ONS Employment figures October 2015

Employment – You've Never Had it So Good

Apologies to Harold Macmillan for using his quote slightly out of context: I have not written about employment figures for 3 years but as the latest numbers from the ONS show some of the biggest changes in employment numbers in nearly 50 years then it would seem that today would be a good day to impart the wonderful news,(and the sun is out which always makes things look better).

Without further ado and straight in at number 1:

Employment Rate

1.The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 73.6%, or 31.12 million, the highest since comparable records began in 1971 and up from 70.5% or 29.23 in May 2012 an increase of 3.1% if you believe the ONS but if you believe me then the difference is, after rounding up 6.47% . I did try looking for that comparable figure from 1971 but gave up looking as I could not find it. Interesting that the general press have seemingly just printed what the ONS have given them, which didn’t help my search.

Regardless of political bias, that is impressive. I think. But then I found an article from 1972 which covered the public anger of unemployment rising above 1 million under the Teddy Heath Government, for the first time since the 1930’s which then made we think that (dependent on numbers of people available for and population, that the current employment figures are rubbish in the larger scheme of things ie the last 100 years. But because of political posturing we never get to hear this kind of information anymore, which I feel is a shame. Ultimately, the figures are what they are, and a decrease in unemployment is good news but if this was a school report then you would be justified in saying “room for improvement” and must try harder.

Unemployment Rate

2.There were 1.77 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work). In May 2012, there were 2.63 million unemployed. That’s impressive! A massive 32% drop on the swingometer.

I’m not going to dissect this number as after the debacle of the headline winning employment rate I just don’t believe the effort is worth the reward of not actually having a clue about what the truth of it all is. I suppose the beautiful takeaway from my statement is that nobody really knows what is going on but things do seem to be getting better. The ONS have told us so and Government has also reiterated the point.

Who am I to argue with such high authority?

[interaction id=”5643a4d9737e4fee1d914fb5″]

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Linkedin Gravestone - is this the end

Linkedin – Is it the end?

Wednesday afternoon, twiddling my thumbs, playing with google advertising, doing some business “housekeeping”. Exciting is not going to find its way anywhere near that sentence. To break up the monotony I  decided to head over to Linkedin for some inspiration, after all I had not been on my profile page for quite a while, and I had recently received some random connection requests that I had ignored and thereby can justify my “timeout”. What I found was that in the past four years nothing has changed for the better and I would argue that Linkedin, in its desperation to generate income has encouraged a downward turn in content worth reading. Linkedin has become Facebook-esque. Always threatened to happen but now it has truly arrived or maybe it happened three and half years ago when I dozed off.


The evidence was in my so called Linkedin news stream. It all started well enough, with a decent share from Hubspot, always a good source, about how to get people to click on your web content and engage.

Up next a sponsored ad about big data – big yawn, that’s not to argue against big data, but it is all a little dull, vague and requires a room full of ultra-geek personnel to decode – pop goes the staff budget, but “hey guys we are popular in the Indian subcontinent”.

Stick with me it gets better, per se..

I don’t really mean better per se, I actually mean that the peasants are revolting, bad double entendre aside and an interesting snippet from one my old MDs out of the way, but there is a small fightback being mounted. But before I get to that, let’s get inspired by some of the content further down the news, and if this doesn’t make you want to fire the person that posted it then nothing will:


Linkedin is the end - Inspired photo

Whoever that chap is he needs a promotion for being so “on message”, as does the fella that “Completely agree with this”. High fives all round. I’m not cynical before you think it, I’m just so very bored with the mindset of the people that feel the need to publish this kind of trite self-help rubbish instead of just working. What makes matters worse is that the man in the photo isn’t alone, he is with a photographer although I suppose I should be grateful that there is no selfie involved.

Further down the list, I encounter some sly casual sexism dressed up as content by Linkedin themselves:

Linkedin - is this the end sexism on Linkedin

Why is this sexist? Firstly, it’s a photograph of, in case you didn’t notice, a woman. Secondly, why couldn’t it have been a man with his shirt opened to his navel? If the point of the exercise is to encourage the Linkedin user base to upload a photo and by doing so allow them the opportunity of winning the chance of a headshot;

[success]”We’re traveling across the country to offer free headshots and profile advice to our members. So stop by and we’ll help take your profile from good to amazing.” Linkedin[/success]

If this is truly the case then have the courage to run the campaign with the headshot of a model. Maybe I’m wrong but….

Finally, after a few more adverts and some other superfluous shares I came across this:

Linkedin is not Facebook

Hooray. No really, I mean whoop with joy and share amongst all of your colleagues on Linkedin, they will after all be delighted. Or probably not. Because whoever posted this failed to see that by posting this they are part of the problem and not part of the solution. the solution is not to post at all. Why do you feel the need? What empty hole at the center of your being is this sharing papering over? None. You have no reason to share anything at all on Linkedin any longer. No one really cares what your views are other than when they come to use them against you. Linkedin entices you to share by making it simple. This is not reason enough to stop thinking for yourself and allowing your index finger to take control. Sharing will not enhance your career prospects.

Linkedin is just a global directory, let’s all be professional and treat it like one.

(In the time it took to write this article another 7 updates entered my news feed. Sign up to our non-existent mailer for an update on this circa June 2019)

Linkedin – Is it the end? Read More »

Laszlo Bock SVP People Operations at Google

The worst CV mistakes, according to Google’s HR chief

Google’s chief of HR, Laszlo Bock, says he has personally viewed more than 20,000 CVs in his career, so it’s fairly safe to assume he knows a thing or two about what makes a good, or bad, CV.

Bock, who heads People Operations at Google, recently shared with LinkedIn followers the most common mistakes he sees on CVs.

For the HR expert, typos are the number one red flag on a CV and one that keeps happening far too often. In fact, he mentions a 2013 CareerBuilder survey that found that as many as 58 per cent of CVs contain typos.

“People who tweak their CVs or résumé the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error, because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune your résumé just one last time. And in doing so, a subject and verb suddenly don’t match up, or a period is left in the wrong place, or a set of dates gets knocked out of alignment,” says Bock.

Worst CV Mistakes

“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality,” he adds.

According to Bock, lengthy CVs should also be on an HR manager’s rejection list. The rule of thumb, he says, is one page per 10 years of work experience. Formatting is also a big issue, as he says many CVs aren’t clean or even legible enough.

Bock has also come across CVs revealing confidential company information which, in his opinion, should also mean instant rejection. Lastly, he says HR managers should turn down any CVs with blatant lies. In the age of the internet, any lies can easily be uncovered.

In the opinion of Google’s head of HR, these are the things that can send a CV straight to the recycling bin.

Original article: The worst CV mistakes, according to Google’s HR chief.

The worst CV mistakes, according to Google’s HR chief Read More »

CV ready for the january blues

Is Your CV Ready For The January Blues?

Christmas is coming and, regardless of religion it affects everyone directly and indirectly. You could procrastinate and bury your head in the Turkey by tackling your CV or job hunt on January 2nd with everyone else but where will this leave you?

Off the pace by two weeks to a month?

Ease back

Recruiters recruit all year round, but during December they ease back and advise their clients that it would be pertinent to wait for January to begin a new recruitment campaign. Why? Simple. More applicants will be seeking for a new role in January. Therefore giving the recruiter and client more choice.


Your herd mentality needs to be realigned. By all means be comfortable in the crowd. Do not, however, be naive enough to think that when the evening of January 1st 2014 arrives that you and your CV will be ready for the realisation that you should have considered preparing yourself in December. The back to work blues affect everyone at some point, and the period in January after the Christmas break is one of the worst times to feel vulnerable and ill-prepared for January Job Crush.


But what if you don’t celebrate or recognise Christmas? It really makes no difference as the business world is now so interconnected you will see a knock on effect. However, it’s a safe bet to say that this could prove an advantage to you. You do not have the obstacles of celebrations and family commitments, and can prepare to steal a march on the followers of the Christian Calendar by preparing in December.

If you are in business, December needs serious thought and preparation.

So does your career and your CV.

Merry Christmas?!

Is Your CV Ready For The January Blues? Read More »

Sir David Frost Dies - pictured with President Richard Nixon

Interview Technique: How to change the dynamic in the room

[success]I first posted this article back in October 2011 and republish it today in memory and as a tribute to the man who inspired it, Sir David Frost who has sadly passed away. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story of Frost vs Nixon then I would suggest you look it up as it is a great example of firstly journalism at its very best, but also provides a clear example of how you change the dynamic in an interview. See below for references and the original post[/success]

Quite a few years ago, when I worked for Shanks Waste Management, during this tenure I was lucky enough to meet a gentleman called Huw. He was a trainer from an external resource called STC, probably one of the best external agencies that I have had access to. One training seminar always stands out for me as a pivotal moment of common sense from this time:

A word of caution before reading on, this only my experience and I would only use it in a situation that “felt right”. I know that is a subjective statement, but we all know, there is a time and place for everything.

How to change the dynamic:

The tutorial was actually based on sales, and how to influence the outcome by taking the initiative but I have used in the past to change the feel of an interview, get to the core of what is required and lay the foundation for a win. It can work for interviewers and interviewees. You must remember to move quickly, decisively and be professional. If you strugle with conversation do not read any further. Seriously.


Let the interviewer begin. They will usually start with thanks for coming, how are you etc. You could let them start the process of asking questions just to place them in their comfort zone. Then, at the opportune moment ask if it is possible to pause for a moment so that you can chat about, whether you get along (crucially appropriate if the person is going to be your manager or director), why they joined the company and why you should and should not join the company. The last part is critical. If they turn beige or pink then this is probably not the person you want to be working for. If, as in most cases, they sit back in the chair and ask you to explain or carry on, a CONVERSATION will begin. The astute amongst you can now guide the conversation in whichever direction you choose but always look to finish, say thank you and ask to resume the interview. You now have completely lightened the room and the interview will seem natural and easy for both of you.

Why does it work?

People like people. Moreover, people like people that can offer a new approach or a different dynamic. And, using this technique will create a bond that could just be the deal clincher.


Use the same approach but after the initial formality, put the pen and pad down and say that you would like to get to know the person and the interview structure as it stands does not allow for it (a white lie as this is the interview). Obviously only employ the technique for candidates that have a chance of winning the role.

Be bold and change.
(If you would like help with interview preparation then visit our coaching page here)

Interview Technique: How to change the dynamic in the room Read More »

Sir Alex Ferguson announces retirement: A Manager CV that will never be surpassed?

Sir Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season, Manchester United announced today.

The most successful manager in English football history will bow out after the West Bromwich Albion game on 19 May and join the football club board.

Announcing his decision to retire, Sir Alex Ferguson said:

“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time.

“It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so. The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.
[blockquote cite=”Sir Alex Ferguson”]It is the right time[/blockquote]
“Our training facilities are amongst the finest in global sport and our home Old Trafford is rightfully regarded as one of the leading venues in the world.

“Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future.

“I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career, providing a bedrock of both stability and encouragement. Words are not enough to express what this has meant to me.

“As for my players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all for a staggering level of professional conduct and dedication that has helped to deliver so many memorable triumphs. Without their contribution the history of this great club would not be as rich.

“In my early years, the backing of the board, and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular, gave me the confidence and time to build a football club, rather than just a football team.

“Over the past decade, the Glazer family have provided me with the platform to manage Manchester United to the best of my ability and I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with a talented and trustworthy Chief Executive in David Gill. I am truly grateful to all of them.

“To the fans, thank you. The support you have provided over the years has been truly humbling. It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to lead your club and I have treasured my time as manager of Manchester United.”

Joel Glazer said:

“Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is but he’s also a wonderful person. His determination to succeed and dedication to the Club have been truly remarkable. I will always cherish the wonderful memories he has given us, like that magical night in Moscow.”

Avie Glazer said: “I am delighted to announce that Alex has agreed to stay with the Club as a director. His contributions to Manchester United over the last 26 years have been extraordinary and, like all United fans, I want him to be a part of its future.”

David Gill said:

“I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of working very closely with Alex for 16 unforgettable years – through the Treble, the double, countless trophy wins and numerous signings.

“We knew that his retirement would come one day and we both have been planning for it by ensuring the quality of the squad and club structures are in first class condition.

“Alex’s vision, energy and ability have built teams – both on and off the pitch – that his successor can count on as among the best and most loyal in world sport.

“The way he cares for this club, his staff and for the football family in general is something that I admire. It is a side to him that is often hidden from public view but it is something that I have been privileged to witness in the last 16 years.

“What he has done for this club and for the game in general will never be forgotten. It has been the greatest experience of my working life being alongside Alex and a great honour to be able to call him a friend.”

Sir Alex Ferguson announces retirement: A Manager CV that will never be surpassed? Read More »

Paris Brown Twitter Remarks Cost Job

Paris Brown – The things kids say

Paris Brown, forced to resign from her employment as Britain’s first youth police commissioner, will be remembered for the added dubious distinction of making choice remarks on Twitter in what were still her formative years. Apparently. Although the word on the “street” is that quite a few choice remarks were made in the last 6 months and not just between the ages of 14 and 16. But what of it and what can the rest of us learn from the story?

An obvious conclusion is not to write anything that is, or could be construed as, confrontational on a social network. That is simplistic enough solution for anyone over the age of 40 but what of the population below this age? The “youth of today”, consider the Social Networks a place to dump a plethora of inane remarks for the legions of “friends” to respond to in an equally if not superior example of banality. I’m not going to defend any remarks that are made on Twitter or Facebook, but my instinct coupled with a little introspective consideration suggest that people in glass houses should not throw stones as only the truly righteous will have no skeletons in the closet.

Every generation is the same, there is nothing new under the sun, but the difference for those of us old enough to remember the days before the commercial internet, and this should be seen as pre 1990, will remember that you could say what you wanted (free speech) within reason, without running the risk of losing your job or having your collar felt by the police. As a general rule of thumb teenagers are reckless, feckless beings. Or are they just full of the spirit of youth, brimming with carefree abandon? I would say it’s both. In the instance of Paris, if you scrape past the broad brush of the media and look at the remarks they could be considered zeitgeist generalisations, a crass stereo typical identifier labelling by a kid. She was wrong but in a realm where only a peer group is invited, sometimes the parents can be considered caught sleeping on the job.

But could she prove to be the start of a pivotal moment in the history of social networking? As someone that has learnt from taking the hard path, she would do well to take the blows, stand tall, and turn her lesson into one that can be shared for the common good. She made a mistake, and she should now be allowed to make amends as ambassador for reasonable, acceptable behaviour.

For the rest of us, we should ingest the lesson quickly, or the forfeit could be equally catastrophic for career aspirations. There are ways for everyone to protect themselves from scrutiny, and if your subconscious can not be trusted (a word to the wise – it can’t), then maybe you should consider an exercise in pertinency and perform a social network purge?

Twitter and Facebook are seen as a visible statement of consciousness by a generation. A place where controversy is the king maker, audacity a crown prince but in every court there is a fool, and in the land of the blind the one eyed girl could be Queen.

Paris Brown – The things kids say Read More »

Executive Stress

[blockquote align=”center” cite=”Paul Thomas, Partner, Grieves Pryce”]Is your career trying to kill you?
I have included this article because of the pertinence of the subject matter. As a business we find that an ever increasing number of people that we talk to are suffering from stress. Sometimes recognised, sometimes ignored but always debilitating. Paul Huljich, author of Stress Pandemic, having first hand experience and a high flying career is a person that speaks from a position of authority having suffered himself, shown the ability to move forward and what lessons recovery or reassessment can offer.[/blockquote]
Not everybody is able to cope with the pressures of being a top executive.
Original article from the BBC and was written by James Melik

The post-2008 economy has put considerable stress on the role of the chief executive officer (CEO) or the managing director of large organisations.

Paul Huljich was chairman of multi-million dollar organic food company listed on the New Zealand stock exchange.

“I thought I had the perfect life at 40,” he says, “I built a grand mansion, had a Ferrari in the driveway, a 25-yard indoor pool, tennis courts. a personal trainer, and I travelled the world free as a bird,” he recalls.”

However, he says that due to stress and making poor lifestyle choices, he lost everything.

“Over a period of years, I worked very hard and focused on many issues,” he says, “But one day I couldn’t get out of bed. I was lying in foetal position in total darkness thinking I’m afraid of the world and don’t want to talk to anyone.”

He had mood swings, which was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

“When I was in a euphoric mood I thought I was invincible, signing contracts when I shouldn’t be, stripping down to my underpants in a board room,” he says.

“I had a complete mental breakdown and can’t remember a lot of the embarrassing things that I did,” he says, “Stress was controlling me, I wasn’t controlling it.”

He sought help with a psychiatrist and later booked himself into a clinic in the US.

While in the clinic he researched everything he could about stress.

“There has been stress since caveman days, there will always will be stress,” he says.

Paul interviewed by Fox25 August 2012

New challenges
Prior to the financial crash there was easy access to capital and executives were able to expand their business in a growing market.
[blockquote align=”right” cite=”Toby Lapage-Norris Boyden Executive Search”]Some people have the capability but not necessarily the experience

But now they need a different set of skills and competencies to drive organisations in a period of significantly different economic conditions.

Some people do not have those skills, according to Toby Lapage-Norris of Boyden Executive Search.

“You need a different set of people to manage in a different environment,” he says.

With 70 offices in 40 countries, he notes that the turnover of executives is higher than it has been for a while.

The main challenge is how to maintain shareholders and investor confidence when the market around you is putting you under considerable corporate stress.

“Some people have the capability but not necessarily the experience,” explains Mr Lapage-Norris.

“There are opportunities to cut out the fat,” he says, “But the real skill is how you then start growing through innovation.”

Changing landscape
Some organisations are seeing that their potential no longer lies in their domestic market and that growth now lies with the emergence of new economies.

That requires an executive team which can move into a global environment.
[blockquote align=”left” cite=”Toby Lapage-Norris Boyden Executive Search”]The key is to embrace diversity and very few do it well
Questions are then asked as to whether or not the managing director has the right people at the helm.

“What is needed are chief executives who have the courage to do things they need to do, and also the humility to recognise they might not be the right people to do it,” Mr Lapage-Norris insists.

There is a need to recognise that the business environment has become more complex and they might therefore need a different person in charge.

“Do they make that call before the shareholders and the institutions?” he asks.

“What is required is a balance, of a combination of skills, courage and humility, intellectual vigour and strategic capability,” he says.

Personal strengths
Mr Lapage-Norris now spends more time with organisations to understand what they really need, rather than just responding to what they want.

Understanding that business is not conducted the same around the world is a key requisite when choosing a new CEO or managing director.

“Relations need to be built and that is done differently in some cultures,” he says.

One of the first casualties of stress can be quality time spent with the family
“The key is to embrace diversity and very few do it well,” he notes.

“We are looking for people with transferable skills, who can move from different geographies or technologies or markets so they can bring that experience to a particular company which is looking to change its technology or its geographical footprint,” he says.

However, pressures which come with the office of a CEO or managing director have always been there – they are the ultimate decision maker and they have to display courage, confidence and commitment.
[iframe src=”″ ” width=”130px” height=”245″]
They also need a little humility according to Mr Lapage-Norris, when someone thinks: “This needs to be done and maybe I can do it while others have failed.”

He says those are the people who display real leadership rather than just ego, and it is those men and women who actually have the ability to build organisations.

Paul Huljich Weblinks

Toby Lappage-Norris

James Melik

Executive Stress Read More »

Change your CV and Career

Beat the worst day(s) of the year.

Christmas 2011, ’tis the time to be merry and full of goodwill, now 11 days in the past. Well hold onto those thoughts as the worst day of the year is bearing down on us but this year it has a partner in mood destruction as some sources are saying. Yes, this year you can take your pick from the 16th of January or 23rd of January, or if your inclined to wallow in dark thoughts, take both! Cliff Arnallis the chap behind the idea that you can calculate this event with the following formula

Formula devised to calculate the worst day of the year
How bad can it be?

What’s the alternative to staying in bed on these fateful days?

You could also ask us to help with your CV and career direction. Turn the month into a positive change event and make something great happen!

Came across this pithy piece in the Guardian by Dr Dean Burnett

Beat the worst day(s) of the year. Read More »

3 reasons you should not lie on your CV

3 Reasons why you should NOT lie on your CV.

Why you should not lie on your CV. For a start, lying on your CV IS illegal; Lee McQueen, ex Apprentice winner/liar raised his head early to be on the BBC breakfast show. Lee infamously lied on the CV he had provided to the programme makers and was found out. His lie had been to state on his CV that he had been at University for two years when he had only managed 4 months. The story then referenced remarks that Baroness Deech had made in regard to the validity of references for job candidates. The Baroness was quoted as saying, “references are not worth the paper that they are written on” because the Data Protection Act revision of 1998 makes it difficult for those writing a reference to be honest as the content can be seen by the person concerned.
Lee was made to feel uncomfortable by BBC presenter Sian Williams while Lee tried to plug his latest venture. Angel Baron was also a guest and added an opinion from a HR perspective suggesting that the DPA prevents/discourages what she deemed subjectivity/conjecture behaviour from previous employers or educational bodies.

But what does it all mean to you?

3 reasons why you should not lie on your CV are:

1. The first issue is that lying on your CV is illegal.
It’s a crime under the 2006 Fraud Act (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the maximum penalty is 10 years. The first person to be jailed was a Stoke-on-Trent man in 2009, who falsely claimed to have a doctorate and masters degree when applying for an NHS job.

2. It can taint your reputation:

Take Lee as the example. His lie could be described as innocuous. He stretched a period of time to disguise a chronological hole in his CV. As lies go it could be said that it’s not a big one. It certainly wasn’t a deal breaker for Lord Sugar as Lee won and became the Apprentice. Probably because it does not have any perceived relevance to events after. Did Lee benefit in his career? Is Lee’s career success significantly more important than him masking time when he was just kicking his heels? Probably. Did Lee win the competition on merit for being the consistent individual in the process? Lord Sugar thought so. Will Lee always be reminded of his Lie? Yes.

3. Can you live with your lie or will your moral compass spin infinitum?

This is, for most of us, the crux of the issue. The weight (or mass – depending on your mindset!) of a lie and how it sits in your psyche is directly linked to time. The further back in time the less of a perceived threat and thus less of a concern. The shorter a time period is the more of a threat the lie becomes. Think of it in forensic terms. The fresher it is, the easier to reference it becomes. And this is what Lee had hoped for, what has now become the irony that will continue to gnaw at him and shadow his current venture and future endeavours. Sian Williams knew it was a weakness and Lee squirming confirmed this.

Therefore, the reason why you should not lie on your CV is simple. There is no reason to do so, ever. It really can cause you problems. In the morning when you stumble into the bathroom to clean your teeth or to have a shave, and you look in the mirror are you ready for the doubts that you can see in your minds eye? Personally, I’m with the Baroness on this argument, and the more I consider it, the more the ramifications seem to be positive.

3 Reasons why you should NOT lie on your CV. Read More »

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