Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

aaplying for a job without all the qualifications

Applying for a job without all the qualifications

In today’s job market, many job seekers are concerned about applying for a job without all the qualifications. The question is should they apply anyway, or wait until a role where they tick all the boxes comes along.

In a recent search I ran 86% of the candidates were not on target. Another search for a GM of a Onsite Engineering Assembly Plant in China which required knowledge of Cantonese attracted applications from 20 short-order cooks.

A gender issue?

One element is that many see this as a gender issue. At one time, based on a Hewlett Packard internal report,  it was suggested that women in particular only apply when they have 100% of the qualifications and men when they have 60%.

But a host of subsequent data based studies suggest that this is another one of those urban recruiting myths whic which has been debunked. Norwegian professor Curt Rice suggests that given this lack of data we should stop citing these numbers as benchmarks.

In a study carried out by Tara Sophia Mohr a sample of over a thousand men and women gave their reasons for not applying for a job. For the qualification element, the gender gap was 8.9% not 40%.


Busting the gender stereotype myth

Another study from LinkedIn idicates that women may simply be more ‘selective’ when applying to jobs based on a host of reasons . They apply for fewer jobs, but are more likely to get them. This selectivity from female candidates will contribute to reducing the chances of women progressing into more senior roles.  At a time of global skill set shortages, companies need to be more flexible to attract more women candidates.

More Research from Behavioural Insights found “men apply for a job when they meet 52.1% of the qualifications, where women apply if they meet 55.7%.”

So it seems that gender differences are in real terms minimal, although men do tend to over estimate their capabilities, this may not be as frequently or as greatly as originally thought.

As with all job search strategies to the specific about applying for a job without all the qualifications, the answer  is “it depends,”  because there are both advantages and disadvantages.

There are 4 factors involved:

1.  Which of the qualifications you don’t meet. If it’s a critical hard skill I would generally advise against it. When the ad states you need an engineering background for example and you don’t have one, it will be a long shot. If you have practical experience that is a substitute for a qualification then apply. Hard skills have a life span of about 2.5 years anyway. But for a driving job,  you do need to be able to drive.

If your missing skill is lower down the requirement hierarchy and one that can be learned quickly –  go for it.

2. As organisations are trying to make job postings more real, then it could be that the requirements posted are the minimum. One way around this would be to ask the hiring manager or recruiter for their view if you can, or apply anyway and take a risk.

3. You will need a good understanding of your transferable skills and be able to demonstrate them.

4. A hiring manager will want to see evidence of your capacity to learn quickly. Make sure you convey that message.


1. You may succeed

One of the most significant advantages of applying for a job without all the qualifications is that you will actually make the cut and be considered for the role. Hiring managers can struggle to find that perfect candidate and may be willing to be flexible if they think that your other sklls are relevant or compensate.

Very often job postings are inflated anyway and in a global skill set shortage they should be willing to be flexible and keep job profiles real.

2. Stand out from other candidates

When you apply for a job without all the qualifications, you are demonstrating to the hiring manager that you are open to taking on new challenges and a willingness to learn new skills.

This can set you apart from other candidates who may have more experience, but are not as willing to step out of their comfort zone.

3. You learn from the process

Applying for a job without all the qualifications can be a great learning opportunity. Even if you don’t get the job, going through the application and interview process can help you identify areas where you need to improve your skills or gain more experience.

If you are lucky enough to be screened and interviewed then it’s good practice.  If the hiring manager makes a decision to move you forward, there is no need to worry about wasting their time. That is on them.

4. Puts you on the company’s radar

You might not be right for this particular role but applying for a job without all the qualifications will put you on the radar of the hiring manager or the company’s recruiter. They will keep you in mind for a different role and.

I have done this myself to candidates many times. Sometimes the candidate is willing to go along with the suggestion, others are not. It will depend on your goals.


1. You will be cut

If you lack the basic skills you may be cut during the early stages of the process. ATS can be pre-set to screen out candidates who don’t meet key requirements. Note: this is not some kind of recruitment robot but settings are pre-determined by a person.

Some hiring managers may be willing to overlook certain requirements, others may not. As long as you are able to handle rejection then it will be a case of nothing ventured nothing gained but your self-confidence may take a blow.

2. Wastes your time

Completing the job application can be time consuming and you may  spend time and energy on something that won’t produce results when your efforts would be better placed applying for jobs for which you are better qualified.

3. You ARE underqualified

You may be convincing in the selection process (confidence bias exists) but when you are offered the job you may struggle. This can lead to frustration and disappointment all round. You could end up not being confirmed in your appointment following your probationary period and even be terminated. 

Taking a chance may pay dividends but prepare yourself for rejection. Above all be strategic and test the water with a small sample, rather than investing huge amounts of time applying for a high number of roles for which you are under-qualified.

And ladies if you have only a tiny doubt, take that chance.


If you need help in your job search get in touch NOW

bbypassing the hiring process

Bypassing the Hiring Process. Yes, No or Maybe?

 Bypassing the hiring process can work, but it is not always advisable

There is a story in Greek mythology of Hydra, a monster with many heads and deadly poisonous breath. For every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow two heads and the only way to deal with this was with swords and fire.

We have a modern equivalent on social media with re-occurring recruitment myths which just never seem to go away. My sword is in for a service and the fire option is not really practical online. I will only set fire to my computer.

Despite factual rebuttals,  like Hydra the same old tropes resurface multiple times within weeks. The old favourites are cover letters (depends) and hand written thank you cards (no.) But a less popular, but stlll misinformed  and reoccurring myth is this:

By passing the recruitment process and going directly to the hiring manager is the way to go.

My own experience

Processes are important. This is a small anecdote but illustrates a point well. In a recent search I monitored how candidates tried to reach me. I specified on the profile that contact should be via my email address. Which I gave, as I would.

This is what happened:

  • Another email address was used
  • I received DMs via LinkedIn messaging
  • A What’s App text
  • A What’s App audio
  • SMS
  • Twitter DM.

Did I get them all? I hope so, but did it do them any favours? No – just extra work for me.

These are the same people who may complain that they have been ghosted.

Advantages of bypassing the hiring process

In some environments I can see that there could be advantages of going directly to a hiring manager. In cultures which recognise and reward individualism (e.g. U.S.) it would be well received and seen as dynamic and taking initiative.

But it is not always the case. In my terms and conditions any CVs received by the organisations are put into the system so that all candidates are treated equally. This helps to  avoid the bias found in the referral system and also nepotism. The CEOs daughter’s, boyfriend’s niece and so on. You know the story.

Check out the highlighted section for indvidualism in the Hofstete Cross Cultural Comparisons and you can see the range of cultural differences from Spain to the U.S. Even in Belgium where networking plays a strong role to raise visibility around the large political institutions, individualism comes in at 16 points lower than the U.S

bypassing hiring process

A contact ethusiastically followed the advice of an American pundit when applying for a job in a Spanish company. It backfired horribly, and if you look at the chart above you can see why that might happen.

Why does it seem attractive?

  1. It can be faster.  Bypassing the hiring process and going straight to the hiring manager can produce a faster decision.  This is great in flat organisations, start-ups or small companies. In strongly hierarchical companies, with strict protocols and policies, this will not work at all.
  2. Deeper insights:  Hiring managers would be better informed and you might gain some additonal information.
  3. Personal contact: Can increase your visibility and contribute to building a relationship with key people outside the system.
  4. Greater focus:  Hiring managers may getter a better sense of who you are and feel better connected.
  5. Improved chances: In some situations your chances of being successful are increased.

The downsides of bypassing the hiring process

Bypassing the hiring process and going directly to the hiring manager is not always advantageous for the following reasons:

  1. Inability to follow instructions: which may raise some red flags. Not all cultures reward individualism like the U.S. for example (see above chart) and it could go against you.
  2. Lack of professionalism:  Bypassing the hiring process can come across as unprofessional and may even hurt your chances of getting the job. See point 1.
  3. Lack of time: hiring managers are busy which is why they have H.R. departments. They may not even see it or their admin will bounce it down to H.R. anyway. You may be seen as  nusiance.
  4. Risk of alienating those involved in the process. 
  5. Miss out on future opportunities if this application doesn’t work out.

So, as in alll of these multi-facted questions, the real answer is…. it depends. And that is the hard part, knowing when you can try and work around the system and whether it will go in your favour, or against.

Talking to people in your target organisation to gain an understanding of the culture can help you figure out if these efforts will be appreciated…. or not.

If you need support for your job search get in touch NOW!  

making an international move

The golden rule to making an international move

It’s the summer, so inquiries about making an international move always rise. For me, they usually peak in September where the glow of returning to home territory is of the radio-active variety.

Post Covid, people are travelling again, so this year feelings definitely seem to have intensified. Many have been released  literally from the confines of their Covid-coping lives over the past three years. Not unsurprisingly they are falling in love with places they visit on their travels and want to relocate permanently.

Layer on political, economic and cultural uncertainty in some geographies, romanticism this year interest seems to be higher than usual, especially for Brits and Americans.

Things to consider before making an international move

It is true that some people just sell up and move on a whim and it works. For individuals very early in their careers, the experience can be relatively painless. For more established professionals I would advise some structured research.

Even then, it can be more challenging that it seems initially. This is something I have first hand experience of as a coach, a head hunter and personally.

1.  Revisit your chosen location

Go back to your chosen destination for an extended visit out of season, when the weather will be different. If you are drawn by summer conditions visit in the winter when it’s cold and raining. Like the mountains and snow? What is the place like in the summer? Looks idyllic in June. How about January and February?

Rent an apartment and try to get a feel of what life would be like all year round.

2. Get financial advice

See a financial adviser to check out tax and other fiscal implications, especially around health and social security costs. Some countries require proof of a minimum level of income. Read more here

3. Check out cost of living

Make a cost of living comparison – how does it compare to the place you are leaving? This site Numbeo is a good guide. This will help you set your budget.

4. Do you need a work permit or visa?

You can check this online. Some countries offer special temporary Digital Nomad or Entrepreneur visas. Read more here


5. Do you need to learn a language?

It is true in many geographies English is spoken as a second language, or it may even be the business lingua franca, but working knowledge of any local language will be a real asset. For some jobs it may even be mandatory.

6. What job opportunities does the region offer in your profession?

Set up job alerts for the region or look into the possibility of working remotely? Read more on that here.

7. Network in your target town.

Get a more realistic view than if you were a tourist by talking to people both from your own country or locals. Investigate Meet-Up or Internations. Follow Digital Nomad Bloggers. There is now a whole host of them who are working either directly in this field, or share their personal experiences of international relocation.

If you have a hobby or play a sport, find out if there are any groups or facilities in the area. Visit the locations or talk to people about costs, how easy it is to join and any other general information.

8. Can you transfer in your current role?

The easiest option may be to transfer with your current job. Is that possible? Do you want to?

9. Check out schools

If you have kids and are still seriously considering making a move –  check out schools. This can be a key factor. Young children tend to adapt really easily – but teenagers can be miserable. And we all know that miserable teenagers = miserable parents. I moved internationally with a 9 year old and a 13 year old in a highly structured way and even then, I know this to be true.

Some schools will let your child attend classes for a short period to get a feel for it. That can be helpful.

Golden Rule

International relocation is challenging, exciting and rewarding. I have done it personally  and have worked professionally with individuals who have taken the plunge for decades. I have a portfolio of  stories some about great success, others involving heart break.

The one golden rule of making an international move is never base your decision to relocate internationally on a  holiday experience.

Relocation is not vacation.

There is no substitute for systematic research.


If you need help making an international move  – get in touch NOW




Post-Brexit job search

Post-Brexit Job Search Tips

I wrote a post in 2019 about the impact on talent in the U.K. as both E.U. nationals start to repatriate or return to another parts of the E.U. and and Brits look for jobs in Europe.

One element that many British nationals seem not to have fully appreciated is that they now have third country status requiring a more vigilant process around obtaining visas for right of residence and work.

Since 2021 after the expiration of the Withdrawal Agreement, all UK nationals will need a work permit to work in most EU countries. In most cases you will also need a job offer from your chosen country so that you can get a visa to move there.

Obviously if you have access to passport of an EU country your problem is solved!

Digital nomads and entrepreneurs

Some countries are offering Digital Nomad Visas with each geography having its own conditions and regulations. If you are in a sector which facilitates remote working check out the countries which interest you most.  Greece, Spain and Portugal are very popular destinations.

Most countries have strict requirement around the ability of a Digital Nomad to demonstrate  they have sufficient financial income to sustain themselves and any family members to avoid becoming an economic burden on the state. Digital Nomads should check the small print especially around minimum earnings for each country. Spain requires €27,792 for example with additional amounts for dependents. Also pay attention to health insurance conditions especially post COVID.

A Digital Nomad visa applicant usually needs:

  • An eligible and valid passport
  • Proof of a steady remote income.

Many countries with Digital Nomad visas may require the payment of an application fee.

Also investigate cost of living comparisons. There can be many hidden costs in international moves which vary from one geography to the next.  You can do that here.

Here is a list of countries which have Digital Nomad offerings.

Start-Up Entrepreneur Visa Netherlands

The Dutch start-up visa is a residence permit for people from outside the European Union (EU), who are looking to start an innovative business. The start-up visa is valid for a maximum of one year.  During that time, you’ll be expected to produce or introduce an innovative new product or service under the guidance of an experienced facilitator.

A key requirement will be to demonstrate financial solvency. At the end of year one, you can apply for a residence permit on a self-employed basis or a regular residence permit including the endorsement ‘Work is freely permitted’ (Arbeid is vrij toegestaan).

Post Brexit job search tips

Otherwise the solution is to look for a job. In response to the number of people who have contacted me in recent weeks who are not Digital Nomads or entrepreneurs, here are some post Brexit job search tips.

  • In demand skills

If you have in demand or scarce skills then the job market will still be buoyant for you.  Just apply in the normal way and the company will arrange visa sponsorship. Set up alerts for EU based companies to check matches. Optimise your LinkedIn profile and if appropriate ( you may not want to alert your current employer) state that you would be open to working in Europe.

You can also network with EU based head hunters who specialise in your area of expertise. Remember we work for the client and may not have suitable openings. Also factor in that at the moment the market is flattening out.

  • Ask for a transfer

If you work for an international company in the UK ask for or a Europe based position or apply for a transfer to one of their subsidiaries in a European location. Build up network connections in your country of choice and look for a sponsor in your preferred location.

  • Join a European company based in the UK

If you take a longer term 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 move to Europe, 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 36% of people speaking one foreign language. Many of these will speak Asian languages or dialects and Arabic. This compares 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.

People I spoke to in 2019 invested in intensive language courses and some have already made a successful transition. Others found their language capability lacking and struggled.

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.

  • Target companies which have already relocated

Find out which UK companies are relocating or have relocated to Europe. Many businesses set up European bases to avoid the red tape of being a third country.  Find out if they are seeking new talent and will bring people in or will focus on the local market.  Create a focused search and build a 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. Find the one that best match your educational skills and language abilities. LinkedIn also offer this facility by geographic region.

At the same time become familiar with tax and social security systems of the places you are interested in so you are fully informed about local fiscal systems.

  • 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 and cost 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 you have an exceptional skill set or one that is in short supply that will make a difference. We have been in a candidate driven market but that looks set to 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.


Note: I have also been contacted by a number of Americans and the same conditions should apply. However, the US tax system needs special attention and I would advise you seek professional advice.

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

The value of references in the hiring process

There is a lot of social media white noise around the value of references in the hiring process.

As with everything today opinions are divided and polarised.

I mean….. really?

People actually feel strongly about references?

Seemingly they do.

Pros and cons

Many people underestimate the value of references in the hiring process. But that can be a big mistake, because if done correctly they frequently reveal a lot of useful tells.

Candidates usually propose their own referees, so they obviously expect to be spoken about in glowing terms. They will also specifically brief their selected referee on the points to cover, which is why many people think they are a waste of time and  potentially invalidate anything they are likely to say.

This can be true, which is why obtaining meaningful references is an essential and real skill. Many recruiters  receive little or even no training on this which is why the process can be dismissed so easily and undervalued.

Glowing references

As today’s job seekers become increasingly sophisticated, especially at a senior level , it’s important  to be able to pick through the smoke and mirrors to find out what really lies beneath the surface.

Today everyone encourages candidates to orientate their CVs towards each specific opening. Many job seekers hire skilled resume writers to showcase their talents and career stories. A polished, perhaps even coached interview performance will seal the deal.

What it is not!

Reference seeking is not a chat or quick call with a nominated person or business associate from the candidate’s previous career, or a substitute for other forms of rigorous assessment.

Nor should it be based on idle network gossip. If there is smoke then the fire should be systematically tracked down! Very often market whispering can provide valuable feedback if processed correctly.

Unless the role is relatively junior it won’t be a box ticking exercise requiring yes/no answers.

Is Joe a good team player?


Describe a situation where Joe contributed to a team project and what skills he demonstrated? How did  they add value and complement other skills in the team?

Not a predictor of future success

One argument suggests that previous performance is not an indicator of future success. And there can be some truth in this. Pre-hiring assessments focus on the quantity rather than quality of those experiences. They frequently measure time spent in a role rather than necessarily what was achieved and more specifically the way those goals were realised.

It might also mean someone worked for an organisation where they were not allowed to develop, grow or contribute in their own style. These are all points which should be cross referenced. For jobs which rely mainly on hard skills this will be less significant than for roles where soft skills are more important.


There are some key steps:

  • The candidate should be informed in advanced that contact will be made with a referee which is now generally by telephone.
  • They should not be contacted without permission.
  • References should only be pursued in the case of a pending formal offer.
  • Preparation for the call should be as strategic as the job interview itself. It is important that the reference seeker understands the key requirements and qualities needed for the position so should receive a job profile.
  • Each interview usually takes about an hour. It is probably a good idea to seek referees in possibly two previous companies, dependent on the experience level of the candidate. One excellent reference from the last employer could simply mean they want to get rid of a troublesome employee!
  • It is quite common to ask for a reference from a report, a peer and a boss to get an overall view. Sometimes a comment from one referee can be cross checked with input from another. These comments can be matched against any interview notes or psychometric testing.

Many companies will no longer give written references for fear of litigation and will only state any facts such as the candidate’s dates of employment and job title.

Fact checking

The value of references in the hiring process is also about basic due diligence. Resume / CV fraud has always been around, so before the start date, copies of any academic or professional certificates should be supplied. Scott Thompson, named Yahoo’s chief executive in 2012, famously falsified his resume and illustrates how easy it is for even senior appointments to slip through the net without thorough due diligence. Everyone thinks the previous recruiter would have done the necessary detailed work especially for senior roles.

References can also be helpful in the onboarding process. If a candidate comes with outstanding references from a number of sources and suddenly under performs in the new role, then that might suggest that some internal questions need to be asked around onboarding, reporting arrangements to facilitate early intervention to support success.

The value of references seeking in the hiring process shouldn’t be underestimated. But it quite frequently is.


Do your recruiters need training on how to obtain references? Get in touch NOW 



Emily in Paris and Career Coaching

An unlikely combo Emily in Paris and Career Coaching

Maybe not. Read on.

For anyone who lives in a box, sans Wi-Fi, “Emily in Paris” is one of Netflix latest, hottest streamed series. It tells the story of Emily Cooper a PR junior sent from her H.Q. in Chicago to the offices of a French subsidiary in Paris. Her mission is to show them the American perspective, marketing speak for “sort them out”. It has become the show everyone loves to hate.  But despite it all, connecting Emily in Paris and career coaching is not such a wild stretch.

Brain vacation

Netflix launched the series in October 2020 at the height of the pandemic when everyone was just about done with bleak movies with sad or scary endings. Entertainment Weekly described the series as “a five-hour brain vacation.” Indeed, the show requires us to suspend disbelief for its entirety.

It is frothy and incredible escapism. When I say incredible, this is not hyperbole. Everything about it is completely unbelievable.

The plot – such that it is

“Emily in Paris” chronicles the activities of a twenty-something career-focused junior marketing executive in Savoir, a chic and renown, boutique French PR agency. Emily, a budding U.S social media influencer, with her American attitudes, not unsurprisingly receives a cold reception. This comes especially from her new boss Sylvie who resents this intrusion, not just because Emily speaks no French at all.

Emily who clearly would normally be paid €2000 per month (Glassdoor) lives in a somewhat palatial “chambre de bonne” a maid’s room (rent in the 5th Arrondissement upwards of €800 per month) complete with hot chef neighbour on the floor below. I forgive this piece  –  it may be part of an expat deal. Not the hot French chef clearly.  OK I may be older, but I’m not dead.

Everyone around her speaks English and is perfectly willing to switch from French for her benefit. She is able to increase her Instagram followers from 48 to 20000 by posting photos of herself eating croissant. Tip to self: give it a try.

She teeters around Paris in outfits I have never seen in all the years I have been going there. London, Berlin possibly. Channelling some colour-blind alien designer, with all those garish patterns, hats, and gloves, it’s a hard look to miss. She can afford high-end pricey restos and bars on her pittance of a salary.

Even her impoverished Chinese roommate Mindy wears Chanel busking in the park.

As you do.

Cultural Stereotypes

The show is essentially a compendium of  national and cultural stereotypes. Emily, the culturally clueless and tone-deaf American workaholic, blusters her way and turns every experience into a branding moment. Quelle horreur.

The French characters are a similar amalgam of every stereotype around French people and culture. The producers leave very little out: resistant to change, late starts and long lunches, Sylvie sleeping with her clients and smoking in the office.  The show portrays French men as sexist and insensitive.

Even the Ukrainian character is depicted as dim and dishonest resulting in a complaint from the Ukrainian Cultural Minister.

The Brit gets off relatively lightly. Won’t/can’t/shan’t speak French, drinks beer and plays football.  OK. Maybe not.

So, what saves it?

The themes are so outrageous and steeped in cultural dissonance, with very little nuance that everyone is aghast. But what it achieves for me, is that this show is so horrendous that it has started conversations. I now see  an increase in discussions on various platforms around cultural differences and barriers associated with beliefs, values, and customs in different countries. Falling into gender stereotyping myself, even men in my network have posted on it. It must be the hats.

There is a reason there are stereotypes. There is usually an element of truth in them. But not all of them endure and not all of them are so binary.

Emily in Paris and Career Coaching  – the connection

We need to start applying the same understanding to career coaching.  The U.S was probably the first to recognise career coaching as a separate sector, so many of the top pundits in this field are American. The casual, informal confidence and individualism found in some male-coded Anglo-Saxon organisations, doesn’t always work in other geographies. This behaviour can be perceived as being brash and arrogant, rather than go-getting and dynamic.

There are still geographies which ask for a photo on a CV. Some cultures discourage women from putting images on their resumes.  Contacting hiring managers directly in hierarchical or low context organisations may not work. We have to factor in that not everyone will fall into the bold, out-going risk-taking demographic.

We have to learn to manage our biases and consider all our differences, not just cultural backgrounds. This includes personality types, communication styles, gender, ethnicity, age, or different career points and make career coaching more inclusive.

The reverse is also true

But conversely there are also lessons to be learned as in Emily’s case, some things are worth trying and are successful.

The secret is to suggest that situations are nuanced and that cross cultural differences can apply to develop a wider understanding. For job seekers the key is to be strategic. Or to bring in a Chinese influence from Bruce Lee.

“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”

Seasons 3 and 4

I understand Season 3 and 4 have been signed, so maybe we will see some growth in cross-cultural understanding and personal development.

Or maybe we will just see more terrible hats, but I hope that the lessons we are learning from linking Emily in Paris and career coaching will endure.

Image: Netflix

If your your organisation needs support to manage bias in your recruitment processes

Get in touch NOW  


When a coach is not a coach

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? When a coach is not a coach. And when does not being a coach become a problem? This is especially important if you think you are one already or want to become one.

The word coach means different things to different people. As such it has become horribly mis and over-used. Is it when they have some level of professional or subject matter expertise which they share with others. But isn’t that mentoring? Or consulting or strategist?

Fluid term

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) estimates that in 2019, there were 71,000 career coach practitioners around the world, and that the industry is worth an estimated $2.8bn (£2.1bn) globally.

Apparently the pandemic saw a huge increase in the number on LinkedIn. Many of the new arrivals joined this unregulated sector for a variety of reasons. For some it gave quick access to new profession without too many hoops to jump through so they could pay their bills. They had backgrounds in recruitment, content creation, S.E.O., HR or marketing.  I get that.

For others it was just a side hustle on top of their regular corporate job.

After all, everyone has a career and has applied for jobs, been to interviews, and experienced rejection.  Right?  Some multiple times.

It can’t be that difficult… surely?

Many have hired people, interviewed candidates and read CVs.

It’s just about sharing experience?

Nope – that is mentoring.

coach not a coach

Coaching differs from mentoring. While a mentor is typically someone more experienced in the same industry to whom a mentee can turn for guidance, coaching is more about having the skills to guide someone along their own self-discovery journey. A coach is a person who leads another to find their own way.

So why is that a problem? We have all done that haven’t we?

Confusing ego with knowledge

Some of these newbies took the time to get some fast-track, basic qualifications or study. Others just did the equivalent of putting their sign over the door by changing their LinkedIn profile headline. Many can write and optimise a credible CV. They know how algorithms work and they can POLL-ute the hell out of LinkedIn or bust a few viral moves on Tik-Tok, to raise their visibility to become “Dimfluencers.”

I have been writing for years about the “FauxPro” who promote their sometimes dubious opinions as fact. I have also shared many “Gooroo Gems” on some of the absolutely dip-shit nonsense advice I see doled out on a regular basis on various platforms.

But I’m not going to cover that now. This is much more serious.

I am talking about the real damage that people can do when left to their own devices and they have more ego than experience and knowledge. Not the mobile kind.

Huge responsibility

Coaching is a huge responsibility. HUGE. It isn’t about increasing YouTube subscribers or followers. The possibility to do enormous damage is high.

Do these people even consider what happens to people after they follow this rubbish advice and they get ignored, rejected or receive negative feedback? Do they believe this stuff themselves? Or as long as the counter moves they don’t care?

One of the things that you learn early on in coaching training, is to be on the look out for what you don’t know.  Coaches in every field may be good at the skills involved in their area of expertise, but if that’s all they know, they could find themselves in trouble. We see this all the time.

This is when the coach is not a coach label applies and the person is a subject matter expert. Sometimes sadly, not even that.

On top of that we have to factor in the current climate.

Mental health

In times of recession, hardship or a global pandemic people have a lot of stuff going on for them that isn’t obvious. Mental health issues have spiked in the last year. There are  high levels of stress and anxiety. It can be for a whole host of reasons and manifested in many different ways. Some are expert at hiding how they really feel and have developed sophisticated coping strategies to cover what’s going on for them.

Coaches need to know what red flags they should be looking out for and very importantly, when they need to say “you know this may need another type of specialist.”  The ICF code of ethics, states that “if a client is clearly more in need of a therapist or psychiatrist, a career coach has an obligation to refer them to the right specialist.”


Someone might not make progress in their job search or be able to change self-limiting beliefs and behaviours for any number of reasons. It can be depression, burnout, or historical issues sabotaging their progress. Some have undeclared addictions. All of these challenges may need expert input which can address unresolved issues, behaviours or toxic relationships from other parts of their lives, including their family of origin.

I received this email yesterday from a complete stranger “I am looking for a job in x region. Please check my profile and see if there are any opportunities for me anywhere.”

The gentleman had taken it from a template created by a software engineer / career coach to network with strangers.

Just NOOOOO… No wonder the person had been unemployed for almost a year.

More than a candle

I had multiple calls over the break from individuals who have encountered these newbies.

Holidays can be a huge trigger for many. Whatever happened between them, and I can’t comment on that because I wasn’t there, the interactions triggered old psychological injuries and insecurities. These so called coaches, clearly oblivious, carried on regardless. They came from a range of backgrounds: teaching, content marketing, ex-HR and product management and even a corporate role.

They did not mean to harm, but they simply did not know any better. When unqualified people start dipping into an activity that can impact someone psychologically they can do profound damage.

Coaching clients can’t pull themselves together, get a grip, think happy thoughts or any of those other platitudes. Lighting a scented candle, filling in a calendar, or going for a brisk walk is not going to cut it if there is a psychological injury or old trauma.

They need to be encouraged to seek another kind of professional help and some will be resistant or even ashamed or insulted.  It needs to be handled with sensitivity and empathy.

Shifting from subject expert to coach

If you are seriously committed to this path, do everyone, including yourself a service:

  • Get a professional qualification with a reputable and recognised body. This is important, not a dodgy online certificate from a country no one has heard of.
  • Do your 100 supervised coaching hours and filmed sessions .
  • Get yourself a coach.
  • Update your professional coaching skills regularly.
  • Find a fellow coach to discuss tricky cases in confidence.

And above all understand your limits and when to refer the things you are not qualified to deal with.

If your organisations needs support with succession planning, promotion or career transition  –get in touch NOW!



Employee referrals  – still a key way to get a job?

The employee referrals debate today

Employee referrals programmes have been around throughout history. Research suggests that Julius Caesar created the first programme when he offered up to one-third of a soldier’s annual salary for referrals into the army.

Employee referrals are a way of finding candidates for an open role by asking current employees for introductions from their network. As in Roman times frequently there is a “finders fee” or a reward for the employee if their candidate is successful. It’s typically not one-third of salary, but it can be as much as $2000. If you have someone advocating for you, they are incentivised to do a good job. However, organisations such as Google found increasing the referral pay-out didn’t impact the number of referrals they received.

Research also shows that referred candidates are considered to be a better “cultural fit ,” reduce the time to hire and stay longer in an organisation. Some organisations ask on their application process if you already know someone in their company, another reason for advance planning.

Conflicting data

So a referral from an employee can be a huge boost in securing a role in your job search, but it’s not as clear cut as it used to be. You have probably seen a lot of confusing data.

These are some of the figures I have seen quoted:

☑️ 12.26% (Statista) roles filled from referrals. This is a global figure from 2018 published in 2020

☑️ 27% (Drafted)   This is a median figure from a 2021 report and a sample of 200 ATS partners. 

☑️ 30% Indeed. This figure is from 2016. 

☑️ 85% also from 2016 which has been doing the rounds for years and now is considered to be out of date.  It probably dates from  a pre-digital era. One career commentator quoted this information recently, I am sure in good faith, and when I checked the research the links they directed people to Virgin Airlines. The Hub Spot page has now been taken down when I raised this anomaly with them. 

Changing times

There are also two other major wider trends impacting employee referrals today.

1. Diversity and Inclusion initiatives which currently seems to be reducing the focus on in-house referrals in an attempt to hit a wider talent pool. Research from shows that employee referral schemes tend to mitigate against women and people of colour. When people make recommendations they tend to refer people who are like themselves (Confirmation bias.)

This may account for the drop in numbers found in the JobVite  Recruiter Nation research published in October 2021. They report that 61% of companies are putting more emphasis on diversity than they did in 2020.

They saw the role of employee referrals in candidate evaluations drop to 31% from 51% (see below.)


2. The high number of open roles has created another anomaly. In the same report JobVite also reported that in a candidate driven market, employers are improving their employee referral schemes and had seen an increase in participation. They obviously see this as an under utilised resource.

I have also observed a higher number of individuals posting job ads directly into their streams on LinkedIn maybe chasing that reward. I suspect their might be a connection. Will we see that 31% figure change next year? Only time will tell.



Diversifying referral schemes

Most people’s networks tend to be homogenous which is why women and other demographics lose out.  Pinterest successfully tackled this problem by testing a more diverse approach, asking their employees for more network referrals from under represented groups.

Abby Maldonado  Corporate Development Integration Lead, reported on LinkedInTo establish a baseline from which to measure, we looked at referrals over a six-week period. We then posed a challenge to the team to refer 10x more candidates from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds and 2x more women over the next six weeks. During the period of our challenge, we saw a 24 percent increase in the percent of women referred and a 55x increase in the percentage of candidates from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.”

I anticipate an increase in this this approach.

Employee referrals and job search

Whatever the range of confusing stats, whether 30%, 27% or 12%, there is no doubt you should  create a strategy to make employee referrals part of your job search and networking efforts.

Here are a few tips on how to go about it.

1.  Research your target organisations

Check out your target organisations and set in motion a strategic plan to get connected to the right people. LinkedIn very obligingly show you which network connections you have in common with an individual before you connect.

Double back to one of those connections and either ask for an introduction or permission to use their name. Remember to diversify your own network. Also don’t assume because people are connected, they know each other well. That isn’t always the case.

Follow your target companies on all platforms, constantly checking for common connections.

2. Leverage LinkedIn

Networking isn’t just about who you know. It’s also about who knows you. LinkedIn is still the major hub for professional networking, so maximised your exposure by engaging on the platform to raise your visibility. Follow the company page and connect with and /or follow people in the organisation. You will be alerted to their activity on the platform and can engage. Be careful not to stalk – that may look a bit weird.

You can join groups, but they are not always as effective as they used to be.

3. Build your Circle of Success

If you have an effective networking strategy you will have a list of your Go-To Top 10 contacts drawn from a range of sources, at the ready. Carry out an analysis to see how people you are already connected to who can link you to individuals you need to know. You might be surprised.

Don’t make an assumption that employee referrals should always come from an in-house employee in the first instance  Sometimes you might have to find work around solutions and it can be a multi-step process. The introduction can also come from key players in an industry sector or profession. Alumnae networks and professional associations are very useful here.  You can also reach out to former employees, although check that they left on good terms. It maybe a more circuitous route but the most important thing is achieving your goal.

This is going to take on additional significance for women and other demographics as employers will certainly ask for more diverse referrals from their employees. You have to network more actively.

4. Informational interviews.

Informational interviews are a great way to cultivate relationships within an organisation to find out what’s going on in that company. This has to be handled with great sensitivity as currently senior people in particular report being inundated with requests. Be respectful of their time and put in any email a caveat that if they are too busy, that they recommend someone else. That way you now have two names.

They are not job interviews and you should not ask for a job. The most useful questions are open-ended “Who would be the best person to ….?

Going forward

The role of employee referrals is open for discussion as organisations try to manage bias in their hiring systems. They will be looking for “cultural add” rather than “cultural fit.”

Certainly, if I ask for and receive a referral I will always read the CV. That is guaranteed. But it doesn’t mean the candidate will be presented if nothing else aligns. I have also observed situations where it depends on who makes the referral. It’s important to find someone within an organisation who has a good reputation themselves, which as an outsider is not always obvious. This perception of a person may also be linked to bias.

In the meantime keep on building and diversifying your network in a strategic way. And above all don’t wait until you have a crisis. You can’t fix your roof when it’s raining as the saying goes.

Securing employee referrals can certainly help and add value in job search. It should be part of your career management tool box, but don’t rely on it to be the golden conveyor to success if you have neglected other elements.

Need help creating a diverse network and building a job search strategy get in touch NOW. 


The IKEA Effect and the Great Re-Set

The IKEA Effect in the workplace

A research team Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School, Daniel Mochon of Yale, and Dan Ariely of Duke, first named the IKEA effect in 2011. They described the IKEA effect as “labor alone can be sufficient to induce greater liking for the fruits of one’s labor: even constructing a standardized bureau, an arduous, solitary task, can lead people to overvalue their (often poorly constructed) creations.”

Also known as the endowment effect, The IKEA effect, is clearly named after the Swedish furniture company. It describes how we all tend to value an object more if we successfully make or put it together ourselves. The IKEA effect is about appreciating things when we invest personal time and energy to acquire them or see the results.

In shorthand  – investment = attachment

Billy bookshelves

Who amongst us hasn’t stood beaming when they have assembled a Billy bookshelf and patted themselves proudly on the back? There are 110 million in the world so highly likely. I even spent €100 upcycling an old one using hugely expensive paint imported from the U.S. when I could have bought one new for €60. Now that is the super IKEA effect.

Basically it means if we are highly involved in the process we have a higher opinion of the result. My revamped Billy bookshelf was not totally perfect, but I still like it several years later.


Self-efficacy, a concept put forward by psychologist Albert Bandura, refers to an individual’s belief that they have the power to affect situations and outcomes. The Harvard research team confirms that it is the DIY elements which fulfil this need. We gain higher levels of satisfaction when we feel we are able to positively influence our own surroundings.

Not only that, but as consumers we are prepared to pay a premium for doing the work ourselves. This is why we are seeing this trend in many areas. We find this in businesses supplying food boxes of healthy or budgeted ingredients which we prepare at home. Self-assembly anything at all. Families pay fortunes for their kids to dig wells in Africa for their gap years. We cook meals ourselves at restaurant tables on hot grey slates, paying top prices for the privilege. Buffet menus carry a service charge.

Customers do the work and the company gets a higher margin. DIY is good business.

Participation means ownership

However, it can be helpful within organisations as well as coaching and training if properly managed. It’s a great antidote to command and control management style.

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” EM Forster

Employees who participate and are involved in decision making processes are more likely to have greater levels of engagement. They feel a greater sense of recognition and belonging. They are more invested in the outcome of any decision and more open to accepting the results.

I have used it myself to great effect in working with teams creating team charters and codes of conduct to agree limits around inappropriate behaviour to reduce bullying and harassment. It can be effective to get buy-in around business plans and cultural transformation when there is resistance between employees and their leadership.   

When we care about anything at all, there is either an individual or collective ownership. Good leaders grant autonomy to their employees to make responsible decisions by giving guidelines and setting expectations. It is the antithesis of micro-management because it boosts competence and therefore self-confidence.

Self-efficacy and the IKEA Effect

We all like to feel that we are performing well and can handle the challenges that come our way. This need for autonomy and a sense of purpose it vital for strong performance and psychological well being. There is currently a worldwide movement of people wanting to quit their jobs. Some have done so already.  Research from a number of sources suggests that the “Great Resignation,” also known as the “Great Discontent”  shows a lack of understanding by employers for the real reasons their employees are leaving or want to leave.

A report from McKinsey The Great Attraction or the Great Attrition shows again that organisations are not establishing what their employees really want.

The great miscommunication

This trend could also be called the Great Miscommunication. Any “great re-set” is an opportunity for employers to listen attentively to their employees and address issues around culture, flexibility, fairness, recognition, belonging and empathetic leadership. These are issues that are hard to measure, so Involving them in the process will give a greater level of buy-in about their vision for the future of their workplace.

Those who have higher levels of self-belief and self-efficacy are better equipped to cope with challenges and set-backs. They are also more highly motivated.


The downside is it can lead to over confidence, so ongoing feedback is necessary. The fact that we made it doesn’t always mean the results are great, as per my Billy bookshelf. It can also lead to people valuing their own DIY efforts rather than listening to experts. The investment = attachment concept can be an effective one, but it does have to be accompanied by a side dish of neutral assessment and critical thinking.  

Attraction and attrition solved

Dan Price CEO of Gravity Payments shared on LinkedIn the results of a survey they ran on the way the company would work in the next normal. The company went remote 18 months ago  and “Since then we hit record revenue and staff count, with 300+ applicants per job opening.”

He asked employees where they wanted to work going forward:
– 7% wanted to go back to the office full time
– 62% wanted to work from home full time
– 31% wanted a hybrid option

He told them: “Great, do whatever you want” and added “Productivity doesn’t come from pizza parties. It comes from happy employees”

When we build something ourselves whether a bookshelf, a CV, a business plan or our future workplaces, we are more likely to succeed when we have put it together it ourselves. This will be vital to employer branding to position an organisation for the next “normal”, resolving the attraction and attrition issues at the same time.

If your organisation needs support planning for the Great Re-Set then get in touch NOW!




LinkedIn Love

LinkedIn Love and Other Ideas

For some time now I’ve been trying to combat sexism and harassment on LinkedIn. Truthfully, it’s an uphill battle. I am not convinced I am getting anywhere at all. So I thought I really have to come at this problem from a different angle. To quote Einstein “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

He was right.

The challenge

Here’s what I observe. A flash poll from LinkedIn expert Andy Foote around receiving creepy advances on LinkedIn, shows us that 65% of respondents indicated the affirmative. They are firmly in the camp that LinkedIn is not a dating site. As I am.

But like everything there is nuance.

On this topic there seem to be two areas of disconnect.

1. The 65%

They generally don’t welcome random people appearing in their in-boxes with sparkling one-liners worthy of a double digit IQ, such as “Hello” and “Howz it going.”

Nor to they appreciate comments on their appearance, smile, eyes and other body parts.

Their reaction is to ignore the interaction and block, or in fewer cases, report.

2. The 35%

This group falls into 4 categories:

🎯 LinkedIn Lotharios:  these people assume that all women are simply waiting for the aforementioned messages to brighten up their otherwise dull days. Of course – why wouldn’t we?  They don’t understand that nothing could be further from the truth. The fact  that many women feel vulnerable on social media and is one of the reasons there is a gender networking gap is beyond them.

They believe that women need to get over it. This tone deafness suggests that they have no idea that these overtures may trigger historical issues. 90% of women have experienced sexism and sexual harassment and are generally cautious. According to U.S. gender violence expert Jackson Katz,  men have concerns about their sexual safety in one situation only. Prison. It’s the whole slipping on the soap thing.

The Lotharios who track email addresses of their targets to send billets doux, are creepier. There is a sense of entitlement. Even I get those.

🎯LinkedIn Lolitas: as flagged up in a recent post by Brittinay Lenhart These are women who post  “irrelevant selfies” for engagement. Posts can be anything from landing a dream job to concern about global carbon foot print. They enjoy and seek compliments.

🎯 LinkedIn  Authentics: this group believe it’s important to pitch up as your authentic and whole self so we should feel free to post whatever we like. Sometimes it’s probably a better idea that some of that self is left where it belongs. At home.

🎯 Looking for love:  this is a group which is genuinely open to possibilities. And I get this. With COVID and remote working the opportunities to meet new potential romantic partners is limited. Romance happens in the office and a professional setting. And LinkedIn is in theory a rich data base of possibly like minded-soul mates.

So why not… provided that it is consensual?

You might be in the same sector, live in the same area and follow the same hashtags. You could bond over your favourite polls and be in the same groups. The possibilities for synergy are endless.

This is the group whose needs we need to meet urgently.

LinkedIn Love

So here is my idea. Bear with me and hear me out. This is a fledging notion but I have probably put more thought into it than an Influencer’s viral LinkedIn poll.

Rather than all of us spending hours of time filing reports and blocking those that cross our personal lines, or scrolling by content we are not interested in, let’s have a separate consensual space for those who are open to other non-professional possibilities. This is no different to being open to contact from a recruiter, a volunteering position or a NED role.

It makes perfect sense.



Communicating the message

I suggest LinkedIn create a secure space and have individuals who are open to this type of relationship indicate on their profiles that they are willing to engage. I am clearly not in a dating demographic, so would no more think of making suggestions on this than I would on the evacuation of Kabul. This is big picture stuff. I would count on people au fait with the practicalities to step up and create a brilliant branding message.

I am personally a fan of discreet and quite like the idea of a rose.  I’m not tied into this and suspect it might be old school and low key, so it is my last word on the matter. Participants could even attach a link to their online dating app in their contact details. I even toyed with icons for “looking” and “open.” I think they are pretty good even if I say so myself;



There would also have to be very rigorously enforced rules and boundaries outside LinkedIn Love. No rose. No deal.  No LinkedIn. What happens in the rose garden, stays in the rose garden. That sort of vibe. If you want out, or snag the partner of your dreams, you take down your rose.

It also means that all parties are aware that this type of approach is acceptable and there are no hurt feelings and embarrassment. No lines are crossed because everyone knows what they are.

Problem solved. They get what they are looking for and we get left in peace.

Limitless possibilities

This can also be extended to other areas. One of the biggest challenges on LinkedIn is finding the content you want to engage in. With pre-assigned categories you can post your content in a particular category which you choose you depending on the focus of your post.

Here are a few suggestions.

  • LinkedIn Food: here people could post pictures of food and drinks. My personal recommendation would be that it has to look moderately appetizing. Some of the offerings look as if they have been regurgitated by a family pet. But this is not my thing and I would be unlikely to look, so leave that to the organizers.
  • LinkedIn Yellow Pages: people flogging their products and services could post here. This could range from bargain basement sevices or renting out your holiday home. Just don’t clog my feed with your ads.
  • LinkedIn Kids and Family: this would include photos of any family members. No quality guidelines here. They are all cute.
  • LinkedIn Trivia: this is all the lighter fun things that are the breath of life to some, yet suck the same life out of others. With it all siphoned off you can choose to swing by or not.
  • LinkedIn Warming Anecdotes: here you can put all the heart felt stories about unemployment, poverty, illness, war and so on. My personal feeling is including a snake oil commercial offering in these circumstances to profit from someone else’s hardship or tragedy is low. But I’m weird like that.

Overlapping interests

OK. I get that a post can cover multiple categories. A family dinner can be both food and family and more complex if a pet is in it and you are celebrating the first billion of a once homeless, disabled, war veteran, turned social media guru. This is a minor detail and I would probably go for all three unless someone makes a category LinkedIn Pets. That sounds highly probably. It would not constitute flooding because you would have to make a decision to look in each category.

I have given up on the plague of polls! There is a special place in cyber hell for these already.

So what do you think? Does this idea have legs? Or am I way off?

LinkedIn… you are most welcome.

If your organisation needs support attracting top talent – get in touch NOW!