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Published date: January 31, 2017
Last modified: January 31, 2017

Bad manager mistakes that make good people quit

It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.

Organizations know how important it is to have motivated, engaged employees, but most fail to hold managers accountable for making it happen.

When they don’t, the bottom line suffers.

Research from the University of California found that motivated employees were 31% more productive, had 37% higher sales, and were three times more creative than demotivated employees. They were also 87% less likely to quit, according to a Corporate Leadership Council study on over 50,000 people.

Gallup research shows that a mind-boggling 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by his or her manager. So, let’s take a look at some of the worst things that managers do that send good people packing.

They overwork people. Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.

If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.

They don’t recognize contributions and reward good work. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.

They fail to develop people’s skills. When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.

Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback—more so than the less talented ones—and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.

They don’t care about their employees. More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.

They don’t honour their commitments. Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honourable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honour his or her commitments, why should everyone else?

They hire and promote the wrong people. Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top­­­­­­­, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.

They don’t let people pursue their passions. Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.

They fail to engage creativity. The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.

They don’t challenge people intellectually. Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones. Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.

Bringing it all together

If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.

The inspiration for this article came from a piece authored by Mike Myatt.

Published date: January 30, 2017
Last modified: January 31, 2017

How to move beyond the rhetoric on employee engagement

Organisations discuss the actions and ideas that make engagement a reality. 

Catherine Allen – whose engagement-friendly job title is head of keeping people happy at organic baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen – states that whatever you decide to do around employee engagement, it needs to be authentic and right for your company. She says there aree very strong commercial reasons to look at engagement and values, but that it’s about “doing things that appeal to your people – it needs to be personal”. She has three top tips to improve engagement levels:

Give your team clear reasons to feel engaged and proud

“Everyone wants to be proud of the organisation they work for,” says Allen, and that means it’s important to have an agreed mission you aim to bring to life for people. For example, Ella’s has set up volunteering opportunities for staff, in areas related to fresh produce, to help them better connect with the brand’s goals. “Think about your mission and what is relevant to your people,” she advised. “Getting your values and mission clear is the foundation for everything you do.”

Understand your team as individuals

Allen says she has never been a fan of broad-brush HR initiatives that only cater to one population. “It’s about getting to know how people tick – and key to this are managers,” she says. Ella’s encourages ideas in all sorts of formats, through ‘show and tell’ sessions to a postbag for comments. It also runs a twice-yearly survey to try and understand how well the workforce is living and breathing the company’s values. “Eighty per cent of the reasons for being engaged relate to managers – they have a huge influence,” she said.

Have great leaders and managers… or create them

“If you base your company around really strong values, the leadership are really going to be held accountable,” says Allen. “We’ve defined what good looks like for managers in the context of our values and asked ourselves how they were going to demonstrate them and encourage others to live them.”

Gillian Felton, head of people development, engagement and wellbeing at the National Institute for Health Research – Clinical Research Network, speaks about how an organisation has to work to create an inclusive culture to reconnect with its employees.

She states that she knew success would be down to achieving employees’ trust – “they needed to see how their contribution fitted in with the overall business strategy”. Felton says she believes in giving employees multiple opportunities to get involved. One initiative was a staff day, where employees were asked for three things they would like to see on the agenda to make it worthwhile for them. Former patients with inspirational stories were also invited to talk to staff about their experiences. “The measure that is most important to us is ‘how does it feel to work in our organisation?’” added Felton.

Virgin Trains faces the challenge of a diverse, dispersed and multi-generational workforce, but Den Carter, internal communications manager, says this doesn’t stop the business engaging its staff. Eighty per cent of his team’s time is spent on face-to-face communication, whether that be regular team meetings, one-to-ones or informal chats.

“We involve our people in every conversation that we have,” he said. With only 800 of the 4,000 staff having regular access to a computer, the company has also ditched its intranet system and moved all its company and social content into internal social network Yammer. It houses links to everything from workplace policies to quirky videos that reinforce Virgin Trains’ values and messages. “It’s 2017 and digital is just part of life,” he said. “We don’t have a digital roadmap, we just have a roadmap.”

The civil service, on the other hand, has a more traditional approach and carries out an annual people survey among more than 400,000 employees. David Widlake, employee engagement adviser at the Cabinet Office, says that interviews with high-scoring teams in the survey revealed eight themes or ideas for building an engaged team with high wellbeing: leaders who welcome feedback; prioritising feedback, involvement and consultation; encouraging innovation and creativity; making time for frontline exposure; challenging negative behaviours; supporting flexible working approaches; building team spirit; and taking action on staff survey results. “People worry about the feedback rates on surveys, but what’s important are the actions taken afterwards,” he said.

Courtesy  Georgi Gyton People Management Magazine
Published date: January 27, 2017
Last modified: January 27, 2017

9 things that make good employees quit

 

It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about as few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. Fundamentally managers have a big influence as to who stays and who goes. It’s all about engagement.

The sad thing is that the loss of great people can so easily be avoided through a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.

At Join the Dots we use the phrase ‘understanding what makes people tick and what ticks them off’. If you can get this concept, then you can engage people to achieve results.

So, what are the nine worst things that managers do that send good people packing and out of the organisation?

1. They overwork people and give no praise

Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.

If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.

2. They don’t recognize contributions or reward good work

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.

3. They don’t care about their employees

More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.

4. They don’t honour commitments

Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honourable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honour his or her commitments, why should everyone else?

5. They hire and even promote the wrong people

Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top­­­­­­­, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.

6. They don’t let people pursue their passions

Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.

7. They fail to develop people’s skills, and in some cases aren’t even aware of people’s skills!

When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.

Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback–more so than the less talented ones–and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.

8. They fail to engage their creativity

The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.

9. They fail to challenge people intellectually

Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones. Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.

Bringing it all together

If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.

The inspiration for this article came from a piece authored by Mike Myatt. and Dr. Travis Bradberry

 

Published date: January 18, 2017
Last modified: July 19, 2017

Leading and managing change effectively

A-Z Leading and managing change effectively has tremendous value, but several potential challenges……

A void complacency

Create an environment where people can see that the current environment is not good enough. Help people to come out of their comfort zones. Where a rapid change is required then create urgency and momentum.

B e clear on what kind of change is required

Is it a major shake up or a process change that may be a moderate improvement? Is it slow or a rapid roll out? Each involves some different implications and deciding which is best for the individual, company and business is crucial.

C ommunicate

Walk the talk; ensure communication is two way e.g. try establishing feedback sessions, open dialogue and buy into how the change will be implemented.

D eal with potential domino effect

Identify the opportunities to create a positive change process and the negative challenges that could be destructive.

E motional engagement

Make the change programme business and people specific i.e. this will help you! – Sell the benefits.

F ocus

On ending old behaviours and systems as well as starting new ones.

G oals should be set – but not too far into the future

Employee enthusiasm can hardly be expected to last within a long term change plan without recognition to short term wins.

H ear the messages and get feedback

Really important to recognise that over the course of a change programme or transition there will be plenty of information, feelings and opinions that can help the change programme succeed – get the listening skills well tuned.

I ll prepared employees

Probably the biggest cause of change failure. It is vital to tackle training and development PRIOR to initiating a change strategy so as to give staff the confidence.

J uggling the balls in hell

This is exactly where you do not want to be – badly planned, badly thought out and badly managed – too many change offerings are like this and end up in chaos.

K ey influencers

These are the people who will help to generate almost immediate positivity to the change process.

L ack of planning and preparation

Look at what will get lost in the change – work closely to understand what matters to team members and why.

M isunderstandings of what and why the change process is taking place

Change is simply a journey, not a destination or single event.

N o clear vision of change programme

Important to identify where you are going, Begin with the end in mind, and understand how you can expect to get there.

O pportunity knocks

Successful change implementation starts with the understanding and buy in to the necessity to continually adapt – an organisation whose people are prepared for uncertainty is better placed to optimise the opportunities that changes creates.

P lan, Plan, Plan

Important to schedule and not skip the steps that must occur throughout the change process. Clearly set out defined objectives, responsibilities and details – stay focused.

Q uick fix option

Change means a lot more than a poster, t-shirt or mug, half a day’s workshop or management message as to the future development of the business. In essence a quick fix does not mean sustainability.

R esistance

Team members will help to deliver what they helped to develop – buy in is crucial. Vital to make sure that we have early change adopters on board to outshine the change terrorists!

S et some short term goals

These will help to evidence that the change process is going well and provide positives to bring people on board.

T ranslate the needs of the business into the needs of the individuals and teams i.e. what’s in it for me?

So many times change programmes are brilliantly put into professional looking reports and management words but in essence mean nothing to the individual who will day by day be tasked with making it really happen. It is crucial to assess what the change means to the individual.

U rgency

Many change programmes use the right words, but deep down underestimate the enormity of the task. A successful change programme requires great co-operation, initiative and willingness. Establish this urgency for change and its positive impacts as early as possible.

V ision and strategy

This should be developed as a fundamental part of the change process. If people cannot see where they are trying to get to how can they get there?

W e are in this together

Recognise that change is an emotional thing. Don’t expect to convince people just through rational argument and a business case. A demand to be ‘more customer focused’ might be simply meaningless and confusing.

X amine the case for change

Because simply, other people will if you do not. Individuals want to know why, how, what when…

Y ou are the role model

Insist in yourself to be a visible reflection of behavioural change so that others can see you as a consistent driver of change.

Z ap

Are you zapped up to drive the change forward despite the challenges ahead?

Published date:
Last modified: January 18, 2017

Developing people into leaders

Three ways to kick start leadership development

  1. Define your leadership principles

These are the leadership traits that you need your people at every level to develop. Even if they don’t necessarily have the desire to become a leader, having these traits will mean that like minded people are working together and reducing conflict.

The key traits are:

  • Vision
    • the ability to look forward in an enlightened and open minded way – to be tactical yet pragmatic
  • Courage
    • to have the courage of your convictions and the bravery to make tough decisions
  • Action-centred
    • the ability to ‘make it happen’ to bring things to a conclusion and to leave no loose ends
  • Communication
    • to be confident and articulate and to simplify complex matters
  • Understand the figures
    • to be finance savvy and to be able to grasp the key performance metrics
  • Positivity
    • to handle bad news in a way the makes people feel as though they are in safe hands, To spot opportunities and to take them.
  • Hard empathy
    • the ability to make people feel important and valued. To know exactly where they fit and what is required.

A good idea is to decide which traits are most important for your organisation and to work on one or two at a time. This of course is not a quick fix, but some effective learning methods ie shadowing, mentoring and collaborative learning resources will help.

 

  1. Developing the leaders of the future

Employees need access to timely development when it is required rather than sheep dip, standard training. This said, if you do create a specific learning programme it’s important to ensure that the approach is business focused so that people are working to solve real issues and adding value as they go.

Of course in many sectors on-job learning or shadowing works better than in others. It’s important that leaders and managers lead by example, displaying the leadership traits that become part of the DNA of the business. These leadership traits should also be added to performance reviews. It is worth establishing how behaviours will be delivered and to work out how you will know this happening consistently.

 

  1. Invest in a mentoring type opportunity

Encourage employees to find a great mentor: someone who is an inspirational leader who can share knowledge and skills relevant to them. This may take the form of one-to-one mentoring or even in a group environment.

This will not only benefit individuals, but also the organisation as a whole. A recent report from the department of business and innovation and skills has shown that mentoring can result in a 23 % increase in organisational performance.

Published date: January 16, 2017
Last modified: January 17, 2017

9 ways to unleash staff creativity and intelligence

Unleashing the creativity and problem solving abilities of your staff often needs a conscious decision on the part of the organisation – and a specific, positive approach. It’s not something that can be left to chance.

Here are nine ways to help you encourage creativity and enable you to tap into the collective intelligence of your team:

1) Involve the right people

Those who need to be involved to ensure a creative solution that works include: those in power or with decision-making authority; those who control resources such as contacts, time or money; those who have expert, specialist or on the ground knowledge about the topic under consideration; those that have information pertinent to the topic under consideration; and those who are likely to be affected by the decisions made.

By bringing all these people together at the same time it becomes possible to develop creative ideas and for them to be agreed and implemented quickly. Everyone involved gets to test the ideas for robustness and feasibility as they are being developed. This reduces the likelihood of ‘Ah yes but it won’t work here’ responses later on when ideas are implemented.

2) Learn from the past about when your organization is at its most creative

By exploring past pinnacle experiences of innovation, creativity and inspiring change you can discover the group’s existing resources, skills and knowledge about when, and how, creative and innovative things happen. This means you can re-create these creative contexts in the present.

3) Use stories to jump start imagination

Discovery interviews tend to generate a lot of interesting, and often previously untold, stories about the topic under discussion. Sharing these stories acts as a spring-board to creativity. You can also bring in stories from other contexts that you find inspiring and think might add as a prompt to new thinking.

One way to use stories gathered during a round of discovery interviews is to share the story and then spend time brainstorming what ideas it has stimulated about the particular current context you are working in.

Just leave them, or record them, as possibilities and move on to the next story. It’s about the power of association, stimulation and imagination rather than logical deduction.

4) Ask new questions about different things

Questions can produce new conversation and insights or they can stimulate old patterns of conversation. Questions that produce new thoughts, connections and ideas, in other words that are likely to generate innovative insights and creative ideas for action, tend to have certain characteristics.

For instance they have an element of novelty and surprise; they are questions that people haven’t considered before and may well be surprised to be asked. Many positively framed questions are of this nature.

Imagination-based questions, or questions that ask people to combine two seemingly opposed ideas, can also have this effect of producing new original thought.

Good discovery questions connect to things that are deeply meaningful to the participants. These are questions about important things – my work, my values, my experience. By asking about what matters to people such questions act to ensure that people are psychologically engaged with the process, and excited about the ideas under discussion. Such motivation is trigger to creativity.

Questions that stimulate creativity act to reframe reality for individuals and the group.

They do this by focussing on aspects of the context that are overlooked or ignored. In the simplest terms this means asking about positive things when ‘the reality’ is perceived to be wholly negative. As the group’s ideas about their context shifts, so does the possibility of doing something different i.e. being creative.

5) Dream together

An important part of the creative process is day-dreaming’ or wondering ‘what if’. Such relaxed mental roaming allows our imagination to leap over the many current obvious problems and barriers and problems to a time in the future where we have achieved our aspirations and our goals.

A good dreaming process acts to fire up the imagination and creates motivation to do something now to make our dreams come true. Of course they have to be connected to action, but in the same way that good science fiction creates impossible ideas that inspire later scientists to create what they saw on Star Trek as a child, so good appreciative inquiry dreaming sessions expand the group’s sense of the possible.

The creative horizon expands and the ideas of what is possible increase.

6) Improvise the future

By the end of discussion or inquiry the group as a whole should have a shared sense of where they want to be heading, and the kind of futures they want to be creating.

With this shared sense acting as the ‘roadmap’ people can be to be given permission to get on with making it happen, to be enabled to take voluntary and visible action, while the leader’s role becomes that of creating coherence and connection.

Creativity isn’t often a linear process, experimentation, hypotheses, prototypes and iteration are key features of the experience of emerging creative answers.

7) Encourage local problem-solving and decision-making

To ensure continuous organization-wide creativity it is important that people have good relationships with their colleagues around the organization so they know who to go to when they need to sort things out.

They need to be confident that their managers value the time invested in both the building of such relationships and the time invested in calling on them to solve problems or generate new ideas.

They need to feel empowered to act freely within their own sphere of influence.

8) Build good connections and relations across the organization

A good level of connection between functions and departments encourages the development of trusting relationships, and also facilitates the flow of information around the organization.

Consistently good relations between management and non-managerial staff means there are relational reserves that can be called upon when everyone is needed to help solve a problem or seize an opportunity.

In other words when people feel they have been well treated by the company over time, they are much more likely to respond very positively to an ‘all hands on deck’ call to suddenly come up with great ideas.

9) Encourage initiative and contributory behaviour

Encouraging people to risk using their initiative and to be innovative or creative requires that we recognize and reward very early and tentative attempts to offer something new. Initially we need to welcome with open arms any idea put forward to grow people’s willingness to contribute their ideas.

Only when people truly believe that the act of putting forward ideas or being creative is genuinely welcomed and appreciated can we risk applying some critical evaluation.

By following the advice above you can embed the principles of co-creative working and problem solving in your organization, and in turn unleash the intelligence of your staff.

Sarah Lewis

Published date:
Last modified: January 17, 2017

Employee Engagement – the toughest challenge

The toughest challenge for many organisations today is attracting and retaining the best, most skilled employees. The war for talent is hotter than ever and organisations need to strengthen workplace environments and increase employee engagement levels to hold onto it. The key to winning is not to forget about your current employees. What are you doing to retain the talent you already have? Those same employees who are constantly being courted by your competitors? These are the people who will shout about your employer brand, therefore having engaged employees can be a powerful weapon in the war for talent. It’s time to get serious about employee engagement.

 

There are various different drivers that all contribute to overall levels of engagement. One of those drivers, and perhaps the first and most important part of employee engagement is ‘role’ and job-person fit. The business world has been hugely affected by advances in technology, and nearly every job has felt this impact as we continually try to find ways to do more with less and increase productivity. Research shows that despite these pressures, when we enrich people’s working lives by giving them more autonomy, clarity, challenge and freedom in their roles, levels of engagement increase and so does the positive impact on the bottom line.

We’d all prefer to enjoy the work we do, and studies prove that when we are engaged and passionate about our roles, we deliver optimum results. That said, we still need variety; if we are bored to distraction through the repetition of similar projects, it’s only natural that we can become slightly disengaged. So as a leader, how do you get this right to reach that employee engagement sweet spot that creates an infectious culture and makes your organisation an irresistible place to work? Here are our top tips and food for thought.

  • Get your recruitment strategy right – getting the right people in the roles which best suit their talents is the key to helping your new starters to be engaged and successful from the outset. Work closely with your marketing department to ensure that you are sending out a very clear message to your candidates. Examine your current workforce to identify any characteristics that contribute to better performance and engagement, and whether a particular profile is suitable for the role or organisation culture – use this information to help build your job/person specification.
  • Are current assessment and recruitment processes in your organisation effective in matching people’s talent with their job role?
  • Don’t forget your current employees – do you have employees who are less engaged than others? Is it because they aren’t in the role that is best suited to their skills? Before you start to recruit for new roles externally, take a look at your current talent pool and consider whether you already have the skills internally.
  • Do you have a succession plan? Do you examine the talent that is closest to the role you could be filling in three, five, ten years time?
  • Make work meaningful – give your people the tools and autonomy to succeed. People crave challenge and the freedom and opportunity to complete their work in a way that allows them to enjoy it and their unique fingerprint on the finished product. Challenge opens an opportunity to develop and express individual talents, and in doing so, employees maintain and raise their status in the organisation. Providing a challenging work environment also increases the chances of employees returning if they do choose to leave, especially if their new job doesn’t measure up to their old one.
  • What flexibility does the organisation offer staff in planning their work?
  • Freedom – whilst it is important to be accepted as part of the group, most people have a strong drive to declare their individuality through freedom and autonomy.
  • Does/Could the organisation operate effective flexible working?
  • Give them clarity – Clarity of the role and purpose will help your employees to maintain a sense of security and reduce any anxiety that can occur when expectations are not clear. Also ensure that individual goals are aligned with those of the organisation so that everyone is working towards the same ultimate success.
  • How do senior managers share the organisation’s strategy and vision for the future and do managers negotiate and agree clear targets and objectives with staff?

 

Source ThomasInternational

Published date: January 4, 2017
Last modified: July 19, 2017

Career Help

When individuals succeed, organisations win. We help companies and individuals create talent strategies for career management that improve business agility and performance.

It’s time to take control of your career. Career planning and professional development is all about identifying what you want from your job and deciding how to get there. Just a little time invested in reflection and planning could help you find a happier more fulfilling work life – so what are you waiting for?

Personality development tips

Your personality is the pattern of thinking, feeling and behaviours that you typically display. The best personality development tips encourage you to cultivate a sense of self. This is because self-awareness is the foundation for all personal development.

Career change

Considering a career change at 30 can be a scary prospect. Don’t panic – you will have undoubtedly developed transferable skills over the years and your experience will have taught you lot about what you do and don’t want from a job.

Personal development plan template

Creating a personal development plan template is a relatively straightforward process. By reflecting on what you are creating, you should be able to produce a plan to grow your talent.

Career change ideas

It can be difficult to come up with career change ideas, particularly if you’ve been in the same profession for a while. Whilst you may be certain your current role is no longer a good fit, figuring out what might suit you better is not always easy.

Assessment support for professionals

Emotional Intelligence Assessment (TEIQue)

 An emotional intelligence questionnaire is a series of questions whereby an individual rates themselves and measures their self-perception of their own emotions and personality on a certain scale.

Emotional intelligence is a psychological construct that has become exceptionally popular in both the academic and human resources literature. The ability to manage your emotions and those of others has become an increasingly important part of the modern working environment.

The psychological concept of emotional intelligence has been measured using psychometric assessments since the 1990’s. Early theories viewed emotional intelligence like a cognitive ability; something that can be learned and trained. The Thomas International, Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue), based on Dr. K.V. Petrides’ trait emotional intelligence theory, is a unique assessment that views emotional intelligence as a collection of personality traits.

See report

General Intelligence Test (GIA)

The Thomas General Intelligence Assessment (GIA) is an aptitude test that measures your aptitudes in several areas, including: verbal, numerical and spatial reasoning. Each test within the GIA will ask you to complete short, simple tasks quickly and accurately.

The test will typically assess different kinds of aptitude including:

  • Verbal reasoning – the ability to reason and draw conclusions from the information provided.
  • Perceptual speed – the ability to identify relevant and irrelevant information and check for errors.
  • Word meaning – the ability to understand written or spoken instructions.
  • Numerical reasoning – the ability to reason and draw conclusions using numerical concepts.
  • Spatial visualisation – the ability to work with shapes and visual concepts.
Published date:
Last modified: July 19, 2017

Competency Based Interviews

More and more popular these days are the invites to an interview that’s a little more complex – particularly at management level.

Competency Based, or Behavioural Interviews, are used a lot now to enable you to show how you’d demonstrate certain behaviours and skills in your role by answering questions about how you’ve reacted to and dealt with previous specific situations. Employers use this method of interviewing, working on the assumption that by looking at past behaviours and that they can then predict your future behaviour and results – and how well you’d fit in with their own people, culture etc.

Why Competency Based Interviewing is Important

This type of interview is designed around the key competencies that the company feels are integral to the role that you are being considered for. The interviewers are interested in how you act in more practical situations.

They’re giving you the opportunity to tell them why you’re even better than you look on paper, providing examples of the specific ‘performance enhancing’ things you’ve done that aren’t necessarily included on your CV.

This type of interview is all about examples.

You’ll be asked to provide examples of a situation or task that led you to take a certain course of action in your contact centre. Probing questions will then be used to determine the course of action you took and what changes were created by those actions, as well as the effects of those actions on others. Remember that the interviewer wants to know what you delivered and achieved – so it’s a good idea to avoid over-using examples of ‘we’.

Use the CAR!

To help to keep your answers structured, it’s best to use the CAR model, which will allow you to structure your answer in a logical and concise manner.

Challenge – what was the issue faced

Action– What action did you take? Why? Were there any challenges/obstacles and how did you overcome them?

Results– Highlight the outcome, with a focus on results – keep it positive!

Preparation 

The best way to identify what competencies they’re going to ask you about is to review the job description in comparison with your CV. You’ve gotten this far on the strength of your CV, which has already shown off the basics of your contact centre management experience, so there’ll be certain things in there that have caught their eye. Try to look at your experience from their perspective and work out what it was about you that appealed to them for this role.

Try to think of specific examples of when you have evidenced those behaviours – but don’t fall into the trap of preparing specific answers prior to your interview as you’re likely to end up providing answers that do not fully answer the question.

Examples of Competency Questions

It’s worth having a quick run through a few of these questions with a friend or colleague before your interview, and if you’re struggling with any of them, ask our team at Join the Dots. After all, that’s what we’re here for! Not all of them will be relevant to the role you’re interviewing for, but we wouldn’t want you to be anything less than fully prepared – so have a run through these and see how you get on.

Communication

This competency is looking for your ability to communicate effectively and to influence others to act on or commit support to one’s own goals or objectives.

Example Questions:

  • Can you please give a specific example of when you have had to influence a colleague to you way of thinking?
  • Tell me about a particularly difficult issue you had to communicate.

Planning and Organising

With this, they’re looking to assess if and how you plan activities and projects. They want to know how your organisational management skills have helped to improve your contact centre’s performance, and how your ability to plan ahead has helped you, your colleagues, and your agents.

Example Questions:

  • Can you give me an example of when you have had to plan the work of a team

Interpersonal and Team Skills

The desire to build and maintain relationships in and beyond the workplace is absolutely critical, especially where cultural fit is everything! If you are highly collaborative and co-operative, you’re likely to thrive in this type of environment – and it’s definitely worth trying to get this across in your interview.

Example Questions:

  • What skills and personal qualities have you contributed to the teams you have been part of?
  • Tell me about the most difficult person you have worked with.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

How do you come to a decision? Are you able to make independent decisions, or do you rely too heavily on others?

Example Questions:

  • Tell me about a difficult decision that you have made.
  • Tell me about an unpopular decision you have made.

Influencing or Persuading Others

You may have strong verbal skills – but there’s a difference between being able to talk, and being able to persuade. Can you influence another person to change their thinking or take some action?

Example Questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you were able to change someone’s viewpoint significantly?
  • Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something that you disagreed with?
  • Describe a time when you’ve had to plan a project.
  • How would you approach ensuring that you delivered results in your role?
  • It’s a busy day with conflicting priorities and deadlines – what do you do?

Customer Focus

If you believe in the importance of customer focus, this is your chance to show this off. You need to show that you’ve listened to and understood the needs of external and internal customers, meeting and exceeding customer needs to ensure satisfaction.

Example Question:

  • Can you give us an example of when you have dealt with an upset or angry customer in the past?

Drive for Results

Quite often, your interviewers will use competency based interviewing to assess your personal motivation and how you approach challenges. This is a good opportunity to talk about a ‘negative’ situation which you managed to turn around into positive results, or a time when you achieved the ‘impossible’

Example Questions:

  • What achievement are you most proud of?
  • Give me an example of a time when you have had to achieve a specific result.
  • What opportunities have you identified and used to achieve success?
  • Tell me about a time when you have ‘made things happen’ for yourself/your team/your call
Published date:
Last modified: July 19, 2017

Advice for the job interview

Ok so now it’s serious…you have made it to interview, so well done thus far.

So much has been written about interviews, and interviewing techniques. Are they really won and lost in the fits 30/60 seconds?. How do you sit, do you drink coffee, what’s the best approach?

Without doubt practice and preparation are key. Like any other presentational type situation. If you fail to plan, guess what?…you plan to fail

Preparation and pre work will both make you feel confident and comfortable to tackle whatever comes at you.

Now what….?

  • Research the Company!
  • Research the interviewer
  • Research the venue
  • Prepare for the questions

Research  the company

So you’ve been invited to interview and the job looks like one you would really be interested in, so that’s great!

Now the work can really start and you’ll need to spend as much time preparing for it as attending it – perhaps more.

This doesn’t mean buying a new suit and tie or a nice dress/outfit (although that may be required, depending on your wardrobe)….we mean researching the Company and rehearsing the types of questions that you are likely to be asked.

Nowadays the orgnaisations website should provide you with a really clear picture of the company and its intentions as well as its past performance, its products and services and its attitude as an employer. You should study all of this carefully. Then do some revising up on their sector – so, if your interview is with Barclays look up banking on Google and see what the pundits and markets are predicting for that sector – refine it to retail banking and then technology in retail banking. If there is some big innovation coming along in the banking world then you need to have some broad understanding of it.

Research the interviewer

Establish early on who will interview you – is it one person or is it a panel – who are they – names, positions, titles, areas of responsibility. See if they are mentioned on the Company website or find them on linkedin – there might even be a photograph which is really helpful in assessing the person you will be meeting.

Your Join the Dots consultant that you are dealing with should be able to give you lots of advice on the role, the people, the corporate style – have a long conversation with them about what they know of the job and company – after all this is part of the Join the Dots recruitment process.

You’ll probably be able to review the company accounts online and although you may not be a whiz at figures, simply read the Chairman’s statement – that’ll tell you how the Company has done and how it’s likely to do (although he or she will have tried to gloss over any major issues).

Also study the changes in the share price (if the Company is publicly listed). That’ll tell you if the shares are rising, falling or steady – see if you can find an industry analyst on the net who gives an opinion on the Company’s fortunes and future – that can be very illuminating.

If it’s a public sector role then you will still find plenty of information on the web – even the Inland Revenue and GCHQ have customer friendly websites and you should, again, be able to study up on the issues facing the Public Sector body by intelligent use of Google. There is simply masses of information to be perused before the interview.

Research the venue

So often candidates fail to find out fully where the interview will be held, what are the travel issues that may prevail, are there parking facilities. Do your homework!

You’ve done your research so make sure you get the little things right. Do you know where the interview will be held? Check the address and the location – here the internet can help again – www.streetmap.co.uk is very good. Plan your journey – if by car, where will you park (don’t assume the Company has a car park). If by public transport check times and connections and leave some time if possible for those inevitable delays which will totally stress you out even if you get to the interview on time. If time allows undertake a dummy run a few days before the appointment to plot the route.

All of this so that on the day you leave nothing to chance, and get there at least 15 minutes early so that you have time to compose yourself, grab a drink, go for a comfort break etc.

Understand the Role and prepare

So now you know a lot about the company, the interviewer and the venue – what do you know about the job? Well you should have had a job description (JD) and a person specification (PS). If you haven’t then ask for one from your consultant – its part of our process and it’s vital for you to know what the job is all about beyond the advert you might have applied through. Ask if there is an information pack with the JD – that will give you plenty of information on the company and its benefits and how it cares for its employees.

Arrival

Dress code should always be smart and formal unless you get advised otherwise. We know that there are media and marketing companies that want a casual look but unless you know that don’t dress down!

So suit (or jacket and smart trousers) and tie for men, smart suit for women – don’t actively “power-dress” but look the part.

Pay attention to the little things – polished/clean shoes – groomed hair – clean nails – grooming will be noticed. Remember that they may see ten or more people for the position – differentiate yourself by smart dress and grooming as well as a confident, assertive manner. You want to be memorable.

Try to get into the company’s reception area about ten minutes before the appointment. Longer than that is a bit over eager and later than that gives you little time to sign in and compose yourself before being collected for the interview. It is advisable to stand in the reception area until collected – this keeps you alert and enables you to meet the interviewer (or his or her very important secretary) by direct eye contact and a firm (but not too firm) handshake. Struggling up from a prone position, lounging in their comfy settee reading the FT is not the best way to meet your potential new employer.

Breathe deeply and slowly to manage any anxieties you may have and flex your hands and toes since, when you are nervous, these extremities of your body will become cold as your blood flows less effectively because of the stress.

Remember to switch off your mobile telephone. We did have experience of an interviewee who actually took a call in the middle of the interview and spent a few minutes in discussion with the caller – needless to say they didn’t get an offer!

First impressions:

So now you’ve been collected and are on the way to the interview room – let the person who collected you make the conversation – don’t start gabbling about how difficult (or easy) the journey was – let them control the pace of conversation. If they offer you a drink then a glass of water is probably best – this is an interview, not elevenses or afternoon tea and you don’t want to be struggling to carry your briefcase and a cup and saucer when you are introduced to the hiring manager. Now you’re in front of the hirer (or hirers if there is a panel). They are forming an initial impression of you in this first minute or two – this is the first critical point in the interview. There are some significant do’s and don’ts to be remembered throughout the interview:

  • Do maintain eye contact
  • Don’t stare or gaze at the interviewer
  • Do let the interviewer set the pace of the interview
  • Don’t feel you need to end their sentences if there is a pause
  • Do listen to the question carefully and ask them to repeat it if it is unclear
  • Don’t try to be too clever by providing the answer that you think they are looking for – you can get yourself confused and be seen as insincere.
  • Do take your time to consider your answers and provide them clearly and speak in an audible tone
  • Don’t give two examples when asked for only one
  • Don’t whisper or speak too loudly,
  • Don’t gabble and try not to repeat yourself
  • Do sit upright and lean forward in the chair showing interest and concentration
  • Don’t lean back and let your shoulders droop or appear too eager by leaning on the interviewer’s desk.
  • Don’t mock your own shortcomings, your age, yourself in any way.

One of the keys to a successful interview is staying relaxed – not easy but you may be surprised to learn that most interviewers have nerves themselves – they want you to impress them and they want to show their job off to you in a good light – don’t assume that they have all the trump cards in their hand. Remember they are keen to find someone to do the job so they can stop looking – they are rooting for you to do well.

Let the interviewer control the interview, at least in the early and middle stages. Let them describe the process of the interview – how long it will last – when they will invite you to ask questions and the like.

Unfortunately, in stressful times and because our adrenalin is up we tend to rush things – let the interview flow at his or her pace and speak a little more slowly than you normally would – we tend to speak rapidly when stressed so you need to slow down.

Remember, hiring managers will want to feel they are in control of proceedings and will want to hear nice things about their Company and their department – let them have control but don’t be subservient.

If the Interviewer knows his or her stuff they will ask plenty of open questions that require more from you than a simple yes or no (see competency based interviews below).

Here are examples of what you might reasonably expect to be asked:

  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • What do you know about our Company?
  • Can you describe yourself and your approach to your work?
  • How do you deal with pressure?
  • Why are you in the market for a new job?
  • Can you tell me more about the technologies that you have used?
  • What leadership/management responsibilities have you had?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • How do you react to setbacks and failures?
  • Can you describe a situation where you have disagreed with your manager or a colleague and how was that resolved?
  • What would be the ideal position for you?

Make sure that you rehearse these and others in your mind before the interview. If you have ordered your thoughts regarding these then the ones you haven’t anticipated can be more clearly focussed upon.

Always try to provide positive examples within your answer – don’t simply say yes I have a lot of experience in marketing projects (for example) – say where and when that experience was and how those projects were successful and helped your employer. Also anticipate tricky questions ie:

  • Can you please explain why you seem to have moved around quite a lot in recent years?
  • You had a spell of twelve months between jobs – can you tell us what you were doing?
  • Can you please explain why you left that position?

Whilst you should answer each question fully don’t overdo it – remember that you should talk about 40% of the time in an interview (less in a Panel) – listening is very important.

Once you believe you have answered the question then consciously stop – let the interviewer carry on. If there is a pause while he or she gathers their thoughts or makes a note don’t feel pressured into adding anything – you may well contradict what you just said! This is easily done if you start thinking that the answer you have given hasn’t gone down well – you begin to think you should give a different one – whatever you do resist the temptation!

Always remember never to destructively criticise a former Employer or Manager. You may say that they had reduced training and were not taking on new technologies and you wanted to stay up to date. You may say that the Department was stable and that opportunities for advancement were likely to be limited but that’s about it – its better to talk about the positive reasons that you left – offered a role with more responsibility – offered a role with good career planning – these are good reasons for moving on and will be accepted.

By all means take some notes during the interview but only short jottings of key things that you don’t think you’ll retain mentally – not every word that he or she utters – it will stultify the interview and distract you from eye contact and proper concentration on the subject in hand.

If the interviewer asks you what salary you will accept sit calmly and say that you are prepared to consider any reasonable offer but you should already know the salary (or salary band) and they will know your present salary. Try to avoid answering this question by saying that you are looking for an increase on your present salary – they will probably realise that. Say that you are looking forward to the challenge that working for the Company can provide in terms of additional experience and, obviously it would be nice to have an increase for moving to them – ensure that you provide other reasons as being more important than money if this comes up.

Never say –“I hate that question” or “I knew you were going to ask that question” – and similarly don’t be too conversational and informal – the interviewer is not your ‘pal’and, however relaxed they might appear to be, keep it professional. This is not the time to get on first name terms unless he introduces himself as Fred or herself as Edna and even then use their name sparingly.

If you are in front of a panel then make eye contact with all of them and don’t assume anyone is more or less important than another. The MD could be sitting at the end of the table quietly observing the interview but taking no active part – don’t assume they are junior and of no significance.

Your questions

So often this is left right to the end where the interviewer has gone over time, and puts prfessure upon you to ask quick questions because the next candidate is waiting. Avoid this temptation. This is a two way process.

You will need to know some fundamental answers about the role, the business, your managers management style for example.

If the first question that you come out with is “can you describe the benefits package again” then you might as well pack up and go home – you should know all that and it is only relevant if you get the offer anyway when you can consider it fully. This is the time to ask about the Company’s general plans and the interviewer’s plans for the department – remember they want to know what you can do for them so keep probing for information which may enable you to add something positive. For instance if they say they plan to re-locate the contact centre you might then be able to say that you have some experience of that which may not have come out within the interview previously.

Sample Questions include:

  • Do you see the Department expanding in the future?
  • Are you introducing new technologies in the near future?
  • Do you have a training programme?
  • How would you describe a good employee of this company?
  • What is your staff turnover rate?

Some of these are quite tough questions for the interviewer – but that’s okay – it’s your interview as well and the only time you may have to get a real feeling about the company before the job is offered to you – you must do what you can to establish if it is right for you.

One golden rule is to always give your best in an interview – even if you have decided early on that you don’t think it is right for you. Remember there is no point in deciding afterwards that it is probably exactly what you do want if you’ve blown it through your negativity. The job of the interview is to get you the offer – exactly where you want to be.

So now the interview is being wrapped up and you’ve done your best – avoid trying to add anything to previous answers here – say simply that you have enjoyed the meeting and are impressed with their plans. That you look forward to hearing from them and smile sincerely – give the impression that you’ve enjoyed meeting them (even if you feel a otherwise). Give a firm handshake, turn and walk away and don’t look back – you’ve done your best the rest is up to them.

Don’t be to over the top at this point ie for instance telling them how much you’ve always wanted to work for them as you’ve always loved their advertisments!. People can sense over eagerness (or even desperation) and it never helps your cause as they generally hate compliments that are forced.

Its at this point where you will get great feedback whatever the outcome of the interview from your Join the Dots partner. Remember – if you don’t get an offer then it doesn’t mean you couldn’t do the job – it simply means that they didn’t think it was right for you at this stage. You might like to send a nice message through us saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and hoping how you might meet them again in the future – stay positive – it has been known for the candidate who was offered the job to withdraw and the second placed candidate to be offered after initial rejection. In such cases don’t be too proud to give the job every consideration.

And finally….

One final tip – if it’s going wrong and you know it is in your heart – keep positive – don’t let the shoulders droop or a grimace break through – body language is very important and a duff answer can often be ignored if you’ve overcome it by a good bearing and by staying confident.

Published date:
Last modified: July 19, 2017

CV Writing guide

Introduction – What’s The Purpose of a cv?

The word Curriculum Vitae literally translated means the story of your life. It is not usual and will be considered incorrect to write the abbreviated form in lower case.

In describing your achievements, your career to date and your capabilities always remember that the job of the CV is to attract interest in you and to convince the reader to meet with you at interview (or offer you the job without the need for an interview – although that is rare).

As such it is essentially a sales document and should be designed to showcase what you have to offer to an employer, and as a support to you and the organisation to which you are applying to act as a reference document detailing role performance and results.

The CV however will never replace you, and like all other presentational situations, the YOU is the moist important. We have seen many excellent CV’s attached to uninspiring candidates.

Organisations receive hundreds of CV’s for the jobs they advertise and Recruitment Agencies receive thousands of CV’s every week for the many different roles they are trying to fill. Faced with such an abundance of choice your CV needs to do its job quickly and concisely since it may only receive the most cursory glance on its way to the “must interview” basket or, sadly, the rubbish bin, of both the physical and electronic variety. It has been assessed that the Hiring Manager and/or the Recruitment Consultant will make their mind up regarding your suitability within the first two minutes of reviewing your CV. Harsh but often true – there simply isn’t enough time to peruse them all and it is for you to ensure that the skills, experience and aptitude that they are looking for are clear for all to see virtually at first glance. In other words your CV has to stand out immediately

So writing a document that best details your achievements, successful track record and details of why you should be recruited can be difficult.

So often CVs are over hyped, full of jargon, too long and badly set out.

Lets be quite clear, this document is the document that will either start a ball rolling or trip you at the first hurdle.

The first thing to note is to plan the document and do it with honesty. Don’t say that you were this and that if you simply weren’t. This will ultimately trip you up during a competency interview. Also the process of psychometric testing and rigorous interviews will find you out!

Also it is never easy to talk about things that you did not do or achieve, but very easy to talk about the real success stories. You cannot give great examples of things that you never did.

Structure

Begin with your name!

Obviously you will start off with your name at the top of the first page, clearly displayed. There is no need to add Male or Female beneath it.

You should add a Header with your name at the top and a Footer with contact details and a unique document number as well as page numbers (1 of 4, 2 of 4 etc.) so that if the CV is printed by the interested party – a good sign in itself – and the pages become separated then it will be easy to re-assemble them. You are not obliged to put your Date of Birth on a CV nowadays and this is a healthy sign given that age should not be relevant to an employer. Nor do you need to add your ethnicity or religion.

Put your address and contact details clearly below the name – add all ‘phones as well as e-mail. This need not be in the footer as well but should be nice and clear early on. By all means add here if you are married and any children but you are not compelled to.

The next section is vital!

Below the name you should put a short ‘exciting’ summary of the skills you have that match the position on offer. This is your golden chance to capture the reader to want to read more. Its called the ‘grabber’

This can be as little as a paragraph and is designed to convince the reader that the CV is worth persevering with. So if the job is to run a small Helpdesk team then this summary should outline where you have had both Helpdesk and supervisory experience and detailed and lengthy that experience is. You can also mention here where you have had any relevant training but don’t overdo it – this is merely the “Executive Summary” that attracts the reader to venture further. Study the job on offer and ensure that you display the relevant skills that you have within this summary. If you are scratching your head after the first sentence then perhaps this isn’t the right role for you! Try to imagine yourself as the potential hirer – would you want to read more about this candidate? If you are ticking the right boxes here then you should be in with a chance of an interview.

Use words such as leading, implemented, impact, experience of, achieved, qualified.

Next I’d add in five or six bullet points under the banner of ‘Relevant skills, experiences and achievements’

Now onto the main part of the CV. You really want the reader to get here, because if they do then they are interested, and we don’t want to lose them from here

Continue with your work experience. I’d put this under the banner of ‘Career achievement’ – after all that’s what you want to project ‘achievement and results’. Put the most recent job first.

It’s not mandatory to put in specific month start date but you can if you like.

If your career has been very long then you can be less precise about the months after (about) ten years ago when 1989 – 1997 will suffice but please don’t be vague about recent years – it will suggest gaps and that will worry the reader. If there have been genuine gaps whilst you went on that round-the-world tour then say so – don’t try to mask it. If there were periods when you were between jobs then say so – honesty is the best policy – at interview you can say that you took pains to ensure that you accepted the right role rather than jump at anything and that meant an extended period searching for the right job – that strategy wouldn’t be held against you.

Having put the Employer and the dates, state the Job Title (if there were several because of promotions then state them all. Think back – was there a particularly difficult project that you played a part in bringing in on time and to budget? Was there a difficult customer who you helped and they commended you for your flexibility?

Key point – Potential employers want to read about how you made a positive difference in your job – not simply trawl through the routine tasks that you undertook day after day.

Don’t end up looking as if you re-built the Company from scratch – there’s one thing accentuating the positive and quite another engaging in complete overkill! List the key project that you were personally involved in .. You don’t really need to put down reasons for leaving but if you feel compelled to, never criticise a former employer – it will be received very negatively.

You should rehearse the reasons for moving from previous jobs for the interview – acceptable reasons include that you were seeking a larger environment, that you had achieved all of your targets, that you needed a fresh challenge!

Use bullet points where possible to break up the text – very few people nowadays want to studiously read every document put in front of them – if the reader scans the document highlighted points will attract the eye.

Naturally the summary of your experience needs to be more detailed on recent jobs and be lesser as the roles get more distant. A few lines on your role and the key performance areas will suffice.

Next add a banner titled ‘Relevant education, qualifications, training and professional development

It is important to flag up training that you have received and qualifications gained but don’t simply list every training course that you have ever attended and every achievement gained – your swimming diploma attained in junior school will not count for much (yes, been seen on a CV before now!) and, like your experience – if the training relates to technology that is now out of date then it won’t add much by including the courses you attended for it or the accreditations gained.

It’s not necessary to have a section ‘about yourself” but by all means add a brief summary of your hobbies and interests. Keep it short – it merely provides the reader with a bit of background to you as a person and shows you as a rounded individual with healthy pursuits. Be careful not to fall into the trap of giving too much away here – the candidate who wrote “I love traveling and plan to travel the world next year” didn’t get to interview – no employer wants to hear that you might just be “passing through”. Hobbies should look like hobbies and not give an impression that work gets in the way of pursuing them. Sometimes your hobbies/interests will support your. Please also avoid silly remarks – the guy applying for a job at BP who wrote “I always fill up at BP stations since you are the greenest fuel provider” didn’t see the inside of a BP building!

How long should your CV be?

There is no set length for a CV. Two pages may well do the job but three/four is more common. Lay it out clearly – there is no point using an 8 point type face just to get it on two sides of A4 if what you are left with is something so cramped it offends the eye. Unless you are applying for a role with a media or marketing Company (and even then, be careful) use a common font (e.g. Arial, Times New Roman, Courier), and probably 10/11 font size.

When you have completed it try reading it through as if you are the Hiring Manager – would you want to interview this person – does he or she have the skills you need – and can I see that quickly. Is it an appealing document that is not cluttered and makes its point in short order? It is difficult to be dispassionate about something you have written with loving care and something that summarises a career that you are rightly proud of so ask a friend or partner to consider it – they may not be recruiters but they’ll know what appeals to them about the document and tell you so. Also, of course, use your Join the Dots consultant to help you – our job is to get people to interview and to job offer. We won’t be shy in telling you what needs to be adapted on your CV.

Will a photograph of me help?

Only if you have one that is professionally taken and you looked at your best that day. One taken in a photo booth the morning after an all night party with you sporting baggy eyes and disheveled hair just won’t add anything (except that you like a good night out!). If in doubt, leave it out – it is your skills they are interested in, not that you have the looks of a matinee idol (can cause jealousy in any event!).

What about my references?

Please feel free to add them. If you have two former employers who will speak highly of you then list them with contact details. If you have only one (or none) then offer a character reference via good friends or a professional acquaintance (e.g. Bank Manager, Doctor). Please ensure that you forewarn the Referee that they might be contacted and, of course, ensure that they will provide a good account of you. Naturally it is best not to use your present employer if they don’t know you are looking for another job and, if they do and they are prepared to act as a referee, be sure that their intentions are honorable – it has been known for an employer to give a poor reference on a current employee simply because they were desperate not to lose the person!

And finally…..

Just about but, with the wonders of modern technology, you can help yourself a little bit more yet – yes, use the spellchecker and grammar advisor. You’d be surprised how bad spelling offends the eye and, if the reader opens the document in MS Word, they won’t want to see red and green underlining all over it!

A few final tips?

Try not to repeat words close together – it smacks of inarticulacy. Emphasis the good points and don’t be afraid to use words that help do that – I am extremely adept at managing people will sound better than I am adept at managing people. I achieve quality results doesn’t sound that good at all until you add the word high (quality).

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