4 signs you’ve found (or are) the right candidate!

How to know whether you’ve found (or are!) the right candidate for the job – a post for employers and job-seekers…

Last week, Onrec published a post that we knew we had to feature in our January series. It’s titled: ‘Think you’ve found the right candidate? 4 signs every employer should look for.’

While the piece is clearly targeted at employers and HR Managers, it also offers valuable reading for job-seekers. After all, one of the most vital tools in your job search is the ability to understand what businesses are looking for – allowing you to demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Onrec’s advice is perhaps surprisingly simple. You may think that each of these four signs would be a given when attending interviews. However, it’s the people who can do these things particularly well (and most genuinely!) who really stand out.

The 4 signs that you could be the right candidate are…

1. Exuding enthusiasm:

True enthusiasm can really help you set you apart from your competitors. This includes an enthusiasm about your experience to date, alongside the opportunity to bring your experiences into the role you’re discussing. The best bit? The Onrec article highlights how achievable this is, regardless of your interview nerves.

Tip: before attending any interviews, spend some time considering what you’re most enthusiastic and excited about at this point in your career. What’ve you most enjoyed about your previous work and what are you looking forward to doing next? Make notes and discuss with friends if this helps you to become more comfortable in expressing your positivity.

2.  You’ve swotted up:

You need to show that you’ve swotted up on each business you’re interviewing for. This isn’t just about proving you understand the company and its purpose, yet also showing you’re proactive and prepared.

Tip: even if it’s a last-minute interview request, you can have a good look at the company website. Keep a close watch for any mentions of company goals, aims, working ethos or similar. Got longer to prepare? Visit social media feeds, research news items about the company, industry trends and more. This tip also ties into the ‘Proactivity’ point in this post.

3. Seeing flaws as growth opportunities

The most well-rounded candidates can take an honest look at themselves and see how their downfalls can be used as areas of improvement. It helps if you can give real-life examples of times you’ve turned a flaw or failure into a learning and development opportunity.

Tip: try to brainstorm something other than perfectionism (the most popular weakness that’s become something of an interview cliche!). Think of a challenge you’ve overcome, which trait this represented, and how you overcame it and/or the steps you’re currently taking to improve. Again, express enthusiasm for your personal development rather than shame for being human in the first place!

4. Communicating well

Onrec’s final point also ties in well with the ‘Empathy’ trait in this article. You want to communicate clearly and positively with every person you encounter throughout your recruitment process.

This goes beyond your interview conversations and extends into any emails, calls and/or texts you exchange. Not to mention those non-verbal communications with anyone you pass in the interview building.

Tip: always give yourself space to re-read any written comms before firing them off to a prospective employer. You can also stand out by sending interview thank you notes – here’s some advice on how to do this if you’re working with a recruitment agency.

Catch up with the rest of our January series so far…

Don’t forget to keep popping back to our News page to see the latest instalments. You can also connect with us via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn



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.



The job skill of the future

Which one job skill do we all need to work on for the benefit of our future careers?

Most experts agree that automation will dramatically change the job landscape over the coming years. It’s recently been said that “white-collar jobs will be swept away faster by digital change than in any previous economic transformation.” White-collar jobs are those that primarily involve mental and/or administrative work, such as that commonly undertaken by office professionals.

As alarming as talk of job loss is, these digital changes will present benefits to employees and businesses. The above-linked feature also explores how many of our jobs will become easier. Automation is predicted to eliminate many mundane tasks and help us to complete our roles more efficiently.

Yet we also need to adapt as individuals. It’s no good simply letting AI sweep in and remove our jobs. Instead, we need to brush up on our skills and make sure we’re working well alongside new tech.

Certain attributes keep cropping up in these conversations…

…including the job skill discussed in today’s featured study:

Emotional Intelligence (‘EI’ or ‘EQ’) is the skill in question, as researched by Capgemini.

  • 83% of professionals agree that a ‘highly emotionally-intelligent workforce’ will be intrinsic to future success.
  • 61% of executive-level respondents think EI will be a ‘must-have’ career skill within the next 1-5 years. 41% of non-supervisory level employees agree.
  • 76% of executives also say employees need to develop EI to adapt to more client-facing jobs and to complete new tasks requiring skills that ‘cannot be automated’, including ’empathy, influence and teamwork’.

Many employees also believe their skills are replaceable…

  • Just under 2/5 of employees say their job skills will or already have ‘become redundant’ due to automation and/or AI.
  • Currently, only 42% of businesses are training their senior team on EI; this falls to 32% for middle management and just 17% for non-supervisory staff.
  • Yet 75% of business leaders think emotional intelligence can be increased.

Psychologists also agree…

One psychology professor likens EI to mathematical abilities, saying: “there is a certain amount of teaching and tutoring that can be helpful. We can acquire knowledge in the area that will increase the effectiveness with which people use their intelligence.”

Wondering which job skills you need right now?

  • Make sure you’re regularly reading job descriptions for openings in your target sector. Watch our for patterns in employer requirements (particularly when it comes to key skills and personal attributes) and see if there are any gaps you need to work on.
  • It’s always good to think ahead as well. Developing the skills highlighted in such studies may offer a competitive advantage in the future. It also demonstrates initiative – something that’s long been attractive to prospective employers. Ready to get started? Visit the ‘further reading for your future career and job skills’ section towards the bottom of this post.


Voluntary work: benefits for employers & job-seekers

More people are now searching for voluntary opportunities. We take a look at the benefits for employers, employees and job-seekers alike. There’s also advice regarding how to feature your volunteering experiences on your CV…

  • 40% of Brits are currently volunteering in some capacity, while 70% have done so at some stage, reports HR News.
  • What’s more, Google searches for the phrase ‘volunteering near me’ have increased by 124% throughout the UK over the course of a year.
  • Of the UK nations, England has seen the lowest search trend increase, with an 83% rise.

Voluntary work benefits: for employees and job-seekers

The above-linked article explores what’s behind this increased interest in volunteering. It appears that a number of psychological and physical benefits are driving this trend, including:

  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced loneliness
  • Better physical health
  • A feeling of ‘making a difference’
  • And the opportunity to meet new people

Of course, there are a number of additional benefits that can also enhance your CV, namely:

  • The chance to learn something new, both through the volunteering itself and via any associated training opportunities.
  • To gain practical experience that can bolster your CV; especially if you’re looking to enter a new role or industry.
  • An opportunity to gain new skills and/or to further your existing abilities.

Voluntary work benefits: for employers

It’s not only employees who gain something from volunteering. Employers who encourage their team to volunteer also experience a number of advantages.

Sage People suggests these include:

  • Increased employee retention rates through a ‘deeper commitment and connection.’
  • Greater external brand awareness and a sense of employee pride.
  • Employee empowerment; especially if team members can choose where/when they volunteer.
  • Better teamwork and more ‘connected’ teams.
  • The development of new skills (as above), which can be used in-house.
  • Another opportunity to see who holds internal promotion potential.
  • Alongside enhanced morale and reduced sick leave.

How to feature your volunteering experiences on your CV

There are several ways to effectively include your volunteering experiences on your CV. The best option for you will depend on the length of your CV/amount of relevant experience you have for the positions that you’re applying for…

a) If you already have ample industry/role experience (in addition to your voluntary roles):

  • Simply include a Voluntary Work section after your Career History.
  • Keep this brief. Provide a simple list of where you’ve volunteered (or the most relevant places if this list is too extensive to include in full!), alongside when you volunteered, your voluntary job title, and perhaps a sentence to summarise the most relevant skills or experiences obtained.
  • If you feel that your voluntary insights are especially relevant to your application and this method won’t suffice, then either follow the below guidance or consider creating an additional page to detail your Voluntary work alongside your Career History. Only do the latter if it’s particularly relevant to the jobs that you’re applying for.

b) If you have minimal industry/role experience other than your voluntary roles:

  • Include these within your reverse chronological Career History. This means listing your most recent role at the top and working backwards down your CV, whether the roles are paid or unpaid.
  • However, be sure to include the Voluntary nature of the role as part of your Job Title for any unpaid positions.
  • Treat these roles in the same fashion as the rest of your Career History: detailing your employer, your employer’s industry, job title (as above) and dates of employment.
  • You’ll also provide a more detailed overview of your experiences, skills and achievements from these positions.

Ready to look for a new paid role? Visit our jobs page. For further recruitment advice, please call the office on 01225 313130.



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.



Future career changes

Young people expect to make multiple career changes in their working lives…

You won’t be surprised that the majority of young people expect to change jobs at least once during their careers. After all, it’s incredibly rare for large groups of people to work in the same roles and for the same companies forever.

However, almost 1/4 (23%) of young people also expect to make multiple career changes; in other words, also switching professions and/or industries rather than just jobs.

Considering their future career changes…

The above findings have been shared by Survation on behalf of the AAT. The pool consisted of just over 1000 16 to 24-year-olds (all considered as ‘Generation Z’).

They reveal that:

  • Nearly 1/3 (32%) of young people expect to make one to two job changes during their careers.
  • In addition, 23% expect to change their career path twice in future.
  • 14% of respondents think they’ll experiment with a greater number of professions, making three career changes.
  • Only 9% of people think they’ll work for the same company for their entire career. While 16% think they’ll at least remain on the same career path.

How they’ll prepare for their future roles:

  • It’s great to see that these respondents are prepared to take a proactive approach, with 52% saying they’d undertake a new qualification in order to progress their careers.
  • What’s more, 61% believe they’ll have to ‘upskill’ throughout their working lives. This is especially important as it so closely reflects the experts’ thoughts on the future of work and automation. Please see below for articles that further explore this topic.

The relevance of this data for employers:

As HR Magazine discusses, business and HR leaders will need to work hard to retain Generation Z employees. Especially the 43% that say they’d like to create their own business one day.

This may involve nurturing the creative potential of employees, so they feel able to challenge themselves and pursue their own ideas within the business.

Further reading for your future career and job skills:

  1. Future job skills & work portfolios for all: find out whether you possess the three most vital future job skills. Plus why you may want to create a work portfolio regardless of your job role.
  2. What employers want: six key skills that employers want to find in their future team members.
  3. Are you being upskilled at work? What to do if you aren’t receiving the opportunity to refresh your job skills.
  4. The top most wanted trainee skills: 10 abilities that will benefit trainees…and everyone else!
  5. The future skills framework: the major new taskforce set to decide which skills we’ll all need in future. Plus why students sre feeling unprepared for their careers.

Ready to discover your next job? Visit our vacancies page to apply for the latest openings. You can also upload your CV here.



The skills shortage continues

Employers struggle to recruit, as the skills shortage deepens…

Businesses are facing some major recruitment challenges, as revealed by ‘The Open University Business Barometer 2019‘.

At present, the UK is experiencing its highest total employment rate since 1971. The unemployment rate is also at its lowest level since 1974. This means that while there are still job-seekers out there, most of these candidates are conducting their job hunts from the relative comfort of an existing role.

This also means that it can take a lot longer for organisations to secure the right people with the right skills for their vacancies:

  • 63% of businesses report an existing skills shortage (up by yet another percentage point versus last year).
  • Companies are taking 1 month and 27 days more than expected to fill their vacancies.
  • Elsewhere, SmallBusinessPrices.co.uk has created a ‘Skills Map‘ to demonstrate regional differences in skills and job demand.  This reveals that the Financial Sector has the greatest vacancy demand in our local South-West region.

All of the above data is highly timely, with The Confederation of British Industry having called on the government to do more to tackle the national skills gap in this week’s spending review.

How are employers overcoming the skills shortage?

Returning to ‘The Open University Business Barometer 2019,’ businesses are taking a number of different approaches to their recruitment crises.

  • Almost 1/2 (48%) of companies have made use of temps to fill skills gaps.
  • 44% have increased their spending on recruitment services.
  • 38% have offered higher salaries in a bid to lure more applicants.
  • While 31% have felt forced to recruit lesser skilled candidates.
  • 61% of employers believe they will need to focus on internal talent development skills to increase their productivity and efficacy.

Advice for candidates and employers…

Skills shortage advice for candidates:

  • This remains an opportune time to apply for new jobs. Dependent on your industry, you may find yourself competing against smaller candidate pools. This naturally increases your chance of securing an interview.
  • However, don’t rest on your laurels! It is misguided to think that a skills gap creates a pure ‘candidate market’ in which you don’t have to make any effort in your applications. Businesses are still looking for the right skills, personalities and attitudes for their openings and it’s your job to prove that you possess them!
  • You’ll find a regularly updated list of local openings here.

Skills shortage advice for employers:

  • Ensure you’re investing your time and budget in the best recruitment approach for your business. We’re proud REC members, which means that we’re working to the highest industry standards. In the REC’s words, it is about “making sure that employers get the best talent and right people to help their businesses grow”.
  • Don’t be afraid to join the 48% of companies working with temps while searching for your permanent team members. This offers a myriad of benefits, including the chance to tap into local talent, spotting candidates that may provide longer-term solutions, and even the opportunity to refine your search needs as the result of your insights.
  • It can help to review your candidate search criteria. Are there skills that you’re overlooking or candidates who could easily adapt to your needs?

We would be delighted to discuss your temporary, permanent and/or contract staffing requirements. Please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us today. 



The future skills framework

A future skills special: from a new task force, to students’ concerns, and the employment market’s major currency…

The new task force & its future framework…

  • A number of leading education and employment organisations have come together to form a major new task force. Together, they will draw up a framework of core job skills that we will all need in the future.
  • These skills will help businesses to establish what they’re looking for in their recruits (particularly in a time of increasing automation). For example, this could include problem-solving, teamwork and presentation abilities.
  • The framework will resemble the ‘Skills Builder Framework’, which is already used by teachers. In addition to helping identify required abilities, this enables users to establish ‘measurable steps’ through which to obtain them.
  • This project could help the nation to move closer towards the recommendations made in Matthew Taylor’s 2017 Taylor Review. You may recall that this was a ‘Review of Modern Working Practices’, which aims to help the government adapt to a rapidly changing world of work.

Students feel unprepared for their careers

  • 44% of A Level students fear that a university degree won’t help them prepare for their careers.
  • 20% think an additional two to three years of paid work would provide greater preparation, with 8% saying university will merely delay their entry into employment.
  • Despite these findings, only 10% of students intend to go straight into work.
  • The researchers at AVADO are calling on educators and employers to work more closely to ensure students develop essential career skills.
  • Of course, the future skills task force may prove useful to this quest.

The employment market’s major currency

  • Both of the above-quoted sources understand that job skills matter to future career success.
  • Few organisations understand this better than the World Economic Forum, which places skills at the centre of its ‘Strategies for the New Economy’ white paper.
  • They go so far as to describe skills as the ‘currency of the labour market’. You can read the white paper in full here. It comprises a number of recommendations on how such a skills-based employment market can be created.

Looking for candidates with the right skills for your job vacancies? Email an Appoint Recruitment Consultant directly or call the team on 01225 313130.

Searching for jobs that match your skillset? You’ll find the latest openings here



What employers want – key candidate skills

What do employers want to see in their future team members and how can you demonstrate these abilities?

It’s always helpful to remember that (for the most successful companies!) the recruitment process is about far more than checking experience boxes. Business leaders are also looking for candidates that possess the appropriate skills to enhance their performance and complement the rest of the team.

One study has uncovered six such skills that employers want to see in their recruits:

  1. Adaptability (71.5%)
  2. ‘Resilience’ (57.5%)
  3. Being prepared to ‘upskill’ (39.7%)
  4. Being able to change (31.3%)
  5. Striking a ‘balance between work and personal life’ (29%)
  6. And networking skills (16.4%)

The first four skills all relate to the rapid pace of change now facing employers, as discussed on HR News.

This focus on change also cropped up in our recent post on the most wanted trainee skills – which is also relevant to non-trainees; especially those looking to enter a new sector!

How to demonstrate these skills:

As ever, you don’t want to treat these skills as CV or interview buzzwords so much as useful starting points.

Brainstorm examples that demonstrate how you’ve used these skills and what you’ve achieved as a result. Use these examples in your CV where relevant and practise discussing them in an interview scenario.

‘Relevant’ means you’re also tying your examples back to the skills and attributes required by each individual employer. I.e. you’re carefully reading individual job advertisements and specificiations and then tailoring your approach to match.

An interesting note on skill number three…

You’ll see that being prepared to upskill came in third place and this was discussed further in the HR News piece…

  • It suggests that 89.3% of employers are taking a ‘proactive approach’ to employee skills development for a variety of positive reasons. All sounds fantastic, yet this response is not supported by other research conducted on employees themselves.
  • In reality, only around 46% of professionals believe they are receiving adequate training. Advice for employees in this position can be found here.
  • Business owners may benefit from conducting some internal reviews to ensure that they’re not overestimating their skills development efforts. After all, this has long been a powerful staff retention tool.


Future job skills & work portfolios for all

Do you possess the three most vital future job skills? Plus why you may want to create a work portfolio regardless of your job role…

If the name Matthew Taylor sounds familiar, it’s because he authored the Taylor Review. This is the ‘independent review of modern working practices.’ It explores the effects of new ways of working on employees’ rights and responsibilities, alongside the ways in which the UK can prepare for the future world of work.

Your top 3 future job skills:

As individuals, one of the best ways we can prepare is to develop our transferrable job skills.  According to Matthew Taylor, who recently spoke at the CIPD Festival of Work, three of the skills we should all be focusing on include:

  • Empathy
  • Teamwork
  • And resilience

No specific priority order is specified. However, Taylor suggests that all three skills will remain valuable in 20 years’ time.

He also argues that by focusing on current and future job skills we can help protect those whose jobs are ‘most at risk’.

Other panelists raised the issue of retraining 10 million UK employees. This is the number of people that are predicted to require retraining as automation displaces current job roles.

So, it’s clear we all need to ensure we’re upskilling and reskilling ourselves…

As for why you may want to create a work portfolio:

Matthew Taylor is also quoted as saying “we will really have turned the dial on quality of work in a world where everybody has a portfolio.”

  • Taylor believes everyone should be able to present a formal account of their work – gained through employment and/or voluntary roles and similar. This will allow us all to promote our transferrable skills. Including our valuable future job skills!
  • What’s to stop you starting your portfolio now? Showcasing your primary achievements, successful projects and skills could really help you stand out from competitors in your next interview.
  • What’s more, keeping an ever-evolving list of skills and achievements is such a help when it comes to updating your CV.

Got an up-to-date CV at the ready? Please feel welcome to upload this here. You can also check out and apply for the latest jobs