Picture courtesy of the www.talentedladiesclub.com
Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting experience for many women, but with the right approach and sufficient planning, both at home and with your employer, the transition needn’t be a hard one.
It is more than possible to establish a flexible working agenda, to the mutual benefit of both employees and employers alike. All that is required is a degree of understanding on the part of not just the individual returning to work but their employer and their colleagues.
It’s important to remember that flexible work is no longer a taboo, not everyone seeking flexible work is a mum – there are dads, retired individuals and city high flyers who want to work in a different way. Recent research indicated that two thirds of men consider flexible work an important factor when looking for a new job. Increasing numbers of innovative employers are changing their approach to finding new talent, and are focusing more on output achieved, than time put in to get there.
Top tips for getting back into work
Be realistic. Honestly assess your situation and understand your true motivations for returning to work, consider the financial and emotional implications surrounding childcare, and what arrangements you’ll need.
Find dependable childcare, there are numerous options and it’s important to find what is right for you. Nanny shares, childminders, nurseries and au pairs are all workable solutions. It’s sensible to also have a back-up person in case things don’t go quite to plan. Look for a safe, stimulating environment and qualified caregivers. Ask other mums, neighbours, your NCT friends and co-workers for recommendations. Check caregivers’ references and trust your instincts.
Talk to your employer. Clarify your job duties and schedule so you’ll know what’s expected of you after you come back to work. You might ask about flexible hours, telecommuting or working part time. It is crucial that you take responsibility for your own ‘outputs’ and effectively manage your employer’s expectations. Often employees are worried about broaching the topic, don’t feel put out but instead demonstrate your understanding of the needs of the business. This will ensure your employer can see your dedication and allow them to recognise what is important and realistic for you.
Stay connected. Even a few months out of the workplace can leave you fearing that all your skills and experience have deserted you. You need to re-connect with the ‘working you’ and the people who valued what you did in the workplace; contact colleagues and work friends, invite your old boss for a coffee and try to attend away days or appraisals. You are entitled to 10 ‘keeping in touch days’ during your maternity leave without it affecting your maternity pay.
Overall, I advise adopting a mindset which sees setbacks as challenges to overcome. Be realistic (don’t crash and burn!), develop a ‘can do’ attitude and remember you’re not alone; more than 80% of employees – men and women – are parents. Good luck!
By Alice Weightman, Managing Director – Hanson Search
A Freedom of Information request by the BBC has found that more than 20,000 students complained to their universities last year. An increase of 10% on the year before, the findings have been welcomed by Universities Minister, David Willets, who believes that students are demanding more for their £9,000 a year fee.
As fraught with tension as a Birmingham school governors’ meeting, university tuition fees have long been a contentious issue: they have caused, the now infamous, protests on the streets of London, and have contributed to the rise (remember Cleggmania?) and fall of Nick Clegg, who in 2010 signed a pledge to block any rise in tuition fees, before performing a rather stunning volte-face just in time for the door of his ministerial car to close.
Students, now kettled by the burden of £9,000 fees, ‘see themselves more as consumers than they used to’, according to Rob Behrans, an independent adjudicator for higher education. He adds, ‘they want to get the best degree they can get’. It is this, somewhat facile, argument that seems to have been accepted as a suitable explanation for the growing malaise among students.
And yet, unlike crotchety pensioners bemoaning the cost of a second class stamp, the students interviewed by the BBC did not mention the growing cost of their courses: what worries them is that their studies will leave them unprepared, and unable, to get a foot on the career ladder.
Funding cuts to universities, announced in 2011, have hit newer, teaching-focused institutions especially hard, resulting in a notable reduction in staff numbers. This has led to decreased contact time, a move towards online lectures, and an increase in ‘self-study’ (a.k.a. a good time to watch Murder, She Wrote).
To make up for this funding shortfall, universities have adopted proactive, extravagant marketing campaigns, leading them to be accused of a ‘pile ‘em high, sell ‘em short’ approach, with the reality not living up to the promise of the glossy brochures.
Mr Willets is right in his assertion that it is encouraging to learn that students are concerned about their education. It is also comforting to know that there is an ombudsman to assess the concerns of disgruntled students. But what about those who finish their studies ill-equipped for the world of work?
It may, more than ever, be necessary for students to look to extra-curricular activities to gain the required skills to get their first career break. If students want to increase their desirability to future employers, they should look to acquire experience outside the traditional realms of academia. Similarly, if employers want to ensure that the next crop of university leavers be prepared to face the challenges of a graduate role, it is up to them to offer work experience opportunities, such as internships (preferably paid ones, but that’s a blog topic of its own) to supplement their studies.
For some students, higher education may not be the silver bullet it once was, but with employers increasingly keen to see examples of achievements outside the sphere of education, their dream job may be more obtainable than they think.
Are you a driven student looking to gain valuable work experience in a challenging, stimulating sector? We are offering roles in our research team. You will have exposure to different functions of the business and be involved in a range of projects: research; press and social media monitoring; global mapping of markets; database cleansing.
For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Christopher Cuthbert, Researcher – Communications Division
As a specialist communications recruiter, we are often asked about industry trends, how the market is shaping up and what the toughest levels to recruit are……always a tough one, but the answer to that is, usually, the mid-level roles. There is a continuing shortage of mid-level talent across the PR and PA industry, and it seems to cross all markets from corporate or consumer PR, to healthcare, digital and public affairs.
So where does all the talent go? There is plenty at a junior level and a decent amount at a senior level, so what happens at the middle tier?
Everyone is different, but often at the beginning of people’s careers their moves are about money and promotion. So, in order to attract great talent at the junior end, you can entice them with a step up in terms of responsibility or salary. As people progress in their career and become more confident in their ability and value, this tends to change.
People become more focused on enjoying what they do and having clients, or a business, they are truly passionate about. Having something to aim for, having the ability to show their creative ideas and implement them and the importance of flexibility in a happy, balanced working life, are the most common desires. This may be because they are starting a family/settling down, but not always. Often it’s because they are driven, hard working and determined individuals who feel frustrated that they are encouraged to be tied to a desk from 8am-6pm to provide great output and results.
So what can businesses do to attract this hard-to-find, mid-level talent?
Be open minded and be flexible. Any working arrangement has to work for both parties and the employer needs to ensure that they trust the person will deliver, and work the hours needed. So you may start someone on five days a week in the office with the plan that, once past probation, they can work some days from home. Or you may want them to send a daily report with their activities and tasks completed that day initially. In the digital age it’s pretty easy to see what someone is adding to the business and what their output is. Being open to different working arrangements can open businesses up to an extra pool of candidates with great talents that otherwise they wouldn’t access, and if you’re not, and your competitors are, you could lose current talent too.
By Janie Emmerson, Director – Communications Division
Hanson Search has been recruiting in the Healthcare Communications sector for over 12 years. During that time we have seen the industry undergo unprecedented change.
This change is a topic of ongoing industry discussion as it has a great impact on effectively benchmarking salaries and benefits in Healthcare Communications.
In order to understand these differences in salaries and benefits, we would be really grateful if you could complete this five minute survey; and also share it amongst friends and colleagues to whom it may apply. We plan to release a report of our findings and will circulate it to all those who contributed.
For every survey we receive, Hanson Search will donate £1 to our annual CSR project, which is currently about promoting diversity in the communications industry. To find out more about our CSR project please go to http://www.hansonsearch.com/blog/?p=2185
Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HansonSearch
Les réseaux sociaux ont vu le jour il y a quelques années et ne cessent de se développer. Au départ, il s’agissait simplement de garder contact avec ses connaissances, mais très vite ils sont devenus de véritables outils professionnels servant aux candidats et aux recruteurs.
La place des réseaux sociaux dans le quotidien des Internautes
Linkedin, Viadeo, Facebook, Twitter… sont des réseaux sociaux qui, ces dernières années, ont véritablement bouleversé le monde du recrutement.
Ils font désormais partie des outils de recrutement utilisés par beaucoup d’entreprises /cabinets de recrutement.
D’après les chiffres d’Internet World Stats, il y aurait 518 millions d’utilisateurs d’Internet en Europe, soit 64,5% de la population européenne. D’après eMarketer, 62% des utilisateurs d’Internet en Europe occidentale en 2013 seraient notamment des utilisateurs de réseaux sociaux.
≈ 2,3 millions
Il n’ y a plus de doute, les réseaux sociaux font partie de notre quotidien. En Europe, les chercheurs d’emploi sont très actifs: 81% d’entre eux sont présents sur ces réseaux et la plupart y ont quotidiennement recours.
Les plateformes de réseaux sociaux les plus populaires permettent de cibler un public plus large et grandissant, ce qui incite les entreprises à entrer dans l’univers des réseaux sociaux. En trois ans à peine, les entreprises ont augmenté leur présence sur les réseaux sociaux de près de 50%.
Les réseaux sociaux les plus utilisés pour le recrutement
Les réseaux professionnels comme LinkedIn sont les plus utilisés pour le recrutement. LinkedIn est le leader européen; 64% des entreprises l’utilisent pour trouver de nouveaux talents. Facebook arrive en deuxième position, avec 41% des entreprises qui l’insèrent à leur stratégie de recrutement. Et pour finir, 29% des entreprises ont recours à Twitter.
Un recrutement plus stratrégique
- Faire baisser le volume de candidatures pour augmenter la qualité des candidatures reçues
- Faire baisser le coût de recrutement
- Cibler des zones géographiques auxquelles les recruteurs n’avaient pas accès
- Identifier sa cible de manière préçise: Sourcer les réseaux sociaux permet effectivement d’être en contact direct avec LE candidat
- Engager un vrai dialogue entre recrutés et recruteurs
Un puissant outil de recrutement
Étant donné la forte présence des entreprises/employeurs/chasseurs de tête et des chercheurs d’emploi sur les réseaux sociaux, cet outil n’est pas à négliger. Au fil des années, cette méthode de recrutement se révèle être de plus en plus puissante. Effectivement, les réseaux sociaux sont devenus une solution sérieuse et intelligente pour sourcer et trouver de bons candidats, permettant de recruter plus vite et à moindre coût.
Par Laurence Levy, Headhunter – Advertising & Digital
In the past decade technology has increasingly became part of our daily lifestyle affecting in a positive or negative way, our day-to-day routine. However, looking at the bigger picture, more important has been the impact of technology on business in all its matters.
Since the inception of computers in business related functions, multi megabyte, gigabyte and lately terabyte storage systems have been employed to store key business information: sales data, growth rates, market trends, performance appraisals and so on (the list could probably fill several pages). In addition and more recently, the introduction of new technologies such as social media or smart contents brought in an almost completely new dimension of information. In fact, while the former traditional typology of data is defined as structured, the latter more recent, it’s commonly defined as unstructured.
Thus, given these two definitions, what is big data? In simple words it is the merge of structured and unstructured data and its consequent analysis aimed at providing a better understanding of business matters and helping the decision making process. However, some might reasonably question why the effort of this big analysis should matter to their businesses. The following examples will hopefully answer this question.
The well known management consulting firm McKinsey analysed a large retailer and estimated, through the use of big data analytics in full, an increase of operating margin of more than 60%. Also, a conjoint study of several private and public organizations estimated savings of $200 billion by the US Healthcare System due to the use of big data to drive efficiency and quality. If this is not enough, this last example will convince you of the usefulness of big data. On a more consumer and economic viewpoint, it has been proved that the use of big data to analyse the large amount of “personal-location data” is able to generate a $600 billion surplus receiving the right information at the right time according to your location.
As can be seen from the above examples, the applications of big data analytics result extremely broad and the benefits are brought to businesses of any kind as well as consumers. Big data analytics will quickly become a key competitive advantage leverage. Most likely, the most responsive businesses to use big data analytics to drive key decisions will be the top players of the near future.
By Davide Cassanelli - Headhunter Market Reasearch and Analytics
Walking into an interview can be a daunting task. Your hard work and achievements will be scrutinised and you’ll be expected to demonstrate your skills under pressure. Entering an interview with confidence goes a long way. Ultimately, this all comes down to the preparation.
Candidates often express their concerns to me regarding how to answer certain questions. Describing your input into a complex communications plan can be tricky. When I’m interviewing candidates I need to assess their level of capability and proven track record. You need to avoid confusing the interviewer with irrelevant details and still be concise and clear about the work you contributed to a project.
The STAR technique has been around for a long time but its relevance still stands. “Star” is most useful when establishing ways of expressing your achievements during interviews. The table below outlines the formula.
|S = situation
||Briefly describe the situation or scene.
||I was working in a large communications agency as a Account Manager in the public affairs team
|T = task
||Say what’s needed to be done to address the situation and what your role and responsibilities were.
||Our clients came to us as the government announced they were going to increase taxes and our client was going to be negatively affected. They commissioned us to campaign against the proposed tax increases.
|A = action
||Say what you did and how you did it. Include your reasons if they are useful.
||I developed a stakeholder map of political targets and interest groups. I then engaged with these groups and secured meetings for my client with relevant MP’s and business leaders. Before the meetings I briefed my clients.
|R = results
||Say what happened as a result of your action.
||As a result of the campaign my clients were able to convince the MP’s that the increased taxes would have a negative impact and therefore shouldn’t be introduced.
I also advice my candidates to record feedback they receive from their clients and managers. It’s reassuring for an interviewer to know your work is valued by others.
As a comms professional it’s imperative that you showcase your oral communicational skills. At the interview stage eloquence and confidence is key. To achieve this, prepare well. Use the STAR technique!
By Danielle Randall, Consultant – PR Division
With so much hype and excitement happening across the Atlantic in Austin, Texas where the annual South by South West Festival is taking place, I wanted to have a look at the hot topics and new trends that have emerged from the festival.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with #SXSW14, it is an annual music, film, interactive conference and festival where the brightest minds in emerging technology come together to explore cutting edge technology and digital creativity. It is a labyrinth of networking events, keynote speeches, presentations and panel discussions as well as a host of late night parties and events for those not wanting to retire to their hotel room.
It is now in its 21st year and has been a catalyst for many of the technology advances we see today, it can be the starting point for a process/product that will change the way we communicate and live our daily lives (most notably Twitter in 2007 and the launch of Foursquare in 2009). This year amassed more than 30,000 delegates and over 1.2 million twitter conversations giving you an idea of the sheer size of the event.
So what are the key things that people are taking away from this year’s festival?
1. Data Security and Privacy
An appearance from whistleblower Edward Snowden via video link and a talk by Julian Assange shows how important online privacy and data security is – a global concern, many will argue that we can no longer sit back and allow this huge breach of human rights to continue. Eric Schmidt at Google also joined the debate and spoke at length on the dangers of the misuse of online data the day before. As Snowden said: “They are setting fire to the future of the internet. It’s the maker community who can create solutions to make us safe.” The future is uncertain but one thing is clear, it will not be tolerated.
2. Wearable Technologies
Last year was all about the emergence of 3D printing, this year was all about wearable technology. From the Google Glasses to The Talking Shoe, it was about demonstrating the technological advances of the tech power players. Although some concerns are circulating regarding privacy issues around the glasses, the tech world still seems to be embracing them.
3. Technology and biology are emerging
Bioengineering was one of the most innovative ideas that came out of the festival, with Joi Ito saying we will need to know about this just as much as the internet in the near future. This concept is fascinating and shows amazing ways that biology and technology can work together to benefit our existence – in a talk “Full of Tomorrow” Paul Kemp-Robertson and James Kirkham spoke about the “Human Body as the next Interface”, explaining technologies like functional contact lenses which augment your world with visual data through to epidermal electronics, which can read tiny changes in body temperature to give us signals about our health. Wow.
4. 3D Printing is getting bigger and bigger
From everyday objects, to food and even buildings – yes the 3D printer is advancing in a phenomenal way. It emerged that the MIT media lab had developed a cable suspended robotic crane for 3D printing buildings. 3D printed food came in the form of the ChefJet printer which churned out colourful shapes of food and with Cadbury-owner Mondelez International pushing the boundaries and debuting a new 3D printing machine that makes Oreos. How businesses spring up to monetise amazing innovations such as these will be fascinating to watch.
It has certainly been an awe-inspiring few days and there have been some hot topics and interesting technological advances coming out of the festival once again. I think this quote from the guys at iTech pretty much sums up the festival….“As the Internet and mobile devices grew in importance, the SXSW Interactive Festival became its own entity, introducing some of the tech world’s largest forces over the past few years…This year, the trend continues as some of today’s biggest names in technology rub shoulders with the world’s best musicians and film directors. “
I am sure the unforgettable inspirational experiences that only SXSW can deliver will only continue to get bigger and bigger in the future. I for sure, will be working on my MD to secure us tickets for next year.
By Amy Stewart, Senior Consultant – PR Division
Consumer and Shopper habits have changed. We hear the economic news and how this affects retailers, the dissections of spending and purchase behaviour and all know personally that we are evolving our habits to suit a faster paced and economically savvy way of life. What is becoming more apparent is that Consumer and Shopper behaviour will continue to evolve, at a greater pace. As a foundation for a customer centric strategy, is your business ready to face a fast changing consumer.
2014 is expected to be a year of strong growth for the UK economy, poised to grow faster than other European economics and this positivity is reflected in a more optimistic outlook from UK Shoppers (Michael Freedman, IGD). This all should spell good news for UK retailers and brands; more people willing to part ways with their money. However, grocery retailers are still reporting a difficult trading climate and other retailers and brands must still be feeling the pinch too.
What is causing this disconnect? I would argue two points:
- A less predictable shopper
- An incomplete picture of the consumer
The most disruptive change purchasing behaviour has been the Internet and the plethora of associate media that now keeps the world informed. Information is instant. Opinion is conveyed across social and political borders and an individual’s influence has a wider reach than ever before. As a society, we are becoming accustomed to things happening more quickly. An aspect of this wealth of information affects our knowledge about brands – being able to compare prices, find a bargain, read about other people’s experiences and make a decision on how quickly we can get our hands on something, all weave together during the shopper journey. Also, the rise in popularity of online shopping, combined with the rise in apps and tablets mean more decisions are being made away from store and away from traditional areas of influence.
Shopping habits, driven by an evolution in both financial and ethical thinking has become more focussed around value (James Russo, Nielsen). Does this product represent value to me and my beliefs? Consumers are concerned with both quality and price of products and trust is a key factor in this decision. When this trust is broken or compromised, consumers are more willing to try new products or brands to find a better alternative – and are often spoilt for choice. This has lead to some suggesting that brand loyalty, in its traditional form, has died.
A recent article, discussing the Twilight of Brands (James Surowiecki) concludes that brands are now only as good as their last product. The innovation and quality of new products counts more than brand heritage and product success is driven by giving the consumer a better product to suit their lifestyle and values and one that delivers tangible value.
For brands that are established and have relied upon shared values and past performance to create loyal customers, this should be a cause for concern. A balance in communicating a consistent brand message (at every level) and giving the consumer new innovations that appeal so much that they will have to buy it is difficult to achieve.
Instead, establishing a dialogue with customers, creating a story and an experience that they can feel a part of is a strategy that creates a loyal following and emphasises the values of the brand. There is also a wider expectation to be able to have dialogue with brands in a way that has not previously existed, due to our hyper-connected lives – their voice is important and they expect to be listened to. As such, engaging with them in the correct way and using the correct forum is important for establishing the dialogue that you want to have with your target customer, as moving in conflict with these customer expectations can quickly alienate a brand and product and dissolve the trust that has been created.
How can a brand decide on the best way to engage with their target customer? The first step (and most important) is the research you conduct. This allows you to establish a base line of understanding about your consumer and subsequently pick up on the smaller, but not inconsequential, changes in perception and behaviour attitudes towards your brands and products. In turn this enables brands to react quickly and in the right way, and to direct thinking and communications with the audience in the right manner. Just as important as the message you want to send, is to construct the mechanisms to enable an adaptive strategy that can mould to a dynamic consumer environment.
This might seem an obvious statement – I know that many businesses spend a lot of money on research and uncovering insight. Why am I taking the time to reiterate it? I speak to a lot of Research and Insight, Strategy and Category Management professionals who share a frustration in the lack of buy in to customer understanding being central to all of the key commercial decisions of a business.
A lot of businesses claim to be customer centric, but does yours have the framework and desire to truly utilise the knowledge you gain about consumers effectively? How do you make best use of all the data sources that you purchase and are all the stakeholders involved in key customer making decisions familiar with the data and research at the disposal? In a fast evolving commercial environment the insight and understanding of the consumer must be clear enough across the business so that it can be central to the commercial strategy, thus allowing sales, marketing and digital teams to act in harmony to achieve a clear, unified and timely message.
Having the right balance of understanding the consumer you are targeting and being able to deliver an effective strategy in their area of responsibility is a talent driver for businesses going forward. All functions need to have an affinity for insight and the relevance to their deliverables, as a bottom up influence. If this understanding is widely conveyed across the business and understood, the message being communicated will be clear, using the right platforms and the value of engaging with your brand will be clearly demonstrated.
In this age of austerity and savvy shopping habits the right thinking in the right place has never been more key for businesses to outperform their competition and to effectively engage with consumers. Hiring decisions to reflect this fundamental need and to increase the affinity for insight across the business have never been more important.
With the emergence of big data, the balance of power lies with the well informed consumer and shopper – they will research and plan their purchases and squeeze value from the brands that they decide to engage with. To truly compete in this hyper-informed market, brands and retailers have to do the right research to understand the consumer and appeal to their individual values and needs and importantly, construct an effective strategy around this. Are you confident you know about the consumers with which you are dealing?
You can be sure we are doing our research on you…
By Nick Stratton, Managing Consultant - Market Research, Shopper & Branding Insights and Marketing
Transforming PR through diversity: Hanson Search and Hanover launches new PR and Communications programme “UpSkill”
Hanover Communications and Hanson Search have launched “UpSkill” with the independent charity UpRising. The programme helps ambitious young adults break into the communications industry. It is a tailor-made programme designed to support aspiring individuals interested in a career in PR and/or Public Affairs and will equip them with essential skills to improve their employment prospects in the sector, specifically creating a strong CV, writing skills, interview techniques and how to network.
Alice Weightman founder and MD of Hanson Search “If there is one business sector that should reflect Britain’s society, then the communications industry is surely it and as it stands it doesn’t”. Our vision is that we work in an industry that doesn’t have to try and find diversity, it just comes naturally. We hope this programme will become an important part of championing the need for a long term cultural change across sectors.”
The programme will include four interactive workshops delivered by Hanover and Hanson Search. Hanson Search hosted the official launch party at their offices on Thursday 27th February 2014.
“UpSkill” – supported by the industry body the PRCA – also aims to attract ambitious individuals to PR and Public Affairs who are currently under-represented within the sector. On completion of the programme in the summer the PRCA will offer the “UpSkill” students free membership, access to online training and exclusive networking events. Together with Hanover Communications and Hanson Search they will work with the “UpSkill graduates” to secure internships or apprenticeships in a communications agency.
Charles Lewington, founder and MD of Hanover Communications: “The world of corporate PR and public affairs consultancy is grey, graduate and too middle class. UpRising is an inspirational organisation dedicated to opening doors for talented and passionate young campaigners who might not otherwise make it into a PR job or even onto an internship interview shortlist. Hanover and Hanson Search consultants will be working with UpRising to provide job application training, mock interview support as well as the networking and written skills they need but without diluting our commitment to exacting quality standards in a highly competitive industry.”
UpRising is a UK-wide youth leadership development organisation. Their mission is to open pathways to power and opportunities for a diverse range of talented young people. They equip them with the knowledge, networks, skills, and confidence to reach their potential and transform their communities for the better.
Hanover is an independent consulting firm that specialises in advising global brands, businesses and organisations on reputation, communications and public affairs. Hanover create and deliver integrated programmes that are designed to ensure organisations bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be.
If you would like to get involved please do contact Charlotte Church: 0207 632 8804 email@example.com