Category Archives: Relocation and travel

Post Brexit Recruitment

Post Brexit recruitment from the pointy end

As a Brit who embraced the European experience I am having a bit of an existential crisis. Post Brexit has been traumatic for many, but none more so than those Brits who live in the E.U.  I feel as if I am living in a parallel universe as every value I held dear is being changed out, reneged on, obliterated, and evaded. I read that a new disorder has been identified as Political Anxiety Disorder. I’m sure I have it! Post Brexit recruitment is already being impacted and I’m not sure how evident this is yet to decision makers. But at the pointy end – we are already seeing a shift.

Disconnect

The disconnect between the powers that be and what’s really going on is a major stand out issue for me. There was an expectation that life as many of us knows it would stop after June 23rd 2016 and there would be a tsunami of devastation. But anyone with half a brain knows that unless it is a tsunami or other meteorological disaster, negative change tends be a corrosive slow drip effect over time, rather than a sea change swell. It has a slow build up and like the 2008 recession, the impact is lasting. Many of us could feel the rumbles of down turn months before Lehman Brothers folded. We just didn’t know why. Now we do.

Anyone on the ground dealing with E.U. candidates, whether at home or in the U.K., knows that fall-out is building up.  Not only is there a reduction in job postings in many sectors in the UK, but it’s also getting harder to attract skilled  E.U. nationals as candidates for British based openings.

After talking to fellow headhunters and recruiters who work internationally, we are all making the same observations about the post Brexit recruitment situation. It obviously varies from sector to sector and the level of seniority. But for mid to senior levels of executive search this is the feedback we are encountering.

  • Brand Britain is damaged  

The reputation of the U.K. as a quirky and diverse career destination has been dented. The U.K. press may not report all the issues that have happened to E.U. citizens, but their stories of harassment and abuse are being recounted to the media in their home countries and getting traction. Based in Brussels, I had heard of the ill-treatment of  Eastern Europeans in the U.K via European media sources, long before my British colleagues had the faintest inkling.  One Czech candidate told me “I wouldn’t want to be stuck on that island post Brexit.”  

There is no doubt that Britain is developing a reputation as a culture where racism is embedded.  Some say it has always been there. Others believe that the xenophobic nature of the Brexit campaign has fuelled it. This does not only apply to Eastern Europeans or blue-collar workers. Senior executives of all nationalities report negative reactions and some express concerns for their children in school.

The fall out will be particularly felt In sectors where there is a skill set shortage with a reliance on non-U.K nationals to fill the gaps.

Read: Post Brexit Talent Drain 

  • Hard Brexit protection

One  of the concerns of candidates contemplating a transfer or applying for a new job in the UK is what will happen if a hard Brexit impacts them. Will they have to pay for a visa or even have to repatriate?  Recruiters are starting to be asked for clauses in their contracts to cover negative contingencies such as a visa support and repatriation.

  •  Salary protection 

Another concern is the current drop in the value of the pound, but also other volatile currency shifts. Many candidates have financial commitments in currencies other than they one they maybe paid in and are looking for salary hedging clauses. Candidates currently paid in sterling with commitments in Euro have seen a recent negative impact on net income.

  • Protection of other rights  

Prof Alan Vaughan Lowe QC a leading barrister who specialises in international public law told a House of Lords panel last month that it was “inconceivable” that the employment laws would survive entirely intact. He maintains that there is  “zero chance EU citizens in UK will keep same rights post-Brexit”  This massive level of uncertainty makes candidates wonder what they should be looking for from employers if they transfer internally within an organistion to the U.K. and where they stand longer term. The lack of clarity is creating a culture of uncertainty, which always  deals a damaging blow to any business or economy.

Not unsurprisingly the reverse situation does not seem to apply, in my experience at least. To date I can report no concerns from candidates contacted to relocate to Europe and even an increase in numbers open to international assignments.

If your company struggles to identify and attract the right candidates,for all executive search requirements contact me.

 

Down but not out! The power of the past!

Snail mail can work!

Old methodologies can work!

Today the pace of technological change is phenomenal and the process of searching for a new job has moved away from the more traditional methods towards online, electronic strategies. Tried and tested techniques once standard for job seekers are now becoming at best outdated, and in some cases, totally obsolete. Career coaches are constantly hammering home to job seekers how important it is in today’s job search market to keep abreast of the wide variety of job seeking tactics that are available to us all on the internet. Included in this list are professional platforms such as LinkedIn, online job listings, other social networking sites, company websites and so on.

Embracing change

However, there is now a half a generation at least, who know of no other way of looking for a job other than online. Older demographics are also starting to understand that change is inevitable and even the Luddites embrace parts of this brave new world, albeit reluctantly: posting LinkedIn profiles, joining Facebook, uploading CVs electronically and raising their online visibility. But younger demographics, mainly out of ignorance, can at times be just as closed to trying out something, not necessarily new, but new to them.

Other than seeing things on old movies or Mad Men, they are not familiar with, and have no experience of, job search processes that weren’t carried out via the internet. However, there are times when traditional time-honoured methods cannot be totally ruled out and can even bring some benefit.

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Mr. Postman

I was working recently with a young man based in Buenos Aires. He is engaged to be married and wants to relocate to Europe, to at least be on the same continent, preferably in the same country as his fiancée, who lives in Munich. They had agreed that he would be the one to move: he was entitled to Italian nationality via his grandmother and could therefore work in the E.U. He also speaks 5 languages fluently, compared to his wife to be, who has a mere 3 under her belt.

Together we created a career transition strategy, identified his transferable skills, raised his general visibility and targeted the companies he would like to work for. Despite his best efforts, progress was slower than he would have liked, which was putting pressure on his relationship.

Long shot

So I thought and suggested (somewhat tentatively) that he could write some letters. There was a silence. Then the dialogue went something like this:

Pietro: –But I have written. I’ve sent all sorts of mails and LinkedIn messages”
Me: ” I know – but what about writing a letter, printed on paper ( I’ve seen his hand writing – not good. It would be hard to believe he is older than 9) put it in an envelope and post it in the mail with a copy of your CV. It’s something you haven’t done and might be at least worth a shot’
Pietro: “Wow – you mean like a letter? Like in snail mail? That will take ages. How do I know they will get there, or anyone will read it?”
Me: ” Yes I mean like a letter, like in snail mail. How do you know anyone’s read your emails? You don’t. You could send a registered mail but that might seem a bit over the top for a CV! Give it a try.”

Long shot

So he did and 8 letters were duly dispatched addressed to the contact names he was trying to reach in his preferred target companies, giving dates of his next planned trip to Munich. During the next month he received by various means, 3 requests to contact the company to set up information interviews. Not a bad result and return on energy for a long shot.

So there are things that we can usefully blast from the past and there are others that could prove difficult. I saw one old school suggestion of unannounced visits to a potential employer. Now 30 years ago that might have worked. Today it’s unlikely that any unscheduled caller will get beyond security, particularly in large organisations where even gate keepers have gate keepers. But in small informally run companies – even that might work on a lucky day . The visitor will find out soon enough if his/her presence is considered intrusive and they find themselves unceremoniously on the pavement.

Down but not out!

So the moral of the story is not to have a closed mind no matter what age you are and to assess all the tools in the job search box. Just as older job seekers have had to adapt to new ways of navigating the market, so Gen Y can learn from tried and trusted methodologies, which although mainly gone, should not be totally forgotten.

How divorce impacts executive search strategies

Does the traditional nuclear family facilitate our talent management strategies?

One of the areas that anyone involved in the hiring process is not allowed to explore is the marital /relationship status of  any potential candidates. I am completely supportive of this, but with the caveat that it is impossible to separate a significant part of someone’s life and assume it doesn’t exist. It does, and in most cases, any difficulties will usually surface somewhere in the career transition process. Life issues do eventually become workplace issues.

Rise in divorce rates
I have noticed recently how the rise in divorce rates is impacting executive search. Last week alone, a significant number of potential candidates expressly cited divorce as a reason for not engaging in the search process.

Life events
This information is based on candidates willingly and voluntarily sharing very private and sensitive information with a total stranger. There are possibly others who just have just cited location, travel requirements, timing and all the other reasons candidates give for not being interested in a position. I have no idea if they are the real reasons. Given that (depending on the stats you read) roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce,  it’s perhaps possible that divorce underlies many candidates reluctance to engage.

Changing jobs is also one of life’s major challenges, especially to a new company, in possibly a new location.  Having these two major life events occurring simultaneously is too much for many. Even if the opportunity is a perfect fit, they have to turn it down.

Psychological impact
As anyone who has been through the process will tell you, the effects of divorce can change virtually every aspect of a person’s life including where they live and with whom , their standard of living, their emotional well-being, their financial situation and liabilities and time spent with children. For many their social group will change and perhaps the needs of new partners and their children will also have to be factored in, as modern family life becomes ever more complex. Almost all would describe it as a challenging and stressful time.

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Time issues
The divorce process saps enormous amounts of both time and energy. It involves meetings with possibly lawyers, counsellors or therapists, real estate agents and financial advisors. Stress can lead to health issues requiring medical treatment. James, an ideal candidate for one particular search told me ” There is no way I could focus on changing jobs right now. I am struggling to keep all my balls in the air currently as it is. I have been depressed. Looking for somewhere new to live, dealing with lawyers and seeing my children at weekends, as well as my job, is all I can cope with at the moment. My manager is cutting me a lot of slack”

Childcare
For one or both parties it will mean moving house, itself a life challenge. Child care arrangements will need to be set up as more and more children (50%) split their time between two households. This places a greater reliance for any professional person on local support networks,  which might include grandparents, day care or help at home, if it can be afforded. Quite often the current employer has been sympathetic which fosters additional and strong employee loyalty. Sometimes those same flexible arrangements cannot be replicated with a new company, especially at the start of a new job.

Joint custody
I talked to Annick in France whose employer had agreed to her travelling only during the weeks her ex husband was responsible for the care of their two children. This time was fixed by the court and was not flexible. But additionally, professional input suggests that fixed routines for children under these circumstances are best for their well-being and have to be strictly observed. Annick felt that her hands were tied at least for the next 10 years, until the children (ages 6 and 8 ) became more independent. Her future career she believed  would now be limited to local opportunities with limited travel.

Remote working
Many potential candidates in these circumstances ask about remote working. Most companies are reluctant to afford that facility to new employees at the beginning of their careers with their organisation, except possibly those in the sales force. There will usually be a certain period of onboarding, where it’s important for the new employee to be physically located with the people he or she is working with or managing.

Re-locating
Relocating as part of a family unit has its own stresses (I’ve done it), but relocating as a single person, or even a single parent, is not straightforward. Pieter in Holland, in his early 50s with 2 adult children told me ” I’ve just gone through a divorce and chosen a house to be within easy distance of my kids. It has taken me time to rebuild my life and a social network. I just don’t want to start over in a new place. I am happy to travel so if the company would agree to some element of home office working – I could be open”

Travel
Saskia, is a senior executive I contacted for a position based outside her native country, with a reasonably high level of travel. With the ink barely dry on her divorce papers she felt that she may not even be allowed to take her children out of the country on a permanent basis by her ex husband or the courts. With the high level of travel, she would have to hire support to cover any extended absence in addition to daycare. She didn’t want to do that, not just for financial reasons, but she simply didn’t want to put her children in on what would be at times 24 hour care, in a foreign country. In her current job and location their grandparents stepped in to fill the gap.

Trend
This significant trend is already having an impact on workplace dynamics. In the talent management sector we have become reliant on the existence of the traditional nuclear family, as a way of facilitating the movement of talent and supporting career transition. But it seems that is changing, so we have to find ways to adjust our strategies to make sure we are not losing the best talent because of circumstances which now a high percentage of the population are experiencing .

So what do we need to do to adapt to those changes? Ideas anyone?