Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

Is LinkedIn premium effective

Is LinkedIn Premium effective or even discriminatory?

People frequently ask is LinkedIn Premium worth it?  However this weekend I had a conversation with a group of unemployed job seekers who asked whether LinkedIn Premium is effective and even wondered if it was discriminatory.

It is true It’s not a cheap offering and for those who are unemployed or on a low or inconsistent incomes, purchasing a subscription is a significant outlay.

I decided to do some research and failed to come up with anything substantive on my own. And I’m not a novice at digging around. So I then tapped into my network on Twitter reaching out to Katrina Collier, candidate engagement specialist and Andy Foote, LinkedIn expert for their insider knowledge. They in turn called upon Stacy Donovan Zapar, Founder the Talent Agency for additional support.

But let’s start with some basics. What do you get for your money?

LinkedIn Premium offerings

LinkedIn Products offers a variety of services. There are two main options for job seekers:

1. LinkedIn Premium for Job Seekers

The basic model LinkedIn Career allows jobs seekers who are willing (or able) to invest in the service certain privileges.  With this subscription you can:

  • View who has clicked on your profile over the last 90 days (not just the last 5 people).
  • Feature your profile at the top of the recruiter’s applicant lists.
  • See how your profile ranks compared to other job seekers.
  • Access salary insights when browsing jobs.  LinkedIn Salary gives job seekers some insight into salaries, bonuses, and equity data for specific roles.
  • Send up to 3 InMail messages per month.
  • Entry to LinkedIn Learning video courses
  • Access to people outside your network.
  • Free trial for one month
  • Can pay monthly and stop at any time. As a job seeker there is little value to subscribing for a year.

2. Premium Business

One level up is Premium Business, which offers 15 InMail messages, advanced search filters, unlimited searches in your extended network and additional company data. Premium Business is available at a rate of  $47.99 per month if paid for 12 months upfront and $59.99 per month. This reduces the cost of InMail to $4 a pop. Ironically this might be a better bet, even for an impoverished job seeker.

Downsides for job seekers

There are many who support a Premium membership but there do seem to be some downsides or at best unknowns for job seekers.

1. Limited data on success rates

The internet is full of “how to” posts on contacting recruiters and hiring managers using LinkedIn, including email templates and the psychology of communication. What is less forthcoming is the response rate. There are plenty of stats for recruiters and even an analytics function showing the data around mails in terms of content and timing, to allow recruiters to improve their results. But there seems to be nothing much, if anything at all, on the user experience for candidates. This suggests that the results are possibly not that fantastic because if they were, LinkedIn would tell us. Right?

Stacy Donovan Zapar replied in detail. She said via Twitter that she was “Pretty sure that LinkedIn keeps this stuff under wraps.”

Katrina Collier was sceptical that the opening rate was 25% of all InMails. which makes the cost effectiveness low.  

Stacy clarified, saying that she had been told that published figures were “25% higher than the year before, not 25%  (sic in total) So if the actual response rate was 13%, the new rate was a whopping 16.25%.”

Andy Foote concurred that these numbers would not be widely available. And trust me if they were out there, he would know where to find them. He also points out that it is not widely known that LinkedIn members can set their profiles to be closed to InMail,  a systemic weakness which needs to be addressed. I t is also not well publicised that InMails can be declined, which is an even greater waste of money and adds to the frustration.

2. Excludes those with low, inconsistent or no income

This feature heavily favours those with enough discretionary income to invest in the additional payment per month. As far as I know there are no discounts for the unemployed.

Marina is a gig worker in the hospitality and event management sector. “I work at a middle management level.  This is how the sector is set up with lots of zero hours contracts and freelance workers. My hours are erratic and can be reduced at short notice. I would struggle to budget for that amount every month.” 

3. Featured candidates are not always right or the best

The featured applicant offering on LinkedIn Premium favours those who can afford to pay the monthly fee and in that way is not inclusive. Placing paying members at the top of a recruiters or hiring managers inbox may also not produce the best candidates, just the ones who can afford to pay for the service. It may reveal some gems, but recruiters should and hopefully do scroll further down.

Marina added “I did take advantage of the free month but found I was spammed by recruiters who hadn’t really read my profile who contacted me for much junior roles such as a meet and greet hostess. I would love to see some hard data on how successful InMails really are.  I couldn’t benefit from  the “who had viewed my profile” option because most were in anonymous mode”

Stacy said “It goes both ways. Candidates reach out to random recruiters constantly, asking them to find them a job. They’re not targeted or specific. And recruiters are guilty of the same thing, blasting candidates indiscriminately & generically.  These messages ultimately get ignored.

She recommends:

It could be that LinkedIn Premium is best used for networking and extending your reach outside your own network and asking for insider tips or informational interviews.  The functionality of LinkedIn is changing all the time some of the changes are not always for the better.

But it’s worth trialling the free month to do a test run and see what works for you. In terms of value for money the additional outlay for Business Premium might offer the better ROI.

If you are struggling with a career transition – get in touch


soft skill are hard currency

In the age of AI soft skills are hard currency

Researchers and pundits in the media are predicting the advance of AI and automation with jobs tagged for disappearance. Andrew Ng suggested in 2016 If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future,”  As these technologies become more advanced and widely rolled out  humans will lose out to software. But in the age of AI many roles requiring human qualities will come into their own.  What does this mean for women  and the world of work in general now that soft skills are hard currency?  

Stop calling them soft skills

I even think it’s time to stop calling them soft skills. In previous generations soft skills were not as highly valued as hard skills. As women entered the workplace in ever-increasing numbers their talents were considered to be in the areas of those unquantifiable intangibles such as empathy, communication, listening. This channelled them into pink functions quite often silos which are removed from the decision-making centres. In recent years behavioural scientists started seeing the connection between soft skills and business success and gave them a bit of an upgrade.

Could it be that in the age of automation and AI soft skills will even come into their own?

Fourth Revolution

The World Economic Forum published a list of the Top 10 Skills needed for the 4th Revolution. You can see the shift. One item I would query is that Active Listening has been dropped. I don’t understand that at all as from my perspective listening underpins all the other skills.

Jobs and soft skills

We are a long way away from any technology that can genuinely recognize human emotions and respond to them appropriately. Any  job that requires emotional intelligence, critical and strategic thinking , vision and creativity are going to be protected in the short-term. Currently we are not at a point that AI and robots can automatically design their own upgrades and create responses to anticipated problems. At the moment they just report and record them. Will this change? Who knows.

In the meantime any job that requires empathy, sympathy, imagination and vision as well as risk assessment will require  so called soft skills. This could include primary care physicians, caregivers, coaches, therapists, social work, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs, activists, thought leaders are unlikely to be replaced by technology in the immediate future. Add to the list writers, engineers, inventors,  artists, musicians

We will still need a person to make a data based decisions and judgements, even if they use software to manage their biases.

Business imperative

Soft skills are not just hard currency for individuals, but a business imperative. A study from  Korn Ferry Hay Group, used data from 55,000 professionals in 90 countries. The found that  In 11 of 12 emotional intelligence competencies women outperformed men. Research from many sources from McKinsey to Sodexho indicates that emotional intelligence increases with gender balanced and diverse teams.

What is a real flip for the first time, businesses should pay more attention listening to women, rather than trying to fix them. This what worries me about the WEF report.

Impact on talent management

The arrival of AI will mean that every element of the talent pipeline will be impacted. This will start at identifying talent and following through to promotion and leadership training. In an era when job obsolescence is inevitable, the focus of both individuals and organisations, even schools, has to be on developing soft skills.

If you want to bring top talent into your organisation. Get in touch.







Brexodus job search tips

Brexodus job search tips

I wrote last year about the impact on talent as EU nationals seek to leave the UK to either repatriate or find another European home. But now Brexodus has ratched up a gear.  I am experiencing a spike of unsolicited requests from British nationals wanting to relocate to the EU. The phrase sinking ships comes to mind. This is supported by colleagues in the recruitment industry on mainland Europe. We have seen an uptick in EU citizens leaving the UK and we are now also experiencing an increase in UK citizens departing, an 8,000 increase on 2016.

The exodus, is probably a Brexodus and is the highest level of emigration since 2012. Combined with lower levels of immigration this gives a net migration fall of 25% to 246,000 people post 2016.

Short or long-term?

Nicola White, the Head of International Migration Statistics at the Office of National Statistics said These results indicate that the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the UK, particularly EU and EU citizens. It is too early to tell if this is an indication of a long-term trend.”

Currently, a British person is entitled to live and work anywhere he or she wants to in the EU without a visa or work permit. You can travel wherever and whenever you like. You can live in any of the 28 member states for as long as you choose and you have the same employment rights as if you were from that geographic region.

Post-Brexit uncertainty

After Brexit, it is very likely that each member state will impose the same visa rules that they do on other non-EU countries. In other words, they are entitled to insist on a work related visa and for you to satisfy any other local conditions and criteria for long-term residency.

One of the most unsettling elements of the whole of this shambolic mess is the uncertainty surrounding any potential outcomes. It is estimated that 3 out of 5 businesses are moving all or part of their operations out of the UK to mainland Europe. The other oft forgotten element is that the Freedom of Movement restriction that the UK so desperately seeks, applies to UK nationals in the EU. It’s a two-way street. This has taken many Brits by surprise. Within months the ability to up sticks and relocate without so much as second thought will become a greater challenge. British nationals will have third country status requiring a more vigilant process around obtaining a visas for right of residence and right of work.

The people reaching out to European based recruiters and head hunters, in my anecdotal experience tend to be internationally minded younger people.  The first group is composed of  British citizens who were often born or spent time overseas and enjoy an international outlook. The other demographic is made up of those UK nationals who don’t want to lose the benefits that the EU offers.

Julian (32) was born in Hong Kong and even though he was educated in England and his partner is a quintessential British lass he said “The UK is turning inward. I think it will be an economic catastrophe and a cultural Armageddon.  We just want to move out. We are targeting Amsterdam and Berlin. I want to be in a place where they look to the future and are not dragging up images of D-Day!”

No-deal Brexit

Even if the UK leaves with no deal in place, Brits will not need a visa to enter another EU country for short stays. You can continue to travel freely within the EU using your current passport at the time of writing. However, when expatriating for a longer period national arrangements will apply. You should look at the regulations for the country of your choice. Some counties are openly welcoming talent especially in the healthcare, tech and innovation sectors.

Other downsides may emerge. The Swiss government says it will limit the number of Britons who can enter the country to live and work if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal on March 29. Britons will be treated like all other non-EU citizens. See resource link below.

Brexodus job search tips

In response to the number of people who have contacted me here are some Brexodus job search tips.

  • Ask for a transfer

If you work for an international company in the UK ask for or position yourself for a transfer to one of their subsidiaries in a European location. If you take a longer tem view you could even join try to join a European company in the UK with a view to an international assignment at a later date. Sometimes companies will pay for language lessons and take care of all the visa arrangements. Others only offer local contracts, but it’s still worth a shot.

  • Learn a language

In the meantime for any Brit who wants to Brexodus I would strongly advise you to start a language course. It is true that many companies have English as a lingua franca, but knowledge of a local language is a bonus to help with onboarding and cultural integration. Britons lag behind the general level of language capability with only 38% of people speaking one foreign language compared to 56% in the EU overall. Many countries insist on knowledge of the local languages as a requirement for permanent residency. Check that out early on in your destination of choice. In some cases it is B2 level, advanced intermediate, which in practical terms is almost fluent.

Stephen Doyle told me “I did Spanish in school to GCSE level which means absolutely nothing. I can just about manage to buy a beer. My girl friend and I enrolled in an intensive language course and are looking for jobs in the Barcelona area.” 

Applications to companies located in Ireland have seen a significant up tick. Many British people particularly in the 18-24 age group see this as a first step in a longer term plan to accessing the EU market.

Margaret and Sid describe themselves as a typical DINKY couple – dual income no kids yet. They are looking for jobs in Ireland as an interim step. “Ireland has become very international especially Dublin. They have a progressive culture and obviously speak English. Although immigration is high there seems to be a more tolerant atmosphere. As a mixed race couple Sid – short for Sidhya has experienced some overt racism here in England. Nostalgia seems to be a national virus with everyone looking back to the past. It’s depressing ”     

  • Target companies which have already relocated

Find out which companies are relocating or have relocated and to where and which counties are open to welcoming new talent. Create a focused search and build compelling narrative around why you should be part of that move and what value you can add. If there is any possibility that the organisation might have to sponsor you as an overseas worker then you have to be even more convincing.

The bar sadly has now been raised for British candidates.

  • Extend your network

If your network has been predominantly local, now is the time to extend your range and reach out to network contacts located in EU countries. Alumni networks can be a good place to start, professional associations with branches in European locations and British groups or Chambers of Commerce located in the regions of your choice will also be helpful. Start to develop a picture of what is going on locally and tap into local advice.

  • Sign up for alerts

Sign up on various job portals that advertise jobs throughout Europe. Fine the one that best match your educational skills and language abilities. LinkedIn also offer this facility by geographic region.

  • Don’t expect miracles

One of the important things to remember is that recruiters and head hunters work for clients. If they have an opening in line with your background qualifications and experience, any recruiter would usually be pleased to consider you. Now, with potentially additional effort required to sponsor an overseas worker (which is what you now will be) it is possible that British candidates will not be given the same priority. If have an exceptional skill set or one that is in short supply that will make a difference. We are currently in a candidate driven market so that will help. But economic uncertainty also brings the threat of a downturn and the situation may change.

Otherwise you will be treated like any other third country national. In summary don’t expect miracles. Be strategic in your applications and think long-term. It may take a couple of stages to get where you want to be. Please see resource links below.

If you need help with Brexodus  job search tips – get in touch


Some resources:

Germany: Visa regulations

France:  Visa Regulations

NetherlandsPage on

BelgiumTravel to Belgium


Portugal: Portal SEF

Switzerland (Non EU!):…

Austria: How to Apply for a Visa

Italy: Ministero degli Affari Esteri

PolandWork permit for foreigner’s work in Poland

KonMari your career

Time to KonMari your Career

I started a decluttering exercise in my own life way back in 2005 when I embarked upon a downsizing process. I carried out the final effort last summer when I came across the KonMari method. Like any philosophy it is simple in concept and can be applied not only to domestic organisation, but also other elements of our lives. I realised it is possible to KonMari your career.

Kondo,  is a professional organizer, whose best selling book  “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” took the world by storm. It has a mystical or spiritual component underpinned by the belief that decluttering can change your organisation, but with other added benefits such as weight loss and overall well-being. Like career transition or job search changes made in your professional life will have a positive impact on your life as a whole. And like tidying up for the first time, when you have done it once you gain career management skills which you can apply again.

Some of her basic tenets are brilliantly simple which can loosely or even directly apply to career management. Here are some:

  • Tidy all at once. Tidying a bit at a time never works.
  • Visualize your destination and Identify why you want to live the way you envision.
  • Tidy by category, not location.
  • Tidy in the right order.
  • Find out what sparks joy
  • Discard before you place things back.

Here are 6 tips to KonMari your career

KonMari your career

1. Commit to career transition with courage and conviction

The Kondo principle “Tidy all at once. Tidying a bit at a time never works.” can be similarly applied to career transition.

When anyone wants to make a career change they tend to just tweak their CV and then send it out to everyone they know. This is what we call “spray and pray.” In the way that Kondo discourages piecemeal de-cluttering, career transition is the same. Once you’ve made a decision to change direction in your professional life you have to be all-in. It means assessing and overhauling all your job search or career transition tools. This could include your resume, LinkedIn profile, networking strategy,  carrying out a professional skills audit and refreshing your interviewing techniques. The job market and hiring processes are changing constantly and most people need an update. Recruitment platforms use AI now and hiring methodologies have changed.

Focusing on one small element only could lead to problems in other areas. If you have career clutter you have to tackle all elements with courage, commitment and conviction. To do otherwise is like transferring your junk from the living room to a closet in the guest bedroom. You still have the junk.

Watching Kondo fold clothes is a joy to behold and most of us are going to struggle with the focused attention required. But the underlying premise of belief and commitment also applies to recognising and owning your achievements. If you lack-self-belief in your own skills and achievements you will appear unconvincing in interviews even on your CV. The metaphor of folding camisole straps into the whole garment is spot on. Like any element of job search you don’t want untidy loose ends. And even better a folded item should stand up in it’s own, integrated and compact, just like a career story!

2. Visualise your destination

This is exactly the same principle in career planning and management. You have to visualise your ideal life and career and then create a plan to make sure you are on the right path. It’s important to understand what drives you including your values and passions.  If you don’t know where you are going any path will get you there said Lewis Carroll. This is about setting goals and making sure that everything you do is focused and in line with your goals.

This includes both personal and professional goals so that you have the balance in your life that suits you. Make time for self-care and nurturing the  things that are important to you. This can be hobbies, relationships or personal development.

Gaining insight into those drivers and values keep yourself on track although be mindful that they can and do change over time .

3. Determine what sparks joy

From here on in everything you do should be in line with your plan and vision. If you find yourself doing things that are off plan either your goals need changing or your behaviour does. This involves being aware of how you spend your time. This could mean learning to say no and opting-out of non-essential tasks or non-promotion work (also known as invisible work) which is a trap many women fall into. If you are the one that organises baby showers, takes notes in meetings or volunteers for extra projects, now is the time to re-evaluate that principle.

Every job has elements that don’t excite us. But if you create a balance sheet and there are more negatives than plusses, now is the time to KonMari your career. Make a list of the elements of your job that excite you and make you happy to get up in the morning and go to work. How does that list sit with your vision? If you are not doing enough of any of the tasks that spark joy, then now is the moment to take stock.

4. Your job shouldn’t have power over you

In a domestic sense it is about being attached to “things” that the block you from getting on with your life and moving forward. Don’t let “things” hold you back. If you Konmari your career the theory can be applied broadly to many aspects of your professional life, the philosophic root is so brilliant in its simplicity. It can be about:

  • paring down your CV, pitch, LinkedIn profile and other tools until they are concise, precise and relevant. What I call applying CPR. I have urged clients to do that for years.
  • letting go early or non-relevant experience so that your approach to your career or job search is streamlined and targeted. You’re 40, we don’t need to know about your sports activities in college.
  • not getting distracted by “busyness” and using your time efficiently and effectively. The internet is a massive time black hole. Device addiction is on the rise and multi-tasking is now considered a big con. It doesn’t exist.

5. Search by category  – streamline your search

Kondo advises us to tidy by category not location. So if you are streamlining our personal brand we have to make sure you carry this out on all platforms for consistency, constancy and coherence. It means you have to build a reputation that is in line with your goals and key core message and deliver it over different platforms consistently and regularly. It’s not a one-off exercise it’s a pattern of behaviour.

For job seekers when you KonMari your career you can move forward with a targeted job search that is liberated from all your historic baggage that you want to let go or have tidied up into a compelling narrative that reflects the new you!

It can also be about taking stock of other things. This could include toxic relationships whether at home or in business. It might involve overcoming perfectionist tendencies, when “done is better than perfect.” You might be someone who enjoys a reputation for being a “rescuer,”  the person who everyone counts on in an emergency, but frequently doesn’t get full credit. This can sap your energy and lead  to burnout.

Kondo reminds us also to appreciate the value of any experience even the ones we are letting go and to be grateful for the lessons we have learned. You might be changing some bad habits – but at some level they have served you well in the past. They are simply no longer relevant to the way you want to live our lives now. You have learned from the bully boss or the colleague who took credit for your work. That’s why it won’t happen again because those habits are firmly in your past.

She also advises us to focus on our own needs and not to get caught up in other people’s business or the blame game. We have to take responsibility for the things we can control and let go the things we can’t. We focus on our own de-cluttering. The line “swim in your own lane” is one I use to cover this.

6. A clutter free life is a streamlined life

When we commit to professional change it’s always a good idea to set aside a dedicated area. Look at your desk and make note of what is on it. Filled with junk and paper? What about drawers? In a world of hot-desking, lack of personal space in the office is becoming the norm. This means the junk usually transfers to our backpacks, handbags and lockers rather than being jettisoned. So apply the principles to your physical workspace and even your online filing system. Are you holding on to files from 10 years ago? Do you really need them? Your physical workspace might be pristine, but if you live in digital chaos you need to tackle that too.

Do you need to clean out your address book? Do you have contacts you have neglected or have people listed or moved on?

Another gender trap is an excessive amount of clothes most of which are rarely worn and end up in land fill. This is when you can really apply her principles directly. Time now to pare it all back and align it all with your future goals. Dress for the job you want but make sure it’s a sustainable wardrobe in an era of environmental awareness.

Spiritual elements

One Kondo suggestion which sparked a reaction was that anyone should only have 30 books.  At one time I owned four thousand.  Yes it hurt to give them to charity and some I even had to send for recycling.  But now I have a Kindle and don’t have to throw any of them away.

Whether you are decluttering or considering a professional shift there has to be an inner openness to a new approach. With that comes a willingness to embrace alternative possibilities. It’s also about coming to terms with why we are in a place of resistance and that is never easy.  We tend to feel safe hanging on to the old ways. None of us like change.

If you need help to KonMari your career – get in touch




candidate driven market

Digital transformation supports a candidate driven market

It’s not just skill set shortages that have shifted the balance of power in the recruitment process, although that is clearly playing a role. Digital transformation has also supported a candidate driven market in more ways than most hiring managers consider. Top level candidates are becoming increasingly switched on and better informed.

This generation of job seekers are more digitally savvy than ever before. At one time many candidates were one step behind in the recruitment process, and that might be still true for some. But those numbers are reducing all the time and the very top sought after talent is savvier than ever. This means that employers need to up their games and focus on their employer branding and candidate experience. Their processes need to be agile and responsive and many organisations simply aren’t.


Terms used in relation to dating sites are now becoming common in the workplace. We hear the term ghosting being used frequently about candidates who drop out of a process without a word. Some even fail to show up after they have accepted an offer. Others leave an organisation not long after starting and the word probationary period has taken on a whole new meaning. It is not just the candidate who is under scrutiny but the company.

Maren Jones, a UK-based Talent Acquisition Manager in the co-working space, recounted spending 6 months finding the right candidate for a mid-level facility management role. Her company went through background checks and onboarding and then the candidate left after two months. He had received a better offer (20% pay increase) but also claimed that he had been bored.

Bias aware

Candidates are also getting more switched on about unconscious bias in the recruitment process and are better informed about potential interviewer bias in particular. Women are gaining increased knowledge about gender bias and what to look out for. There is a growing belief that organisations may have a nicely published mission statement, but this may not be reflected in how the culture of the company really works.

Margie says that as a “curvy African-American woman” she has at least three potential biases that could work against her. Her race, her gender and her weight. She always does thorough research on the company before she goes to any interview. “I always check out the social media content of any hiring manager. I look at their LinkedIn profiles for the professional detail, but also their streams, especially to see the type of comment they make. American society is very polarized today. Sometimes their Facebook pages are open and their Twitter feed will reveal more about them than they think.”  

Typically employers investigated a candidate’s social media history but now it works both ways. Hiring managers are also being checked out and social media can be a danger zone for many HR professionals if the post biased or extreme content.

Many recruiters and HR personnel still have not had unconscious bias training. Check out the programme

Diversity and Inclusion

There are many ways candidates can check out an organisation with multiple platforms giving access to data which years ago would not have been in the public domain. They can look at social proofing sites and check on social media. If you use male icons and pictures of young cute white people –  diversity candidates notice and understand the sub-text.

Timely and effective communication

Hiring managers and recruiters have to make their processes and communication more effective. I commit to communicating something to candidates within ten working days. If your organisation can’t achieve that, you risk losing your applicants. There are many ways to stay in touch with even a “nothing to report” message. This can be done via mobile apps and even text. Years ago this type of informal communication was out of the question but today younger generations are comfortable with using tech to pass on routine information. They also prefer this to  a “voice call.”

Faster decision-making

If your system involves too many steps and high levels of personnel engaged in repetitive interviewing and testing processes, once again the market may not work in your favour. Top candidates are in multiple processes simultaneously and it really will be first employer past the post  offering the best deal. Hiring managers and recruiters need to seriously reduce the layers in their recruitment processes. Candidates can experience as many as seven interviews, all day assessments and other testing processes. Today, candidates can be tested via online platforms and at lower levels given automated screening interviews. Some organisations use chat bots. At a recent HR conference a significant number said they had no problem using tech, even bots if they had an enhanced experience.

No time to be complacent

Digital transformation has impacted every element of the hiring process. But tech also supports a candidate driven market with candidates who are increasingly savvy and have higher expectations. For the time at least being they can call the shots.

If you want your recruitment process to be bias and diversity conscious get in touch now. 




Lighten your load

Time to lighten your load

 Will you lighten your load in 2019?

2018 was a year with a lot going on. Some of it wasn’t great for many, with unexpected shifts in the political and economic landscape that will make the up-coming months uncertain. Brexit is is creating stress and uncertainty for 5 million people. I will be impacted for sure.  But some of it was very positive with a strong cohort of young emerging leaders who are articulate, informed and passionate. Many women found their voices and spoke out against harassment and injustice. I took steps almost unconsciously to dump my junk physically and metaphorically and to speak up and out about things that are important to me. Perhaps it’s time too, for you to lighten your load. Let’s make 2019 a year of change, letting go and moving forward.

Dump your junk

I moved house in June and went through a major decluttering exercise. I had an acquisition de-tox where I divested tonnes of “stuff” I had acquired and held onto over many years. By the end of the exercise, I was on first name terms with the men at the recycling centre and my local charity shop knows me well. I confess to finding items I have moved around with me for years. I’ve therefore paid for that service and I have moved many times over the years. Imagine what that has cost me in total!

I felt better for doing it all. Freer and lighter, though sadly this wasn’t reflected on the scales. In many ways it was cathartic. What I’ve come to appreciate is a profound need to let go of things in all ways, physically and metaphorically.

Now is always the best time

I am not a fan of New Years’ resolutions but there is a certain synergy at the beginning of the year about starting fresh. This is why I am resolved to dump even more junk in January. The benefits felt when you lighten your load are even measurable. You will be able to see a difference.

I’ve also worked with a number of clients who are dealing with some of the same challenges as well as different ones. Perhaps this is part of the zeitgeist.

Letting go self-sabotaging behaviours

Many behaviours have served us well over the years. They have protected us and helped us feel secure. But for many there is a tipping point at which they become negative and damaging. They can include:

  • Perfectionism – a need for everything to be perfect can become a significant barrier to success
  • Persistence and resilience  – sometimes it’s OK to walk away
  • Constant efforts to keep everything and everyone under control – sometimes you can’t.
  • Hanging on to the past, including: memories, “stuff” and grudges. It’s best to let them go no matter how challenging.
  • Wanting to “fix” a person in your life rather than focusing on self.
  • Constant disappointment when expectations are not met and when incremental improvements are not achieved.
  • Relying on recognition and validation rather than focusing on self-belief
  • Talking about, but not feeling, emotions
  • Over committing saying “Yes” instead of saying “No”. The frenetic activity caused by FOMO.

Do any of these situations resonate?

  • A need to be right –  this is related to wanting to be in control and fear of making a mistake
  • People pleasing at the expense of our own well-being
  • Guilt-driven behaviours including over-compensation and indulgence
  • Not taking responsibility –  this can result in victim like behaviour and being defined by circumstances not by decisions
  • A tendency to analyse and rationalise situations  – this can lead to analysis paralysis and reduced compassion and empathy
  • Eliminating toxic people who exhaust our energy, take up head space and even damage our finances
  • Tolerating the intolerable – especially related to harassment or abuse
  • Accepting the unacceptable

Make 2019 a year of learning, taking charge of your career and living by your decisions! There is no need to be defined by your circumstances.

If you feel you have behaviours that are holding you back, impacting your professional success check out my new career programme “Lighten Your Load”.




diversity initatives

12 ways to make diversity initiatives work

The main reason that diversity initiatives fail is lack of genuine buy-in at a senior level. There is overwhelmingly compelling evidence that diverse teams have a significant bottom line impact. Research from McKinsey indicates that gender parity and increased diversity would boost global GDP by $28 TRILLION.  So it’s something of a mystery why organisations only pay lip service to making their diversity initiatives effective.

But change takes hard work and commitment and its a cosy boys’ club at the top.

12 key steps so diversity initiatives can work

  • I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. Assign the gender balance project to a senior position with clout, rather than dumping it on a junior, overloaded employee, with no teeth. Preferably not a middle-aged, middle class, white guy. Link the person’s bonus to set KPIs. If the person could be given a seat on the Board that would be even better; although perhaps not popular.
  • Give all HR personnel plus senior managers unconscious bias training.  I would be delighted to run my programme in your company.
  • Give senior management diversity targets together with a financial incentive to meet them.
  • Be aware of the “subtly male” culture in your organization, whether it’s in the décor, your corporate PR, advertising programmes, hospitality functions at male sporting events, or pictures of your all male board and senior management on the walls. If you struggle with this bring in an external professional to carry out a neutral and constructive evaluation.
  • Optimize your job descriptions to minimize the risk of women de-selecting themselves for any promotions or new jobs.
  • Run your ads through apps which highlight gender biased language. Kat Matfield’s app is great. Eliminate macho words like ” H.R. hero” and “ninja” from your organizational lexicon.
  • Commit to gender balanced short lists for C suite minus 4. 3Plus runs services in that area.
  • Strengthen your talent pipeline by “fishing where there are fish” at junior levels. Stop whining about there being no women and being lazy about candidate identification, going always for low hanging fruit, and hiring via the 3M criteria: Mini-Male-Mes
    All male board

    All male board

  • Create mentoring programmes for women. If there are no senior women in your organization find external women. Women cannot be what they can’t see and hear.
  • Implement the much talked “human” approach to HR and walk the talk, with regard to family care support for both men and women. Create a culture where men and women can participate without the threat of career penalties being imposed. Encourage your male employees to take parenting leave. Essentially it’s about making your culture respectful and inclusive.
  • Create a results driven culture and debunk the latest barrier to entry for women – 24/7 availability. It’s the digital age equivalent to a ball and chain, an outward symbol of corporate bondage.
  • Implement management development programmes for women and any other demographic worthy of attention.

What would you add?

If your organisation needs support recruiting top talent – get on touch  


reject candidates

9 reasons to reject candidates after an interview

Many recruiters and hiring managers are plagued by skill set shortages, both hard and soft skills. There is a very strong temptation to compromise to fill an open assignment rather than reject candidates that “will do.”. But very often the wrong hiring decision can be more expensive than keeping the vacancy open and continuing with the interview process. However, we think we have some hard and fast guidelines but there are many anecdotal stories that suggest there are exceptions when rejecting candidates is not the best way to go.

I am not talking about searches for the elusive purple squirrel, or even development or stretch roles, but cases where realistic qualifications, experience and skills have been allocated for a position and the candidate is found lacking. Here, to compromise means hiring below the benchmark. Very often these red flags appear early in the interview and are legitimate reasons to reject a candidate, without further ado. They are generally associated with under-developed or completely missing soft skills or misrepresented hard skills morph from tailoring into lying.

Esther Perel said in a recent interview at the Unleash18 conference in Amsterdam:

“People are hired for skills but fired for behaviour.”

Here are 9 (mainly) good reasons and soft skill tells that should send alerts that the candidate is not of a high enough calibre. I agree that there are always exceptions and special circumstances. But how many of these boxes indicate you should reject candidates from the interview process?  Or is it a case of exceptions make the rule?

1. Poor time keeping

Not being on time, or even early for an interview is a major deal breaker. Excuses that will not hack it in my book are:

  • I overslept
  • I went to the wrong place
  • The train was late. If it was one 30 minutes before the interview – for sure.

Exceptions: There can be good reasons why someone can be late. I was in a cab on the way to a meeting last year and we hit a cyclist. I was detained by the police for a witness statement. I did phone ahead and the company was very understanding. A networked contact reported hiring a candidate on the spot when a car accident blocked the road and he jogged in the rain to get to the meeting! If the 6.00am train was derailed, then discretion can also be exercised – but that would probably be on the news. There are always exceptions so I agree, it’s OK to park that thought for now before checking off the other deal breakers.

2. Appearance

All candidates should be suited and booted and dressed according to industry norms. Some sectors are more relaxed than others. Generally I would expect candidates to be over-dressed in those circumstances. Jeans, sneakers or an unkempt appearance of any kind,  means that candidates should hit the reject pile. If this is how they are when they are trying to impress, then imagine how they will dress when they are not.

Exceptions:  I did have a situation of interviewing someone in an airport hotel. He was en route from the Maldives and his luggage was lost by the airline. The interviewee was dressed in Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. He had bought a tie in the duty-free which was appreciated and added humour to the situation. One panel member felt he should have bought a whole new outfit or put the critical items of clothing in his hand luggage and it showed a lack of foresight. I thought that was a bit harsh. It was a mid-level role and we all know how expensive clothes are in airport stores  – so discretion was exercised.  He went on to receive an offer.

3. Poor non-verbal communication

Many candidates are very nervous before interviews which impacts their non-verbal communication. This is normal and the role of the skilled interviewer is to make the candidate feel at ease as quickly as possible. If this lack of confidence persists, it is usually a warning sign. There is very little to be gained by making an interviewee uncomfortable.

I pay particular attention to fidgeting, lack of eye contact, poor posture, weak handshake and other sloppy body language. If any of these are “off” then interviewers can legitimately reject a candidate.

Exceptions:  It could be because of a neurological difference: ADHD, ADD, anxiety disorders,  autism or other issues. Tact and empathy are really important. Many companies ask candidates if they want to declare any diversity situations, but some feel they will be discriminated against. This is one that could be examined in greater detail. Some people just get nervous in interviews but are great in their roles.

4. Poor Verbal Communication

If candidates are unable to respond to questions concisely, precisely and with relevance (what I call CPR) they tend to lose me.

“Upspeak”  is also something that is a deal breaker for me especially in a client facing situation. Everything they say sounds like a question?

Exceptions:  Look at other qualifications and  assess if these deficiencies are “trainable.” They could have excellent basic skills but need some polish.

5. Preparation

All candidates should be able to demonstrate interview readiness and preparation including at least superficial knowledge of the company and the role. Any candidate who is not reasonably familiar does not deserve to be progressed to the next level.

Exceptions: when the candidate has been given no information because the interview was called at short notice, or the search is confidential. This does happen, especially at a senior level.

6. Poor, no, or the wrong candidate questions

If the candidate cannot answer basic questions like the old chestnut “Why should I hire you?”  showing a strong level of self-awareness, they probably should not make it through to the next round.

Having no questions prepared is also a deal breaker and the candidate deserves to be cut. If you have interviewed thoroughly, even asking for clarification on career development  opportunities would highlight a high level of engagement.

If the only questions are centred around holiday entitlement, the Friday tab and Christmas party, that should send some alarm bells

Exceptions:  None  –  but maybe you have a party animal who could be great at his/her job Loop back and check the other credentials.

 7. Display of device addiction

If a candidate has not switched off their phone, takes a call or interacts in any way on a device during the interview, unless it is to show you something connected to the process,  it should be brought to an end immediately.

Exceptions:   Absolutely none unless a family member has died. It is not a sign of an ability to multi-task. There is no such thing.

8.  General courtesy and good manners

“Manners maketh the man” … and woman. You would be surprised how many candidates fail to engage correctly with those in the process from the receptionist, to secretaries, drivers.  Anyone who doesn’t say please and thank you or is rude in any way, to anyone at all, should be cut.

Exceptions:  None

9. Inattentive Listening

Candidates who don’t process information, follow instructions, flood, or interrupt, all show indications of inadequate listening skills. This has very strong implications for their role as a team member.

Exceptions:  None

So what do you think  – harsh or simply sensible? You may have to pass on a candidate who seems “good enough.” That’s OK. Don’t settle until you find the right candidate. While it may take more time to find the right fit for your business and someone who truly wants to work there, it’s worth the wait. Or is having hard lines missing a diversity opportunity? What do you think?

The real risk is that you could find yourself recruiting for the same position again in six months.

If you need contact sourcing top talent –  get in touch NOW!

post-Brexit skill shortage

Post Brexit skills shortage – Personal Stories

Twenty-six months ago I wrote a post on the start of the Brexit talent drain and the potential impact this would have on a post Brexit skills shortage. We have been living in an age of uncertainty ever since the June 2016 referendum. As everyone  knows, uncertainty and instability are not good for business. So I’m sad to report that this trend has continued. In 2016 the CIPD reported that in general, 44% of working adults said they felt pessimistic about the future, as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU. 20% felt their job is less secure. Today only 25% feel the economy works for them. 

Research from the job site Indeed suggests that in the run up to Brexit, there has been a sharp decrease in job seeker interest in the UK. This is notable from Irish candidates (a drop of 44%) as well as other parts of Europe, with Polish interest in the UK job market reducing by 26%. Ironically after centuries of emigration, Ireland is now a top job seeker destination. The conclusion from Indeed is “The specific effects on the UK’s workforce will depend on what type of Brexit is finally settled upon, but our analysis, which includes Norway and Canada as non-EU countries, suggests that leaving the EU will likely impact the UK supply of labour for the long-term.”

Brand Britain taking a hit

Sectors such as finance and roles requiring languages are reported to be remaining positive, at least for now. Many candidates I have spoken to express concern about the climate of uncertainty and specifically an increase in hate crime which has risen by 30% since the Referendum. One Polish connection told me “many cases are not covered in the UK press or even reported to the police, but they do get picked up by Polish media. Obviously experiences filter back home in the usual ways especially via social media.” A Spanish woman was recently brutally attacked for speaking Spanish on a London train.

Senior post Brexit skills shortage

However, research from the Open University published in September 2018 indicates that senior roles are proving the most challenging. 56% of survey participants indicate difficulties filling management positions. Lack of clarity around future visa arrangements and the “right to remain” for EU citizens leaves many companies concerned about international talent and how it can play a role in their organisations. 48% expect further restrictions to come into force and 53% expect the post Brexit skill shortage to deteriorate further. In the tech sector there are 600000 open vacancies.

Brain drain underway  

I re-contacted the people I spoke to two years ago to find out what was going on for them today.These are personal stories, but it’s clear that the Brexit talent drain is well under way. My contacts are all highly educated multi-lingual professionals, for whom the transition was easier than it would be for many. But the decisions were not made lightly and impacted their families in may ways.

These stories are only a small slice of a much bigger pattern. Net EU migration has continued to decline from a peak of 189000 in 2016 seeing both a reduction in EU immigration numbers and an increase in EU nationals moving out. I am also seeing an increase in British nationals enquiring about a move to Europe. Berlin is a top choice destination. There is always the long-standing problem of Brits not learning languages, but even those who are bi-lingual or multi-lingual, EU countries are starting to announce specific conditions for the rights of British nationals to work in their geographies. Much will depend on how the UK treats EU nationals I think and many are watching anxiously. Me included!

The ultimate irony is that foreign nationals are even being recruited for the British Army.

Post Brexit skills shortage – personalised

Here are the updates from the people  I spoke to two years ago. My experience is a micro one, but reflects what colleagues are sharing in my network.

Spanish Commodities Analyst

  • 2016 – Uncertainty: “the U.K. is showing a post Brexit slow down. Uncertainty and a lack of confidence are damaging for everyone in the short-term. For my career, it would be better to move to another European financial services centre. I speak German and French so could move to Paris or Frankfurt. Dublin would also be a possibility. It’s anticipated that some Banks will move their whole operations so I may wait a while and see what happens , but I have sent my CV out. The current atmosphere is depressing and gloomy.”
  • 2018 – left UK: “Frankfurt has been the top destination post Brexit and 10 foreign banks have chosen to move operations and staff from London to Frankfurt. Because of my language skills I actually had 3 offers which was great. I moved in the summer of 2017. Frankfurt isn’t London in terms of buzz and culture but economically and for my career its sound. My wife doesn’t speak German so can’t work yet but she is taking classes. I’m 35 and have two small kids now I can’t afford to take risks and play a waiting game to see what happens.

French Strategy Manager Global Logistics Company

  • 2016 Xenophobia: “there is definite backlash against foreigners now, which was whipped up hysterically before the vote and is being fuelled even now by a partisan press. I can handle it fine, but the kids are being targeted in school for their French accents and that’s not O.K. It’s not just against low paid Poles.” 
  • 2018 left UK: I relocated to The Hague at the end of 2017. The whole family is learning Dutch. My oldest daughter didn’t want to move and has taken out dual nationality. After 15 years as expats in the US and UK, it’s been challenging, but we feel we are in a more buoyant political and social environment. Brexit is damaging the British badly.

German Account Manager

  • 2016 Abusive comments: and being told to “go home.”   This is apparently rife.  
  • 2018 Left UK:  I moved to Dublin in 2017 with my husband who is American. The US wasn’t an option for us. He is self- employed and can work from anywhere. It was a hard move, but feeling uncomfortable every day gets you down. In contrast Dublin is a very vibrant, welcoming and cosmopolitan city.You feel the change in atmosphere immediately.

Dutch Business Development Director

  • 2016 Fear of housing market collapse: others who have bought property in the U.K. particularly the South East at premium prices are concerned about a possible fall in house prices, leaving them in a negative equity situation, especially as the pound has fallen to the lowest it’s been in years. They see an early departure as vital.
  • 2018 Left UK – We had invested in remodelling our house in the Midlands but it was clear that prices were going to fall.  I risked not being able to cover my investment. Those fears have been realised. In April 2017 I tested the market with a local estate agent and had a cash offer within days. My family and I moved into rented accommodation temporarily and we transferred  back to Amsterdam this summer. We were sad. It meant leaving friends behind. We felt very settled, but that changed.” 

Swedish Marketing Director

  • 2016 Concern about reduced conditions:  indicated concerns about employment conditions deteriorating “The only way the U.K can offer advantages to international organisations is to offer greater tax breaks (already happening) and greater flexibility with employment conditions. This will work in favour of the employer. I anticipate a loss of employment protection similar to the type of systems in place in the U.S. which would be negotiated with a T.T.I.P. deal. We could see a shift to very exploitive employment practises I fear.” 
  • 2018 Left UK: My organisation closed the London office and relocated to Paris. My husband doesn’t speak French so it would have been a difficult transition for him  so we returned to Stockholm. I come from one of the best cultures in Europe and even though it has challenges too, the toxic atmosphere in the UK it not good for people or business. I hope Sweden learns from the British.  

Belgian Institutional Relationship Manager Financial Services

  • 2016 Citizenship: with the question of the right to work under investigation, perhaps requiring British citizenship or special permits the uncertainty around this issue is a concern for some. They would want to maintain dual citizenship so they could work in the U.K. and Europe.
  • 2018 Leaving UK: After the Home Office’s confusing announcements about the right of EU citizens to work, my financée and I are actively trying to relocate to Brussels or Luxembourg. The political tension and uncertainty here is unpleasant.

As we see the countdown to the final deadline tick slowly away, it is clear that no one has a real handle on what the potential outcomes will be. Or a plan.

If you need career transition coaching get in touch now! 




Tinder for talent

Tinder for Talent

At a very entertaining session run by Liz Mackay, Global Head of Talent Acquisition for DSM at #Unleash18 last week, I was introduced to the concept of Tinder for Talent.  As you might imagine I am not in the Tinder demographic, so was expecting eye watering revelations.

Indeed the language has changed, some of the perceptions have shifted, but anyone who has been in HR and recruitment for as long as I have will recognise that the behaviour probably hasn’t.

Glossary of  Tinder for Talent Terms 

Essentially she described the way candidates are interacting with employers on job search which is also found on the dating site Tinder. For the uninitiated here is a glossary of terms.


Now I did know this one. This is when a candidate just disappears without a word. No text, mail, What’s App, call. Nada.  They are just not that into you!  But don’t like to say.

The thinking behind ghosting is that the person who is being “ghosted” will pick up the vibe and realise their romantic interest wants out, but doesn’t want to say so directly. Ghosting is a gender neutral, passive aggressive behaviour pattern and probably a  telling commentary on the person’s communication style.  Some perceive it as a way of not hurting anyone’s feelings.

What happens is that the ghostee feels let down, confused and even betrayed


Benching is apparently very different to ghosting. This happens when the person you’re dating (or believe you are in a relationship with) gradually starts disappearing from your life and distancing themselves. You don’t realise your relationship is over until you hear they are with someone else. I’ve known marriages end that way. The bencher strings the benchee along with  cute messages, just enough to keep them interested, but never anything meaningful. You probably only hear from them when they are bored and out of other options.

For the benchee this is very distressing, humiliating and even annoying. You have no idea if you are single or not and can’t make plans. This strategy is older than even my hills.

Ever thus 

The reality is that this has always gone on to some degree. Ghosting and benching have always happened but were called other things. Ghosting used to be called the “slow no” or MIA to cover a candidate who had formally expressed interest, it could be up to the point of talking compensation and benefits and then… a big fat nothing. I  have heard a whole host of reasons after the event from personal and family issues, to counter offers from their exiting employer. I have sent out any number of final mails giving deadlines requesting an answer, saying that no response would be received as negative.    

Benching manifests itself in many forms. You think you have the ideal candidate and they come up with little negotiation strategies related to benefits (I’ve even had requests for golf club fees) vanity job titles, reporting relationship and location changes, all of which had been clearly stated in any offer and profile and seemingly agreed. Quite often the individual was testing the market and never had any intention of moving.

Sometimes they bench and then ghost.

Candidate driven market

Liz Mackay describes the very positive counter action DSM took to balance these worrying trends in the recruitment cycle. This included an action packed employer branding video called ” Push your limits” with a female super hero, which I was very pleased to see.

So what has changed?  Quite simply, the market.

Today, probably after10 years of being in an employer driven market, the tide has turned and  we are in a period of low unemployment, top talent is in the driving seat.

Hiring managers and recruiters alike have for years been guilty of, and criticised for, ghosting and benching.

Market forces

You have heard of the CV black hole to describe a situation where companies couldn’t be bothered setting up an automated response on their ATS. No news is worse than bad news for candidates. Ghosting for job seekers has been chronic for years.

Candidate reported being called for seven or more interviews, taking time off work and incurring expenses, only to be dumped on the altar, were common place. One client calculated 40 hours of interview and assessments, then the organisation offered her 10% less than her current salary.

Many believed they were about to receive an offer only to hear nothing for months.  They then saw a sector peer change their LinkedIn profile with an update about the role they were interviewing and hoping for.

In a candidate driven market high potential talent is also able to leverage scarcity in salary negotiations. 

Karma finds its way 

Whether candidate or employer, there is no substitute for creating or participating in an effective recruitment process which is respectful. Candidates are currently in the power positions, but like any economic cycle that will change and the balance will shift again.

Remember, karma has a tendency to bite you in the bum.

If you need to attract top talent – get in touch now!