Donald Trump take note: New job? How to make an impact!

Can you imagine what it’s like to take on a role as a president? Starting such a big job with the worlds’ eyes upon you seems an impossible task. But just as if he was taking on any other position, Donald Trump will have a plan.

If YOU want to make an impact in an important role, consider these strategies …

Don’t forget that most employers believe that in the first 3 months their new staff member will want to impress. Therefore, in the first 3 months you ought to see the best of a new hire. If the first 3 months are disappointing, then why prolong your anguish, it is not going to get any better, so take appropriate action.

Bearing this in mind, you have a real opportunity to shape your reputation and make an impact in the new business you’re about to join. So here’s a handy list of things to do: Continue reading “Donald Trump take note: New job? How to make an impact!”

I need a new job! But how do I go about it?

Whether you have left your job or are in a job you no longer enjoy, for most people finding the next opportunity can be a daunting task. What do you do? Who do you speak to? Where do you go from here?

The fact is that finding a new job can be (and if you’re currently not employed, it should be) the equivalent amount of work of a permanent position!

Assuming your CV and references are tip top, I would suggest the following steps will get you where you want to be 90% of the time:

1. The old fashioned way: Search for suitable vacancies and apply – nowadays it may seem the equivalent of buying a lottery ticket, in that you can expect a very low success rate. However, you need to be in it to win it – just do not spend too much time on this route.

2. Network: You need to network with all your acquaintances and the people you have worked with in the past, and those they can introduce you to. Make sure you have a 5 minute ‘elevator speech’ and you can explain what an opportunity needs to have for it to be of interest to you. The more specific you are, the more likely a successful outcome. ‘I’m looking for a challenge’ does not fall into that category, however ‘I’m looking for a senior finance position within a private equity owned retail organisation’, is getting close to how specific you ought to be. Btw, networking means that you stay in contact with people – one cup of coffee or a chance meeting is not going to wash it. You need to stay in the forefront of their minds. This doesn’t mean that you have to phone them every week but you do need to be visible (see point 3 below).

3. Build your profile: Whilst on the subject, make sure you build up a profile on LinkedIn, join Groups, post articles, comment on other people’s articles, expand your network of contacts, etc. Make sure that these contributions can all be viewed in a positive light, rather than coming across as annoying. For example, some people post 10 articles, one after the other. This will absolutely get you noticed, however personally, I think it just annoys the recipients.

4. Recruiters and headhunters: Spend time researching which recruiters or headhunters you want to touch base with, ask people you are close to in your network for recommendations. Make sure that the person or recruitment company operates at the level that matches your next job – there is no point in talking to Office Angels if your next job is a CEO position at a FTSE100 company! Certainly speak to as many recruitment companies you want, however please make sure that they do not release your details / CV to any third party (including their clients) without your prior permission. You need to be in control of where your details are sent to and you need to decide which person or recruitment company is best placed to represent you to a certain prospective employer. Would you rather deal with the headhunter who has a close personal relationship with the CEO or the recruiter who deals with the Talent Manager? Of course you are hoping to be contacted if / when the recruiter works on an assignment that may be of interest to you, of course in this situation you have a much better chance – 20% if there are 4 people on the short list plus an internal candidate … So not quite a lottery ticket, more like a Bingo card …

5. Research: Finally, the activity that you should spend at least 50% of your job search time on is the activity that puts you in the driver’s seat and that will give you an element of control. Make a list of companies that you are interested in for whatever reason, be it perceived company culture (who doesn’t fancy working for Richard Branson?), product (Ferrari here we come), location (fancy a 5 min commute?), expansion plans, international reach, etc, etc. Then do your research on each of these businesses: what tricks are they missing, what are they not doing that you can deliver, what ideas can you bring to the table? In other words why should they be interested in you? You will probably find that once your research is complete, at least 50% of the companies have fallen off your target list as there is no compelling and urgent reason that they should hire you tomorrow. However, it has left you with a shorter and targeted list of companies. Now you need to decide who is the best individual for you to meet in each of these businesses – is it the CEO or one of the functional Directors? Unless you’re aiming for an HR position, I wouldn’t recommend you meet with the HRD – I know many and there are few and far between, who do not just fill a vacancy but look at the individual and consider an ‘investment hire’ for future opportunity. Once you have a list of the decision makers you want to meet, you need to engage your network in order to find the person that has the strongest relationship with each of these DMs – I’d rather have an introduction to a CEO through his golf buddy than through someone making a cold call.

6. Get introduced: If you feel that no one in your network has a strong enough relationship to make a particular introduction then find a headhunter who has. The quickest way of establishing which headhunter a company uses is to phone them and ask. To ask HR which executive search firm they would recommend ‘because you admire the type of talent they manage to attract’, ought to get you a straight answer if you are phoning from a company in the same (retail?) sector. After all, a search firm cannot poach from their clients, so the more companies use ‘your’ particular search firm the fewer of your staff will be poached. Once you know which firm they use, ask which consultant they recommend in particular. Your next step is to phone the individual and say something like ‘I’m just about to phone your client company and speak with the CEO, because I have experience of resolving a particular problem they don’t seem to be able to solve, however it struck me that you may want to make the introduction?’. Believe me, if there is a potential fee involved, the consultant will want to meet you and will want to make the intro. It is then up to you to sell your skills, experience, background and cultural fit in order to be considered for a role now or to be put on the substitute bench for when a suitable vacancy arises.

All easier said than done, or so it seems … Of course there are many nuances and little tricks to improve the level of success you’ll enjoy – too many to blog about. Give me a call and I will help you. Good luck!

Follow @maartenjonckers on twitter for links to more articles on the subject and retail related chat

Survival guide for the office Christmas party

Office Christmas party season is in full swing, and for some it is the highlight of their working year. For others, it is an ordeal to be endured, especially if attendance is mandatory. Socialising with people that you work with can be great fun if you all get on and have similar taste in music/your idea of fun/jokes. But it can be awful if you’re the new person that doesn’t know anybody, or you feel out of your depth with senior colleagues. Or even if you’re a senior manager that feels they don’t have anything in common with younger colleagues.

However you view the party, it often results in a lot of stories that go along the lines of “Do you remember when (insert name) made a complete fool of themselves?” or “Wow, I’ll never forget that party where ….”. So here are our top tips to help you stay out of the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

10 things NOT to do at the office Christmas party:

1. Dress inappropriately – find out what the dress code is if in doubt
2. Hog the karaoke microphone (especially if you’re not pitch perfect)
3. Make a pass at the boss
4. Accept a pass made at you by the boss!
5. Be obnoxious or rude to anybody, no matter how much you want to
6. Drink so much that you a) stumble or b) slur your words
7. Upload photos to social media that show your colleagues in a less-than-flattering light
8. Upload photos of yourself that you might regret later
9. Photocopy any of your body parts
10. Do anything that will make you the ‘tabloid news’ for the rest of the week, or even worse, go down in office history

Ways to make the office Christmas party work to your advantage:

  • Use it to make a personal connection your colleagues – find out about their hobbies, interests, family.
  • Show your softer side, especially if you’re normally quite straight laced at work. You don’t have to be an idiot, but show that you have a personality.
  • Make some new contacts – an informal environment is a great opportunity to chat to somebody that you might not normally have access to. Perhaps someone in a different department, or based on another site.


Follow @maartenjonckers on twitter for general tweets and discussion about the world of retail

Don’t lose out because of your body language

It doesn’t matter how good your CV is on paper, you can destroy all hope of being successful through negative body language. After all, over 90% of our communications are conveyed by tone of voice and body language, or ‘non-verbal communication’. While most of us can recognise the obvious body language signals, it’s important to be conscious of the signals that you’re giving, as well as reacting to those that you are receiving. 

In business, your colleagues, boss, suppliers and clients will all be reacting to your gestures and mannerisms and mentally calculating:

• Are you trustworthy?
• Is what you’re saying credible?
• Do you have their interests at heart rather than your own?
• Can they believe in your message?

So how can you make sure that you come across as an honest, trustworthy, credible and believable person?

Positive body language

• Sit or stand tall and strong
• Offer a firm (but not crushing!) handshake
• Make eye contact but don’t stare. Look at the space between the eyes if it helps.
• Speak clearly and confidently. Don’t mumble.
• Simple manners go a long way. If someone gives you something, say thank you. If you ask for something, say please. If you don’t know somebody, introduce yourself. If you need to interrupt, say excuse me.

Negative signals to avoid

Fidgeting is a sign that you are not comfortable – drumming your fingers, tapping your foot, playing with your pen and darting your eyes around the room are all indications that you would rather be somewhere else.

Touching your face, rubbing your nose, eyes and ears or scratching your head shows doubt in what you’re saying or hearing.

Closed postures such as crossing your arms suggest you are not open to discussion, you are not listening, or you are not interested. It can also be a defensive gesture.

Nodding impatiently to rush the other person to finish what they are saying so that you can answer, or looking down, preparing an answer while they are still speaking are antagonistic gestures.

Once you become aware of these habits, it will be easier to control them, and focus on displaying positive mannerisms.

Signs the meeting is not going well

If you are in a meeting, or being interviewed, these are all warnings that you are not making the positive impression you hoped for:

• Your interviewer is leaning back, looking around
• Fiddling, pen tapping, jiggling feet
• Not making eye contact
• Little or no friendly conversation or smiling
• Frowning and pushing themselves back from the table
• Confused face, pursed lips

What to do?

If you are conscious that somebody is not responding well, change your tack. Don’t plough on regardless, ignoring all the signs.

If the person you are talking to seems disengaged, try asking a question to bring their attention back.

If you’re faced with a confused or frowning face, offer clarity. “I can see that I haven’t explained this very well – can I give you a better example?” Don’t suggest that they are at fault for not understanding. That will alienate them further.

When 2 people are getting along, they often subconsciously copy each other’s gestures. ‘Mirroring’ is a technique that is often used to consciously create rapport. It is widely used by those that practice Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and it can be very effective. The essence of it is to subtly copy (or mirror) the gestures of the person in front of you. For example, if they stand with their hand on their hip, you do the same. If they lean against the desk, you follow. However, it should be approached with caution, as it can be too obvious and you may end up offending them! It’s worthwhile observing others interacting though, to see if you can spot this in action.

A longer term strategy is to indulge in a bit of people watching – observe interactions between others and see which behaviours you can spot. What works well? What makes people react badly?

In summary

Looking and sounding positive and confident will convince others that you are – and even if you’re not feeling 100% confident, acting in a positive way will help you achieve much more than you would if you give in to negative thoughts.

Follow @maartenjonckers on twitter for links to lots more related articles and general tweets and discussion about the world of retail


Why writing a CV is the best preparation for an interview

A guest post by Jenny Hargrave from Interview Fit

Traditionally interview preparation happens near to the date of the meeting. However, have you considered preparing for an interview before you’ve even applied for the job? It’s not as illogical as it sounds; the recruitment process is no different to the advantages gained in business through breaking paradigms.

Writing a CV provides a valuable opportunity to stop and ask some introspective questions about your career and professional self. Experience is, of course, only one influencing factor in a hiring decision. Other key aspects include soft skills, potential, cultural fit and mindset. Reflecting on frequently asked interview questions designed to reveal personal attributes, as well as your track record, will help you identify important qualities that should thread through your CV. Instead of viewing your CV in isolation, approaching it as an integral part of interview preparation will pay dividends.

Assist the interviewer
Throughout the interview process and especially in the latter stages, these wider personal qualities are extremely influential on the outcome. By presenting them clearly in your CV, the interviewer will have a more complete first impression firmly planted in their mind, before meeting you. With this foundation in place, you will be in the fortunate position of confirming and reiterating this favorable perception, rather than having to establish it from scratch. The advertising industry has been reaping the rewards of the familiarity principle for years – it’s present in most areas of decision making, so use it to your advantage!

Benefits to you
Most people are naturally modest and are not comfortable with articulating what makes them good at what they do. Talking about their team’s record sales, for example, doesn’t pose the same issue, as it feels more objective. Analysing and committing your key personal strengths and qualities to paper, helps overcome false modesty in a face-to-face situation. Emphasising and adding further details to skills and attributes in an interview is easier to do when your CV has already introduced them. It’s worth remembering though, that just listing character traits with accompanying adjectives is too generic and can be counterproductive; ensure you provide a corresponding context.

Promote your USP
Increased disintermediation in recruitment means that carefully crafted notes from a search firm may not always accompany your CV, so it’s vital that your professional profile and summary sections in your CV are really compelling. Decide what CV format works best for your job search/application objective. Make sure all headings and headline statements in summary sections are backed up with supporting examples. Remember both a CV and interview are opportunities to market yourself, so some subtle self-promotion is expected and even welcomed. This applies to interests too. Any outside work activities that enhance your personal professional brand are worth including. If you have swum the channel, make sure it’s included, don’t merely mention keen swimmer, as one of our overmodest clients did – swimming 21 miles in open water immediately conjures up extraordinary commitment and incredible perseverance, so it is definitely worth mentioning!

External promotions
If you are seeking an external promotion, you will need to convince the interviewer that you are capable of operating at the next level. Your CV can actively assist with this goal. Assess the new aspects of the role and read profiles of professionals already holding similar positions. This will help you highlight the areas of your expertise and approach which demonstrate you have the required aptitude and capability to operate at this level. Mirror the language of this more senior level when describing your experience and achievements. If you head a division and are seeking a directorship, don’t just mention your divisional results, put them in the context of improving company performance. Show that you are already thinking at a company level. Use language that elevates your experience to strongly indicate that this is a natural next step and one which you are equipped to make.

Clients are frequently surprised at the breadth and depth of questions we ask when preparing CVs on their behalf and how helpful it is ahead of their interviews. So when compiling your CV, or just updating it, act as your own career counsellor, invest the time to identify the aspects that will create a strong, rounded professional picture of what you can offer a business. View your CV as more than the traditional two-dimensional list of chronological experience and you will give yourself a valuable competitive advantage.


Jenny Hargrave is the founder of Interview Fit, a specialist career management consultancy that provides professional CV writing services and interview coaching. Her previous experience includes working within executive search, establishing a boutique headhunting firm and retail management.