Friday, 21 August 2009

Get the Job You Deserve

Hello again.

Pace Setter

Did you see Usain Bolt this week? He’s come from nowhere to dominate world sprinting! Well actually he hasn’t, he’s been well known to most pundits for 9 or 10 years and he’s been training very hard and improving all the way.

This week we’re talking about preparation: Interview Preparation.

We are sending some excellent IT candidates and marketing professionals off for interviews this week and many of them have had doubts and questions. There are some great tips on our website but we want to give you access to extra information that will really help you to be the best you can be. Remember, the best candidate doesn’t always succeed: the best interviewee does.

4 Key Areas

Let’s look at 4 areas to help you arrive feeling ready to dazzle:

· Make sure you’re going for a job you really want
· Treat every conversation in your search like an interview
· Be ready for any question
· Practise!


If you’re not going for a job you really want the chances are you won’t get it. You may feel under less pressure because the stakes aren’t so high but the lack of enthusiasm is likely to come through. If you’re suffering from a passion gap then How to Get a Job You’ll Love is a great guide to help identify what gets you enthusiastic.


Once you’ve found that source of enthusiasm then start communicating it. In all your networking activities and conversations with friends make sure they know what you want to do. Treat anyone new, who may be able to help you, with the respect you would reserve for an interviewer, even if they called you first. You need people on your side.

Standard Answers

There is a relatively standard list of about 200 interview questions, including ice-breakers, toughies and competency-based. As part of your ongoing career development strategy you can prepare stock answers to these questions that can be upgraded as required. If that sounds a bit extreme imagine asking one of the business leaders on Dragons’ Den about the value they can bring to your organisation. You’d get a concise, convincing answer wouldn’t you? You too should be prepared.


A guide to the list is featured in Job Interview: top answers to tough questions. If you haven’t got time to find that you could look at this no nonsense HR site, it’s a bit daunting but if you have a strong answer for all the relevant questions you can only do well. The only questions that change dramatically each time are the ones about the recruiting organisation; you have to be up to speed on that. Do your research, no excuses!


The final tip is to practise. Practise your prepared answers with a friend or relative, you can add polish so quickly this way. You may be expecting a verbal or mathematical reasoning test; practise that too! Here’s an online site where you can practise for free.

Other than that just do everything you can you make sure you turn up on time looking, feeling, smelling and sounding confident and enthusiastic. You’re ready; it’s all about you, so enjoy it.

Good luck!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Engage, Transform, Energise!

Hello again, I hope you are well.

Personal Interests

Do you remember back in blog 1 when we talked about your CV having at least 3 personal interests which aren’t work related but do include:

· Evidence of teamwork
· Something eye-catching
· Something you really enjoy and can enthuse about

Mr X

Well this week I met a contact, let’s call him “Mr X”, with the following personal interests:
Regularly enjoy sailing, skiing, singing and reading. Ran the London Marathon and sailed in the Fastnet race. Public Relations Officer for Oxford Harmony. Played rugby for Leicester Tigers, Richmond and Henley.

The Message

It’s got it all! If you know this person you’ll recognize him from this. If you don’t know this person what would you expect? Someone who looks after themselves and is confident and outgoing? An enthusiastic team player who is ready to help others and push themselves to the limit whilst still having fun? Well you’d be right. He sounds quite employable doesn’t he?

I asked Mr X about the Fastnet race and got an entertaining answer. Based on his time on the yacht he came up with a new management concept: Engage, Transform, Energise.

First I got everyone to buy in to me by doing all the horrible jobs – Engage

When that spirit of trust was built up people took notice of me and I could lead by example – Transform

Once that started to happen my enthusiasm became infectious and the team became energized, I know that because they told me! – Energise.

I wanted to put this on the blog because I too got energized by Mr X and felt there was something here worth sharing.

Set an Example

Firstly this story underlines my advice to have that rounded package of personal interests, not just on the CV but in your life. Having a positive message tied to those activities is the icing on the cake.

Secondly it’s worth thinking about times when we can implement Mr X’s very transferable idea. Skipping the steps will lead to resistance. When could you use this model?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

How I got the Job

Have these blogs been a bit lengthy for you? We’ve had some feedback to suggest they were, so this time we’ll try and be punchier, which will leave us more time for getting people placed...and predicting football scores

That last line may look slightly “off topic” but it’s part of a serious point. Whilst seeking inspiration for a softer blog theme we typed “how I got the job” into google and came up with this link that we posted on our twitter feed at the weekend.

It’s American and very marketing focused but don’t be put off if that’s not your country or industry, Ann Handley’s advice is great. There are 4 key courses of action to help you find a job you’ll love:

· Google yourself to check your online profile
· Reach out online
· Make meaningful personal contact
· Forget networking > Start providing value

The first point is simple. Increase the professionalism of your online profile. Edit any inappropriate content from social networking sites and generally increase your marketable presence.

Second, reach out for advice online and keep all communication channels open.

Third, make personal contact with industry players and strategically manage any posts you’re making…

…and fourth. Now we don’t really want you to forget networking but you do need to remember it’s a two way street and that’s what leads to “providing value”. Answer people’s questions, share useful tweets or posts and support people’s projects. Helpful, collaborative people are more likely to be helped.

On that note, thank you so much to our first few followers for signing up. The website still says one but we know you’re out there! We don’t want to overload you with links but Predict the Score is great fun and here are a couple of well followed twitter feeds that our contacts are running to show what can be achieved: posts marketing product manager roles and is just generally fun and informative.

What could you do?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The State of Play

First: Contacts

At Picture More we understand the importance of strong business relationships for long term success in this industry. We have a large network of professionals that we have known for years; many of these are now personal acquaintances as well as business partners. This is essential for us and, as we suggested in the last blog, good practice for any ambitious professional aiming to advance their career. A lot of our longest standing contacts are in IT related disciplines but we also have a rapidly growing marketing and sales network due to our new division that specialises in those areas. No matter which contacts we talk to we are always asked what trends we have noticed in the employment market. As the media continues to talk of “green shoots” of recovery we’d like to use this week’s blog to give our opinion.

Prospects for Growth

On a day to day basis our view of the market is framed by our activity with clients. From this comparatively narrow perspective the news is good and as we have clients in many different sectors it’s certainly a positive indicator. Some organisations that had become dormant from a recruitment point of view have become active again and we have seen some senior roles come in. Importantly, the contracting market is also opening up. Looking at the market beyond the frontier of our client base the last year has been pretty bleak and there have been consistent month on month falls in advertised positions. Depending which source you looked at, the number of new IT roles fell by 60-70% and sales and marketing roles fell by more than half. The good news is that this trend seems to have levelled out now and the numbers are even starting to climb gently in certain sectors.

Recruitment "Bounce"

We had felt that this bounce would have to come soon and improving performance from banks, mining stocks and house builders may boost confidence enough to spark a recovery in recruitment. Many companies have imposed recruitment freezes, removed all contractors and made heavy cuts in IT and marketing staff. In some cases it is felt that these cuts went too far and there will need to be a mini recruitment drive to redress the balance. At the same time we have seen other companies that haven’t cut back so far and are actually using this relatively quiet time to look at their infrastructure and systems architecture. All this requires specific expertise which brings us back into play.

Another trend that arises out of this climate is a push for exact fit. Companies justifiably feel they are in a market where they can hold out for the “perfect” candidate. Professional consultancies like Picture More will always strive to find perfect matches anyway but the bar is clearly being raised.


So how should our candidates feel and what should they do? Feel positive! No-one was immune from redundancy or pay freezes over the last few months. Manage your CVs and on-line profiles to include an increased level of detail of relevant, recent experience. Make sure to mention anything that differentiates you, including prestigious former employers. Think strategically about the positions you want to find and make sure to package profiles accordingly. Realistically that is going to mean doing some in depth research on prospective employers. It’s a tough market but when the going gets tough....