Author Archives: zabekhanblog

About zabekhanblog

Global Human Capital Strategist ♦ Striving to put the ‘human’ back into HR ♦ Employee Experience Advocate ♦ Critical Thinker ♦ Well Being & Self Care Advocate

Your Online Presence Matters: 5 LinkedIn Rules to Follow

More and more companies are turning to LinkedIn as the ‘go to’ place in finding prospective candidates and an increasing number of job seekers are seeing merit in being visible on the network. Creating a tidy, professional and well written LinkedIn profile now is absolutely key in getting noticed by recruiters. LinkedIn is a professional network but being part of the wider online social media family, people often forget that and end up producing profiles that might be better suited to other social networks. Here are 5 things you need to take on board when crafting a decent LinkedIn profile and presence:

Do not name and shame: There was a member I came across recently who posted on his LinkedIn update of how chuffed he was feeling at leaving his current company and could not wait until he started with his new (nicer) employer. Regardless of how you feel about your job or any other issue, do not make it personal. Remember if things were to take a turn for the worse after posting such updates, you are responsible for what you post online and will suffer the consequences.

Pictures: Do take the effort to post a decent picture of yourself as it will add weight to your LinkedIn profile. Some points to note would be to get the background right (light blue or white is ideal), avoid pictures that include you posing with members of your family, as someone else, with friends on a night out however sweet that may look to you, and avoid pictures that you look absolutely miserable in.

Language: Look out for typos and be clear and concise in your language. Explain what you do and avoid going off on a tangent. Use keywords to be found so that you come up easily on searches.

Contact Information: Let other know how you would like to be contacted. If you are not an active LinkedIn user, let others know. The more detail you give the better, and also save time getting unnecessary emails. Moreover, also keep contact preferences up to date.

Updates: Post relevant updates that your network will find appealing. Keep politics and religion out of it. If you want to post updates of that nature, you can do that on other online networks. LinkedIn is a professional network.

Remember, you want to stand out well on LinkedIn so keep it simple and sensible.

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7 Bizarre Behaviours Demonstrated by Candidates in the Interview Process

From crazy interview questions at Google to nerve shredding interviews on the BBC’s Apprentice, the interview process is a tense and daunting experience. Whilst it is rare that candidates will be subjected to this level of scrutiny, what is certain is that interviews can either bring out the very best or worst in candidates. Here are seven bizarre behaviours demonstrated by candidates before, during and after the interview process.

Candidate is asked about motivations

Interviewer: So what got you interested in this position?

Candidate: My parents told me to apply!

The outcome of this interview was not favourable. Despite the candidate ticking all the boxes on paper, the interviewer stated that this single response resulted in the candidate being rejected. Ill thought out answers are a sure fire to destroy interview success.

Turning up at the interview at the wrong time

In this example, a candidate turned up at his interview at BST (British Standard Time) when he was supposed to turn up at the interview at CET (Central European Time). The Hiring Manager wasn’t too happy about this and waited for the candidate for around 30 minutes. It wasn’t until the recruiter contacted the candidate on his mobile that it emerged that the candidate thought the interview was BST when in the confirmation email it was stated that the interview was CET. When arranging interviews between client and candidates overseas, communication is absolutely essential. It’s always good to double check and if one is really pedantic, triple check.

Telling a Hiring Manager during a telephone interview they are not really interested in the job

In this example, the candidate had a full, transparent discussion with the head-hunter and his motivations and aspirations were ascertained. When it came to the telephone interview, the candidate told the Hiring Manager that they were not really interested in the job but wanted to have a general discussion. So as a head-hunter when asking a candidate about their interest in a particular job, it is a good idea to ask them a questions along the lines of “on a scale of 1 to 10, how interested are you in this job” or “what is your level of interest going to be in a few weeks time”. That will allow a better understanding of their exact level of interest.

No contact after interview

In this example, the candidate interviewed with the client with positive feedback with the client inviting the candidate for a second (face to face) stage interview. The recruiter contacted the candidate to make the necessary arrangements but despite repeated attempts is unable to get hold of the candidate via mobile email, text. Result = radio silence and even more strange was that this particular candidate was still active on a social media site.

Candidate attending another call at the same time of telephone interview

Whilst it is understandable that unforeseen circumstances might prevent communication between the client and candidate, it is absolutely essential that all other calls are put on hold. The client has blocked out time to interview so common courtesy should be extended.

Not being in a quite place during a telephone interview

One of the golden rules in telephone interviewing is that a candidate must be in nice, quite private place when speaking to a recruiter and/or client. Background noise or a lack of privacy will hamper ability to give solid answers and jeopardise chances of further progression in the interview process.

Failing to disclose information to the recruiter and/or client

One of the pet hates of head – hunters and clients is a candidate failing to update them on issues that may be critical to their candidacy. Common issues include not being transparent about salary expectations, failing to inform of competing offers, interviews with other companies, interview availability. A little foresight will go a long way to avoiding problems further in the process.

 

Happiness is elusive but achievable

What makes people happy? Well that depends on individual circumstances. Some people are naturally happy in their outlook on life; others are not and have to find ways of becoming happy. If you are one of those people who fall in the latter category then I think you need to start from extracting happiness from the smaller things in life. This is what works for me. This could be looking forward to the weekend, looking forward to a holiday you have planned, watching your children grow up, meeting a deadline and finishing a project at work. As I see it, happiness is inter-connected with our human needs. Ask yourself what is it that you want from life? I believe the happiest people on the planet are those who are successful in their careers, and truly love what they do. They even look good in person. Having a job one enjoys and pays well can have quite a remarkable impact on one’s life. Personal growth through education and career advancement is the most potent way for self improvement. In this competitive age, it is essential that one renews their skills and education every few years. I have seen people who were at square one in their careers/professions in their early adult years but with years of hard work and some personal sacrifice they got their happiness. It’s never too late to rock and roll.

The Essence of Creativity – It Needs to Flow Correctly

Can you give me an example of your creativity’ is often a question asked by interviewers the world over? Almost all job descriptions these days list it as a character trait. Quite a lot of people struggle to answer this question but it may be more a case of understanding the very essence of creativity more than anything else. To be creative is to be innovative, solution orientated, adding value, and taking initiative. But it is also about passion – it’s about doing something you love. I truly believe that the most successful people in the world are those who like and love what they do. That’s where creativity flows from. Everything becomes second nature. If all this does not happen, then you cannot be creative.

But all this may not be your own fault. For one reason or another maybe the job or work you do started well but later turned out to be something else entirely. Maybe the office culture wasn’t right. There can be numerous reasons.  Some people do take the initiative and make a boring job more interesting by challenging themselves in solving the problems right under their noses. For others being creative is about doing something they love and being in the optimum environment.

Do not be surprised then that if it takes you several jobs or indeed a decade or more to realize your creative potential. It is all about being in the right place at the right time in the right frame of mind.  Creativity is like a chemical reaction. Certain elements such as passion, the right environment, meeting the right minded people, doing something you love, pouncing on the opportunities must be present for the creative juices to flow. When that happens nothing in the world can stop you achieving your goals and ambitions.

The Anatomy of a Job – Understanding each stage and taking it easy

A job represents different things to different people. A job provides sustenance, prosperity, growth, a realization of a worthy goal to name a few. I have always thought of a job as a vehicle that propels our life, and so it is made up of many key components. More importantly, you are the fuel that is used to drive this engine so it is absolutely important that the engine has the right quality of fuel and in sufficient quantity. The seven key components of a job are as follows:

Job Advertisement/Job Lead – The job advertisement is what generates your interest in a job. You read about the job description and decide whether you tick all the boxes in order for you to apply for the vacant position. That is why it is absolutely important you read the job description carefully and tailor your CV/application accordingly because you do not want it to end up in the discarded pile.

Interview – The make or break stage of the whole process. Some researchers have said that an interviewer will make his/her mind up whether to hire a candidate or not in the first 3 minutes of an interview. First impressions count, and if you can come across positive as soon as you step into the interviewer’s room the better. What is even more important is getting off to a good start when the interview questions come your way. In order to be really successful in interviews you have to know what you stand for and what you can bring to the table. The interviewer may start off with a common question such as ‘Tell me about yourself?’ Quite a lot of candidates struggle with this question. This is your opportunity to truly sell yourself. Think of this question like an elevator pitch for yourself. Have a few meaningful words and sentences committed to memory to really get your pitch flowing.

Contract/Offer of Employment – This is the moment you sign on the dotted line. It is an opportunity for you to review the fine details of the job. Does it fit your requirements? Are there any clauses? What are the terms and conditions? It is always a good idea to read through the contract several times before you sign it and send it back to the employer.

Induction – This is quite an exciting part of the whole job process. It can last anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks and depending on the nature of job can even be longer. The induction is designed to provide you with as much information about the specific job and company. It’s all about becoming acquainted with the house rules. You will be given information on health and safety issues, your holiday entitlement etc. Use this process to gain as much knowledge about the company’s policies and procedures as possible.

Performance Review – This is the nervous part of the entire project. However, it does not need to be that way. The important thing to remember is that the employer is basically looking to evaluate you in accordance with a set of pre-determined criteria relating to the job you were hired to do. The criteria for this depends on the type of job but in essence it revolves around core competencies and your attitude at work and the impact that has on company profitability.

Redundancy/Firing – This signals the end of the road for you but don’t take it in a bad way. The company has made the decision based on your performance review or has been forced by senior management to trim the staff count. Although this process can be very difficult to bear the important thing is to be proactive and figure out what you are going to do next. If you have a really good relationship with your manager, you can ask him/her if they can help you identify any job leads. Also use your network to your advantage because there is a hidden jobs market out there, it’s just a case of finding it.

In summary, starting a new job can be a really exciting experience. The first three months are considered to be toughest where you really have to showcase your abilities. It’s almost like a President’s first 100 days in charge. A solid start will lay a solid foundation for your future role in the company. By six months, you should be comfortable in your daily role. There will be challenges and there will be disappointments and setbacks along the way. The important thing is to remain focused and work hard. Your attitude will determine your altitude.

5 Reasons to Accept an Expat Assignment

Let’s face it, the West in the doldrums. High unemployment, high inflation, social and political unrest and ailing infrastructure are all common features and will be for the foreseeable future according to many analysts. Western governments won’t admit it but there is an analysis paralysis of what to do to turn economic fortunes around. In particular, the economic uncertainty in the UK is now an increasing factor why many British residents are opting to pack their bags in return for a brighter future overseas. Here are five reasons why you might choose to accept that overseas job offer:

The economy :

A lack of investment, stagnant job creation and an ailing industrial sector are causing alarm bells to ring in key government and business circles. The cost of doing business in the UK has gone up considerably with fuel costing companies a fortune and as a result many energy intensive industries are suffering substantially. Tata Steel for example has not made a profit in Europe for several years and SABIC Europe, backed by its Saudi parent is scaling back operations in the UK just to stay competitive.  Also, the UK has one of the highest levels of personal household debt in the world. If things don’t improve, many companies will disappear altogether.

Socio – political issues:

The immigration debate in the UK is fuelling multiple issues on both sides of the fence including an increased hostility towards immigrants and certain religious  groups , rise of far right groups, and a growing sentiment in public that immigration needs to be controlled. Some analysts have even linked immigration with the financial pressures facing the NHS and public services. Whilst that is anecdotal, a rising population has added to operational pressures on the NHS with the institution facing a staffing crisis and serious reputational damage due to a number of high profile failings across hospitals in the UK which continue to undermine confidence in the NHS. Education too is facing significant challenges with the cost of going to college/university rising and more and more school leavers thinking twice about whether to be saddled with a lifetime of debt or take up an apprenticeship or start their own business. The UK will fail to produce quality talent that companies in the UK so badly need if the rising cost of higher education is not addressed.

Creaking infrastructure:

A common question the UK tax payer is asking is “where is our money being spent?” Poor quality roads, ageing rail infrastructure and a lack of housing are putting pressure on the Government to reduce the deficit but at the same time making vital investment that is required to sustain thriving, modern cities. A report commissioned by housing charity Shelter stated that young people now need to save money for 30 years in order to put down a deposit for a house. This all does not bode well for future generations, and will lead to a disenfranchised electorate.

Better career opportunities:

Go east if you want better career opportunities and an improved quality of life. Ask many expats and that’s probably what they will tell you. The east is creating more jobs and at a faster rate, and governments are spending freely on infrastructure which has created stupendous levels of economic growth.  For example, it is believed that the GCC’s current rail infrastructure project will spawn a whole new railway services industry in the Middle East. Similarly, rising populations in the GCC region have spawned a growing healthcare industry in the region. If you choose to work in a tax free country like the UAE, Saudi Arabia or Qatar you have the opportunity to save money either through salary or bonuses (which still exists in the current climate), something that is otherwise a struggle in the UK.

The weather:

This year March was one of the coldest months in living memory and weather experts have recently declared that British summers are likely to be wet for the next decade.  British weather is and will be unpleasant for many years to come. This is not good news for people who like a bit of sunshine in their lives, and want to stay healthy.

Cultural exposure:

After spending several wonderful years in Dubai, the cultural experience was vast. What I learnt during my time living and working there is that now I have a better appreciation for and understanding of different cultures. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures where east and west co – exist peacefully. In a business, context, I have now become a more globally minded individual – having a better understanding of how business is conducted in a global hub like Dubai. Culture has certainly enriched my life.

The decision to accept an overseas job offer can be a daunting one for most. Some people like a sense of adventure and don’t think twice about making a move whilst others remain conservative about such a prospect. Whatever you decide to do though, make sure it makes financial sense for you and above all take your time to figure out whether or not you are comfortable living and being part of another country. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Don’t Be a Snob When It Comes to Hiring

The global economic crisis has triggered significant changes in the global labour market. Qualified people find themselves underemployed, mature workers are frozen out, graduates are struggling to get jobs, and disengaged workers are sitting tight in the hope that the market will rebound for them to make a move, and an increasing number of people choosing not to go to college/university .These are just a few of the trends that are reverberating the world over, especially in Western economies. Faced with an acute shortage of quality talent, Hiring Managers should not be too picky when it comes to making hiring decisions and instead think outside the box when sourcing candidates for job openings. Below are talent pools that Hiring Managers should not ignore:

Individuals returning to work: Mothers who have taken time off to have children and want to get back into work have high levels of motivation and desire. If you are willing to spend some time and effort to reintegrate them back into the work routine, they can prove to be useful hires. Similar applies to ill people who have recovered from an illness and want to return to work.

The unemployed:  Many experienced individuals have been frozen out of the market altogether through no fault of their own. This is evident in the banking and financial services sector that was the worst affected at the height of the financial crisis. So don’t make assumptions about the unemployed! You may just be able to unearth a gem.

Army veterans: Ask anybody who has been in recruitment and they will tell you that ex – army personnel make really good hires. They are highly disciplined, professional and can possess a wide skills set. If you are a small to medium sized business in particular, this talent pool can add significant value to your company.

The under qualified: Last year French engineering giant ALSTOM announced that they welcome applications from individuals who are only a 70% fit for the job. The company stated that it would pay for engineers to train up to a certain level – this is a game changer and an innovative solution to tackling skills shortages within the engineering sector. So next time you receive an application from someone working at McDonalds, don’t be quick to dismiss them as unsuitable. Successful and thriving companies develop and nurture talent.

Overseas candidates: Tight immigration rules in Western economies mean that companies will find it harder to attract quality talent. Multinationals such as Infosys have expressed concern that they will not be able to hire the quality talent they need for the UK. Draconian and restrictive employment practices have also rendered professionals such as doctors, lawyers, engineers from overseas doing menial jobs in the UK. If nothing is done to challenge these policies and practices, then Western companies will continue to suffer skills shortages.

The over – 50s: It is a widely accepted misconception that if you are over 50, you are on the scrap heap. As a result of this many companies turn a blind eye to CVs. A disconnect with reality prevails as companies are failing to understand that due economic pressures and the pensions crisis, the modern workforce will get greyer and older. Research has shown that over – 50s have higher levels of engagement and have a stronger appetite for work.

There will continue to be significant challenges to sourcing talent if certain attitudes do not change. Innovative thinking is required if the Hiring Managers really want to tackle the skills shortages.