The Giraffe Blog

Mac Christian: Why I Chose an Apprenticeship with GPRS Recruitment

Posted Tuesday 18th July 2017 under Career Advice

What were you doing before you joined GPRS?


Before joining the team in the summer of 2015, I was completing my A-Levels and planning my future in terms of which career path I was going to take, that is when I came across the advert at GPRS Recruitment. At the time I was looking to apply my skills to a growing business and also learn some new ones along the way, so GPRS seemed like the perfect fit.


What attracted you to joining GPRS?


First and foremost the role itself looked interesting and something that I felt would benefit myself moving forward in my career as my first professional role. The reputation and credibility that the company held was impressive and that was proven by the awards and acclaim that it had received over the years. From the outset it was clear that GPRS Recruitment was an ever-growing company that was in a solid position within its industry. From the interview process to the first few weeks, I was made to feel welcome and a part of the team. The prospect of working for a local company with specialist training included was something that really interested me, and the potential for career progression within the role was also a large pull factor.


Why did you want to become an Apprentice?


I wanted to become an Apprentice first and foremost to ‘get my foot in the door’ so to speak and submerge myself into a busy working environment. I also wanted to develop the skills I had learnt throughout my life and also gain new ones along the way by performing various tasks. An apprenticeship also appealed to me as it gave me the opportunity to earn a recognised qualification within the industry I was interested in progressing in.


When you joined GPRS initially, what were your key tasks?


When I first began I was mostly monitoring both of the company’s internal databases, inputting and editing data where necessary. I was also tasked with sending candidate mailers around the UK, informing jobseekers of our live vacancies and broadcasting GPRS Recruitment to new customers on a National scale. Furthermore I was tasked with searching for new, industry specific candidates on UK job boards and further increase our database of specialist candidates.


Now that you’ve completed your Apprenticeship, what additional responsibilities do you have at GPRS?


Since finishing my apprenticeship I was fortunate to be in a position where the ball was in my court so to speak, and I could choose the specific path that I wanted to take within the company, which happened to be Sales & Marketing. I am now given more responsibilities within my role and I feel as though my work has even more of an effect on the success of the company. My role has changed as I now spend more time contacting candidates and resourcing for roles, I am also tasked with writing and posting job descriptions.


What sort of training has GPRS provided you with?


From the outset I was given an overview of the systems that GPRS use along with the functions of what each individual tab and drop down list meant. I was given specialist Job Board training to help when searching for candidates across the UK using ‘Boolean Search’. This has helped me develop my searching skills and find a greater number of specific candidates. GPRS also provided me with the opportunity to complete my Level 2 Qualification in Recruitment Resourcing which helped me significantly when it came to learning about the recruitment industry and its process as a whole.


How do you think the training has benefited you?


The training helped me understand the different systems and databases that the company operate around. It also improved my specialist skills within searching and resourcing. Given the thorough and consistent training that I received it also helped me to feel more comfortable within my role as I was able to adapt myself in a way that I could complete jobs more efficiently. Following my initial training, I was shortlisted for the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the 2016 IRP Awards which was another great experience for myself which came as a result of the training and progression I had made at GPRS.
Once a week we have a sales meeting where everyone is included and most weeks we have a training element on various elements of recruitment and this has helped me understand the role of a Recruitment Consultant better.


Why would you recommend anyone to become an apprentice?


Being an apprentice helps you to develop new skills that for me have proven to be invaluable when progressing in my career. Providing you are successful, you will come out of the whole experience with a great qualification and a wealth of experience in your chosen industry, both of which will stand you in good stead for any future career choices you wish to take. You also get paid a wage whilst learning!


Why would you recommend anyone to join GPRS as an Apprentice?


Along with all the above you will be joining a company with a great reputation within the recruitment industry and a solid core which has been running successfully for over 10 years now. There is a strong, wholesome feeling about working at GPRS with a vibrant office full of unique characters who will almost immediately make you feel a part of the team here. The management team also do a great job leading the team and you will be provided with monthly feedback sessions to keep you up to date with the progress that you have been making in your position.

Mac Christian

April Blog: Performance Management - The First Three Months

Posted Monday 3rd April 2017 under WBL Sector Info

Where are we in the recruitment process?


We are now on our 7th blog. The blogs so far have covered:

  • Planning to Recruit
  • Creating a Person Specification
  • Inviting candidates for interview
  • Preparing for an interview
  • Conducting a professional interview using a formal interview structure and person specification.
  • Post interview feedback
  • Making & Handling Offers of Employment
  • Onboarding

By this time the candidate has joined your company and has received a sound onboarding, which has increased their engagement into your company by creating a positive first impression of your company.

The next step of the process is to ensure that the candidate meets the pre set criteria for the job. This is known as performance management.


Performance Management


Definition: a shared understanding about how individuals contribute to an organisation’s goals. A fundamental aim is to improve an employee’s effectiveness.

In my experience, one of the reasons why new employees don’t live up to their new employer’s expectations is because they don’t know EXACTLY what the new employer’s expectations are!

Often performance management comes into force when the employer finds out that the new employee isn’t living up to their expectations so they tackle them about their shortfalls. If the new employer thinks they are doing an OK job, then they are likely to be demoralised by it. Performance management should begin before the candidate joins the company so they know upfront what is expected of them and how they will be managed.


Interview Stage – Setting Objectives


Prior to the interview some thought needs to be put into what you expect from the candidate in terms of :

Timekeeping and attendance
Dress code
KPI’s or activity levels
Reporting procedure
What good looks like in your company
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.

These are often the things that the employer is unhappy with a new employee. On many instances over the years when asking why companies have had to replace a member of their staff shortly after the new employee joined, they will state one of the reasons above as to why the employee didn’t work out. When asked at what point they tell the new employee what is expected of them, they frequently tell me that the employee should know what is expected of them.

Therefore, if you talk the prospective employee, at interview stage, through what your expectations are, you are making it clear to them what is and what is not acceptable behaviour, and they will be under no illusions before they join the company. Once these have been gone through the prospective employee needs to be asked if they are happy with each point or if any of the points causes them a problem.


The Employee’s First Few Days


Within the first couple of days of joining the company the manager needs to go through this again with the new employee. This is to remind the employee again what is expected of them and what is deemed acceptable behaviour. Several of the areas we at GPRS find, is there can often be confusion about what is acceptable; such as the use of personal mobile phones during office time, internet usage and dress code. Our policies on these and many other factors are talked through on the first day and put in writing when the new employee joins.


Ideally, this should be in a document form, such as a Job Description. The person who the inductee is going to be reporting to should go through this with them. It should be gone though duty by duty, emphasising exactly what is expected of them and what 'good' looks like to your company. There should be no room for misunderstanding. The inductee needs to be asked if they understand what is required of them.

Remember, today’s candidate is assessing the company throughout the recruitment process so this upfront approach will demonstrate that your company as efficient with high standards. If a candidate isn’t keen on what your expectations are, then they probably aren’t the right person for you. If the inductee isn’t going to be doing the whole role initially, then they need to know EXACTLY what they should be doing, this needs to be put in writing via email as confirmation. 


The new employee can then be checked against this criteria. I check GPRS’s inductees against their objectives weekly for the first month and then monthly as part of their appraisals. This allows you quickly to identify any performance or training needs. Research shows that within 24 hours of being told something we often forget 75%. Ongoing evaluation ensures that bits of information that have been forgotten are highlighted and steps can be taken to make them habitual.


If you wait until the inductee has been with your company a while before evaluating their performance you risk then finding things that need to be put right, or a candidate that isn’t performing for months and has been allowed to continue which puts your reputation in jeopardy. Do not assume because someone has done the job before it will be to the standard you require. Double check for peace of mind.

Also, wait too long and then find that the candidate isn’t right for you company means you may have paid their salary for several months, when in reality if you’d have managed their performance sooner and more efficiently, you would have identified problems and would have been able to deal with them. This may mean providing additional training, or going down the disciplinary route if you are not happy with progress.

Under Performance


If an inductee isn’t performing to the standard you require then you need to talk to them about it. If it is a training issue, then training needs to be provided. If the inductee continues to underperform then it needs to be nipped in the bud.

GPRS have a checklist that we work through which is based on the new employee’s tasks they need to perform and to what standard. Some of the criteria included are:

Timekeeping and attendance
Dress code
KPI’s or activity levels
The standards we expect
Operational procedures
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.

Weekly evaluations are taken so any areas I am not happy with are dealt with quickly and appropriately.

New employees are praised on areas where they have hit the criteria provided and given action points on where they can improve. Showing a person where they can improve isn’t just about performance management; it means you are constantly stretching them and improving their skills and abilities.

All conversations about where improvements can be made, or about areas of their person’s work or output that you are dissatisfied with, must be put in writing in the form of an action plan. The next time you meet you can go through this and praise them for improvements they have made.

If improvements haven’t been made, then you need to decide the reasons for this and what to do – it is a training need or a disciplinary issue. Judge each person separately and if your company doesn’t have a disciplinary process in place, take legal advice to ensure you act within the law.


Summary


You will have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in recruiting the person with the right skills and values for your company. A good, well planned onboarding is just protecting your investment. It also helps you identify poor performance and deal with it as well as identifying good performance and praising the new employee.

Research also shows that new employees that have been inducted properly feel positive about the company and are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.

The first month or so that the employee joins your company is like the honeymoon period. The employee is likely to want to make a good first impression. After their first month they may feel more at home and they may begin to drop their standards in some areas of their work. It is important to maintain your high standards, and any areas of their performance with which you are not happy are dealt with immediately.

Good performance management just takes a little planning and putting some simple processes in place. It can often mean uncomfortable conversations, which I’m afraid that comes part and parcel of the role of manager. Some investment in putting together a performance management process in your company will make your company appear professional and well organised and will save you time and energy overall.

Blog Author - Helen Wilson Download this Blog in PDF format Performance Management

British Pie Week

Posted Wednesday 8th March 2017 under WBL Sector Info

Applying for a new job is like eating a pie. You may be tempted by the first thing you see – a golden buttery pastry crust, shining glaze or sparkling sugar crown. But will the pie live up to its initial visual promises with a delicious content that will make your mouth water, your eyes close in sheer delight whilst you savour its yumminess, or will what lurks beneath the delicious looking crust be really quite disappointing?


A pie itself is a bit of an illusion. The first thing you see with a pie is the outer, golden pastry crust. You imagine that it is probably made with real butter and when you bite into it the first thing that touches your taste buds is that slightly salty, rich, buttery pastry that dissolves on your tongue and heralds the arrival on your taste buds of the filling.


If you don’t know already, you may suspect the filling to be sweet or savoury – maybe the sweet sharp combination of blackberry and apple that brings back memories of the autumn and its special seasonal offerings, or the sumptuous richness of high quality, British Hereford beef and ale, that was probably lovingly brewed by hand in a quaint little micro brewery in one of our beautiful English counties. Your mouth waters at the very prospect. However, it isn’t until you’ve committed to eating a slice that you really find out.


Applying for a new job is like eating a pie. What you initially see can be an illusion. Advertising works on the following principles known as AIDA:


A is for Attention

The first thing that is designed to grab your attention is the job title, location and salary. If those three things tick all three boxes you will no doubt read on. A bit like a pie – the delicious flaky pastry crust tempts you to want to cut into it so see what is beneath.


I is for Interest

Having got your attention, the advertising now wishes to pique your interest and encourage you to read further. You would at this point cut into the pie because you want to see what mouth watering filling is hiding its little self underneath such a wonderful topping. A well written advert will now probably say something about the company or the role. Every company, no matter how large or small has its own selling points and they will be detailed here with the intention of drawing you in further.


D is for Desire

Oh my goodness, the crust looked delicious, the filling is deep and rich and you are pretty certain that when you take that bite, you won’t be disappointed. Similarly, the advert has now drawn you in and created a desire to apply for this role.


A is for Action

You put the slice of that temptress of a gastronomic delight to your taste buds. Or with the job you click ‘apply’.


And they all lived happily ever after. The pie was delicious. The job was fantastic...


Well, not exactly. Applying for a new job doesn’t take much in the way of commitment. You can do it online really easily, or you can speak to an agency and they will submit your details for you.


However, just like the pie, the job may not be quite as tasty as it initially seemed. Many people go for an interview and take the old fashioned approach of the interviewer being in the driving seat. They, the candidate, are there to be interviewed by the Hiring Manager so that the Hiring Manager can assess if the candidate can do the job they are looking to fill and will fit into the company for whom they work.


With a pie, once it makes its way from plate to mouth you and your little taste buds will jump into action and quickly decide whether or not you like it. It’s quite a quick decision made in nanoseconds in some area of your brain with a fancy name – I believe it is called the parietal lobe (but don’t quote me on it as I only got my GCSE grade B in human biology).


It always surprises me how many people go for an interview and have no questions planned. This is potentially going to be the venue where they will spend the greatest part of their working day and with people they will probably see more than their significant others. You need to make sure it is the right place for you with the right people.


Therefore, have a list of questions planned. Here are some suggestions:

Think about why you want to leave your present job. The most common ones recruiters are given as reasons for leaving are:

  • I’m travelling too far each day either to get to work or if a mobile role, the geographical area they cover.
  • I’ve not had a salary increase for some time.
  • My company doesn’t invest in my professional development.
  • I’m not given any support at work.
  • I’ve taken a new qualification and I’m not using it at the moment.
  • I’m given no recognition for the work I do or the extra time I invest.
  • There is no room for progression where I work.
  • I feel the company is in financial difficulty and I’m worried about job security as I have bills to pay.
  • I have too much work to do and I’m working long hours to get it done with no additional pay.
  • I don’t get on with my manager.
  • The company is disorganised and unprofessional.


Once you’ve done that, design yourself some questions to find out what this potential employer has to offer or is different, such as:

  • How far will I be expected to travel each day?
  • What is the starting salary? When is the salary reviewed? How much is it likely to increase to? When did the company have its last salary review?
  • What continual professional development do you offer?
  • As a new person joining your company, what initial and ongoing support would I be provided with?
  • I have obtained my XXXX qualification. What opportunities would I have to use it?
  • How does your company recognise or reward its staff for their hard work or innovation?
  • What are the opportunities for me to progress within this role or this company?
  • It is important that I move to a company that is financially secure. What is your order book looking like for the next couple of years? What was the previous year’s turnover and what is this year’s projected? What are the reasons for the increase or decrease?
  • What are the core business hours? What are the actual hours I would be expected to work to get the job done?
  • Who would be my manager? Tell me about them? When I could I meet them?
  • Talk me through your internal systems and processes relevant to the job I will be doing?


So, don’t get tempted by the look of a delicious job to the point you are blinded by its golden exterior, plan your interview so you can make sure that the content really lives up to your initial expectations.


Remember, the job market is buoyant at the moment, so good candidates like you are hard to find! So make sure that the only company that tempts you is the tastiest.


Written by Helen Wilson

British Pie Week

March Blog: Onboarding - Creating a Great First Impression

Posted Wednesday 1st March 2017 under WBL Sector Info

Where are we in the recruitment process?


We are now on our 7th blog. The blogs so far have covered:

  • Planning to Recruit
  • Creating a Person Specification
  • Inviting candidates for interview
  • Preparing for an interview
  • Conducting a professional interview using a formal interview structure and person specification.
  • Post interview feedback
  • Making & Handling Offers of Employment

By this time you will have made an offer of employment to the candidate and they are about to start with your company. You will have kept in touch with them through their resignation period to help them feel integrated into their new team and prevent them getting cold feet.


Planning for Onboarding


As previously discussed, research shows that today’s candidate is assessing the way your company handles the recruitment process. If the process is handled well, the candidate is likely to view this as an indication that your company is a good, efficient place to work and will probably be a contributing factor to why the candidate accepted the job when offered.

You now need to continue that efficiency into your onboarding process. The candidate will be excited, yet probably apprehensive when they join your company and this will help ensure that the candidate feels they have made the right decision.

The other reason for putting some serious time and effort into your onboard is because, if your new employee proves to be unsuitable or leaves within the first few months it will have cost your company a considerable amount of time and money to recruit the person, train the person and pay their salary for three months, not to mention the other impacts on the company and the team.

Therefore, it is important to get it right first time. Remember, social media is very powerful and research shows that candidates share their experiences with their network of both good and bad experiences. Companies that have a high staff turnover get a bad reputation locally and it becomes difficult to find candidates who want to work there. Good onboarding is fairly easy to achieve – it just takes some planning.


What do you need to plan?


First Day Procedure
The new employee’s work station
Employee’s Handbook
Checklist of all the things they need to go through
What the plan is for that week


First Day Procedure:


Either in your offer letter or subsequent letter closer to the time, inform the employee:

Time they start on the first day
Who they report to
What they bring with them
Dress code
Where they can park
What the lunch arrangements are if they need to bring a packed lunch


The New Employee’s Work Station


I once joined a new company and had to go around the office and find my own stationary, laptop, etc. I felt that the company couldn’t put much value in me not to have prepared for my arrival. At GPRS, we make sure a new employee have absolutely everything they will need.

Keep a central list of what a person needs and use it as a checklist for each new employee, even down to a diary, a notebook and pens. Sounds simple but it does make a difference.


Employee Handbook


Ideally, you will have an Employee Handbook, if not, below are listed some of the things you will need it to contain:

Absence Management – what does the employee need to do? Who do they inform? What do they get paid if they are off sick?
Appraisals – who does them, when do they happen?
Discipline and Grievance Procedure
Drug and Alcohol Abuse – what are the company’s guidelines
Equality Policy
Harassment and Bullying Policy
Health and Safety Policy
Data Protection
Internet and Email use
Mobile phone usage
Standards of Conduct
Dress Code
How to log on to their laptop / pc and passwords


Checklist of things to go through


Ideally, have a nominated person to meet and greet the new employee and to talk them through a list of induction subjects such as those in the Employee Handbook.

In addition:


A tour of the building and amenities
Introduction to other members of staff
Organisational chart – who is responsible for what
Introduction to their desk space
How they log on


Facilities


Heating and lighting
Cafeteria and places to eat
Toilets
Car parking


What the plan is for that week


Have a plan in writing of what the employee’s first week looks like. Who will they be meeting? What will they be doing? Try to make sure every minute of every day the employee is kept occupied to prevent them twiddling their thumbs and feeling like an uncomfortable spare part.

Candidates we place that have a busy first week always have a spring in their step as they enjoy the buzz and it sets the pace for the work they will be doing.


An Introduction to your company


Many companies now have a presentation for new employees. Which covers:

The history of the company – when it was established
Its core business and subsidiaries
Organisational structure
Accreditations and accolades
Awards
Market presence
Unique selling points
Differentiating factors – what makes it different from its competitors.

A well put together presentation will remind the candidate why they chose to work for your company and will help them buy into the company.


Performance Management


Definition: a shared understanding about how individuals contribute to an organisation’s goals. A fundamental aim is to improve an employee’s effectiveness.

One of the reasons why employees underperform is because they don’t know what is expected of them, or they know what is expected of them but not to what level.

The key objectives for the role should initially be discussed at interview stage, so the inductee knows exactly what is expected of them. The next time this should be discussed is within the first couple of days of joining a company.

Ideally, this should be in a document form, such as a Job Description. The person who the inductee is going to be reporting to should go through this with them. It should be gone though duty by duty, emphasising exactly what is expected of them and what good looks like to your company. There should be no room for misunderstanding. The inductee needs to be asked if they understand what is required of them?

If the inductee isn’t going to be doing the whole role initially, then they need to know EXACTLY what they should be doing. This needs to be put in writing via email as confirmation.

The new employee can then be checked against this criteria. I would check inductees against their objectives weekly for the first month and then monthly as part of their appraisals. This allows you quickly to identify any performance or training needs.

If you wait until the inductee has been with your company a while before evaluating their performance you risk then finding things that need to be put right, or a candidate that isn’t performing for months and has been allowed to continue which puts your reputation in jeopardy.

Also, wait too long and then find that the candidate isn’t right for you company means you may have paid their salary for several months, when in reality if you’d have managed their performance sooner and more efficiently, you would have identified problems and would have been able to deal with them.


Under Performance


If an inductee isn’t performing to the standard you require then you need to talk to them about it. If it is a training issue, then training needs to be provided. If the inductee continues to underperform then it needs to be nipped in the bud.


Summary


You will have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in recruiting the person with the right skills and values for your company. A good, well planned onboarding is just protecting your investment. It also helps you identify poor performance and deal with it as well as identifying good performance and praising the new employee.

Research also shows that new employees that have been inducted properly feel positive about the company and are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.

Blog Author - Helen Wilson Download this Blog in PDF format Onboarding

Happy Valentine's Day - Rekindle your career romance!

Posted Tuesday 14th February 2017 under Career Advice

This Valentine’s Day, we’re taking an un-conventional approach to the traditional message. We are encouraging candidates to focus on themselves and ensure they are in a role they truly love!

Did you know that Beauty Therapists and Personal Trainers are some of the happiest workers? Maybe it’s because they spend the whole of their working day with people who they are helping, making them feel good about themselves.

The Market Sector Specialists at GPRS spend all their day talking to candidates about what they like and dislike about their jobs. If they tend to like most things, they are unlikely to leave for another job. If they dislike most things, they are the candidates who are serious about making a career move.

If a candidate tells us they are unhappy at work we ask the reasons why. The answers are usually quite similar:

  • It takes me too long to get to work each day
  • I don’t feel appreciated for the work I do
  • I feel I’m underpaid for the work I do
  • There is nowhere for me to progress to
  • I’m working too many hours
  • I don’t feel I’m being utilised to my full potential

The Market Sector Specialists then ask what they have done about changing the things they are unhappy about, and, in 9 out of 10 instances, the candidate says they have done nothing to change things. This is rather sad as there can be many things about the company, the job role and their manager that the candidate loves, and just a few things that the candidate doesn’t. Quite often these are things that, following a conversation with their line manager, could be changed so that they fall in love with their job again.

So, if you don’t love your job try the following:
Make a list of all the things you love about your job
Make a list of all the things you dislike about the job

Think about your job as a whole, what would need to change to make you love going to work everyday? Are these changes feasible? For instance, if you live 50 miles away from the job, it isn’t feasible that the company move closer to you is it?

If changing the things you don’t love about the job are feasible, think about going to your manager to see if anything can be done. Your manager might not even be aware of how you feel and may be able to change things for you.

It is human nature sometimes to become absorbed with the things we don’t love and distanced from the things we do. So, take some time and seriously think about your job and decide what it is you really love about your work? You might find that actually your job is better than you thought and you were allowing yourself to focus too much on the negatives and not enough on the positives. No job, no company and no manager is perfect.

And if you really don’t love your job and can’t see things changing, then you need to find a job that can enrich your life. Many people jump out of the frying pan into the fire; so do your homework. Life is too short!

Like a good relationship, a new career can be fun, rewarding and even a source of inspiration. But just as you don’t expect to find true love by tapping a stranger on the shoulder on Valentine’s Day, it pays to think carefully about what you want in a new job.

Firstly, make a list of all the things that you want to find in a new job and use this as a focus when you apply for a new role. All good Recruiters should spend time finding out about what you are looking for so they can match you to your ideal role.

Secondly, use the list of the things you want to prepare questions for your interview. The interview is as much about you finding a career that you will love, as it is for the interviewer to find if you are a candidate they will love.

Thirdly, stay focused. Don’t allow other bits of the role to detract from what you really want to love about your new job.

Now be realistic. Is it really the job you don’t love or is there something in your personal life that is making you feel less than loved up about your work? If so, changing your job probably won’t help.

Sometimes we focus on the things about our life that we don’t love and forget about the things we do. This can make us feel disheartened and unloved! Rekindle your career romance today and really think about the things you already love about your current role, or the things you would love in a new job opportunity. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Love life, Live life, Love your job!

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