Executive search – ‘worst-case’ interview scenario?

Everyone gets nervous before an important meeting or interview. It doesn’t matter how much you may have prepared, there are some common intrusive thoughts that always manage to worm their way into your head the night before and cause you to think about possible escape routes should the worst happen. Through our executive search experience, we can help.

But worry not, you don’t need a getaway car parked around the corner to survive an awkward interview. There are tried and tested things that you can do to overcome these embarrassing moments. And who knows, if you flip the situation successfully it could work in your favour and become an example of how you have managed uncomfortable situations.

The person that you are meeting isn’t focused on you

If you notice that the other person is frantically typing on their laptop and hasn’t said in advanced that they may be taking notes or replying to a work email, then your brain may go into overdrive and wonder whether they are mind-numbingly  bored in your presence.

Read the situation and your audience, and if you’re still not confident that you’ve got their attention then politely asking questions to advance the conversation could resolve any worries that you may have. If they need to rearrange to a more appropriate time, then this gives them chance to do so

Being too early can be just as awkward as being too late

When travelling to an interview you can sometimes misjudge the traffic and end up an hour early…. It’s better than being late and although tempting, it might not be the time to show them how keen you are!

The chances are that whoever you are meeting is busy and won’t be sat waiting around for you an hour before (or after) your scheduled appointment, so if you know that you’re going to be too early go and grab a latte and steady your nerves. 15 minutes is plenty early enough to get there.

You forgot your presentation or interview materials

This problem can be easily resolved by planning properly. Try not to rely too heavily on paper materials, which can be misplaced or lost. Instead, ensure that you have an offline copy of your work ready and waiting on your laptop that you will be able to bring up regardless of the wifi situation.

And if your laptop dies, make sure that you’ve sent an email to yourself with all of the key documents on, so you can at least access them on your phone as a last resort. After your meeting, ask the person that you’ve been with if they would like you to email over a copy of any document that you’ve just used so they will be able to access them when reviewing your meeting.

Everybody has at least one awkward interview story, and how you deal with any embarrassment can say a lot about you and how successfully you manage situations. Also, a little bit of humour can go a long way, and we can all be united in our common awkwardness.

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.
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How to ensure you get in front of a headhunter

How to ensure you get in front of a headhunter
How to ensure you get in front of a headhunter

 

So, you’ve heard about a fantastic search through a network contact or found the perfect role advertised online but the first hurdle is often getting past the search provider who is handling the assignment.

“If I had a penny for the amount of time that people have told me the story of how they have found it difficult with ‘said head hunter’.”

The head hunter who doesn’t give you a look in, who always goes to their preferred list of people when you have the perfect experience for the role. You know that person, right?

In the past a job-driven market has been partly to blame – it’s given clients optimum choice, so when times are tough they can go for the safe option.

But times have changed! The job/candidate ratio has changed and the companies that succeed in hiring top talent SHOULD be looking at more diverse options when hiring (although some search providers might not get this for some time!).

But, let’s throw out some home truths…Sometimes, you won’t have the right experience for a job and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes, you might think you’re perfect for it, but you’re just not right and sometimes clients can be incredibly picky (which is their prerogative) and there is not a lot you can do about it!

But sometimes, people can’t see the wood for the trees – and this is where you can make a difference.

So, here are our top tips on how to take an innovative approach:

1. Don’t apply, get referred! LinkedIn makes it easy these days to find connections in common and people take more notice of a referral.

2. Get noticed. Become a ‘thought leader’ in your market and you’ll soon gain kudos.

3. Don’t be too keen! No-one likes to be hassled all the time. It’s a little bit like dating, the keener you seem for something, the less people are interested.

4. Find commonality. Given the nature of the need to deliver in roles quickly these days, clients like to hire people that can hit the ground running; so make sure you highlight that you can do this.

5. Be Boolean smart. Make sure your CV has all of the buzzwords, as it may get rejected by technology if not.

6. Think outside of the box. Whilst you might not totally hit the brief, certain sectors have a lot of common themes i.e. business services firms, logistics and construction are all typically contract led, across multiple sites and employ large workforces.

7. Demonstrate commercial impact. If you’re just good at what you do, people will overlook minor things that don’t hit the brief.

8. Go nuclear! Not my preferred route for obvious reasons but sometimes if all else fails and you are getting nowhere with said provider… go directly to a business. Sometimes, people just get it wrong or you don’t connect, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t fit with the end client.

But most importantly, don’t give up!

We’re in the midst of a changing market and those that try hardest and push the boundaries, tend to open up options for themselves.

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

 

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

How do you get the most out of networking?

Tips for networking

Networking is something that gets talked about a lot in the market. Many HR professionals know they should network to further their careers but always find an excuse to shy away from it and often say they have never really benefited from it.

Others have openly admitted that they either lack confidence in large groups of strangers, have never attended a good networking event or just see if as a pointless task that takes up too much time.  At a recent event, someone said to me that they found networking difficult because from an early age, ‘they were taught that they shouldn’t speak to strangers!’.

I’ve attended many networking events over the years, some were really good and some, well, could have been better.  I must admit in my early days, networking meant pointless conversations with people that were only interested in selling to me.  I often left these events feeling a little unaccomplished, wondering why I had bothered going.

My perception has changed over the years and what I have learnt is that networking is actually a really useful and effective business tool – when used in the right way.

 

Networking effectively

We all know that networking is fundamental to good business but how can you take the pain out of it and make it work more effectively as a business tool for you?

1 ) Re-frame the situation

If you get put off by the word networking, then call it something else! After all, it’s merely a tool to meet new people. Networking has moved on a lot in recent years and is no longer just about attending a formal event, vying for attention, exchanging business cards and selling, selling, selling.

It has evolved to be more about providing the opportunity to meet new and passionate people. So, for me, it can be something as simple as going to see someone in another department instead of sending them an email or meeting someone for a coffee instead of the usual conference call.   It doesn’t have to be formal.

2) Confidence

Lots of people say that confidence is a major deterrent to networking and can often mean that they are stuck for conversation.  If you’re attending an event it’s natural to feel a little nervous, but you can turn nervous energy into a positive. Just remember these key things:

Relax and be yourself; you’re networking because you chose to, and everyone is probably feeling the same, so relax and remember networking is merely a tool for meeting new people.

Be prepared; do your research, take a look at the delegate list and see if there is anyone you’re keen to talk to. One way to start a conversation is through a shared connection, so research what they’re interested in and their experiences/background.

3) Set an objective

Why are you attending the event? What do you want to get out of it?

Admittedly many people only network so that they can sell and, while this may be your end goal, remember no one wants to be sold to at a networking event, this has happened to me numerous times and I was very much put off.

The real benefit of networking lies with the relationships that can be forged as a result. Remember relationships are developed over many months and years, so follow up is key.

Also, always remember the golden rule…give before you receive. Ask yourself how can you help that person and add value before you ask for anything.

4) Conversation

Networking events can be full of outgoing, confident people that love to talk, so use it to your advantage and ask open ended questions. This way people will tell you all about what they do, what they are there for and what they are looking to get out of the event. I don’t mean that you only ask one question then listen to someone waffle on forever, it’s more of an introduction to get the conversation flowing.

A good friend of mine once told me that you need a story to engage with people, a great piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since.

Think about why you are there, what’s currently happening in your market and your thoughts on it. But the most important thing is to make eye contact and smile, no one wants to speak to a miserable stranger.

Don’t forget the basics: (it’s not cool to be fashionably late!)

  • Be sure you know where you’re going and plan your journey, there’s nothing worse than turning up stressed out because you got lost on the way there.
  • Turn your phone off, concentrate on the people around you, that’s the reason you’re there after all.
  • Try not to plan anything straight after the event. This way you are free to leave whenever you want and you won’t feel under pressure.
  • Finally, make sure you follow up with anybody that you met with. If you had a good conversation with someone suggest you meet for a coffee to keep the relationship fresh.

This is not an exhaustive list, merely tips and tricks that work for me. Over time you’ll find what works for you, but hopefully, you’ll be able to adopt some of my tips to work to your advantage and get you started.

If there is one thing I have learnt from networking, it’s that it’s all about building relationships – give and enrich the experience people have with you and this will go a long way.

 

To have a chat – or if you are passing through Birmingham and want to meet for a coffee you can contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

 

 

Nice guys finish last…or do they?

Being kind is important
Being kind is important

It’s nice to be nice, right? I always try to help people out – in both my personal and professional life. I recently read a blog by Gary Vaynerchuk about kindness and why it’s so important in business.

He says, “I want to build big businesses and buy the Jets, but I want to do it by being a good guy. I have zero interest in building the biggest building by tearing other people down.”

And it really resonated with me – being kind and helpful is at the core of re:find and how all of us here think and work. It’s important for us to do a good job and help people. There is a stereotype in business that ‘nice guys finish last’, but I just don’t believe that’s true. We can’t physically place all of the candidates we meet, but we can help, give our expertise, or even just point someone in the right direction and this costs nothing!

Being kind is important

I think being kind is important for lots of reasons:

  • It’s nice to be nice! It makes you feel good to be kind and help people out.
  • People don’t forget your kindness. If you look after someone, they remember it – which could end up helping you out in the future.
  • Most of my clients are candidates I have worked with previously and built long-standing relationships with through being helpful and kind.
  • Employees/colleagues like and respect you. If people like and respect you, they’ll work harder, do a better job and the team will be happier and more productive.
  • It’s rewarded – someone is always watching. Even when you think something hasn’t been noticed, it probably has.

When you strip back the titles and status

When you strip back titles and status, we’re all just people – and who wants to deal with someone who’s a bit of a t***!? Being kind gets people on side, which is important in business. Whether it’s dealing with clients, candidates or team members. If you get on well with a client, they’re more likely to continue using you. If you look after a candidate, they’ll remember your kindness. If you look after your team, they’ll work hard and be loyal – people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers.

Ultimately, we’re all human and we all appreciate someone being decent and looking after us. So, I’d encourage everyone to be kind – you get a lot more out of it than you might think!

If you would like to discuss further, email me at sam@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.

How to lose friends and alienate people…

How to lose candidates and alienate people
How to lose candidates and alienate people

We are in the 21st Century and candidates SHOULD be at the centre of what we do. Let’s be real for a moment. Candidates are key to our success – they are the one thing that stands between success and failure as a recruiter.

But I would be bold and say 40% of recruiters treat their candidates like shit. Treating a candidate badly can destroy the reputation of you/your business. Any press isn’t always good press and trust me candidates talk. And they talk even more when they have had a bad experience.

 

So, here’s what not to do:

1.   Sell them the dream…

I get it…recruitment marketing is a hot topic right now, everyone is getting training on how to write engaging job adverts, how to be witty and get candidates attention etc. That doesn’t mean you have a to be a billy bullshitter. Don’t sell the candidate the dream – unless of course, the job is Chief wine taster at an exclusive hotel in the Bahamas – because who would turn that down?

Anyway, my point is, be honest with a candidate when talking about a role. Yes, tell them all the good things about the role, but tell them all the bad things too! Talk them through the client’s challenges and shortcomings.

Jobs aren’t all about flexible working and table tennis tournaments, sometimes companies are in a bad situation, don’t have the best brand etc. and that’s ok, in fact, some people like that about a job!

 

2.   Force a candidate into a role they aren’t sure on

Picture this. After hours of searching on LinkedIn and your job boards, you come across the holy grail of candidates. Your purple squirrel, glittery unicorn, whatever you want to call them. They are the perfect candidate for your role.

You pick up the phone, excited to tell your candidate about their dream job. But to your shock, they aren’t keen.

Newsflash. Just because they are perfect for the role, doesn’t mean the role is perfect for them. Respect their decision.

Don’t try and push them into going for an interview. Don’t even push them to apply if they aren’t keen. You look desperate and pushy.

You risk them being offered the job and turning it down, or worse, you risk them leaving in that elusive rebate period. You also risk them thinking you are a bit of an idiot and that you only care about your fee.

 

3.   Drag your candidate into an ownership war with another agency

It is the most frustrating thing in the world when you spend time qualifying, meeting and briefing a candidate on a role, send them over to your client…only to get the dreaded email response.

‘ We have already received this CV from Cowboy Recruitment, sorry’.

The candidate has not been spoken to by Cowboy Recruitment about the role (they claim!) so doesn’t know how her CV is already in the process.

There are two ways of dealing with this:

–       Politely step away from the situation and allow the candidate decide how they wish to proceed in the process.

–       Demand that the candidate calls the other recruiter immediately and tell them how terrible they are, whilst simultaneously emailing you to confirm that you have the right to represent them on the role.

I advise the first. Step away and allow the candidate to decide how they process. Naturally, there is some subtle influence you can have on this, but doing the second option makes you look like a petulant teenager.

Candidates also don’t need the reminder that they are simply just a fee to you – it makes you look greedy. Show them you are supportive and have their best interest at heart.

 

4.   Call your candidate in the morning on the day they are due to start their new job and then every day for the next 3 months

Your candidate isn’t an 18-year-old teenager who may or may not turn up to work, depending on how pissed they were the night before (apologies to any sober, reliable 18-year-olds).

You don’t need to ring them the day they start their job. A simple call the afternoon before, to check they have everything they need or the following day will suffice.

Candidates are intuitive, they will sense that the fact you are calling them every day means they are a flight risk. Also, their first few weeks are really full on. Give them some space and allow them to settle in, then check in with them.

 

5.   If your candidate doesn’t get offered the job….ignore them

In my opinion, this is the worst possible thing you could do to a candidate and it is the most damaging thing for your reputation.

Nobody really likes to tell a candidate they didn’t get the job…but it is not acceptable to ghost them. Other unacceptable ways of delivering feedback include emailing, leaving a voicemail, or getting your resourcer to give the feedback instead.

Don’t be a terrible human being. Your candidate has worked hard for you, they have understood the brief, done their research, spent 2-3 hours of their time with your client to represent you to the best of their ability. The least they deserve is some honest feedback.

 

6.   Give vague feedback

Almost as crappy as giving no feedback, is giving vague feedback. If you are giving feedback on your opinion to a candidate, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth.

Think their CV needs some work? Tell them.

Don’t think they interview well? Tell them.

They don’t have the right skills for the role? Tell them.

You get the gist.

A separate challenge is when a client gives vague feedback about a candidate. It is ok to push back on your client and ask for further detail or examples of what the candidate did.

Feedback should be constructive. Tell them what they did well, where they fell down and how they could improve.

Candidates may not always agree with the feedback, but they will be appreciative of the feedback nonetheless.

 

7.   Only communicate by email

If you are afraid to pick up the phone to speak to a candidate, you are in the wrong job. Pick up the phone and speak to them, what is the worst that could happen? It takes as much time and effort to speak to someone on the phone as it does to type out that email.

Contacting people exclusively by email is impersonal, impractical and to be totally honest, just bloody lazy! I don’t care if your candidate isn’t based in the UK and there is a time difference, or if they are travelling, or you are ‘super busy’…pick up the phone!!

Now I’m sure some of you are reading this, thinking it all seems pretty obvious. I’m also sure a lot of you reading this are guilty of doing one of the above things.

We are all guilty of letting standards slip from time to time, but let’s do our best not to become one of the clichés in those recruitment bashing posts we see on Linkedin!

 

 

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk.

 

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

Can you get fun accountants?

Can you get fun accountants?
Can you get fun accountants?

Whenever someone is introduced as an accountant, whether this is at a party or a networking event, quite often you see the rest of the group’s eyes glaze over and images of grey, boring suits flash in their mind.

 

If I asked you to picture an accountant right now, in fact, that’s probably the exact image that you would think up.

 

Whilst there may well be accountants that do fit this description, there are also plenty that don’t!

 

Accountancy, believe it or not, can actually be kind of exciting…

Working as an accountant, each work day has the potential to be dramatically different from the next. Accountancy provides the flexibility to avoid boredom, as it is essentially a function of any business so there’s the opportunity to work in a variety of different business settings.

 

Accounting has changed over the years. Gone are the days where you are perceived to be sitting behind your desk, crunching numbers all day on Excel and being antisocial and systematic. Companies are utilising their finance teams and allowing them to work more operationally with other departments.

 

As a result, there is a real demand for management accountants who, in addition to the core finance and accounting skills, can offer strategic thinking and commercial insight, combined with influencing and, ideally, leadership skills.

 

Emerging technologies are changing the way in which finance works too. Many companies now use cloud-based systems, analytic solutions and newer digital tools such as robotic process automation that can take out some of the more mundane tasks of accounting, and free up more time for forward thinking and driving business performance.

 

Being an accountant opens up the door to be able to understand all operations of a business, as when it comes down to a business making important decisions, the money involved becomes a major part of the process. Working in accounting puts you in a great spot to be able to contribute to the success of the business by helping leaders make smart financial decisions.

 

For more information on exciting opportunities in finance and being a fun accountant, email me at sam@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here

Ten tips for transformation go-live success

Business transformation success

In this installment of In:site we speak to Simon Brown.

Simon is a veteran of six end-to-end Transformation and Shared Services Programmes (since 1996). Simon often gets asked: what works best, what advice would you give?

There is no single “cut and paste” solution since each company has its own culture, its own spend budget and change readiness agility. There are certainly some common factors if applied with the correct level of dedication and follow-through, which can make a great difference to the speed of implementation and effectiveness of your transformation.

However, Go-Live is that high profile moment when you turn all the thinking, planning, blood, sweat and tears of knowledge transfer, including the processes which you lift and shift or lift and transform, into a new operational model. A model which the customers can see, feel, touch and truly experience. It’s similar to opening a store or restaurant and suddenly your customers are ready to consume your products and services and give you feedback on what they did or didn’t like.

So here are my 10 top tips for Transformation Go-Live Success:

1. Begin with the end in mind

Establish a visual blueprint of your future organisation, your Target Operating Model. Be clear on the deliverables and desired outcomes. As well as the measures of success in terms of operational effectiveness, customer satisfaction and cost efficiency. Define and agree these upfront with your key stakeholders. Plan ahead and get answers to these points before you get sucked into the doing mode.

2. Create a compelling vision to move forward

By working together on the design team and actually articulating the vision by physically drawing a tableau to describe your future state, you are creating something which you can show and share with others to get them involved and engaged. A picture is worth a thousand words: it draws people in, starts a conversation, creates meaning and a dialogue for change. Hopefully, it also provokes a response and creates an emotional reaction. So to gain momentum to move forward we need to create a compelling vision, a good story, something to believe in, to follow and to become part of.

3. Engage your key stakeholders early and enlist business “change champions”
Before you start to implement your new ways of working, be sure to get real supporters from the business on your side. Change champions are leaders and role models. They are well respected by other managers and thus engender + enable peer and cascade credibility to the transformation story. Identify and enlist “change champions” who can talk positively about the benefits of self-service, portal and system technology. This will allow HR business partners to actually spend more time supporting the business agenda and less time as a pair of hands on administration.

4. Align Systems with Processes
Generally, alignment is the key word. Alignment of activities, sub-projects and work-streams are key to the successful implementation + end user digestion of the transformation and changes to the ways of working. Having a clearly coordinated and well-structured Project Management Office with a well-bundled communications plan can really help to present the transformation as one initiative, not a thousand unrelated busy tasks. Just like the air traffic controller the role is to ensure that planes take off and lands safely at the right time in the right place.

Align Process + System
System design and implementation and process design and implementation need to happen in parallel, to be aligned. You can’t implement a system without a clear and consistent set of global processes, and global processes will only work if the system enables the necessary transactions.
Roles and workflows must be defined and aligned. One without the other = an unholy and costly mess and lots of re-work.

Align Portal with People
Think about what is relevant for the end user when designing your intranet portal. Ensure navigation and access to information is simple and easy. Use a search engine with keyword enquiry. The most frequently asked questions that employees normally ask are the ones to ensure you have written good content answers for on the portal. Keep these answers up to date, relevant and fresh and you will save everyone time.

5. Hire an HR Shared Services Team Director and Team Leader EARLY

Sadly, all too often companies make the mistake of leaving it until their new HR Service Centre is up and running before hiring the HR Service Director, and team leaders. It is a mistaken belief that it is costly to hire these roles early. Particularly if they are an additional cost to a headcount not yet saved elsewhere in the organisation.

My counter proposal is to hire these pivotal roles early. Select those who are change agents, good at stakeholder engagement + employee relations, and particularly strong on the delivery of customer service satisfaction: the most important metric there is! Make them part of your pre Go-Live project team, conducting knowledge transfer, engaging early with key stakeholders and hiring the team. If they are involved in this it will build a stronger psychological contract and a vested interest to build the best team, the best processes, lay the best foundations for the new house right from the start. That’s actually cost effective!

6. Be clear on HR roles for the new HR Model

The HR Community will have one question on their mind as you announce your HR Transformation program: What’s in it for me? Behind that question lies their hierarchy of needs: What happens to me, when, what are the opportunities/options for me, and what if there are no opportunities for me? Don’t pretend that these questions can remain unanswered. Don’t leave the elephant in the room unannounced. Don’t lose trust. Acknowledge that their questions are relevant and real. Be honest.

You may not have all the answers yet but do your best to outline the road-map and the 3 routes to be taken:
a – you can be selected for a role in the new model,
b – you can grow your CV in change and project management,
c – there is no clear role yet defined that we can see for you.

However, if you stay and help with knowledge transfer, a fair and respectful package and support will be there for you if ultimately no suitable roles match for you.

7. Change Management is Key

Don’t underestimate change management or the time it takes. Give quality time to this. Behaviours don’t change on paper or after a single slide deck presentation. You are promoting a new concept and at first, it seems just a concept, a rather uncomfortable concept. Until people see how it works for them. There is a change for line managers to become more empowered and empowering as People Managers.

Have the courage to spend time with HR to help them through their personal transition. They need to accept that the change must come from them.

8. Rule of 8: communicate, communicate, communicate

In turbulent change, you can never over communicate.

When the game is changing, the old rules and framework will not be the same anymore, this is where you have to help the team to take it all in and to adjust to the changing environment. People often don’t hear, and sometimes don’t want to hear, the first message of change. They just don’t take it in. So say it again and again and again but with the same core message. Repeat it 8 times or more, nearly everyone will hear it, internalises it and recognises it as their new terms of reference.

9. Think of knowledge transfer as a joint project team

Create a project management team mindset with a clear charter and purpose. It’s about collaboration, it’s not about wanting to let employees in that country down. This approach sets up conditions for success.
Spend time and money doing as much face-to-face/voice-to-voice knowledge transfer and training as you can. It’s about giving and receiving the gift of knowledge and it can actually be a reward for an employee to get the opportunity go to another country to do this.

Steer clear of any connotations of “taking over”, “raiding their brains”, “us and them”. They set an unhealthy atmosphere for the project and must be confronted early if they arise.

10. Go-Live is just the start!

Check that the new roles, systems and processes are working, especially beneath the surface. Ensure that people are trained for their new roles and that they have actually made the behavioural transition from old state model to new state new model and new actions.

Actions are everything. Read verbal and non-verbal signs. Praise adoption and good examples of the new ways of working. Encourage customer feedback on the service and be quick to improve the service where needed. Nip the bad habits in the bud and the signs of old ways of working via firm, constructive feedback with SMART examples.

Take time to positively celebrate Go-Live day with a drink and a cake as a milestone achieved. It marks the end of the beginning; the start of a new life-cycle of continuous operational excellence.

Simon Brown Associates

Simon@simonbrownassociates.com
www.simonbrownassociates.com

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.