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.

Creatures of Habit


For as long as I can remember, the same topics and issues present themselves as one year finishes and another begins.

Television and radio is largely to blame. 

It’s the time of year I find very difficult to engage with. This is because I’m a non-conformist. I don’t like to conform to the external pressures and suggestions by media.

Advertisements for supermarkets and their Christmas fayre,  brimming with a hundred ways to add a stone in a week, are constantly on our screens before Christmas. These highly charged advertisements create a desire to purchase things you don’t really need or would ever buy at any other time of the year. Consequently, supermarkets are clogged with shoppers and their over-filled trolleys. 

The best part is that we are back in the shops within two days doing the same thing! Just in case the fridge is not quite as full as you’d like, the shops reopen and we can now fill the small spaces available between the silver wrapped Turkey and ham. 

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Simon Wilkins

Simon Wilkins

The Headhunter


07554 234 567