Monday, 14 December 2009

The 12 Do's of Christmas Job Hunting

On the First day of job hunting…Be realistic

Competition is fierce so you have to accept that you will be up against a lot of people for every role you apply for. These are tough times for jobseekers. Many of the companies who are not actively laying-off staff are freezing recruitment. That said, the fundamentals of the job market haven’t changed, even if the odds are a little longer. Vacancies are certainly scarcer, but this just means that you have to be better prepared.

On the Second day of job hunting…Target your niche market

In the current climate it might be tempting to apply for every single job you are qualified for (and sometimes over qualified for) and just take whatever comes along first. You wouldn’t dream of being so unselective if you were house hunting so why do it when you’re job hunting? Instead of blindly sending out your CV’s to every Tom, Dick and Harry, target those ‘in the know’. Seek out agencies with consultants who a) really know what they’re talking about and b) have great contacts to ensure you get put forward for the jobs which best suit you before they even hit the market. Remember this could be an opportunity for life, not just for Christmas!

On the Third day of job hunting…Get ahead of the crowd

Instead of wasting hours of your own time tracking down vacancies make sure you get the right jobs coming directly to you. Registering for job alerts will enable you to save your job searches, set-up email alerts to make sure you get the latest jobs, upload and save your CV and review your previous applications.

On the Fourth day of job hunting …Develop the perfect CV

Every job hunter needs an impressive CV that describes their educational and professional history. A well-prepared and individually tailored CV is invaluable and can greatly improve your chances of getting the job you want.

On the Fifth day of job hunting…Make sure you’re relevant

It is surprising how many people send in CV’s that haven’t been tailored to specific job criteria. In order for recruiters to get through the bulk of applications received, they scan through the details, noting keywords, skills and specific work experience that match the details of the job ad. That’s why, to get yourself noticed, you need to concentrate on getting your CV to talk directly to the recruiter and in the language they understand. By adapting this, each time you apply to a unique job vacancy you can make sure you are telling them exactly what they want to hear.

On the Sixth day of job hunting…Get organised

Make sure you keep a record of all the roles you have applied for and use a spreadsheet to document all of your applications. Include contact details and make sure you follow up all your applications. It’s also a really good idea to log all your meetings and interviews in a calendar.

On the Seventh day of job hunting…Get expert help

We’ve got 30 years worth of recruitment experience so why not take advantage of it? Our recruitment consultants work a niche, ‘vertical market’ structure for each specialist division, giving unrivalled coverage and understanding. In this way, we offer a truly consultative recruitment service.

On the Eighth day of job hunting …Be patient

Be prepared to accept that you could be looking at longer time scales than you might have expected a couple of years ago. A lot of recruiters are taking more time to make sure they recruit the best applicant and therefore it can be a much longer process.

On the Ninth Day of job hunting…Use technology

To stand out from the masses, you have to be creative to get noticed. A well written CV and cover letter is only just the start. What about creating a blog to boast about your skills? Employers know that the most productive employees are those who take initiative and are excited about their work. By taking these extra steps, you’re positioning yourself as the talent that they’re looking for, not just another resume in a pile.

On the Tenth Day of job hunting…Get networking

Whether you want to discover a better way to write your CV, find job leads faster or simply network better then using social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter could really give you the edge. The bigger your network the more contacts (and potential employers) you will be exposing yourself to.

On the Eleventh Day of job hunting…Be resilient

There are many reasons that you might not be selected for a role and its best not to take it too personally. More often than not, there may be a ‘behind-the-scenes story’. Take any feedback on-board and work though any areas you might want to improve on. It may take time but you will get there in the end, with some careful thought and some good advice.

On the Twelfth Day of job hunting…Shine!

So you’ve done your research, found the perfect role, written a spot-on CV and bagged an interview, now what? When it comes to landing that dream job, it is usually the candidate who performs best at the interview who wins. Even if other contenders have more impressive resumes, better qualifications and more experience, employers are invariably swayed by the person who has obviously done extensive job interview preparation and impresses most on the day. With all of that done, the dream job should be yours for the taking - good luck!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A Healthy Mix – Blended Sourcing Strategies

Can you afford not to explore a potential 50% cost saving on your projects?

The final topic I addressed at last months Lean Government conference focused on alternatives to expensive consultancy resource. Consultancy led solutions are often chosen for the wrong reasons and can result in unnecessarily high cost and scope creep.

So, what is the alternative to using expensive consultancy resource?

Businesses like Sanderson have spent a long time developing market knowledge - with a particular focus on skills and capability. As a result we have access to a wide range of niche skills through contractors or smaller niche consultancies. When this experience is drawn together it’s possible to build a solution that offers greater levels of skill, experience and knowledge whilst costing less. More importantly, this type of solution is far more likely to focus entirely on your key deliverables.

What risks are recruitment organisations able to take?

This was a question asked at the Lean Government conference. It led initially to a comparison with the risks taken by consultancies – risks that in reality are minimal…..for them. The consensus view was that consultancies now look to pass risk back to the customer. From my perspective, a recruitment business like ours is less inclined to take financial risk, but is quite willing to share the objectives and deliverables of your project – a partnership approach that is less likely to be taken by a consultancy.

Where has this approach worked?

Sanderson has experience of delivering a range of projects using blended resource. Over the last 12 months, the quotes from bigger consultancies have been anything between 30% and 100% more expensive than ours. Our case study looked at the successful implementation of an Oracle EB-Suite into Surrey Police at 50% of the cost quoted by Oracle.

The reality is that every deliverable, every work-package should be reviewed against a full range of sourcing options. It is all too easy to plump for a consultancy solution, but it is likely to be far more expensive and less focused. The UK’s flexible (i.e. contract) resource market is one of the most mature in the world. By bringing the appropriate skills together in a single package, a decent recruitment organisation can deliver everything that a large consultancy can and more.

But there’s no point pretending that this is a step for the feint hearted – remember the old adage ‘no-one ever got fired for choosing IBM’. Taking this approach means that you’ll need strong stakeholder support and effective governance. That said, a cost cutting agenda is clearly paramount at present and likely to become stronger over the next 12 months – can you afford not to explore a potential 50% cost saving on your projects?

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Skills Acquisition – Whatever happened to the War for Talent?

In recent years, there have been plenty of column inches devoted to the “War for Talent”. It’s become something of a cliché and given the number of recent redundancies may appear incongruous. Despite the recession, the war rumbles on. Where professional roles are concerned, the UK has a growing skills gap that is projected to peak in 2020. Whilst the fall in GDP will slow the size of this gap – it is likely to be a problem for us all over the next decade – and especially as we come out of recession and return to growth.

What about the increased number of available candidates?

At the peak of the boom and thus the peak of resource demand, over 90% of candidates who registered with Sanderson were already in jobs. That figure is now less than 50%. Unfortunately this does not mean that the skills shortage problem has gone away – it only means that the number of active candidates has increased. Most of these active candidates will offer generic skills that you probably already have within your organisation. The problem is that highly skilled people, with niche experience are staying put as opposed to moving around the market.

Adverts = lots of response. But is the response any good?

Possibly yes… but probably no. An advertising led approach to candidate and skills acquisition will get you lots of CV’s, but the best talent (paralysed by perceived market instability) is staying where it is. As a result the skills you attract may not be aligned to your business objectives.

As a result, you really need to ensure that your recruitment partners are adding real value. They should work with you in a way that:

  • Offers a real life view of the market – i.e. that passive candidates are not moving for either agency or direct attraction. The recession has changed people’s view of employment and you will need to take a more joined up strategy in order to tease out the real talent from the market by managing their views and opinions.
  • Ensures it’s not about money – the real talent in the market place, and particularly highly / niche skilled candidates are not enticed solely by the money or the brand (especially as so many brands have become tarnished in the last 12 months). Every job has to be positioned correctly – in a way that reassures the candidate that it is right for them and worth moving for.
  • Makes honesty the best policy – very few businesses can show consistent or aggressive growth and it is more likely you have had to cut back and reposition in order to grow again. Be honest, share the pain you have experienced and share your vision of the future. Good quality candidates will do their research anyway, honesty will build some trust.
Makes partnership the only way – your recruitment partner becomes your voice in the market and an extension of your own employment brand, ensuring you are marketed well to your chosen candidate market. This can only be done with a long-term commitment and strategy. If you get this right you can begin to drive both candidate sentiment and market perception – get it wrong and these elements will work against you.

Done correctly you will end up with a partnering arrangement with a business who will develop a network of top quality talent on your behalf. This not only delivers better results for you, it is also more fulfilling for the recruiter and will ensure you have a long term relationship to rely upon – especially as we move towards a decade of shortages in key highly skilled areas.

Contact me on Twitter @NickWalrond, or by email at Or simply leave a comment below.

"Carpet War" Image source: Flickr Creative Commons - (Photomish Dan)

"Open to Partnership" Image source: Flickr Creative Commons - (CQuarles)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Recruitment Process Efficiency - A lot more interesting than it sounds

As I discussed in last weeks blog, the recent masterclass I gave at a Lean Government event focused on cost efficiency and the development of a lean approach to resourcing.

I divided the masterclass into three topic areas, the first of which was ‘Process Efficiency’. Not a title to set the world on fire, I admit – but something which is a lot more interesting than it sounds – and if it’s not interesting it’s certainly worth knowing. Either way, it’s what I want to look at this week before moving on to ‘Skills Acquisition’ and ‘Blended Sourcing Models’ in future postings. As a whole I’m hoping that my practical approach will put you on a lean resourcing path.

A "One Stop Shop" is not necessarily Lean

In recent years a lot of businesses in both the public and private sectors have moved towards a one stop resourcing shop – this is either run by an in-house team or outsourced to an MSP (Managed Service Provider) or RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcer). As a solution this may work - BUT, and it’s a big but (hence the capitals) it will be geared towards a ‘high volume, low unit cost’ model which will has a major pitfall – it encourages a strictly transactional hiring relationship with the candidates you target. (i.e. need a person – go to market, need a person - go to market etc, etc, etc).
‘You may think that your unit price is competitive, and indeed it may be, but the person you get will not be delivering value for money.’

This means that your cost per hire remains low, but that when you need skilled professionals you’ll be recruiting resource that is below par. Without a proper relationship with the market and some real resourcing expertise this approach will just carry on carrying on. You may think that your unit price is competitive, and indeed it may be, but the person you get will not be delivering value for money.

My recommendation...

My recommendation is simple - form direct relationships with businesses that are already active in the candidate market – those that can deliver the skills you need for the future. You need to do this in advance of any resource requirements. It is critical to ensure that your chosen recruitment partner is then able to track both active and passive candidates (i.e. the good one that aren’t looking for work) to ensure you get someone who is well aligned to your strategic objectives.

...then focus on your non-permanent population

From a total cost cutting perspective, it is our experience that most businesses will achieve the best results by focusing on their professional non-permanent population – be they contractors, professional temps, consultant or interims. – it is likely that a large percentage of this resource is not controlled by any process – and whilst the direct hiring relationship increases the chance of getting the right individual, the lack of control will have led to over-spend and increased risk.

We regularly see situations where contractors have been hired directly by senior stakeholders, against their own budgets, at rates significantly over the market norm. In addition, it’s unlikely that contractors will be operating via robust terms of business, or indeed have undergone the correct level of compliance checking (see Baroness Scotland for further information).

25% savings are a reality

Targeting non-permanent resource in a coordinated and constructive way - ‘finding and replacing’ where appropriate - will (on average) deliver 25% cost savings. Most larger organisations spend in excess of £2m on professional non-permanent resource and should be able to show a minimum of £500k in savings.

Handled correctly, you will have a strong relationship with expert recruiters (in specialist areas) that will deliver the talent that you need whilst working within a framework that delivers value for money and manages risk.

How you get to this point is another topic all together, but as they say – if you’re interested ‘Ask me how’!

Contact me on Twitter @NickWalrond, or by email at Or simply leave a comment below.

"Lean" Image source: Flickr Creative Commons - (Zepfanman)
"Piggy savings bank" Image source: Flickr Creative Commons - (AlanCleaver)