Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Your career prospects for 2013

2013 could be a defining year!
The Good
If the Eurozone settles and allows for a pick up in confidence, then all that money sitting on company balance sheets could start to be invested and we could see a real and exciting upturn in the global economy. Companies around the world have plenty of money to invest, they have been lean since the crash in 2008 and have increased cash reserves as a result. Upturns in economies are driven by the private not public sector, so if confidence returns then we can expect significant growth in the job market and potentially a global explosion of demand for talent. 

The Bad
Carrying on as we are and maintaining the wait and see status quo will make an already slow market even worse. Career opportunities will slip away dramatically. As we have seen in 2012, the majority of organisations are recruiting only to replace, few are making investment hires. The fewer the number of jobs available the less the general public is likely to spend, making companies invest even less as they see and consequently contribute to an ever shrinking economy. This is all well reported in the newspapers of course but it makes the reality of the status quo quite frightening.

The Ugly
In plain terms the ugly is a collapse in the Euro, with either Greece dropping out of the bottom or Germany popping out of the top. The latter being the lesser of two evils in the opinion of many economists. Either solution will cause a complete collapse and run on the markets and banks, which will affect every economic zone in the world, no-one will escape.  Ironically it could see the world pick up quickly again as countries can devalue and throw off their shackles, but the initial fallout will not just wipe out career opportunities it will lead to a swathe of job losses across the world. A desperate scenario.

So which way 2013 will go is anybody’s guess. Our prediction is somewhere between the good and the bad. We see no movement in Europe, modest growth in the Middle East and solid growth in the Far East. Career opportunities are out there for skilled individuals and we are now talking to more and more people looking to leave Europe to further their careers. The youth of Europe is very much on the move. After a century of settled populations we are back to an era where people will move to where the work is and populations once again become fully mobile through job migration.

Justin Kent - Managing Director

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Why good grammar is still ‘bang tidy’

What on earth has become of us? Amazeballs, oojamaflip and frape are just three of thirteen new additions to the dictionary -

I must confess, if I speak to people in their early twenties there are times when I question whether I need a formal translator. Where I would describe someone as a great laugh, the youth of today might say they are “bare jokes.”

Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Increasingly I am seeing CVs which contain grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.

How you write can say a lot about you and your abilities. No matter how qualified you are the lack of attention you pay to drafting and editing your CV can be your downfall. Poor grammar, typographical mistakes, and incorrect or weak vocabulary can get your job application rejected just as easily as the lack of relevant skills or experience. Silly mistakes say to an employer that you might be uneducated, lazy, or in a hurry and didn’t give the CV the proper attention it deserves. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re. With the advent of mobile texting and social network sites some people have forgotten that there are certain rules when writing professionally.

I’m sure we have all heard stories about CVs being ripped up and thrown in the bin without being looked at for more than ten seconds. The reason we’ve heard these stories is that they are true.
Granted, putting together a CV is often something that people do in more of a rush than they’d like. Equally, I am here to try to catch those mistakes before they are passed on to potential employers. But when it comes down to it the message is clear: your CV is supposed to be polished and formal. If it has not been written, read and edited properly you will be putting yourself at an immediate disadvantage.

That is most definitely not fandabidozi.

Tim Court - Director

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Creative Day at the Olympics

Today, July 31st 2012 – is Creative Day at London 2012.  No it’s not a new sport, it is a themed business summit organised by UK Trade & Investment which is designed to bring foreign investment into the UK.

This is one of 18 such summits being held during the games and Nick Baird, UK CEO of UKTI says it will bring in £1bn of investment during the period of the Olympics and Paralympics and £13bn over the next four years.  Great news and hats off to those involved, though I’m sure our media will treat them with a degree of cynicism.

This push for inward investment is exactly what the country needs and this positive drive for new business is exactly what UK plc should be doing.  After all it’s what the private sector does day in and day out.  Recognition for our world leading creative industry is also welcome.

If future governments of whichever colour can now simplify our tax system, reduce red tape on small businesses and encourage employment for both permanent and temporary staff then we really could develop a confident and vibrant country.  But do any of today’s politicians really strike you as courageous leaders with the strength to really change the way our country works? Or will they be blinded like so many, by party and not national interests.

Justin Kent - Managing Director

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A View from the City

So, Bob Diamond and Marcus Agius of Barclays have both now resigned as Chief Executive and Chairman respectively.  It is not a huge surprise to anyone who has been following developments at 1 Churchill Place recently.  With shares in Barclays having taken a beating since the end of last month, the announcements have clearly appeased the markets somewhat, with shares recovering slightly, up just under 3% this morning (03.07.12).  There was also significant pressure exerted at the top from both Westminster and “Fleet Street” so it was inevitable that something had to give and it seems that everyone has now got what they want.

Is it actually good news? In the short term, this is another punch to the jaw to the reputation of the already wobbling financial services industry, which is now on the ropes and needing the bell – and rightly so.  Fixing the inter-bank (LIBOR) lending rate is pretty low and one wonders what other skeletons will emerge from the closets of other institutions in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf.  When people in the street are desperate for a ray of sunshine, both metaphorically and literally, this is a further blight on the banking industry, which is fast becoming the pantomime villain of modern life.

Long term however, this may prove a watershed moment – surely tighter regulation will come, even if it is after the horse has bolted. What an opportunity it also represents for our beloved industry to further cement itself at the top table, and moreover for corporate communications as a function to repair the reputation of what is such a crucial sector to UK plc.  For that, the banks need to make sure that their communications teams are robust and best in class, and judging by some of the recent key hires we have seen, I have faith that they are in good shape long term.

As Nick Robinson put it this morning, LIBOR will be to banking what the Millie Dowler case was to phone hacking.  Let’s hope so.

Recruitment – the hardest job in the world?

I was watching television this weekend when a sports pundit asserted that a premier league manager had "...the hardest job in the world." Not half an hour later I heard the exact same phrase, this time as a descriptor for one of horse racing’s leading jockeys. It made me realise how many times I’ve heard people say this across all walks of life, and how daft those statements are. For starters getting paid to play sport can’t possibly qualify as a hardship. Secondly I’d have thought that those working in the likes of bomb disposal, fire fighting and heart surgery would hold more compelling claims to the title. Furthermore, if Vernon Kaye were to pose the question to 100 people in the street in all seriousness I wouldn’t mind betting that "being a mum" would be the top answer.

So, when someone commented to me this week that recruitment must be the hardest job in the world, I advised them accordingly. Yet it got me thinking, whilst recruitment can be very rewarding, it is undoubtedly a hard job.

Many people get into recruitment because they’ve been told it’s possible to make good money. And it’s fair to say the rewards can be attractive for delivery quality work. Yet the statistics show that around a third of new hires will leave the industry within their first year. Recruitment isn’t rocket science, you don’t sit at a desk unable to answer tricky questions. So what’s the problem?

In our view there are recruitment consultants and there are recruitment agents. The job I’m referring to here is that of a recruitment consultant. The priority for consultants is to build trusting relationship with candidates and clients in order to best satisfy the needs of both parties. If you do that well, the results will follow. Agents, conversely, care very little about the quality of service they provide. For them it is all about hitting KPIs and that inevitably involves cutting as many corners as possible. In my personal experience, both from my time at Fabric and also my PR days, true recruitment consultants are a rare breed. For every one good recruitment consultant there are a dozen bad recruitment agents. Little surprise, therefore, that the overall reputation of the recruitment industry isn’t overly positive and you’re facing an uphill battle before you’ve even started.

In recruitment there is nowhere to hide. Most recruiters leave their job because they are unable to hit their targets. They are either fired or jump before being pushed. That would imply it’s a cut-throat, pressurised world where only the hardest-nosed survive. It is relentless for sure, but cut-throat isn’t an accurate description. The real pressure in recruitment comes from the fact that we do not produce what we sell, yet we are constantly under pressure from clients to deliver the best quality product – i.e. the candidate. Add to that the fact that internally our performance is up there in black and white for all to see. We simply have to deliver tangible results day after day, week after week, year after year. The more we slip behind the curve the more the pressure grows. We don’t want to let the team down but most of all we know we risk becoming a cost to the company. Coasting isn’t an option because recruitment is about ‘all or nothing’.

 good recruitment consultant will be an expert at handling a myriad of variables including clients, candidates and HRs. In itself that is true of a number of occupations of course. However recruiting is uniquely demanding, and consequently frustrating, as it is the only industry that I am aware of where the ‘product’ in question can stop a deal from happening. If you want to buy a car, and the dealer has set a price which you’re happy with, you take that car. The car can not turn round and say "I don’t want this to happen". As a recruitment consultant we can spend months on a job, agree an offer which everyone seems happy with, and then be reduced to a blubbering wreck as the candidate decides he or she doesn’t want to go ahead. We have done nothing wrong, it’s not our fault the deal hasn’t been done. We’ve left no stone unturned, worked flat out, given excellent consultancy to all parties throughout and acted with skill and sensitivity. Yet we’ve got absolutely nothing to show for that time and effort. There is no time for sympathy, we simply have to get back on the horse and start from scratch again. Now imagine that has just happened for the third time in as many weeks. Frankly the whole thing can be soul destroying.

In my view people can’t understand what impact this all-or-nothing model has until they have tasted it. Firstly, bear in mind that basic salaries in recruitment are relatively low, as this is an incentive-based industry. Secondly, consider that the vast majority of work we do is known as ‘contingency recruitment’ – in simple terms there are no retainers and we only get a fee upon the successful placement of a candidate. We all work to ratios – for example the ratio of candidates CVs forwarded to a job to those then shortlisted for interview, those interviewed to invited for a second interview, those re-interviewed to offered, and those offered to placed. The ratios of CVs forwarded to placements will vary from consultant to consultant, with a ‘consultant’ having a much lower ratio than an ‘agent’ (see above). However what this all means is that as recruiters we do a huge amount of high quality work which essentially goes to waste, no tangible results at all. Worse still, the effort we’ve put in means very little. There may be some sympathy from a client or our boss in the short term, but ultimately this is a results business and that sentiment soon evaporates. Keeping yourself motivated against this backdrop isn’t easy. Pushing it all to the back of the mind and performing constantly at a high level is nothing short of demanding.

The recession years that we are experiencing have been painful for everyone but they have given rise to opportunities as well. Poor quality recruitment ‘agents’ who might have survived in a boom market have either been forced out altogether or resorted to increasingly underhand practices. It is something which blights our industry but in the long run it isn’t sustainable. The best recruiters have built relationships where they are seen by clients and candidates as a service, not a product. If we work with intelligence, integrity and deliver exceptional consultancy we grow relationships with the best people in our industry, to the point that a high volume of our business comes from referrals and recommendations. To my mind there is no better feeling than finding someone the ideal role or the ideal candidate and quite simply that’s the best way to succeed in what is a highly pressurised job.

Tim Court - Director

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Which job is right for me?

When you are reviewing jobs from agencies, job boards or trade magazine adverts, how do you decide which opportunities to apply for?  It is tempting to look for impressive job titles, well known brand names and high salaries – but are those good indicators of a job you’ll enjoy?

To be able to effectively sift through all the jobs available, first of all you need to spend a bit of time on yourself.  If you spend some time reflecting on your own values, what motivates you, and what gives you satisfaction at work, then you will be able to look beyond the flashy headlines to assess the job itself more effectively.

If you are to fit comfortably into an organisation and feel energised and motivated to work there and give your best, then you need to be sure that their organisational values are a good match to yours.  If they operate on the ‘make the most profit at any cost’ principle, while you gain satisfaction from going the extra mile to give great service, you are likely to find your natural inclinations at odds with their operating policy much of the time.  Likewise, if you are driven to earn the highest bonus while they place most emphasis on customer care, you are likely to feel impatient with their slower pace of life quite frequently.

Perhaps you are motivated by receiving praise and recognition in front of your peers for a job well done?  Check whether a prospective firm offers internal award schemes.  Perhaps getting a promotion is important to you?  Find out what their internal career development and appraisal process is like. 

Think about what aspects of your current and past jobs have given you greatest satisfaction – that ‘wow’ factor of a job really well done.  Was it presenting a stunning campaign, hearing from a client about positive effects of the work you’ve done with them, or learning new skills so you’re ready to tackle something more challenging?  How many of these satisfying activities would a new job involve? 

Having thought through all the aspects of a job and an organisation that will make it right for you allows you to frame the right questions to ask of your recruiter, to look for in adverts and job descriptions, and to ask at job interviews.  Armed with this more in-depth information you will be able to make a better decision when it comes to which job to apply for – and which offer to accept.

Monday, 6 February 2012

A View from the City: Salaries set fair for 2012

On the 24th January, Fabric hosted A View from the City, an informal networking event for corporate and financial communicators. It represented a chance for delegates to network and take part in a debate with industry leading figures on the challenges facing corporate communicators in 2012.
The panel consisted of Alex Sandberg, Chairman of College Hill; Victoria Brough, Group Communications Director of London Stock Exchange; Paul Harris, Senior Financial Press Officer at HSBC and Tim Ledeboer, Head of Corporate & Financial at Fabric.
Among some of the many discussion points which created a lively debate, was the key area of remuneration and benefits vs. job security.
Most in the room were in agreement that whilst salaries are, in general, weathering the downturn and in fact showing a slight uplift in some cases, candidates are realistic about what is on offer. There was a meeting of minds between employers and employees as to the key motivating factors when job seekers weigh up their next opportunity – principally job security and career progression, alongside the financial gain.

Salary snapshot in Financial PR consultancies 2012

If you are interested in hearing more about A View from the City, or to arrange a meeting to discuss in person how our expertise and experience could be of value to your business, please contact Tim Ledeboer on:
+44 (0)20 7734 0441

Monday, 16 January 2012

A View from the City

Happy New year to all of you!

January 2012 sees the launch of Fabric’s A View from the City, a series of informal networking events aimed at corporate and financial communicators.

Our first event of the year is taking place at Balls Brothers, Lime St on the evening of 24th January. 

We have an expert panel of industry leaders talking about their vision for 2012 before we open up the debate to the floor. It promises to be an interesting and enjoyable event and gives everyone an opportunity to network with your peers in an informal setting.

If you are interested in attending or finding out more about the event, please contact me on or 020 7734 0441

Tim Ledeboer - Associate Director, Corporate & Financial