Most-wanted employee traits

Introducing the employee traits that could speed up your job search…

As per yesterday’s post, we’re dedicating all of January to positive news items to support your career goals. Today, we’ll take a look at the six top traits that can enhance job search success.

Each of these attributes has been selected by recruiters, so you know they’re qualities that employers are genuinely looking for.

We’ll also share our own pointers throughout this post to help you get the most out of the information provided.

A reminder before you read on…

You don’t necessarily need to possess each trait to find a new job! When reading articles such as these, look out for those characteristics you already have and consider how you can best highlight them.

As for any remaining qualities, there’s always the chance to build these in future.

Six of the most-wanted employee traits

1. Proactivity

  • This quality earned a unanimous vote from the recruiters. It could also be referred to as ‘initiative’ as the description details the ability to prioritise, alongside working ‘independently and unprompted’.
  • Brainstorm examples of when your employers have benefited from your initiative and/or proactive nature. Weave these into your CV and interview responses.
  • Really want to prove your initiative? Consider the ways you can go beyond your job-seeking competitors. For example, by taking your interview research a step further and suggesting ways you can help achieve company goals or overcome business challenges.

2. Adaptability

  • Again, this attribute could come under another name: ‘flexibility’. Employers are looking to see that you can adapt to any changes that occur – whether these are changes to your everyday working role or larger organisational happenings.
  • As above (and for each of our subsequent tips!) start by brainstorming some of your finest practical examples. What changes have you faced and overcome at work?
  • You can also ensure to remain outwardly calm and positive regarding any surprises or changes that occur throughout your recruitment process. Whether that’s being interviewed by additional team members or being set an unexpected task. Often your attitude to taking on the task is a key part of the decision-making process.

3. Communication

  • Effective communication skills are vital. This isn’t just about your workplace conversations, yet rather each of your verbal, non-verbal and written cues. 
  • Convey positivity and respect towards each point of contact you encounter during your job search. That’s everyone from the receptionist you meet while waiting for your interview to the prospective colleagues you’re introduced to.
  • Don’t think your written communications have to stop at your CV and cover letter. Interview thank you emails offer another opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills. What’s more, there’s nothing to stop you from producing a document that showcases some of your recent projects or other working successes.

4. Commercial sense

  • A strong sense of business savvy or ‘commercial awareness’ can set you apart from your job-seeking competitors. This includes, yet is not limited to, an awareness of relevant industry trends and business opportunities.
  • This takes us back to that need to research beyond the business basics. Investigate industry and economic news reports, watch out for patterns and trends, and consider how your skills could be of benefit.
  • Ask interviewers questions about industry opportunities and challenges. Listen carefully to the responses and, where possible, tell your interviewer why you’re best placed to support them.

5. Empathy

  • Who wants to work with colleagues (or companies) who fail to put themselves in others’ shoes? The ability to be tactful and sensitive is prized and may just become one of the most valuable skills of the future.
  • There are many ways to communicate empathy during your interview. It starts by treating your interviewer like the individual they are. Find out more about what they enjoy about working for the company and the primary challenges they face within their role. Acknowledge their viewpoints.
  • Express empathy when discussing former colleagues or business challenges you’ve faced. Your empathy should also extend to your former employer. What’s more, you should remain mindful of giving away sensitive company information. You also want to convey trust!

6. A positive mindset 

  • The ability to focus on the positives of a situation tells employers you’ll always look for the best in things – something that can really help when faced with future challenges.
  • Let’s return to that old adage about never speaking negatively about colleagues or employers during interviews. It can be tempting to speak too freely about tricky bosses or unpleasant working environments. Instead, spin negatives on their head and discuss the positive outcomes. For example, a brief mention of a challenging role which has helped you foster X and Y skills.
  • Remember those non-verbal communication skills; keep your body language open, smile, and tell your interviewer what would excite or inspire you about working for them.

We hope this post has helped you identify some of your strengths and how to express them. Don’t forget to keep returning to our News & Advice feed throughout January for more support.



Christmas: some quality time off or time to job hunt?!

Should you use your Christmas break for some time off or as your prime time to job search? 

With Christmas Eve arriving tomorrow (whether it feels as if it’s arrived too soon or not!), it’s decision-making time.

Are you going to put your job hunt on hold for the duration of the festivities or are you going to step up your search ahead of the New Year? We’ll take a look at both options…

The pros of taking some time off:

If you’re already employed (and unless you work in retail, hospitality or similar), this is likely to be one of your longest breaks in the working year. It’s been a tough year for many professionals, with increasing numbers of people said to be at breaking point. It’s also the year that WHO expanded on its definition of burnout syndrome.

To top this all off, national productivity has plummeted and there’s even more research to prove that happy employees are more successful.

With all this in mind, the option of a break to unwind and enjoy yourself has clear benefits.

What’s more, it can sometimes take a proper break to gain a bit of perspective.

If you’re feeling run down, burned out and/or desperate for a break, it could be wise to use all or at least most of your leave for some time away from thoughts of work and job searching. You’ll likely feel more capable and confident as a result.

Why it could be the prime time to job hunt:

With many offices closed and (hopefully) now having a little more time to yourself, it can be an excellent opportunity to focus your mind on what you want to achieve in the New Year. It’s not uncommon to feel even more motivated as a result.

You’ll get the chance to research jobs more thoroughly, helping you to identify the most appealing and suitable opportunities.

The extra time can also allow you to put together a better quality CV than you’d compile on the average busy evening or weekend. You could even ask any willing friends and/or family to lend some thoughts on anything you might have missed out in your first draft.

It’s also a chance to make sure your CV is one of the first to arrive in inboxes ahead of the January return.

So, which is the best option for you?

This is a tricky question to answer. It’s most likely one that only you can answer – or someone very close to you who knows how you’ve been feeling lately.

Our best advice is to make sure you’re using at least some of your Christmas break to relax and recharge. However, providing as you’re not feeling unwell or burned out, you could also schedule some time for advancing your career. Perhaps following that period of proper relaxation to get the best of both worlds!

Reminder: if your stress is starting to interfere with the quality of your life (in and/or out of work), you should speak to your GP.

Also, if you’ve experienced a sense of career failure recently, please read this post. It may give you more confidence before those festive catch-ups!

Ready to start/continue your job search? Here are the latest opportunities.



Letting go of workplace grudges

Harbouring any workplace grudges? Perhaps you’re struggling to let go of that one thing your colleague did last week…or year?!

This is an important topic for every stage of your career. Your grudges can get in the way of your job search (for instance, making you appear negative during interviews), as well as being a nuisance for your daily tasks, workplace relationships, and even your promotion opportunities.

So what exactly is a workplace grudge?

Well, we all loosely know what a grudge is. It’s defined as ‘a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.’

But really, what is at the root of a grudge? According to psychologist Steven Sylvester, it’s actually when someone is “manifesting their frustration by pointing it at someone else. It’s a defensive tactic to explain away something we fear. If you have serial grudges, that shows a strong desire not to take full responsibility for what is happening in your life.”

This may sound far-fetched to you. Yet it’s worth asking yourself the following question, as posed by Sylvester – what does your grudge say about you?

For example, say your colleague embarrassed you in a team meeting. The colleague is clearly at fault for their actions, yet there’s also fear at the root of your response. You could be concerned about appearing foolish or maybe already worry that your superiors doubt your abilities.

Sylvester goes on to suggest 3 questions for each of your workplace grudges:

  1. What emotions are sparked by the person you’re holding the grudge against?
  2. What does that say about you?
  3. Plus how can you ‘self-correct’ the situation? In other words, what could you do in the future to alleviate the problem or prevent your grudge from taking hold?

If this sounds like too much hard work, it’s worth considering what could happen if you leave your grudges to fester…

The Plum has an article that highlights many of the ways workplace grudges can negatively affect the grudge holder:

  • By limiting workplace productivity
  • Making it harder to concentrate and problem-solve
  • Possibly also contributing to ‘chronic inflammation, high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate’.

They also offer another great piece of advice: “if the grudge relates to your current work situation, let it motivate you to work towards what you want.”

Know you want a new job? You’ll find the latest listings here. Plus don’t forget to keep up with our news page for more career insights and advice.



The recruitment stats that matter

What’s happening in recruitment? How the latest recruitment stats can help you as a job-seeker – and why this is also relevant to anyone looking to recruit for their team…

You may have seen us mention the importance of knowing what’s going in the wider employment market. This sort of information can help you make the right choices for your career, along with gathering more specific data regarding the local market and your chosen industry.

Employers can also benefit from these stats, which can help inform recruitment decisions from salary offerings to interview process considerations.

With this in mind, we thought we’d share a selection of facts from a recent Onrec piece.

UK Recruitment stats – what’s happening in 2019…

  1. Job application figures have risen by 15.9% since 2018. Southern regions have seen the biggest increase. This means you may observe greater job-seeker competition in your industry; all the more reason to prioritise your job search approach (and CV)!
  2. Salaries for new job roles have increased by 17.7% in the most recent quarter, which may explain some of the more recent surges in applications.
  3. UK pay growth as a whole has risen by 3.1%, which is the highest rate in ‘almost a decade’.
  4. National employment is at a record high – 32.69 million people are now employed. This is 282,000 more than in 2018. This poses a challenge for employers who eagerly trying to source candidates with the relevant skills-base. This may offer an opportunity for job-seekers, however, there’s still a responsibility to highlight your skills effectively.
  5. The sectors which have received the biggest increase in applications include the charity sector (72.3%), hospitality (45.7%), IT (36.3%) legal (33.6%) and electronics (26.7%).

Plus…

  1. It’s the arts & entertainment industry that’s observed the biggest increase in job vacancies (up by 12.4% since 2018).
  2. 40% of employees are neglecting other non-work ‘aspects of their life’ due to a ‘demanding work culture,’ risking potential mental health troubles. This has become an increasingly common topic over recent months, with many employees nearing ‘breaking point.’ It’s important for everyone to think about how they’re spending their time in and out of work.
  3. Flexible working may be the future. 70% of small companies say they have ‘some form’ of flexi-working available. Plus 73% of employees believe this has increased their job satisfaction levels. In reality, however, it appears that many flexible working requests are still being denied.
  4. The average ‘job interview process’ stands at 27.5 days – almost a full month.
  5. 75% of candidates take the time to research a prospective employer via websites, social media and company reviews, which has caused many employers to increase their efforts in these areas. This knowledge should also serve as a nudge to the 25% of job-seekers who are not making such an effort!

Please call the office on 01225 313130 for further recruitment advice. You’ll also find the latest job opportunities listed here.  



The group fuelling employment growth & pursuing career progression

Can you guess which age group has fuelled 90% of UK employment growth over the past year? 

You’ll see that we always cover a mix of career news affecting employees across all age groups. From the young professionals driving the flexible working movement to the over-65s leading the way on the wellbeing front…and the working parents juggling everything in-between!

In many ways, each item is relevant to us all. We’re now experiencing greater age diversity in the workplace than ever before (thanks to our longer and healthier working lives). This means we each need to gather insights from different professional groups, so we can all learn from each other and create greater business success.

Now, back to our opening question – have you guessed which age group is fuelling the UK’s employment growth?

According to Aviva’s research, it’s the over-55s employee group that has contributed to 90% of UK growth over the past year.

It’s especially interesting to read the rest of their data…

  • Almost 1 in 5 employees aged 55-59 plan to move jobs to further their career progression.
  • This figure falls to 1 in 10 for the 60 to 64-year-old age category. However, most of these participants plan to make their move within the next year.
  • What’s more, professionals want to keep learning and deepening their skill-set. More than 1/3 of the 55-59 group hope to participate in employer training and 1/5 want to pursue their own course or qualification.
  • 14% are additionally shadowing other employees to gather more knowledge and experience.

Commenting on our nation’s working lifestyles, Aviva’s Alistair McQueen says: “forward-thinking employers will respond to this changing world, and they will be rewarded for doing so, securing and retaining the best of this booming population”.

We agree; it’s also about overcoming stereotypes regarding which employee groups want to receive training and progression opportunities. Getting to know and support all team members can only benefit your employee attraction and retention rates, alongside your business success.

Please call 01225 313130 for further recruitment advice, including how to attract the best team members to your business.



Do connections matter more than talent in recruitment?

Do your personal connections really make all the difference to your career success?

2,000 UK employees aged 18-65 have been surveyed regarding possible routes to career success and the results are illuminating:

  • 37% of employees think that they must know ‘influential’ business people in order to be recruited or promoted.
  • Conversely, only 26% see their ‘work ethic’ as bearing an influence on these decisions.
  • And only 21% say talent is key.
  • 7% of the group believes that ‘social background’ contributes to their promotion opportunities or lack thereof.

About this study…

These findings come from The Social Mobility Pledge, a group working to promote social mobility in business.

Their founder, Justine Greening, is quoted as saying “…how can our country move forward as a whole when so many people feel they’re excluded from making the most of themselves because they don’t know the right person or belong to the right network? Family or personal ties have no place on the list of considerations when recruitment or promotion decisions are made.”

How much do your connections really matter?

It would be a lie to say that nobody in the UK has ever benefited from their family ties. However, please be assured that there’s more than one route to career success!

We’ve been recruiting for more than 20 years in Bath. Our clients don’t come to us asking for well-connected individuals, rather they come to us asking for the best match for their roles.

When saying the ‘best match’, talent and work ethic should feature much higher on those stats. Clients are looking for people with relevant experience and transferable skills and who’ll bring the right attitude to their teams.

How to increase your confidence when you’re lacking so-called ‘connections’…

  1. Re-read the above! Sometimes our assumptions get in the way of our choices. If you’re not putting yourself forward for a role that you know that you’re suitable or qualified for, you could be seriously holding yourself back.
  2. Remember there are many forms of connections in business. For instance, as recruitment consultants, our clients value our candidate insights and expertise. Not all agencies work the same; look for an REC-accredited company in your field (we’re on the list!).
  3. Increase your knowledge. Make sure you’re aware of what’s happening in business and your industry. Our news articles are a great starting point for general business news and career advice. You can also connect with us via  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to receive links to the latest features.
  4. Increase your effort! Make sure that your CV is doing all it can to ‘sell your sutability’ to prospective employers and recruiters. As ever, tailor the content to match your individual applications. Here’s some simple CV advice and what to include in your cover email when contacting a recruitment agency for the first time.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask. Your recruitment consultant can support you with any questions you may have regarding your suitability for a vacancy. Once again, don’t let your assumptions stop you from putting yourself forward!

Ready to apply for a new role? Visit our Jobs page for opportunities throughout Bath and Wiltshire.



The most irritating office habits

Which office habits do employees find most irritating? Interesting reading for anyone with colleagues!

It’s time for the third and final post in our Vanquis Bank ‘Professional Gripes Survey’ series – and this post really explores those daily gripes. Don’t forget to catch up on the first two installments, which include…

  1. How many professionals would accept a promotion without a pay rise? Including which groups are most likely to do this and whether you should ever consider it.
  2. And would you recommend your employer to another job-seeker? Plus what stops people doing this and why it matters.

A bit of background…

As mentioned in the first post, the Vanquis survey is designed to explore ‘what makes UK workers tick and what ticks them off!’

They raise the old adage that many of us spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our families, which means we really get to know their ‘quirks and behaviours’.

As well as wanting to understand what’s most likely to upset colleagues, they were intrigued by which grievances linger longest on the mind.

Office Habits to avoid:

  1. Rotten food left in the fridge/kitchen (85%)
  2. Colleagues leaving a mess in kitchens, bathrooms or other communal spaces (83%)
  3. Discriminatory or rude language, including swearing alongside racism and sexism, etc. (81%)
  4. Passive-aggressive notes left in communal spaces (74%)
  5. Loud music on work computers (74%)
  6. Colleagues changing heating or aircon settings (67%)
  7. People cooking ‘smelly food’ at work (66%)
  8. Colleagues being promoted ‘over you’ (61%)

Interestingly, the order changes when it comes to how long people spend feeling ‘bothered’ by each of these irritations…

  1. Other people being promoted (57.36 hours)
  2. Discriminatory & rude language (36.72 hours)
  3. Passive-aggressive notes (22.8 hours)
  4. Rotten food in fridges or kitchens (18.72 hours)
  5. Messy kitchens, bathrooms or communal spaces (15.84 hours)
  6. Loud music on work computers (14.64 hours)
  7. People changing heating/aircon (13.44 hours)
  8. Cooking smelly food (11.76 hours)

How do you mitigate irritating or offensive office behaviour?

The survey respondents engage in a number of responses; most of which are highly concerning…

  1. Verbal confrontation – directly to your colleague (40%)
  2. Complaining to your boss (32%)
  3. ‘Bad-mouthing’ colleagues and their work (27%)
  4. HR complaints (21%)
  5. ‘Embarrassing them’ in front of colleagues or clients (14%)
  6. Physical acts of confrontation, i.e. violence (12%)
  7. Deleting or adding mistakes to their work in shared documents (11%)
  8. Revealing personal information about them to their family/boss (11%)
  9. Career sabotage attempts (9%)
  10. Harassing them on social media, outside of work (9%)

You may recall that some of the same respondents also take nefarious routes to obtain their promotions at work. This may be a rather unusual pool and does not necessarily reflect the behaviour that’s normal in your office or industry!

Any irritating office habits should, of course, always be handled politely and professionally. Remember, your reputation is at stake.

Are you someone who truly values your reputation and is keen to explore a fresh environment and team? Please visit our jobs page



Young workers lead the flexible working movement

How younger professionals are driving the flexible working movement. Also featuring some of the latest flexible work news…

Over the weekend, The Independent shared an interesting post titled ‘Young workers are leading the way out of the office.’

It describes some of the current business trends for young professionals both in America and Britain. This includes:

  • Changing jobs for improved work-life balance (as opposed to a title change or step up the career ladder).
  • Prioritising flexible work opportunities; allowing employees to focus on other needs, such as their children, hobbies, and pets.
  • In fact, increasing numbers of employees are actually ‘demanding flexibility’ in their roles.
  • Requesting benefits such as paid paternity leave, ‘generous’ holiday allowance, the chance to work remotely, etc.

A mixed response…

Some may perceive this as a push towards less work or softer working lifestyles. However, proponents argue that this approach says ‘I will work harder and/or more’ if you support a more balanced lifestyle.

The article cites a number of reasons why younger employees are driving this work-life balance focus:

  • They’ve been born into a highly technological world in which they can see other ways of working rather than staying at one desk for set working hours.
  • Other lifestyle choices, such as marrying and babies, are happening later meaning they are ‘more invested’ in their career path by the time they make these decisions and, therefore, know what they want to ask for.
  • Millennials represent the first generation to observe large numbers of women, including family members, live professional working lives. Many have also observed the challenges their parents have faced due to ‘inflexible employers or unstable jobs’.

The piece also raises the notion that more flexible work and other work-life balance improvements could benefit all working generations – saying ‘change the system so we can all succeed’.

Also in the flexible working news…



The most common career regrets

Sharing the most common career regrets…to help you avoid them!

Onrec has conducted its own research on this topic – and has a full report on its website. As this houses all their exclusive stats, you’ll really want to head there for a full and insightful read.

They explore:

  • How many people experience such regrets (this may surprise!)
  • The top 10 career regrets
  • Gender disparities
  • The actual risks that people wish they’d taken
  • Job satisfaction levels
  • The percentage of people whose jobs incorporate their ‘passions’
  • Alongside whether or not respondents feel they’ve left it too late to make a career change, among other topics.

Let’s take a look at those most common career regrets:

Out of respect for the exclusivity of this survey, we’ll only share five of the ten 10 regrets today. These include:

  1. Not ‘taking more initiative’
  2. A lack of mentorship or guidance
  3. Being too safe and ‘not taking more chances’
  4. Not keeping up a personal network
  5. Failing to leave a job you dislike sooner

What makes the findings so interesting:

Understanding others’ regrets can help you explore your own concerns and, potentially, avoid making the same mistakes in future. It can also help you to think more deeply about your career priorities. This is incredibly useful when deciding which industries you want to pursue, the jobs you should apply for and even the employers and teams you want to work with.

The above items aren’t necessarily those regrets you’d most expect to see and they may not have been topics you’ve ever considered. When did you last analyse how much initiative you take in your work? Or how much guidance you’ve had to get you to where you are today?

How to use these insights to your advantage…

  • Read the full list and see which items you identify with – both from past experience and what you most want to avoid.
  • For each item that concerns you, ask yourself what can you do to take control of this risk right now.
  • Make sure you stay smart. For example, leaving a job you dislike without having a better alternative lined up can leave you with yet another form of regret! Getting started with your job search while you’re still employed is usually a smarter option.
  • Tap into those you trust. By their nature, career regrets are personal and you’ll have to make your own decisions about what’s right for you. However, consider item 2 above. Where possible, seek out the advice and insights of trusted and experienced people. This may also include your family, friends and peers as well as industry professionals, including recruitment consultants who specialise in your target field. The REC will help you to identify professionally accredited Recruitment Agencies local to you.


The upskilling crisis & its potential consequences

Are you receiving upskilling opportunities at work? If so, you’re among the minority of UK professionals…

The UK is the nation that’s least likely to provide new training opportunities to its employees, according to PwC research.

  • 51% of UK employees are not offered the chance to retrain or develop new skills.
  • This is well below the global average of 26%.
  • In comparison, only 33% of American employees and 31% of Germans have not been reskilled.
  • The stats are all the more impressive in India and China, where the figures fall to 5% and 3% respectively.

The education gap

There is a disparity between those respondents who have undertaken further education (post-school) and those who haven’t. Graduates receive 15% more training opportunities.

This HR Magazine report reveals many more findings, including the worrying trend to overlook changing digital needs.

Employees clearly crave development opportunities. 54% feel prepared to ‘learn new skills or completely retrain’ to boost their employment potential; this figure rises to 67% among 18 to 34-year-olds.

You can read the PwC report in full via their website.

Warning: a lack of upskilling could lead to a lack of employees!

Over on Recruiting Times, we hear that the desire to learn something new tops the list of career priorities for the nation’s professionals.

  • 44.6% of employees want to develop a new skill
  • This beats the 43.5% who prioritise a pay rise
  • And the 22.7% who long for a new job title

40.1% are prioritising the ‘move to another company’. This group may well also increase in time, as 64.1% say their employer doesn’t respond to their needs and 83.2% intend to find a new job ‘to achieve their dreams’.

This could be of concern to many of the employers who are already facing a skills shortage. However, this may also increase the availability of skilled employees. Employers would certainly be wise to review their recruitment approach. Please call the office on 01225 313130 for some professional support.

We’ve only just shared the stats on the number of people looking to change jobs this month and throughout the coming year. Visit our jobs page for the latest opportunities. You’ll also find a number of skills-related topics linked in this article.