Let's Build Bridges

Let's Build Bridges
There are many bridges we can build

Monday, 30 October 2017

Steps to Help Young People s Careers

A few weeks ago, there was an interesting discussion by the EY (part of Ernst & Young Global Limited)'s panellists, about young people's opportunties:


And putting the panellists' advice together, I would say that what they have said, confirms the following steps, which could be taken to help young people's careers.

  • Young people need mentors, whether they are planning to be apprentices, or students alike. They need someone who is experienced and wise, to listen to what they want, and then point them in the right direction.
  • Business start ups are a great way to create opportunities, both for young entrepreneurs, and for NEET's (young people not in education or training), who are looking for careers. I have believed this for a long time: and the social marketing agency mentioned in the clip above is a perfect example, which is great to see.
  • Apprenticeships are clearly the best way to combine learning with hands on industry experience, and they should be fully supported in all aspects of higher education.
  • Young people should be allowed to take part in the process for creating opportunities for themselves. Youth Parliaments in politics are one example, and likewise, we need more local young entrepreneur networks, and direct feedback from youth committees, to shape apprenticeships, so that young people are able to get the best out of them.
All young people deserve opportunity, and these steps can go a long way to help the opportunities of students, apprentices, and NEETs alike. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Centralised Tests Save Time

While job hunting, I have noticed that a number of employment agencies and prospective employers, require the same standard tests to be taken, to assess candidates' skills. These include such subjects as Word Processing, Excel skills, numeracy and literacy tests. But although all of these tests are perfectly reasonable, it seems inefficient, to ask candidates to repeat the same tests, again and again, for every agency or employer that they go to.

And so, I would like to propose a measure that will streamline recruitment processes, and save the candidates valuable time in the process: centralised tests. Like a standard certificate qualification, a candidate would simply go into a central database, (such as Outlook online), take the test, and the results of the test would be stored on that database. A cloud platform run by Google or Microsoft would be a perfect place for such test results to be stored; as agencies from around the world, would have access to them.

Candidates would, of course, be able to log on, for refresher tests, every few months, or perhaps annually; so that any new skills were added to their 'profile' in this way. But very much like the info on LinkedIn, employers would be able to access and read prospective candidates' info, without having to ask them to take the same standard tests again.

So a 'certificate' in Word Processing, Excel skills; numeracy and literacy, could save both candidates and employers vital time; and make recruitment as a whole, more efficient.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Lessons of STEM

STEM has taught us an important lesson.

Right now, we have a huge drive in the UK to recruit more professionals for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: or STEM for short. It is heartening to see this take shape, and I have no doubt that it will give thousands of young people their shot at these industries:


But while I admire the work of the STEM projects, it is still sad to think, that we have had this skills 'shortage' in the first place. This did not have to be. Because there are as many future engineers, mathematicians, technologists and future scientists in our schools: my dad was one of them.

As he told me, when he studied back in the 1960's, engineering was considered a 'manual' profession, and was therefore not given the same priority as others. Engineers were not seen the same way as doctors, and lawyers: even though they had to give as much attention to detail, in their work. This lack of support has continued over the years, and has left a skills gap. Young would be engineers, mathematicians, technologists and scientists alike, have not given the training, because their education was not funded properly.

And now the chickens have come home to roost.

Lack of talent is not the issue. We have an abundance of talented young people in our country. In every interview I have gone for in the past few months, dozens of talented people have been there, and prospective employers have admitted that they have had to have candidates in all week: there are that many talented applicants.

No, the issue is that these young people have not been given the training they need, for the careers they deserve. And as a result, my recruiter colleagues have had to fast track candidates from abroad to fill the 'gap'.

The lesson we should learn from STEM, is that today's students must be trained for all professions, and they must be given the resources they need to do so. Young candidates are as good today as they have ever been: it is our education and training, that needs to serve them better.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Student-Alumni Networks - Making them Specific

Student-Alumni networking is perhaps the most important way to create job opportunities for higher education. But while there are many impressive Alumni networks at Universities around the world, there is one measure I would like to propose, to help the process.

Most of the Universities I know of, in the UK, (including my own), usually have one main Alumni network, for Alumni from all schools of the university. There is then usually one main student network - on the University's Facebook or LinkedIn page, where students of all schools may network with one another.

The advantage that these networks have, is of course, that they are universal. Students and Alumni from all professions, may meet to share ideas, connections, and attend events. There are many great benefits to this co-operative way of thinking. Yet at the same time, I believe we are missing another important aspect of student-Alumni networking: the need to network within a profession. That is why there is a specific kind of networking I would like to propose, for the universities' Alumni officers to try. My proposal is this.

As well as our main networks, I believe that each School should set up a specialised student-Alumni network, in house, for both its students and Alumni to use. For example, Engineering students and Alumni could have a closed, specific in house LinkedIn group exclusively for them. This network would also have direct links with online engineering networks, to which the University was affiliated. The same could be done for the Medical School; the Science School and so on for each profession. (Students and Alumni of multiple disciplines would of course have access to each of their Schools' networks.)

The students and Alumni of these networks would have a special knowledge transferring arrangement with one another. The Alumni would offer them key connections and industry specific info; and in turn, the students would offer the Alumni their innovations, for projects of the Alumni's choosing. (Much of this is done currently, as part of Knowledge Transfer projects within the Alumni's businesses; but these separate projects could be brought together within one LinkedIn network, or similar social media platform.) They could also coordinate mentoring-internships from these networks.

I believe that by concentrating on the professions themselves, we can amplify the networking process, and increase knowledge transfer, to help developments within each industry. Our social media is sophisticated enough. Let's take the next step.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Gorilla App as a Tool for Start ups

I'd like to pus a few ideas forward for why we should offer the Gorilla Opportunity app.

Despite all of our existing social media networks, apps and platforms, I have found as a business person, that there are still gaps in the recruiting system, they we need to remedy. For example, the One-Click apply apps now allow us to make hundreds of applications through our phones in one go. And we can also display our profiles on multiple social media networks to recruiters. All well and good, but what often happens, is that the one click apply jobs and headhunting are outsources to employment agencies: who then require candidates to register with them first, before going to interviews with the potential employers. For the best roles, there will inevitable be perhaps 2 or even 3 interviews - even when the candidate actively approaches the organisation his or her self; and since most of us are applying for our next job while in full time work, this can be time consuming and inefficient.

And for the VC's themselves, while they have plenty of existing networks to recruit entrepreneurs, and have candidates found from, I would like to offer them this tool as a handy extra, to the process. As per our previous posts, the logic behind the Gorilla App, will be that it works like a dating app, to allow VC's to search the skillset, background experience, and even past companies worked in, by the business people they are looking for. If I were looking to invest in a group of people to start a business, I would want a very clear breakdown of all of these things, before I invested in them. And so we will be very specific, to offer a specialised search and contact options to do exactly that. That is why I am pushing for us to create an app, we will call Gorilla Business.

Admittedly, I will say that like the supermarkets, we won't be the first to offer this kind of service. In fact, there is another Gorilla start ups initiative on my very doorstep: competitors in my home town who are offering the same start ups advice for innovators and entrepreneurs. But think of the supermarkets as businesses themselves. ASDA is not the only supermarket in my parents' home town, that sells food. In theory, you could walk down a street anywhere in the UK, and buy exactly the same food from any number of the groceries of supermarkets based there. But of course, it is the way that the service is offered, which is why each supermarket has its own brand and business. My logic for Gorilla Business is the same.

People will always need food, hence why there will always be supermarkets or outlets that sell food to them in some form. And by the same logic, there must be many different apps, networks and platforms to enable job creations, because people will always need jobs - and career opportunities too, and there will always need to be new jobs and career opportunities for them to have. And while I am hopeful about Brexit, it is prudent that we all be prepared for the UK's separation from the European Single Market; which will inevitably mean a shock to our economy, and so entrepreneurs and VC's alike will need every tool at their disposal, to keep start ups - and hence people's jobs - going.

Therefore, headhunting and picking the right team are the name of the game. These will be the reasons why business people should use our app. Anyone interested in discussing this with me, is welcome to attend the Skype meeting we will have on Nov 18th, and I can be found under the distinctive Skype name of 'Mysticmegster1' to link up.

Let's help start businesses and offer people new jobs and opportunities

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Getting Recruitment Right: Random Frustrations from a Candidate in the Field

As a business person applying for jobs,  I have found that despite all of our existing social media networks, apps and platforms, that there are still gaps in the recruiting system, they we need to remedy. Therefore, here are my thoughts on what could be done to improve the recruitment process, both for my self and others.

For example, at the time of writing, my current contract is due to expire. This as a recruiter told me, is 'the way the market is going now' - with many of us on fixed term or temporary contracts, because employers are worried about Brexit and what to expect. And it is certainly true that as careers officers often tell us: it makes sense to be in a job while applying for your next one. But the recruitment process as it stands, makes this very difficult to move into that job.

For one thing, the One Click Apply system we have, usually means that the role i click for is handled by an agency. This in itself is fine; i work on a contract through one now. But what then happens is that the agency recruiter then calls up, enthusiastically wanting me to either come in and register, or come and meet them in person. Which i cant do of course, because I am in a full time job. I appreciate that they are trying to break the ice, but time constraints make this impossible for people like me.

Then there s the screening process itself. In fairness, from my Compliance experience, I am well aware that by law, all candidates must be fit for work and trustworthy for work. They must therefore all have DBS (criminal record) checks, health referrals, and have satisfactory employment references (which i write) in place before they can be hired: there is no getting around this.

But for one role I applied for, I was then asked to drive several hundred miles to a designated checking centre for that company, and have my DBS check before even having my second interview.

As you can imagine, for people like me, who are already in a full time role (albeit a temporary one), there simply isn't enough annual leave to keep coming out to all the interviews that new employers may require.

Not only that, but there are times when the rules contradict one another: nowhere more so than when it comes to disclosure of candidate information vs data protection. For example on one occasion, an agency recruiter phoned up to say he d seen my CV online, and could we meet informally in a hotel to discuss and hand over my documents? This kind of informal get together has been used by a few agencies i ve applied to, but it throws up and obvious question. The recruiter always has to have your passport and other documents before taking you on: but would you seriously give you lr passport to a total stranger you just met in a hotel?

So while the DBS (criminal records) checks, are absolutely necessary to make sure someone is trustworthy for a role; I just dont see the point in having to apply for one again and again for each role, unless (I am told) you successfully can have one transferred. But surely, like a Driving License, a single DBS certificate could be held by the same candidate, and updated centrally from the national database, according to any criminal convictions, fines etc, a candidate may since have had? After all, driving offences are put on a person's license record, without having to send them to the DVLA every time: so why not do the same for DBS certificates?

Then there's the issue of headhunting. Many times, potential recruiters, including some founders of companies, have looked at my profile on LinkedIn, and yet none have directly approached me about a project they may be working on. Of course I accept that my profile is hardly the best, and there is an abundance of world class talent on LinkedIn of far more qualified and skilled candidates who are more suitable for headhunting. But all the same, I think more could be done to streamline the process, by making it easier for entrepreneurs and VC's to headhunt the rank and file and mid market candidates they need.

The other challenge is one my pet peeves: application forms. Once upon a time, it made sense to ask every applicant to fill out a form, giving their contact details, education and employment history, and the details of referees for references. Back in the 1990's for example, I remember that not every employer had a computer system that could store this kind of data, so you always had to fill in a new form every time you applied for a job.

All well and good, but things have now moved on. As countless careers officers have said, and employers have admitted, everything is now online. Our details can be found everywhere from LinkedIn to Dropbox. Recruiters can know our employment history, contact details and references at the click of a button. So why is it then, that every time I apply through an agency, I am then presented with a form to fill in, that asks for the same details that are already on my profile?

Let me be clear here: I believe it is a pointless waste of everyone's time, to ask applicants to fill in the same basic information again and again, when employers already have access to this information. Now in the 21st Century, all they need do, is access my LinkedIn profile and others, to find all the basic info they need. After all that isn't that what LinkedIn is supposed to be for?

Asking an applicant to fill out the same application forms, is like asking us to use a typewriter in place of a Tablet or Smartphone. Typewriters are now out of date technology. Their functions are incorporated into our keyboards, but the machines themselves are no longer used. Not only that, but I find it insulting and patronising to ask candidates who have worked for years, to fill in forms as if they had just started full time work: we did this years ago. Please don't ask us to do it again.

Having worked in administration, I say that the process needs to be streamlined, so that we are only asked for a piece of information once. For example, instead of asking candidates to undertake a Word and Excel test for every agency they sign on to, there should be a standard certificate that we could have to give to employment agencies, to save us all some time.

By scrapping conventional application forms, and having a standard set of certificates - both DBS, and basic skills - I think we could speed up the recruitment process for jobs in the UK, and make it a lot more efficient.

And while employment agencies may help with some applications, I think we need a more direct approach to recruitment for small to medium businesses. This is what I hope to address in a project I am working on, to build a new kind of business app, to tackle these issues. If you would like to discuss, please feel free to comment below, or visit the following links below.

These are my frustrations about the recruitment process, and my suggestions as to how they may be improved. They are my own opinions, but I hope that by sharing them with you, my colleagues throughout the recruitment profession, you may be able to put some of these issues right.

Best Regards

James Megarry LLM, LLB, LCM