Is your potential being squandered at work?

Do you believe you’re fulfilling your career potential? What the latest findings say about the nation’s confidence levels…

A recent City & Guilds survey of 5000 working-age people has revealed a number of concerning trends.

  • Firstly, only just over 1 in 3 employees (33%) feel ‘positive about their future career prospects’.
  • 60% say they have skills that are not being used ‘at least half of the time’.
  • Furthermore, only 53% have had any form of training at work within the past three years.
  • 34% of the group has never received any training at all or their last training took place more than five years ago.

Altogether, the findings suggest that large groups of employees are not being given the chance to fulfill their potential at work.

Advice for managers and employers:

These findings are positive for business leaders – providing as they act on the issues raised! You likely already employ individuals who can bring additional value and expertise to your business. They just need to be given the opportunity to do so. Why not ask your team about the skills they think you’re missing out on?

City & Guilds is calling on employers to help address this problem by:

  1. Exploring each job candidate’s ‘underlying skills profiles’ to find new talent for your business. In some cases, prioritising this potential and a solid skills match over sector-specific experience.
  2. Introducing flexible working practices to attract and retain these talented individuals.
  3. Additionally providing training opportunities to employees at ‘all ages and stages of their career’.

Advice for employees and job-seekers:

The survey’s authors also share some useful advice for you:

  1. Where possible, ‘put yourself forward’ for any training opportunities that arise.
  2. Explore out-of-work training to ensure you’re upskilling yourself for your future career prospects.

To add to this, you could also discuss your current unused skills with your management team. Offer practical examples of how your abilities could benefit your department/company and ask to take on new tasks and challenges.

Of course, there may also be other job opportunities that better employ your full skill-set. 



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.


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. 



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.