Bryony Gibson Consulting turned 10 years old last month. When I look back, I’m not sure what I expected when I took the plunge. To be honest, I’m not even sure what I hoped for but it has been the best experience.
Jumping from a senior role in a global company to working for yourself is a big change. Yes, the experience and training are something I have to thank for getting me to where I am, but everything you do when you run your own business is completely different.
After 10 years, I feel grateful and proud about many things, especially to have played a small part in changing the lives and career paths of many people, so here are my reflections on the things I believe have benefited me most. I hope they can also help you…
1. We all need resilience
In the face of adversity, disruption, and change, we all need the ability to recover quickly. Resilience helps you to persevere, adapt, and deal with uncertainty. Relevant in all walks of life, it’s an important skill to possess, especially if you own a recruitment business.
2. Don’t be afraid to take a step back
Often, the best way to approach the unknown is to step away and put the situation into perspective. While the devil is always in the detail, sometimes you need to remember to pause and look at the bigger picture too.
3. You win some, you lose some
Understanding that you can’t win them all and everything isn’t always perfect was a big turning point. As someone who likes to feel in control, realising that you can’t – and perhaps shouldn’t – influence every situation to turn out the way you want has made a lot of situations better. What will be, will be.
4. Clear communication solves most problems
When people have a difficult message to deliver or haven’t been upfront and honest from the start, they often avoid the issue and stop communicating. In most cases, silence does more harm than the message you should deliver. The key is honesty. It’s a lot easier and less painful than people seem to think.
5. It’s all about people
You have to work at building good relationships because people prefer to do business with people they like. Get out and network. It’s valuable time spent and all you need to do is listen, be honest, kind and helpful.
6. Keep a positive mental attitude
Very important when you work from home or on your own, your mindset is what keeps you motivated. Of course, it’s okay to doubt yourself at times but don’t allow yourself the luxury of wallowing. Stay optimistic.
7. Trust your judgement
Soak up advice, listen to those who have been there and done it before, and absorb as much knowledge as possible but remember you know your business, so respect your expertise and trust your educated judgement.
8. Nothing good comes easy
You have to put in the work if you want good results. No one is going to give you a handout. Some days will be hard and some days even harder but, as I say to candidates, nothing good grows in a comfort zone.
9. Use your time wisely
Work, and life, can be very busy but we all get the same 24 hours every day. It’s just how you use the time that makes the difference. Successful people think smartly.
10. Always take care of yourself first
This took a long time to learn, but no job is worth your health. Yes, when I feel down or ill, I can still ignore it and push on through but sometimes you need to read the signs and rest. Slow down to speed up. Whether it takes an hour or the entire day, the most important lesson is to remember to be kind to yourself.
When employees decide to look for a new challenge, more often than not, it’s triggered by the feeling of being let down.
Whether it’s a lack of support and development, because they’ve slipped into a rut, or believe they are undervalued, making a conscious choice to kick-start a job search can feel like a big step, but keeping your options open is not something you should be afraid of.
If you’re unhappy and unsure where to begin, here is some advice to make sure you approach the process in the best possible way:
SET CLEAR GOALS
You need to define your non-negotiables at the outset. Think about what you want from a new job. Listing what you feel is wrong in your current role is often a good way to begin but, whatever you do, you need to set your goals and write down what you want to achieve. It’s the only way you can truly weigh up the offers you receive further down the line.
UPDATE YOUR CV
Your CV is the first thing potential employers will ask for, so it pays to have it up-to-date. I would also include your LinkedIn profile in that, as often employers will cross-reference the two, as well as review any recommendations you might have to draw a measure of your character. With your CV, the key is to give yourself the flexibility to tailor it to a specific role or application. Taking the time to do this will give you a huge advantage in the initial short-listing stage.
MAKE TIME TO NETWORK
Whilst I don’t necessarily agree, the adage “it’s not what you know, but who” cannot be ignored. That means if you’re serious about finding a new role, it’s time to get out there and network and get a feel for the market. Start by speaking to people you trust, as you never know who is on the cusp of recruiting or knows when a new opportunity is on the horizon.
FIND THE RIGHT RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT
If you work in a specialist role, you need a specialist recruiter to represent you. An expert in your field will understand the nuances between roles in your industry. They know the market inside and out and the skills you need. Most importantly, they will be trusted by the people hiring. People that you would otherwise not be able to reach out to.
Even if you are represented by a recruitment consultant, you can remain proactive by signing up to receive targeted alerts and updates from job boards and websites such as Reed, CV Library, and Indeed (others are available).
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
Practice makes perfect so, if you suffer from interview nerves, try rehearsing with family and friends to build confidence. When it comes to interviews, the biggest mistake people tend to make is to arrive unprepared so do your research. As a recruiter, there is nothing worse than receiving feedback that someone interviewed fabulously but didn’t take the time to find out about the company. It immediately switches prospective employers off, no matter how talented you are.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Try to remain open to possibilities when searching for a new role. This doesn’t mean a huge pivot away from what you are doing but, just because you find out about a role or have an interview, it doesn’t mean that you have to take the job. Recruitment is a two-way process, and it’s the employer’s responsibility to convince you to join them too. And if it doesn’t turn out well, you can always chalk it off as more interview practice!
If you are unhappy in your current role, while it may take time to find the dream job, an interview is within reach. You just need to know how to find it.
As the new year unfolds with economic uncertainty, the job market finds itself on unfamiliar ground. Typically, a fiscal slowdown like this would suggest that the number of people looking for a new role will soon diminish, alongside job vacancies.
Currently, while there is a significant rise in people feeling anxious about moving to a new job, the pressure businesses are under to deliver means we are continuing to see high levels of hiring demand and an even more pronounced emphasis on the quality of recruitment.
“Demand for staff continued to increase across the North of England at rates which exceeded those seen in the rest of England … Job openings rose at their fastest rates for three months, with temp billings rising for the first time in three months in December. We also saw increases in starting salaries across the North.”Neil Carberry, Chief Executive, REC
With such a complex and challenging labour market, where the best candidates hold all the power, the competition for talent will only become fiercer. This is why, if you believe that people are your greatest asset, there are many benefits to be found from working closely with a trusted recruitment partner:
Identify hard-to-find talent
Not only can recruitment specialists help you to find and attract the right candidates for your business, our deep understanding of the recruitment process and connections throughout the wider industry mean that we can often source (and approach) people who are right for a role but otherwise could not be found.
Provide market insight & analysis
At a time when recruitment is more competitive than ever, recruitment consultants offer invaluable insight into the current market, trends and best practices. Not only will this help you to hire, but it will also improve your ability to retain valuable employees by benchmarking salaries and benefits and understanding what could drive them to search for a new challenge.
Save time and money
If recruitment isn’t your number one priority, it can become slow, difficult and, often, expensive. Managers can waste a lot of time sifting through unsuitable CVs or interviewing inappropriate candidates. A professional recruiter is trained to quickly assess candidates. We know what to look for, and what questions to ask, and can identify early warning signs. We also do the heavy lifting in terms of your time, arranging interviews quickly and efficiently, following up to collate candidate feedback, and helping you to negotiate salaries, all for your convenience.
Improve your “employer’s brand”
Few businesses invest the time and money it takes to develop a positive employer brand. By finding a trusted recruitment partner, you are empowering them to act as your ambassador, offering potential candidates an insight into what it’s like to work at your firm. Benefiting from the strength of the recruiter’s relationships, a partner should not only be able to address any arising concerns on your behalf, but they will also represent you as an employer of choice and strengthen your appeal.
Help you at every stage of the process
There is nothing worse than making a bad impression on a brilliant candidate. Working with a recruitment specialist gives you peace of mind. From preparing the job specification to advertising the role, searching for candidates, screening applicants, conducting first interviews, shortlisting CVs, arranging interviews, delivering feedback, managing negotiations, supporting candidates through their resignation and counter offers, and throughout the onboarding process. A trusted partner will help you at every stage.
In 2023, posting an advert on LinkedIn or an online job board and hoping for the best is not going to cut it. While working closely with a trusted recruitment partner will help you to streamline your processes and find the right people efficiently, it is about so much more than that. You need to find someone who knows your market and can become a trusted advisor for all of your recruitment needs.
As the year comes to a close, the recruitment industry is still dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic and post-pandemic.
In 2022, this resulted in a seismic shift in the dynamic between businesses, employees, and job seekers. With an ever-increasing demand to recruit the best people, the desire for organisations to streamline designations and operating structures – combined with an almost universal acceptance of remote working – has also opened geographical barriers that have historically hindered access to talent.
Furthermore, while the majority of industries are experiencing a comparative reduction in recruitment activity for the fourth quarter, this is projected to improve in March and April as employers continue to consider “right-sizing”.
As we approach 2023, having a clear and robust talent acquisition and retention strategy is critical.
Entire remote working roles are becoming more difficult to find, but the trend of allowing your team to work flexibly both in the office and at home will continue to become even more important if organisations want to keep existing talent and go beyond location to locate the best individuals for their team.
Because talent shortages will continue, the need to upskill employees will become a higher priority for many businesses dealing with staff and talent shortages. This method not only boosts workforce productivity, but also saves costs, increases employee satisfaction, reduces staff turnover, and, more often than not, creates a more collaborative and dynamic working atmosphere.
In many industries, the “Great Resignation” is not slowing down and, as cost-of-living issues continue alongside economic uncertainty, this affects recruitment. The retention of your best workers will become increasingly important. In summary, if you want to keep the finest, you must be willing to look after them and fight for them because the battle for talent is underway and it’s skilled people who have the upper hand.
The first impression you create for a prospective recruit has always been crucial but, with such fierce levels of competition for talent, it is more vital than ever to represent your company as one that values and supports its people. Take the time to assess the assistance you provide and, more importantly, how you plan to demonstrate it as part of a positive candidate experience, as this may make all the difference when a prospect has alternative options and a tough decision to make.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
It is widely accepted that a culturally diverse workforce fuels innovation and creativity, hence improving profitability. Currently, barely one in three businesses tracks candidate diversity, with gender and ethnic diversity indicators rarely employed. Similarly, companies frequently neglect socioeconomic diversity, but 2023 will see positive movement in this area, hopefully helping to erase any remaining unconscious bias in hiring.
As the first generation never to be without the internet takes on junior roles in the workforce, there will be an increasing expectation that everything is available online and at a fast pace. Highly collaborative, self-reliant and pragmatic, Generation Z values diversity, cooperation and connection, and wants to work from anywhere but also establish good relationships with their co-workers.
The perception of recruitment consultants is changing. The days of recruiters taking job orders and firing off CV after CV in the hope that someone resonates with you are long gone (I hope). That’s not how I have ever worked; instead, I find joy in putting the right people in the right places. It often means that, in addition to the job search, I wind up collaborating with organisations on a strategic level, serving as a sounding board and a source of recruitment knowledge, market insight, and salary guidance.
While we will continue to face uncertainty, concentrating on these trends will help you not only to develop a solid recruitment and retention strategy but also in hiring the right talent to capitalise on the possibilities that 2023 will bring, despite the talent shortage.
COVID not only changed the way we work, but it also altered the balance of power in the workplace.
In sync with the adoption of new technology, reduced travel, and shift in working models, one of the more surprising differences, as we came out of the epidemic, was a reversal of control in the workplace and, in particular, the recruitment market.
Following a low period for new vacancies, millions of people around the globe suddenly chose to reassess their priorities and, in many cases left their current roles in search of a better work-life balance. Simultaneously, firms began expanding quickly and, in an instant, power transferred from employers to employees.
With savvy leaders responding quickly to protect key recruits, they inadvertently opened an opportunity for people to strengthen their position at work by negotiating salary increases and more flexibility for their roles.
Without people to fill the rising vacancies, it meant that skilled workers could enjoy a position of power as they knew they could look elsewhere and quickly find someone willing to offer what they want.
The impact of the downturn
Fast forward to today, and as inflation soars and the cost-of-living rises, in real terms, many people are facing the equivalent of a pay cut.
Regrettably, the economic downturn is also pushing some firms toward redundancies as they restructure in the aftermath of rapid expansion. This has shifted the equilibrium of power back toward businesses.
As employers tighten their belts, several global companies are already flexing their newfound confidence by requesting to bring employees back into the office environment daily, which is a brave and significant cultural shift.
All things are not equal
If history is anything to go by, the impact of power moving back to employers will not be the same for everyone.
In the face of a global recession, typically it is lower-skilled roles or people starting out in their careers that are the hardest hit. As good jobs become trickier to find, experience takes over and becomes ever more important.
In contrast, where there remains an acute shortage of skills, competition for the best people will continue with top talent holding all the cards. That means in professional industries like practice accountancy, employees are likely to maintain a wide choice of roles and enjoy the opportunity to seek higher salaries and improved benefits.
What does it mean to you?
When the balance of power lies with employers, in general, the consequences will be unequal. Some workers will keep the flexibility and benefits they gained during COVID, while others will have to accept whatever their employer offers.
Whether this culminates in a return to pre-pandemic working conditions, I am not sure, as some of the changes made during that time will be difficult to reverse and motivationally detrimental.
If you are an employee currently at the grace of your employer, however, now might be a good time to consider returning to the office voluntarily. Creating closer bonds and spending more time face-to-face with your colleagues could be an important step toward feeling continually secure in your job and progressing during challenging times.
As an employer, if budgets are tight, it is greater flexibility that will soon become your key battleground for talent. Companies that remain conscious of employees’ needs will be the most successful at retaining and attracting talent so, even if you have the desire to reduce workplace flexibility, I suggest you are very careful when you approach it. The wider implications of being too aggressive are significant.
In the end, the best piece of advice I can offer is to try and find time to think about how you feel. What – apart from money – would attract you to join a company? Why would you stay with one? By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes you will make smarter decisions, and that is the best way to succeed.
Last month I spoke about questions to avoid asking in an interview. One of the most neglected aspects of interview success, this month, I’m exploring the questions that will give you the upper hand and help you stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to the end of an interview, the best approach is to ask four or five thoughtful questions that demonstrate you are serious about the role, have done your homework, and are someone who is proactive and will add value to the team.
While it is important to keep your eye on the clock, so you don’t overrun, you need to take the opportunity to impress with a series of smart, considerate, and well-researched questions or comments.
When pre-planning, it pays to consider your motivations. Whether it’s the company culture, professional development, or their approach to sustainability, the answers you get should help you to decide if the job and organisation are a good fit for you.
Learn more about the people interviewing you:
- Why did you decide to work for the organisation?
- What is your favourite part about working here?
- What excites you about the future of this company?
- What do you believe is necessary to succeed at the company?
- What are some of the company’s recent accomplishments?
Find out all you can about the role, making sure questions cover new ground:
- What are the first projects I’ll be working on?
- What are the most challenging aspects of this job?
- Are there any functions not mentioned in the job description?
- Do you expect any change to the role in the future?
- What training can I expect in my first week?
Look for a company culture that aligns with your values:
- Are there ambitious growth plans for the next few years?
- How has the company changed over recent years?
- How would you describe the culture of the office?
- Does the business help staff achieve a healthy work-life balance?
- Is there any volunteering or charitable service opportunities?
Training and development should be tied to personal career goals:
- How will my performance be measured?
- What do you hope I will achieve in the six months here?
- Is there support for professional development in this role?
- Does the role have a planned path for future advancement?
- When I have settled into the role, what opportunities are there for career growth?
The people you work with will have a big impact on your success and happiness:
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be part of?
- What other departments will I work closely with?
- What are your biggest concerns about the team right now?
- How does the team contribute to the overall success of the business?
- Does anyone on the team get together outside of work?
An interview is a two-way process. With the knowledge gained in preparation, you should be ready to ask a selection of questions that not only interest you but show you are aware of the challenges and opportunities you will face in the new role.
The further along in the hiring process you are, the more crucial this becomes. Try to match the questions to the people you are speaking with and pitch the level accordingly.
Ultimately, businesses want to work with candidates who go above and beyond the basic requirements. By asking questions that show you fit that description, not only will you impress the interviewer, but it can also mean the difference between being offered the job and not.
When helping somebody to find a new job, I offer market and salary advice and support them with everything from their CV content to their interview technique, and contract negotiations.
Throughout the process, many factors can affect the success of a job search, but it is during the interview that both parties genuinely discover if the chemistry is right.
The best interviews are always a two-way affair where both sides are not only selling themselves but also deciding whether they think there is a future together.
From an applicant’s point of view, in my experience, it is the people who are prepared, have done the research, and are keen to make a good impression that comes out on top so, even if you’re not yet passionate about the business in question, you need to show you are.
Assuming all goes well, at the end of your interview you will be asked whether you have any questions for the interviewer. Never decline. By opting not to ask a question, the final impression you leave will be that you either weren’t engaged in the conversation or you haven’t done your homework and aren’t interested in the business.
It pays to think of questions beforehand, however, be careful what you say, as there are some questions you cannot afford to ask, including:
Something Google could answer.
A common mistake people make when trying to show a curious mind is asking more about what the company does, who the competition is, or what clients the firm works with. Any questions you could have conceivably discovered the answer to already need to be avoided. Before an interview, it is your job to learn as much as possible about the company and the last thing you want to do is to come across as being unprepared.
Anything salary or benefits related.
The terms of employment are yet to be discussed so, while you may think questions like “What would my starting salary be?”, “How often would I get paid?”, “When is the next performance review?”, “Would I get healthcare benefits?” show the employer that you are keen, the reality is that they only serve to make you look focused on the wrong things.
Questions starting with the word “Why”.
People are predisposed to take a defensive position when faced with a question beginning with “Why”. Instead, try to rephrase your queries to be less confrontational i.e., rather than “Why did the company do …”, try “What is your opinion on …”.
What happened to the person before me?
Knowing what happened to the previous person in a job is important but, as tempting as it may be, this is information your recruitment consultant should be able to supply and not something you need to ask. Hopefully, it will be offered during the interview but, if not, it is best to steer clear of the topic and pick it up with your consultant, as you don’t want to give the impression that you have concerns about the opportunity.
Do you monitor internet usage, work emails, or social media?
While a valid concern, this is something best left unsaid. Often, it gives the impression you have something to hide and, on a similar note, in the lead-up to an interview, it is also wise to review your social media accounts to make sure there is nothing critical of your current employer or any posts that could be conceived negatively when viewed out of context.
While most recruiters agree that “Thank you, but I don’t have any questions” is the worst possible response when the tables of an interview are turned, your goal is to build on the rapport you have created and ask a few smart and thoughtful questions that not only show you have been paying attention during the conversation, but you have done your homework.
Inspiration can arise from anywhere. It could be a place you visit, someone you meet or, more recently for me, a movie I watched.
Hopefully, Top Gun: Maverick needs no introduction but, without wanting to highlight my age too clearly, it is a famous quote from the 1986 film that led me to think about how “the need for speed” is vital if you want to become the best Navy fighter pilot in the US, but it is equally important in the (slightly less glamourous) world of recruitment.
And, while it is not a death-defying mission into the unknown, presently, competition to attract talent is as fierce as I can recall in over 20 years of practising recruitment in the North East.
Businesses’ intention to bring new people in has soared well above pre-pandemic levels and continues to head skyward, but the severe shortage of quality candidates brings a serious challenge, even if you have a wide network of people at your fingertips.
A sentiment supported by the CIPD’s most recent Labour Market Report, spring’s most popular response to hiring difficulties was to raise starting salaries. An obvious but short-term fix, the approach comes with a warning as there is a limit on how far you can go before negatively affecting the morale of your existing team.
Encouragingly, the firms I am advising are also looking at other approaches to tackle the challenges. Upskilling the existing workforce, more flexible methods of operating, and a focus on improving job quality are ways used to influence decision-making but, from a recruiter’s perspective, the speed you engage and take decisions often correlates directly with the rate of success.
You see, generally speaking, the best person for a role is unlikely to be actively looking for new openings in the job market. The perfect people always have options, and it is often only through existing relationships that they can be enticed to explore a new opportunity.
Now, more than ever, the relationship between business and recruitment consultants is key. If you can find the right partner, it will allow you to exploit their market knowledge, access their network, and capitalise on their expertise, reputation, and ability to generate interest in your vacancy in the right circles. From your side, you need to be comfortable trusting the advice you receive, as you may need to be flexible on the final solution, which is not always as bad as it sounds.
Once you choose to engage in a candidate-driven market, you need to be prepared to give time to the process and make fast decisions. As recruiters, we realise you are busy and that hiring is often an addition to your core responsibilities, but the more time and importance you place on the process, the better long-term results you will see.
When an impressive candidate’s curiosity is piqued, it is important to move through the stages of recruitment with speed, not haste. This might require breaking the rules a little to streamline more traditional, drawn-out recruitment processes and protocols but, right now, slow hiring means only the average will remain in your race and making fast decisions reflects a dynamic corporate culture that will endear the best talent to you even more.
So, if you like someone and want to stay ahead of your competitors, my advice is to “feel the need for speed”. Act fast and invite them in for an interview and, if it goes well, don’t delay in making them an offer. After all, your company is only as good as the people it employs.
Almost one in every five workers (18%) believe they are “extremely likely” to change their employer within the next 12 months.
According to a survey of more than 2,000 people from various industries, 32% also acknowledged they were “moderately” or “slightly likely” to make a switch, suggesting half of UK employees are actively considering their future.
That is a sobering thought for business leaders at a time when we are witnessing a growing number of new job opportunities together with chronic skills shortages and a lack of candidates with relevant experience.
It is a dangerous mix and one that has been driving fierce competition and applying pressure to the labour market to the point where accomplished people regularly receive multiple job offers and, in a bid to influence their decision, remarkably high starting salaries.
The paradox of an unavoidable market consequence is, however, that in return for continued dedication, existing team members are subject to soaring inflation and cost of living increases that comfortably outstrip their salary growth. So, can we blame them for being tempted by the opportunity to make more money elsewhere in a similar role?
In many ways, a move appears to have no risks, but I would offer a note of caution to anyone whose main motivation for change is an “increase in pay”.
While salary will always influence, in my experience, it will not always help you make the right decision. Other factors should be considered, factors that if ignored may mean you miss something worth a lot more than money.
REMEMBER WHY YOU WANTED TO CHANGE.
When faced with a dilemma, take yourself back to the original reasons you began your job search. Amongst the flattery of an offer, these reasons can be overlooked but remain critical to being happy now and in future.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER?
Before any move, take a step back and think carefully about the big picture. The decision you make will influence your direction of travel and your ability to progress in the future. The best way to do this is to forget about the salary and base your choice on the role, company, and potential for development.
CALCULATE THE REAL FINANCIAL IMPACT.
If you are fortunate enough to have multiple job offers, keep in mind your current salary, and calculate the impact any financial increase will bring after tax and over 12 months. Often, the difference is not as large as it seems and may help with your decision.
WILL YOU RECEIVE TRAINING AND SUPPORT?
To keep evolving you need to keep your skills fresh, but this does not necessarily mean a study support package – although that will factor into your decision-making. Think about day-to-day training. Is there mentor support available? Will your role develop new skills that move you closer to your end goal? And does the company have the resources to support that?
HOW FLEXIBLE IS THE ROLE?
A healthy work-life balance is important and being able to work from home or mix your time between home and the office may be a priority for you. Whatever you prefer, make sure the company matches your favoured working pattern and expectations.
DO YOUR VALUES MATCH?
A pay rise may lure you in but to stay engaged you need to be enthusiastic about the company’s vision and purpose, and how your role fits into that. Ask yourself whether you are interested in what the organisation does, whether you align with its purpose, or are simply being tempted by the money.
Ultimately, the choice is yours but whatever you decide, you will be spending a lot of time in this organisation. If you are unhappy, it will have a significant impact on your work and general wellbeing, so be sure you are moving to a place that satisfies the reasons you wanted to move in the long term.
As we approach the end of another academic year, very soon, the job market will prepare for an influx of fresh and enthusiastic academics looking for their first career break.
I am already seeing ‘Graduate Pending’ CVs land regularly in my inbox, along with school leavers too. And, staying mindful that Covid has denied young people the part-time work experience opportunities that usually prove how dependable and responsible they can be, the current crop of up-and-coming job seekers will be presenting to the market with little or no practical experience in the professional world.
Even with the high volume of vacancies we are seeing across the UK right now, it can be extremely hard to stand out and be shortlisted for an interview if there is nothing on your CV to link you to the job you have applied for. So how do you begin to tell new graduates apart?
One of the crucial areas I explore in any CV that helps me to decide whether someone stands out from the crowd is the ‘sport and interests’ section.
As a recruiter familiar with CVs of all shapes and sizes, my advice if you are preparing a graduate resume – or helping your children to compose theirs – is that while academics are important, what people look for most is what I call the ‘extra bits’. It is the volunteering, the charity work, or the discipline and dedication it takes to reach a certain level in sport.
I believe that the skills young people learn in these pursuits contribute greatly to their overall development. Especially through sport.
Not only does sport instil resilience and improve emotional intelligence, but it also helps to shape values and improve interpersonal and teamwork skills. Offering demonstrable examples of this in your CV is how you can shine as it offers recruiters an insight into the personality of the person they could be hiring.
Having spent a not-insignificant amount of time volunteering CV advice and hosting mock interviews in schools on behalf of Founders4Schools, I have found that it is the children who regularly do out of school activities that have the most to talk about. Often, they are more confident than their peers and, for the most part, are better communicators.
Only last week, I was sitting poolside at 7 am on the outskirts of Leeds while my son prepared to compete in a regional swim competition. Watching the children interact freely with others from their club and those in neighbouring cities and boroughs reassured me that all the early starts are perhaps not such a bad idea after all.
Perhaps my weekend spent sweltering on plastic seats amongst the blistering heat of a packed spectator gallery was a reasonable trade if it teaches my son skills that will build his character, shape his outlook toward a challenge, and be incredibly useful when the time comes to join the workplace.
Having recently helped a graduate who competed at a professional level in his chosen sport, not only did his CV shine out to me, but when I spoke with him, he was a long way ahead of others in terms of his attitude, professionalism, maturity, and drive. In many ways, he had seen more of life, and it has helped him immensely. He found a career opportunity very quickly.
Regardless of the activity, competing at an elevated level in anything takes a lot of commitment, dedication, and time. If you see this on a CV, remember that it also means people have more than likely missed events with friends to ensure they still are dedicated to their training routine and if they can do that, they can go the extra mile in the workplace too.