Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

In¬†today’s¬†climate, it’s getting easier for employers to pick and choose who they hire. Some even take this to the extreme and treat job seekers like cattle at a cattle market. They bring them in, hundreds at a time, spend no real time with them and don’t have the means or the method in place to turn them down gracefully. Forgetting how much effort and cost the actual candidate has spent getting to the interview, maybe buying suitable attire for the interview and even hours spent stressing about it.

Fortunately I have a positive example of how the process can be done. The company in question is called Mystery Shoppers, whose website is http://www.mystery-shoppers.co.uk.

mystery_shoppers_topgraphic

Now I wouldn’t normally mentioned the details as it can seem a little biased but when I have finished stating the lengths this company have gone to, to make me feel like an important candidate, person and potential future employee, I think you’ll agree, they deserve a special mention.

The job was advertised in the local Bude & Stratton Post, it was for a Client Services Manager. Something I felt was suitable, as I have relevant management experience, albeit in other industries and sectors. A nice easy application process, which in the current climate I am always grateful for. Send an CV to either an email address or postal address and the company will be in touch.

The very next day I had a reply, thanking me for my application and informing me that following the closing date for applications, someone would be in touch with me.

The closing date passed and as promised, I received an email inviting me to interview for the position. But would you believe my poor luck, I had got my first passport interview on exactly the same day. So fearing this would be my application over and done with, I emailed Valerie at http://www.Mystery-Shoppers.co.uk and explained my predicament. Valerie replied that she should be able to sort something for me and true to her word, she phoned me a few days later to ask if I would like to attend the interview earlier in the day to complete the paper based assessment, meaning I would have an extra half an hour on the back end of the interview to make my way into Plymouth for my passport interview. Not only this but she had booked me the first slot for my oral interview with Paul Grafton, the Managing Director.

How many companies, go to this length to¬†accommodate¬†a candidate. Rightly or wrongly I have known people be turned down flatly due to having an interview at exactly the same time as another, as the candidate should make themselves available. I agree you need to show commitment but these things happen. And when you do eventually get a job, wouldn’t you rather work with an employer who will make exceptions for¬†extenuating¬†circumstances.

So anyway, I attended the interview. Got offered a nice cup of coffee and completed a nice paper based activity involving a geography exercise. Something I hopefully didn’t do to badly on, after all, I have worked in transport for years.

Secondly we did an interesting group activity,involving a scenario, this was assessed by Paul and Valerie, who made notes on our performance and interactions I’d imagine. Mentioning I’d probably use the gun in the scenario to shoot the tribesmen in order to keep all the survival goods, maybe didn’t help my case for being a fair manager. Although it was taken in the humour it was meant.

Next up, I got a one on one interview with Paul Grafton, who is the Managing Director and a very friendly, experienced and well travelled man. He made me feel comfortable and opted to have a friendly chat style interview, taking notes and letting me express myself in a more relaxed atmosphere. Rather then the usual name forty negative things about yourself scenario, that make you feel very positive about yourself in the middle of a very pressurised environment. I think it went quite well as we over ran our chat a little. Discussing my learning Mandarin Chinese and Paul’s experiences of countries such as China and Saudi Arabia, which I personally found fascinating.

Lastly, I got to actually do part of the job, which would give me and the company an insight into my capabilities. Although at this stage, I was clock watching a little but did do the task to the best of my ability. On an even better plus side, I did in fact make it to Plymouth to prove I was both English and me but that’s a whole different post.

A week after the interview, I got a very nice email explaining that a couple of positions had been filled and apologising for the length of time that had gone. And offering me some positive feedback, which is always what candidates enjoy and saviour the most. Valerie also informed me that I’d hear more in a couple of days regarding the final outcome.

Unfortunately a few days later, I was in fact unsuccessful for the position. But informed I would be considered for future positions, something that I had no doubt was a genuine email, as opposed to the automated ones you receive from other companies, stating you’ve been unsuccessful.

But after all that had happened and the process being so positive all the way through, I didn’t come away from the process feeling negative and destined for the dole for the rest of my life. I actually came away feeling that I’d made an impression and that I could in fact hold my own with other people with similar experience. Now the only people who will truly know the impression I made will be the company. But for my part, I think that they did an amazing job in making a good impression and would happily recommend them as a company going forward and who knows, one day I might need to use a service similar to the one they offer and wouldn’t hesitate in calling Valerie or Paul and make that happen.

Hopefully this will encourage businesses and interviewers to think about the candidate that little bit more in the process. I know with having a thousand applications for a position you can’t address each one individually but try to remember the effort it takes to apply, the impression you leave for the future and the fact that one of these candidates may need to use your service in the future. Mystery Shoppers did and look at the free publicity they’ve received because of it.

Hope you enjoyed the post and feel free to comment as always…..

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President Obama has decided to increase the minimum wage in America. Now most people will think this is a noble act of someone trying to put an end to poverty, in a nation where people are still starving to death. A similar action was taken in the UK a few months ago. My opinions of the minimum wage are pretty honest, I don’t think it helps anyone.

Lets face facts, money is generated to spend, save or borrow. If we earn more we’ll have more money in our pockets to spend. True enough but what happens to the things we want to buy, they go up in price due to increased cost in production, distribution and retailing. All these areas rely on staff accepting minimum wage to make good profits. Looking at the costs in the home alone, we don’t benefit at all.

I decided to do a little case study based on a 21 year old, single person, living in Bude, Cornwall who needs to be a car driver due to poor transport links to work. Below are my estimates.

Income

Lets look at our minimum wage of £6.19 an hour (21 year old) on a 37.5 hour week.

This gives us a £12,070.50 per annum gross salary. Without being too accurate with regards to tax and National Insurance, this would give us roughly £10,740 per annum to live on or £895 pcm.

Expenditure

Rent for a 1 bedroom flat in Valley Road, £395 pcm.

Water Bill £50 pcm.

Electricity/Gas £99 pcm.

TV Licence £21 pcm.

Phone Line/Broadband £14.50 pcm

Car Tax £11.25 pcm

Car Insurance £100 pcm

Petrol/Diesel Costs. £80 pcm

Now based on those estimates that leaves us £124.25 per month, give or take a few pound.

Food/Household

Now the above to me are standard living costs. But we haven’t even done a basic weekly food shop for around ¬£29. The cost of food has risen dramatically over the past few years, with even basic cupboard fillers such as bread and milk being unaffordable in my opinion. With this sort of budget you have to pick and choose which area of your life you forsake. ¬†You ¬†can’t pick and choose any products, you have to take what you can find, which in the majority cases are heavily laden with salt and sugar to make them taste a little better. You have very little chance to buy anything fresh, as the cost of these products mean you’d have to leave other products you definitely would need. And lets not forget the¬†hygiene¬†and personal health aspect. I have no issue stating that cheap toilet roll, as a massive example, is absolutely useless. It is not good for your health,¬†hygiene¬†and in reality your pocket, as it’s so thin you use a roll per curry. But it is all you can afford.

Social Recluse 

Now even though food is the¬†necessity¬† This is the area that really gets to me the most. We are all overweight, spend too much time indoors watching TV and playing on our¬†game station¬† This person is living alone and can’t afford to socialise. What doesn’t cost these days. They could join a local football club. I pay ¬£3 per week for the¬†privilege¬†of playing. About going to the gym, only if they don’t eat for the month and use the entire shopping bill to afford the membership. Maybe they could try the pub and meet new people there. Hmm, maybe not. So what is available for this person, that works hard on the minimum wage purely to stay alive. Not a lot in my opinion.

Now all of the above is an example in my eyes of a person living on the national minimum wage. Although personally, all the wage is¬†actually¬†doing is keeping the person alive. The worst thing about the example is, I haven’t even included the credit cards, loans or overdraft the person will now doubt have by this age. Whether it be through educational costs, living expenses or once in a while, a night out with friends or family.

What is the answer?

In my mind, living in a world where money is everything, I don’t see how we can improve things easily. We could put the wage up some more and go full circle. It makes no difference what we’re paid, as it’ll increase the cost of buying what we need. Perhaps the answer is driving the costs down by using local suppliers, wholesalers and retailers. Taking the national status and scrapping it. Making communities self sufficient and supportive of each other.

Can’t see it and neither can you but inevitably, something needs to change. We can’t live, while we’re just trying to stay alive.

Thanks for reading…

Lee

Image : http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2012/08/what-i-used-this-summer-sensuous.html

In the UK we have placed an emphasis on education and experience for a number of years now. Which up until the past year or so, was a positive attempt to make us a serious country to do business with. That was until the recession took over the country. Now it seems that experience and qualifications are actually a bad quality to have whilst finding employment.

Now as with all my posts, I’m speaking quite generally. Of course if you have a law degree and a lawyer needs a trainee, they’re going to find it imperative to have this quality in a new employee. But what happens when the person with the law degree decides that they’d actually like to work in retail and applies for a job in a supermarket. Years ago this was the normal, students were studying whilst working in retailers, fast food and clothes shops all over the country.

But over the past year or so, I’ve heard more and more people complain that they’ve applied for jobs and been told that they have too much experience or too many qualifications. It has happened to me countless amounts of times. I am the sort of person that has an enormous amount of ambition but also a fierce sense of loyalty with companies that give me an opportunity to shine. I have saved companies up to ¬£500k in costs and never left for any reason other then lack of career progression within the company I am in. Not that the opportunities weren’t within the company, they just weren’t sent in my direction, which is fine on the outside but not when you take into account what I gave the companies back.

So I’d personally enjoy the challenge of working my way up from the shop floor to the managers seat, through innovative solutions and hard work. Unfortunately companies look at my CV and believe I am purely looking for a stop gap, I don’t even get the opportunity to explain my loyalty, work ethic or what I can offer. In fact in 3 minutes actual time, I got turned down for a position at Pets at Home in Launceston. 3 minutes after they’d seen I have previous retail experience, 3 minutes after they’d seen my CV with evidence of turning a ¬£16k deficit into a ¬£3k profit per month, 3 minutes after they’d read I have experience of dealing with ¬£3 million plus turnover budgets, 3 minutes after they’d seen I have a dog, 3 cats, guinea pigs, fish and children. They decided I was the wrong person for the job.

Now I’m not saying no other reason could have been viable, but the above is fact and it took 3 minutes to decide I wasn’t suitable. What could possibly have been the negative. Maybe I am used to projects, managing large teams or saving lots of money on a regular basis. But I have also worked hard for each company I have been at and saved a lot of money through working with management up to director level. This is not to say I am perfect and I wish it was bragging but if I can’t even earn an interview for a job I believe I could do to a high standard, then I’ve not got a lot to brag about.

Now it could be something simpler. It could be merely down to the fact that the amount of CV that the company wanted were set at 100 and I was number 101. It could be that the person reading the CV decided I maybe a threat to their own position, you’d be surprised how often you hear this in a managers office, it could even be that I had the wrong postcode but either way it gets a little frustrating for all concerned.

The solution isn’t a simple one. In the current state of job application process, which in my opinion is badly outdated and in need of an overhaul, It is hard to actually get into the interview seat and prove you want the position and are not over qualified. In any other world, surely being over qualified means being able to perform the position. I mean if you could get a perfectly trained member of staff for minimum wage, is it actually a risk to pick someone with experience or qualifications?

It’s something that won’t be changing for a good few years yet but something that I’d love to put out there to potential employers. When you see a CV and think, is this person right for the position? Or I wonder why they applied? Pick the phone up and ask. You might save ¬£500k for minimum wage. It doesn’t take qualifications or experience to see that makes extremely good sense.

Thanks as always for reading and I would love to see your comments.

Lee