Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

skill set hiearchy

Today’s skill set hierarchy is about to change

Unskilled or low value work

A skill set hierarchy based on economic demand has always been impacted by technology and innovation. Think the plough.This impacts the way we value different jobs which has shifted over time. But today the pace of change has accelerated. Jobs which historically carried a higher value in the skill set hierarchy and were compensated accordingly, may disappear totally, or will be downgraded.

Today there is a lot of talk around “unskilled work.”  An unskilled worker is defined as “an employee who does not use reasoning or intellectual abilities in their line of work.”  Historically, jobs for “low-skilled” workers were concentrated in two areas: industrial (the manufacturing of products) and offices (the provision of basic services.) In the not too distant future automation and AI will likely phase out these roles.

In knowledge economies, we value skills with intellectual activity and reasoning, higher levels of education and complex training. Many higher level jobs which require reasoning and intellectual skills may also be replaced by AI and could disappear. Jobs that carry a lower skill label are either carried out by men with no advanced training or education, or women whose skills tend to carry a lower value, and are under rewarded in our current skill set hierarchy.

But is all that about to change?

New “Power” skills

In tomorrow’s brave new world, will roles requiring soft skills such as the provision of services which are currently described as “low-skilled” be upgraded? This would cover jobs described as “low-skilled” in caring functions, teaching and hospitality roles. Could they even end up being better compensated than today’s “higher skilled” jobs.

Shifts in perception can impact supply and demand, remuneration and even influence wider economic policies on education and immigration. Governments seek to redefine what exactly a “highly skilled worker” brings to the table. Communities grind to a halt if their rubbish isn’t collected by those who are now considered low skilled workers. But highly paid activities in the financial services or legal sectors could be carried out by software. Who is now more valuable?

The World Economic Forum cites the following skills as being key for 2020:

Complex problem solving
Critical thinking
People management
Coordinating with others
Emotional intelligence
Judgement and decision-making
Service orientation
Cognitive flexibility

Interestingly, none of the  World Economic Forum skills necessarily require complex training or advanced level education.

Continuous learning

Today, we tell anyone on a career path that continuous learning and skill acquisition is the new pension  and the way to self-drive your career. In tomorrow’s workplace that advice will not necessarily be about acquiring hard skills. Career development and therefore revenue protection will not be focused on honing soft skills. There is no qualification currently for these as far as I know. I have yet to see a Masters in Soft Skills.

This is easier for people about to embark on their careers. For others in different or later stages of their careers that can be more challenging. I grew up in South Wales, UK at the time of the closure of  the mines and steel works. The governments attracted light industry there to cope with the rise in unemployment.  These factory jobs were not attractive to the mainly male workforce who had been used to working in heavy industry. Women went on to fill these vacancies which had a significant cultural impact, specifically the empowerment of women in a male dominated culture.

Full circle

Having a good education is no longer just about the number of certificates or degrees we obtain. As we see signficant shifts in the skill set hierarchy enhancing soft skills is going to be vital for the workplaces of the future.This brings us back full circle to the way we raise and educate our kids and the value we place on different qualities and competences. Skills which are traditionally stereotyped as being “female” will now need to be embraced by all.  Will we see men more willing to work in the traditional occupations held be women?  People who may have previously looked for a career in industry or banking, may have to look at service jobs found in healthcare, personal care, education, retail and hospitality. Will that increase the perceived value of these professions?

We could also see a shift in the cultural value of different types of work. Jobs that are currently assigned “low value” in the skill set hierarchy will be ranked more highly, which could have interesting wider cultural repercussions.  This sea change will impact not just every aspect of  Talent Management, but our wider cultures.

If you are in a career transition and need professional support – get in touch  




CV video

Video CV – my change of heart

Anyone who knows me and reads my blog, is familiar with the lengths I would go to not to view a video CV. The words pins and eyes have been used.  Once called a “visumé” the ones I have viewed have been so toe-curlingly embarrassing, that I cringe at the mere memory of them. The thought of having to plough through dozens of similar quality efforts a day, filled me with total horror.

However, I am pleased to announce that I have had a complete change of heart.

I was persuaded out of my negative frame of mind by Amélie Alleman, Founder of BeTuned a Brussels based start-up specialising in the creation of the video CV. With 12 years in recruitment and a 1000 completed assignments under her belt,  she wanted to tap into tech to benefit both candidates and employers. I attended her workshop in Brussels at the ElleActive Forum last week and in my favour I did go with an open mind. I know  from my general involvement with HR and tech that things change quickly and I need to adapt. And I was right.

Change for the better

Things have indeed changed and for the better. What has changed for the video CV is this:

  • the technology  – now smart phones are so sophisticated that a video CV can be easily created on one. They don’t require super advanced tech skills to produce a reasonable result. You only need a good smart phone, a quiet and well-lit room and you are good to go. A stand for making videos on a smart phone is helpful. I found one on Amazon for about €20
  • the length   – now the recommended length for a video CV is  50-60 seconds maximum and even naysayers like myself can be persuaded to watch for that long.
  • Supplement not a substitute   – the CV video is not a replacement for a CV but designed to complement it.  That is a huge bonus for any recruiter especially me.

Advantages and disadvantages of a video CV

For many the idea of making a video CV can be a bit daunting. There are some factors to consider:


  1. Stand out from the crowd – video CVs are more common but they are still not the norm by any means. It could help you stand out from the crowd.
  2. Showcase your personality  – if you have a relaxed confident and engaging personality this is a good way to demonstrate it.
  3. Highlight your creativity – a physical visual can convey the extent of your creative and other soft skills.
  4. Focus on specific skills  – for roles that require communication skills or digital smarts this is an ideal medium.


  1. You stand out but not in a good way – If you feel uncomfortable in front of a camera or don’t have or don’t acquire the necessary skills, it can become a career mistake not a triumph.
  2. Give the wrong impression  –  you may give the wrong, incomplete or misleading information about yourself.
  3. You read your script – if your eyes are darting off camera to check your script, you could come over as looking shifty and untrustworthy or simply that you don’t know yourself that well.
  4. Distract and detract from your regular CV – if it’s not produced to the right standard, this may lead to the reject pile.

For recruiters and hiring managers

Like any candidate meeting whether online or in person, recruiters and hiring managers need to be very aware of their  own unconscious biases and have systems in place for managing them. Video CVs tap into all biases related to how we view age, body size, accent and ethnicity which are usually immediately identifiable. They also favour extroverts and confident performers and encourage us to lean towards candidates who are like ourselves (confirmation bias) This is why face to face interviews are not a good indication of future potential in a role and nudges and interrupters are used to check for bias.

Tips to create strong video CV

1. Research the market

When deciding whether to use a video CV take factor in the role you’re applying for and the company you hope to join. Research the culture of the organisation to help you decide how your efforts may be received. Once a video CV would have been popular mainly in the creative sectors. Today even more conservative organisations are open to receiving them especially if it is a supplement to a traditional CV and not a replacement for it. 

2.  Compelling, succinct message

With such a short time to convince your audience, the pressure to create a brief and compelling narrative is even greater than it ever was. Your UVP (Unique Value Proposition)  has to be in your DNA so you can deliver it comfortably and convincingly to camera.  It’s important not to read your message. Write and learn a script that is authentically you and reflects your personality.

3. Target the content

Your video CV has to be adapted for the job you are targeting.  Make sure you address the main requirements of the job advert. If you are creating a general video to upload on your LinkedIn profile for example under the media section, you can keep it general and in line with your overall career goals.

4. Structure the content

The rule of three works well in this context. Structure the video into identifiable sections. A  beginning middle and end always works well.

  • an intro with your UVP
  • why me? Three good, brief reasons to hire you
  • a call to action with your contact details.

Amélie Allerman strongly advises creating a caption with your mobile number, email and maybe your LinkedIn profile url. No one, she says, will ever write the details down from verbal delivery. She is right.

5. Look the part

Generally as for any interview to camera you should be well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the organisation you are hoping to impress. If it’s a generic video CV, select something from your wardrobe that will bridge the gap between formal and informal.

6. Select a good location

Choose a location of your video to ensure that you have a quiet, well-lit space to film in, free from clutter and any other background distractions. I’ve seen them with dogs mating in the background  – not a pretty sight. Make sure that the audio reproduction is good. If it’s muffled or inconsistent you will be sure to lose people like me.

7. Master the tech

The CVs Amélie produced from her iPhone were excellent quality. She suggests using editing software such Unfold, Canva or Over. Be brutal with editing and seek feedback from colleagues or friends.

8. Upload on-line

Once your masterpiece is complete you can upload to You Tube or Vimeo or LinkedIn and send the links to potential contacts or simply diffuse via social media.

So now it’s only a question of practise! Are you ready?

Looking for career coaching – get in touch!




employment alliance

Today’s new uneasy employment alliance

Technology conferences have a ton of buzzwords, but two stood out at this year’s Unleash in Paris last month. These were “journey” (digital, employee, candidate) and “experience” (people, talent, employee, HR, brand.) The conversations also focused on the constant shift in workplace relationships between employer and employee which have led to the creation of a new and sometimes uneasy employment alliance which at times does not always run smoothly. Mainly unwritten, the new arrangement suggests that talent is increasingly more of an individual asset than an enterprise asset. There was much discussion what that meant for all involved.

Career disruption

The notion of a traditional lifelong career where employee loyalty was at one time a given has gone. The need to manage constant change has brought about a shift to lean and more agile organisations. This has had significant impact on employment arrangements. The gig economy now includes 33% of all workers in the US. The notion of a linear career has now been replaced by portfolio and portable careers. Working lives have become more diverse and more diffused, requiring new sets of skills as we prepare for jobs that may not even exist yet. When companies no longer guarantee a job for life, or even medium term, the only real constant is therefore the individual.

Not a new concept

The concept of Brand You is not new. Tom Peters coined the phrase in the 1990s. Today it has greater significance because in talent acquisition finding people with the right skills is getting increasingly difficult, and retaining them more so.  Today, if employees don’t have the right “experience” of an organisation, or make a meaningful “journey” they become disengaged, and under productive, or the best simply walk.

But this makes the new employment alliance somewhat tenuous, leading to perhaps not wars for talent, but certainly skirmishes. Today, people are more willing to move between jobs and organisations, especially now they have personally invested in their own development and have been encouraged to do so by their own bosses.

After a decade of low productivity and high employment, where does that leave the organisation?

Some businesses are struggling to manage this new arrangement with their employees and to align frequently conflicting needs. Part of that is centred around expectations of what organisations are going to do for the employee and what the employee has to do for themselves. The other piece of this new yet to be clarified contract, is whether the organisation has a role to guarantee the future employability of an employee when their temporary alliance is over.   

Purpose, learning, and soft skills

From an individual perspective,  Heather E McGowan, future of work strategist, talked about learning and adapting in a world which is changing exponentially. She encouraged us to define ourselves less by what we do (our jobs) and more by why we do it. Our purpose. The valued skills of the future will be soft skills – as identified by the recent data from the World Economic Forum.  These include creativity, people management, emotional intelligence and service orientation to name but four.

But more than that, being committed to growth and continuous learning is vital to maintaining our own relevance, employability and long-term economic viability. McGowan added ” Learning is a new pension. It is the new way that you create a future value every day.”

Luigi Maria Fierro Global Head of HR Strategy and Transformation at ING advocated that organisations have to accept that the purpose of the individual employee and the organisation will provide a temporary alliance only, before an organic shift happens and they move on.  He emphasised  that we need to “make a connection between purpose and day-to-day work more clear and effective ” 

When alliances don’t work

But there are some other problems with temporary alliances referenced by Sir Bob Geldorf  in his key-note  ‘When leaders fail to lead, the people teach them to follow….and that ain’t necessarily a good thing.’  He warned of the downsides of productising human experience with concerns about the dystopian dangers of change without purpose. This was especially true when employer and employee values are in conflict.  We are seeing this today as Facebook employees reject the company’s leadership policy in relation to fake news ads. We also saw it  at Nike when a revolt by women employees saw an exodus of senior men.

Technology as a solution

At a Tech conference for HR,  technological solutions were obviously touted as the way forward for every kind of journey and experience listed above. It was equally clear that many HR practitioners believed that technology could not provide all the solutions and at some point HR needed to get back to the basics. Whether on the main stage, the breakout rooms or the smaller platforms of the event, the message was consistent.

Communication, “air listening” and “eye brilliance”

In the session “The Evolving Role of the CHRO” led by Lars Schmidt, Laurent Choain, Chief People Officer at Mazars had a lovely line “one hour spent in the hour in the office, is an hour too long.”  He encouraged CHROs to get out to meet and talk to employees, even suggesting that CEOs should be involved in interviewing for roles not destined for the C-Suite. More talking in person. But with global and remote teams that can also be a challenge.

Erin Meyer author of the Culture Map Cultural tackled cultural miscommunication frequently at the heart of misunderstanding in our international organisations. She opened our eyes to how developing cultural sensitivity can impact effective collaboration within teams which span linguistic, national and ethnic differences. I loved the idea of “listening to the air” around a person, pausing and looking for a “brilliance in someone’s eyes.” Another low-cost solution.

Geldorf also doubted that technology has all the answers. He felt certain that one person today could not achieve the same level of global impact as he did when 40% of the  world population watched Live Aid  in the ’80s. The technology of today’s multiple media platforms  means that in 2019 if you miss something there are dozens of ways to catch up. Not so back then.

Wider cultural context

I am old enough to have watched Live Aid on the day where Bob Geldorf impacted the world in his campaign against feminine in Ethiopia, raising $125 million. Today he is calling for more simple rather than tech solutions. Address basic global inequalities. “…change the world for the better and make a difference with a sense of purpose, not just look to leaders in politics, companies…”

In a media briefing meeting I asked him how a new generation do to make an impact. His advice to today’s 19 and 20 year olds to make that kind difference was pretty basic. “Read a book and talk to each other in a meaningful way” to build relationships.

Nothing complicated.

If you need to attract top talent  – get in touch


HR – the digital process nanny?

Unleash is always something of a brain fry. There is so much to take in and much of it is overlapping, outwardly contradictory and nuanced. It would seem that in a digital self-service world within an organisation, HR is in danger of assuming the role of full-service digital process “nanny.” This carries the same message as the Italian proverb. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for his life time.”  HR by morphing into a sort of go-to HR systems concierge is dis-empowering itself. In Jason Averbook terms we are stuck in the “hands” part of the process. 

HR the digital process nanny

In his session for SAP, Jason smartly points out the tech piece of the puzzle should in theory liberate HR from time-consuming processes (hands.) This allows them to concentrate on the “head” part of the equation (strategy) and the “hearts” piece (the people.) Instead of tech releasing HR they are becoming bogged down in an ever-growing range of transactional HR tech activities. At a time when the HR population for the fifth year running is going to decrease, they are not empowering employees to take care of themselves, but nannying them by doing low level tasks for them. 

Yet, set against this is the employee need to feel a sense of belonging and a desire for connection and interaction.  We no longer talk about job satisfaction but employee satisfaction. People in the workplace are looking for an “experience.”  Maybe for some employees talking to their HR contact about a routine matter such as a change of address, is more important than going through a drop down menu of options or chatting via a bot. It’s about connection. It can lead to a conversation whether face to face or on the phone. Someone’s HR person may not even be in the same country as their employee, let alone the same building. To achieve that release as the “processes keeper,” HR has to change the relationship with tech to become process drivers, not process driven and to connect with employees in other ways.

This is always easier said than done.

Systems and people

The epicentre of the Unleash event is around the space which bridges that gap (or the gulf) between systems and people. It’s a sort of no-person’s land, where HR as a function navigates its way, sometimes blindly, through a maze of conflicting messages and demands frequently getting slammed from all sides  These range from needing and wanting to be a strategic part of the business, to championing the company via employer branding in an increasingly expanding device driven world, where an employee experience can go viral in a nanosecond. Think #MeToo. Think American Airlines or Starbucks which ended up closing 8000 U.S stores for half a day to give its staff unconscious bias training after a racist incident hit global media.

The function is expected to support an increasingly disengaged workforce (“full up” to quote Josh Bersin) which craves recognition and attention. At the same time they have to reduce costs, upskill, optimize headcount and boost productivity. Oftentimes HR professionals find themselves on a hiding to nothing, trying to be all things to all people, all of the time. The word burnout cropped up frequently.


Away from tech

But interestingly there was plenty of advice around taking on that challenge, involving words that did not talk about employee engagement, candidate journey, blockchain, intelligent technologies or skill gaps. This language  was less concrete: magic, trust, courage, impact, communication, “air listening,” pausing, “eye brilliance”, learning, empathy and understanding. More about that next time!

So, the challenge is integrating the HR buzzwords which are now increasingly familiar and for some a little scary, with other less tangible, indefinable ingredients which have always been there. It’s the context which has changed. 

Peter Hinssen author of “Day After Tomorrow” in his keynote urged us all to make a difference. “We all have a responsibility to put a small dent in the universe each day to make it a better place.” 

To do that we have to relearn how to connect not just with ourselves, but with the people around us in more meaningful ways. With relationships based on trust and purpose, HR can step back from its role as the digital process nanny and let the systems do the “hands” work. HR can then take on a more empowering and dynamic role. Janina Kugel, CHRO at Siemens summed it up beautifully Refusing to babysit managers will not make you loved but you’ll be respected for it.” 

Hinssen carries on “It’s not about technology, it’s about change. It’s about our willingness and capability to do something different”

For some that’s scarier than buying a suite of software. Why? Because it’s about them.  As Heather E McGowan future of work strategist suggests “In the past, we learned to work, in the future, we work to continuously learn.”

Changing and learning? Who thinks that sounds like fun?

Looking for top talent  – get in touch



Candidate driven market

Recruitment in a candidate driven market

 In candidate driven markets, hiring managers are the sellers

For years the recruitment process has been powered by companies in the happy position of being in  the driving seat. Things have changed in today’s candidate driven market. In a supply driven market, companies posted ads, shortlisted some candidates, putting them through rigorous interviews and not always necessary testing processes, which could take up to 40 hours of a candidate’s time as they jumped through the required hoops.

The hiring manager would make a decision followed up by an offer. A salary would be negotiated, not always to the candidates expectations and they would start their job in due course. Unsuccessful candidates may or may not hear back depending on the company, even with automated systems. Feedback was frequently difficult to obtain. But in a buyer’s market, hiring managers didn’t pay that much attention. They didn’t need to.

Now they do. The boot is on the other foot. Hiring managers, more than ever, are now the “sellers” in the recruitment process. It was of course always there to some degree, but now it has intensified.

Candidate driven market

A candidate driven market means that for companies the competition to attract top talent has heated up. A period of high employment, means a supply driven market is giving us a role reversal. Candidates of every calibre are able to move easily between jobs. Top talent is so much in so demand they don’t even bother to respond to contact. Some have switched off all notifications including access to LinkedIn InMail. In the days of GDPR this is frequently one of the few ways of reaching any potential candidate.

Those who do engage could be involved in multiple processes and take their time to pick the best offer. This is now known as “benching.” Some candidates let organisations know but others simply disappear and “ghost.”  Tinder for talent is real! Colleagues report candidates even failing to appear on the assigned starting day. Others leave very quickly, a few weeks into their contracts. Clearly this a breach of legal obligations, but most organisations aren’t going to go to the expense of taking formal action, especially for lower level employees.

The importance of Employer Branding

Research from LinkedIn suggests that 75% of applicants now consider an employer’s brand before considering making a job application. Organizations are spending more time and efforts  investing in building employer branding strategies to reflect their vision, values, and culture, going beyond basic compensation and benefits to appeal. There is a growing trend for candidates to factor in social responsibility and sustainability commitments in addition to a company’s business and workplace culture and environment.

Employer branding is more critical than ever.


Hiring managers  as sellers

Hiring managers are no longer the “buyers” in the recruitment process but the “sellers.”  They have to change their mindsets and get up to speed in their new role. For many this is not coming easily. Sure, the recruitment process has always been about sales, especially for highly sought-after skills or for executive level roles. But for the rest of the market, a soft sales approach had always worked well, and now the tempo has increased. The interview has become pitch time. Everyone involved in the process is now part of a candidate service initiative, where they need to treat candidates like clients or customers.  In the past, some organisations typically asked receptionists and everyone involved in the process to rate their interaction with an applicant.

Today, candidates are  not only noting how they are treated, they might even share their experience on Glassdoor. A candidate who has a good experience is twice as likely to recommend that company as a potential employer, as well as becoming a customer of that brand’s products, even if they don’t get hired.

The notion of spending time speaking to a passive candidate is a foreign concept to many companies.  “Well, they are either interested or they are not” we hear them say. The answer is that yes, they are interested, but it is up to the hiring manager to convince them. The balance has shifted in the selection process. Any interview should always have been a two-way street, but in reality it was oftentimes about the candidate convincing the hiring panel of their suitability. Now, in a candidate driven market, it’s the interviewers who have to pull out all the stops.

A challenge

Some organisations are struggling with the change. They are still taking their time to communicate, asking candidates for multiple interviews and to attend time-consuming assessment days. The conversion rate for job seeker to firm applicant is at an all time low, except where organisations have a top employer brands. If your organisations reputation is not great then you will suffer.

5 tips to recruit in a candidate driven market

1. Extend your reach

Try extending the reach of your search for talent away from your old tried and tested ways. Experiment with new channels and company referral schemes. Make this an ongoing process to ensure you have talent always coming through your pipeline. Don’t search only against specific openings as today candidates spend up to two months gathering information before they decide where they want to apply for a job opening. Studies show that candidates may have as many as 15 touch points with your organisation before they are converted to a prospect.

2.  Make your job postings real

Frequently job postings are inflated. Stick to key skills and offer to train and develop candidates who may fall short. Hire for potential not just experience. Use storytelling to engage people whether by video, audio links or posts. Use any channel that will help make your employer  brand more appealing in line with your target market.

3. Make your processes user-friendly and as short as possible

Many candidates give up with the process if it is complex and takes too long. Tell candidates how long it is going to take in advance, as three-quarters of jobs seekers will want to know. Test your career site yourself and get a feeling for the candidate experience. What is it like to be them?

4. Prompt communication is vital

Rapid turnaround on communication is important with over two-thirds of candidates losing interest if they don’t hear something within 10 working days. I recommend to clients , five days as the optimal communication time, even if it’s to say it’s no news. No news is your bad news.

5. Harness technology

Speed up the process time by tapping into tech. Use bots on your career sites to answer basic screening questions. At a recent conference a show of hands showed a majority would prefer to engage quickly with a chat bot than wait to speak to a person. Use automated interviews for screening basic knowledge and skill questions.

But candidates  need to be careful too. Recruitment is closely tied to economic cycles and there are always downturns. There will be a point, maybe soon, when we return to a demand driven market and we will  see organisations back in the driving seat.

It’s always best not to close doors.

Need help finding the best candidates for your company  – get in touch 




How to SCORE a new job

One of the things that’s difficult to manage with career transition clients is their expectations. If someone has committed to investing in themselves and their careers, they want results and they want them now, or at least ASAP. But there are many moving parts to SCORE a new job and they can become more complex the more senior an individual job seeker is. There are simply fewer jobs at the top. Sadly, there are no short cuts and no magic sauce to get to where you want to be.

But there is a methodology to help you structure your process, which will help reduce the confusion and potential stress. It takes time and effort which is why so many want to by-pass the basics and look for easy fixes which are not so easy to come by. I have created an acronym which I am going to incorporate into my new career programme in the autumn. I call it SCORE.

Here is a preview

SCORE a new using this acronym


The S  in SCORE is for self-awareness. It might seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people get to senior positions within organisations without giving themselves more than a passing thought.

Then suddenly something happens. Maybe they receive negative feedback or get passed over for a promotion or something else goes on and they realise they need professional input. When you come to making a concrete plan this piece is vital. It will help you avoid “spray and pray” tactics of sending high numbers of unfocused CVs to any job advert that comes along. This will only add to your frustration as your applications get lost in the recruitment black hole. You will then complain about recruiters. This is not their fault. This is on you.

It can be quite a challenging part of process and many try to skip it. Don’t – it will come back to bite you! You will need to tap into this self-knowledge at every stage in the process from your online profile, your resume and your interview pitches. Even networking. It is an indispensable part of the process. Aristotle said “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Now is the time to wise-up.


The C in SCORE is for CONSIDER. It’s important that all job seekers sit down and reflect on their options. Now is the time to make a plan and commit to it. From here on in if you are not working in line with your goals, either your goals need to change or your behaviour does.

Most people think they have multiple options and that thought overwhelms them with the possibility of having to make so many complex choices. But in reality when you correctly factor in your goals you can usually reduce that number to a handful. When you have understood the need for a career P.L.A.N – life will seem simpler.

O is for OWN

The O in SCORE is for OWN.  This is a tough one. Many job seekers struggle to own their career achievements. They tend to get stuck in process mode, recounting their career history as a chronology and as a job description. What they need to do is own their successes and be able to share them  backed up with numbers. So many don’t have metrics to support their story. This is a gender trap for women, so ladies, take note. You need to lose words such as  numerous,  various, “lots of” – yes really, someone said that recently.

It’s also about taking ownership of your processes and holding yourself accountable. No one else can do this for you.


The R in SCORE is for RELATIONSHIP CAPITAL. Your network is your net-worth. This is especially true if you want to change sectors or geographic regions. It’s important to have connections in your target area as well as the sector you are currently in.

You need to build and nurture your network on an ongoing basis which takes time and energy  because a very high percentage of career opportunities come through network referrals. Depending on the statistics used, it can be as much as 80%+. Some job openings are not even advertised, so having a strong online presence and being visible, searchable and contactable are important? if you are an active job seeker. It’s vital to have a complete LinkedIn profile which contains a good balance of key words relevant to your career goals and target companies.Organisations like employees who are connected. Relationship capital is important for creating business opportunities, to stay in touch with the market and abreast of all the changes that are going on in the workplace. It’s all about who you know and more significantly who knows you.  

Whatever you do don’t frantically try to pitch to people at the last-minute when you are in a bind. For most it’s a major turnoff.

E is for EXECUTE

The E in SCORE is for EXECUTE. This is a tough word but it means that you have to take action and be accountable to yourself, take action and deliver!  Now is the time to commit to getting things done and making job search part of your daily routine. If you are unemployed, looking for a job is your job. Job search can be time-consuming, so it’s important to be focused and strategic. Keep a close and neutral eye on your results. Note any patterns and don’t take anything personally. Ask for feedback if you can get it (it is quite hard today for that unless you are very advanced in a process) and be willing to change and try something different if you see a particular trend. 
If you find yourself getting dispirited seek professional help or find a job search group. Look for a mentor. Friends and family no matter how well-intentioned sometimes only add to the confusion. Job search is like life and parenting. Everyone has a view which they are  willing to share and often times they are all conflicting!

And finally – keep a SCORE card. Monitor your progress. Even no news is a message that something needs adjusting in your methodology. 

If you need help in your job search  or career transition  – get in touch!

upskilling and reskilling

Why upskilling and reskilling are important

Upskilling defined as:  learn new skills or to teach workers new skills:

Re-skilling defined as;: teach (a person, especially an unemployed person) new skills.

Our workplaces are changing faster than ever before and key skills learned in an academic setting are becoming outdated fast. A growing number of employers are no longer asking for college degrees. Upskilling and reskilling are more than the latest learning and development buzz words and “nice to have” benefits. They are now vital for business success. Companies which are looking to the future forecast their skill set gaps and align them with their succession plans. They are coming to understand that internal upskilling and reskilling programmes  can be very effective.

Why upskilling and reskilling are critical

1. A changing workplace

The nature of our jobs and everyday tasks is changing. Digital transformation is now part of the strategic plan for most businesses. AI and automation have made many jobs redundant as routine actions are now being carried out by robots or software. This creates other roles which demand different skills. Everyone now has to handle a wide range of digital tools and platforms that were previously the preserve of technical experts.  Remember the time when we had to call for IT? Those days are gone and now everyone has to be digitally competent with a wider range of skills.

2. A changing workforce

The composition of the workplace is changing as older workers reach retirement. Younger demographics who have grown up in a culture characterised by fast technological change understand that being current is vital to career development.  GenZ together with the newest generation iGen (born 1995-2012)  who are now just starting to enter the workplace post-graduation. Both place a strong emphasis on continuous  learning when applying for and accepting a job. All professionals of all ages understand well the value of continually upskilling and re-skilling to progress their careers.

Many are willing to invest personally, but with an expectation for employer support. Offering a wide range of options is now an important element of an attractive and dynamic employer brand. Providing access to programmes will be necessary to attract and retain top talent.

3. Drive retention and increase engagement

Younger generations place high emphasis on psychological safety, recognition and feeling valued.  A culture of upskilling and reskilling promotes increased motivation, enhances the employee experience and encourages higher levels of employee loyalty.

4. Enhance business success

Addressing skill gaps within organisations especially when related to succession planning provides a number of benefits. It allows the building of more diverse teams. It can be more cost-effective and quicker to train existing talent rather bringing in external hires who will need to be onboarded. Companies that don’t provide the opportunity for internal promotion risk the loss of key employees at a time of a candidate driven market.  Add on the loss of vital knowledge and experience, potentially to a competitor, the business case for both upskilling and re-skilling is compelling.

Ways to upskill and reskill

1. Returnships

This is a fantastic way to target women in particular, and men as well, who have left the workplace on parenting leave or to assume other caring responsibilities. Or simply those who wanted a change.  In the US  40% of mothers have adjusted their hours or taken a career gap to assume responsibilities as a carer. 27% have left the workforce entirely.  Research from the EU 31.4% of women in employment  worked on a part-time basis in 2016, a much
higher proportion than the corresponding share for men (8.2%)  the low employment rate of
older women (aged 54-64) may reflect the fact that women are more likely than men to assume care responsibilities for elderly or dependent family members with long-term care needs and
are thus far more likely to reduce their working hours or exit employment altogether.

Many in these groups will be highly qualified professional women struggle to re-enter the workforce or apply for full-time roles. Companies are launching these initiatives with success but in some cases the searches are still narrow in the type of profile they are looking for and they could broaden the reach. They can also include corporate alumni – individuals who are ex-employees who know the company, its products and services but need a refresh.

2. Formal training

This can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • Sponsored training at colleges, universities or other training body including corporate  financial support, day release to attend course and study live to prepare for exams or certification
  • In-house lunch and learn sessions either live or online where experts deliver workshops in their specialist field. These are particularly useful to employees who struggle to attend evening course or even leave their day jobs.
  • Distance learning: This is particularly useful to train employees who are dispersed geographically. There are a number of online training using multi-media interactive tools including online breakout rooms, quizzes, games, videos and presentations. The downside of this is that sometimes participants can feel isolated without face-to-face interaction.

3. Mentoring

Assigning mentors to junior employees can give them exposure to skills it would be difficult to pick up in a formal training. Download my eBook “Make the most of Mentoring”

Creating upskilling and reskilling opportunities in your organisation is vital to the health and success of your business. Committing to lifelong learning is an essential part of planning for the future especially as advances in artificial intelligence and automation gather pace.

If you want to upskill and reskill your teams – get in touch now!


70 year career

Are you ready for a 70 year career?

“Live long and prosper” as the saying goes, but how are we going to handle lives that could potentially span 100 years? Life expectancy has been increasing steadily since 1840 by three months per year. Gratton and Scott in their book The 100 Year Life references research from 2009 which suggests that if the trend continues, more than 50% of babies born in developed economies since 2000 may reach the ripe old age of 100. But how are we going to plan for a 70 year career?

“Metro, boulot, dodo”  is the French equivalent of – the rat race, the same old, or groundhog day to convey the routine repetitiveness of our lives. It somehow seems sexier in French. But if we live longer, we are going to have to work longer. The prospect for many of retiring before the age of 70 may become a pipe dream. It means that we need to extend the longevity of our earning capacity as we spend an increased amount of time in the workplace. How this will impact our careers and skill development, set against a background of increased AI and automation, remains to be seen.

Ageism is already rife

It is all going to require a pivot in thinking, not just from a workforce planning perspective but to our own approach to our careers. This is especially important as we will have to make financial provision for ourselves for many more years. But how many?

This is set in an era where in some geographies ageism is already kicking in at forty. Mark C. Crowley, tweeted over the weekend “IBM fired about 20,000 American employees over the age of 40, which amounts to about 60% of its total U.S. job cuts during the time period in question.” He also confirmed that the trend is also becoming more common in Australia where 30% of the population are impacted by ageism.

What can we be sure about in a 70 year career?

We will have multiple pivots

Today’s education systems are not keeping up with the outside world. In many geographies we have skill set deficits especially in key areas. Organisations and individuals are going to have to be flexible about upskilling and retraining, multiple times in a lifetime. The hard and fast rules with regard to age and qualification limits will need to be changed as our workforces become more age diverse.

Linear careers will be reduced or disappear

Red lines about training for something by a specific age will become things of the past and linear career paths will disappear. With a career possibly lasting until the age of 80 there will be no reason why someone can’t train as doctor; lawyer or engineer at the age of 40 or 50.

Universities and workplaces will also become multi-generational.

If we are going to have a 70 year career then we will have to accept that our educational qualifications will need to be updated continuously. The World Economic Forum has listed the key skills for 2020 and they are mainly what are traditionally called soft skills or perhaps should be more appropriately called Complex Skills. We will be constantly upskilling and reskilling in our careers and employers will refocus on hiring for potential. Organisations will have to invest more in training.

Work places which are already multi-generational will see an even wider age range.

Multiple revenue streams

Living longer we have to be sure to set aside more of our revenue to protect our older age. Many of us will have slash careers. 

The phrase was originally coined in the book One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Careers, by Marci Alboher. People with slash careers are those making multiple income streams, simultaneously, from different careers. Sometimes they are connected by transferable skills. There are also different strands of the same function which loosely connect them. For others they are ways of monetizing different interests. The key thing is that they are all equally important to the Slash Careerist.

Health and wellness

To work longer we will need to be healthier longer. Although that is already a current trend we will need to be more active to make sure we protect our health long term. Workplaces will probably be required to provide support for mental and physical well-being. With obesity rates and associated diseases spiralling, every generation will have to consciously protect its health, perhaps more so than any other, with such a strong need to be economically active longer. Another interesting spin-off might be in our knowledge based economies, more sedentary jobs could become reserved for older demographics which are no longer physically able to carry out certain functions.

We will need to save more

Unless there is a sizeable inheritance in their futures, as pension plans both state and company reduce, new generations will need to be prepared to save an increased and significant proportion of income throughout during a career. The Chinese save approximately 40% of their income. Someone has to pay for this additional longevity.

Opt for a simpler, low-cost life.

As part of one of today’s largest consumer groups many are used to having it all, now. But on top of that, every day life requires more gadgets than ever before (mobile phones, lap tops, internet accessibility and more) which eats into their pay cheques and reduces an ability to save. This is in stark contrast to my own graduation where apart from my books, all I possessed on leaving university, was a kettle and a few cups. Will we see a shift to sustainable consumerism and what economic impact will that have is people stop spending on “stuff”?

Physical stamina will become important again

With a declining birthrate and fewer younger people supporting an aging population, will jobs requiring physical stamina start becoming economically more signficant and pay prime rates? We could even see incentives being given to parents to have larger families. Could we envision a situation where a young builder will be considered as, or even more valuable than an aging banker? Now that would be fun! Or will that function be carried out by a robot?

This is going to require initiative on two sides:

·       Organisations have to stop clinging to the old ways in terms of hiring, training and promotion. A 60-year-old will have potentially a third of his/her career left.    

·       Individuals will have to take responsibility and invest in themselves their health and careers and be more willing to step out of their comfort zones than ever before.

If you want to reach top talent get in touch now



LinkedIn video

Why I may not watch your LinkedIn video

The LinkedIn video function is being touted as the new big thing. I understand the thinking. It’s a great way to showcase who you are and where and how you add value in a very personal way. It can be a compelling add-on. LinkedIn is an ideal platform for B2B marketing and research suggests that video is the future trend. This is the way many people especially younger generations want to access information and build relationships.

It has always been a  great way to connect, market and reach your target audience. That’s why television commercials have always been so successful. Sometimes we remember commercials more than TV programmes. 

Video resumes

I’ve also seen job seekers use video successfully with some reports that candidates are now being asked more frequently to make a two-minute video of their pitch. Some time ago visumés were sold as the new way forward and even then the idea filled me with horror. I did enjoy Page Kemna’s  video, the self-styled resume singer, because she was engaging and could actually sing and play a keyboard. She went on to work for Zoom as an account executive.

So why does it only work for me by exception?

Time bound

Scrolling through my social media platforms is one of the first things I do in the morning when I am having my coffee. It’s a good way to ease myself into the work of the day and warm up my brain. Today I checked my stream on LinkedIn and every second person was using the LinkedIn video function. In two minutes of scrolling I counted 8 video links. If I had watched all of them it would have taken me over 20 minutes. A couple were more than 5 minutes long. No matter how compelling your content I simply don’t have the time.

A LinkedIn video can last up to 10 minutes although professional advice would be to keep it to under 3 minutes. Our attention spans are shrinking all the time and our ability to concentrate is shifting accordingly. Mine must be a record all time low. Brevity is key.

Dull and intrusive

There are lots of more generic reasons why video maybe less popular than a regular post. They are intrusive for those that work in an open plan office. Creators will need headlines for those that want to watch without the volume. I saw today in my own feed some LinkedIn videos which were straight product commercials for items as random as cars and for the construction industry. This makes me wonder if LinkedIn is losing its focus as a platform for business professionals or wants to become  something that attracts more general consumer marketing.  Some videos are already blurring into Facebook style offerings.

The rest were self-promotion videos produced with varying degrees of finesse. Some were clearly gimmicky with people sharing words of wisdom as they sat having their breakfast,  drying their hair or the current go-to backdrop in their cars.


LinkedIn seems to be trying to pimp the platform to a Snapchat or Instagram for professionals. Or even Facebook. I’m not feeling it. If I stare up the nostrils of a terrified or uncomfortable looking person, reaching for their computer or phone as they struggle to start their video then I am going to scroll on by, especially if the background is also looking a bit dubious. Ditto, if I see one that is more than 5 minutes long, even if it is more professionally put together.

Eventually there will be analytics to show what works and what doesn’t. For me if I want to look at videos for consumer products or goofy and even possibly endearing expressions of self-actualisation I will look on Facebook or YouTube. I see news clips on Twitter.

Later in the day I scrolled through my stream again and tried to be mindful of what caught my eye. I clicked on two videos and watched a couple dancing and another of a child strutting his stuff. I’m not sure what that says about me. 

Going forward

I am going to monitor my video watching habits. I never say never, because I do watch Simon Sinek, James Corden, Graham Norton and Trevor Noah. I also watch longer podcasts and TEDx talks when I set aside dedicated time. Many have been powerful.  Am I pulled in by personality recognition? Maybe entertainment, humour or learning potential are key factors?

Perhaps I will change and become a convert.  Sadly, as things stand today, it’s unlikely that I will click on your offering.

What works for you? What do you like about the LinkedIn video function?

Looking for executive search and research support – get in touch



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