Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

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 The notion of a linear career has now been replaced by portfolio and portable careers.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 can a new generation 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


soft skill are hard currency

In the age of AI soft skills are hard currency

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

Stop calling them soft skills

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

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

Fourth Revolution

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

Jobs and soft skills

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

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

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

Business imperative

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

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

Impact on talent management

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

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







Brexodus job search tips

Brexodus job search tips

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

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

Short or long-term?

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

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

Post-Brexit uncertainty

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

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

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

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

No-deal Brexit

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

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

Key dates

This information which is applicable to most countries has been taken from France Rights Info.

31 December 2020 is “the end of the transition/implementation period, which would begin on Brexit day and last until 31 December 2020. This date – known as the ‘effective date’ – is crucial, as it’s the date on which you must be ‘legally resident’ in France to have your ongoing rights covered under the WA. This includes people who have moved to France after Brexit day but before the end of transition on 31 December 2020, who will be covered by the WA on the same terms as those resident before Brexit day itself.

If there is no deal by  December 2020 and the UK fails to negotiate a future relationship/trade deal by the 31 December 2020 and there’s no extension to the transition agreement. This is often referred to in the media as a second no deal point.

If this should happen, the UK would automatically default to trading on WTO terms. However – and this is important – the Withdrawal Agreement would remain in place as an international treaty and the rights that it includes for us would remain covered. They cannot be removed even in the absence of a trade agreement. Once the Withdrawal Agreement is in force, we will be covered by it for our lifetimes whatever happens with future negotiations.”

I would still advise you to seek national advice in your target destination.

Brexodus job search tips

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

  • Ask for a transfer

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

  • Learn a language

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

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

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

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

  • Target companies which have already relocated

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

The bar sadly has now been raised for British candidates.

  • Extend your network

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

  • Sign up for alerts

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

  • Don’t expect miracles

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

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

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


Some resources:

Germany: Visa regulations

France:  Visa Regulations

NetherlandsPage on

BelgiumTravel to Belgium


Portugal: Portal SEF

Switzerland (Non EU!):…

Austria: How to Apply for a Visa

Italy: Ministero degli Affari Esteri

PolandWork permit for foreigner’s work in Poland