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

Six tweaks to make to enhance your career development trajectory

There is no golden formula that one can apply to be successful in their career but one can certainly make certain adjustments in their day to day attitude that can prove worthwhile in enhancing your skills set and worth in your career. Here are six tweaks that could help propel you forward in your career:

  1. Take pre – emptive action: Prevent things from happening before the wheels fall off. Put in place methods and procedures that will prevent a situation reaching crisis stage.
  2. Adopt a proactive mind – set: Stop reacting to things that are coming to you. Instead focus on taking positive steps to completing the task (s) at hand.
  3. Look at the bigger picture: Have the end goal in mind whenever you set out to do something. Ask yourself if the action you are about to take will generate the required results.
  4. Become solution focused: Always operate with a continuous improvement agenda. Even a minor change to a policy or process may trigger an improvement.
  5. Disconnect: When things go wrong, don’t panic and take it personally. Instead, take a step back to assess what went wrong and why and execute your solution orientated mind – set.

Working with a Recruiter: A Checklist for Candidates

Recruiters are typical, but quality recruiters are hard to find. Before you entertain a call from a recruiter proposing a life-changing career opportunity, it’s worth posing some of the following questions to make sure you are talking to the right individual who you feel comfortable speaking to.

Find out about their work: Find out about the company they work for, i.e. what is the company’s track record, especially about the opportunity they have approached you about. Also, delve deeper into their relationship with their clients, i.e. in what capacity are they representing their client or how long have they been working with their client.

Are there any other candidates in the process? Most recruiters won’t tell how many other candidates are being considered for the role but some do. Also, try asking how urgently the position needs to be filled. If they respond with unclear answers, it’s probably because the role has just gone live or is challenging to fill.

What is the opportunity? Don’t be tempted by the job title alone but find out about the nature of work the successful candidate will be doing, about the reporting lines and level of seniority. Insist on receiving a job specification via email from the recruiter. Get as much information on the role as possible.

What is the salary? Instead of asking what the pay is, ask what the ‘achievable’ salary is? Don’t waste time on discussing salary in detail and cut straight to the chase by indicating to the recruiter what level of salary you currently get. The recruiter will then be in a better position to tell you whether or not the pay will be in line with your expectations.

What is their background?  An awkward question to ask directly, but if you want the recruiter to help you land your dream job, you need to know what the credentials of this person are. Nine times out of 10, recruiters will be on LinkedIn, so this should be your first port of call when carrying out your due diligence.

What is the average feedback time? One of the major frustrations of both candidates and recruiters is the amount of time it takes to find out about the outcome of an application which unfortunately neither can do much about as the client controls it. Nevertheless, ask the recruiter if there is an average feedback time or if there are going to be any delays in getting feedback.

What is the interview process? Most good recruiters will tell you this automatically but if they don’t, then ask them to break down the interview process step by step, i.e. how many stages to the interview, what is the nature of the meeting – telephone or face to face or both, who are the interviewers, where and when will the discussion take place etc.

Why is the role available? This question should be asked in tandem with ‘what is the opportunity?’ Find out if it is a new role or a replacement. If it is a replacement, then ask why that is the case. If you don’t get a clear cut answer here, it might indicate that the client has some deeper employee engagement issue(s) that resulted in the role becoming available.

In summary, a good recruiter will know their client’s requirements inside out. Even if the role they are speaking to you about does not materialise with an offer, do make a point of keeping in touch with them. You never know there might be an even better opportunity for you later on.

 

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.

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. While 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.

The 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 is 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 meeting 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 meeting was CET. When arranging interviews between client and candidates overseas, communication is essential. It’s always good to double-check and if one is pedantic triple check.

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

In this example, the candidate had a full, transparent discussion with the head-hunter, and his motivations and aspirations were known. When it came to the telephone interview, the candidate told the Hiring Manager that they were not 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 position, 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”. That will allow a better understanding of their exact level of interest.

No contact after the 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 for a meeting to make the necessary arrangements but despite repeated attempts was 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

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

Quiet place during a telephone interview.

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

Failing to disclose information to the recruiter 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 problems 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.

 

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.

Holiday etiquette… before you leave the office

Reclama la Bounty: Mare, soare, cocotier

It’s surprising and disappointing that people do not know how to enjoy and relax on their holidays. They take their work mobiles with them, deliberately do not activate their out of office assistant yet tell their secretaries to tell anybody who asks for them that they are on holiday. Does that count as a holiday? It is acceptable that for some professions being available, 24-7 is unavoidable, but there should be limits. Holidays are for people to de-stress, and forget about the work. Your ‘me’ time is your own, with family, friends. Holidays are part of your employment contract, and they are for your benefit. There is no benefit to you if you are busy checking your work emails on the hotel sun lounger. But there are still ways you can both enjoy your holiday and keep up with work if you have to.

Use the Out of Office Assistant Properly – Do not just use the Out of Office to say that you are not going to be in the office. If you are going to a business meeting, say that you are going to a meeting, and tell others your schedule if need be so that they can call you at the appropriate time.

Specify Emergency Contact Details – If your company in a business emergency needs you and you are not carrying your work mobile with you, have a system in place that tells the company how to reach you should the worse happen.

Complete Pending Work – Try to complete any outstanding tasks before you go on your holiday. Do not leave any unfinished business. Even if you do, try to delegate to keep the momentum going so that projects stay on track. This way, your mind will be clear, and you will be safe in the knowledge that you have things under control.

Top 10 Life Survival Tips for the Realist

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Life can be pretty stressful. On an emotional level, though, stress is dangerous and begins to set in and manifest itself in all sorts of unpleasant forms. Here are ten tips to keep things simple and manageable.

  1. Be yourself – Don’t become a clone of somebody else. Take strength from your individuality. If there is pressure to perform, don’t try to imitate others or else you might end up failing. Find out what works best for you and stick to it.
  2. If things aren’t working out – Things get worse before they get better and often lousy news comes together. Remember that you have to have the darkness for the dawn to come, so be patient.
  3. Don’t strive for perfection – Sometimes it is sensible not to aim for the number 1 spot. Not positioning yourself to be number 1, would probably mean that you would never have to suffer from being knocked off the top, so play it friendly and relaxed.
  4. Don’t give up – The sooner you realise that success is tied to not giving up the better. Throwing in the towel is a lot easier to be the person who persists and responds when the going gets tough
  5. Don’t be reluctant to change -Some people hate change and as a result, miss out on potential opportunities. Only making a few adjustments to the way you think, or to your skills may open you up to a plethora of opportunities that otherwise might not arise.
  6. Happiness comes in small increments – Don’t expect to get quick outcomes when you put in the hard work. The path to success is littered with obstacles, small and large. Whatever you do, though, make sure to celebrate the slightest achievements in your life as that will get you into a happy, motivational mindset.
  7. Do something that doesn’t come easy – If you don’t go beyond your comfort zone, you won’t go very far. The difference between successful people and the not so successful is their ability to make sacrifices with their comfort zone. Push yourself to get what you want
  8. Have a plan in life and aim for it – It is crucial to have some goal in your life. Ask yourself what matters to you in your life and have the end in mind, i.e. what do you want to achieve by the time you reach 50. Goals can be perfect motivators and help create a disciplined mindset.
  9. Don’t be fazed by others – If somebody at work says something negative about you or takes a dig at you, don’t take it seriously. It might be that they see you from an entirely different perspective or are probably envious about you in some way. Either way, learn how to develop a thick skin.
  10. Take life as it comes – There’s no need to live life 100 mph. Please slow down and take each day as it happens, and don’t try to analyse the experience over. If you get caught up in it, you are going to set yourself up to fail.

So don’t let the pressures of life run you down. You are making the adjustments above will allow you to minimise the stressors, and instead, you will focus on the things that truly matter to you and make you happy.

The Most Inspiring Success Principle You Will Ever Read and Need

Inspiration 2

How do you motivate yourself?  For some people motivation flows naturally like a river. For others it is an elusive element in their lives. One thing I have learnt is that no matter how hard things get and in times of great need, it is often the words of others that can trigger a spark in you that can kick start your motivation and allow you to bounce back.  A blog post by Srini Rao (www.theskooloflife.com) has done just that for me. His post “Tips for Navigating the Waters of Life” is a tremendously inspiring and no nonsense look at dealing with life’s challenges. Below is a summarized version of the key points in his post.

Instincts

  • Your instincts are almost always right
  • Your instincts are the higher self speaking
  • If you go against instinct you are likely to land yourself in a complete mess

 Be Wary of the Steps You Take

  • If you decide on something, be absolutely 100 per cent sure you can see it through
  • Know when it’s just time to bail out when you feel you can’t manage it

Be Present

  • Don’t worry about getting ahead of others, focus on what you are doing right now – play your own game
  • Be present and the rest will take care of itself
  • Being in the present will allow you to achieve peak performance
  • Don’t focus too much on the future and don’t get caught up in the past, this is a recipe for mediocrity

Erase Failure and Get Back Up

  • You’re ability to deal with failure and setback will determine whether or not you have what it takes to achieve what you are truly capable of in your life
  • Often the second wave of opportunity is better than the first so don’t beat yourself up. Your friends are on their first wave of opportunity
  • If you keep critiquing yourself with others then you are likely miss out on the second wave of opportunity which is often better than the first

Be Patient

  • There is no need to live life 100 mph, just slow down because you will get where you want to go much faster and you are less likely to suffer a setback

Small is Better

  • Don’t make gigantic leaps because it is the small things in life that make the big difference and you will spend less effort for more results

 Timing is Important

  • Take advantage of opportunities that may not be present in the good times.
  • Tough economic times often drive people towards innovation and breakthrough and this just happens to be timing at work

Wave Selection is the Key

  • The key to success in any area of life is dependent on the choices you make so choose wisely
  • Catching the right wave will enable you to catch one wave after another
  • Choose the wrong wave and you will have to endure a hard time and work extra hard to pull your head out of the water

Laugh and Smile Everyday

  • The age old saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is still true
  • It is a medicine that you won’t find in any pharmacy and costs you absolutely nothing

Srini’s analogy of viewing life’s opportunities and chances as waves provides a fresh and sensible way of looking at life.  This may be the only success principle you need to follow. It has certainly allowed me to look at life from a different perspective, and it may do the same for you too.

Photo credit:  vagabond9