An interview with Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of City CV 2to3days is delighted to announce our new partnership with award-winning careers consultancy, City CV. Victoria McLean founded City CV in 2011 and is now well-established as one of the UK’s leading experts in CV writing, career advice and career coaching. She is particularly passionate about helping women get back to work after career breaks to raise a family. We are excited to be working with Victoria and her team to run joint webinars and workshops on a range of career topics, including our latest event The Complete Career Workshop Day on Tuesday 10th September. Q: Hi Victoria, could you tell us about yourself, and why you set up City CV? I started my career as a headhunter and recruitment consultant, before working as recruitment manager at Goldman Sachs and then Merrill Lynch Bank of America, where I led the recruitment for many of their most high-profile roles and departments. When I had my first child a decade ago (I’m now mum to a boy and a girl), I wanted more flexibility. Working 60-hour weeks in the City no longer appealed, but I was still passionate about having a career and I wanted to build on my expertise. Like many other women, I found myself reassessing my priorities while on maternity leave. I took the opportunity to step back and invest some time thinking about what I loved doing and how I could achieve the work/life balance I craved. My expertise was in recruitment and career coaching, I have always been interested in people, and, as a bookish child, I had always loved writing, so City CV was born. It is the perfect niche for me. My background - on the agency side, in-house and now as a globally recognised career expert - has given me an understanding of all angles of the recruitment process. My whole career has been spent delving deeply into truly understanding what employers are looking for. I’ve also always been committed to ensuring individuals fulfil their career goals. There is nothing I love more than receiving ‘thank you’ emails and congratulating our clients on their new roles. It’s what it’s all about for me. Q: How has City CV developed over the last eight years and what do you offer to working mothers? Initially, City CV was just me, working from home, learning and evolving the business as I went along. Now, we have a team of 20 writers and coaches covering everything from creating winning CVs and LinkedIn profiles, to coaching for interview skills, personal branding and job search strategies. We also develop and deliver entire career development programmes for individuals and corporates. In the last few years, we have won several industry awards (Best Executive CV, Best Finance CV, Best Graduate CV, Best Sales & Marketing CV, Best International CV, Best Hospitality CV). More importantly, we have helped individuals across a broad range of industries and demographics secure excellent jobs. When I was working in recruitment, I always enjoyed coaching individuals. I recognised that people were not making the most of their skills and were frequently not able to see or articulate their real talents. This is true of people at all stages in their careers, but navigating a return to work after a career break can be particularly challenging. It’s a time when many women go through what I went through. They re-evaluate. They still crave a fulfilling career, financial security and a sense of purpose. But, now they also need to put the needs of their children first. Here at City CV, we help women create their own future on their own terms. We know working mothers bring an immense amount of skills, experience and perspective to the workplace. Where we come in is helping those fantastic mothers convince prospective employers of their value to them. It’s about drawing out the often hidden or hard to articulate soft skills and demonstrate the strengths that make up your personal story. Q: Why do you think people find it so difficult to write their own CV? Many people think CVs are just about listing your experience and selling your skills. In fact, it’s more like developing a personal marketing strategy. You need to understand your career ambitions and your target company or sector. What does the employer really need and why should they pick you over potentially hundreds of other candidates? It’s all about understanding your audience and matching what you can offer to what they’re looking for. And, of course, for most roles now your CV also needs to be keyword optimised to get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Articulating all that in a two-page CV is daunting for everyone. Women returning from a career break also have the challenge of writing convincingly about the varied skills and achievements they have amassed over a non-linear career. They need to summarise a range of job roles, highlight key projects, explain freelancing stints and any re-training or other activities they’ve undertaken during a career break. We often find women underestimate their value after a career break. They need help telling their story and bringing all their most relevant achievements together into a compelling marketing document. But we’ve guided everyone from high-flying barristers, savvy marketing directors and highly skilled project managers through the process. We offer a 1.5 hour ‘career therapy’ phone session with your CV writer and then they’ll do all the hard work of creating a strategic, key-word optimised and interview generating CV and LinkedIn profile for you. It’s a worthwhile investment to get your career back on track or take it to the next level. And, I’m really looking forward to working with 2to3days to help get as many women back to work and fulfilling as many career ambitions as possible. Q: Finally, what is your #1 CV writing tip? Your CV is not just a history of what you have been doing: it should be targeted to where you are going – so spend considerable time thinking about your target audience. How can you get them excited about you? Think about your pitch. Thank you, Victoria, we’re looking forward to working with you more in the future. BOOK NOW TO JOIN CITY CV & 2TO3DAYS ON THE COMPLETE CAREER WORKSHOP DAY
We’ve been running webinars - and we've just launched The Complete Career Workshop Day - with Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO of career consultancy City CV, on how to make the most of LinkedIn. Questions about how to use keywords often crop up, so we asked Victoria to share her top tips in this blog. With over 670 million people on LinkedIn, how do you boost your chances of showing up in relevant searches? The most important factor is having a complete, up-to-date and regularly refreshed profile, with a photo. But, keyword optimisation also plays a huge role. Keywords are words or phrases that recruiters and hiring managers use in their search queries. They’re also the ones that resonate with your target audience; the ones that answer their main questions, ‘how can you help me?’ or ‘are you a great fit for this role?’ LinkedIn gives you many opportunities to include appropriate keywords and it’s a smart move to make the most of it. Here are our top four tips for researching and using keywords on LinkedIn: 1. Put yourself in your recruiter's shoes What might an employer or recruiter type in if they’re looking for someone like you to fill a business need? Try it yourself. If, for example, you’re an Events Manager, look at the profiles of people who come at the top of those search results and see what keywords they’re using. You can do the same with job ads (on LinkedIn and elsewhere). Another idea is to follow prominent influencers in your sector to see the latest trending words and phrases they’re using in their articles and updates. You’ll soon have a useful list of keywords and phrases for your target role or sector. 2. Use your keywords effectively Most industries have career-specific terms, jargon and acronyms. It’s important to include these keywords in your profile, as target employers will use them in their job descriptions and person specifications. If you’ve been on a career break, make sure your keywords are up-to-date; the terminology may have changed. Recruiters often search for specific technical skills or software experience, so make sure you include these, using the full name and the abbreviation if appropriate. Your desired work location is an often-overlooked keyword. Yet, it’s the first thing many recruiters search. You’ll often find clichés, such as ‘excellent team player’ in job descriptions. That doesn’t mean you should stuff your LinkedIn profile with them. Instead, look at the projects or roles where you can demonstrate these skills. For example, variations on the phrase ‘outstanding communicator’ crop up a lot in job descriptions. Just stating that in your LinkedIn profile isn’t very convincing. Instead, look for ways to write about your communications expertise in high impact areas such as project management, key account relationship building or team leadership. Take care to use terms that are commonly used to describe a professional at your level. If you’re returning from a career break and want to position yourself as a mid to senior level executive, focus on describing achievements or challenges overcome that are commensurate with that level of seniority. Your words should be highlighting your impact in areas such as leading teams and projects, strategic planning, performance improvement or mentoring and coaching. Keyword research is also useful for spotting gaps in your experience. If you come across keywords or skills that you don’t have, maybe you could enrol on a course or complete some online learning. Then you can include your continuous learning in your LinkedIn profile. 3. Sprinkle keywords liberally but don’t over-egg it It’s a real turn-off to “keyword-stuff” your profile in an obvious way so it reads like a list of random words. Instead, sprinkle the keywords throughout your profile in a more natural and conversational way. Many people make the big mistake of not completing all the sections. The About section is frequently left blank and the Experience section is often just a list of job titles and dates. That’s a huge missed opportunity to make a great, keyword-rich pitch with an accomplishment-oriented narrative. Another area where you can include keywords is in the additional sections, which you can add to your LinkedIn Profile. If you have worked on Projects, you can include a short synopsis of the project with associated keywords. If you’ve done Volunteer work, you can add a short description with keywords there as well. Don’t forget your Skills section. LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills. People aren’t always consistent when searching and the same skill may be described in several different ways, so use different permutations of skills. For example, if you’re a Marketing Manager, you can add “Marketing," “Marketing Management,” “Marketing Strategy,” and so forth to your skills list. It might feel repetitive but it will improve your odds of being found. You can never be 100% sure of what someone might type into a search bar. 4. Have keyword-rich headlines and job titles The headline (right below your picture) is a major factor in LinkedIn’s search algorithm. Try to use as many of the available 120 characters as possible. And, make those words count. You can’t afford to be vague here. For example, I often see headlines that say something like “I help companies grow.” That sounds friendly, but if a recruiter is searching for a Chief Operating Officer, it won’t show up in their search. You can also add keywords to job titles to describe what you did. Recruiters often search based on the current job title field so try not to leave this blank. If you’re on a career break, you can add a consultancy, freelance or voluntary role. Weaving keywords into your LinkedIn profile will help you get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. But, it’s important to use them in a natural and engaging way. Remember, LinkedIn profile writing is very different to your CV. It’s less formal, more conversational and it shouldn’t be static, so keep it fresh with regular updates and postings (and remember to use keywords in those as well). City CV have spent years as recruiters searching for candidates just like you through the use of keywords and another decade perfecting the art of writing keyword optimised CVs and LinkedIn profile that get results. If you would like City CV to help with yours, then please get in touch. BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW ON OUR COMPLETE CAREER WORKSHOP DAY
2to3days founder Juliet catches up with Stephanie Dillon, founder and director at Inclusivity Partners, to talk about why companies should be tapping into an often overlooked talent pool: older women. Why do you believe there should be a greater focus on increasing the number of older people in the workplace? Despite economic uncertainty with Brexit, the war on talent is showing no signs of slowing down. There are a lot of organisations that are still finding it difficult to attract top quality, highly skilled workers to fill their vacancies. At the same time the UK has an ageing workforce. Mercer recently released a report which projected that by 2025 we will have 300,000 fewer workers under the age of 30 and 1 million more workers over the age of 50. Further research by the Centre for Ageing Better has shown that many over 50 experience an ‘unemployment trap’ – they’re more likely to be out of work than younger age groups, and once unemployed they struggle more than younger job seekers to get back into employment. So right now there seems to be a disconnect between available talent and employers who are unable to fill vacancies. If the two came together it would be a terrific result. Why do you think this disconnect exists? Sadly, I believe it’s due to ageism in UK recruitment practices. Hiring managers are prone to making assumptions and generalisations based on someone’s age and often in-house recruitment teams will make the same assumptions. One of the most common assumptions is that someone might be over-qualified and therefore unlikely to have a genuine interest in a role or to stay in it. This completely ignores the many different motivations people have for working. For some people, as they mature, the desire for ‘blazing up the career ladder’ can often be replaced with wanting to work for a good organisation, with a good team, a fair salary, and access to a flexible and agile working pattern. The opportunity to use one’s skills and knowledge is rewarding in itself, and far too often these biases and assumptions shut mature workers out of the labour market when in reality they would prove to be loyal and committed team players. Another assumption might be that the more mature worker is not someone who is ambitious or hungry for growth and challenge. Again this is an assumption that needs to be tested – in my role I have had the pleasure of interviewing many women in their 50s still filled with plenty of ambition, drive and goals for the future. The point is that no conclusion should be reached without seeking to understand each individual’s motivators and drivers. By opening their mindset, hiring managers can access a huge untapped talent pool. London in particular will be hit hardest by the ageing workforce. With a younger population than the rest of the UK and a slow-down in migration post Brexit, hiring managers in London will need to consider wider talent pools than ever before. So how do employers go about changing mindsets and tapping into these talent pools? It calls for an entirely new approach to talent acquisition strategies so as to incorporate all ages. With careers lengthening and ages rising, the CV of the future will be less linear in nature and more likely to include career breaks, periods of working below skill set (or what we refer to as a non-linear CV), and multiple positions and possibly even multiple careers. Organisations will need to expand their talent identification models to be less reliant on past techniques and more invested in understanding the individual characteristics of the talent pool applying. AWhat is needed is a holistic approach to understanding the person’s abilities including their drivers and motivators, their adaptability, their ability to learn and grow, and to assimilate new information. Organisations that focus on training programmes, allowing upskilling and retraining, leveraging the apprenticeship levy, will find themselves in a lead position for attracting and retaining a superior workforce. Returner programmes are another way organisations can tap into talent that has been dormant for a period of time and is now seeking to reignite their career. Returner programmes are particularly useful vehicles for mothers (and fathers) who have stepped away from their careers for a period of time to care for young children, and they also provide on-ramps for carers who have taken time away from the workforce to care for elderly family members. Many of our mothers may be in or approaching the 50 plus age bracket - what is your advice for how they might approach their job search to overcome possible ageism in the market? First, make sure your CV is highly tailored for any role you’re applying to. It needs to be modified for each and every opportunity so it sings off the page that you have the right skills for the role. Secondly, work your own personal network. You’re much more likely to identify opportunities via people in your network than through the big recruitment companies. If you’ve been on a career break then consider a Return to Work programme, which is a terrific way of re-entering. Finally, I highly recommend a terrific book called She’s Back: Your guide to returning to work. Whether you’re on a career break or not, this is a really invaluable book packed with nuggets of advice on managing your career. Find out how we can help with setting up a returners programme in your company
Picture the scene: you’ve found the job of your dreams, you know you have the necessary skills and experience but you’re in competition with loads of other candidates. You feel that if you can get to the interview stage, you’re in with a good chance. But how do you make sure you get that far? Writing a CV can feel like a daunting prospect. Most of us don’t like the idea of having to sell ourselves, which is what we feel that a CV should do. As a result we can procrastinate about getting it done, which means we’re delaying the moment when would could potentially be applying for that dream flexible role. Here at 2to3days we don’t think writing your CV should be a chore. With a change of mindset you’ll see that it’s less about selling yourself and more about seeing a need in a business and knowing you can meet it. Make yourself irresistible Before you start writing, you need to adopt a new mindset so you can come at your CV from a different approach. Instead of looking at how to sell yourself, show how you can fix your potential employer’s problems. You want to leave them feeling like they need you and not the other way around. You might be the one feeling vulnerable but look at it this way - the business has a problem that needs to be resolved. It has a gap that needs filling and it can only do that with your help. Prove you are the missing jigsaw piece that they need. The only way to do this is by tailoring your CV. Draft it in a way that shows you are what they need. It’s a chance to convince the reader that with your experience and skills, they have to employ you. A well thought through CV and properly constructed covering letter stands out from mediocrity like a beacon. It shows that you have considered the role and when it only takes six seconds for a CV to make an impression, it’s vitally important to get it right. Be a problem solver Your CV shouldn’t be a generic summary of everything you’ve done in your career up to now. It should be tailored so as to demonstrate that you have the right skills and experience to do the job that you’re applying for. You’ll need to draw out and emphasise different examples depending on the role, to demonstrate how you can help them - don’t make them have to work it out for themselves. Stop and think who will be reading your CV. Will it be the business owner; your interviewer and potential future boss? Or will it be a larger company or recruitment agency which uses an ATS (applicant tracking system), making those CV keywords all the more important to get you through to the next round and the interview process? Any employer will be looking for two things. First, the non-negotiables - the essential things you have to possess for the role. Second, the negotiables - nice-to-have attributes which are desirable but aren’t essential. Sometimes it will be clear from the job advert what the essential skills and experiences are. If not, you’ll need to spend some time going through the job description to try and work it out. Then be sure to cross reference and structure your CV to demonstrate that you have what it takes to do the job. That doesn’t mean you need to be able to tick all of their boxes. Studies show that many women won’t apply for a job unless they’re 100% qualified but don’t be put off if you can do the majority and not all. The main thing is to demonstrate your skills. Taking the time to edit your CV to make it relevant really pays off. Start off on the right foot If you are asked to write a covering letter, this is a major signal to demonstrate why you are the solution to their problem and how you can demonstrate that. Make sure you have found out who you should address the letter to and triple check the spelling of their name too. Writing a cleverly thought-out CV, which shows what you can do for the employer rather than simply listing everything you’ve done in the past, is the best way to ensure a coveted spot on that shortlist and moving on to the interview stage of the recruitment process. Prove you are their solution and you will be hard to resist. If you want more help putting together the perfect CV, register to download our free CV writing guide now. GET OUR FREE CV GUIDE NOW
You’ve advertised the job, got some applications in and now you need to sift through the candidates. You want to find the right person for the role but you have very little time. You also don’t want the cost of hiring via a recruitment company. That’s why it’s vital to create a strong shortlist so you can go on to hire a brilliant candidate who will be an asset to your company. Creating a high quality shortlist can feel like a lot of pressure but it doesn’t have to be daunting. We have a wealth of executive search experience and we’ve honed the process so that it’s relatively straightforward. Here’s 2to3days' guide with advice from some of the many experts in our network. What are you looking for? Creating a great shortlist starts with being sure of what you’re looking for. That’s why the essential first step is to spend time creating a job description that clearly sets out what your criteria are for your candidates. From that you can begin to craft a well targeted job advert that makes it obvious what type of person, background and experience you’re after. You’ll also be able to write it in a way that is attractive to the calibre of talent you’re looking for. “You want the job description to pique their interest,” says Sara Hurd, Director of Taylor Bennett Heyman headhunters. “If your advert isn’t written clearly - explaining what you really want - then you risk attracting candidates that aren't right for the role.” Your advert should be clear about the essential skills and experience, as well as the nice-to-haves. This will help you start the shortlisting process when the applications come in. Get your priorities straight Knowing what your deal breakers are will help you begin the process of filtering out candidates that aren’t suitable. As a baseline you’ll want to look for those who have done their research, tailored their CV to the position, avoided careless mistakes and so on. You can also use a scoring system to prioritise the qualities you’re looking for. By doing this and measuring each candidate against the same criteria, you’ll be able to get an objective view of how various candidates compare. But don’t just think of this as a process of deciding who doesn’t fit the bill. Stephanie Dillon, Founder and Managing Director at Inclusivity Partners, says it’s essential to take time to read the CVs with a view of looking at how you could include rather than exclude the candidate from the shortlist. “My top tip is to read the CV once and then read it again from the bottom up,” she says. “A good CV shows someone with drive and determination who has demonstrated personal competencies. I’m looking for a ‘story’ on the CV. “Don’t look at their most recent role, look at the whole story. This is especially important in the mother market. Sometimes the candidate has taken a step down in order to move up so it’s critical you look at the whole CV and don’t make assumptions.” Where someone has had a career break - whether to have children or for any other reason - remember to look at what they have achieved and the work they are capable of doing rather than focusing on the gap. They won’t have lost knowledge while away from work, instead they will have gained life experience. Don’t forget the records It’s important to keep a paper trail of the shortlisting process. “The process needs to be completely fair and legal,” says Sara. “You cannot discriminate. In today’s world where people want increasingly more control of their data, make sure all internal communication is able to withstand external scrutiny.” When you’ve got a final shortlist, go back and check over the essentials and make sure everyone on the list meets the basic requirements to do the job. That way when it comes to the interview stage, you’re really just having to decide who can do it best. Whether or not you’re hiring on a regular basis, by following these tips you will be in a strong position to whittle down prospective employees to a sparkling shortlist, one of whom will hopefully go on to be the perfect fit. PLACE YOUR JOB ADVERT NOW
For those of us with children, there isn’t just one ‘new year’ in each 12-month period. In fact, the start of the school year in September can feel like much more of a fresh start than January. Whether your kids are little or heading quickly towards adulthood themselves, you might be thinking that September is a good time to get back to work or take the next step on your career ladder. But with the summer holiday looming, do you really have time to undertake a project as important as job hunting? Well, here at 2to3days we believe in work-life integration. We believe that it is completely possible to get to the end of August and feel that you’ve had a lovely time with your family while also achieving what you wanted to for yourself. It’s all about getting into the right mindset, getting efficient with your time and keeping your eye on the prize: a flexible role that you can integrate into your life all year round. Here are our tips for having a really productive summer and getting ready for a new start in September. Ask yourself what you want to achieve Goal setting is an essential first step for getting anything done. It starts with setting an obtainable vision – the art to setting a great vision is get clear on what you what you want to achieve but also to be able to articulate and ‘own’ how you want to feel about achieving this goal. For example, wanting to write your CV by the end of the summer holidays is a great goal but if you are dreading it you will probably find every excuse in the book to avoid doing it. But if you can focus on the feeling you will have when you have finished it - excitement or relief perhaps - then you are halfway there! Do this step sooner rather than later to give yourself plenty of time to plan in how and when each task will be accomplished - also be aware that life rarely runs smoothly so you will, in all probability hit metaphorical road bumps along the way, like sick children, bad weather or, let’s get real, your own lack of self belief that your ideal role exists - we are here to tell you it does and you need to be ready to grab when you see it. Rather than overwhelming yourself by focusing on too much, pick the main tasks you want to achieve in this period and prioritise them. For example, you may want to include tasks like updating your LinkedIn profile, rewriting your CV, or applying for particular roles. By breaking up that larger goal of finding a new job into bitesized chunks, you’ll find it easier to achieve. And as each task is ticked off, you will feel satisfied and motivated to get on with the next one. Set expectations at home Depending on the ages of your children, you may be able to have a conversation with them about what you’re hoping to achieve over the summer. If they are young you can work around their nap times or early bedtimes. With older children explain to them what you are looking to achieve and ask for their support to give you a bit of ‘me time’ so that you all get to do what you want. If you’re in a relationship make sure your other half knows what your goals are, and discuss how they can support you. Perhaps they can take on more chores, take the children out for the day, or even help with things like proofreading your CV. You may be sceptical about how well this will work but you won’t know if you don’t try. This is about setting your intent and asking for your family’s support so you can do what you need to for you. Use your time wisely by doubling up As a mother you’ll naturally want to maximise the time you spend with your children during the school holidays. That means being clever about when you fit your career planning tasks in. If you think that you can’t do stuff for yourself when the kids are around, think again! Work-life integration is all about adopting a new mindset that blends the two in a way that serves you and your family. Think about how you can double up on your time and be more efficient, so you can work smarter, not harder. Catch up with contacts on the phone while walking your dog or brush up on your skills by listening to a podcast whilst sunbathing on holiday. And remember that those moments when your kids are happily distracted - whether they’re playing in the garden, watching a bit of TV, or engrossed in a book - can be a chance for you to peruse job ads or do a bit of CV polishing. You don’t always need to dedicate several hours to a task. Make the most of networking Networking isn’t just a formal activity where people do 60-second pitches and hand out business cards over coffee or lunch. In fact networking can happen absolutely anywhere including the places you least expect, such as watching your teenager play in a football match, or spending a rainy afternoon at the soft play centre. The majority of people are only too happy to help and you will be amazed at the connections you can make by being open to it. Don’t forget you Remember, you don’t have to sprint through the summer. Do things in intervals and reward yourself at each stage. Being a great mum and having a fulfilling and successful career are eminently possible. It’s about being aware of what you want to achieve, breaking it down into doable chunks and coming up with a plan that works for you and your family, and then sticking to it. Follow our guidelines and you will not only get to spend quality time with the family without feeling guilty over the summer but you’ll be in a brilliant frame of mind to see in September with new job goals, a fresh CV and an effective LinkedIn profile. Plan ahead, organise and get ready to embrace the ‘back-to-school’ vibe and your summer may well be the most productive you’ve ever had. If you're serious about getting the job you truly desire, join us for our Complete Career Workshop, delivered by the industry leaders City CV, on Tuesday 10th September. Places are strictly limited to ensure a tailored approach. FIND OUT MORE
Recruiting women into senior positions has become an urgent priority for financial services companies in recent years. The industry is notoriously lacking in women at the top, which means these businesses are struggling with the gender pay gap. Could returnship programmes offer the solution and help women who have taken a career break to re-enter the workforce, bringing with them a wealth of skills and experience? Recently our chief executive, Juliet Turnbull, was quoted in an article by Financial News London. She talked about how, in her experience, HR departments in financial services firms avoid taking the time to consider those who have taken a career gap. Instead they favour candidates with unbroken track records who represent the safer option. “We are hardwired to read CVs from the top down,” Juliet told journalist Becky Pritchard. “HR departments dismiss too many great candidates by not reading their CVs properly. Recruitment teams are under a huge amount of pressure and I hear a lot of companies say: ‘Well, I will hire them if they are proven.’” The scope of the recruitment problem The article began by setting out the very real issues facing the financial services industry when it comes to gender diversity and inclusion. It quoted a report from think tank New Financial, which came out in March and concluded that companies need an increase of 12% in the number of women holding senior positions. To tackle this issue, over 330 financial services companies have signed the Women in Finance Charter. But in order to make real headway towards a solution, they need to think differently about the way they recruit women. Because the women are out there - but many of them have been or are on a career break. In fact, according to a PWC report quoted in the article, there are 550,000 professional women in the UK who, thanks to caring commitments, have stepped off the career ladder. Three quarters of those are keen to get back to work but current talent acquisition methods don’t serve their needs. Returnships: a positive step One answer lies in returnship programmes. These give people who have had a career break a chance to brush up on their skills in a real life work situation, to make contacts and get a foot in the door. They are also a great opportunity for employers to assess candidates who they may then wish to employ on an ongoing basis. Returnships can be hugely successful in helping companies address diversity issues. For example, pensions consultancy Redington reduced their gender pay gap from 21.6% to 0.2% in one year thanks to their returnship programme. The article did highlight the fact that some criticise returnship programmes for being ‘tick box exercises’ that don’t actually lead to anything. Pritchard quoted Stepahnie Dillon, managing director at Inclusivity Partners, who said: “A lot of returners feel that if there are no jobs at the end of it, there is no point in it… I do understand that but they are still in a stronger position.” And there are places where jobs are almost guaranteed. The returnship programme at JPMorgan has been running since 2015 and 80% of the women returners finish with a job for the company. Laetitia Craig, an executive director within the recruitment team, was quoted as saying: “We look at those candidates not as interns but as potential full-time hires.” Pushing the returner agenda forward The Financial News London article concluded that although returnships can be valuable, right now they are still being rolled out on too small a scale to make a big enough impact. And we agree. The financial services industry needs to rethink recruitment. Playing it safe by hiring only those who have no gaps in their CV is short-sighted. Those companies who see not only the value of the hidden talent pool of mothers but also take proactive steps to encourage them back into the workforce through returnship programmes are the ones who will succeed in the future. That’s why we advertise returnship programmes on the 2to3days website and also work closely with Inclusivity Partnerships to help our clients build returnship programmes that get results. We have worked with the likes of Barclays, Shell, Virgin Money, Lloyds Banking Group and the Home Office, all of whom have been thrilled with the calibre of the candidates that have applied via 2to3days. If your company would like to find out more, visit the returnships page or get in touch to speak to one of the team. And if you're looking out for your ideal job, make sure you're registered with 2to3days.
The gender pay gap is getting worse. Despite widespread efforts to address diversity and equality issues women are still being paid less than men. And not just less, but even less than before, with the gap widening in the last year. According to an article in the Sunday Times, on average women in the UK earned 90p for every £1 earned by men in 2018, in other words 10% less. The year before they earned 9.3% less. A small shift, maybe, but one that is going in the wrong direction. And some companies are doing an awful lot worse than that. Another Sunday Times article looked at four of the country’s high street banks - including HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays - all of which have pay gaps that are significantly more pronounced. Barclays came out bottom of the pile, with women earning just 57p for each £1 earned by a man. And although the ratio in their personal finance retail arm stood at 85p to every £1, that figure was down 1p on the year before. When it comes to high earners, the problem is much more marked. Taking a focus on those earning £150,000 or more, a third Sunday Times article reported that there are five times as many men in this income bracket than women - 295,000 compared to 61,000. Guidance from the government So what can employers do? A recently published government report has set out “evidence-based actions” that employers can take to reduce the gender pay gap and improve gender equality in organisations. Revolutionising recruitment Getting more women into organisations, especially at senior levels, is a vital step in closing the gender pay gap. Traditional recruitment methods are often biased - though not necessarily intentionally - which is why the report puts forward a number of tangible suggestions for making the process more fair. These include putting more than one woman on shortlists for recruitment and promotions, using skills-based assessment tasks to determine a candidate’s suitability, and choosing structured over unstructured interviews. By assessing potential employees based on what they can achieve and ensuring that each one is put through the same set of questions, it is easier to make a fair comparison between them, which reduces the likelihood of bias creeping in. Setting appropriate salaries The report also talked about salaries and how it isn’t just a case of paying men and women the same salary for the same job. Instead, transparency is essential in order to ensure that women are able to access salaries that allow them to close the gender pay gap. For example, women are less likely to negotiate on pay if they are unsure what pay scales are available to them. By being clear about these up front, these women will have a greater chance of negotiating reasonable remuneration. The same transparency should be applied to the “processes, policies and criteria for decision-making” when it comes to promotion, pay and rewards, according to the report. And in order to ensure that this is all happening, the report recommends that companies have an appointed diversity manager or task force - with responsibility, visibility and the ability to make and challenge decisions. Offering flexibility One of the biggest challenges facing women in the workforce is the need to balance their career with looking after children. Flexible working is a hugely powerful tool in addressing this, with a range of options from job sharing to home working, part-time roles to compressed hours. The report advises companies to advertise all roles as flexible and to encourage both men and women to take up flexible options so it isn’t seen as only a “female benefit”. Encouraging better uptake of parental leave is another suggestion to help reduce the number of women leaving the workforce at the point of motherhood. Employers should be making it clear to men that they have a legal right to request shared leave, and promote examples of senior leaders taking advantage of it in order to normalise the concept. And if women do take a career break to raise children, employers should consider options such as returnship programmes to help those returners get back to work when they’re ready. Returnships not only provide mothers with a chance to brush up on their skills, regain confidence and make contacts, they’re also an excellent way of companies making good recruitment decisions. Supporting women Whether returning to work after a career break or taking a step up the ladder into a traditionally male dominated space can be intimidating and unsettling. That’s why sponsorship and mentoring schemes can work well. By providing support for women who are progressing or want to progress in their careers, employers can maximise the chance of more senior positions being filled by females and therefore reduce their gender pay gap. Making a difference The report is clear that some of these actions are more effective than others, while some need more testing before we can fully appreciate the impact they will have. But the truth is that unless organisations take at least some positive action, the gender pay gap will not only remain but is likely to continue to widen. This is not just a problem for the women who are losing out on financial rewards. It is a big issue for companies who could not only face potential repercussions due to breaches of equality legislation, but also take a hit to their reputation and brand image. By overlooking flexibility, companies risk losing out not only on the skills, expertise and maturity that mothers can offer, but may well put off younger women entering the workforce who are thinking to the future and the opportunities that might be available to them. Women are no longer willing to settle for being labelled second rate. As a result, top female talent will be heading towards companies for whom gender equality is not just a tick box exercise. In the future, companies who don’t pay address the pay gap will risk losing out to those who are making significant progress. That’s why we work hard to champion the power of flexible working as a solution for both forward-thinking organisations and talented, experienced mothers who want to be fulfilled at work without compromising their family life. As we always say, 2to3days isn’t just a business, it’s a movement. Join us today!
Ensure your LinkedIn profile is a key ally in your search for flexible working with these top tips from award-winning City CV. You may have a love/hate relationship with social media, but LinkedIn is essential. It is the world’s largest professional network so you simply can’t afford to ignore it. Just take a look at these figures: 610 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for vacancies 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet job candidates. But, LinkedIn is much more than a jobs board. It is also one of the most important and influential platforms for connecting with like-minded professionals, keeping up-to-date with industry news, and personal brand building. If you’re stepping back into your career after taking a break, or heading in a whole new direction, LinkedIn is the perfect place for your re-launch campaign. It takes some time and effort. You won’t transform into a globally recognised thought leader overnight. But, here are three ways you can use LinkedIn as a platform to run your own career marketing campaign. 1. Optimise your profile to make a great first impression You’ll need to do more than just cut and paste your old CV to be noticed on LinkedIn. Recruiters search for candidates based on specific keywords and algorithms. According to LinkedIn’s own figures, a complete profile, tailored to the jobs you want and including specific, search engine optimised keywords will get 132% more views. Most people don’t take the time to optimise their profile. That’s a big mistake. Here’s how to start. There are the certain words or phrases a recruiter types into LinkedIn when they are searching for candidates. Look at some job ads you’re interested in and make a list of the specific keywords used. They could be job titles, skills, knowledge or expertise that a company needs. Then, review your headline. Most people just throw in their current job title but LinkedIn allows 120 characters here, so use them all if you can. A powerful snapshot of your strengths, with appropriate keywords, will significantly increase the odds of people clicking on your profile. Sprinkling keywords throughout your profile will make it easier for recruiters to find you. But use them in a natural, engaging style. Your profile still needs to read as though it has been written by a human, for a human. A photo makes your profile seven times more likely to turn up in searches. It is worth investing in a professional shot. But, at the very least, make sure you look presentable and approachable. Use a plain background and face forward so you look like you are making eye contact. 2. Use LinkedIn as a learning tool If you’re taking a career break, it’s always a smart move to keep a foot in the door. LinkedIn is an easy and convenient way to keep up with developments in your field and maintain your professional network. That way, you’ll have the tools to navigate the challenges of returning to work and re-igniting your career in the future. 3. Be your own cheerleader You can use LinkedIn to become more visible in your chosen field. You have up to 2,000 characters for your summary section; use them wisely to tell a keyword optimised story that captures your personality. Your LinkedIn profile can reflect the tone, style and level of detail that best suits you and your audience. You can also add links to examples of your work. The more connections you have, the higher your LinkedIn ranking. That makes it easier for recruiters to find you. You can start by re-establishing contact with former colleagues and university friends. Social media is all about engagement and your LinkedIn profile should not be static. Take the opportunity to join industry or professional interest groups. You can build your credibility by posting updates, sharing articles and commenting on other members’ updates. When you share articles by or about people and their companies – be sure to tag them in your post. You can do this on LinkedIn as you would on Facebook or Twitter, by using the @ symbol before their name. This encourages people to share your posts, which will increase your profile views. If you want to showcase your more detailed expertise, you can write and publish your own content. This can help boost your presence on the network and establish you as a thought leader or industry expert. Remember, you can make the posts more engaging with images and videos. LinkedIn is a valuable and convenient tool to help you get your career back on track after a break. But it’s not as easy as just setting up a profile and leaving it there. To stand out on LinkedIn, you need to showcase your range of skills, expertise and experiences, not just create a boring list of job titles. Career Returners Career returners can actually have an advantage here. By including your career break activities - voluntary work, interests or boards you sit on – you can demonstrate the new skills you’ve gained. That could be how to cope under pressure, multi task, evaluate information, make decisions and build networks. But, remember to keep your profile relevant to a professional audience. Even if you’re not actively job hunting, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. It’s definitely worth taking the time to ensure you’re using every opportunity it offers to create a powerful network and learn from established experts in your field. This will provide you with the perfect platform to share your expertise, make connections and boost your personal brand, ready for when you decide to re-launch your career. If you want more LinkedIn advice check out the nine most common mistakes you'll want to avoid to ensure you stand out on this platform for all the right reasons. We're thrilled to be working with City CV on a series of webinars designed exclusively for our mothers in the 2to3days hood. Our aim is to help you present your skills and experience so you feel really proud and confident of your CV and LinkedIn profile when applying for jobs. Make sure you're signed up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about future events and webinars. SIGN UP NOW