4 ways to help you land your dream job; that 99% of recruiting advice DOESN'T tell you.

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Job searching can be incredibly frustrating. You can apply for 50+ jobs and receive almost no feedback for the majority of them; other than some sketchy reasons, which explain that you don’t meet the requirements of the position.

Except you think you do.

So, why did you really get rejected?

Sometimes you wish someone would just pull back the curtain, show you the mistakes you’re making, and point you in the right direction. When you look online or speak to recruiters, they’ll tell you this:

·         Tweak your resume and cover letter

·         Apply for jobs online

·         If you don’t hear back, apply for more jobs! Work harder!

So, then you apply for another 50 jobs. And guess what. This doesn’t work either.

Here’s what you should really do:

Forget “Networking.” Build relationships instead

The word – networking. It’s enough to strike fear into the heart of most of us.

It’s also a waste of time.

Going to career fairs, meetup groups, networking events. Showing up to these with nothing but an elevator pitch and a set of business cards is not going to land you a job. You want to get laser-focused on a select few people who can influence your career. Next, get in touch and provide as much value as you possibly can.

The truth is that relationships will land you the job you want, but not if you go about it in the traditional sense. Instead of networking, you need to be building relationships.

Applying for jobs online doesn't pay

On average, an open role at a company gets 250 applications. One of those people gets hired. That’s a 0.4% chance you’ll be successful.

Stop spending hours applying for 100s of jobs. Your dream job doesn't exist in every company. And your skills aren't going to be suitable for every position. Be patient. Shortlist all the companies you want to work for and do EVERYTHING you can to get the job you want at the company you want.

If you want to take control of the job search process and land a job you love, you need a different approach.

Find one or two highly influential people at your dream company, and use the strategies in this blog to begin building relationships with them. Learn about their career path, get interested in their role, become a potential resource for them.

Once the relationship is established, tell them you’re in the market for opportunities and ask them if they know anything that might be a good fit.

Do the job you love, whether you get paid or not

This is a classic example of a skills-based dilemma:

“I want to break into a new industry, but I don’t have enough experience — I’m not qualified.”

“Every job I want requires X years of experience, but nobody will hire me to get that experience in the first place!”

If you can't get paid for the job you want. Do it anyway by freelancing in your spare time. Or volunteering at a more junior level. By understanding what your dream job entails, what skills you need and how much you'll get paid, you'll know exactly what you need to do to achieve what you want.

Outside of building experience, freelancing also provides financial security. The greatest fear for anyone working a 9–5 job is getting fired or laid off. What would we do? How would we pay the bills?

Freelancing can allow us to enjoy new experiences and save while times are good, and they can help us bridge the gap if things don’t go our way.

Keep learning

There are 16 hours in every day that you're awake. To be paid upwards of £50k, you need to be very skilled - or work VERY hard. Watching hours of Netflix at night or going down the pub won't help you get paid to do what you love.

Does that mean you’re never allowed to play video games, see your friends, or watch Game of Thrones (if those things are important to you)? No! Absolutely not.

You have to pick and choose your battles. Understand what is most important to you and prioritise that.

Stop analysing, just pick something that sounds remotely interesting and inundate yourself for 60 days. You could absolutely love it! Or you could absolutely hate it. Either way, you’ve learned something about yourself. Each time you do this, you’ll become a little bit more clear on what you want and how to fulfil your career dream.

 

Master your body language to be successful at interviews

The majority of interview advice for jobs nearly always focuses on what you say and how good you are at answering questions.

But! Don’t forget we are all human and hiring managers aren’t necessarily paying full attention to your verbal answers. They’re also interested in how you deliver them and your personality. Do you look them in the eye? Do you fidget, play with your pen or fold your arms across your chest? All of these non-verbal cues end up being a part of the overall impression you make.

Your eye contact, handshake and posture can all help or hinder your chances of landing a job. Most hirers will be judging you on your performance within the first 5 minutes of the interview, so it’s important you can kick-off with a good impression.

Here’s some tips to help you prepare:

·         Bad posture. Leaning back can seem lazy. Leaning forward can seem aggressive. Aim for a neutral posture to find the right balance

·         Eye contact. We tend to feel uncomfortable holding the gaze of someone we don’t know. Staring can be rude, but try to look your interviewer in the eye when you are talking to them to show confidence in your answers

·         Crossed arms. Folding your arms is a classic defensive pose and is normally associated with being resistant. Keeping your body language open shows that you are approachable and willing to take on board new ideas

·         Fidgeting. Being restless and twirling your pen around your fingers is never a reassuring sign for interviewers. It’s natural to be a bit nervous, but too much fidgeting can indicate that you aren’t a focused person

·         Mismatched expressions. If someone asks you what you are passionate about, and you tell them without looking passionate, you aren’t going to be convincing anybody anytime soon

But what about nerves?

Anxiety can cause many body-language issues. But doing your homework before a meeting can help ward off those nerves. Solid preparation is most likely to be able to help you stop fidgeting or looking unsure of yourself.

Practice your interview skills ahead of time with friends or family members. When you're finished, ask them for feedback on things like posture, your handshake and eye contact. If you record your practice sessions, you can identify any mistakes you're making unconsciously.

Also, having set answers mastered can be a huge help. Knowing your elevator pitch to respond to the “tell me about yourself” question can really help you relax. Similarly, having specific examples prepared to showcase your skills and experience will help you come across as confident.

Try and relax. Taking a few deep breaths prior to the interview can relieve some of the anxiety that leads to fidgeting and other nervous tics.

Read more of our interview tips and advice on our blog.

Finding specialist talent is challenging, but retention is just as key for growth

With the UK unemployment rate hovering around 4.5 since May 2017 (the lowest since 1971), it is unsurprising that companies are investing more in their employer brand to attract the best talent.

With greater competition in the marketplace, specialist employees are scarce.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2016, 59% of companies are spending more on their brand compared to last year. Five years ago, the field of employer branding was just emerging as a priority for recruiting teams. Today, it’s a key component of most talent strategies.

Although this makes sense in today’s connected candidate marketplace, companies should be wary of over-emphasising their spend on talent attraction and hiring, without placing the same attention on developing their retention strategy.

An integrated approach

HR recruitment teams know that they are critical to their organization (and they’re right), but a short-sighted view which elevates the importance of hiring, whilst diminishing other HR functions such as development and retention, can undermine even the best recruiting.

Whilst the ability to attract and recruit talent is vital to any company’s success, many companies fail to have an integrated approach to the entire candidate lifecycle; from attraction, through onboarding and development. This disconnect creates a fractured process where companies over-promote hiring and under-emphasise development, leading to retention issues and creating an endless loop of new recruiting.

Retention hurdles

Assuming Brexit doesn’t sink the UK into a hole, hiring will continue to remain a high priority throughout 2017 and beyond. And with the rise in the number of entrepreneurs - not to mention the growth of the gig-economy - luring full-time employees will become even harder as the talent pool slowly dries up.

This endless struggle for talent will put even more pressure on organizations to retain the staff they’ve worked so hard to secure over the past years. It therefore makes sense that those companies who are investing equally across new and existing talent will reap the most rewards.

Viewing your employees as fundamental building blocks of your organization, not commodities, will allow you to shift your mindset (and resources) towards continual development and growth, helping you keep your talent longer.

The great Millennial myth about work

I recently posted on LinkedIn about how I was fed up of being labelled as a ‘Millennial’ by journalists and marketers. How has it suddenly become the norm to stereotype a particular group of people based on a rough estimation of their birth date?

Whilst I’m not generally gratified by large numbers of people agreeing with me, it was a relief to discover that I wasn’t alone in being peeved about being labelled.

But what about if the label was right? Could the Generation Y be pigeon-holed into having a particular attitude? Like any good Millennial, I ironically decided to turn to the internet to find out.

Here are some of the headlines that grabbed my attention:

“Millennials are spoilt, full of themselves, averse to hard work and expect ‘success on a plate’, so what does that mean for society?” Says the Daily Mail.

“Own stuff? They can’t afford to.” Says the Financial Times.

“Millennials don’t trust anyone. That’s a big deal.” Says the Washington Post.

MYTH. MYTH. MYTH!

According to global research by Ipsos Mori, Millennials - are, on the whole, largely the same as older generations. The research questioned 35,000 employees across the world and found that, in general, those born between 1980-1995 were absolutely no different to any other age or cohort.

Perhaps the worst area for myths and lazy assumptions about Millennials is around the topic of work. They come from all angles - some fuelled by wider-generalisations about ‘millennial’ character traits (entitled, lazy and so on), some by their levels of education and some by their economic situation. It’s a shame that so much of the journalism is poorly defined and evidenced, as it obscures some important differences. Here are some of the worst culprits, which have been bandied about:

Millennials are lazy workers

A common misconception of the Gen Y generation is one of indolence. Whilst it is true that US Millennials are likely to work a shorter working week (39.7 hours against an average of 41.8) than their elder counterparts, in Britain, Millennials actually work slightly longer (39.3 versus 37.8 overall).

In Germany, there is no difference whatsoever.

This stereotype is a largely a worthless statistic anyway, since the number of hours worked per week is gradually decreasing over time for workers of all ages, reflecting differing types of employment and massive increases in productivity. So those ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Generation Xers’ decrying the Millennial work ethic would be just as harshly criticised by previous generations.

Millennials job hop more

A 2016 LinkedIn study suggested that the average Millennial would change job four times by age 32, meaning an average job tenure of 2.5 years during a Millennial’s first decade out of university. Around the same time, Gallup released a poll suggesting that Millennials were the most likely generation to switch jobs, with 60% “open to a new job opportunity”

The median time American young people are employed at an individual employer has not changed notably between 1983 and 2014.
— US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Both reports have their limitations, and neither looked back to see if Generation X were similarly minded when they were younger.

But the idea that Millennials are chopping and changing jobs at an unprecedented rate isn’t borne out by the evidence. Figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the median time American young people are employed at an individual employer has not changed notably between 1983 and 2014 – for instance.

Indeed, in the UK we can see the exact opposite of the myth; Millennials are staying longer in jobs than older generations did when they were that age, according to new analysis by the Resolution Foundation. At age 30, those born in the early 1980s (the oldest Millennials) are more likely to have stayed with one employer for five years or more than those born in the early 1970s. The difference (47% versus 43%) is small but notable – especially in a time in the UK where loyalty to one employer is not rewarded in salary increases as well as it was in the past.

The widespread talk of flighty Millennials and the growing ‘gig economy’ is also misleading – it’s dwarfed by the counter-trend that, in tough economic times, people try to hang on to the jobs they have.

Millennials are not motivated to work

There has been a widespread and growing narrative accusing the Millennial generation of having an ‘anti-work attitude’, working only their contracted hours and expecting their employers to bend over backwards to accommodate their outside interests in microbreweries, Netflix and gamification.

But the suggestion that Millennials are less motivated at work also seems to be untrue. The Edenred Ipsos Barometer of workplaces (a survey of employees of all ages in 15 countries) shows that those aged under 30 across a number of countries are more likely than older people to say their enthusiasm for their work is increasing.

The same old story

The assertion that Millennials are a new breed, presenting employers with new challenges – and usually the sole focus is on challenges – has spawned an industry whose lifeblood appears to be offering all sorts of content and listicles of the best way to ‘manage Millennials’.

However, any serious study in the area suggests that there are very limited differences in attitude, motivation, and loyalty in the workplace between Millennials and the rest of us. The differences that do exist can be more clearly assigned to life stage – Millennials are young, and they behave like all young people in work did before them.

The key point is that Millennials don’t need to be treated differently to previous generations at the same stage in their careers. They are looking for the same things – reward for their efforts, the opportunity for personal growth, and management that cares about staff – and are just as motivated to work as Generation X were at the same point.

The implication for employers is that they shouldn’t use damaging ‘work-shy’ stereotypes to hide bad practice. If a firm is experiencing high churn in their junior paygrades (where, currently, Millennials are concentrated) it is much more likely to be due to broader issues. Employers should review their own practice, rather than looking to blame Millennials.

At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for simply being a good employer.

Alex Perrins is the Marketing Manager for ESA Group. Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter to hear more.

Here are the best questions you can ask at the end of an interview

We’re all told that we should prepare some good questions to ask at the end of an interview. But what exactly should those questions be?

Whilst searching for interview advice, a large proportion of the tips usually relate to how you can prepare for certain questions and the skills you’ll need to impress. But, what the guidance usually lacks are good questions to pose to really stand out from your competitors.

Based on research by Glassdoor, we reveal the questions you could ask to highlight that you are interested and taking the hiring process seriously. Bear in mind that each one will depend on the situation.

Understanding more

An easy way to get beyond the basic job description and probe deeper into the details of the job, is to ask more about the role’s expectations and success metrics, such as

1. How does this position contribute to the organisation's success?

2. What do you hope I will accomplish in this position?

3. What support would this position have?

What about the culture?

As much as an interview is about assessing your ability to be a good fit with a company's culture, it is also about gathering as much information and insight into it yourself. You need to understand whether the company is a fit for your values, passions and interests too.

If you pose a simple 'what is the company culture like?' question, it is too easy for the interviewer to come back with something marketing department or human resources approved. Instead you could ask:

4. How long have you been with the company?

5. What was the last big achievement that was celebrated?

6. Would you say that everyone here loves their job?

7. How long do people tend to stay at the company?

Salary, progression and perks

During an interview is the perfect time to ask informed and important questions about pay. No, it's not presumptive or rude; in fact, it's an important factor in your decision-making process:

8. What is the salary range for this role?

9. Besides the base pay, what other benefits are available or negotiable?

10. What's the outlook for progression, salary rises or promotions?

11. How do you recognise and reward high performers?

Day-to-day responsibilities

Drill down into the everyday tasks and expectations for the job you're applying to. These questions are perfect to ask your potential manager or another leader on the team:

12. Tell me about the typical day-to-day role of this position.

13. What are the team's work hours? Are there any specific requirements for time in the office?

14. How does management deliver feedback to employees?

Future opportunities

From development programs to training and mentoring, get a sense of what the company offers in the way professional growth and development opportunities. 

15. Do you have a formal mentorship program or are there mentors available?

16. How have you had the ability to grow in your role?

17. Have any of your current leaders worked their way up the ladder here?

And finally…

Don’t forget to stay positive throughout the job search and ask as many questions as are necessary for you to find a job you love. You may not want to wait until the end of the interview to ask all your questions either – it’s better to spread them out and of course, encourage a natural conversation.

Lastly, if you like the sound of a job but have concerns, it's better to ask the questions and find out the answers in the interview – rather than starting the job and not enjoying it after your fears are realised.

4 ways to ensure you hire candidates with the right culture / personality fit

If you’re a hiring manager, you’ve probably been there: You’ve found a candidate who is great on paper, but they’ve barely managed 12 months on the job. Whilst this happens all the time and it may not necessarily be anyone’s fault, there is a possibility that your candidate has left due to a misjudgement of cultural fit.

Hiring skilled people is one thing. But hiring skilled people who are going to fit in well into your corporate environment is quite another.

Here’s our tips on 4 ways to ensure you always make great hires.

Look for longevity

Look to those who have stayed within your business for a long time and find out why they have stayed and what they like most about working there. These people are key to exploring your workplace culture because as much as they are experts by experience, they have also been major players in creating it.

Also, when looking at candidate CVs, don’t underestimate the problems that might arise by hiring someone who has a choppy CV. Unfortunately moving around is a habit that is likely to reoccur.

What’s great about your working environment?

Consider the characteristics of those who appear happiest working within your organisation and examine the ways in which the environment suits these people best. For instance, you may feel that your large open-plan office fosters a great social, energetic and lively work style and atmosphere. Those who are team-players and keen to get involved might thrive best here, whilst those who are easily overwhelmed and enjoy a small company feel might be better placed elsewhere.

Examine your values 

Gauge the value of what your company offers, potentially via an employee survey, to understand what employees feel are most important and most valued benefits of working for you. Hiring successfully is as much about what the candidate can give you as it is ensuring you can give them what they need to stick around. If you understand your offering fully, you can consider at interview whether the candidate will be satisfied.

Work Patterns

All businesses have inherent work patterns which are more apparent to outsiders than they are for those who are part of the routine. It is worth taking a step back to consider how the working day takes place - the norms in your office might not suit everyone. For example, your roles may demand a longer working day than average which is compensated for with higher than average salaries. On face value your high salaries may attract new recruits who then discover the long working hours and don’t stick around. By identifying these elements you can present them at interview and deter those who would have been put off by it anyway at a later stage.