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SimonWilkins The Headhunter

Entering the world of Zoom

When someone mentioned Zoom, I thought of an iced -lolly from the early ’80s. Several contacts have asked me whether I shall be interviewing people via Zoom or Skype or FaceTime?

My automatic reply is always the same. I have no wish to use video conferencing platforms if I can help it. I don’t particularly need to see an image of a person in their pyjamas or with pets and kids moving around in the background, whilst trying to decipher the audio through a broken wifi signal.

I’ve met around 5000 of my contacts in person, so unless you’re new to me, I’ll know what you look like. Bedsides, phone calls are quite adequate. I’ve spent almost 20 years discussing careers on the phone before meetings and the meetings really only confirm my initial thoughts from the phone calls.

The new phrase ‘Social-Distancing’ will be around for some time to come, as we face a period of distancing to protect each other from “The Chinese virus”, as quoted by President Donald Trump. Will this mean that we shall be viewing each other on screens forever? We were heading this way before the virus attacked the planet, with people being obsessed with everyone else’s lives. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are popular platforms for wasting your life and not making memories of your own, instead, people are watching someone else boast about their new car, holiday, new watch, house, or model partner. There will be less of this boasting I hope, as toxic envy and jealousy are caused by these platforms, and many are responsible for relationship breakdowns, suicide and unnecessary pressures to keep up with others.

Isolation means that these platforms will thrive, but the content will be far less exotic, being confined to your own home for the time being at least.

Will video conference-style behaviour re-shape our content appetite? Will videos become less popular with the idea that you peer into someone else’s life in a Big-Brother style or Gogglebox perspective? Will it be usual to invite someone for a Zoom catch-up or simply call them via Videolink as you would a telephone?

Why hasn’t video calling really caught on? It’s been around for a long time. I remember being shown a system way back in 1993.

While we are all separated for a while, do you feel disconnected or more connected? Are you achieving more? Some home-workers are boasting that their productivity levels have increased dramatically and feel much happier working from home. Others, feel cut-off, fed-up and in a trance.

Whatever your feelings, I think that communication of any kind in any form is very important to maintaining psychological balance.

I’ve been self-employed for almost 18 years, largely working from home and travelling the UK for meetings. Knowing that I have to self-isolate in my car for an important call because the dogs are going mad, is quite normal.

Humans like interaction, more so now than ever before. I have a number of country walks nearby and you can bet your bottom dollar that if by chance someone else is on the same path in the middle of nowhere, they want to talk, instead of silence or a groan.

Maybe Zoom isn’t so bad after all. At least you’re in control of who you have to engage with!

Take care everyone, keep safe and try to remain calm. It’s a tough time for us all. I have no income or support from The Government. Two income streams lost overnight. Let’s hope for a speedy return, but be thankful for good health, which is everything.

The Power of Linkedin for Job Seekers

Quite frequently I receive calls and messages from people searching for a new job, often having been fired or left a company through redundancy.

Before I get into the benefits of Linkedin, I wanted to firstly say that at some time in your career, unless you are extremely lucky, you might find yourself without a job and it will seem very strange to say the least.

One of the most shocking findings from the conversations I’ve had is that people don’t really understand the power of Linkedin.

In many ways, it should be seen as your shop window. I mean that.

Creating the right profile, one which will be found by other users of Linkedin is so important. A good photo, words which sum up who you are and what you’ve been doing and for whom. Don’t overcook it. Keep the summary truthful and avoid industry speak.

Something which won’t necessarily occur to someone looking for a role or even having a Linkedin profile is that many hiring companies and recruitment firms will search the platform from the back-office perspective.
When Linkedin is searched by companies and recruiters, the options for search is still quite limited, so it’s really important to be as clear as possible with your intentions. A Job headline such as Seeking opportunities or Searching for my next role or Considering my options, can all be search strings used by recruiters to find the most active job seekers on the platfom.

Make sure that they know roughly where you reside too. There’s no point withholding this information because geography also plays a big part in the search criteria. Consider your nearest Linkedin Town or City and use it.
When I say, Linkedin Town or City, not every town is featured, just the major ones. For example, if you live in Crawley, West Sussex, your Linkedin town will be Redhill, the same for Horsham and surrounding areas.

Here are some tips for creating greater visibility for you when seeking out your next role;

Within Linkedin, use the search bar and enter the role of the likely hiring manager in the chain of command or go two tiers above your role if you wish. For example, if you are a Sales Manager, type in Sales Director and then use the search functions to be specific about who you are looking for.
The drop-down menus include Connections, Locations and Current Companies. The most important ones here are Location and People.

Linkedin gives you options as shown here;

Start narrowing the search down by choosing People.

Then look at the locations and add locations where you’d like to work, (select as many as you wish). If they don’t appear by typing them in, remember what I said about major Town and Cities. It’s best to look at a map for major towns within a radius.

Once you’ve selected your criteria, hit the return or enter key and soon you will have a list of people in front of you.
Now the fun begins.
This is the time consuming but valuable part of your hard work.

View the profile of the person or company one at a time. Click the profile name to view the whole profile. Then follow them from the follow option, found in a drop-down menu of the More button. It’s important to follow because they are notified by Linkedin that you’ve started following them.

Then use the back button in your browser to return to the list of the main search. Click on the next one and so forth. Keep going down the list, which usually has about 10 people listed per page.
After a while of repeating this exercise, (which is boring and repetitive), you will finally have visited quite a lot of profiles of people who might be responsible for appointing someone like you anytime soon. They will see that you’ve looked at their profile and in turn, they will look at yours. Human nature creates this intrigue.

Now, suddenly you have more or less everyone looking at your profile and if by chance they like the look of your skills, background and relevance, they might simply invite you to connect or make contact with you.

DO NOT send connection requests. The platform may suspend your account if you are rejected by the person you are approaching to be connected with. DO NOT send Connection requests. The odd request is ok, but too many will kill your account.

Instead, make sure you follow their profile, it’s much safer and no limits.

Good luck with improving your visibility, I know for sure that some people have been found this way. Not only is it fee-free for the employer, but it might also open a door, either now or later.

Keep watching this blog for future tips. Good luck, I hope this insight helps with your general understanding of Linkedin and I wish you well with your endeavours.

Make sure you’re on my radar for Housebuilding opportunities; Visit;
www.WeWantYou.co.uk

Speak properly, or else

A couple of years ago I was listening to a podcast in which someone introduced themselves as a Phone Phobia Counsellor.

I listened with interest as the majority of recruitment is oral, certainly after gaining attention via messaging, often in writing.

Recently I have been listening to the radio more often, as a consequence of travelling for hours on motorways to meet candidates and clients.

I am genuinely disappointed with not only some presenters of radio shows, but also their phone-in guests. When adults can’t pronounce their T’s it becomes very irritating and unnecessary. I am forced to switch off.

One of the last irritations was a discussion on LBC radio when a political advisor couldn’t manage say ‘strategy’ or ‘party’ correctly.

Stra-a-gee and par -ee.

Who is influencing these degenerates?

Why is so difficult for people to speak without using phrases such as;

You know? Like, So, D’ya know what? Er, Can I get

Known as Discourse markers, these annoying pauses during a conversation are habitual and need to be erased from the dialogue. I believe that we are falling into a trap. Only this week, one of my clients called me and said that he had ‘reached out’ to someone. What? Reached out? Do you mean that you made contact? I explained that this American term shouldn’t creep into our conversation and if it continued, I would change my accent and speak like an American with a whole bunch of stuff included!

It seems that we are being bombarded from all angles with illiterate dunces who can’t speak or string a sentence together, with the added Americanism thrown in.

Hiring. Since when did we hire people? Maybe hiring a taxi or hiring a wedding suit, but when did hiring replace the word appointing or appointed or appoint or recruiting? We’re hiring! She’s been hired.

Next, we shall be filling up with Gas, no doubt.

This subject has been well covered in the press and on the radio a few years ago, so there’s nothing new here. What is new is that I am becoming irritated by it.

Should you find yourself sitting opposite me in a meeting, I shall abruptly suspend the meeting if I hear too many annoyances, whether you are a client or a candidate. It won’t be a friend because I don’t have any.

Directors get booted

Staff are performance managed when they’re not quite fitting in – ever hopeful of significant improvement. On the other hand, directors just get booted.

Over the last 17 years of headhunting, I have received many calls from directors who have been booted by their employers.

Often, newly booted directors will talk about the fact that they wish to find something new, but there’s no rush. This usually means that they are working their notice either at home or have arranged a ‘compromise deal’, or ‘settlement agreement’. The same scenario by different names.

A settlement agreement is essentially a sum of money to shut you up and not make a claim against the company for unfair dismissal since you are likely to be leaving the same day they decide your face no longer fits with the organisation.

When your face doesn’t fit anymore, take the money and move on. Negotiate the best deal based upon the likelihood of finding something within a reasonable timescale within your discipline. Compromise deals vary depending upon the length of service and other factors.

There is little point dressing it up as something else because everyone knows everyone and an HR reference doesn’t go far when senior bods speak to each other.

When you face this shocking event, it is essential to take some time-out to reflect, before rushing into the next job.

If the timing works and there is a job just around the corner for you, great – go for it.

Think long and hard about the culture of the business you have just left and whether you’d like to repeat the same. It’s easy to think that the speed of returning to any job is important, often a decision made in haste will be regretted later.

Your value hasn’t changed. You are still the same person you were last week or last month or last year. What has changed is the company’s view on whether you fit their organisation anymore? The business might be out-growing you.

Sometimes it’s better to be out of a business that doesn’t value your contribution and join a business that would embrace your experiences with open arms.

Try to be realistic about your situation. It’s much better to say I’ve been booted out because they had other ideas and we were not aligned in our thinking than to say you’ve resigned suddenly and working notice from your garden. It might be that you have resigned and have been forced to work from home, as part of a confidentiality issue, but honesty is the best policy when speaking to a new employer.

Companies make changes all of the time at Director level and it’s not a big deal. You won’t be the only Director on the planet who’s taken a whack of cash and considered your new options. Few directors leave a business, many fall out of favour.

When it happens to you, there’s an automatic feeling of failure. Most of the changes are personality clashes, not performance issues. Sometimes a combination of both, but that being the case, why do so many get back to work relatively quickly afterwards? 

I hope this insight has been helpful and that you remember my observations.

About the author

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Simon Wilkins

Simon Wilkins

The Headhunter

simon@wilkins.today

07554 234 567