There are many industries and sectors that have a very flat management structure. It makes them more efficient, and it reduces management costs if it is done the right way.

But it does present organisations with one major challenge. How do you prepare somebody for the next step in their career if that step is too big to take?

Because this is a real issue that faces many in such industries. They feel they are ready for the next step, but how do you go from a departmental manager responsible for 6 to 8 people to a general manager, say, responsible for 100? How do you get promoted from a small town responsibility to having to lead a big city? It is a conundrum.

First of all, speak to your bosses. They may be able to give you guidance, and indeed explain what they need from you to convince them you are ready for the next step.

Perhaps you might like to start talking to other employers. Perhaps their structure is not quite so flat, giving them time to promote people to, say, assistant store manager and proving themselves there. Before taking on the big responsibility.

Or perhaps you look at a completely different industry. One where people with talent will get promoted at regular intervals without the need for massive leaps.

Because such massive leaps are always a risk. Suppose that you cannot handle the new responsibility? What happens if the market moves against you just as you take on a big new role?

Such failures can leave you marked as a senior manager who could not hack it, rather than a promising junior manager with much potential. Through no fault of your own.

Sometimes the right career move is just a question of luck. But the most successful careers are built by people who recognise that luck and take advantage of it.

Nothing is certain, there are no hard and fast rules as every situation is very different. But one thing is for sure, the pandemic has meant a massive change in the U.K.’s economic landscape. And change always creates good opportunities. Good luck!

There have been lots of statistics over the years, showing people the most effective way of applying for a job.

You might be surprised to learn that actually making a job application is probably one of the least effective ways. Which is why it always saddens me to hear of people who say they have made thousands of job applications with no success. My immediate thought is always, perhaps your time could have been better spent.

The last time I looked at such a survey, using recruitment consultancies, personal contacts, applying directly to HR departments with an introduction, even walking in off the street and leaving a CV provided produced far better results than applying to jobs directly.

Making job applications was only about 5% effective, compared to using personal contacts which was up around 55% and some of the other methods somewhere in between.

So if you really want to kick start your job search, speak to recruitment specialists, speak to your contacts, get back in touch with old friends, talk to companies directly. But job applications, everybody else can do that at the touch of a button, how are you going to stand out from the crowd?

The power of networking effectively is extraordinary. Done properly people who you have known for many years can be recruited to point you in the right direction.

But we have to convince many jobseekers that it is not a full frontal assault. It is not grabbing 5000 of your closest friends and sending them a copy of the your CV and asking for a job. It is not sending them a very long message explaining your predicament, your experience and what you need.

It is about starting a very personal conversation.

And if you remember the days when we can meet people in the pub, almost months ago, think about how your conversations used to go.

If you have not met somebody for a very long time, you are unlikely to start off with a 20 minute statement, not allowing them to get a breath not allowing them to get a word in edgeways. You are not gonna make it all about you and nothing about them. Or at least that is the way you operate, you might be surprised to learn why people do not want to repeat the experience.

So networking is subtle, opening up conversations with people you haven’t spoken to for a while. Finding out how they are and asking them for a bit of help.

The all-out assault is tempting, and it saves you a lot of further contact. But it is not very effective. At the moment, especially, the human touch is difficult to achieve. But if you can do it in your networking efforts, in trying to widen your contacts on LinkedIn, in trying to leverage past acquaintances in your search for a new role, it is worth the effort.

Sometimes you have a final interview for the job of your dreams.  You can’t be certain you will get it, how do you give yourself the best chance?

You’ve been out of work for six weeks and this role would just change your life. How do you improve your chances, make yourself more relaxed, come across less desperate for the role?

The quickest way is to line up some other interviews for other roles. I see too many jobseekers who find something they really like the look of, convince themselves they have a strong chance of being selected and then turn off their job search.

It is at precisely the point where you are getting close to something that you should not turn off your job search. The ability to genuinely convince recruiters that you are pursuing a number of different avenues makes you more desirable, it takes the pressure off you and it gives you a Plan B.

I have never gambled, but I understand the analogy. On roulette, only the reckless would put all their chips on red if you wanted to continue playing. But you could confidently put the same number on if you had 10 times that number sitting next to you. 

Spread your bet, increase your chances. And become more confident. 

A much better way to success. 

It is quite simple “I’m 99% certain I’ll accept the offer”.

Having recruited for employers all over the world for many years, I can tell you that I know exactly what that phrase means. I have heard it perhaps 300 times, and on the balance of probabilities that would mean that 297 of that 300 have accepted the job.

Except in reality they never do. Because a candidate who is 99% in, is 100% out.

A bit like a football really. A ball that is 99% over the goal line is 100% not a goal. On the flipside a tennis ball that is 99% out is 100% in.

So 99% means to me that they are preparing you for the 1% doubt. That they quite like the idea of the job but they know they won’t accept it. But they don’t have the guts to tell you today, so they’ll leave that lingering doubt in your mind overnight until they call you tomorrow. Or go quiet on you.

If you want to reassure a recruiter that you are going to accept their job (but you possibly have no intention of doing so because you are seeing three other employers in the meantime) then do not use the 99% word. They have heard it all before. 

In fact we are much happier with lower percentages, because they are much more genuine and quite often end in a good outcome. Somebody who is 90% certain may well accept, and someone who is 80/20 will accept most of the time.

So I’ll never believe 99%. But I might give you 110% for effort. 

On your CV? Completely. (Though there are ways of telling the truth that are better than others)

But when you’re dealing with third parties, especially agencies, then you do not need to share everything. Having operated in recruitment ourselves for many years, let me tell you a typical scenario that can really harm your chances of getting your ideal job.

The typical scenario goes something like: you are a very capable candidate who has two or three opportunities on the go. You have been offered a job, or are strongly in the running for one, through an agency who has introduced you.

You mentioned casually that you are also in the running for a job with XYZ Ltd. Perhaps you have been introduced to them by somebody else or even a friend.

Here is the agency’s dilemma. They know you are a strong candidate for one of their clients, but also for someone who they are not dealing with. Agencies range from the very ethical, that is like how we always wanted to behave, to the very “sharp”. 

A sharp operator will not be able to let this go. As soon as they have put down the phone they will make the following judgement, you are 50-50 between their client and XYZ Ltd. If they can get one of their candidates into XYZ Ltd, they have the potential to make two placements. Clearly it will halve your chances of getting your next role, but for the sharp operator that is not their concern.

It happens a lot more than you would believe. And especially in the current climate, where new roles are difficult to come by. If they can get a lead on someone who is definitely recruiting, many will follow it up.

So my advice to you is simple, if you want to be open and upfront with an agency you trust by all means tell them you have a couple of opportunities in the pipeline. But never reveal the identity. 

The harder they push you, the more you know they want to contact the client themselves. You are under no obligation to tell them, and if I were you I would insist that the role is extremely confidential and it would be a breach of trust to reveal the identity. End of conversation.

In the meantime good luck, I’m delighted you have two job opportunities.

People who find themselves out of work tend to do one of two things in our experience. Either they refuse to look at anything even slightly below the job they have just come out of, or they go completely the other way and want to look at anything and everything. Insecurity and fear of being out of a job forever means they take the first thing that comes along. Even if it is completely inappropriate.

If you are in the unfortunate position of finding yourself unemployed, try not to panic. But equally do not dismiss every job that comes your way because it doesn’t look perfect. The one thing you have in your situation that costs you nothing is time. Time to speak to people, to explore opportunities, to get known by other employers. And you never know where an opportunity or a conversation might take you.

The test we have always recommended is “If this was the only opportunity around in three months time, would I look at it?” If the answer to that is yes, then look at it now. You can always turn it down, but if it is the only game in town and it is interesting why not have a chat?

Good luck, it is not an easy market but on the other hand you have real skills. Believe in yourself and talk to as many people as possible and you’ll probably find the ideal opportunity.

 

Anybody remember Boys from the Black Stuff? 

An early 80s Alan Bleasdale drama that dates anyone who watched it, it starred Bernard Hill as Yosser Hughes. 

Yosser used the worst networking style you could imagine – he would normally open the conversation “Gizza job, I can do that”. He topped it off with a head-butt for anyone who didn’t.

There are much more subtle ways, especially if you are approaching people who you have known well. Nearly everybody, even if you are old mates, will feel embarrassed if you approach them and ask them if they have a job. 

They will feel especially embarrassed if they do have one but you are not right for it, or if they just can’t offer you one. And so they may not reply and hope that you go away.

But most people are always open to helping their old friends. So anybody who approaches them asking for helpful contacts or places to look creates no embarrassment. At worst you are happy to reply and say you don’t really know anybody at the moment but will keep your eye out. Or alternatively they will genuinely know somebody who is looking or who is worth talking to.

Once you have opened the conversation they might decide actually you’ve changed, you’ve matured and you have the right experience that might help them out. And as they know you they know your strengths and your weaknesses but know you are genuine.

In any case, the indirect approach nearly always works well in networking. The direct one rarely does. And old acquaintances are the best place to start looking.

Good luck 

Coronavirus has created an awful lot of redundancies, but people are still finding new jobs. It’s time to find out how you can do that too.

This might be the worst slump we’ve had in the past 12 years, and just possibly unemployment is about to go through the roof, but employers are still recruiting. 

In fact if you look at the figures many SME’s (small to medium-size enterprises) are planning to recruit this year. Some of them have landed on their feet in sectors that are doing extremely well, others naturally have a steady turnover of jobs and are always looking to find new people. 

But if you compare the job market today to the one that we saw 12 months ago, it is very different. And as a result, before you even start to apply for jobs, you need to understand how to give yourself the best opportunity.

And while for many that means applying for jobs online, the operative word here is many. Everybody’s doing it. It makes it really difficult to stand out from the crowd if that crowd is a really big one.

Much better, therefore, to find yourself in a shortlist of one. How do you do that? You need to be seen by employers before they even know they’re looking for a job. Or before they have briefed recruitment consultancies, or because someone you know well has recommended you.

It is time to dust off your old contacts. And it is time to leverage these contacts through LinkedIn. It is the premier networking site in the world, while it has its limitations, when you genuinely know somebody is a great way of getting back in touch.

You won’t remember all of them, but if you put all of your details properly into LinkedIn and search for people who were at the same school, university and employer as you, it is surprising how many familiar faces you will see. 

And it is surprising how old faces are really happy to help someone if there is an opportunity.