that formed the basis of my existence.

And yet. He was winning new clients that I’d been calling on for years. He was turning candidates who’d been previously difficult to manage into consummate allies (not to mention drinking partners). He was getting the kind of recommendations that you’d kill for on LinkedIn.  He’d swan off to his club for the day but would host eight meetings with eight conversions.  Within a couple of months, candidates he’d worked with but not placed were fighting his cause in their new companies.  As far as classical recruitment goes, that just doesn’t happen.

His methods felt obscure, but they were brining success of a level and quality that was just too remarkable to ignore. He’d brought new ideas about digital engagement, taken all of our information into a collaborative cloud format, and piloted and implemented a team messaging tool that made Outlook look like a wounded carrier pigeon. His blogs were gaining traction, and clients were beginning to be won via digital engagement.  The wins certainly weren’t quick, but they were good – as engagement grew, relationships were cemented, and the clients respected his opinion because it was informed.

The change struck on a cold Tuesday evening, about four months into his tenure. After a day of thankless cold, warm and ‘hot’ calls interjected with unanswerable “why’s” from my millennial, I felt antiquated and out of touch with the industry I’ve known for a good proportion of my working life.

The previously murky situation had now become clear: I needed to evolve.

Over the last few months, I’ve embraced new ways of working smarter while still focusing on the high intensity work ethic I grew up with. Instant messaging has become an integral part of my working life; I manage data more efficiently in the cloud, I approach prospects with more knowledge and a genuine value proposition. New clients are being won – and existing partnerships are flourishing.

The future looks bright for my millennial and I.  He’s a driver of change with fresh ideas and no qualms about questioning the status quo. Does he make mistakes? Absolutely. But through this process, my vision of what it means to be a mentor has changed. My working practices have been updated, and consequently, I’ve been brought singing and dancing into the digital age. I’ve learned a lot from this experience and would thoroughly recommend hiring a Millennial – not to train and drill, but to encourage them to bring in new ideas, to drive business and transformation.

I’m an old dog, and I’ve learnt new tricks.

Credit – James Martin [Edited by Clare Toner]

“We’re Going To Be Okay”- How To Effectively Deal With Stress

Run a fine-toothed comb through your memories and see if you can recall the last time you were in combat. Not even that, actually – see if you can think of the last time you were in a situation where you felt like your survival was under threat (heads up: your local pub being bulldozed and replaced with a retirement complex does not count). Unless you were raised by a diehard intrepid Bear Grylls admirer, you probably don’t have a large selection of instances to mull over. Modern society certainly has its drawbacks – overpopulation, climate change, the grim fact that we’re all willing slaves to a sinister technological matrix – but one key perk is that we don’t normally encounter feral animals and have to decide between running for the hills and engaging in physical battle to protect ourselves. Say what you like about 2018 and all the woes that accompany it, but I think it’s a nice touch.

In spite of this, that retro instinct which is fondly known as the fight or flight response is still very much locked into our systems – and continues to (needlessly) torment us. Since our prehistoric days, we’ve at least coined a slightly snappier term for it: stress. We may have moved on from our hunter-gatherer phase, but it seems that we’re still up to our eyeballs in the stuff. The fact that we usually aren’t in life-threatening situations can mean that we don’t even recognise when it’s affecting us. Try and tune in to what you’re doing right now. Is the hand clutching your cuppa white-knuckled and trembling? Would you be able to comfortably slot a packet of chewing gum in the gap between your shoulders and earlobes? Have you had any recent inclinations to tear hanks of hair from your scalp and fling them to the ground with wild abandon?

These are all valid questions which are worth asking. Knowing that you are stressed is a good start to becoming less stressed. But now comes the tricky query: what should you do when the stress gets to be too much?

The answer’s obvious, really, isn’t it. What does any sentient 21st century being do when they’re unsure about anything? (I mean literally anything?)

There we go (I’ll do it for you, on this occasion). Pop ‘stress relief’ into Google’s search bar…don’t be shy…and cue an immeasurable selection of stress management tips (by immeasurable, I mean just over 5 million). The websites roll on and on and on. There are, apparently, over 5 million ways to go about helping yourself wind down. Here are a couple of the easiest ones to weave into your daily routine.

Walking

We celebrated Walk to Work day on the 6th April – and with good reason. Walking’s great! Psychologists have found that a 10-minute walk can boost your endorphins as much as a 45-minute workout. Seeing as endorphins act as a natural painkiller and improve the quality of our sleep, this is a nice, fairly easy option that you can put into action straight away. If your workplace is too far out to feasibly walk to, try parking that bit further away from your building, getting off the bus a stop earlier, or taking yourself on a 20-minute stroll at lunchtime.

Music

This is quite possibly the least taxing stress reliever of all, requiring you to make no demands on yourself beyond popping in your headphones when you’re next on the go. Music has been found to reduce levels of the key stress hormone, cortisol. Studies have shown it to be more effective than drug at reducing anxiety in patients about to undergo surgery – so chances are it’ll help to ease your tension too.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy might require a mini investment in scented homeware, but it’s a great way to unwind while multi-tasking on other things. While a traditional oil burner would almost certainly be seen as a fire hazard in the workplace (few things are more stressful than being dubbed the office arsonist), aromatherapy diffusers release a soothing stream of scented mist and don’t involve an open flame. As far as the essential oils go, lavender oil, yuzu citrus scent, and bergamot essential oil have all been found through clinical studies to lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure.

Yoga or Meditation

While yoga and meditation are different – meditation being an aspect of yoga that deals with mental relaxation and concentration – they both fall under the bracket of MBI’s (mind-body interventions). MBI’s go a step beyond helping us relax – they’ve been proven to help us change for the better at a molecular level. Studies have found that they actually cause our brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our general wellbeing. Whether you want to start attending a yoga class once a week with a friend, or slotting in a quick morning meditation session during your commute by downloading an app like Headspace, Mindfulness, or Calm, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly the psychological benefits kick in.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855.php

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/14/workplace-stress-hans-selye

https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1

https://www.coventry.ac.uk/primary-news/meditation-and-yoga-can-reverse-dna-reactions-which-cause-stress-new-study-suggests-/

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlynn-wei-md-jd/6-aromatherapy-essential-_b_9805630.html

Credit – Clare Toner

Recruiting Software Sales Astronauts

Like many children, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Well really, I wanted to be a “Space Man”.  My room was filled with planets, stars and rockets; I loved the science, but really loved the idea of exploration.  This is an idea many people love: we all know the mission statement of the Starship Enterprise, to go boldly where no one has been before.

As part of my dream, I had a pop-up book which contained a small speaker that – upon a push – played one line of John F Kennedy’s 1962 speech at Rice Stadium.  “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

Why is a headhunter writing about moons and myths?  What is the relevance today? 

Because, often, I work on ‘first man’ roles.  The typical profile looks something like this:  With a product that will revolutionise the way some of the world’s largest companies operate, an American tech start-up raises millions (sometimes hundreds) of dollars in investment, continues developing their tech towards commercial reality, and brings in a commercial leader to set a global strategy for shifting a tech-focussed business to bringing in revenue.

Different companies work out their expansion differently, of course.  Many focus on growth in America, but more typically they become international at the earlier opportunity.  In the absolute antithesis of the village shop, cross-continental expansion is an urgent priority.  Despite software being an incredibly easy product to deploy internationally, and despite the rise of ‘remote’ business, expansion is still a territorial game. 

When the decision is made to plant a flag in new ground, you need somebody to put it there.  And this is where I come in.

A search for the right ‘Astronaut’  is a complicated one.  You’re looking for a genuine commercial pioneer who has familiarity with, and a track-record of success in, the company’s industry, but also someone who is prepared to take (at least in the short-term) a step backwards in terms of operational support, market presence, and likely earnings.  You’re looking for someone who can not only implement a strategy but build it, who can get back to doing bits of the job they stopped doing years ago.  You’re looking for a sales-focussed entrepreneur who understands business growth and the operational impacts upon it, a team leader.  In comparison, landing on the moon seems easy; after all, that’s just science.

When I discuss hiring for a Pioneer to go boldly where no one (from their company) has been before, I always add ‘low-risk’ to the priority list of the brief.  Low-risk can be erroneously perceived as unexciting, even boring, but the financial and strategic outlay on a first man warrants guaranteeing – as much as possible – that the person hired can execute the position to maximal potential.  With pioneers, there’s always a risk of going down in a blaze of fire and glory, but not all can afford a second or third attempt. 

There is a unique relationship between a business and the first man in a territory he is responsible for growing, a fusion of personal and business brands.  This begs the question, what are we looking to establish when considering the likelihood of success in these roles?

Does the candidate understand there is more to business than revenue?

Have they added meaningful value beyond the job description in previous roles?

Do they have a growth mindset?

Is the individual resilient enough to cope with endless rejections, daily tasks (e.g. getting meetings) being far more difficult than before, and trial-and-error changes in strategy from the hierarchy?

Are they seen among peers as an industry expert?

Do you have the ability to take part of a working framework and shape it around a new value proposition?

Do you have the ability to (and interest in) drive good practice in others?

Our qualification begins here and is a continual process of learning and re-evaluation to facilitate our clients finding the ideal candidate, maximising the likelihood of a successful launch.

But our clients also have to evaluate us.  Are we driven to do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard? Yes.  We do this because the hardest searches produce the most satisfying results.  Our track record is of clients securing highly-qualified talent expanding their business into uncharted space.  Our ‘Astronauts’ value our input, and respect our advice about the next leap.

Where do we sit in this now-convoluted analogy?  We’re mission control.

Escaping the Comfort Zone

I can’t do public speaking.

This was the first thought that crossed my mind when I was asked to speak to a group of MSC students as part of their Professional Development Programme a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those deeply entrenched, rarely contemplated Facts About Myself; like how you know if you suit hats, or whether or not you’re a fan of Marmite.

In some respects, it’s strange that the thought made me so nervous. Most people who know me see me as a confident person. Even my husband was perplexed. “Why? You love being in a crowd, you love speaking aloud, you love trying new things. It’s what makes you, you.”

But this felt different, and it didn’t take me long to work out why. Public speaking meant pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Navigating a social situation is one thing and speaking not to, but at a large group of strangers is another. I felt like I’d be inviting them to judge me, and frankly, the idea filled me with unease.

But then I had another thought: maybe that’s the point. If there’s one thing that getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t make you feel, it’s secure. And on the subject, what exactly did I think I’d been doing for the last decade? Kicking back and relaxing?

In 2008, I was fed up with being in my comfort zone. I upped sticks from the sleepy Lincolnshire town I’d grown up in. I left my safe, reliable job of 8 years. I moved to Birmingham – an unfamiliar city, where the only familiar resident was my sister. I started a new job. I pushed myself so far outside my comfort zone that all the things that once seemed daunting became the new norm.

Professionally, over the last 10 years, I’ve spoken at events, networked, presented at pitches, and lead proposals. I’ve headed up projects, I’ve volunteered, I’ve ran training events. In group discussions, I’ve forced myself to push past the initial discomfort of sharing the experience and knowledge that I have. The confidence that people see in me wasn’t always there: I’ve built it up. Even now, as part of my monthly leadership development course at Aston Business School, I find myself meeting new people and trying new things nearly constantly.

The same follows for my personal life. In 2016, I joined a running club. Not long afterwards, I ran the Birmingham half-marathon – something I would never have thought I could do. A year later, I ran the London marathon. I haven’t always been a passionate runner, but I wanted to keep pushing myself. Above all, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

When the time came for me to speak at the event, I realised something as soon as I got up there and started speaking: it was ok! I stood there, facing my fears – and it wasn’t half as bad as I’d imagined. Getting outside your comfort zone can be an intimidating prospect, and it certainly takes a bit of practice. But whether you’re looking to do it for professional development or for your personal life, sometimes you just have to dredge up whatever self-belief you have in your arsenal and do the scary thing you’ve been putting off, because knowing you can do it makes it all worth it. As Henry Ford once said, “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

Is paperless possible?

“One man’s attempt to park the post-its, bin the biros and save the polar bears…

As a millennial, I am supposed to be digitally native.  I am meant to run a mile from real diaries and wired mice.  Having recently ordered a luxury Rolodex off eBay as a treat, I fall horribly short of the millennial ideal.

Much of my day-to-day work is done on post-it notes and on the backs of receipts (if you go for a long lunch, it is possible to get a good 30cm of writing material).  These bits of paper – for some unfathomable reason – often get mistaken for rubbish by the office cleaner and destroyed.  In my defence, the guaranteed destruction makes for an approach that is extremely compliant with data protection regulation, although HR currently refuse to accept this.

So as an unreconstructed millennial, I have set myself the challenge of going paper free for a week.  This is the story of one man’s attempt to park the post-its, bin the biros and avail himself of A4

Day One

Today was a Sunday, so the only real challenge has been the crossword.  I could erase embarrassing errors with ease, and was able to send a screenshot of tough clues to my Dad.  Most importantly, the nifty side-by-side multitasking on iPad allowed me to solve and cheat in seamless synchrony.

Paperless 1:0 Old School

Day Two
When people talk about the Cloud, I generally respond as I do to mechanics when they refer to car parts, by nodding and vacantly ‘mmm’ing agreement.  Managing files in the Cloud is a Black Art.  I spent most of today confused about what would land in my iCloud Drive and missing a ‘Save As’ button.

The major win for paperless today was in releasing me from the daily battle with a printer.  Loathsome things, I can never persuade a printer that it has ink (even when I’ve just replaced the cartridge) or to take paper from the tray with paper in it.

No more paper means no more printers.

Paperless 2:0 Old School

Day Three

Day three began with a session at Apple on how to ‘power my workday’ with iPad.  Totally free, bring-your-own-iPad tuition.  Apple run courses like this country-wide on all of their tech, including a regular session on programming Sphero to navigate a maze, sadly for children.

The man at Apple gently explained that some of yesterday’s difficulties were due to my own ineptitude rather than technical incapability.  He recommended a range of good apps and tailored his talk around my workflow.

That afternoon, I was pulling up handwritten notes on my computer, managing files in the Cloud with ease, and using software that could decipher even my scrawl.  In fact, today’s entry has been handwritten while stood up on the train.  A hands-down win for Paperless on workflow today.

Paperless 3:0 Old School

Day Four

Although in polite society it is considered rude to be on one’s phone in a meeting, I have discovered that no such taboo applies to being on a tablet – others just assume you’re being productive.

As I’ve never used a paper notebook that allows me to play Super Mario and come out of soporific meetings capable of coherent speech, today is a clear score for Paperless. However, it is important to always remember to put it on mute…

Paperless 4:0 Old School

 

 


Day Five

So far, Paperless has performed very well.  Meetings have been easier to prepare for, all of my notes have been in the same place, I can pick up work on my computer – the list goes on.

However, as smooth as the Apple Pencil is, it is no comparison against a Mont Blanc pen scratching across Smythson writing paper.  Video messages, personalised emojis, and other modern communicative innovations will always come second to the rich rustle of a tissue-lined envelope.  Sending letters also saves Postmen from complete obliteration, and a world without Postman Pat is too sad to bear.

Paperless 4:1 Old School

Day Six

Earlier in the paper-free week, I was sent the CV of an interviewee, which I duly reviewed and annotated.  Normally, I would have printed it off, made some scribbles and lost it.  Today, though, I was able to summon up my annotations through the wonderfully functional Word for iPad app and walk in prepared. 

This illustrates one of the key benefits of paperless life; it’s made me much better at staying on top of spinning plates.  I too often have ideas that I normally can’t record in the right place and as a paperless man, it has been easy to add those thoughts to previously-made notes.  The drawback of this is that many of my ideas would be better off forgotten. 

 Paperless 5:1 Old School

 

Day Seven

Headed off to the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race today, I thought it would be a nice idea to pop into my Club for a quick lunch.  It had quite slipped my mind, though, that Members are required to write their own bills in the Dining Room, which meant that for only the second time this week, I was forced to put pen to paper.

Today has to be a victory for Old School because although paperless is increasingly viable, a lot of the world is yet to catch up.

Paperless: 5:2 Old School

So is paperless possible?

I honestly didn’t expect that adjusting to paperless life would have come so easily to me, but it’s been perfectly possible with good hardware and increasingly functional apps.  After a week of rigorous assessment, Paperless beat Old School on 5 days, with Old School only clawing back 2 points. 

I am undeniably still enjoying the novelty, but there has been next to no faff to get files syncing nicely, multitasking on the iPad is a breeze and having all of my notes wherever I go has been hugely beneficial.  On the other hand, paper doesn’t run out of battery, and the wider world playing catch up can be a frustration. 

Essentially, though, if something eliminates both printing and filing, isn’t it worth a shot? 

Hardware: 10.5” iPad Pro, Apple Pencil & Logi ‘Slim Combo’ Case

Apps: Office Suite for iOS, iCloud Drive, Google Docs, MyScript Nebo, MyScript Stylus, Apple Notes

Credit – Jack Drury

Don’t Be a Hero: Have a Nap

Are you always tired?

  1. No
  2. Yes (miserable undertones)
  3. Yes (smug overtones)

If you answered a): good for you. You can probably stop reading here. I can only assume that you have a flair for looking after yourself or you’re a lucky, abnormal blip; a Margaret Thatcher-esque four-hours-a-night-is-quite-literally-all-I-need type. Whatever your method, well done. You’re defying the pressures of 21st century life and setting an admirable example. Go forth and spread your influence.

If you answered b): dear, oh dear. There you are, you poor, knackered thing, slowly re-reading the words as you try to crack your eyelids apart an extra millimetre. As the sentence finally sinks in you sag, body drooping tantalisingly closer to the floor, which is starting to look strangely, invitingly soft, like a marshmallow or, is it just you but…a mattress? Right, you: splash some water on your face and keep reading. This is an intervention.

If you answered c): prepare for a telling off – you are perpetuating this nightmare! A nightmare where no one even has the luxury of having a nightmare because they’re always fighting to be awake! Seriously though, there’s no pride in sleep deprivation. Especially not in March. Not in National Bed Month.

Now you’ve been ushered into your respective categories, I’ll be honest with you: whatever your sleepy status, it’s not really your fault. We didn’t mean to make ourselves this way. If we want to play the blame game, we can comfortably point the finger at the freakish surge in our reliance on technology (and also, the mentality surrounding business…we’ll get to that later). But whether you’re smug or miserable about your tiredness, one thing is certain – if you’re always shattered, you’re only damaging yourself.

We’re getting an average of 1-2 hours less sleep per night since the 1960’s. Which, I suppose, isn’t exactly galvanizing: after all, what did people even do before bed in the 1960’s? Browse the 3 available channels on a TV screen the size of a large stamp? Play cards? Even…dare I say…read?

Sure, when it comes to whiling away the wee hours before bedtime, technology is exceptionally handy. We all like having the option of limitless entertainment, of Netflix series that trickle on into eternity, of those inviting, bright little apps nestled on our home screens, just waiting for us to tap in and socialise without having to budge a physical inch. But being wired into short-length bluish light waves 24/7 isn’t great for our well-being. It messes with our internal body-clock, making us vulnerable to a host of pointedly not fun health conditions (to name a sinister few: heart-disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes). In day to day terms, the knock-on effects of tiredness inhibit our ability to focus and make decisions, and hugely boosts the likelihood of feeling lonely or helpless.

So, technology is not really helping the situation. But neither is the idea that the more successful you are, the less sleep you should be having (ahem: those who answered c). No one knows this better than the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, who – as a direct result of being overworked – fainted from exhaustion in 2007, incurring a broken cheekbone and 5 stitches above her right eye. Since then, she has resolutely campaigned to educate the public on the necessity of sleep. Why, she asks, do we deprive ourselves of rest, “in the mistaken, and costly, belief that success results from the amount of time we put into work, instead of the kind of time we put into work?”

She’s got a point. Why do we intertwine the concept of achievement with pushing ourselves to the brink of exhaustion? And why is it so deeply rooted in our attitude towards success in business? It certainly doesn’t translate well to other realms of the working world – no one wants to be operated on by a frazzled surgeon, just like how most of us wouldn’t be too keen on boarding a flight with a pilot who’d pulled an all-nighter. At some stage, we started to associate hard work with sleep-deprivation. And we probably need to work on undoing that.

But how to proceed with this issue? I won’t patronise you with a ‘go on your phone less’ (although really, we should go on our phones less). There’s a couple of lifestyle tweaks you could try, though. For instance, curbing the habit of replying to emails after you’ve left the office, or adjusting the lighting on your devices into ‘night’ or ‘flux’ mode, which at least spares our weary little square eyes from the ominous blue light. If you’re really hankering for a large-scale solution, you could tentatively suggest an office purchase of…a Nap Pod. That’s right: an ultra-futuristic chair designed specifically for you to have a brief, unselfconscious snooze in the workplace as and when you need. Pricey? Yes. An investment? Most definitely.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/healthadvice/10826909/Arianna-Huffington-Why-we-all-need-more-sleep.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10826999/People-sleeping-two-hours-less-than-in-1960s-risking-serious-health-problems.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kaytiezimmerman/2018/02/01/time-start-taking-naps-work/#45b830fe78b6

Credit – Clare Toner

MY DUAL CAREER FAMILY

I was enraged recently by a discussion overheard on a train between two women, and only the fact that we had just pulled into Birmingham New Street meant that these ladies didn’t get a piece of my mind!

The women were be-moaning the ‘working mother’….yes, I’ll let that sink in for a moment….women moaning about other women who are just trying to do their best for themselves and their families.

“Why aren’t they happy to stay at home?”

“We never even wanted to go back to work”

“They just want the next new car or another nice holiday” – this really is a quote from their chat!

“They all just do it for the money and neglect the poor kids”

Needless to say, I was livid. Things have changed a lot for women and families over the last thirty years. For a start, house prices and mortgages have risen to be such a larger percentage of income that it’s often not feasible for only one parent to work (and that’s just because we want a house to live in, not because we want another new car or nice holiday!).

Even more importantly, it would make no economic sense to discount more than 50% of the workforce and the skills that they have.

Mostly I was angry because I started thinking ‘what about me?’. I have studied hard through academia and worked hard in my professional life to be able to do a job that I enjoy and one where I feel I make a valued contribution. Whilst, at stressful times, I would love to stay at home, I get a lot of self-esteem from my career and wouldn’t want to not have this part of my life. I appreciate that being a working parent is not for everyone, and everyone chooses what is best for them and their family – but to make out that women are only working because they want more ‘stuff’ I found absurd.

It struck me recently at a dinner with the ‘School Mums’ how differently we all approach the career/life/kids balance. I know that is a really obvious statement…but there are so many different combinations of life/parenting and the thing that really stood out is just that we are all trying to do our best!

The media loves to pitch the ‘Stay at Home Mums’ against the ‘Career Mums’, the ‘Part-Time Mums’ are told that they can’t have it all and the ‘Single Parent Mums’ are told they should be at home.

IGemma would describe my immediate family set-up as ‘Dual Career’. My husband and I both work (although I work slightly fewer hours) and we are both passionate about our careers… but we are often at odds with each other and feeling like we are in a fight for our family’s resources – who stays home when the kids are ill, who’s meeting is more important when it’s a snow day, can one of us get off work early to collect if the other one is stuck at work? It’s a constant challenge and there are days when I envy the families where one parent is at home. But that wouldn’t be right for us. So we make sure that we keep talking, make sure that we listen to one another, plan and organise like we are on a military operation – and drink a lot of red wine. And that is not so we can have a nice car or a big holiday….it is so that we can both contribute, achieve our professional aims, have a nice family life and good mental health. Because that is what is best for us, and our family.

Credit – Gemma Saunders

 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2018

In celebration and recognition of International Women’s Day, we’ve updated our selection of career advice from women in leadership.

Here are their thoughts:

Best career advice I ever had:
‘Work hard, play hard and remember the cream will always rise to the top!
Ethics are the heart of a good leader’

Advice to my younger self:
‘Get a good mentor
Feedback is a gift, unwrap it carefully and make good use of it!’

Diana Boyes – Mission Foods – UK HRM

 

Best career advice I ever had:
‘Discover your strengths and play to your strengths. This will always be more fulfilling than attempting to develop your weaknesses.’

Advice to my younger self:
‘Don’t assume that because someone is more senior or more experienced that they are right in every instance. As long as your challenges are appropriate and behaviourally aligned to the business’s values, they can be valuable and encourage progress. A good leadership team will encourage this.’

Helen Swallow – Muller – Talent Supply Manager

 

‘Strong ethics and focus make perseverance and commitment all the easier in the rapid lifestyles we women carry out today. From the morning with the kids to the office breakfast meetings, delivering the vision and objectives and sustaining the momentum are the key strengths of women in command. The balance of a healthy work style is vital in order to enjoy the results.

Enjoy your learnings from your role(s) and take with you not only what you believe has allowed the business to succeed but also those alternatives which were not required. Change management is a moving target and it comes best to those who can actively assess the situation ahead of the curve. Share your opinions and discuss your concerns with your seniors and your colleagues to allow thinking outside the box and getting that input from somebody looking in.

Mentor individuals coming through the ranks, remember this was you once upon a time and engage in their learning and take interest in their ideas, empowering individuals with recognition and responsibility breeds positivity, be the manager that shows you care.’

Rita Khanna – Centrick Property – Finance Director

 

‘Treat people as you would wish to be treated – be that a candidate, client, team member or your boss, because how you treat people and how you make them feel is what you will be remembered for’

Monique Myers, Recruitment Manager, University of Birmingham

 

‘Go to work every day as if you are being interviewed or assessed for the role’

‘Enter the workday clear on the 3 things you need to achieve and what your unique purpose is and check off that what you are doing that day achieves those ends.’

‘Spend your time as you would spend your money – both are a finite resource so spend them well.’ 

Amanda Jones, HR Director, National Express

 

‘When looking at the year ahead try to do 6 big ticket items really well rather than trying to achieve over 20 moderately or not at all. Never underestimate the power of engaging people at all levels within your business all the time. Treat people well, with respect and with a smile. That way people will want to help you, be inspired by you and deliver for you.’

Jackie Dadge, Peoplepathe HR Consultancy.

 

‘Follow your passion and interest and be true to yourself as it’ll make you happier. Move out of your comfort zone to prove to yourself you can.’

Suzanna Prout, MD, Xenonex Ltd

 

‘Always leave a company with the same level of professionalism and commitment as when you started, no matter what the situation. Myself and about half a dozen others have now returned to tour organisation and it’s only because of the great relationships we had, and we’ve maintained, that the door was open for our warm and successful re-welcome!’

Sian Griffiths – Shiseido Group EMEA – HR Director UK & Ireland

 

‘1) Believe in yourself and don’t let your ‘inner critic’ talk you out of anything.  If you doubt yourself, gather the evidence to refute it and gain the skill set required to do it.

2) Put your head above the parapet and get involved with high profile projects or apply for promotions you’re interested in, don’t wait to be asked!

3) Do something you love and are passionate about, life’s too short to spend your working life doing something that doesn’t fulfill you!

The best bit of career advice I ever got was:

– Get a mentor and sponsor. Definitely helped me to get the profile I needed internally and externally.’

Debbie Meehan, Executive and Professional Career Coach, Papillon Consulting

 

‘The best career advice I can give anyone is to not be afraid to try something new – as women we definitely hold ourselves back by thinking we aren’t good enough or don’t have the right experience to try something new but that just isn’t true. You don’t need to be defined by the career path you took when you were 21.’

‘The other advice I would give is to always ask for help or advice.  If you have an interest in a different department at work then tell them and ask if you can find out more or spend the day with them.  If you want to change careers and would like more information then ask for it – there is nothing wrong with approaching a friend of a friend or even someone on LinkedIn and asking for advice – just be polite and grateful and offer to buy that person a coffee and you’d be amazed by how much advice you will get. You just have to ask!’

Feona Veys, Interim Resourcing Manager, Gambling Commission

 

‘Don’t just do what you are great at, do what you are passionate about; if you love what you do, you will always succeed.’

Sarah Fountain MCIPD, Director, odfconsulting Ltd.

 

‘In finance, your job will revolve around deadlines, but spreadsheets are no substitute for getting out into the business. Carve out time each month, on the factory floor, operational teams or sales teams, with the people that deliver the business.
If there is one thing I did in early my career, it was taking risks and opportunities. Be bold in your choices.
Try different roles and business sectors. Understand where your strengths lie, and what makes a job enjoyable for you.
Poor managers focus on criticism, and women are particularly guilty of “doing good works quietly”. Own your successes, and others will recognise it too.’

Donna Hardie, Finance Director

 

‘As a senior female, and often the only one in the room, I’ve never let that be ‘the thing’. I am there because I have a role to play in some key strategic discussions, regardless of my gender, and I have a valuable contribution to make… I still wear pink shoes though!’

Kirsty Pitcher, HR Director, Organisation & Talent Development, JLR

 

Thank you very much to all of our contributors for their thoughts and advice.

If you would like to have a confidential career advice chat then feel free to get in touch!

MAD MEN’S WOMEN

Do we all watch Mad Men?

If you don’t, you’re missing out. There is a gaping Mad Men shaped hole in your life. I implore you to fill it. Cancel your dinner plans, pilfer something fleecy and clear out your Skybox. Until you’ve witnessed the subtle genius of this uber polished sixties throwback, you are not allowing your enjoyment of television to reach its full, glorious potential.

For those who are hesitant, I may as well sell it honestly and divulge that Mad Men is, quite frankly, jam-packed with superbly well-dressed eye candy. Whatever tickles your fancy, rest assured, there will be someone for you to gaze at wistfully through the plasma glass of the television, pondering why you aren’t involved in a lifelong, non-platonic commitment with one of the many genetic masterpieces that the show has to offer.

Anyway, let’s pop the aesthetic semantics to one side. My real reason for bringing up Mad Men is because it allows us to take a stroll down memory lane to a time before I existed. Beneath the surface of whiskey-fuelled business in the metropolis and eerily idyllic suburban family life rests searing insight into a period that wasn’t all that long ago. A time when the working world was dominated by men, leaving women the choice to become a) their wives, b) their secretaries or c) both.

The series offers an exclusive, microcosmic glimpse of sixties gender relations in the workplace. In one memorable scene, Don and Roger – two head honchos of the flashy Manhattan ad agency in which the series is based – lounge in the mahogany panelled grandeur of their office, swilling straight liquor around cut crystal glasses. Don turns to Roger, and asks wonderingly, “What do women want?” Roger considers briefly. “Who cares?”

Rather than underscore the familiar points of modern day feminism, Mad Men serves as a classily packaged reminder of the adverse conditions which stirred second-wave feminism to unfurl in the first place. Unless they’re trying to market them a product, the men truly don’t care what women want. My intention here isn’t to demonise the conduct of businessmen half a century ago (too easy), but to commend the plight of the fictional working women in the series. After all, their hardships echo the struggles of the real women who had the nerve to try and carve their own space for success in a man’s world.

In order to wriggle their way onto the career ladder, the working females of Mad Men have to employ a level of strategy, patience and resourcefulness that I sincerely hope no one in today’s society would be forced to use. These are women who have no choice but to do what they can with what they’ve got. And they do it their own way. As one ambitious woman tells another early in the series, “You can’t be a man. Be a woman. It’s powerful business when done correctly.”

As we bask in the residual glow of our 42nd International Women’s Day, I am pleased to say (albeit to no one’s surprise) that things are looking up. The workplace for women is a far cry from the sixties hub of sexual harassment and dismissive assumptions about our capabilities. Our ideas have value. Our career choices aren’t limited by our gender. Sure, there’s room for improvement – but seeing as regression isn’t an option, the only way is up. As for Mad Men, I stand by my recommendation. I’m still not sure why it speaks to me so much. Maybe it’s because half the show’s writers are women.

 

Credit – Clare Toner

IWD – A Millennial’s Experience within the Workplace

As I enter my twenties and begin mapping out my career path, it is evident that my career search is considerably different from my female elders. From the age of 16, I was given advice on how to perfect my CV, along with how to get my desired job. I was given this alongside my male peers. As I entered sixth form, I was made to attend lectures discussing how to get a place at the top universities in the country, alongside my male peers. When I got to university, I was enrolled on a professional development module in which I was given career advice from FTSE100 companies, as well as interview prep and guidance on how to be successful, along with my male peers. It is noticeable how considerably the guidance surrounding my career as a young female has improved when I compare it to the experience of my mother and grandmother from the 1960’s onwards. I feel fortunate to have been given advice and have had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of others to aid my own career search, advice which I appreciate other women across the world are still not provided with. Despite my positive experience, there are many women who do not have the privilege of accessing this experience. With 3 out of 4 women aged 25 in Asia and Africa (1) being classed as illiterate, and women in Yemen still being unable to leave their house without a husband or male relative (2), females within western society must appreciate the opportunities we are given. I hope in the future I will have the chance to aid younger women in developing countries and help them get the life they deserve.Rup Kaur Poem

As a female in western society, I am acknowledged to have the same level of capability as men within the workplace. As a result of this, my mindset when applying for roles after university is open to many opportunities. It might sound clichéd, but the world really is my oyster: my sex no longer determines which roles I am encouraged to apply for, although sadly this cannot be said for the majority of women in developing countries. With such opportunities available for both men and women, it is clear there has been a fundamental change of attitude within the workplace. For example, the notion of being a working mother is far more normalised and acceptable than it was for my grandmother, who was expected to stay at home and look after her children (along with being married). Furthermore, the question of what is deemed to be an ‘appropriate’ role for a woman has been thrown out the window. As a final year university student, there are no roles which I feel excluded from because I’m female. The notion of work-life balance is also now an option for women within society. A female’s life is no longer expected to revolve around the household, family or their career – the ‘or’ has been removed. As I step onto the first rung of the career ladder, I aim to reach the top, with the hope of one day creating my own business. If I was a female in the 1960’s, classing myself as an ‘entrepreneur’ would have been laughable. Thankfully, it is now normal for women to be known as empowered entrepreneurs.

Despite a clear change of attitudes within the workplace, I believe some factors are difficult to change. While sexism within the workplace is being acknowledged as an issue and employers are implementing factors to prevent sexual harassment, at 21 I have experienced sexism myself, and I haven’t even taken a proper step on the career ladder yet. When I worked in a restaurant, I was often told by both colleagues and customers that I will do well in life because of my looks rather than my intelligence and have been asked to do certain tasks because I’m ‘prettier than the rest of us men’, which has left me feeling patronised and like my credibility has been disregarded.

In a world where societal standards are increasing as a result of the impact of social media, I believe that there are times when these expectations can seep into the workplace. Although the opportunities for women have widened, I think it is arguable that a woman’s appearance can still determine what their employer thinks they are capable of. When the Prime Minister and SNP leader were judged on their appearance by a Daily Mail columnist – instead of publishing how their meeting to discuss the issues of Brexit went (3) – I was shocked by the level of backwardness. We are no longer in the 1950’s, yet comments like that severely undermine the standards that women have fought to obtain. Both May and Sturgeon have worked tirelessly over the course of their careers to secure their authority. To focus on two sets of limbs over the positions of both these leaders leaves a sour taste in my mouth and fuels a particular mindset and standard for younger females entering the workplace. Such instances leave me questioning if criticisms of women’s clothing and appearance will ever change within the workplace.

While I appreciate that the working environment for women has increased dramatically, with far more opportunities available for females, women are still being subjected to the notion of everyday sexism within the office. On International Women’s Day, I hope the mindset which is still held by so many will continue to change. Women within the workplace have achieved so much, and the workplace can only ever get better for them.

Happy International Women’s Day! May women continue to prosper and support one another’s development.

Lucy Kennett
Credit – Lucy Kennett

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12285665

2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/10/27/7-ridiculous-restrictions-on- womens-rights-around-the-world/?utm_term=.38ad6ec93fff

3 See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-4354996/SARAH-VINE-says-v-Sturgeon-victory- PM.html

IWD – 41 Years in the Workplace

Today I sit within a rather well-presented office with just about every mod-con you could think of. The facilities here are better than some houses; it’s such a far cry from the first office I worked in.

I have been in the working world for 41 years now, with my first office just approximately 600 yards from where I sit currently. Geographically not that far but it feels like I’m in a George Lucas film… you know the one, it starts in a galaxy far far away…

In 1976 when I started work in a solicitors’ office, the head cashier sat on a high chair behind a high desk looking down on the 3 cashiers below, where everything was added up on an adding machine and printed out on a till roll. All entries were then shown in a huge ledger! I used to assist on the reception and use a dolls eye switchboard… you know the sort, when you watch a 1940’s film and the operator tries to attach the caller to various extensions via a long flex with a plug at the end of it. The typewriters were all electric and made a heck of a noise, but I was taught on a manual typewriter so I thought the office was really up to date! If you wanted multiple copies of a document you would use a Gestetner machine (pre dated the photocopier)… but you would have to stand and turn the handle for hours on end! We had a Tannoy to announce visitors and, as a very green junior, I did a call for a Mr P Enis… much to the hilarity of my colleagues (and me when I finally got the joke).

Gestetner
A Gestetner – It’ll copy and give you a workout

As time passed and I moved on to pastures new, I saw the first fax machines in use, computers replacing typewriters and everyone boasting when they had a desktop publisher (or when we changed to Word Perfect). The computers themselves were not small compared to the slick machines we use now, neither were they reliable… we all learnt very quickly that there were two types of people in the world; those who saved work and those who worked late to add it all in again!

Telephones also had a revolution; everything became direct dial with no need for an operator. Along came the mobile phone; initially not used much in the office and I think it was considered a bit of a fad. The first ones had batteries the size of bricks so there was nothing really mobile about them! There weren’t even that many people who had them, so you were really just calling landlines and impressing some people with the fact that you were calling them wirelessly.

The work world has evolved in the physical sense and there’s no doubt that work life is so much easier than when I started all those years ago, but have attitudes evolved too?

When I left school there was no fanfare, no prom, no tic a tape parade for my fellow pupils and I. Why should there be? We were just a load of kids leaving school after completing exams. I wasn’t by any means a star pupil… and I think my teachers would tell you that I did enough to keep my head above water and keep myself out of trouble.

I, like many of my generation, was educated enough to get by. We were the inbetweenies – just out of the sixties and the sex discrimination act of 1975 had just been passed. Perhaps I was given more practical skills than some of the pupils today; I can sew, knit, cook and keep a house clean and germ-free!

I couldn’t tell you if I left school with any ambition; in fact I don’t even know if at that time I knew how to spell ambition or what it meant. I do know that I knew what I didn’t want to do. My teachers were giving me practical skills because, let’s face it, as a girl I would perhaps end up in an office, but I would most certainly end up as a housewife with lots of children to look after…. Oh no, not me!

I have been privileged to work in large cities (Birmingham, New York and London) and I have seen so much of the work world change drastically for the better; including attitudes towards women in the workplace.

I had men feel me up because I was young and it was the “done thing”. When I complained, action was taken, but initially my male colleagues were surprised! I wasn’t offered a job because the manager of the sales team thought that I would distract the men in the office. I’ve worked alongside guys doing the same job, knowing that they earnt more than me… for no other reason than they were men. Even in the nineties when I married, my future employer asked was I getting married as I intended to start a family?

So, have things changed? Thankfully, yes, I would say that they have… but there is always room for improvement!

Cath Struggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit – Cath Struggles

A New Lens For The Snowflake Generation

Millennials“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” 

For those who aren’t familiar with the existentialist cult film (a good watch, by the way), this is a quote from Fight Club. In recent years, it’s been used as a means to define the so-thought problem with millennials. The media has drummed up a lot of attention over the ‘snowflake generation’, nearly all of which is saturated with a distinctly negative tone. Words like ‘entitled’, ‘self-obsessed’ and ‘demanding’ are as rooted in millennial-targeted language as ‘social media’ and ‘avocado’.

Read the quote with these critical terms in mind and the verdict seems obvious: millennials swan around under the naïve impression that they’re as special, beautiful, and unique as a snowflake. But perhaps we’re looking at this from the wrong angle. Maybe they don’t believe this is what they are – but how they should be.

Consider this study on perfectionism that began in 1989 and finished in 2016. Over 40,000 university students from Britain, America, and Canada were tested for self-oriented perfectionism (excessively high personal expectations), socially prescribed perfectionism (excessively high social expectations), and other-oriented perfectionism (excessively high expectations of others). The final results revealed an increase in all three categories. In other words, the expectations that young people have for themselves and their companions are becoming more and more unattainable.

It was noted that the type which spiked the most significantly – at twice the rate of the other two, in fact – was socially prescribed perfectionism. Today’s younger generation have a mounting belief that others expect them to be perfect. Feasibly, the fact that more young people suffer from severe depression and anxiety than ever before is no coincidence. The pressure of living up to an impossible ideal has reached the point where it’s wreaking havoc on their mental health.

If you think about it, it makes sense – millennials have grown up in a world where comparison is second nature. Snapchat shows them the fun they aren’t having, LinkedIn shows them the dream jobs they haven’t yet secured, Instagram shows them the picture-perfect life they aren’t living. The illusion of perfection has never been so close to reality.

But of course, it is an illusion. Social media is a world of how things seem. It gives each individual the chance to craft how they want their life to appear. For those who’ve grown up with it as part of the fabric of their social existence, a sinister trend begins to unfold: everyone winds up feeling like a fraud. After all, a flawless selfie doesn’t disclose the hours frittered away in a desperate bid to get the image just right. A status update celebrating a promotion doesn’t mention the long weekends dedicated to working overtime to secure it. A slog of sun-kissed holiday photos says nothing about the mundane days spent saving up for them in-between.

My point, really, is that we should think about cutting millennials some slack. It’s easy to be disparaging about those growing up in an era we’ve never grown up in ourselves. And from the sound of things, they’re trying their best. Striving to be a snowflake can’t be easy – especially when it seems that everyone else is already there.

https://hbr.org/2018/01/perfectionism-is-increasing-and-thats-not-good-news

 

Why We’re Glad There’s a Minister of Loneliness

Loneliness in the workplace OK, let’s get this out the way: we can all concede that the role itself sounds a tad, well…made up. The rather whimsical title is a little iffy, and frankly not unlike something you’d expect to encounter on a tour of J.K. Rowling’s imagination. So go on, here’s a free pass. Allow yourself an eyeroll. But just a tiny one. And make it quick, because a glance at the facts suggests that appointing a Minister of Loneliness isn’t just a nice thing to do – it’s a smart move.

There’s a couple of assumptions that are easy to make about loneliness. The first is that it’s entirely exclusive to the elderly and, while there are over 1.9 million older people in the UK who say they often feel invisible, there’s a total of 9 million who feel lonely most or all of the time. Bereavement and retirement can certainly trigger it but so can separation, divorce, health or mobility changes, and even becoming a new mother. When you look at the people in your company, just about anyone can be at risk of loneliness at one stage or another.

Loneliness is an abstract, depressing concept. The idea of not just some, but millions of people spending every day imprisoned in their own thoughts seems too overwhelming to even begin to address. Once accepting the magnitude of the problem, it can be hard to understand how this could affect business. But it does, because we’re human, and businesses are (largely) made up of humans. When our intangible cluster of thoughts and feelings become too much, they inevitably spill out and start to influence our behaviour and decision-making. When it’s an epidemic, the consequences start to stack up.

As it stands, loneliness erodes productivity to the point of costing UK employers £665 million per year. If the loneliness worsens, people are driven to seek more social contact elsewhere, or give up altogether. They quit their jobs. This voluntary turnover is estimated to cost £1.62 billion per year.

The second assumption is that it’s a purely psychological problem. It may start out like that, but suffering alone has a knock-on effect on physical well-being. In fact, it can take the same toll on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is why loneliness is linked not only to depression, but also to strokes and coronary heart disease. The subsequent sickness absence is estimated to cost UK employers £20 million per year.

Perhaps this is why the government are looking to tackle the subject. They’ve done their fair share of trying to warn us about obesity, smoking, alcoholism and drug problems. Which is good: few enjoy battling addiction and its dark twin, poor health. But loneliness is different. No one suffering from it thinks, go on, I’ll sneak in one more cheeky hour of social isolation. It’s not the result of a compulsion that we just can’t resist. Loneliness isn’t an urge, or a choice, or escapism. It’s sad, it’s expensive – but worse than that, it’s needless.

So, let’s shelve our reservations over whoever coined the fancy title, and cast a proactive eye over this lose-lose situation. If we’re to learn anything from these statistics, reducing loneliness is everyone’s business. What can you do to help?

 

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/wp-content/uploads/cost-of-loneliness-2017.pdf

https://blog.coop.co.uk/2017/02/22/loneliness-costs-uk-employers-2-5-billion-a-year/:

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/loneliness/

Popping your (LinkedIn) Cherry: Six Steps to doing it right

Unsure what goes where?  Everything a bit of a mess?  Worried others are doing it better?  Everyone remembers their first time.  Filling in a LinkedIn profile, that is.  Forget your first kiss, first car and first dodgily-rolled fag on the way back from school: it’s LinkedIn that’s the true modern rite of passage.

Jack Drury
Jack Drury – Making the most of LinkedIn

In centuries gone by, daughters of aristocrats were presented as debutantes to a gathering of high society, overseen by the King or Queen.  The young women ‘made their debut’ in order to be displayed to eligible bachelors and their families, guaranteeing that suitable matches would be arranged.

In a similar way, LinkedIn is the bridge between adolescence and adulthood, education and work.  Debutants and bachelors have become young adults and employers.  The middlemen at Court who used to identify matches and broker agreements are still around, of course.  I’m one of them.

The double-edged sword of LinkedIn is that you’re in control of how you represent yourself.  You get to determine the content, the tone, what to show and what to hide.  You can choose whether you put up your Grade 2 Trumpet as much as you can choose to show your work experience or lifelong volunteering.

Why bother?  Frankly, even an average LinkedIn profile will be viewed several times a day.  Many of these views will be curious ex-schoolmates hoping you’re doing well or begrudged exes hoping you’re doing badly, but some will be recruiters and headhunters trying to find the right people for jobs.  A good LinkedIn profile keeps these people looking; it holds their gaze, retains their attention for longer than the average profile, and makes contact more likely.  A good LinkedIn profile might mean you get messaged immediately about a particular opportunity, or saved for later.

  1. A polished turd is still a turd

The first thing I would advise any young people to do is very simple.  Have things to write about.  Much of this article and the next will help add polish to a profile, but no amount of clever structuring or good writing will save you from not having enough to write about.  If you’re at school or University, make sure you’re picking up experiences and skills that will provide you with content for life.  You want the challenge to be writing about things selectively, rather than making much of little.  Speaking as a someone who has recently moved from student-ship to work, you’ll never have the time again.

  1. Test your profile by playing buzzword bingo

If you can imagine a contestant on The Apprentice saying what you’ve typed, delete it.  ‘Passionate’, ‘creative’, ‘specialised’ and ‘excellent’ are all wildly overused.  Headhunters read these words countless times a day: pick different ones or, better, illustrate your passion and excellence with clear examples.  ‘My enthusiasm for X lead me to doing Y’ is much more engaging than ‘I am passionate about X’.

  1. Be open about what you like

You might have an impression of LinkedIn as humourless, po-faced, or just plain corporate.  Its image goes with things like lanyards, Bluetooth headsets, boring suits and entry-level German saloons.  But headhunters and recruiters are real people, and real people buy into real people.  Cutting the buzzwords will help, but don’t be afraid to go further: display your interests and hobbies, and write about your work or education in a way that conveys your character.  Niche interests, enthusiastically written about, are a great way of showing your personality.

  1. Have things to click on

LinkedIn offers a considerable platform for showcasing multimedia content.  You can link to online publications, newspaper websites, YouTube and can even upload images and documents.  Remember – the longer someone is looking at your profile, the better.  Include ‘clickables’ to retain their attention and develop their sense of who you are.

LinkedIn Media

  1. Be visual

Plenty of people miss the opportunity to make their profile stand out by neglecting to include images.  You want a clear profile picture in which you are preferably smiling, and a cover photo that is in some way aesthetically pleasing – a picture of your school or University might be a good idea.  It looks best if your profile picture is one taken with LinkedIn in mind, a sort of more fun passport photo.  Try to register your workplaces or schools where a photo comes up.LinkedIn Media 2

  1. Connect around

LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook.  Part of its function is professional networking, and it is perfectly acceptable to connect with people you want to be connected with; imagine you’re all at a huge party and you take the opportunity to introduce yourself.  You’re vastly more likely to be found in searches if you build your network (more in the next article), so for now, connect to everyone you know, and those you might want to know.LinkedIn Media 3

Losing your LinkedIn virginity will almost certainly be an uncomfortable and self-conscious experience.  But confidence, and a bit of theory (this article) will go a long way to making it a little easier.

Look out for the follow-up, ‘How to be headhunted’.

http://www.businessinsider.com/buzzwords-that-get-overused-on-linkedin-profiles-2016-11?IR=T

Credit – Jack Drury

GDPR Statement October 2017

Gleeson Recruitment Group – GDPR Statement – October 2017

This document details the actions and steps which Gleeson Recruitment Group are currently taking to ensure that we are fully compliant with the new GDPR regulations by their introduction in May 2018.

We are currently auditing our suppliers and third party providers and requesting that they pass on their statements around GDPR, and inform us of any anticipated major changes to their working practices.  These include organisations such as job boards, LinkedIn, our CRM provider and our payroll bureau.

We have made some changes to our registration process and the data that we collect on individuals and are currently assessing our internal security, processes and practices.  We are considering how we will respond to subject access requests and possible data breaches and this information will be on our website as soon as this is finalised.

We are also following advice from REC, APSCo and our legal team at Gowling WLG LLP.

For any further information please contact Nicola Ryder, Data Protection Supervisor, who can be contacted on 0121 631 1751 or at Nicola.ryder@gleeson-rg.com

Working at Gleeson

ZeenaAfter a successful first 5 weeks working at Gleeson, it’s made me reflect on my career as a recruitment consultant, as well as making me realise what I really want from a company and the direction I would like my career to take.

During my interview process, finding the right agency for me was critical and most of them spoke about the team and how they were like a family. I guess this is a great selling point for anyone looking to work in an environment they will feel comfortable in…

Well let me start by saying that I’ve never had a warmer welcome to any company before and I can honestly say that after just 3 weeks with Gleeson I feel fully integrated into the Gleeson family. It’s made me excited about being back in recruitment again! Everyone works so well together as a team, even across different divisions in the company, and I really believe it’s what makes the atmosphere in the office so good.

All consultants have previous experience in recruitment which has been great for me, as I know that even with 3 years’ experience myself, there’s always something new to learn from other people. I don’t think any consultant can say that they are the finished article and an absolute expert in everything to do with recruitment, so having a team with different levels of experience really helps. I enjoy the fact that the office has a mature approach to recruitment (although we obviously still have banter!) because it has made me take a step back and re-evaluate myself as a consultant. I’ve personally found that taking a consultative approach rather than a pushy sales technique has delivered far more success for me.

The team I work with are excellent; everyone has a completely different personality but it works really well as we bounce off each other. As I said previously, no matter how experienced you are, you can always learn something from someone else and Julie Smyth has been a great mentor for me so far. Her approach is always to be honest, direct and not to be afraid of asking a question. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer! Richard Wooton too has so much experience in the industry and knows the interim market inside and out. He has become my ‘go to’ guy and probably hates the 1,000 questions I ask him every day – I wouldn’t be surprised if he asks to move desks soon! The rest of our team, both transactional and qualified, are a team I feel privileged to be part of and are excellent at what they do.

After taking 6 months to work in internal recruitment, I have found a new respect for the pressure internal recruiters have to go through. It was great for me to be able to see things on the other side, and I think having that experience has given me a good insight into the struggles of the internal HR process. This has made me a lot more patient and I feel I will be able to offer a much higher standard of service to my clients and candidates.

I know it’s early days but I couldn’t be happier with my new role and the company I’ve chosen to work with. For anyone looking for a role in recruitment, please just be aware that agencies will try to “sell you the dream” but until you start working there you’ll never know the reality. Luckily for me everything seems to be working out fantastically so far.

I will update you again after 6 months and hopefully, I’ll be just as positive!

The Real Way to Motivate Employees

‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’ Steve Jobs.

Motivation is something that doesn’t last a long time and it’s important to constantly find ways to motivate your employees. A recent survey by Gallup has shown that nearly 70% of employees in the US feel unmotivated and disengaged in the workplace, rising to nearly 90% Globally. This is a shocking figure. As a manager, finding ways to motivate your employees is something that should be done regularly. So, what can you do to help?

Money really isn’t everything…

Of course, having money is nice but it isn’t a lasting motivating factor. People want to be recognised for the good work that they have done and feel like they have a sense of purpose at work. Based on research by Dan Pink, a career analyst turned author, he believes humans have 3 main motivating factors: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Autonomy: ‘Having freedom or independence’

In a recent survey, it was found that job satisfaction was 10% higher for those employees who were given more choice while they were in the workplace. Employees like to feel as though they have freedom while they’re at work, so try and give your employees a chance to be as independent as possible. Ask your employees what tasks they would like to do and what their future goals are in terms of their career. If it is possible to accommodate them then it’s a win-win situation.

Talking to your employees about ways that they can develop themselves and about future opportunities can really give employees some extra motivation. Everyone likes to know where they’re going in life and about how they will progress up the career ladder. As a manager, if you show a genuine interest in where your employees’ careers are going it will really help them to stay engaged.

Mastery: ‘Being the best at what you already do’

If employees have certain skills that they want to improve then try and help them to develop these skills. This may mean paying for them to go on a course or allowing them to go to a networking event but long-term these new skills and connections will also benefit your business.

Allow your employees to experiment with different ways of doing things so that they can develop the skills that they want to and become the best that they possibly can be. As Albert Einstein said, ‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.’ So, let your employee try new things out and develop those all-important skills.

Purpose: ‘Being part of something bigger’

Research carried out by consultancy Global Tolerance found that in a survey of 2,000 people in the UK, 44% of people believed that doing work that was meaningful and helpful was more important than having a high salary. In the same survey, 62% of Millennials said that they would like to work for a company that makes a positive impact on the world and would work harder if they knew that they were making a difference to others. This shows that employees aren’t solely motivated by how much profit a company makes but also by what the company is doing for the world around them.

If your employees want to take part in goodwill activities outside of work then it may be beneficial to support them as much as you can. The sense of doing good for the community will help employees feel like they have a bigger purpose. The pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk pay for their employees to do 80 hours’ worth of charity work a year to help their employees feel a sense of purpose while they’re at work. They have applied a triple bottom line model and the senior director Diana Blankman explained that Novo Nordisk’s commitment to social responsibility and serving people in the community is at the heart of what they do. This has no doubt, also improved their employer brand.

A survey by Bupa found that nearly half of UK employees felt as though there was no point in going above and beyond at work because they would not get the recognition that they believed they deserved. This supports the notion that if employees feel more engaged and motivated, they will put the effort in to do the best work possible. In a survey by Forbes, a shocking 66% of employees said that they were prepared to leave their job if they felt under appreciated. The number then jumps to 76% for the Millennial generation.

Doing small things to help your employees feel recognised and motivated will really make the difference in productivity and your bottom line. If you fail to appreciate and motivate your talent, you may well find that a competitor will.

 

If you want to learn more about the Gallup survey, here is the link – http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx

Introverts Vs Extroverts in the workplace

“Everyone shines, given the right lighting” – Susan Cain

People are generally classified into two different personality types, either introverts or extroverts. Introverts are generally quiet individuals who tend to enjoy alone time and can be shy. With extroverts being social butterflies, they tend to be very confident and love busy, social situations where they can talk a lot and get to know new people. But as Susan Cain said: “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.’’

The ways that introverts and extroverts behave in the workplace can really differ. It can be difficult to know how to manage both personality types, especially when they need to work closely together in a team.

Working space

Extroverts generally thrive and feel energised when they are working in a busy and loud environment. However, introverts enjoy the exact opposite; they love being in a quiet environment to get their work done. So, don’t be surprised if they want to go off and find a nice spot in the office to sit down and get on with their work – it’s where they will feel most comfortable and do their best work. If you have an employee who is a bit of an introvert then let them have their privacy every now and then. A lot of introverts are sensitive to external factors such as noise, which can mean they often find the loud office space draining and can find it hard to concentrate.

Meetings

Research has shown that in meetings with six people, two people will tend to do more than 60% of the talking. Extroverts will happily speak up during a team meeting, as this is what comes naturally to them. They tend to feel most comfortable in meetings when they’re giving their opinion. On the other hand, introverts tend to keep quiet during meetings. This doesn’t mean they have nothing to say, usually it means they’re just taking in as much information as possible. They may need a prompt to give them a chance to speak up and voice their opinion.

Change

Extroverts tend to respond quite well to changes, whether this is involving their work life or their personal life. They find it easy to adjust and adapt to new ways. Whereas introverts can find change terrifying due to not knowing what to expect and not wanting to feel awkward in certain situations. If you’ve recently hired someone who you may think is an introvert, then try and give them as much information as possible before they start the role. Or if you’re introducing a new system at work maybe give those who are introverts a bit more time to get used to the programme.

Social

Introverts tend to be more reserved in social situations in the workplace especially when meeting new people. So, to help them, try and firstly introduce them to all of their

co-workers in the office and encourage them to sit with other people, as this will be a chance to get to know everyone. Extroverts, on the other hand, are quite happy and comfortable to introduce themselves to new people. They will have no difficulty in finding new friends at work and will quickly start opening up to them.

Is it fair to define the whole population by 2 different personality types however?

Well, the short answer is no. Those who can see themselves identifying with both personality types are known as the Ambiverts. We’re all humans at the end of the day and in some situations that shy introvert you see sitting on their own in the office could be the life and soul of a party. Equally the extrovert you see around the office may be completely different outside of work. Ambiverts tend to adjust depending on the situation they’re in. When they believe the time is right they will speak, but they also know when they need to sit back and listen to what’s going on.

Can introverts and extroverts work together well?

The answer is yes! As both personality types are opposites, and the strengths of an extrovert are usually the weaknesses of an introvert and vice versa. This means they can both be productive whilst they’re working together. The co-founders of ‘In Good Company’, a community business learning centre for women in New York, Adelaide Lancaster & Amy Abrams are an example of an extrovert – introvert team. In an article by Psychology Today, Lancaster explains that her co-worker Abrams can excel in areas that make her personally feel anxious, showing introvert – extrovert teams could be the way forward in bringing out the best in each other.

How can you manage them both?

Make introverts feel as though they are comfortable enough to speak up; at first this may mean asking their opinions on certain topics so that they feel like their opinion is valued within the company. This will mean that the next time they have a bright idea, they will feel like they can come to you and their opinion will be appreciated. However, also encourage the extroverts within your organisation to really listen to what the introverts are saying so that they can learn something new. After all, ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’

Starting a new job tips!

‘The future depends on what you do today.’
Mahatma Gandhi

Starting a new job is an extremely daunting process, but one that almost everyone must go through during their life time. Although a new job is scary it can also be very rewarding and you should be excited to be starting this brand-new adventure. Of course, it’s normal to feel anxious before starting a new job. In fact, it’s perfectly normal and it shows that you care.

So how can you make your first day less terrifying and more exciting?

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Ring or email your boss and ask if there’s anything you can do before you start to help you prepare for your first day at work. Ask them what they’re expecting from you before you start your first day, this will help you feel more prepared and hopefully less anxious to start your new role.

Work out the logistics:

Make sure you know where you’re going and what time you need to leave. Starting a new job is stressful at the best of times, but the last thing you want is to be running late, not having a clue where you are going. It might help you if you do a test run before your first day so you are clear on where to go.

Ask for help:

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Of course, as a newbie there will be things you don’t understand and things you need to ask for help with. So just ask. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s better than being sat worrying at your desk not knowing what you’re doing.

Think positively:

Never think about the worst things that can happen. Before you leave to start your first day try and put yourself in the best mood possible. If this means listening to your 1980’s guilty pleasure pop music then go for it! Have your favourite breakfast! These little things will put you in a better mood and leave you feeling more enthusiastic and ready to start the day.

Arrive early, leave late and do not call in sick:

Turning up to work late on the first day is never an option. This will completely damage your reputation and will not give people the best first impression of you. If you do find yourself in a situation where being late is completely unavoidable then call your new employer as soon as possible.

Get involved:

Take opportunities to go to social events outside of work with your new colleagues. Seeing your peers outside of work can really help you to bond with them and get to know them a lot better. 66% of people have said that they would refuse a higher paying job if this meant not getting along with the potential colleagues working there.

Are we stuck with the gender pay gap?

I can’t imagine that anyone would have been shocked by last week’s revelations that the BBC has a gender pay gap – I certainly wasn’t.  What was shocking was the extent of the problem and the vast differences in salaries between men and women doing the same role.

Clare Balding and Gary Lineker was one of the biggest gaps with Clare falling into the £150,000-£199,000 category and Gary coming second in all of the highest earners at a whopping £1.75-£1.79 million!  Gary was a professional footballer and I am sure that football will be one of the BBC’s most watched sports so I do get it; but still……….that is such a huge difference!  As I don’t stay up to watch Match of the Day, I hardly ever see Gary on telly anyway, whereas Clare has fronted Royal Ascot, six Olympics, and presented BBC Sports Personality of the Year – ironically with Gary!

Let’s also look at Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce.  Both presenters have been at the BBC since the 1980’s and both have presented high profile and long running programmes.  Yet Huw falls into the £550,000-£599,000 category and Fiona into the £350,000 – £399,000 category.  Baffling!

The new laws on gender pay gap reporting are addressing the problem and increasing awareness – at least we hope that they will. There are currently no consequences for companies that don’t report, because Justine Greening states she would rather ‘work with businesses in partnership than force sanctions on them’ – an example of a woman being too soft perhaps?  But we really do need to go much further.

One of the main reasons that women at the BBC, and in corporations across the globe, are paid less than the men is because they ask for less; and the BBC thought it was fine to continue to let this happen, I guess it’s only natural that you don’t try to pay someone more than what they ask for right?  The reasons that women ask for less are complex, numerous and entrenched; one of these was highlighted by some casual sexism from the BBC’s Tom Chambers (Casualty actor) in his remarks that men earn higher salaries because they are the bread winners – you can really go off someone can’t you!  There are millions of women out there who are the sole bread winners – should their families suffer and be worse off?

I think that many of the reasons that women ask for less are down to confidence and expectations.  And these issues are deeply rooted and difficult to overcome.  Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications but women only apply if they meet all of them (Tara Sophia Mohr, Harvard Business Review).  A study by Wiebke Bleidorn, over eight years and analysing data from men and women across 48 countries found that regardless of country or culture, men have higher self-esteem that women.  So can we ever close the gender pay gap?

A good place to start would be with our children and the increasingly ridiculous notions of what men and women should be.  A quick look at the comic shelf with my son and daughter gives him options of adventure, exploration and activity while she is faced with fake make-up, plastic jewellery and hair accessories.  The new Lego aimed at girls is pink and purple and has beauty salons, gymkhanas and princesses in castles – my sister and I were obsessed with Lego when we were growing up thirty years ago without any of these concessions to ‘girls’.  To my horror my daughter’s class have been learning about Cinderella!!  There is a woman without much ambition for herself!  (Yes, I did complain and the school didn’t understand my concerns!).

The gender pay gap already exists at Apprenticeship level where women earn, on average £2000 less than men (Guardian, March 2017).  We need to encourage more women into higher paid apprenticeships and away from the caring, cleaning and cashiering options – and also encourage employers to address the value of these professions and ensure pay is fair.  We already have severe skills shortages in engineering and construction so by encouraging more girls to enter these professions we can address the gender pay gap and these deficits together.

Let’s address confidence and expectations with girls at school and get them speaking out and pushing themselves forward. When a girl is being assertive she can be labelled and chastised for “being bossy” a label not often attached to boys. This behaviour leads to a reticence to be assertive in later life – a key skill for negotiating salary perhaps??

And please….….let’s stop telling our girls they can be a Princess and focusing on how they look – there’s a big wide world out there for them to explore and make their own.

 

Credit: Gemma Saunders

How to attract Millennials?

How to attract Millennials?

Millennials, also known as generation Y are those who were born between the years 1980 and 2000, making them 17-37. Millennials are the digital generation, that don’t know what life was like before phones and computers. Therefore, hiring a Millennial compared to a Post war baby boomer or somebody from generation X will have clear differences.

75,000,000 Millennials are preparing themselves to join the weird and wonderful world of work and by 2020 Millennials will make up 40% of the work force. As Millennials are the future generation of Managers, Lawyers and Accountants learning how to attract them to your company and keeping them happy is essential.

Give them opportunities for progression

61% of Millennials in the UK believe that career progression in a role is what makes an employer more attractive. Millennials are always asking themselves ‘So what’s next for me?’ ‘Where will I be in the next few years’. Millennials want to know where they are going and if they are heading in the right direction for where they want to be in life. A massive 71% of Millennials believe that their employers should make them fully aware of the potentially progression within their career. Millennials also want to be guided for further training and development opportunities in order to reach their goals.

So, what if it looks like there is no career progression within a current role? Well, Millennials will shamelessly job hob, it’s the norm now. On average, every 2 years Millennials are looking to grow within their career, gain a higher salary and potentially move location. I guess for Millennials 2 years is enough time to feel like you’ve gained enough experience to move on and are ready for the next steps in life.

Being able to use their best skills – nobody wants their talent to go to waste.

Research has shown that Millennials who have decided to stay with the same company for longer than 2 years have stayed because they have had the opportunity to use their best skills, they have had a chance to show off what they can really do. Of course, everyone loves doing what they enjoy and being praised for it at the same time. It shows your hard work over the years hasn’t gone to waste. As Steve Jobs said, ‘without passion any rational person would give up’

Having a mentor

Mentoring programmes can be a great way to attract Millennials. The mentor will be a role model for the Millennial and a chance for them to learn with someone who they will respect due to their higher status. Statistics show that 49% Millennials planning to leave their employer within 2 years were unhappy with the Mentor that they had. Compared to those planning on staying for 5 years in which 81% said they were happy with the mentor they had.

And what about reverse mentoring? What can a baby boomer or someone from Generation X possibly learn from a Millennial? Well… Social Media is the big thing at the minute and as they say, ‘If it isn’t on Instagram did it even happen’ Millennials can be a great way to bridge the gap and solve skill shortages; the Millennial generation are the generation who have never lived without computers after all. In article by the Birmingham post, 2 millennials highlighted the fact that there are digital jobs that exist now that would not have existed 20 years ago. So between now and 2050 who knows which jobs may exist?

Work Experience & Being Bossy

Each morning on my commute to my work experience placement, I have been reading Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. Reading about her experience working at Google and Facebook, along with taking in the personal advice she gives on how women can excel within business, motivated me every morning to do my best during my time at Gleeson, along with finding my career path after my two weeks here.

In the book Sandberg discusses why women gaining leadership roles in the workplace has stalled over the past few years, and gives advice on how to progress as a woman in the business world. One such piece of advice is to always ask for help, regardless of your position within the company. She notes, if an employee does not understand how to perform a certain procedure, this does not mean they are a bad worker and should be fired. In truth, it reflects poorly on the employer for not seeing potential in their employee, wishing to develop their worker, and helping them grow within the business. As a result of this, Sandberg notes the importance of having a mentor within the workplace.

Lucy Kennett
Lucy Kennett – Assertive and proud!

Working with Gemma as my line manager, and working alongside consultants with an average of 11 years’ experience, was extremely valuable; and I have seen them all as my mentors. They were enabling me to develop my knowledge on careers in recruitment and how to be the best possible candidate, or recruiter in the future. As a young Political Science student, I am always keen to learn new skills, grow my network, and experience different opportunities. With this in mind, I wanted to make the most of my time at Gleeson and learn from the experienced consultants. A key piece of knowledge I shall take with me from my time with the Gleeson consultants, is the importance of LinkedIn for a recruiter and candidate. After my time here, my LinkedIn profile should be perfect!

A real bugbear of mine, is the word ‘bossy’ and in 2014, Sandberg endorsed a campaign ‘ban bossy’; urging the term to be banned due to its negative affect on young girls. When male colleagues are called bossy, it seems to be a far more accepted characteristic than when a female colleague is described as bossy. The female is deemed difficult to work with, and too demanding. Sandberg, along with other popular female celebrities, such as Beyoncé, are keen to remove the stigma around this word for women, and so am I.

From a young age, I remember a teacher talking to my mum about a disagreement I had had with another girl at around 10 years old. The teacher looked at me, and said “You were being quite bossy, weren’t you Lucy?”. I remember for a fact that I was not being ‘bossy’, I was simply being assertive over how I felt our playground fun should be organised! Whilst this was all trivial, it made me feel embarrassed for being assertive and being adamant about getting my point across. Surely in the world of business, this is not a bad attribute to have? Whilst I disagree with the certain stigma around the term, after learning more about the recruitment world, I have learned that being ‘bossy’ is actually a great attribute to have. To ensure your candidates act correctly in interviews, turn up on time, and fit the criteria needed for the proposed role, it is vital for both male and female recruiters to get their point across and make the client happy. Women need to be more assertive in the workplace, and the women I have seen at Gleeson are assertive, strategic, and confident in meeting their targets and the desires of the client. My time at Gleeson shadowing women such as Jo Payne and Gemma Saunders has granted me a fantastic opportunity to witness assertive women excel at their jobs.

My morning train ride reading Lean In before entering a fast paced working environment has resulted in me gaining two very insightful weeks. I have learned a vast amount about recruitment, which has aided me in deciding what career path I wish to take once my university degree is finished; along with building an idea of the type of career woman I wish to be, and how I can stand out from my peers whilst on my career path. Being able to watch consultants delve through endless CVs and talk to candidates and clients has given me a valuable insight into what key attributes recruiters look for; be that on a CV or within the phone call. My two weeks at Gleeson have been more informative and enjoyable than I imagined, and with a LinkedIn network full of recruiters, I hope my future job prospects will be forthcoming!

Credit – Lucy Kennett

A Fun Philled Week

A week isn’t a long time, but it was all the time I needed with Gleeson to fall in love with it. Within the first day, I really felt included, like part of a short-term family, and, as a self-proclaimed introvert, it took no time at all for me to come out of my shell. And seeing as my time here was so short, I think it would be best to share my best (and worst!) moments.

To give context here to the nature of this introversion I claim to harbour, since the day my dad dragged me suit shopping, and dropped me into a large grey jacket which made me look like I’d slid a brick onto both shoulders to square them, I’d been dreading going to a real office, let alone being expected to ‘work independently’ and be ‘self-motivated’. I’m not a people person unless provoked, and tapping away at a computer isn’t my personal idea of provocation, so in conjuncture constant social interaction isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

But as soon as I shakily stepped out of the elevator and took my first look at the Gleeson lobby I suddenly felt a kind of calm, possibly due to the friendly atmosphere and happy, colourful design; maybe also due to the knowledge that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t quite sure about what was going on. Phil stood proud – and quite short – to greet me with the welcoming words, “Everything’s been a bit crazy here this morning.” And the crazy never stopped.

Marcus Howl
Marcus Howl

To start with, I shadowed Jack the apprentice, and I swear I’ve never before been intimidated by the speed with which someone formatted a CV, and I expect I never will be again. The awe wore off shadowing Phil for most of the rest of Monday, but I still managed to discover my talent for drawing cable connections to pass the time. To be pragmatic and spend my time well, I made sure to memorise the view from the window during my lunch break, which was surprisingly useful when on Tuesday I discovered that walking to the office from Harborne was faster than taking the bus, and I had to use the Birmingham Library and the East side of the BT Tower to triangulate both my position and the position of Edmund house.

Fun and educational? I guess I can say it helps with my geography skills, seeing as I have to write a 1000-word essay for school about how my time at Gleeson aided me in my knowledge of a school subject, now that I’ve spent my time here (I hope that I can get away with copying this entry and adding a couple of footnotes!). But why? I just don’t know.

Honestly, I’d prefer to just stay here and not have to go back to that life, to the land of exams and social pressures. I finished my GCSE’s two weeks ago and the time since has been the best of my life, both in my week with Gleeson and my week without. The people here are much nicer, don’t judge your mistakes, and the banter thrown around only victimises Phil, so isn’t a problem like it so often has been in my normal school environment.

Also, I had an epiphany, that the reason I don’t like school is mainly due to the rigorous structure with which I have to go from lesson to lesson, day after day, with a short lunch break, and very little flexibility. At Gleeson, to an extent, I was free. In my shadowing periods, I learnt about the systems and software, but if I wanted a coffee all I had to do is go and get one, and ask who else was wanting, out of courtesy (except for Phil of course). And, though I didn’t often use this freedom, preferring to learn what I could in my short week, and still being too shy to really do much without being asked, just the knowledge that I could was enough to make me feel more like part of a team, not the bottom rung of a ladder, which, pragmatically, I am.

Now for something completely different. My surname is not Howell, as absolutely every letter, email address, and username Gleeson has gifted me suggests. It’s Howl. It has a completely different etymological history, coming from the archaic Germanic/Scandinavian ‘Owl’, not from the classical Welsh ‘Howel’. Just to clear that up, the small population of us are owls, not wolves, and I’m rather defensive of that fact (We even have different family crests!).

Back to work. My first personal assignment wasn’t the most thrilling. Under the orders of Phil, I stapled 20 sets of sheets together. Riveting. At least I was making myself useful. More useful than Phil at least. Afterwards, Jack taught me about resourcing, so that morning had at least some value.

Sketching the Directors
Sketching the Directors

Later I had a meeting with Paul about engineering and manufacture, and procurement, and I felt very enlightened for something which I didn’t really understand. Luckily, Leah and Lucy both felt the same, so I wasn’t alone.

After that, during the latter part of my lunch break, I decided as per usual to do a quick sketch to focus my mind for future shadowing and such, and drew Tim, Tom, Paul, and Jamie, from a leaflet about the Engineering department. These received high praise from those around me (especially Tom’s), and I felt rather embarrassed, but appreciated, which, for someone who’s done little but shadowing and fetching a couple of drinks, is not something I’d really expected. I’m repeating myself, but I really feel special here, part of a supportive family. With Phil as that neighbour.

Most of the rest of my week was shadowing, learning, making fun of Phil, and carry vast quantities of water bottles across the office, but I’ve enjoyed it, having felt part of the workplace, though perhaps not the most key of members. Though, I felt rather key when I brought in cake on my last day! If I was to come out of university in six or so years’ time, and was looking for somewhere to work, if it were as welcoming and connected as Gleeson, then I’d be more than content. I’m really going to miss my time here with all of the great people I’ve come to know; I just hope my extra-long summer holiday will help to soften the blow!

To close off this tale, which I assume is much longer than needs be, I have a final message for someone who has been probably the most important person around me for this week.

Phil John Rees isn’t quite as bad as this entry has shown him to be. He’s funny, very helpful, and content with being the butt of the joke, as long as it’s a good one. In this short-term family I’ve referenced, he’s like a semi-cool stepdad who spends a lot of time cracking open a cold one with the boys, usually there, and always up for a discussion about life, the universe, everything, and the aggressive nature of operating systems. So, no matter how much you’ve been the target of all my jokes, the outcast in all my stories, you’re probably one of the best guys here. Thanks for everything.
– Marcus Howl

Interim PS Tree

Top Tips: Is Interim for you?

Attractive day rates, the ability to pick and choose when you work, a varied career and the opportunity to work within a range of sectors – these are just a few of the reasons that candidates make the move into becoming a career interim. I speak to many candidates that are currently working in permanent roles and considering crossing over to interim – there are common questions that are asked, so I wanted to share some of my observations of the market place from a procurement perspective that may be useful if you are considering an interim career.

Are you Available?

It is going to be difficult for an employer to consider you for an interim role if you are on a long notice period. You are more likely to secure a contract when you are on a short notice period (weeks rather than months) or immediately available. Therefore if you are in a permanent role you will have to take a leap of faith and hand your notice in – probably before you have a role to go to. This can be nerve wracking – especially if you are used to being in constant employment. Talk to your consultant and your network to help you decide when to do this. The timing of when you make yourself immediately available is vital. Christmas and January/February tend to be particularly quiet on the interim front, as are the summer months that coincide with school holidays.

Interim PS Tree

Be Flexible

If you are rigid on day rates and locations, you are automatically limiting the number of roles that you can be considered for and the chances of securing a role. By being prepared to travel a little further, or being open on day rate, you will be find so many more opportunities are presented to you. Once you’ve proven yourself as an interim you can absolutely work on improving your day rate!

Be Prepared & Don’t Panic

Be prepared that there may be a number of months where you are not working – these may not always be through your choosing. A contract may end and it can sometimes take a while before another suitable opportunity arises. Make sure that you’re in a position financially that you will be able to support yourself through some time out of work during the first year or two – it might not happen but it will help you sustain your decision to move into interim if you’re prepared.

Stand Out

It is a competitive market place. Make your CV stand out from the competition – make sure you demonstrate your achievements on there with facts and figures, and your involvement in projects. Meet your recruitment network face to face, build a strong working relationship with proven interim recruiters – they will understand your style, skills and motivations and be more effective in helping you secure a contract that works for you.

Loyalty is Key

It can be a very small world. If you become known as a candidate that constantly leaves contracts early for an increase in day rate, it can make prospective clients nervous about hiring you. Always leave a good handover, on good terms and with a great reference.

In summary, working as an interim can be incredibly rewarding, interesting and exciting. If you would like any more information or to discuss available positions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Credit: Michelle Perkins

Strachan in the wild

A Charitable Year

A Charitable Year…

Bed for the Night
Sleeping on the banks of the Zambezi

A couple of years ago, we asked everyone in our business what was important to them about the firm and what values they felt the business represented. From this our company values were born, but as well as our core values there was one word that kept coming up – charity. Since then we’ve been involved in a range of fundraising as a business, supporting a range of charities close to our hearts.

I got involved with the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity through their association with Gleeson RG and immediately wanted to help – the passion and commitment of the charity was amazing, and I didn’t know that they receive no NHS funding for what is essentially an extension of our emergency services. I also didn’t know that it costs on average £2,500 to send a helicopter out so I quickly bought in to how much impact I could make to the charity as an individual.

In 2015 I joined 12 Gleeson colleagues on the 24-hour Bear Grylls Challenge on Dartmoor, an overnight survival challenge where we learned fundamental survival skills and spent a night sleeping out in the open. Little did I know that 12 months later I’d be getting ready to set off to Africa to join the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe…

To qualify for the trip to Zimbabwe each member of the team, made up of volunteers from various businesses across the West Midlands, was required to raise a minimum of £5,000 for the charity. We went about it in different ways – some organised quizzes, some ran bake sales, others badgered their suppliers for charitable donations. I’m not very organised and I can’t bake; but I also knew what would be most likely to inspire my friends and family to donate – a certain level of physical pain and suffering! So I went about finding a series of events I could commit to completing; the sort of thing that I knew people would be willing to sponsor me to complete:

January                     Dry January, no alcohol for a month
March                        British Military Fitness Major Series, 12km obstacle course race
May                           Great Birmingham Run, 10km road race
June                          Wolfrun, 10km obstacle course race
July                           Rat Race “The Crossing”, 200 miles coast to coast on a mountain bike
August                     Yorkshire Three Peaks, 26 miles over Yorkshire’s highest three summits
October                    Birmingham Half Marathon, 13.1 mile road race
November                The Bear Grylls Survival Academy, Zimbabwe

What a year! As someone who’s always been into team sports, learning to compete against myself both physically and mentally was a new experience, but something I’ve learned to love. The hardest race by far was The Crossing, traversing England on a mountain bike from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Scarborough in North Yorkshire – 27 hours in the saddle over three days! Fundraising for the deadline was tough but after completing the Birmingham Half Marathon in October, I’d raised £5,460 and could look forward to the adventure of a lifetime in Zimbabwe…

In November I met up with the Bear Grylls team; nervous and excited at the unknown nature of the challenge ahead. We knew that we would be learning survival skills and then putting them to the test in the wild, but we didn’t know how far it would push us physically or mentally.Strachan in the wild

On arrival in Victoria Falls the instructors looked (ok, they laughed) at our 20 kilos of luggage and handed us an overnight bag with the words “If you want to take it, you’ll be carrying it for the next five days.” 20 minutes later we left the compound with the clothes on our back, our cameras, essential healthcare & medical kit and our allocated gear – survival knife, flint, harness, helmet, water bottle and mess tin.

The next three days were a steep learning curve; equipping us with fundamental skills that could be used in a real survival situation – fire-lighting, filtering water, knife skills, bush foods, trapping, ropework, shelter building, tracking, emergency trauma care and astronavigation, amongst others.

Group Rafting
The group rafting our way down the Zambezi

On day four we set off for the challenge, with just a litre of water and the kit listed above. After hiking down to the Zambezi river, we rafted in 45-degree heat for 7 or 8 hours, stopping off to take on a couple of climbs on the way. Mid-afternoon we were dropped on a rocky beach and told to set ourselves up for the night; we’d be collected at 7:30am the following morning. A litre of water doesn’t go far in that heat so, dehydrated, we set about trying to organise ourselves – we needed to build shelter, start a fire, collect and boil enough water to rehydrate and fill our water bottles and, if possible, find what would be our only meal in 36 hours.

It was staggering just how badly the dehydration affected us all – the simplest of tasks was made incredibly difficult and a couple of hours later we’d made very little progress. Eventually we turned a corner with our water supply when one of the group pulled a Life Straw from his bag (a filter through which you can safely drink any water supply) that he’d decided would be worth carrying when we were told to strip our kit back. As we started to get on top of dehydration, everything else got easier. From 5pm to 12pm we essentially ran a production line; using our filter for drinking water while boiling water to refill our water bottles for the next day. With the Life Straw we went into the following day hungry but reasonably hydrated – without it, we might have struggled to make it to the end of the challenge.

On day 5 we were back in the raft before 8am travelling to our next stop, where we would be set the task of a climb and abseil. Relatively easy under normal conditions but, with low blood sugar and further dehydration, everyone in the group was starting to feel the effects and were struggling with the physical elements of the challenge. After the abseil was done and everyone was safely on the ground, it was back to the rafts and to the final physical element of the challenge, where we were dropped off at the bottom of the Zambezi gorge and given a deadline to reach our “extraction point” at the top of the gorge. Again, the physical toll on our bodies kicked in and a straightforward 45-minute hike in normal conditions turned out to be a punishing, lung-busting trek against the clock where every minute hurt.

On reaching the top we were told we had one final challenge – use our learned skills to light a signal fire to signal our helicopter pickup. Unpacking our hastily-packed overnight bags we struggled to find our fire lighting kit; eventually finding some wet tinder. After 10 minutes of weary effort, we got a fire going and the challenge was over!

After a celebratory beer at the gorge we travelled back to the reserve by helicopter, over the beautiful scenery of Zimbabwe and before long over Victoria Falls, one of the stunning 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

The journey I was on for those 5 days taught me more about the dynamics of a team, and the value offered by each and every member, than any team sport or training session had ever done before – and in all we’ve now raised nearly £100,000 for Midlands Air Ambulance, which has the potential to fund 40 life-saving missions across the region.

Thank you to everyone that donated to make this trip a reality and, if you’d like to, donations are still being gratefully received at http://midlandsairambulance.moregiving.co.uk/cause/paul-strachans-fundraising-year/.

Credit – Paul Strachan

Group Finish Photo

International Women’s Day 2017

In celebration and recognition of International Women’s Day, we asked a selection of women in senior positions for the best career advice they have ever received. 

Here are their thoughts:

 

‘Treat people as you would wish to be treated – be that a candidate, client, team member or your boss, because how you treat people and how you make them feel is what you will be remembered for’

Monique Myers, Recruitment Manager, University of Birmingham

International Women's Day 2017

 

‘ Go to work every day as if you are being interviewed or assessed for the role’

‘Enter the workday clear on the 3 things you need to achieve and what your unique purpose is and check off that what you are doing that day achieves those ends.’

‘Spend your time as you would spend your money – both are a finite resource so spend them well.’ 

Amanda Jones, HR Director, National Express

 

‘When looking at the year ahead try to do 6 big ticket items really well rather than trying to achieve over 20 moderately or not at all. Never underestimate the power of engaging people at all levels within your business all the time. Treat people well, with respect and with a smile. That way people will want to help you, be inspired by you and deliver for you.’

Jackie Dadge, Peoplepathe HR Consultancy.

 

‘Follow your passion and interest and be true to yourself as it’ll make you happier. Move out of your comfort zone to prove to yourself you can.’

Suzanna Prout, MD, Xenonex Ltd

 

‘Always leave a company with the same level of professionalism and commitment as when you started, no matter what the situation. Myself and about half a dozen others have now returned to tour organisation and it’s only because of the great relationships we had, and we’ve maintained, that the door was open for our warm and successful re-welcome!’

Sian Griffiths – Shiseido Group EMEA – HR Director UK & Ireland

 

‘1) Believe in yourself and don’t let your ‘inner critic’ talk you out of anything.  If you doubt yourself, gather the evidence to refute it and gain the skill set required to do it.

2) Put your head above the parapet and get involved with high profile projects or apply for promotions you’re interested in, don’t wait to be asked!

3) Do something you love and are passionate about, life’s too short to spend your working life doing something that doesn’t fulfill you!

The best bit of career advice I ever got was:

– Get a mentor and sponsor. Definitely helped me to get the profile I needed internally and externally.’

Debbie Meehan, Executive and Professional Career Coach, Papillon Consulting

 

‘The best career advice I can give anyone is to not be afraid to try something new – as women we definitely hold ourselves back by thinking we aren’t good enough or don’t have the right experience to try something new but that just isn’t true. You don’t need to be defined by the career path you took when you were 21.’

‘The other advice I would give is to always ask for help or advice.  If you have an interest in a different department at work then tell them and ask if you can find out more or spend the day with them.  If you want to change careers and would like more information then ask for it – there is nothing wrong with approaching a friend of a friend or even someone on LinkedIn and asking for advice – just be polite and grateful and offer to buy that person a coffee and you’d be amazed by how much advice you will get. You just have to ask!’

Feona Veys, Interim Resourcing Manager, Gambling Commission

 

‘Don’t just do what you are great at, do what you are passionate about; if you love what you do, you will always succeed.’

Sarah Fountain MCIPD, Director, odfconsulting Ltd.

 

‘In finance, your job will revolve around deadlines, but spreadsheets are no substitute for getting out into the business. Carve out time each month, on the factory floor, operational teams or sales teams, with the people that deliver the business.
If there is one thing I did in early my career, it was taking risks and opportunities. Be bold in your choices.
Try different roles and business sectors. Understand where your strengths lie, and what makes a job enjoyable for you.
Poor managers focus on criticism, and women are particularly guilty of “doing good works quietly”. Own your successes, and others will recognise it too.’

Donna Hardie, Finance Director

 

‘As a senior female, and often the only one in the room, I’ve never let that be ‘the thing’. I am there because I have a role to play in some key strategic discussions, regardless of my gender, and I have a valuable contribution to make… I still wear pink shoes though!’

Kirsty Pitcher, HR Director, Organisation & Talent Development, JLR

 

Thank you very much to all of our contributors for their thoughts and advice.

If you would like to have a confidential career advice chat then feel free to get in touch!

Our Apprentice Jack

This year we took on our first ever Apprentice, Jack. We asked both Jack, and his manager Gemma, how they were getting on…

“Well, there’s so much to say about my time here at Gleeson, ever since I first started two months ago I was welcomed here with open arms, everyone is incredibly friendly and don’t treat me as ‘just the apprentice’ and treat me the same way they’d treat any other person that works here. It’s strange because it’s the first time I’ve worked and I genuinely look forward to getting to go to work to see everyone (except for Phil, nobody looks forward to seeing Phil).

I feel like I have built individual relationships with each of the consultants here, where I can have a bit of banter with Dean and Phil, or talking about ‘Suits’ with Tim, Jess and Charlie; everyone is extremely friendly and makes me feel part of the Gleeson family.Jack

As I am the apprentice, everyone here allows me to work at my own pace and supports me where needed, while also pushing me to perform the best I can be; for example, Phil and Lucy will assist me and show me things I may have missed and how to improve them for next time and give me pointers to pick up on. I’m also never sat around doing nothing, as I’m always being given new tasks to do to help me develop any skills. They’re always offering new ways to train me up, such as giving me training for any software

They even allocated a budget for me to go clothes shopping with Phil to get me some nice work clothes and ‘Gleesonise’ me up where Phil took me out and got me some shirts and chinos. I always feel very involved with everyone here at Gleeson, as I feel I get along with everyone here, which is impressive for a company made up of over 50 employees, and they’re giving me the opportunity to work in a top tier recruitment firm and start me on the pathway to my career.

I feel like I have changed a lot since I have started, as I was quite shy and quiet in my first week compared to now, where I’m always having a laugh and a joke with people and quite frankly I don’t shut up, and I’ve even been told I’ve fit in quite well and that it feels like I’ve been here forever and I’m now officially “part of the furniture”.”

Jack Hawthorne – Administration Apprentice

“We definitely found it harder than I expected to find our first Apprentice!  I am not sure what we really expected – and having worked in recruitment for over 16 years I have certainly interviewed a lot of people! We did like all the candidates that we met – but it was so hard to assess whether the candidates would fit our business and be able to do the work required. So, in the end we took a chance – and hired Jack based upon his work ethic and ambition.

GemmaLuckily for us, Jack has been a fantastic addition to our team! He is enthusiastic, hardworking and willing to take on anything that we throw at him. He has grown in confidence and now fits into the ‘banter’ and mickey-taking that is ingrained in most recruitment businesses. We are both getting to grips with the ‘academic’ work that Jack must do. I want to make sure that he has the time and support to complete this, but never having done this before, some of the work seems almost too simple. I am trying to remember that some Apprentices will probably be sixteen and will have no experience at all, whereas Jack is nearly nineteen and does already have experience of the workplace. It is also easy to forget what you didn’t know when you entered the workforce and the academic work is certainly giving Jack a good overview of all areas of business. I think that our Apprentice provider can definitely make some improvements in terms of the support they offer employers, especially employers that have never had an Apprentice; this will be an important point as more companies offer Apprenticeships to get the most from the incoming levy.

All in all we are really pleased that we made the decision to hire an Apprentice – Jack has fitted in seamlessly and hasn’t been a drain on people’s time, as some were concerned about this. Everyone has enjoyed the input they have with Jack and having an Apprentice has given others the opportunity to act as a Mentor and be involved in his development and training.”

Gemma Saunders – Associate Director

If you’re thinking of taking on your first Apprentice and aren’t sure what to expect, please feel free to get in touch with Gemma on: gemma.saunders@gleeson-rg.com

happiness - office support

Happiness in the Workplace – Office Support Launch Week

To measure happiness is about as easy as seeing oxygen in our air. However, individual’s reactions and attitudes at work, can sometimes be easy to see; and happiness at work is a key factor behind these outcomes.

Research suggests that there are three crucial human needs that must be satisfied for us to function well and be healthy psychologically. These being Autonomy, Mastery and Relatedness, which as human beings, we are driven to have these needs met. Autonomy being the need to have choice over our behaviour and actions, Mastery – the need to feel competent and Relatedness – the need to feel connected to and cared about by others. The extent of how satisfying our job is in supplementing these needs has a huge influence on how much we enjoy our work. What’s more, it’s said that work is a key factor in contributing to other elements of our happiness such as positive emotions, engagement, meaning, purpose and accomplishment. Considering the vast amount of time that we spend at work, it is not surprising that it can influence how happy we are overall. happiness - office support

So, expectedly happiness in the workplace is a constant talking point, even more so in recent years with the speed in which we receive news and as we’re that more socially aware online (which is a whole different story when looking at social media increasing anxiety and depression levels). But is it going too far? It seems that companies are striving to have the ‘coolest’ office (see Googles slides) and the most ‘out-there’ philosophies, but are they tackling the real drivers of happiness for their workforce? A recent study by the London School of Economics shows that the place we feel the most miserable is at work – with being sick in bed being the only unhappier circumstance. Apparently more than half of employees say they’re unhappy and 36% are seriously considering leaving their jobs, and in the UK, it is estimated that work-related anxiety and stress cost the economy £26 billion each year.

It appears that some companies are so insistent on making the office fun to encourage higher work rates, it’s almost causing a forced positivity; with negative effects. One piece of research conducted in UK supermarkets, suggests that their returns were actually more profitable when the employees were least satisfied. What’s more, it’s even suggested that happiness can be a liability in some job roles. For instance, people who were angry tended to get better outcomes during a negotiation than a happy person would. People in a good mood were also worse at noticing an act of deception than people in a bad mood. Now I’m not saying that you want a miserable workforce, but to me this does suggest there needs to be a balance.

Wanting your staff to be happy is fair enough, but forcing them is something troubling. If employers were genuinely interested in making their work force genuinely happy, this ‘corporate clowning’ is surely not the right way. Why not look at more evidential steps such as allowing flexible working? – where studies show a huge increase in job satisfaction.

So whilst creating a fun and interesting working environment is still great, it begs the question are employers using this as a way to mask real issues and important questions? Happiness is a convenient idea that looks good on paper, but it’s also an idea that helps us shy away from more serious issues at work, such as conflicts and workplace politics; does it not become a cop-out when needing to make controversial decisions? Luckily I work somewhere where this isn’t the case. Do you?

 

References: Deci and Ryan’s Self-determination theory

Emerald Insight

Harvard Business School

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Oxford University Press

happiness - office support

Networking Top Tips – Office Support Launch Week

Generally, the idea of networking brings on that sudden dread and you’re overcome with that lovely clammy feeling; even for the most extrovert of us. But has someone ever told you it doesn’t have to be that way? Go about it the right way and you will never underestimate its potential again (well, maybe) …

Always set a reasonable expectation for yourself and have a little think about why you’re even wanting to attend the event in the first place; what you want to get out of it and what type of connections you would like to make. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and try to ‘work the room’ as you’re never going to get the most out of the situation. Spend time making a couple or few specific and significant connections.

A key point is to try and plan a few general questions that could be applied to any conversation, to get the rhythm of conversation going. You can then begin to ask genuine and relevant questions to get to know the person once the ice is broken. Try to allow the other person to speak more than you do; not only will they feel great about the conversation, but you’ll have gotten to know a lot about them.

A great way to start is to get to know more about the organisation and who is involved, to seek out the event organiser (you can even have pre-event stalk on LinkedIn) and introduce yourself. They could thnetworking - office supporten even introduce you to other attendees to get the ball rolling. What’s more, you’ll also find that networking is a lot more fun when you become a regular. People will sing your praises to new attendees (this is always better than you doing it yourself) and you’ll see lots of familiar faces. So maybe it’s time you tackle those networking nerves…

Take notes! This will help you to be more specific with any follow-up. One thing that’s suggested is to write notes on each of the business cards you receive – eliminating you getting mixed up amongst your (hopefully) many notes.

Granted networking is not just face to face; with LinkedIn dominating the online professional networking market, it would be silly not to utilise the tool. Follow key influencers, join groups that interest you the most (and engage with them), build up your connections and share content. Be a person you would want to engage with, and people will engage with you. There’s also all sorts of online forums and webinars where you can join in the conversation and again meet new people.

Make sure you give something back too. Don’t just let them do the leg work. Keep in regular contact with these new connections and strive to build on the relationship as much as possible. If you’re prepared to share your contacts and resources, others will be more likely to help you. This way if you ever need something from them, it’s not going to feel so bad asking them. Make yourself available and become a connection they would want to rely on.

Last but really not least, in fact this is probably the most important thing I’ll say… BE YOURSELF! Don’t start a new relationship off with a lie, there is just no benefit there. Don’t try and be someone you think someone else wants to meet. Be genuine and you will make the right connections with the right intentions, for them and for you. Think about it, would you want the person you meet to be authentic?

Hopefully this advice will make the world of networking a lot easier and a lot less daunting for you.

Happy networking all!

Gleeson OS Launch Week

Office Support Launch Week – Leading a Team

There are so many blogs and articles about how to be a great leader, and most by people much more qualified than I am to write them…but that doesn’t stop a lot of people, so here’s my two pennies worth…

Being a leader isn’t easy, and all of the training in the world can’t fully prepare you for the complex mysteries that are other human beings, so it’s no wonder that there are so many different leadership styles out there. Over the years I’ve had kind managers, angry managers, strict managers, hands-off managers, micro-managers… pretty much every possible option. And what do I think the best style is? Well there isn’t one. I always think The Sims game got it spot on when it gave each individual a unique aspiration; for some it was money, for some family, for some popularity… people are largely the same. The best managers figure out what their employees react best to based on their personality and life goals and then tailor their approach.

There are, however, some overarching traits that I’ve always admired in good leaders:

Be a Genuine Role Modelleader - office support

Anyone with an ounce of emotional intelligence can spot lies or fakery, so don’t bother trying. People love to call out a hypocrite, so you better make sure you demonstrate the behaviours you want to see in a team. It will earn their respect, and it will also be far more effective at gaining their cooperation.

Be Present but not Smothering

The only thing worse than a micro-manager is one that is never around. Many of my friends have left jobs because their manager didn’t pay enough attention to coaching and nurturing their team, and who can blame them? Most people crave a complex balance of freedom and structure whilst working towards progression, so get those regular catch ups on objectives booked in and give them room to breathe in between.

Be Human

Let me be clear; I’m not saying be a push over, but you can afford to manage with compassion. Maybe I’m a bit naïve in believing that most people are fundamentally good at heart, but when you allow people to occasionally juggle family commitments, healthcare appointments, or even just to have a moment where they aren’t at their best, you get their appreciation and their loyalty. Nobody wants to work in a draconian system and, as my colleague Kate Wass said in a previous blog, most companies are now offering flexible working, so remember your employees have options.

Be Thankful

Always remember that once you become a manager; your success is down to the team, and their failure is your failure. If you’re doing well, remember to be thankful for their efforts and to praise their individual achievements. Too much self-praise is a sure fire route to mutiny.

Of course there isn’t a fool proof instruction manual on management style, and most just go with what works for them. As long as you are challenging yourself to get the best out of your team, and get the best results for the company, then you’re doing a pretty great job.

Credit – Dan Birch

happiness - office support

Office Support: Dealing with Change

People often say that technology is speeding up the rate at which businesses change, but they never talk about how the people behind the jobs should deal with them.

Humans can be divided into those that embrace change, and those that are reluctant to change … and if you want to get scientific about it, there’s even research to show the genetic basis of the difference; even down to those that made the big migrations of history and who stayed behind (really interesting reading for those so inclined).

So down to the practical; how do you deal with change regardless of which camp you fall into? Here are our opinions…leader - office support

Firstly know when to pick your battles; and this is probably the most difficult thing to do! Most of the time the change is out of your control, so use your experience to influence the parts that you can and accept the rest. It’s easy to take these matters personally and quite often it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees when someone else is seeking to change your day to day processes, but try and see the bigger picture – it may well be beneficial in the long run. You can rail against them all you want, but in the end you’ll probably just damage relationships and not achieve very much at all.

Once you’ve achieved this step, the rest are relatively easy!

Over time you will realise that not only are things constantly changing, but that things tend to go in big circles. What works for a business one day, may not be what works for it the next. As a result businesses can’t afford to stand still, and have to be vigilant to survive. That means that as an employee, you just have to learn to see the change coming and ride the wave. Accepting that things will always be changing means that you’re prepared for when they inevitably do.

Change the way you think about change. After you get past tips one and two, you can begin to see the process as a positive one. It’s an opportunity to refresh and to weigh up what does and does not work. I’ve been told many times over the years that people have greater job satisfaction if they can understand the point of what they do and how it impacts the business and the customer. Bring it back to that. Can you improve what you’re doing to give a better result for the business and its customers? They’ll all be happy, and you’ll get paid – win, win.

Communication is key. Share your constructive thoughts about the change, speak to others that are affected by it, build connections. Not only is it great to have a support network, but it also helps you to work more efficiently across divisions, and it builds bridges for your future career goals. You’re far more likely to be recommended for positions internally if you’re seen as a knowledgeable and positive asset.

Is it a personal opportunity for you? Can you harness the situation to gain new skills, or refresh old skills? Don’t forget to consider your soft skills in this; i.e. are you having to negotiate or persuade others more?

There are so many positives to change but they’re not always initially obvious. So whenever you hear that a change is coming, take a breathe, stay positive, and make it work.

Flexible Working – Are you doing enough?

Yes…it’s those dirty words ‘Flexible Working’….you immediately think of your employees…sat smugly on their sofas in their pyjamas, drinking coffee and being continually distracted by the mindless chatter of ‘Loose Women’….because after all, this is what flexible workers are doing, right?

Wrong….and what’s more, if this is your opinion of flexible workers and your company culture does not allow for a more agile working environment, you may well be about to lose your best talent!

An ILM study has found that more than half of employees would look to leave their role if the culture of their organisation didn’t change. 74% of staff surveyed wanted more freedom in their roles, with a third saying they were forced to work within overly controlled structures, with a lack of empowerment being the root cause of dissatisfaction in the workplace.

So who are these pesky employees wanting flexible working? It’s your community of working mothers, surely?

Wrong again…the bottom line is that now, all of your employees want flexible working. Moreover, flexible working is an expectation, not a benefit. Overly Authoritarian workplaces should be a thing of the past. John Yates, Group Director at ILM said ‘Organisations need to be flexible, allowing employees to pursue career ambitions and manage conflicting home life pressures – injecting passion and new ideas into the workplace’Flexible Working

70% of dads want to work flexibly and believe that inflexible employers mean many working dads are facing a ‘fatherhood penalty’ with 11% of the 2750 respondents saying their boss makes no allowances at all for family life, with nearly half saying they would rather downsize jobs or take a pay cut if it meant they had more family time.

And of course there’s the millennials, these tech-savvy, ‘glued-to-their-smart-phone’ individuals, who have grown up in a world of mobile and wireless connectivity and simply can’t comprehend the need to sit at a desk 9-5.

Over the past few years, many companies have been working towards a flexible working culture and there is a lot of noise being made around the benefits of flexible working and the impact on productivity and engagement – with studies showing it has it has in fact improved – dispelling the myth that flexible workers are lazy, uncommitted skivers who just want to while away their hours in Starbucks. (Other coffee shops are available)

There are currently over 8 million part-time workers and over 4.5 million who work full-time in a flexible working culture. Proving that flexible working does work and it works really well.

Flexible working is not ‘the future’ it’s the present. It’s happening right now, and whether we like it or not, the way we work has changed.

Flexible working is no longer about a work/life balance, managing the school run, being able to go for a beer on a sunny afternoon and catch up on work on a weekend – it’s about talent. Attracting the right talent – and keeping it.

What does your company do about flexible working? Do you feel that you have a flexible culture? We would love to hear your opinions….

Credit – Kate Wass

Julie’s Skydive

A few weeks ago, our Julie Smyth took on an amazing challenge… to throw herself out of a plane, thousands of feet above the ground. We asked her to write about her experience and here it is:

“So it was 6am on a bright and sunny Sunday morning and 2nd time lucky as the first “Jump” had been cancelled due to bad weather. Nerves were in check and adrenaline was high. I got in the car and the first song to blast from the stereo was 80’s legend Seal with “Crazy” – no word of a lie.  True to the lyrics that’s exactly how I felt as the 5 original “Jumpers” became just 1!

Purple rain, purple rain...
Purple rain, purple rain…

With over £1,100 raised for the Air Ambulance there was no turning back now. Off I sped in my little silver Mini to the Oxford countryside to meet up with the madness that is “The London Parachute School”. Not to be derogatory, but if you jump out of a plane for a living there has to be a little bit of madness in you as I quickly found out in my safety briefing.

All strapped in and ready to go with my extremely fit Instructor – this mission was suddenly becoming more appealing.  As we made our way up through the clouds to 11,000 feet it all started to become real and surreal at the same time.  My Instructor checked, double checked and even triple checked I was ready and of course I wasn’t.

The plane door slid open and out went 2 solo adrenaline junkies one after the other. Then it was my turn! No time to think, it was a quick smile for the camera man, trying my best to look chilled and out we went.  What a moment it was. The feeling of free falling is not over rated especially on this clear and sunny day and that moment when the parachute is pulled and everything becomes silent and so peaceful – even me! What an experience and one I would love to repeat and soon. Who’s coming with me?”

We’re really proud of Julie for her effort, so we hope you’ll join us in saying WELL DONE!!!

You can still donate if you’d like to on the fundraising page:

https://tvaaskydivemay2016.everydayhero.com/uk/gleeson-recruitment-group-skydive-challenge

 

Is job-hopping the new norm?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine commented on his recent job change that he’d moved every 2 years on average, and that “job-hopping” was the new norm.

Is it?

I thought about this on my way home; most of my friends have already moved a few times in their career, to the point where I’d consider myself one of the most stationary at almost 4 years with Gleeson. I know very few people of my generation who are looking at a job for life; and actually a substantial chunk of my wider Facebook connections work until they can afford to travel for a year and then repeat the process when their funds dry up.

I grew up being told at school that companies don’t like to see a lot of movement on your CV, so the concept of ‘job-hopping’ was definitely something I was always keen to avoid. This got me to thinking, if more and more people are moving jobs every few years how is it being perceived within business?

Luckily I have quite a few industry experts in close proximity to ask…

Job-hopping
Are we in the age of the job-hopper?

The general consensus is that yes; people are moving jobs more often than they used to. There were various potential reasons put forward as to why; a strong and confident economy (pre-Brexit), a generational attitude shift, skills demands and generally a more ambitious population.

Regardless of the reason, it looks to be an ever growing trend, and it seems that different sectors have adjusted to it more than others.

Within the IT sector for instance, where the strong interim market combines with ever-emerging technologies, it has long been the norm for candidates to switch jobs around every 2 years on average. For senior IT candidates it is more usual for them to stay in position for just double that time unless the Business is large enough to present them with fresh challenges.

More generally, in other disciplines, it seems to hold that nowadays 1-2 years is the average duration at the more junior end of the scale, with more senior candidates staying in position for 3-4 years on average. It certainly seems like the ‘job for life’ days of industry are behind us.

This, of course, isn’t prescriptive and time and time again the same point kept being suggested to me: progression. Don’t panic if you’ve stayed in your current company for more than this new proposed average, many people still do. As long as you can demonstrate that you’ve been involved in different areas of the business, different projects or different roles and achieved real results then it will be an extremely positive addition to your CV.

Likewise, don’t panic if you move companies more often. If this is due to temporary assignments, or interim cover then just make sure that you stipulate that on your CV. It’s surprising how often people don’t, which can raise concerns. Again, if you’re showing that you are gaining valuable experience through your choices of role then fantastic.

The overarching point that I gained from my colleagues is that it’s not one size fits all; it depends on your personal situation. As long as you are constantly pushing yourself, and building on your career to suit your individual circumstances then it will be beneficial; whether this is from sticking in companies for decades or single figures.

I started this blog with a question: Is job-hopping the new norm? I think the answer has to be yes… but is that a bad thing? Fresh talent, fresh ideas and new experiences can be a boost for both candidates and clients alike. The modern recruitment landscape has changed, but as long as you’re willing to put the work in you can make a success of it as ever.

If this article has made you think, and you’d like some impartial advice, then feel free to call us and we’ll give you an honest opinion on your career and your next steps. (No, we won’t start spamming you or harassing you with jobs you don’t want afterwards.) We’re genuinely happy to help.

 

coffee

Independent Birmingham Business Meeting

Here at Gleeson, we are very much about supporting the local business industry. That being said, we decided at the beginning of the year to sign up for the Independent Birmingham card. For those that don’t know, the IB card is a discount membership, supporting local restaurants, bars, cafes and shops across the city. The outlets provide discounts and offers in turn for encouraged footfall. The featured participants are ever growing; and range from your small lesser known treasures, to the more visible restaurant, albeit some you may not have known to be independent. You can see the full list here: http://independent-birmingham.co.uk/

With our ‘Birmingham’ Feature Week in mind, I wanted to be able to combine the two for an instructive yet stimulating guide to your new ‘independent business meeting’. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, a quick coffee or swift tipple, here’s my recommendation on the revolution of the independent business pit stop…

Breakfast – Saint Kitchen

Address: 63 St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1QS 

Saint Kitchesaint kitchenn is a coffee house come deli, with a contemporary feel; situated in St. Paul’s square, this is naturally a beautiful setting. On a warm summers day, much like the day I visited Saint Kitchen, it was purely picturesque. Now it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea to sit outside for a meeting (much like those undertaking said meetings inside and resembling hot dogs in cars), but it was most definitely peaceful enough to do so. Nonetheless, the fact these meetings were taking place, was immediately a great sign for me and there is plenty of seating inside for the more reserved.

There is an extensive breakfast menu with plentiful delicious options for all kinds of breakfast lovers. From Peanut Butter on Toast to Eggs Benedict, you know you’re not tight for options here. I decided on the nutritious and substantial (with a full working day ahead in mind, food is fuel abreakfastnd all that…) option of Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast with smashed Avocado, along with a summer drinks menu choice of Iced Caramel Latte. Both of which were flavoursome and fulfilling! They do specialise in all kinds of glorious caffeinated beverages, so with your morning meeting in mind, you really can’t go wrong! What’s more, the service was quick, the staff were polite, and all before 9am!

Overall, this is a great place for a breakfast meeting in mind! It’s a great location, spacious, sustenance varieties for all taste buds and there’s free Wi-Fi!

Food: Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast with Smashed Avocado

Drink: Iced Caramel Latte

Price: £7.47

IB Offer: 10% of your bill 

 

Lunch – Marmalade

Address: Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EP

marmaladeThis place is just perfect for lunch! Quick, helpful service, a tasty looking lunch menu and relaxing yet charming atmosphere! When you realise Marmalade was born from the people that brought you Island Bar and Bodega to the Jekyll and Hyde, its success and style soon correlates.

With an almost retro 1920’s, Hawaiian hybrid feel, it welcomes you with leather-bound chairs, a mix and match décor style, a classic playlist and homage to theatre (see location) with play/book script wallpaper seen throughout – a quintessential touch! It’s a very large space, so the more private of conversations are not a worry; it’s well-lit yet intimate, and looking out onto centenary square, my window seat was a delight!

The service was welcoming and attentive; all that you could ask for really. The menu has some great and intricate options, with a focus on homemade food, along with an abundance of veggie delights on their menu; something they pride themselves over. I decided to try the veggie option of the lunch menu that day, which was extremely yummy and consumed within minutes! (A nice little detail – their bread is sourced from local and fellow IB situates, Peel and Stone!)lunch

What’s more, for the finer days, there is an outdoor terraced area, only adding to the hospitable ambiance!

Food: Cajun Vegetable Tortilla with Lemon Yoghurt Dressing and Fries

Drink: Ginger Beer

Price: £9.75

IB Offer: 15% off all food and drink (all week) and 25% off vegetarian dishes every Monday

 

Dinner – Buffalo Rye

Address: 11 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham B2 5RS

Just to put it out there, if you’re a real ‘foodie’ and haven’t been to Buffalo and Rye yet, then you’re truly missing out. Following the Americana theme to be sweeping the nation, it accuburgerrately provides that speak easy, smoke house vibe, settling you in for a whiff of that American Dream… So if you’re a foodie AND looking for a new and captivating dinner spot, then you’ve just cashed in!

Now I did go for the most traditional burger you could think of, however sometimes the simplest options are the best, and in this case, that proved to be true! Other people amongst my company did go for rarer treats however, such as the black pudding burger and the beef brisket, all of which seemed to get the thumbs up. So it’s safe to say you aren’t stuck for choice here. The same goes for the drinks menu, where they have put copious amounts of effort into supplying you with the wackiest milkshakes and spectacular cocktails, with bourbon quite obviously being a common denominator.

The place itself is quite small, so I do recommend that you book in advance, but what it lacks in space, it makes up in atmosphere and aesthetics; and don’t worry, you won’t find yourself on your neighbours’ lap!

The staff help make this place what it is. They’ve obviously done a lot of research and spent a lot of time over their menus. You’ll be in good hands.

Food: House Cheese Burger

Drink: Kona Big Wave Golden Ale

Price: £10.20

IB Offer: 15% of your bill (Sunday – Thursday)

Disclaimer: all of the above are great venues for all times of day, just saying!

 

Coffee Stop – Java Lounge

As I live in Moseley, this choice might be slightly biased, but when I found out Java were opening a city centre house, it was perfect news! Now they’re on the IB card, it’s even more of a reason to shout about. Java import their coffee beans from a plantation in Yemen (insert Friends quote here), with their prize being single origin filter coffee. Now it’s not just for the coffee aficionados here, as you can still grab your tall flat white or skinny cappo! It bodes a large, well-lit seating area (unlike a lot of sombre coffee shops), along with free Wi-Fi; the perfect combination to deter from a mid-meeting slump.

IB Offer: Free refill on single origin filter coffee

 

A few tipples – Tilt

Now if it’s an after-work meeting you have in the diary, and fancy a couple of snifters with a twist, Tilt is your place; and for those that don’t dabble with alcohol, coffee is also something you can indulge in, where they have quite obviously done their research on their coffee offering. Accompanied with the largest retro pinball machine collection I have ever seen (I think the same would go for most people), and a speciality in local craft beers, Tilt will turn your rut of a ‘recurring reserved table at All Bar One’ meeting, into something just that little bit more ‘fun’. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s affable; it’s your city centre pinball mania meeting mecca!

IB Offer: 15% off coffee, tea and cakes

 

And a little extra pointer for a quick lunch (not on IB card… yet) – Jake’s Coffee Box

Situated in Eden Place, in between Starbucks and the Council House, Jake has renovated a British icon, the regal, red telephone box, into a tiny shop of wonders. Offering perhaps the best sausage rolls around, creamy latte’s and local delicious treats from Mrs Mills, along with his own, famous salted caramel brownie, it’s one not to be missed; especially when you’re compromised on time but not willing to be on taste!

The Art of Reinvention

Neil Buchanan
What a transformation!

If you were a fan of 90s television, then the name Neil Buchanan might make you think of fond memories. Getting home from school and sitting in front of the telly, or of putting your child in front of the telly and you sitting back for some peace and quiet. For those who don’t know him, Neil was the artist/TV presenter of the kid’s TV show ‘Art Attack’ from 1990 until its end in 2007. Why are you reading about a guy from the 90s you might be asking? Well, recently it emerged that Neil actually swapped the life of teaching children how to draw to…yes you’ve guessed it, create a heavy metal band!

The phrase ‘it’s never too late’ has never been more appropriate here as it just goes to show that no matter what your situation is, whether this be how far you are in your current career, what qualifications you currently possess, how old/young you are, etc., you can still change career direction. Neil Buchanan was, without a doubt, one of the legends of kid’s 90s television, yet he still followed his dreams and traded this in to focus on his music.

This can teach us an important lesson regarding our careers. Not everyone is lucky enough to get their dream job from the get-go then work their way up the same career ladder to the top before retiring. Most commonly, people change industries quite a bit before deciding on one general direction that will allow them to fulfill their dreams. The key point to take away with you is that if you aren’t currently happy in your role, or if the role you are in isn’t helping you get closer to that ‘dream’ job, then it’s not too late to stop and change.

That being said, don’t do anything drastic! Before you decide to tell your boss you’re quitting to become a full-time belly dancer, make sure that it is the right decision. Even though it is your dream job, if you haven’t had any experience in that field then it might be a better idea to first gain some work experience to get exposure to that area. You’d hate to show up to your first day as a belly dancer to find out that you can’t actually belly dance! Only when you know that the move is the right thing and you feel secure in your decision, should you go to explore it.

Art Attack Head
Alex or Chris?

If you’re still not convinced, don’t forget it’s not just Neil who changed career either, look at the stone head from ‘Art Attack’! It went on to have a career as Alex Reid…or was it Christopher Maloney? We can’t decide who it looks like more.

So if you are currently feeling like Neil, daydreaming about singing in a metal band whilst painting a picture of a lighthouse, then make those steps to follow your dream! It may mean that you have to work a little harder in the beginning to gain that experience, but the outcome could be the greatest thing to ever happen to you! In the words of Neil’s Art Attack catchphrase – “try it yourself!”

Why work experience is still vital

When work experience comes up in conversation I immediately think back to my two weeks in a drab solicitor’s office aged 15; learning how to use the franking machine (the most enjoyable part of the entire experience), photocopying important documents for hours at a time and being taught how to smoke by two of the admin girls. I remember the whole fortnight in sepia tones and thankfully it’s poles apart from my current position!

I look back and always think how depressing it was, but recently I’ve realised that it did actually give me a valuable insight into the world of work that I never appreciated; namely it gave me a grounding and shifted my expectations down. Before my work experience placement, I’d only ever seen offices in the films, imagining everything to be cutting edge and people constantly racing from one exciting meeting to the next (normally with some office scandal occurring around the 50 minute mark every hour). As we have all realised by now I’m sure; real life isn’t quite like the Hollywood version. I’ve now seen dozens of office environments; some trendy and relaxed, some conventional and conservative, and some that should probably be condemned. We never know where we’ll end up working, so to give people a taste of reality is incredibly important, so that young adults can make informed decisions about their futures.

With this goal in mind, we had our second work experience student this month; the very lovely Sally, and we got her to write a blog about her time with us…Experience is knowledge

“As a first year politics student, recruitment is something I know very little about. However, after a week at Gleeson it’s something I like to think I have a fairly good understanding of and it very much exceeded my expectations. Going into this work experience, I had a vague understanding of recruitment as a relatively greedy sales-based industry. However, my week at Gleeson showed me quite the opposite. What I was lucky enough to experience was a collaborative and friendly environment where there are many things more important than the bottom line. The office has been a relaxed and friendly environment and from my first day this week I have been made to feel like an equal and respected member of the team, despite my young age and absolute lack of experience. 

What stood out most to me was the mutual trust and respect between the senior members of the team and everyone else. On my second to last day, for example, we were able to take an hour and half out of our day to watch England in the Euros; something unthinkable in a working environment where the lack of respect and trust leads to constant and overbearing micro management. Yet it was something that massively contributed to the overall friendliness and fun of Gleeson as a place to work. 

Furthermore, I was given the task of answering the phones, which due to a lack of confidence I was very nervous about. Thankfully everyone was super understanding and let me do it in my own time and by my second day my confidence had skyrocketed, I answered 41 calls compared to only 6 on the first day!

I was also lucky enough to be able to sit in various interviews, which allowed me to gain an insight into the various different industry areas covered by Gleeson and also helped me get my recruiter’s thinking hat on by starting to understand and get a feel for whether a candidate would fit into the role at hand. I found it particularly interesting to sit in two different interviews for the same role and to compare not only the CV’s and qualifications of each candidate and their suitability in that respect, but also to compare how and if their personalities fitted with what the client was looking for.

Overall, I have had a wonderful week here at Gleeson, it’s not only been incredibly insightful and fun but also helped me develop admin skills, increase my confidence and gain an insight into the industry as a whole. It’s been an extremely enjoyable and useful week and I look forward to returning at the next given opportunity!”

We hope to have many more work experience placements here at Gleeson, but generally it is still so important that there are a breadth of placements, across industries, available to young people.

From conducting mock interviews at a school recently, it became apparent that kids are fully aware of how demanding the criteria to get into work are. The issue is that they don’t always know how to fulfil them, or even what to expect when they get there.

With the country currently in a period of uncertainty, it’s of vital importance that we do all that we can to help new generations succeed.

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