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What Employers Want

Posted By APSO, 15 May 2014

What employers want.



Top 5 candidate personality traits

 

Recruiters are all too familiar with the intangible characteristics that employers seek and that are often difficult to quantify and ascertain during the recruitment process, especially as these rarely form part of the assignment brief.

 

A recent study, conducted by Swedish employer branding firm, Universum, has highlighted the top five traits sought by today's leading employers. The annual global survey draws on responses from more than 400 000 professionals and students as well as over 1200 employers in determining the latest trends.

 

"88% of employers are looking for "cultural fit" in hiring their next employee, especially as they struggle to cope with high attrition rates associated with skills shortages and Gen Y attitudes to employment."

 

The survey asked employers what they are looking for in employees, and what they're struggling to find in the job market. The key insight was that employers are grappling to come to terms with hiring individuals who will be with the company long-term and finding a "fit" between the company's organisational culture and the inherent traits of the candidates is deemed paramount.

 

Professionalism, high energy and confidence are the top three traits employers say they are looking for in new hires. These are also the most crucial for candidates to be aware of as recruiters and hiring managers make an assessment of these traits within 30 seconds of meeting the individual.

 

"A manager can read you the moment you walk in the door," says Executive Search consultant Kathy Harris, "from the clothes you wear to the way you stand to the grip of your handshake, presenting yourself as a confident, energetic professional is about as basic as career advice gets." Despite this, even seasoned senior professionals get tripped up and its therefore unsurprising that the employers surveyed ranked confidence as the skill that most candidates are missing.

 

"We remind every candidate of the most granular advice," says Kathy. "The most successful applicant is the one who walks into the interview with his hand outstretched for a firm handshake, who has done his homework on the company and the role, and who is dressed to fit effortlessly into the culture of the workplace."

 

The other traits listed by employers in the survey are not so easily determined. Self-monitoring ranked highly and makes sense in a workplace environment where working effectively independently is as important as being a contributing team member. Assessment of this trait is best managed through behavioural interviewing techniques where candidates are asked to provide examples of their own self leadership.

 

The final trait, intellectual curiosity may on the face of it appear strange, but speaks to employers' desire for employees who are able to solve problems and who want to keep learning; an essential skill in today's rapidly changing environment.

 

Considering these traits, how does your candidate assessment process hold up? Can you ascertain how your candidates rank in terms of these five employment -critical skills, and can you clearly articulate this to your clients when presenting your shortlist?

 

Tags:  APSO  APSOgrame  confidence  cultural trait  culture  curiosity  employers want  energy  intellect  personality  professionalism  self-monitoring  traits  want 

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What Employers Want Infographic

Posted By APSO, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013
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Kickstart your Career!

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

This article first appeared in the ACCA magazine in 2010 and whilst it was targeted at newly qualified accountants, the advice will apply equally to other new entrants to the job market

You’ve made the decision to follow your dream of entering the accounting field, have successfully navigated your way through your studies and now you face the next challenge: finding a job.

Searching for a new job is just like a project; you need to spend time identifying your target and determining the action items required to reach the desired outcome. Planning is a crucial part of the process and should not be underestimated if you want to utilize your time and resources wisely.

Creating your CV

Your CV is the document that needs to "sell” you in your absence. It should speak of your strengths, skills and experience but nothing beats actual examples of performance to shown an employer what you can deliver for them. Use real-life examples of accomplishments to increase your chances of getting an interview. If you don’t yet have any formal work experience, look at highlighting other accomplishments from your studies like outside activities (sport, community work) or your part-time jobs. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your accounting career you should look to highlight your leadership ability and transferable skills and attributes like planning, reliability, dedication and commitment.

CVs should be concise and additional documentation like certificates, ID, driver’s license and reference letters should always be kept separate and only sent on request. Recruiters get very frustrated receiving an application that has multiple attachments or 10-page documents.

The format of a CV should be neat, logically structured and easy to read. Avoid adding pictures or unnecessary "frippery” – keep it clean and concise. Make use of standard fonts, bullet points and appropriate headings. There are many websites that provide CV templates if you need guidance.

Developing a "Plan of Attack”

As the saying goes "if you want to catch a fish, make sure you have many lines in the water” – the same goes for looking for a job. A job certainly won’t come looking for you so you need to determine a plan of attack and then take the necessary action to get yourself into the job market. Identify your target market – which employers are most suited to your skill and experience.

You should determine what qualities would appeal most to them and work out how to approach them successfully. You are far more likely to make a successful connection with a company if you highlight those skills of yours that match their needs so remember to customize your CV and application for each individual job.

Work out where to market yourself. Consider uploading your CV onto the various job portals. You can register online at no cost and by being on the portal you will be accessible to recruiters who are able to search the online database whenever they’ve got a vacancy. Most job portals also have an alert function that will let you know (via email) whenever a new job is posted that matches your skill set or predefined requirements.

Monitor the career pages in your local newspaper to see if any employers (or recruiters) are advertising positions that you qualify for. Remember that you should also frequently check the websites of your identified employers (companies you’d like to work for) to see if they’re advertising vacancies. Most of South Africa’s top companies have job sections on their website where they advertise vacancies, including graduate programmes.

You should also seriously consider registering with a few recruitment companies who specialise in financial placements. Whilst it is a good idea to be registered with a few, you should rather focus on developing relationships with one or two recruiters than with every recruiter in town.

Know your rights as a work seeker

Recruitment agencies have their own specific requirements when it comes to what they expect of the candidates who are interviewed by them. However it is important to note that you have rights as a candidate, and that you should choose to deal with an APSO-registered agency that practices recruitment in a legal and ethical manner. APSO registered agencies operate according to a strict Code of Ethical & Professional Practice and this refers specifically to the services that should be extended to candidates.

You can expect the following:

Respect & Confidentiality – APSO members are required to treat their candidates with respect and to ensure that their personal information is treated confidentially.

Professionalism – you are entitled to be interviewed by a consultant of appropriate seniority and training who fully understands the search assignment s/he is working on and who can take adequate notes during the course of the interview and who can then present you to the client in an accurate and professional manner.

Efficiency – APSO members are responsible for ensuring that they gather all appropriate information. If any doubt exists as to the authenticity of these documents, the member is required to undertake investigation to verify the relevance of this information.

Permission for submission – it is never acceptable for an agency to forward your CV or personal details to a company without first getting your express permission to be submitted for that particular job. The member is required to provide you with all relevant details including name of the company, job title, salary on offer, location and any other pertinent information.

Communication – members should provide candidates with ongoing feedback concerning the recruitment process. Candidates should always be informed of their success or failure in each vacancy.

Not all agencies are registered with APSO so we recommend that you make a point of dealing only with APSO registered agencies that pride themselves on providing a professional service with high ethical standards. Should you not receive this level of service you should make a point of expressing your concern with the recruitment consultant, agency management or with APSO directly. For more information on APSO, the ethics complaint process and a series of other articles aimed at educating work seekers, visit our website www.apso.co.za

Tags:  candidate rights  CV  dress code  employers want  job search  professionalism  skills  volunteering 

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Natalie Singer answers questions on recession-proofing your career

Posted By APSO, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

In an interview for Fair Lady, Natalie Singer, APSO Chief Operating Officer, provided some advice to employees who were looking to recession-proof their careers.

Q: It’s often said that WHAT you know isn’t as important as WHO you know. Can fostering connections on, say, twitter, or ‘networking’ contribute to making your career more resilient? And can you give any suggestions how people can begin to network?

Personal relationships are imperative in all aspects of our lives and your career is no different. Many people find new opportunities via their network and it’s always a good idea to ensure that if you are looking for a new challenge to let people know, after all, you never know who in their extended network may be looking for someone with your skills and experience.

Networking today happens on all levels whether in person, via clubs and associations you may belong to, or via social media. Of course, the key to good networking is to remember that "actions speak louder than words” and so doing what you can to help other people in your network is always a good place to start. Truly successful networking relies on you offering assistance to others instead of simply asking for assistance yourself. 

Depending on your skill set or interest, establishing an online presence via a blog may also be a good way to get noticed. Sharing your knowledge and experience with others via this kind of platform could generate interest from people or organisations looking for someone like you. Think about your social media profiles as a full-time advert of who you are and what you stand for. As a result, consider carefully what you share online – pictures of your drunken Friday night out or an online argument with someone may jeopardise your chances.  If your profile is "public” remember that anyone can search your name to find you. Increasingly companies and recruiters are using these kinds of searches to check out potential employees. 

Q:Can being friendly, upbeat and personable affect your likelihood of being retrenched?

Retrenchments are usually about more than the individuals involved and relate to the organisations restricting requirements. However, if there are multiple people working within a department and only some need to be retrenched other factors may come under consideration when management determines who to retrench. More than being personable, management will look at who is most productive and adds value to the organisation. 

Given that we spend the majority of our day at work, it makes sense to do what you can to promote a harmonious environment via good relationships with your colleagues and offering assistance to other people if your own work has been completed. 

Q: How important is it to be proactive, and in what ways can employees be proactive to encourage continued employment?

Being proactive is very important. This means that you should continually look at opportunities to improve your knowledge and skill and to gain more experience. This can be through offering to take on additional duties, doing some after-hours studying, even if it’s just online research/reading, or determining what you need to do to be considered for a promotion internally. People are naturally drawn to people who are positive, optimistic and proactive so focus on looking on the bright side and finding solutions rather than always finding problems.

Q: In what ways can we positively distinguish ourselves from our colleagues?

The most important thing is to ensure that you do whatever is expected of you, every time. Of course, the old cliché of "going the extra mile” also holds true. When doing your job, focus on doing it right first time and look at ways to improve; this could mean increased service to customers, cutting costs or determining a more effective way to get things done faster. Management will always pay attention to individuals who have good time management, meet their deadlines, produce quality work, are a team player and who are willing to get stuck in with whatever needs doing .

Q: How important is it to up-skill, & why?

The world is changing rapidly. This is especially true when it comes to technology. It is very important to ensure that you’re up-to-date with information and skills relevant to your job. For example, make it your mission to learn more about the computer packages you use every day. For example if you can only use basic Excel, why not spend some time learning how to take it further, like creating graphs and developing macros? Being up-to-date doesn’t only relate to practical skills.

Knowing what is happening in the world at large is important too. Make sure that you read the newspaper, or at least watch the news, every day. Pay attention to local and world events, especially those that could impact your industry. Subscribe to online newsletters or magazines for your industry/sector so that you can stay abreast of the latest developments. Your boss will definitely notice if you’re able to converse intelligently about business, even if you’re only a junior or in an administrative role.

Q: Can it be beneficial to offer to take a pay-cut?

If an organisation is struggling to stay afloat, they may be willing to consider a pay-cut rather than retrenchment. If the company is willing to go this route then it would be up to the individual to determine whether they feel remaining in the position for a lesser salary was better than accepting a retrenchment package and securing employment elsewhere. It may be best for the individual to do some research before making this decision as their skill set and experience would determine how likely it would be for them to secure alternate employment. Research could be conducted by looking at jobs advertised via online job portals or by contacting some industry-specific recruitment companies to ask for advice on their marketability.

Q: Is there any other advice you can offer?

I would like to give some advice to people who may be retrenched and who are looking for alternative employment. When looking for alternative employment there are a few things that you can do to improve your chances, including:

Quality CV

Your CV is your advertising platform and needs to be perfect. Ensure that you spell check and get a second pair of eyes to look over it as spelling mistakes, missing information or poor layout will create a poor impression of you. Remember to include only information relevant to your job and keep it as concise as possible. Ensure that you have multiple forms of contact information because if the potential employer/recruiter doesn’t get hold of you the first time, they’re not likely to keep trying if they have many other applicants to consider.

Nothing but the truth

Resist the temptation to lie or "expand” your CV. You will be found out. Consider how best to highlight your specific skills and experience, relevant to the job you’re applying for, so that a potential employer/recruiter can easily see why you’d be a good person to consider.

Be realistic

We all wish for a job that pays a lot and requires us to work a little. In tough economic times it may be necessary for you to consider a lesser salary than the one you earned before you were retrenched, particularly if you’d been with your previous company for a long time. Heed the advice of recruiters who understand the market. Remember too that it is in their interest to secure the best possible package as their commission is directly linked to your offer of employment.

Work with professional recruiters

Unfortunately there are scam artists out there who take advantage of desperate job seekers. Don’t fall prey to these scams. It is illegal in South Africa to charge applicants to register with an employment agency or to secure employment. Recruiters earn their money by charging a recruitment fee to the employer. If in doubt, rather choose to work with an APSO member agency that has been vetted against current legislative compliance requirements and who is held accountable to a Code of Ethics & Best Practice. For a comprehensive list of our members, from across South Africa, simply visit www.apso.co.za 

Tags:  attitude  career  CV  employers want  honesty  job search  recession  recruiter  remuneration  retrenchment  salary  skills 

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