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What it takes to be truly happy in your jobMay 2013

In a recent interview in the Harvard Business Review, James Allworth, author and Fellow at Harvard Business School forums discussed the importance of understanding how your mind works in relation to motivation in order to find a trully fulfilling job.

James explains that there are two independent levels of factors which affect our motivation.

Firstly there are the 'extrinsic' factors. These are the factors which your friends and family can see, you can put on a CV and discuss in a job interview. Essentially these are:

  • Salary
  • Job title
  • Working for a prestigious firm
But these visible, extrinsic factors are not a source of contentment. Indeed research suggests these components are actually a source of discontentment — when they're absent.

In other words, having these extrinsic motivators in abundance won't make you happy; instead, all that abundance will result in is an absence of dissatisfaction. Which is not the same thing as being satisfied.

James believes that true motivation relies on a very different set of factors which are 'intrinsic' in nature. These are much harder to measure, and he suggests may even be unique to you, however the most essential factors to genuine motivation are:
  • Being given the opportunity to shoulder responsibility and work independently;
  • The ability to learn and grow;and perhaps most important of all;
  • Doing something you think is meaningful.
This means that there's not a single spectrum which decides whether you "love" or "hate" your job based on factors, but rather that there are two spectrums working completely independently of each other: one which will cause us to be dissatisfied (extrinsic) if absent, and another that will cause us to love what we do (intrinsic) if present.

Understanding that your mind works in this way, don't forget to consider the other factors beyond the larger pay packet, fancy job title and prestigious firm when taking your next career move.

James Allworth is the co-author of How Will You Measure Your Life?. He has worked as a Fellow at the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School, at Apple, and Booz & Company. Original article on HBR can be found at

Is Automated Recruitment the future?April 2013

With a significant number of the world's largest employers now using candidate tracking software programmes, quizzes and games to filter candidates, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the most important part of the job hunting process is to have a brilliant CV, filled with rich keywords and verbs.

Before you start amending your CV to incorporate half the dictionary for appropriate keywords, you need to think about what these systems, quizzes and games actually do.

Essentially, they manage large numbers of applications from a wide variety of sources. Automated systems are a tool to manage the sheer volume of applications and to help with the pre-selection of applicants down to a manageable number for the more traditional and personal side of the recruitment process - face to face meetings.

Some organisations are trying to save time through using telephone interviews, however they'll always want to meet you before making their decision.

As the old saying goes "People buy people" and people will continue to buy people in the future, regardless of how sophisticated computers become. That is why in addition to having a great CV, you also need to meet the recruitment professionals to ensure that you sell yourself to them.

They are the experts that employers value the opinions from and who will provide their professional opinion on whether you're the right fit for the role, company culture, the people and for the future growth of the company. You have to look no further than the apprecntice to understand that the vetting process always has a face to face role in getting to the truth.

So the verdict? Your CV needs to have keywords, in for instance a keyword summary, to be able to meet the machine driven criteria for selection. However if you really want a specific position, you cannot rely on passive CV applications.  You also need to meet with the recruitment experts, as a good recruitment company will always meet you before they send your CV to their client. Make the most of this time with them and listen to their feedback and expert advice.

How to impress your prospective employer (and how not to!)October 2012

In an article where research was undertaken by a Staffing Service Company, they asked HR Managers across the US what impressed them most about candidates for roles and which ones stuck in their memories (Unfortunately, not always for the right reasons!)

Here is a summary of some of the responses:

"An applicant walked in with coffee and donuts, and her resume underneath."

"I've had someone outline what he planned to do for the company in his first six months."

"One job seeker sent a handmade get well card when she heard the hiring manager was under the weather."

"One applicant sent a gift and an invitation to coffee."

"We had a candidate who contacted our board of directors to try to make his case for being hired."

"I recall applicants who have impressed me with their overall marketing approach. A few have sent in fancy CDs that contained a video message explaining why they should get the job."

"One woman showed up with, literally, a suitcase full of binders containing letters of reference, certificates of achievement and other accolades."

"A job seeker brought in a performance review from his past employer."

On a more serious note, HR Managers had the following feedback about what really impressed them:

"One applicant explained what he knew about our company. I was very impressed with his knowledge and research."

"I had a follow-up email from a candidate immediately after our meeting."

"I liked the way one job seeker explained his skills in a way that correlated directly to what we needed for the position."

"A candidate gave me a thank-you note right after the interview."

"One woman didn't just recite her skills -- she provided many examples of her work."

"The candidates I recall most are the ones who were persistent in calling to make sure they got the position."

"An entry-level job applicant arrived for the interview in a three-piece suit."

"I am impressed when a job seeker arrives on time and is well-dressed. It's that simple."

The Moral of the Tale

Despite all the fancy gimmicks and CVs, really it just comes back to the basics:

  • Be on time for the interview
  • Dress in professional attire
  • Do your homework on the Organisation

Survey undertaken by OfficeTeam

Family Business Workers Are HappierJuly 2012

Employees of family-owned businesses are happier, more loyal and work harder than employees in other companies or in public sector organisations. 

A study for the Unquoted Companies Group found that employees in these companies put in such long hours that they effectively work an extra day every week. More than 20% of UK workers are employed by family businesses.

Source: Professional Manager - Chartered Management Institute

Working from home could make staff more productiveJune 2012

Working from home could make staff happier and more productive, a study on flexible working by O2 has suggested. The study, which involved 2,500 members of O2's workforce working from home for a day, revealed that 88% of staff believed they were as productive at home as at the office, and 36% believed they were more productive. O2's electricity and water consumption fell by 12% and 53% respectively, and 1,000 fewer cars were parked at the office.

Staff saved a total of 2,000 hours of commuting time, with 16% saying they used their extra time to sleep longer and 14% spending it with their family.

Source: FSB/Cobweb Information

How the AWD has affected NI businessMarch 2012

Now the dust has settled and we have hit the three month milestone after the Agency Worker Directive (AWD) became active in Northern Ireland, we ask Matt Tanner, Recruitment Manager at Kennedy Recruitment, about the impact of the legislation on NI business.

What do you believe the impact of the AWD has been on business?

After the Initial concerns, the impact doesn’t appear to be as severe as first anticipated and therefore the overall effect for the majority of businesses has been fairly minimal.

However, from an agency point of view, the legislation has had a significant effect. It has increased our levels of accountability and we need to ensure that all of our paperwork is in order at the start of the contract such as what benefits are available to the temporary worker from day one and then after 12 weeks.   

Agencies now must obtain crucial information from our clients in order to determine what the pay rates will be once the 12 weeks continuous employment has been met.

Although this doesn’t appear on the surface to be a particular issue, frequently the employer will need advice as they do not have a definitive answer on the post 12 week pay rate if the role is unique within the organisation.

Do businesses understand how the AWD affects them or is there confusion?

I still believe there is a significant level of misunderstanding both from Clients and Workers as to how the new legislation affects them.  The main changes are around the 12 week qualifying period and also the fact that 2 different types of contract can be operated – Pay Parity Contract and Regulation 10 Contract (also known as a Swedish Derogation contract). This can be very confusing for both clients and temporary workers, who are often unable to determine the length of time they will need a temporary worker for.

What do you believe Government should be doing to support agencies and businesses?

On a personal note, I believe that the Government should undertake a full review of the AWR implementation sooner rather than later, to fully understand how it's affecting business owners.  The review is currently scheduled to take place in 2013, but I believe this should be undertaken this year. Indeed October 2012 would be an ideal time, as the legislation will have been active in England, Scotland and Wales for 12 months, giving a fair overview of what is working and what is not.

C.V. Writing19/02/2014

Many people assume writing a CV is an easy task. You just incorporate your education and work history and send it to a prospective employer!  However for the person receiving the CV, the difference in receiving a well composed CV compared to a poor one, will inevitably lead to an applicant being given the opportunity of an interview or not.

We ask Matt Tanner, Recruitment Manager at Kennedy Recruitment his views on CV writing.

In my 14 years in the recruitment industry I must have seen thousands of CV’s and I can truly say that writing a good CV is an art form in itself.  This one document can make or break your opportunity of securing an interview for that perfect job.

For a prospective employer this is your first (and sometimes the last) opportunity you have in telling them why they should set aside some of their precious time in order to meet with you.  If this document does not demonstrate what they want to know in a fairly concise and coherent manner then your chances will be gone before you get the chance to tell them so, face to face.  You could be the perfect person for the role and the prospective employer will never know because your CV has let you down at the first hurdle.

Anyone at any level can write a poor CV, as they may be complacent and assume an employer will always see them.  I truly believe that by just spending a bit of time and effort as to what information your CV contains, anyone can write a good CV.  Some of the fundamental errors of CV’s clients / employers have provided to me over the years include;

Spelling Mistakes & Grammatical Errors

In the digital age we live in there is absolutely no excuse for this, ever!  All PC’s, laptops, tablets and even smart phones have spell-check facilities, so a CV appearing on a prospective employer’s desk with spelling mistakes would lead to one thing – the reject pile.

General CV’s

You may think having a generic CV is the best way to go as it means you can send your CV to as many job advertisements as possible in the shortest amount of time. However, not tailoring your CV to a specific job advertisement demonstrates that you are not prepared to put that little extra piece of effort in to tell the employer how you meet their requirements. Worse still is when a CV or cover note is received that clearly shows it was either meant for or tailored to suit another role / industry; this demonstrates at best a lack of attention to detail and at worst, laziness.  Make sure your CV clearly shows how you not only meet the minimum role requirements but how you surpass them!

Personal Statements

Although I am not a fan of personal statements on the CV’s I receive, they are tolerable when they are at least relevant to the role, or show dedication outside of the place of work for example; Charity Work.  In addition, if the statement is quantifiable it will mean a prospective employer will at least be able to benchmark what you are telling them.  Listing your likes as “Going to the cinema” or “Socialising with friends” adds absolutely nothing to your Application and uses space on your CV which could be used for adding value instead. 

Personal Information

This might sound like an obvious one but not having basic contact information on your CV means a prospective employer cannot get in touch with you.  You would not believe the amount of times this happens and even if a CV is sent by email it is not always received directly by the person reviewing the CV.  Having an email address and a contact phone number is a must for all CV’s.

“Funny” Email addresses 

You may like your “funny” email address for use with your friends / social media however, I would strongly advise against using one for a job application.  Some of the email addresses I have received over the years are not even re-printable!  Likewise just because you think they are funny does not necessarily mean that everyone will.  For this reason I would recommend setting up a new ‘practical / professional’ email address to use for job hunting.  There are numerous Providers available and best of all, for basic accounts ‘they are free’.

Lastly, one of the major (and usually most common) ‘oversights’ I see in CV writing is applicants who ‘list their Duties and not their Achievements’

Let’s be honest, CV’s can be quite a dull affair!!  In just listing what you do / have done in your previous roles does not demonstrate the ‘achievements’ that you have had, or ‘added value’ that you have made to those organisations.   

For example – “I was tasked with ensuring Sales Targets were met and exceeded”  

Would sound much better – “Through a combination of client management and increased sales activity to existing customers, I increased sales by 85% in the preceding 12 months;  this was more than 250% above my set target for the same period”- however, in making such claims prospective employers may ask you to back this up with evidence – so make sure they are real!