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career transition

9 stages of career transition

Over the years I have coached probably thousands of men and women through career transition. And although each case is always unique, (everyone likes to think they are special) I have observed 9 common stages in the process which each career changer or transformer makes.

1.Detached and dissatisfied 

Most people seek out professional career support when they are desperate or lost. They have usually tried to change jobs on their own and have met obstacles. This can be extremely disheartening and frustrating.  They read my web site and say:

“You wrote that for me! That is exactly where I am”

They are filled with conflicting emotions which can include anxiety about the future or financial issues, concern about lack of status and self-worth and even depression. They might have enjoyed their old jobs at some point and either change has been forced upon them or they have simply fallen out of love with their old profession. This will involve an element of grieving and a lot of chest beating and “what ifs” and “if onlies.”  It can be a very challenging place.

A smaller number focus on change in a strategic and structured way and they usually get stuck in this particular sand trap less frequently. They are happy to consign their old career to the past, but are then caught up in another bind. This group frequently want to disown their previous life and skills. This presents a whole other set of problems.

2. Identity limbo

As we struggle to understand who we are, what is important to us and how we want to add value in the next phase of our careers we can fall into identify limbo. Benchmarks about our achievements may no longer be valid and in some cases we may even reject the values that were once important to us and the people around us. But when we do that we frequently miss the recognition and endorsements we all seek at some level associated with that.

Aaron decided he wanted to leave private legal practice and join an NGO which was more in line with the values he now held. This created a significant gap in income and outlook with his previous colleagues which he described as being

“insurmountable. They just didn’t get the person I’d become. It wasn’t something they could deal with and pretty much dropped me. We were in different places. ”

That happens, but there are new kindred spirits on the horizon.

Read: How to manage your career in times of uncertainty 

3. Confusion

Many people say they “feel all over the place” at this point They seem to have too many choices but at the same time none of them feel totally right. They flounder and become overwhelmed and get bogged down in analysis paralysis and make no headway. They feel insecure and lack confidence. This is the point when most seek professional support. It’s important to hold yourself accountable for decisions and paths taken in the past, without beating yourself up. You can’t change what happened historically.

4. Commitment to the process

Most career changers expect an epiphany or “ah-ha” moment. In reality although that can happen, it rarely does. What usually takes place is through painstaking hard work. If you commit 100% to the career transition process, being open to support and willing to change, a myriad of inter-connecting switches flicker on, causing a slow and gradual internal illumination. Those that don’t commit totally to the process in terms of time and energy will not make the same progress. Getting a job is now your job. Anyone who can’t get into that zone, gets into trouble.

5. Danger zone

Spending time doing the inner work, anchoring strengths, identifying personal development plans and finding and owning their “why” is really key at this point. It’s not uncommon to meet resistance as old habits, inner critics and negative thinking hold career changers back. Backsliding can kick in at this point until complete clarity about goals, vision and action is achieved. I hear a lot of “yes-but,” at this point, which is a massive tell that there is deep-seated resistance. The message here is “yes I want to move forward” but old habits and influences are still getting in the way as clients struggle to let go of what they usually do or did before.

It takes persistence and resilience to get beyond this and can be a danger zone for some. It’s important to work with your coach to get through the fog during this phase of your career transition.

6. Picking up the pace

Emerging from a misty tunnel and making progress is a huge energy booster. It’s common to see a flurry of activity at this point. Plans and strategies are drafted, CVs updated and online profiles professionalized. It’s all systems go! Networking is well underway, job applications in the pipeline and even interviews lined up. Remember to stay focused and on plan.  It’s easy to drift and get sidetracked by online “busyness.”  There is a lot of nonsense around job search and career advice which can be distracting and a big time eater especially on the internet. It’s not uncommon to see a loss of focus after a period of intense activity.

Read: White noise nonsense on job search and recruitment  

7. Cohesion and synergy

As all the different threads seem to come together and fall into place. The potential and possibilities of a new career and maybe even a new life are on the horizon. Success breeds success. The career changer gets a buzz. Success seems on the horizon and within their grasp.

8. Set backs

But….career transformers rarely get the first job they apply for. They are dismayed at the speed of the procedures (slow) and lack of positive response (variable.) Recruiters take time to respond or don’t respond at all. It’s all frustrating. It can take 6-9 months to start a new job. Patience is vital to maintaining sanity. There may be some set backs, perhaps several. It’s important to learn from the experience and be flexible, adapt and dig deep. Every situation even the negative ones, give great feedback, so it’s important not to let it damage your confidence. You have to hang on,  flex the resilience muscles and power through the adversity. It’s only temporary.

9. Score

Finally, after what seemed at times like an impossible journey, goals have been achieved. Dreams have become a reality!  Your new life is about to start!!

If you would like to re-invent your career – contact Dorothy Dalton  

Graduate recruitment tips for SMEs in 2017

Graduate recruitment can be expensive and not always successful, with heavy investment needed at the upstream identification end.  There is a high risk of low return on that investment if the downstream end isn’t tightly managed. Large corporations have huge budgets to invest on job fair stands and online campaigns.They make scores of offers. But all is not lost for SMEs if they go about the exercise in a structured and strategic way. They will still be able to attract the best candidates for their organisation, if their graduate recruitment process is sharp.

Best as we know, is a very nuanced word.

I started my early career running graduate recruitment programmes and in 2017 I observed improvements, contradictions, some changes and the same old. Some things that you would think would have changed, simply haven’t. Graduates are pretty much the way they have always been. Some are open, others arrogant. Some get it, others don’t. Some are focused others are not.

Managing expectations

The World Economic Forum report lists the 5 things that Millennials look for in a job .Holidays, working with great people and flexible hours are important factors, with money and job security listed at the top. Research from Deloitte indicates work life balance, professional development, sense of meaning, the impact on society and high quality products are also key drivers.

My own experience would be in line with the Deloitte research, although work-life balance was not mentioned once by any one of the hundreds of graduates I talked to this year. The focus was more on lifestyle in general. I found that the connection to family seemed stronger than I had encountered in other years.  They key mentions to me were: career advancement (very important) ethical products and leaders and meaningful, impactful work.

Here are 6 graduate recruitment tips for SMEs

But what do SMEs have to do to get the right talent for their organisations?

1. Career Services

University Careers services continue to be mixed. Their web sites are easier to navigate than I remember and they do seem to be more in touch with what’s going on in the market than before. In general I found the level of CVs higher than in previous years, so they are obviously working with their students to produce better results, which is always a positive. Some use their job boards as revenue generating operations and charge for their service. Others have fees for a placement. I didn’t use these options, which was a good decision. I found like any job board the results were generally poor and it was direct approach via my network and digital sourcing worked best. LinkedIn Recruiter was helpful to a point. The quality of contact varied between universities with some acting as if they were doing me a favour connecting me to “their graduates”.  I bypassed their system and used general sourcing methodologies.

2. Values and Vision

Looking for employment in line with their values and vision seems to be a key motivator for 2017 graduates. Many are open to working for SMES especially those that replicate their own beliefs. So although hiring managers from SMEs fear competition from the top players, many students are looking for smaller more flexible environments. Some of the big name employers are perceived to be working with, or have strong links with top ranked universities, giving preferential treatment to graduates from those establishments. A strong big name employer brand isn’t necessarily always going to win the day. In October 2016 budget supermarket Aldi out-positioned Google in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. 

Lifestyle decisions seem to be critical. I observed larger numbers than usual being very specific about their general needs with regard to friendship groups, relationships, family commitments and geographic location. There was no mention of work life balance with regard to time, even those new graduates who are already parents. And there where some. I saw little evidence of graduates yearning for independence and desperate to escape the nest. Rather the reverse. Family commitments seemed more significant and many had lived at home to save money during university to reduce student debt. We looked for indications of independence in other ways. A high number openly referenced the influence of their parents. Almost all had worked to support themselves through university and workplace exposure was an added bonus. There seemed to be a higher number of mature students.

3. Speed is of the essence

Today the recruitment process needs to be speeded up. Graduates expect rapid responses and high levels of engagement. Corporates are frequently not set up to reach decisions as fast as they need to be for this demographic. Expect high levels of fall out if you are not running a smooth operation with a clear timeline  to manage expectations. Very often final year students have exams and dissertations well into July of the academic year. Making your application process as seamless as possible is important without asking them to jump through too many selection hoops.  Regular communication is vital even if you have nothing to say. They like to be kept in the loop. Many will not read emails for days – agree in advance what platform you are using and advise them to monitor communication channels frequently. This is where smaller companies may have an edge with fewer approval layers. I advise you to use it.

4. Online presence

This generation is digitally savvy and will research your company online. Skilled and experienced at picking up digital anomalies, all online communication needs to be on point. Any detail no matter how small will be picked up. Because I focused on online sourcing, I tapped into students who had a reasonable professional presence. Anecdotally I would say that this had increased in the last year. Employers need to have compelling web sites with some space dedicated to the career advancement featuring younger employees.

5. Long short lists

Graduates will agree to participate in a process and do accept alternative offers if they receive something better or just something quicker. It’s important to have longer than usual short lists and to move swiftly on final decisions. This is where ongoing communication is imperative.

6. Everyone makes the pitch

Graduates need to see enthusiasm from everyone in the process. They are looking for work as a life experience which is a major shift. Many are saddled with significant debt and commitment to future training and  career development needs to be spelled out. They have expectations of corporate life gleaned from TV and the movies. Very often the office on a plant or some industrial site is a far cry from what they have in their heads. Your brand needs to be sold convincingly by everyone. I used researchers nearer to the demographic in age than I am and they provided invaluable insights and could put expectations into perspective. One researcher was well versed on where the best music scenes could be found in relation to the hiring locations. This proved to be invaluable information, clearly something I might struggle to do.

So although SMEs have concerns that the big corporates will cream off the best talent, a strategic, targeted, flexible search which taps into core values of the graduating demographic will prove to be a big bonus. SMEs still have the opportunity to attract the best talent for them.

If your organisation wants support for graduate recruitment now or in 2018. Contact us.   

 

Time poverty

Time poverty the latest corporate epidemic

Poor timekeeping and time poverty

Richard Branson wrote on LinkedIn telling us that if we wanted to be more productive, we should be more punctual. Yet poor time keeping seems to be a current and growing trend, as everyone claims to be overloaded and time poor.

Time poverty has become a corporate and cultural epidemic. Busy or stressed has become today’s standard response to a routine enquiry asking someone how they are. We ae constantly complaining about time poverty.

Time scarcity seems to have become a badge of success and an indicator of professional status.

Opportunity cost  

I confess to having been guilty of some erratic time keeping myself. I was very much “a one more thing before I go”  type of girl and a great subscriber to the phrase “fashionably late.” But, fortunately in my early career, I worked for a manager who monetized the communally wasted time whenever any of his team was late for a meeting. It was actually quite shocking. If we had all been held financially accountable, our pay cheques would have been significantly lighter.

When I transitioned into sales I had to replace  “better late than never ” with  “never late is better.”   Arriving late isn’t actually a recognised commercially winning strategy.

Running late

I have become acutely aware in recent times how erratic general timekeeping seems to have become and how easily  the phrase “running late”,  has slid into our daily business and social vernacular, including my own. Very often people apologise, (sometimes they don’t), explaining that either they, someone, or something else was “running late“, as though they were a bus service, entirely passive and had nothing to do with it at all. Clearly there are always unforeseen circumstances but these tend to be less common than imagined.

I ran a training session a few weeks ago when 50% of attendees were late. I was told this was quite usual. A contact mentioned that two of that same organisation’s account managers were late for a sales meeting with a senior director in his company. They went on to lose the account. A lack of respect for time, their own and others, has become embedded into their corporate culture.

Why are we all becoming more tolerant of  poor time keeping? Whatever happened to William Shakespeare’s “Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late?”

Consequences

Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out,  tells us that the first step is to make promptness a conscious priority, but also we need to  gain an understanding into why we’re always late. Poor timekeeping can be very costly, both directly  but also via damage to our reputations suggesting we are unreliable,  untrustworthy and/or disorganised. The reasons she maintains tend to fall into two categories: technical or psychological.

1. Technical Difficulties

If we are always late but at different time then, the likelihood is that it is the result of  bad planning and under estimating how long things will take. Morgenstern advises establishing patterns by keeping a time log of all tasks and finding out exact how much time each task takes. Then factor in a margin for some unforeseen contingency.

2. Psychological

 – Inability to say no

Linda Sapadin, PhD, author of Master Your Fears believes there are deeper underlying implications of poor timekeeping,  which are linked to procrastination. Very often many of the difficulties come from lack of confidence and an inability to say no,  or even to tell another person we have another appointment in our diaries.

– Do you choose to be late?

If we are always late by the same amount of time, there could be a number of reasons – but no doubt, it’s about us!  We might be:

  • Rebellious   – not doing what’s expected
  • A crisis maker   – need an adrenalin rush to get going
  • Attention seeker  – which comes with being last through the door and going through the apology ritual.
  • Power playing  – I’m more important than you are,  sending a message of disrespect
  • Avoider – you don’t want to meet the person, or attend the meeting, so leave it until the very last-minute.

So next time instead of saying something  “ran late”, perhaps we should all just be honest and admit to being bad planners, power players, attention seekers or avoiders.

More importantly if we manage our own time, we will automatically respect the time of others. We should also stop thinking poor time management is worth emulating and follow Richard Branson’s lead.

“It means being an effective delegator, organiser and communicator.”

If you need support with your time management and planning which could impact your career – check out these coaching programmes.

Interviews with H.R. are the gatekeeping process

Meaningless interviews with H.R. Really?

Why do so many underestimate interviews with H.R?

I’ve heard some comments recently from candidates or job search clients related to interviews with H.R. I’ve selected two, because the others carried the same message, they were just phrased differently.

  • Comment #1 – From a job seeking client:  “I’ve only attended a series of meaningless interviews with H.R.”
  • Comment #2 – From a candidate I was interviewing who was woefully unprepared: “Don’t worry, I will be better prepared for the decision-maker”   

Sadly for him, I was the decision maker. His process ended right there.

Gatekeepers

It is true that the calibre of some H.R. individuals, may not be high all the time. But regardless, they are the gate keepers to the process.  Candidates, this is your wake-up call. Interviews with H.R. are not meaningless, even if they seem that way. They are the first decision makers. If H.R. cut you, it rarely happens that the line or hiring managers go back and ask to see the thousands of CVs and telephone screening notes of unprocessed candidates. Many pundits encourage candidates to bypass H.R. totally and locate the hiring manager. That can work, but usually offers are made via H.R. so they can still nix your application. It is only very rarely you can leapfrog interviews with H.R.

And sometimes you don’t know you are encountering H.R., as one candidate found to his cost with #HRTechWorld colleague Matt Buckland

Attitude and aptitude

How you interact with H.R.,recruiters and anyone else in the process is measured, monitored and judged. You are then compared to other candidates or the benchmark  for the position for that company. An overview centred around cultural fit and expectations will be made. Your attitude matters as much as your hard skills. If you are rude and entitled then it’s factored in. I interviewed a senior manager for an executive role in a very conservative organisation.  Let’s be clear. It was not a junior coding role in a tech start-up.  He was not professionally attired.   I simply made a note of the facts and the company President commented on it as a sign of a certain attitude. He was processed further, but that same attitude surfaced in other ways further down the line. It was a red flag.

If the hiring manager trusts the H.R. Manager or the recruiter, he will rely on their judgement. She doesn’t have time to micro-manage the search process.  I can understand process fatigue setting in because candidates can go for many interviews. But somehow job seekers have to prepare and be courteous and remember everyone involved counts, especially those interactions and interviews with H.R.

That’s why the gentleman had so many “meaningless interviews with H.R.”  It’s the candidate who has to give those interviews meaning and make the right first impression. Because like the saying goes, there are rarely second chances.

Give those interviews with H.R. meaning:

  • be courteous and respond appropriately and in a timely way.
  • connect with the person on LinkedIn
  • prepare and research information about the company
  • prepare questions
  • thank them for their time
  • refer other candidates if you are not interested

If you have established a good rapport with the H.R. contact, you are more likely to be considered for another role if you are not successful and given performance feedback. That will help you reduce those meaningless interviews with H.R.

Do you want to improve your interview performance and job search strategy – contact me 

How a “slow no” damages your employer brand

What is  a “slow no?”

A “slow no” is a communication device used by hiring managers or recruiters for keeping short listed candidates warm as a back-up plan. It involves indirect and opaque communication, which is a death knell to any search carried out with integrity. It might involve no communication at all, or fluff about delays. Sometimes it’s intentional. Sometimes it’s about incompetence, lack of knowledge, training , experience and confidence.  Frequently, it’s about all of the above.

Either way the candidate knows that he or she is not the preferred candidate, but doesn’t know why. No direct feedback is given.

Three of  the most frustrating experiences candidates report relate to the quality and regularity of communication with the head hunter or hiring manager.

1. No updates

Candidates get more upset by not having a status update than being told they are unsuccessful or if there is a delay.  Avoidance strategies damage the employer brand. This is especially true if the candidate is aware of a prescribed process within a certain time frame and they are not included. If second stage interviews are to be held in London in March and it’s now April – they know there is a problem. This is a failed slow no.

Candidate feedback

“Lack of communication is a real problem. I get really annoyed when my emails and calls are unanswered, especially if the head hunter contacted me in the first instance.

2. Delays

Hiring processes are actually becoming slower and longer than ever. As the chain of decision-making becomes extended, multiple interviews are increasingly common. In senior level jobs, candidates commonly report 6 or even 10 interviews as the process (risk responsibility?) is diffused. Read: Why too many interviews is bad hiring practise. To deal with this, candidates need to take vacation days to meet all the necessary stakeholders. This makes the hiring manager seem indecisive and disorganised and clearly impacts the brand.

Candidate feedback

“There are obviously always extenuating circumstances but the hiring process should have a  streamlined time effective process and milestones, which  wherever possible should be adhered to”

3. Evasive responses

Nothing makes candidates more annoyed than evasive responses from the head hunter. This could be because they don’t know the job or client well enough, or they don’t have the information themselves. At that point you have to say you don’t know, but will get back to them. Candidates appreciate transparency and see evasion as part of the “slow no” process.

Candidate feedback

I’m a grown up! Just tell me how it is and allow me to make a decision. You are more likely to lose me as a candidate by being evasive than by being straight”

At the root of this is also, and perhaps more worrying, is a lack of understanding of the cost of an open position to the business.

How to nail an international assignment

At about this time of the year companies start measuring employees against their KPIs and everyone is busy preparing next year’s plan. Set against the back drop of maybe a recent vacation and the onset of winter, life and work in another country becomes appealing.  People start considering an international assignment.

I have moved internationally myself, so have first hand experience of the challenges involved. Without company sponsorship it can be difficult.

So how do you go about it? Definitely not the way I did! This may surprise you, but I threw caution to the wind and just moved. It worked (in the end) but it was not without its downsides. So when my daughter was inclined to do the same, I strongly advised her to be more strategic. For once, somewhat surprisingly, she listened to me.

Want advice about planning an international assignment – contact me!

She and her now husband, decided that they wanted a lifestyle change from their life in London. They carefully researched target destinations to produce a strong favourite location. They took a week’s vacation and set up meetings at their own expense, with potential employers in the destination of choice, Dubai. Within days they had offers from their preferred firms. They are still there with blossoming careers.

An international assignment can be enormously fulfilling. For me it has been. But for some it can be the source of abject misery.

Goals 

Understand well why you want to move internationally and how this fits into your long term career goals. There are many permutations on an international assignment  –  as a singleton, with a partner and with and without kids. Factor in what this means for your partner and his/her career and your family if you have one. Jack Welch said that tomorrow’s leaders will have international backgrounds, but relocation experts say the international transfer of an executive can centre on how the family settles into the new home and schools, rather than the executive into a new job.

Research

Make a short list of the locations that are in line with your goals. Look into the employment laws of the targeted country with regard to non-national employees. It is getting increasingly difficult to just up sticks and pitch up somewhere new. Some geographies are notoriously difficult to enter, with rigorous immigration restrictions for all but specific key skill sets. Check out the professional restrictions. What sort of visa would you need? Investigate companies and any sector trends or insights to establish which areas might be open to international candidates. Language capabilities will be critical here. Many would-be movers simply give up their lives and relocate without knowing a word of the language of the country they are moving to.

Finances

Make sure you understand thoroughly your personal finances and how these translate into another country. It is common to inadequately cost the expenses involved in relocation, to maintain your desired standard of living.  Understanding the general cost of living, housing and education in your dream location is critical. Tax regimes and exchange rates also have to be factored in. I know Americans in Europe currently, who are really struggling as the Euro falls against the dollar, when they have to transfer money back to their home country and are paid in the local currency. Expatistan and Numbeo are good living cost comparison sites

Position

Re-construct your LinkedIn profile to include keywords related to your target destination. LinkedIn is heavily driven by the location field and many companies don’t want to pay relocation expenses. Check out the job boards and sign up for alerts. Some international assignment seekers relocate ahead of finding a job. At lower levels this can work, as sometimes being on the spot and having a local telephone number and address can help. But you do need deep pockets and savings to be able to stick it out. It can take 6-9 months to get a job. I have not seen this method succeed at a senior level.

In today’s regulated economies and employment markets, finding an international assignment can be harder than it appears, but rewarding and a great life and career experience.

So good luck – what is your story of an international assignment?

 

 

Elder care – an HR crisis in the wings

With aging populations in many developed economies, elder care looms on the horizon for a high number, making it an HR crisis waiting in the wings. An increasing number of employees will have to balance caring responsibilities with paid work in the not to distant future. Many are already experiencing the challenge.

I recently had an elder care crisis myself. My active and independent, 90 year old mum had a very negative experience, to what should have been a routine surgery. I am self employed so could eventually re-work my schedule, but I live in another country. It was my sister who shouldered the brunt of the immediate responsibility, reliant on the goodwill of her line manager.

While most  organisations now offer support for working parents and new mothers, carers frequently get overlooked.

Sandwich generation

In some cases many individuals, known as the “Sandwich Generation” fulfil both roles.  These people balance their own lives and work, parent their own children and reverse parent at the same time. That is, they parent their own parents. We are already seeing inadequate retirement provision made by many Boomers, and pension poverty forecast for many women, who live longer. This is set against a reduction in state funded care services in some geographies, or none at all in others, so the full extent of the problem can only be estimated.

But there is no doubt it is significant.

Unofficial support

The question is does the workplace need to play a stronger role in building carer-friendly communities?  The answer is yes, or face skill set shortages. UK businesses are already suggesting that the risk of losing key talent from the workplace is increasing, because of a lack of support for those employees with caring responsibilities. In joint research from the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (enei) and My Family Care it was revealed that only 38% of employers monitor the caring responsibilities of their workforce, despite the fact that 10% of UK workers now combine paid work with caring for family members.

In a survey of 1,000 consumers and 100 employers, although 33% of HR managers said they had introduced specific policies or communications for carers at work 35% of the respondents surveyed indicated  that they have minimal support  available to them. This is in contrast to new parents who have direct support and tend to build a network of people experiencing the same life and professional challenges. Although there is now a growing plethora of commercial organisations filling the service gap,  in what is going to be a big growth business in the future.

In a separate survey of more than 4,500 carers by Carers UK, more than 50% of those surveyed said workplace issues made looking after the person they cared for more difficult, with 75% reporting a negative impact on their productivity, physical or mental health.

Line Managers

Employees said their line managers were key to helping them balance work and family, and many called for greater flexibility at work although concerns were expressed about the impact this would have on career progression. 75% of employees said a lack of support from their employer made it more difficult to work full time and fulfil their caring responsibilities, with many not even informing their employers of their private obligations.  Further studies have shown that this is more likely to be an issue in a larger organisation where lost  time and interruptions are more frequently recorded than in an SME.

The biggest challenge, however, is cost. Elder care benefits are claimed to be too expensive for many organisations.

Employee benefit

Introducing elder care as an employee benefit need not necessarily be costly.  Even the provision of access to helplines and specialists who can advise on and manage needs generated by caring for elderly relatives. The time spent liaising with different bodies involved in any care process is high, as I found out personally. This can include: hospitals, dieticians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, doctors  and other stakeholders that are needed before residential elder care is considered. These schemes are comprehensive and look after major issues from support in the home, to advice on residential care.

Elder care services can also provide access to qualified financial and legal advisors, specialising in care fees planning and the financial affairs of older people, as well as hands-on support when dealing with property and personal possessions. Having these resources available will minimise the time needed to independently seek professional advice from very often unreliable sources.

With a record number of people in the 60+ demographic (this is why they are called Boomers, because there was a baby boom) as with any other wider cultural change, the work place will be impacted. It will then become an HR issue.

What is your experience of elder care?

Pitchcraft: The 3Ps – Prepare, Practise, Perform

A number of people claim responsibility for creating the term Pitchcraft so I can’t source it exactly. It’s a term I’ve used myself for many years, thinking I was being very creative, although not in the context of baseball, which I find incomprehensible. This is on par with its equally mystifying UK counterpart cricket  – but “bowlcraft” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

However, like any sport the aim is the same. To deliver a winning performance.

It is simply the art of delivering your message in the way that is most appropriate for the situation. This can range from a subtle message to a full on sales drive.  It should be something we can deliver smoothly and succinctly to meet every occasion. Clearly you are not going to produce the same pitch on a hot date as you would in a networking event, unless of course you didn’t want a second date, in which case it would be a sure-fire tactic.

You would be surprised how many people fail to prepare to pitch in their careers. By doing so as Benjamin Franklin said, in reality they are preparing to fail. Opportunities come and go, many times when they are least expected.  We know that if a lot of famous, successful people, many of whom are no longer with us,  are oft quoted on any subject, then there will be truisms involved.  And there are indeed lots of quotes on preparation and being prepared. But a high number of people are not prepared to pitch themselves, whether in a formal interview, in a meeting, with their clients, their boss or in a networking situation. Very often not only are they unprepared, they might even be reluctant to do so.

In the words of another late American President

The 3Ps of Pitchcraft are:

1. Prepare  

  • Have you carried out a review of personal and career goals –  are they aligned?
  • Do you know your strengths and development needs?
  •  When was the last time you did an audit of your CV and online profile?  Have you identified your hard and soft skills? Can you articulate your success stories?
  • Do you have an up to date, ready to send CV?

2. Practise

  • How fluent is your 30 second commercial?
  • How is your non-verbal communication?
  • What about responses to typical interview questions.  Do you have any prepared?  What about the old chestnut  “Tell me about yourself” It is a trick question!

3. Perform

  • How smooth is your delivery? Can you deliver your USP in any circumstances –  a cocktail party, networking event or other business occasion. Or do you make even yourself cringe it sounds so awkward
  • Have you ever recorded yourself either online or on your own answer machine? How do you sound?

And finally another truism on the subject

8 ways companies can put the “inter” back in interview

interview (n.) 1510s, “face-to-face meeting, formal conference,” from Middle French entrevue, verbal noun from s’entrevoir “to see each other, visit each other briefly, have a glimpse of,” from entre- “between” (see inter-) + Old French voir “to see” (from Latin videre;).

After six years of deep recession and demand driven hiring processes, interviews have been about candidates making super human efforts to make the cut. During this time we have let the notion of interviews being a two-way street be side lined. Candidates desperate to create the right impression repressed nagging concerns about hiring managers and some companies simply became complacent. What they forgot is this whole process  to see “each other”  is integral to their employer brand.

Many employers hope that the concept of an employer brand will go away. The reverse is probably true and it will become more important as economies move into recovery. Companies will need to start flexing those brand muscles to attract and retain the best talent for their organisations. A pristine employer brand will be key in any upcoming war for talent.

The interview process can be critical to building up or destroying any employer brand.

Flexing brand muscles

Bad news goes viral faster than Spanish Flu and poor candidate experiences do the rounds at high velocity. So when they complain about bad interviews, it’s not a case of “if” these problems seep onto the wider market – but when.

I hear candidate nightmares every week. None quite as bad as the classic Monty Python sketch with John Cleese. But some come close.  They are mainly small things, but cumulatively they become compounded to form an overall negative impression, especially when the competitor’s hiring team is on point.  Now, in an economic upturn candidates are starting to have choice.

Candidate interview experience

Companies pour millions into product marketing promotions but forget that every interface an outsider has with the company can strengthen the company and therefore product brand. In the recruitment process every level of engagement should be “on brand” and convey the essential message of the key values of the organisation. For many organisations it’s time to put the “inter” back into interview.

Is your company struggling with your candidates’ experiences? Check out services and training to create a strong employer brand

How to put the “inter” back into interview:

  1. Communication – should be timely, positive and effective for keeping the candidate informed and motivated.  Candidates say that the worst part of any process is no news.
  2. Screening – should be thorough, professional, open. Many companies cut corners on low quality VOIP platforms or hurried phone calls on mobile phones with poor signals.
  3. Preparation – everyone from the receptionist to the hiring manager should be aware of the brand image that they convey and should be well prepared
  4. Location –  should be in an appropriate place where all parties can be focused. Interviews frequently take place in bars, restaurants, hotels, airport lounges. At some point they should be in the company’s offices with dedicated time
  5. Trained – all players in the process should be trained in interviewing and selection skills and have an assigned role in the process. Avoiding duplication of interviews and keeping the number of interviews to a reasonable level is also key. Anything more than four or five and the decision-making process of the hiring company is called into question
  6. Interaction –  should be timely, effective, professional.
  7. Use of technology – should be demographic appropriate. Text and social media can be invaluable for entry-level recruitment particularly  – perhaps less so with other generations.
  8. Rejection –  should be empathetic and encouraging paving a way for the future. Unsuccessful candidates can be turned into top brand evangelists if they sing a company’s praises even after being rejected.

An employer brand is intrinsic to the whole spectrum of the recruitment process. It is not just about what companies do that sends resonating messages, but what they fail to that will set warning bells clanging.

As economies show signs of recovery, it could be time for many companies to go through a thorough self-assessment to establish the condition of their employer brands and to remember the “inter” in interview.

The Carnival of H.R. Changing Times & H.R.

We are seeing change in all aspects of our daily lives at a phenomenal pace.  I am fascinated by the impact this has on the workplace and even more so on organisational response. Whether cultural, economic or technological each shift eventually has some sort of effect on and H.R. policies and practises and leadership input.  The need to adjust, cope with or harness those developments seems to become stronger with each passing year. This week’s Carnival of H.R. looks at some of the impact of some of these trends.

In the 2014 Report on Human Capital Trends   the international consulting organisation Deloitte, identify a number of key areas for attention. Most significant is the measurement of H.R readiness for some of the major shifts.

Here is the input of our international commentators:  

Amit Bhagria, on Young H.R. Manager  writes from India about the arrival of Gen Z in the workplace and  Future challenges in Human Resource management .

With a focus on “Business Bullshit, Corporate Crap and other stuff from the World of Work” in Flip Chart Fairy Tales, Steve Toft in his post Work in 2030: even more precarious than it is now , examines projections for our future workplace, where the organisational values are shaped by Gen Y.  Flexibility, transparency and employee engagement are widely adopted by business, but he maintains their application is effectively limited to the highly skilled.  But what does this mean for the rest of the workforce?

Ian Welsh, based in Toronto, Canada, focuses on providing creative solutions to meet H.R. needs asks How Must HR Adapt to Changing Times?  He considers specific ways and areas the H.R. function can try to reposition itself  “to be ready and adaptable to business needs as they change”

Chris Fields  in eSkills Blog  examines the downside of our current corporate culture with an emphasis on “presenteeism”  when sick employees continue to come to work with a significant impact on productivity and therefore hidden costs to the organisation.  Sick but Still at Work – What’s the Real Cost of “Presenteeism”?

Australian recruitment leader, Greg Savage, founder of leading recruitment companies Firebrand Talent Search, People2People and Recruitment Solutions exhorts recruiters in his blog the Savage Truth  to get up to date in a  world where recruitment practises have been overturned by technology. In the post Dead recruiter walking,  he argues how consultants who fail to adapt,  will go under.

Employee Conditions & Benefits

It is estimated that by 2020, 60 million Americans will be working as freelance contractors. It is a growth sector in most geographies. Annabel Kaye, UK-based employment law specialist and CEO of Irenicon, flags up the impact of  this shift from traditional corporate contracts on H.R. functions in her post Is freelancing the way to bypass HR?. Many companies she maintains are not  equipped to deal with and manage the growing numbers who effectively work for themselves not the organisation.

The impact of the changes to the nuclear family are filtering into our organisations. I explore how these trends are creating significant challenges for organisations in Why parenting is an H.R. issue

Communication

Jesse Lyn Stoner  Founder of the Seapoint Center, looks at how technology has opened up communication to encompass the globe in fraction of  a minute. Online meetings  and communication are becoming the norm in today’s fast paced hi-tech world.  In her post Tips for Cross Cultural Communication she gives useful insight to help us all navigate cross cultural differences especially in the growing virtual workplace.

Donna Svei,  Avid Careerist, Resume and LinkedIn profile writer tells us  how hiring and HR managers can amplify the generic term “communications skills” and drill down to ask for specific competencies  which will help job seekers focus more precisely.   10 Better Ways to Communicate Your Communications Skills

Work-Life & Employee engagement

With references to the  perhaps not so new term ” the overwhelmed employee,”  Mark Morford, columnist and culture critic, takes a look at  the new and much discussed concept of work-life balance as technology makes us all contactable 24/7. With Millennials committed to not working as hard as their parents, he asks us Is work-life balance a lie?  and should we really be talking about work-life synergy?

Employee engagement  is being seen as key to the success of any business and Katie Richard and Sarah Clarke at ChangeBoard Blog  consider the implications of a disengaged workforce in  How to make your employees happy on International Happiness Day

Dr. Anne Perschel  of Germane Consulting and Co-Founder 3Plus International  tells us that Employee Engagement Starts with Leadership Engagement.  She gives six questions to test  leadership engagement.

Leadership 

As we hope to emerge from the grips of a savage global recession many writers are reflecting on the type of leadership and organisational values to take our businesses and cultures forward. Is is business as usual or does it require a different approach?

Lolly Daskal, Founder of Lead from Within, a global leadership and consulting firm advocates for Tough minded leadership with tender hearted skills  to achieve business success.

Susan Mazza,  Random Acts of Leadership, challenges the  “unspoken belief for many that, if you get to a certain level or position, you will have to change who you are.”  A leadership coach and organizational change consultant, she suggests that the best leaders are the ones who  Be their own brand of leader

 What other trends would you add?