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Saturday, 27 July 2019

It’s moving time.

After many years, thousands of words, some of which might even have made sense at one time...I’m moving from Blogger.

It’s time to tidy up my digital footprint and bring some consistency to everything. So, from Friday 2nd August 2019, I’ll now be blogging from 

The website is mainly to complement the podcasts and summarise the key points, but I’ll also post blogs there. I’ll continue to repost here but that’s going to be my basecamp from the 2nd. 

Thank you to all who visit here. I hope to see you there. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Ghosting busting

I noticed an article a few weeks ago with a topic along the lines of 'Ghosting; an increasing trend in recruitment.'

The crux of the article was that many HR departments and recruiters are increasingly distraught and perplexed by candidates who having been successful and offered jobs are not responding to the offers. They, the candidates, fail to make any further contact.
They are ghosting.

(If you haven't come across this term before it means the ending of all communication without explanation.)

My immediate thought was 'Recruiters and HR you poor dears, how awful.'

I lie. 

My first reaction was to snort with derision, laugh out loud and then think...well I won't write what I actually thought as this is a public forum but as, a general synopsis of my position, my sympathies do not lie with those of HR or Recruiters. At all.

What, I want to ask many HR teams or Recruiters is, 'Are you ignorant or inept?' Incidentally the two are not mutually exclusive and you can be both. Simultaneously.

For many job applicants the job search and application process goes like this;

Spend many hours looking for suitable jobs.
Create resume/CV

And repeat, and repeat.

What is it with organisations who cannot be bothered with the simple courtesy of acknowledging job applications and, if the candidate is not successful, sending them an email telling them exactly that?

I ask the question again Recruiters/HR. Are you ignorant or inept?' Or both.

Many of these organisations bang on about 'their people are their greatest asset' until, of course they aren't and redundancies are announced. Then it's a whole different approach to those assets, mainly along the lines of 'you still here then?'

Organisations write job opportunities in breathless terms. 'A unique and exciting opportunity...we want someone passionate about...a vibrant company to work for' and so on. They naturally want to attract candidates of the highest calibre for the role.

For serious candidates it's then a case of researching the organisation and crafting their resume/CV and submission. This is not a trivial task. The process can be complicated by different organisations having on-line application systems where you have to create accounts, log in, enter all your information and supporting narrative in different ways each time. 

And then...
You hear nothing more and have to assume, at some point, the application isn't going anywhere. Is that time one week, three weeks, a month, two months? For example last year, a company that is in the 'Sunday Times Best Employers to work for', failed to respond to my application and then, after 6 months, emailed me and called me for an interview with 48 hours notice with no explanation. Do you think that impressed me?

Job aggregator sites have a huge role to play in this as well. You've probably used one, let's not mention names but indeed you will have. They often have a 'responsive employer' mark to indicate the prospective employer will give you an answer. They will? They do? Well I'm not sure what time span they they use as a SLA as I'm still waiting for even one of them to get back to me.

Now, recruiters and HR may whinge and get defensive and say that they have hundreds of candidates and they can't respond to each and every one. 

To which I say to all of this, to be polite, nonsense.

It is not difficult to let candidates know the outcome, it really isn't.

First of all, and this is totally FREE, put in the original job advert 'If you haven't heard from us within X amount of time from submitting your application we are sorry but you haven't been successful.' Amazing. You can manage candidates' expectations for zero cost.

Secondly it does not require any new equipment or software. I take it you have a PC, Excel and Outlook? You are good to go. In fact it is extremely easy to create a database of applicants for a role and send out a mail merge saying 'Sorry you didn't make the cut.' If you are struggling, I'll show you how. Pay me and I'll do if for you. And please don't go on about 'we don't have the staff to do this' either as that falls firmly into the 'ignorant' and 'rude' category. If you are asking people to spend time applying, and if you want the most able candidates, you should, at the very least, manage your end of the process with corporate grace, style and humility. 

Thirdly, if you have an on-line application portal, then for the love of god, activate the rejection process. I have, in a major employer's application portal (and this organisation aspires to be in the 'Best Employer' category) an application from over 2 years ago that is still 'Currently under review.' There's being thorough in a review but 2+ years seems excessive. I know that their system has a built in template for rejections for jobs. So press the button someone. 

I could name names, and I sure many of you could too, of those organisations who have acted like I describe, act like I describe. And I don't understand why they seem to be content to appear to be ignorant, inept or both to the very people they are trying to recruit. And, should you fail to be chosen (which in my case clearly demonstrates a woeful lack of ability and imagination of behalf of the recruiter) then that leaves a sour taste for those who were ghosted.

I am not condoning ghosting from either the applicant or recruiters/HR. There has to be respect shown by both for the process and for the effort involved. However it does seem to be poetic justice that the very people who have perpetrated ghosting on candidates for so long now are complaining it's happening to them. 

Nope, still can't feel any sympathy.

For both candidate and organisation I ask that you always show mutual respect during the process. 

It's a small world and you may meet again in different circumstances.

Don't let that ghosting come back to haunt you.

The list of ghosting organisations I've encountered is a very long one but let me name a number who have demonstrated best practice in the recent past. 

Birmingham University
The UK Civil Service
Red Snapper
Royal Shakespeare Company
Thames Valley Police

Monday, 15 July 2019

I've finally worked out who I am. I'm Woody. From Toy Story.

Have you seen Toy Story 4?

Well you should, as well as the other 3 in the franchise. 
Yes I know that sounds bossy but they are just so good. I agree with the critics that TS4 is the best, and no I wasn't sniffling at the end, it was the air conditioning in the cinema causing my eyes to water, I'm sure it was.

The Toy Story narrative works on so many levels, for kids and for adults. I have nothing but admiration for the script writers. I read that they are never afraid to just dump whole story lines or even entire plots if they don't meet their exacting standards. No problem with sunk costs in Pixar. Kill your darlings is very much front of mind and, of course, it shows in the standard of film that results. The franchise has gone from excellent to perfect.

What resonated for me, and I'm sure for many coming up to the end of their careers, voluntarily or otherwise, is Woody's overwhelming desire to not become obsolete, boring or special as a toy and not being able to attract the attention of a child anymore. Of course there's a lot more going on in the script than that but, essentially, it is that fear that defines the movie.

I see in that the role of a job. There comes a point in everyone's life when you have to leave the stage (not in that very, very final way we hope for a long time) but we have to retire, leave the job, leave the role we had for...well, a new, as of yet undefined role. Woody faces this as he meets back up with his great friend Bo Peep who has left the world of children and being a cherished toy to become self sufficient, finding herself a new role in the world. 'Who needs a kid's room when you have all of this?' she says looking over a huge fairground. Woody battles with this conflict. What is he if he isn't that child's toy anymore? Is he defined only by that? If he is not that, then what is he?

It's hard losing your job at anytime and even harder as an older worker. And hard having to take a lesser role, as most do, just to get back into employment. I'm sure for many there's a sense of resentment at having been put in this position by The Man. But game face on of course.

If you've caused seas to rise and civilisations to fall, I am using an metaphor here naturally, then the prospect of that 'fall' is daunting. I have an acquaintance, a senior manager, who was strongly 'encouraged' to leave their organisation of 30 years because they were too O.. No they didn't use the 'you're too OLD' phrase, they are after all a respected and multinational employer (but of only young people it appears) and the HR department too wise to get caught in that particular employment tribunal but that's what it came down to and there are many legitimate ways to make employed life difficult as HR know (don't you). Now unemployed for over a year that acquaintance is struggling with their revised place in world as a result. They have bought a new car, an expensive marque, even though they do few miles at the moment, because they cannot give up that sense of assumed prestige that they believed the previous role gave them. Of course it's only in their head, nobody else is interested.

But it is important, as Bo Peep has already found and Woody comes to realise, that you have to redefine what you are or be stuck in something that has moved on without you.

Those who are older and have been long term unemployed naturally want to regain their footing in the workplace, retain a sense of purpose, still want a challenge, want to do something worthwhile and which have outcomes they identify with. Digging metaphorical holes and filling them back in again day after day is not fulfilling. As we go through life our needs and wants change. When we are younger we are building our careers and as older workers maybe we start reflecting and thinking of giving back, working in an industry we really care about or downsizing. But that doesn’t mean switching our brains off. 

That sense of accomplishment is essential to a healthy, rewarding work experience and positive outputs for the employer. If we don’t feel pride and forward momentum in the tasks we tackle and our own development we will end up becoming less creative, productive and engaged in our work.That doesn’t help the employer achieve its goals and it can further damage our chances at landing the opportunities and roles we want.

So...I have become Woody. I understand that I will may never regain my senior management role (but please do feel free to call anytime with offers), I have redefined my purpose (and podcasting is part of that as is the pro bono work I'm happy to do, the travelling I've done and will continue to do). I believe I have moved on.

'Who needs a kid's room when you have all of this?'

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Resume/CV, apply, silence. Resume/CV, apply, silence. Repeat ad nauseam.

Resume/CV, apply, silence. Resume/CV, apply, silence. Repeat ad nauseam.

Sound like your job search?

Then you might need to rethink your strategy.

Also on Spotify, Tune In radio and many others.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Brand. New

After many years of blogging and two years podcasting it's time for a new brand and look.

I've changed my logo to more accurately reflect what the podcast and blog is about.

The challenges of finding employment as an older worker.

That's a problem that affects many - and you'll find that from your mid 30's onwards.

Oh yes you will.

So here we are. The new look.