The working parent: maternity, SPL & the untapped pool

Discussing some of the issues faced by today’s working parent…

Maternity returners are lacking confidence & left unsupported

Less than 1/5 of management-level professionals feel confident about re-entering the workplace after their maternity leave, reports People Management.

What’s more, over 1/3 of this group consider leaving their role due to feeling ‘unsupported and isolated on their return’. 90% additionally say their company provide no formal support or ‘returnship’ focus whatsoever.

The CIPD encourages businesses to provide senior level job-sharing opportunities, alongside increased flexible working, to further support these employees.

Shared parental leave take-up remains incredibly low

Of the 285,000 couples who qualify for shared parental leave (‘SPL’) annually, only 2% take advantage of this opportunity. Why is this and are employers to blame (asks HR Magazine)?

The article cites a variety of possible factors. These include:

  • Mothers not actually wishing to share their leave with their partners
  • Health factors, including the mother’s need to recover from pregnancy or birth
  • The perceived impact on fathers’ careers
  • Cultural values around ‘being the breadwinner’
  • Lack of SPL promotion at work
  • Complex workplace policies

The single working parent: the ‘untapped talent pool’

Single working parents are more likely to be unemployed than any other primary employee group, says HR Review. In fact, their unemployment rate is now two and a half times that of the British average.

Unfortunately, the new-employment rate for the single working parent has actually declined over the past five years.

These stats come from Indeed – and the company is advising businesses to consider the group as a major untapped talent pool. With 845,000 national vacancies to fill, and record national employment rates, they suggest this may be one possible solution to overcoming the skills shortage.

Once again, the notion of increased flexible and remote working is discussed.

They also reference disabled and minority ethnic employees as further talent pools. Positively, national employment rates for both of these groups have increased over the past five years.

Appoint welcomes recruitment enquiries from each of the discussed employee groups, as well as those looking to do more to attract and support them. For initial advice, please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us via the bath.info address. Here’s what to include in your cover email as a candidate.



Job vacancies: record highs or figures falling?

What does the number of job vacancies tell us about the state of the employment market? Well, the answer could depend on your chosen source…

Two different news items published only a day apart suggest that:

a) Advertised job vacancies are falling and reflect a ‘cooling off’ period 

Source: Recruiting Times & Adzuna

Adzuna has been recording its own data since 2012. However, it will not have access to the same quantity of data as our next source.

That said, it’s still of national interest as it considers the UK as a whole. Perhaps most interestingly, these findings also report on competition levels; stating that application numbers have fallen to an all-time low since Adzuna’s records began 6 years ago.

b)  Job vacancies have reached a record high since 2001

Source: HR Review & the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Conversely, the ONS reports that job vacancy numbers have reached the highest level recorded in 17 years. Although these figures are taken from the August to October 2018 period; Adzuna’s refer to the ‘latest data’ which may well be exploring the past month.

This report also reflects a talent shortage, stating that ’employers across many sectors are continuing to experience fundamental challenges in finding the staff and skills that they need.’

What the REC has to say on this topic…

As you may well know, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation also conducts regular research.

Their latest press release explored October’s figures and found:

  • Staff appointment numbers rose at their fastest rate last month.
  • Job vacancies ‘expanded at the softest pace’ for almost two years in October, yet staff demand was ‘historically sharp’.
  • Overall candidate availability fell at its steepest rate in nine months.

Considering all these findings, it appears that there is greater consensus across the sources than it might have appeared at first glance.

Certainly, each agrees that businesses are facing skills shortages, with HR Review reporting that “employers can expect to face continued recruitment and retention pressures and need to prioritise workforce planning.”

Looking to overcome the skills shortage?



Simple workplace happiness hacks

When you think of finding happiness at work, you might picture a promotion, more rewarding project, or achieving your ultimate job goal. Yet what if we were to tell you that there are some simple steps you can take to make your current job at least a little happier? Not only that, but you could also bring happiness to your colleagues and/or employees by executing this newfound knowledge…

The recent Office Happiness Index suggests that this is indeed the case.

HR News shared the Index findings, also revealing that 75% of workers feel happy at work.

The leading happiness hacks are:

  1. Saying ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to colleagues. Receiving such acknowledgement from bosses and clients tops the list for 85% of professionals. However, we can all show our appreciation whatever our job role.
  2. Taking your lunch-break and encouraging others to do the same. Despite this being ranked the second happiest moment of each working week, we know that so many people aren’t taking their breaks. Managers need to ensure their team feels able to do so, finding ways to reduce strain where needed. Top tip: booking a temp can relieve a lot of pressure in periods of high demand/workload.
  3. Treating your colleagues to cakes, pastries, or similar. This simple gesture wins over 80% of people, plus it can be combined with the next most popular happiness hack…
  4. Asking someone how their weekend went. Even better, ask someone you don’t always chat with.
  5. Finding a way to fix that faulty piece of office equipment. A moment of bliss, according to 73% of participants!

You can also beat the biggest pet peeves by…

  1. Doing point 5. above! Yes, this leads the list of office peeves, so prioritise the fix (or find someone who can!).
  2. Checking your emails and comments for all hints of the ‘passive aggressive!’ It’s easy to let personal stresses spill into your comms with your colleagues, yet it’s certainly not the way to vent your concerns or win people over.
  3. Avoiding unnecessary meetings. If you’re calling a meeting, make sure it has a clear purpose and timeframe and only invite those who really need to be there.
  4. Cleaning your crockery! Dirty coffee mugs and cutlery left on desks are considered the bane of office life for 65% of workers. Get in the habit of clearing as you go – and win yourself some brownie points by offering to lend a hand to an even busier team member!
  5. Considering your temperature needs. It’s hard to make everyone happy with this one. What’s comfortably warm for one is irritatingly chilly for another…and yet far too hot for someone else. Wearing layers can help, plus asking around before you fiddle with the thermostat or whip open the windows. Managers should also consider the team’s individual seating and supply needs.

Talking of seating and supplies, the article also shares insights regarding the types of offices that create the most happiness.

In other happiness news…

The UK is considered one of the 30 happiest countries in the world. However, it scored 19th place and only just made the list when it came to work-life balance (28th). This was despite coming in the top 10 for salaries (9th). The top three happiest countries each had higher work-life balance scores than the UK’s:

  • Happiest nation: Finland (11th for work-life balance)
  • 2nd happiest: Norway (7th)
  • 3rd happiest: Denmark: (4th)

Elsewhere, it was reported that males born between the mid-1960s to early-1980s are the least happy working group. Public sector workers and those paid hourly as opposed to by salary also fared worse on their happiness scores.


Ready for the challenge of a new role? Check out the latest jobs in Bath & Somerset. You can also use these tips to take your job search to an expert level!



How EQ could enhance your salary!

Why one particular year-old study could inspire you to work on your EQ! 

We recently saw a Guardian career piece pop up as a recommended read. The piece claimed that EQ (AKA ’emotional intelligence’ or ‘EI’) could be ‘the secret to a high salary’.

In order to reach this conclusion, the Amercian study explored students’ emotional intelligence and then tracked their career path over the coming decade. As you can gather from the above, the students with the greatest EI also had higher incomes.

How EQ increases earnings…

Essentially, the salary effect is achieved by understanding how others are feeling and then using this to ‘accurately motivate and influence their behaviour’. Although the idea of influencing others may sound sinister, it can also be highly positive.

The research showed that people with high emotional intelligence make many friends in their work, allowing them to tap into a wider knowledge base, which boosts their performance (and salary!).

It also proved positive from a people management/mentoring perspective, as high EQ workers are more attuned to the needs and feelings of others. Helping employees and mentees feel ‘heard’.

How is emotional intelligence actually defined?

You’ll find a full definition here. Really, it comes down to being self-aware and able to identify and help manage emotions – both your own and those of others.

Wondering how high your EQ is?

There’s no single specific EI test. However, Pyschology Today offers a fairly comprehensive free emotional intelligence test. They predict this takes around 45-minutes to complete. At the end of it, you then receive a percentage score and a brief overview; without so much as entering a name or email address. Anyone wanting to receive a full report with advice can then pay around $10 for it.

This isn’t to say everyone’s onboard with the EI-salary connection…

If you take another look at the original Guardian article, you’ll see it’s received over 90 comments. Many of which are highlighting the successes of people with questionable emotional intelligence levels!

There’s certainly truth in this, however, what’s the harm in working on your own EQ levels? Even if it doesn’t immediately (or ever directly!) increase your income, it offers many benefits.

Forbes discusses some of these.

Further reading for furthering your emotional intelligence!

  1. In a separate Forbes post, they share 5 ways to develop your EQ.
  2. Medium has an interesting question-filled article to help you to work towards a greater score.
  3. Balance also shared 9 useful steps.

One final EQ tip…read more and read differently!

Don’t only read the research and news articles that strike you as immediately relevant to your life. Get in the habit of seeing what’s happening in the world, and what other demographics are saying and feeling.

Recruitment news makes for a perfect example! There are so many studies which highlight what matters most to employees and employers, what professionals fear or strive for, the similarities and differences between different groups, and the steps we can all take to reach our goals. We publish many such stories on our News blog. Why not pick a post that you wouldn’t usually read and spend some time considering the emotions experienced by the news item/study subjects, how you feel throughout, and how you would express yourself in the given situation?

Get in the habit of doing this often and let it extend to the audio and social media that you also consume.



Half of workers in the wrong job!

Is your job the right one for you? Two separate UK studies suggest that 1/2 of UK workers might be in the wrong job…or even the wrong career.

Study no. 1: almost half of UK workers in the wrong job

Our first study comes from the CIPD, as reported by HR Review. They found…

  • 49% of people don’t have the right skill-set to match their current role: either being under- or over-skilled for their job.
  • 37% fall into the ‘over-skilled’ category, able to take on ‘more demanding duties’ than their roles require.
  • Conversely, 12% are in positions that they are not fully equipped to carry out.

As you can see, this study views the right and wrong job as one based on an appropriate skill-set. The CIPD also shared some interesting findings surrounding educational level.

It is reported that we have one of the ‘most skilled workforces’  in the world, as 42% of people hold a degree-level qualification. That said, we are also the nation with the highest proportion of roles that do not require degrees (or, for that matter, any lower level qualifications!).

  • 1/3 of employees reported that although they need a degree in order to qualify for their job, they don’t actually need one to complete their role to an effective standard.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, even those with degrees could fall into the ‘under-skilled’ category for their particular role.

Do these findings matter? Does it all even out in the end? HR Review’s report would suggest that this skill-set disparity is an issue as it can have a negative consequence on employees’ satisfaction. And we all know how employees’ experiences also directly affect staff retention levels and business growth.

Study no. 2: half of British workers may be in the wrong career

Research conducted by First Direct (and published by the Independent) tackles the question of career satisfaction more directly. We hear…

  • More than 1/2 of respondents are unsure if they are in the right career. 47% do not enjoy their ‘current line of work’.
  • Additionally, 47% do not feel fulfilled by their career and 40% intend to change jobs within two years.
  • Many of the dissatisfied employees are considering alternative career paths.

These results are said to apply to all age groups/generations. What’s more, the motivation for change goes beyond pay rates and towards increased skills development and job satisfaction.

How to know whether you’re in the right job or career for you…

Here’s where things get really tricky. Do you measure how closely your qualifications and skills match your current job role? Do you look to how happy you feel on a Monday morning? Or do you read lists such as Forbes’ ‘10 signs you’re in the right job and 10 signs you’re not?!’

The chances are you know the answer if you’re at either extreme of job satisfaction level. So, for both those who are excited to get to work 99% of the time and those who spend most of their day miserably clock-watching. However, if you fall somewhere between the two, things may not be so black and white.

Only you know your individual measures regarding what matters most for your job and career, and how this translates into ‘right or wrong’.

  • Regularly browsing the latest jobs in Bath (and surrounding!) may help illuminate things further. Is there a position that better suits your current skills and goals? Do you feel excited to apply for a role?
  • If it’s a complete career change that you’re dreaming of, this is the guide to read. It offers realistic advice for anyone who doesn’t already have multiple qualifications/career experiences to casually switch between (not to mention those who don’t have an endless pot of money to fund the career change process!).

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on how you know when you’re in the right or wrong job. Is it an instinct or do you have set criteria to work to? Let us know by TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.



FAQ: not enough experience to write a CV?

Does your work history provide you with enough experience to write a CV? This question directly follows on from our last post. If you haven’t seen it yet, we asked whether traditional CVs could be usurped by social media applications.

LondonLovesBusiness also reported on this topic and shared an interesting stat:

65% of people aged 18-24 fear they don’t have enough experience to warrant a CV…

This equates to 172 respondents out of the 264 person pool. A small survey population, yet a sizeable concern.

It’s not only those fresh out of education who may share this worry. Perhaps you have spent little time in the workforce due to caring responsibilities, illness or other factors, or maybe you’ve had plenty of work experience yet just not within the field that you’re currently searching for work.

Whatever is at the root of your concern, don’t let it stop you from writing a CV. It remains the most popular way for employers to consider you for a role.

How to write a CV when you don’t believe you have enough experience:

  • You should still start your process with a spot of prep. This is the perfect starting point!
  • There’s no reason you can’t use the usual/classic CV layout either. You’ll find some pointers within our CV Advice PDF.
  • Now to write your CV…

1) Start by detailing your career/job history so far:

  • Not long left education? Part-time work undertaken throughout your studies is also relevant. Paper rounds less so! If you’ve never had a part-time job, read on for more ideas.
  • For those who aren’t recent graduates/school leavers, you would only usually look to detail the last 10-15 years. Again, it’s important to ensure you’re using a modern CV format (as linked above) to keep your curriculum vitae looking as accessible and appealing as possible.
  • If your job history is more broken, i.e. you’ve worked in recent years yet you’ve also had career breaks to undertake other responsibilities, this is the article for you.
  • Finally, if you’ve been in work consistently yet want a career change, head straight to this post.

2) Now for some deeper brainstorming. Consider all other ‘non-job’ roles that have bolstered your skill-set. Among other ideas, this may include…

  • Voluntary work: through your recent studies, through your child’s school/extracurricular activities, and/or via local organisations and charities, etc.
  • Any work experience placements or internships.
  • Personal or team projects. Again, whether this falls under curriculum-based projects or personal initiatives.

3) Make it clear, make it relevant!

  • Just as you saw when reading about the Skills & Achievements Master-list, your CV isn’t a place just to list what you’ve done. It’s the place to show off your transferable skills and attributes. To this end, make sure everything you’re discussing demonstrates this. Give examples and shout about your accomplishments!
  • If you’re sending your CV as a general applicant, make sure it’s relevant to the sorts of jobs that you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a specific role, ensure it is tailored to demonstrate the skills advertised.

So, do you have enough experience to write a CV?

  • Yes you do! Of course, you also want to make sure you’re targeting the right jobs. To really boost your application approach, read this in full (and follow as many of the tips as you can)!


Psychology for career success!

Understanding some simple aspects of social psychology could make all the difference to your job search. Not to mention your future career success and relationships!

Today we’ll explore two such elements: the type of confidence you should aim to display at work, plus how the ‘liking gap’ could already be affecting your career.

Psychology essentials: the ‘right’ sort of confidence

Our first focus comes from Thrive Global, quoting research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Arianna Huffington founded Thrive Global to help people boost their personal and business performance while avoiding burnout.

What we learned from this piece:

  • Perceived confidence is at the root of success. People choose to work with those they deem more confident. This is because a sense of confidence “increases our belief in someone’s competence.”
  • However, this isn’t to say that over-confidence wins. In fact when confidence appears unfounded, and actions don’t reflect words, it actually has the reverse effect. In this case, people choose to work with those who appear “more cautious but realistic”. You could say that this is the real takeaway from the article. But you’d be missing one major point…
  • Confidence (whether unfounded or not!) always wins when it is communicated through nonverbal cues as opposed to spoken means.

Nora Battelle, the post’s author, goes on to explain why. It all comes down to the fact that the nonverbal indicators don’t make any precise promises. Meaning one infers confidence without the risk of letting anyone down.

This can prove powerful at every stage in our careers. Knowing how to project confidence non-verbally can boost your interview success and make people want to work with you more often. This, in turn, could lead to further promotions and ongoing career opportunities. So how do you display this confidence?

Battelle shares 4 non-verbal psychology basics in her post. While these may not be new to you, you may observe new benefits from employing them!

Psychology essentials: are you victim of the liking gap?

How often do you meet someone new and come away convinced that they don’t like you? Perhaps you feel you didn’t show yourself in the best light, causing their first impression to be less than favourable?

Well, according to another team of psychologists hailing from Cornell, Harvard, Yale and the University of Essex, this is by no means uncommon.

In fact, when we meet someone new…

  • They actually tend to “like us and enjoy our company more than we assume.” They also come away with fewer negative impressions than our post-conversation ruminations would leave us to believe.
  • Furthermore, it’s normal for people to believe that they like their conversation partners more than they like us. This is the ‘liking gap’, as reported by Stylist.

So what does this have to do with careers? Potentially a lot, for those worst affected. After all, how keen are you to put yourself forward to those that you feel perceive you negatively? Will you willingly seek out that person and spark up another conversation, share an idea or volunteer for a project? Could you be put off from returning for an interview, already negatively predicting the outcome?

This is a powerful message to keep in mind at every stage of your job search and career. Re-read this post every time you find yourself dwelling on first impressions and that person you’re convinced didn’t warm to you!

Used together, these insights could be just what you need to boost your self-belief ready for your next round of interviews. We’re fascinated to hear your thoughts on these psychology findings; you can always keep in touch via TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Further reading:



Job-seekers missing out!

Are you one of the many job-seekers missing out on career opportunities because of misunderstanding the skills required?

HR News reports that more than 1/3 of candidates have not made a job application due to not understanding the skills required for the advertised role.

An additional 46% say they struggle to identify which skills they should be honing in on throughout their recruitment approach. Right from their initial job applications to interview day.

8% don’t even know where to start (or wouldn’t make any effort whatsoever!) when considering the skills described in job ads.

It’s not only job-seekers missing out…

Employers are also potentially suffering as a result of this. After all, a fantastic candidate may not apply for a role that they would be more than suitable for, if only they could see that they were!

So, who’s responsible for this problem? Both parties have an opportunity to resolve it.

Job-seeking candidates:

We discuss how important this issue is in Day 4 of these job hunting tips. We also introduce you to a simple process to help get you started. If there are skills or phrases that you’re unsure about, why not research them before dismissing the vacancy entirely? Ask a trusted friend, Google the expression, and/or check with your Recruitment Consultant.

Furthermore, don’t shy away from making an application if you almost tick all the requirements. Perhaps there’s a computer program discussed that you’ve not used, yet you’ve worked with a competitor product. Why not highlight your success with this product, make sure you note how it relates to the advertised package, and promote how quickly you are able to adapt to new systems?  The same approach can also be applied to less tangible skills and experiences.

This isn’t to say you should apply for any old job you see! If you don’t understand most or any of the items discussed in the ad, it’s likely that you’re yet to gain the experience required (see Day 5 of these tips). Saving your time by not applying for these jobs presents you with more time to invest in the ads that you most closely match.

Recruiting businesses:

Are your job specs bursting with unnecessary jargon? Are your skills descriptions too vague, flowery or obscure for ‘outsiders’ to decipher?! And/or are you advertising nice-to-have skills as absolute musts?

If you respond ‘yes’ to any of the aforementioned, you may be missing out on some excellent candidates. Take another look at your job ads and see how you can tidy them up.

It’s not always easy to promote a job opportunity when you’re on the inside looking out. Why not consult with a trusted recruitment agency in your field to enhance your staff attraction offering? The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has a handy Member directory to make this process easier.

Call the office today on 01225 313130 to discuss your recruitment needs.



Career priorities: what matters most?

What are your career priorities? The Oxford Open Learning Trust has researched the factors deemed most important when looking for a new job…

The top five considerations currently include:

  1. Salary/pay (64%)
  2. Working hours (55%)
  3. Working location / Personal interest or enjoyment (tied at 50%)
  4. Job security (40%)
  5. Working environment (37%)

You can find the full top 10 over at HR News.

Career priorities: working hours

The second place spot particularly caught our attention. Not only because it was discussed by more than half of respondents, yet also the way it chimes with other research on this topic.

Over on the Independent, we hear how more than 1/2 of British workers would prefer to move away from the standard ‘9 to 5’ job. Instead, they would welcome the opportunity to either:

  • Start work before 9am, enabling them to finish before 5pm (57%)
  • Work longer hours in order to shorten the length of the working week (48%)

As HR News suggests, professionals would clearly like to carve out some extra time for themselves in a bid to achieve an improved work-life balance.

Looking outside the UK

Have other countries managed to achieve this balance? The stats would suggest so, with countries offering the most flexible working opportunities also scoring higher on employee happiness and engagement ratings.

Identifying your own career priorities

This is an aspect we highly recommend spending some time thinking about. Especially if you’re ready to search for a new job, or think you may be ready to do so soon.

Knowing your priorities really helps you refine your job search; especially if you’re considering one of a few possible career paths.

You’ll see this topic is discussed further in our 7 Days of Job Hunting Tips…an essential guide for anyone wanting to stand out from the (candidate) crowd!



UK salary news roundup

Sharing three of the latest salary news items from around the web. These pieces cover the national payrise forecast, the well-paid jobs that don’t require a degree, and the possible job-switch effect…

Salary news #1: a national pay rise

Source: HR News

Half of all employers surveyed intend to offer their team a pay rise of more than 2% within the next twelve months. It’s promising to read that these findings span businesses of multiple sizes and industries.

  • What’s more, the majority of the companies offering a pay rise will do so at 5% or more (32% of businesses).
  • 12% of companies plan to increase their salary levels by 2-5%.
  • While 18% will implement a 1-2% pay rise.
  • Sadly, 2% of businesses will be forced to decrease salaries due to their ‘increasing upfront business costs’.

The article references the skills shortage as an influence. This is also discussed in The September ‘Report on Jobs’.

Salary news #2: switching jobs may lead to a higher salary

Source: Recruiting Times

A new think tank study suggests that changing jobs can enhance your salary level. This article explores short-term pay rates and suggests that, within the next few months, salaries will rise at around 2.7% growth. Here it’s stated that the pre-financial crash average was in fact 4.5%.

Conversely, those that change jobs are currently more likely to experience an 11% salary increase, which is higher than any average observed within the past seven years.

Again, this brings to mind the above-linked Report on Jobs and ongoing skills shortage. Additionally, and as the piece cites, fewer people are presently switching jobs than they were prior to the financial crisis (therefore enabling such salary advantages).

It seems prudent to remind that we’d never recommend switching jobs until you have a secure offer in place. See Day 1 of our 7 Days of Job Hunting Tips for more on this topic.

Salary news #3: the best-paying degree-free jobs

Source: HR News

Fear that not having a degree could stunt your salary prospects? Indeed has shared a round-up of jobs that don’t require a degree to earn more than the national salary average.

Note: the UK salary average is now £27,600 per annum.

Topping the list (and almost doubling the average salary) is the role of the Ethical Hacker. However, some more familiar commercial office openings also make the list, including the Executive Assistant, Sales Manager and Software Engineer.

We hope that this list will inspire you to feel more positive about your job search and future career prospects. Don’t forget to use this advice post to take your hunt to an expert level. You can also find out more about local salary levels by keeping a close eye on our jobs page.

For managers and business owners, you may be interested to read more about the influence that pay-rates currently have on our UK work culture…and how this could affect your search for your next employee!