Category Archives: Recruitment & Selection

Guest Post: Don’t fall victim to the technology talent ticking time bomb

With my limited spare time due to circumstances I’ve decided to engage in a blogging phenomenon called ‘Guest posts’. Today, I’m publishing the very first of these posts, courtesy of Thomsons Online Benefits.

I don’t want to deprive my readers of content because of my busy schedule, so I’m very pleased to write this short introduction to the post below. It’s not what I usually write about, but it is certainly an extremely interesting subject that has a lot of HR professionals scratching their heads. The article below sheds some light on said subject and offers a solution. I hope you enjoy it, and please, if you have any remarks or things to add feel free to do so in the comment section. After all, HR isn’t an exact science and some discussion could be to both our benefits.

Don’t fall victim to the technology talent ticking time bomb

It is hardly a secret that the IT industry is one of the quickest-growing areas of recruitment at a time when employment in many sectors has near enough ground to a halt.

The increasing reliance on technology means that the industry is constantly in demand of the bright young things who are going to be its next innovators. Indeed, recruitment professionals are forecasting employment of IT professionals will grow at nearly twice the UK average per annum in the years leading up to 2020.

In fact, one in 20 workers in the UK are currently employed in the IT and telecoms sector – a large percentage of the country’s workforce.

Despite this, it seems that all may not be well in paradise! Recent research from Thomsons Online Benefits has found that the majority of Generation Y employees are looking to switch jobs within the next two years. Such statistic is bound to concern HR professionals and get them to re-think the employee benefits schemes they offer. In an industry like IT, where experience is paramount, losing long-serving employees effectively means that businesses would lose years of investment in employee training.

So what happens when you try to hire new people to fill these vacancies left by former dissatisfied workers? Well, according to recent statistics there is simply no-one there to take on the job. Half of recruiters have said that they find filling positions in the IT and telecoms industry a challenge.

So, how can recruitment and retention be improved?

With employees in the IT and telecoms sector looking elsewhere for jobs, and no-one willing to fill the positions they leave, employers clearly need to tackle the issue of recruitment and employee retention. But how can they do this?

Well, it has been found that 73 per cent of employees consider other things more important than salary when looking to move job roles, indicating that employers who review their employee benefits package could see their recruitment and retention take a turn for the better.

Despite the importance of employee benefits and the effect improving them could have on many companies, there is a serious mismatch when it comes to the benefits schemes desired by employees and those actually offered by employers.

For example, while around 70 per cent of employees’ identify flexible working as one of the most important employee benefits, just fewer than 60 per cent of businesses actually offer these. On the other end of the spectrum, just ten per cent of employees named private medical cover as one of the top employee benefits they look for, but over 70 per cent of companies offered these.

Employers in the technology sector are clearly failing to do what they need to do when it comes to engaging their workforce, thereby cutting their chances of losing out on the best talent that could take their company to the top. Simply looking at the desires of employees, and shaping their employee benefits packages accordingly, could really help to turn this worrying trend around.

About the Author

Thomsons Online Benefits are experienced in flexible benefits scheme design, pensions and employee communication, our team of highly experienced consultants develop innovative programmes with clients that maximise the value of their reward spend.

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Applicant Uses Resume, it’s super effective! … or is it?

When I was on the lookout for a new job I put a lot of thought into my resume a lot. Is it good enough? Will it draw enough attention? Did I write too much or too little? I was especially worried since there’s been so much youth unemployment in these past few months, with the economy still in the dumpster and financial government measures that promote hiring people above the age of 50, further smothering the chances for young graduates.36027932

These questions have been haunting my mind for the past few days. Time to take a look at it from a recruiter’s point of view and take off my applicant goggles.

I decided to think back to the time when I was doing an internship/student job at one of the largest temporary work agencies in the country. Part of my job was to scan through resumes to find the best candidates to invite for an interview. Obviously, I looked at the usual content of a resume: Name, address, education, work experience, skills, … Contrary to a lot of recruiters I took my time to thoroughly read to every application I came across. Some of them were sloppy, poorly written and full of mistakes. Some even had blatant lies on them. The resumes that stood out most were those with excellent credentials of course, but even more so were the ones that had a stylish and easy to scan lay-out.

So what exactly does a resume need to land you that interview? Obviously, it should contain the basics; personal details, work experience, education, skills and even hobbies. Naturally, it should also be made with a text editor such as MS Word (written cv’s are so 1800’s guys …) and sent in a PDF-format so your text and format will be kept intact. Below are some other basic tips that will help guide you on the path to a proper resume:

  • Don’t use a standard template
  • Check your spelling
  • Don’t write huge blocks of text
  • Adapt to the job opening
  • Less is more
  • Think about your lay-out

I think you’ll agree that these are self-evident, but nothing is less true. I’ll focus on the last 2 bullet points some more, because those are the ones I’ve been struggling with the most. Ideally, you’ll want to find that delicate balance between text and visuals. It’s a thin line, but if you get it right you’ll have yourself a killer resume that will help you stand out from most other applicants.

You need to convey enough information without cluttering everything up. Try to use key words, don’t write full sentences. I believe people need to focus more on their lay-out than they currently do. We mostly choose bland and basic templates. They’re quite boring and it’s clear that these do not stand out in a large stack. Try to put some ‘you’ in it and be creative. If a company doesn’t like your resume, you won’t get an interview. And so what? You probably wouldn’t even want to work there then. Remember, there is other fish in the sea (I have to remind myself of this sometimes).

In the end, these are just a few small tips to help you on your way. You’ll still have to do the work, and remember that your application letter and resume are only the first step towards landing a job. Its sole purpose is to get you an interview, no more, no less.

 

As a final point, I don’t think that the inability to find a steady job is due solely to a less-than-optimal resume. Part of the problem is obviously the current economic climate and all that follows in its wake (such as wonky government policies to increase employment rates). Recruiters are also part of the issue here since they can’t or won’t take the time to read through resumes that seem cluttered. I understand though, time is money and sifting through endless applications can be tedious, but on the other hand it seems like common courtesy to me to properly look through an application (and reply to it!). In the end, if you don’t take the time to read it all you might discard great assets to your company and/or clients.

I reckon it’s just a mindset that needs to be changed. Furthermore, we live in an age where traditional applications and resumes aren’t and shouldn’t be the norm for the newest generation of entry-level workers. Be creative. Try out a few different lay-outs or use specific skills needed in your field of expertise. Pitch them to your friends, family or your friendly neighborhood recruiter. Learn how to deal with (constructive) criticism and adapt to it.

And finally, there’s a lot of really nice tools and apps available for free on the internet that will help you create your own resume. It takes some effort, but the result will be great.

To help you along, here’s some links to a few examples:
 Mashable.com – Resume design

Demilked.com – Creative resumes

Piktochart – an app to make infographics, suited for resumes!

Remember, I’m not trying to get everyone to make resumes like this. They are just examples to get your thought process going.

PS: Check out this handy little tool: http://www.beworkhappy.com/. It needs a bit of work, but it’s a great initiative (Also, it Belgian #shamelesspromoting)

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Recruitment Through Social Media – What You Should Know As An Applicant

Social media are on the rise, that much is for sure. But lately, employers (ranging from private companies and big multinationals to temporary work agencies) have picked up this trend and are using social media as a tool for recruitment and selection. And why not? If it helps them find the most suited person for a job opening it’s all good right? But what does that mean for you and your presence on social networks? Here’s what you should know.

First of all, social media encompasses a lot more than just Facebook and Twitter. Social media is everything from social networks such as Facebook to blogs, podcasts, video’s (YouTube for example). It’s a lot more than you’d expect, and just about everyone with an internet connection in the western world of connected to some kind of social media platform.

Recent studies have shown that 45% of employers screen their prospects and applicants through social media. It’s not hard at all to find someone on the internet once you have a name. Just head over to Pipl.com and type in your own name and see what comes up. I was surprised how much information I shared and still share on the internet. Now, 35% of employers who screen using social media reports that they refrained from hiring someone based on their findings. That’s a huge amount of people being turned down by something on their public profiles.

Going even further, people even got fired because of something they posted on Facebook or Twitter. Just look at this image or this video. Best advice here? Don’t add your boss or colleagues on Facebook/Twitter or make sure they can’t see what you write.

Now, before you go deleting all your accounts on whatever website you registered at, relax. Studies have shown that most employers only look at LinkedIn (95%), Facebook (58%) and Twitter (42%). So be careful what you post on there, keep private things private, adjust your privacy settings accordingly, sort colleagues in lists with limited access to your profile and whatnot. More on that later.

Employers don’t just use social media to ‘spy’ on applicants. Yes, I put that between brackets because once you post something on the internet it’s basically public knowledge and you can’t take it back. You can select all the privacy settings you want on social networking sites, but the fact is, if you post it, it has the potential to be seen by someone you don’t want seeing it. Employers also use social media to find new contacts, searching specific hard to find competences, headhunting and looking for passive candidates. Social media turns out to be a tremendous asset to businesses, and not just from an HR perspective. Think about all the marketing possibilities too.

Let’s circle back to recruitment for a minute. The types of people attracted through social media are mostly middle managers, senior managers and entry-level employees. The last category makes a lot of sense, because people using all kinds of social media are young people around 20 – 25 years old. Middle managers and senior managers often get headhunted through websites such as LinkedIn where they often have extensive profiles that details their education and experience (if you’re a professional of any kind you should be on LinkedIn).

There’s plenty of social media strategies for HR purposes and how it’s connected to other business units such as marketing and finance, but that’s not the side we want to look at (nor is it what you want to know, I’m sure). You want to know what all this means for you right? Well, quite a few things actually:

First of all, it means that you’re being looked at from various angles during the recruitment process. Whereas it used to be just interviews and resumes it’s now so much more. Employers have the chance to look into your private life and they might not like what they see there.

Secondly, this also means that you have to be very mindful about what you write on your wall and what you tweet. The best advice here would be to separate your private activities from your professional life. For example, don’t add colleagues or superiors on Facebook but add them on LinkedIn, a platform you use solely for professional purposes. Furthermore, adjust privacy settings to keep your profiles public. This is especially important for Facebook, as they tend to change stuff around without telling anyone so be sure to check your privacy settings regularly (Now, for example, as they recently overhauled it).

Even when you did all these things, there’s still stuff you DO NOT post about. EVER.

  • Personal conversations (Private messaging is there for a reason)
  • Social plans (Posting ‘Gonna get drunk tonight’ will not help you in any way)
  • Don’t link social networks to each other. As I said, keep private and professional lives separate.
  • (Sensitive) Company information
  • Address and/or phone numbers
  • Anything else you don’t want shared (Passwords, answers to secret questions, …)

Thirdly, be mindful of what e-mail address you use for which purpose. Again, the rule of thumb is use one for private purposes and one for professional goals (a recruiter does look at your e-mail so don’t use hawtgurl69@hotmail.com).

Next, be careful what apps you give access to. Often people find that apps have a lot more access to their information than they thought. Be especially wary of third-party applications as you have no idea what they do with your information or who they’re selling it to (Personal information is among the highest valued resources these days and companies will pay top dollar for it).

Furthermore, untag every single photo of yourself in potentially negative situations. You have a photo where you’re lying on the ground in your own vomit with a bottle of vodka nearby? Untag! You don’t want to find your photo on Fail Blog’s ‘After 12′ section  in a couple of years.

In regards to recruitment: don’t show a outspoken bias to any single company, it might prevent their immediate competition from even considering you as an employee.

And finally, don’t connect with everyone. This is true for professional purposes but also for private goals. Don’t add people you don’t know (it’s not the same for Twitter). Having 1245 Facebook friends doesn’t make you popular or interesting. It’s just more people that have access to more information than you could possibly want. Clean out your friend list regularly, that means either unfriending some people or putting them in lists with limited access.

There, that’s about all I can come up with right now. Please remember that you will make mistakes to these rules of thumb, I know I have … there’s no shame in it, just be mindful about what you do from now on. I hope I at least made you see the impact of social media on searching for a job nowadays. Don’t hesitate to share your comments in the comment section. Now, go untag those drunken photos!

Niels Van Hellemont

PS: I posted this a while ago on my other blog, but this is a far better medium for it.

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Things HR Never Says Out Loud

The HR department has been a thorn in the side of many a CEO and seen as a nuisance by employers en employees alike. It seems that HR is constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or so they teach us in college anyway.

The human resources department fulfills a crucial role in the organisation (as does any department I should add). Perhaps the most apparent activity we, as HR, fulfill is recruitment and selection. We make sure that new talent and skills keep flowing into the organisation.

Because recruitment and selection is one of the oldest and most important of HR activities we have become well-versed in reading and evaluating applicants by looking at their application letters, their resumes and during face-to-face meetings. There are, of course, things that we don’t tell applicants. In light of this, 10 American HR-professionals recently spoke freely in Reader’s Digest about their own recruiting-experiences. They mentioned things that you should pay attention to when applying for a job and things that recruiters pay attention to. Read the list below:

Incompetence

‘When you’ve been unemployed for over 6 months, you’re seen as incompetent or inadequate. We assume, unconsciously, that more than one employer have turned you down.
– Cynthia Shapiro, former HR-executive and author of ‘Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know’

This quote might seem quite blunt, but maybe she’s just being honest. Make sure you have an explanation for that ‘hole’ in your resumé! This is something I’ve experienced as well, gaps in a resumé without any proper explanation. And it doesn’t look good, I can tell you that.

Network

‘When talking about job applications, your network is very important. No matter how great your cv is, or the amount of experience you gathered. Connections are everything.’
– HR-director at a health organisation

This quote bothers me a bit personally, because I’m still at an entry-level and thus I don’t have any real, professional connections yet and a very limited experience. Especially in the current economic situation this might pose a problem as most job openings I read requests at least 2-3 years of experience.

Avoid HR

‘If you have a specific company in mind to work for, try to avoid the HR-department as much as possible. Try to gain access to the company through an acquaintance.’
– Shauna Moerke, HR-administrator and blogger on hrminion.com

I can relate to this statement. Many spontaneous applications get lost in a heap of paperwork never to be seen or used again. Also, many companies have a sort of refer-a-friend policy which increases your chances.

The danger of the email address

‘From an email address we can discern who you are, and you will be judged on that. Anyway, you promote prejudices by using a childish address such as kinkyboots101@hotmail.com.’
– Rich DeMatteo, recruiter consultant in Philadelphia


It’s true, even if you don’t want it to be I can assure you of that. If you’re a recruiter you will make a mental note of their email address if it is a childish one. Word to the wise: make an account just for professional contacts.

Key words

‘HR often uses systems who track key words. The secret to getting your resumé through the system is by copying the keywords from the job profile. The more matches, the larger the chance that your resumé will stand out and gets read by an HR-professional’
– Chris Ferdinandi, HR-professional in Boston

Colours

‘Resumes don’t need colour to stand out. With a bit of colour my smile disappears and an overdose of colour makes me cry. And going by the company to drop off your resumé is not done, it’s even frightening.’
Rich DeMatteo

I’m afraid I have to disagree here. A little bit of colour makes everything more pleasant to read (No, I don’t mean flashy pink text but some light colouring to highlight titles and headings). Moderation is key here though, it needs to stay light and readable.

That pretty much concludes the article I read and my views on it. I didn’t include everything from the article but I chose the ones that were the most interesting. I do have one more point to add here. A lot of applicants use template resumes, and it shows because it looks very standard and shows no creativity or individuality.It only takes a small amount of effort to personalize your resumé, and adjust it to match the job opening you’re applying for.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed the read and stay tuned for more!

/Niels

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