Redwood Recruitment Blog
A message from Founder, Theresa Duncan
Whilst we continue to face uncertain times, I wanted to reassure you that the team at Redwood Publishing Recruitment is doing all that we can to deliver the same professional and personal service you have come to expect from us.
My team and I are available and working hard to ensure we continue to provide you with ongoing support, and in addition, offer you any advice you may need in terms of finding a new role as we start to move out of lockdown.
We are committed to ensuring that the recruitment process is as normal as possible and are continuing to interview and screen candidates remotely and offer as much help and support as possible.
At the start of the pandemic, we offered free of charge additional support to our candidates and those people who were in a situation where they were are looking for a new role. Even though restrictions are easing and business is looking to get back to work, we will continue to offer our Career Coaching expert who can assist with helping you to optimise your future career potential should it be necessary.
If you are concerned about losing your job or require further recruitment support please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, even if you would just like a quick chat.
Submitting your CV and a covering letter are not the only ways in which candidates are selected for an interview. There are a number of techniques used by HR departments to sift out the best applicant for the role being advertised.
We have a range of resources available to candidates on our website, including an overview of the different kinds of selection techniques that you may come across. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve reviewed our listings and are sharing the most relevant with you here.
These are one of the most common ways to apply for a new role. They assess background information through a form or questionnaire in order to assess an individual's behavioural reliability, integrity, and personal adjustment. The employer will then assess applicants' scores, determined by weighting each item according to the item's derived relationship to the criterion of interest. The application form is very common in roles where a high volume of applications can be expected and are used extensively in the current job market.
Personality tests are used to measure the personality characteristics of applicants. In the main, they are related to future job performance and typically measure one or more of five personality dimensions. These include extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience. Tests like these can consist of up to 100 questions with a view to finding answers, which are most descriptive of the target group or person in question. The idea is to draw out personality styles to assess the potential for the role in question. Our experienced team can help you to prepare for this and other tests used ahead of the selection process.
Like personality tests, intelligence tests are paper and pencil-based assessments, but seek to measure an individual's general mental ability or intelligence rather than their characteristic suitability. Tests may include time limits and could involve mathematic or scientific problem solving. Many tests will contain the same requirements that occur on the job on offer so a direct performance measure can be applied.
Virtual Career Fairs
Virtual career fairs work in the same way as traditional career fairs but are held online. Previously employed as a modern approach to search for a job, with restrictions on travel and social distancing, expect this type of event to become the norm.
The virtual visitor has the options to chat to prospective employers, submit CVs, and receive expert advice at their convenience. The standard procedure is to register and upload your CV and cover letter so prospective employers have a chance to screen your details. You then get the opportunity to interact directly with company representatives through video, chat, or virtual interviews, with employers using a search function to find candidates with their virtual profiles. A professionally written CV can help employers to locate you, which can lead to further discussions and interviews.
The pitfalls of video conferencing
Never before have we used video conferencing more, with software such as Zoom used for keeping in touch with both friends and family during lockdown and also with work colleagues.
But for many, using this type of software has come with a number of challenges, often leading to frustration when we are looking to communicate with those whom we would normally see face to face.
At Redwood, we have been listening to clients and candidates’ feedback on using video tech and in this blog post, are sharing some things to look out for to make your calls as smooth as possible!
Like any meeting or 121, being prepared and having all the correct data or resources to hand is key. By treating a Zoom or Teams call like a face to face meeting, you will be able to have an effective session. One tip is to have an agenda that is shared ahead of the call and taking notes of any actions to share afterwards.
Being unfamiliar with the software
Knowing how to use the software definitely needs to be part of your meeting preparation. Clicking the meeting link just ahead of the scheduled time and finding that you need to download software, allow camera or microphone access, can be time consuming. If you are about to have an interview this can become a very stressful and stop you from performing at your best.
Set up time
So, the moral of the above point is to allow plenty of time to get set up ahead of the meeting! Make sure your laptop has enough battery power and you have headphones (if needed). Have you downloaded the software in advance and made sure that you can been seen (remember to remove any stickers that you have placed over your laptop camera for instance)? It’s far better to be early for the meeting, or interview, than late and flustered.
We’ve all seen the video of the businessman being interviewed by a journalist only to have his two small children creating havoc in the background!! Whilst working from home it’s very likely that there will be family members who are also at home, if you are having an important call (such as a job interview), see if you can get some support for the length of time the call is going to take. Equally, try to prevent any noisy house cleaning for taking place and turn off the radio for the duration of the call.
Poor/slow connection speed
There is nothing more frustrating than buffering or a frozen screen when you are on a conference call. If your organisation is encouraging you to work from home or remotely, speak to IT about some support with your broadband. They may for instance be able to provide a booster or facilitate an upgrade to your current system.
Hard to use when discussing sensitive issues or negotiating
Conferencing software is a great way to facilitate conversations when people are apart, however they can form a barrier when you are having a sensitive discussion or looking to negotiate a job offer or promotion. If you would feel more comfortable having a telephone in this instance, request one.
Planning the order that people speak
With software such as Zoom, only one person is able to speak at a time, which can make discussions hard. One way to solve this is to have a plan of who is speaking when and maybe setting up a flag system to indicate who wants to speak next.
We may have all enjoyed some more relaxed dressing over lockdown, but PJ’s are not the best attire on a video call! Think about how you are presenting yourself, what can be seen in the background and how you want to come across to others. Zoom offers a range of backdrops which can hide that dodgy brown sofa in your living room – just don’t use the beach scene option!
Video conferences can work very well and create a solution to a number of groups communicating from a number of locations. However, it’s best to think ahead and determine whether video calling is the best way to communicate and whether it will meet the needs of the meeting you are going to have.
Make sure you are set up ahead of time, have all the log in details required, plus are fully prepared for the meeting. Perhaps ask your direct reports if they need any assistance in advance and check what their IT requirements are. We know that an increasing number of job interviews are being carried out remotely and the Redwood team will help you to prepare and be set up in advance of such a call.
Call one of our experienced team on 020 7048 6223 to see how we can help you.
How to manage remote and office-based teams
With the news that many staff are being encouraged to home work until 2021, including those working for Google, employers need to have robust working practices in place to effectively manage its workforce. This can be made all the more complicated if teams are split between the office and home.
This way of working may be adopted as standard practice by some firms in the longer term, so we’ve looked at some proactive steps which can be taken to keep teams aligned and working as one.
At the start of lockdown, companies were forced to impose remote working, having to retrospectively consider performance and output expectations for employees. Now working away from the office is established, it is important that policies are in place and there is clarity around expectations. For instance, if weekly meetings are in place, staff must attend these and be available for 121’s with line managers – in the same way that they would be working in the same office.
Working remotely can be more time-effective for employees and less demanding for those who have to commute a long way. However, there will be some factors that are less positive, such as managing to work in the wider home environment and avoiding being distracted by friends or family. For some, especially younger people who may live on their own, working alone can be lonely and can leave the individual feeling anxious and isolated. The first step is to acknowledge someone may be feeling this way and to take steps to reassure and support staff members who may be suffering.
Leading by example
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, it was reported that employees will look to their managers even more during difficult times. Therefore, if a manager is stressed or unsure, it will have a negative effect on the team. Effective leadership takes a two-pronged approach, recognising stress but then “providing affirmation of their confidence in their team.”
The most important element of effective management, and something that is critical for scattered teams, is communication. Zoom and other video calling software has been used extensively to assist with meetings and updates and has proved to be an effective comms tool. Whichever platform is used, it is important that ‘face to face’ interactions happen as often as possible, both from a 121 perspective, but also between teams.
And not all touchpoints need to be about work! Many employees miss those ‘water cooler’ moments, so those times when they catch up with colleagues on a more social level. Therefore, build in some downtime with the team, whether it’s a Friday afternoon quiz, a Monday motivation session, or a call led by one of the team to mix things up. Keep up to date with the team, encourage them to interact with each other, and show that you want to be proactive, not reactive, with communication.
Instead of enforcing time sheets, or check-in and out times, focus on your team’s outcomes, not activity. Those working in the office may have more set routines, such as nipping out for a coffee at 11am, or lunch at 1pm. Homeworker’s routines will be different again, so an employer should focus on the work being produced, not when they are in the office or taking a break.
Make sure those working remotely have the same tools as those colleagues located in the office. For instance, if they are unable to make a video call as they have slow internet speeds, look at how this can be improved. Do your remote team have a business mobile or use Apps that might help with their productivity.
Their workstation should also be comfortable and fit for purpose, with your Occupational Health teams having tools in place to support them.
When working in the same office, offering a level of flexibility can be easy – from allowing an employee time to visit the dentist or coming into work slightly later. Those working remotely should be given the same level of flexibility and understanding for appointments to feel included in the wider team who may be in the office.
If you are looking to develop your team or take on new talent, talk to the team at Redwood. With over 25 years of publishing industry experience, we can help fill positions from exec level to senior management. Contact us for more details.
Advice for Employers Post-Lockdown
With the lockdown period easing, and businesses looking to return to work, recruitment of new staff and teams will also start to get back on track. According to the monthly Recruitment Trends data released by APSCo, June saw a positive uplift in permanent and contract vacancies increasing by 38% and 31%.
Therefore, with employers having the market confidence to take on further staff, what does post-lockdown recruitment look like? We’ve pulled together 10 areas to consider during recruitment that might now be different since the pandemic. This is largely because now businesses have made the decision to recruit, the temptation will be to execute this quickly, filling the vacant post. But this is just one of the pitfalls to guard against. Our advice is to:
Create an accurate job description
Carefully consider the role being advertised and what skillset you are looking for to fill it. For example, if the role involves digital marketing, specify experience of curating social media content and executing online marketing campaigns. If the role will form part of a wider team, interpersonal skills will be important, along with the ability to recognise when the wider team may need support.
Take time over the recruitment process
Once the decision has been made to recruit, the JD has been written and the salary confirmed, don’t rush and hire the wrong person! Take time to look for the candidate that best fits the job being advertised. Using an experienced recruitment firm, such as Redwood, is invaluable at this stage, as they will be able to research and review the most appropriate candidates. Their expertise and ability to screen prospective candidates in advance will actually save you time in the longer term.
Be honest with the Recruitment Consultant!
It’s very important that you explain exactly what type of candidate you are seeking for the role, so that your consultant can find the best fit for your business. This stage is important as the more information they have, the more they will be able to find the right person for the role. They will need to know aspects such as salary, benefits package, expectations of the candidate and role objectives, so they are able to find the very best person for the job.
Take advice and guidance from the professionals
If you are using a recruitment consultant, do use them – don’t ignore them! They are experts in their field and will know the wider employment landscape inside out. This includes having expert knowledge and insights around the most suitable candidates and what your expectations should be.
Get to know the candidate
When it comes to that all-important interview, make sure you spend time actually getting to know the candidate. Once the questions around skillset, qualifications and experience have been asked, take some time to find out more about the person you are interviewing. Not only do you want to ensure the person you are interviewing will be able to do the job, you need to ensure that they will fit into the culture of the business and also the wider team. Ask about their interests, what they achieved during lockdown and what makes them tick.
Allow time post-interview for follow-up questions
In our experience, candidates often have additional questions after the interview. Many people find the interview experience stressful and this can prevent them thinking of questions around the role. Therefore, it’s always useful to allow some time for any additional questions or queries to come through from the candidate, via your recruiter.
If applicable offer flexible working
Lockdown has led to flexible working becoming more widely accepted, therefore, this might be something that your business is offering. Be clear on the expectations or opportunities around this with the candidate and if it is not something that your firm offers, be clear around this from the outset.
Explain the benefits package
Salary and job benefits certainly should have been discussed with your recruitment consultant, but have these details to hand during an interview, with any details around benefits available to send to the candidate for review.
Induction and onboarding
Post lockdown inductions and onboarding may be different. It is important however that a robust induction or onboarding programme is in place and makes the new employee feel as welcome and included in your team and business as possible.
Set targets and objectives
One thing that should be the same is the setting of objectives and targets early on in the role. In order for a candidate to succeed, and to be clear of what is expected of them, share their objectives and deadlines to achieve them.
As recruiters, we cannot stress how important it is to prepare for an interview. Submitting an application is time consuming, but we will need to be ready to invest in time to prepare to ensure you show yourself in the very best light for this important next stage.
The outcome of the interview can be enhanced or hindered by the quality of your preparation. Before you attend, research as much background information as you can about the company, the market and its competition. Redwood will help and support you with this part of the interview too, as we will know the employer really well, and may have placed other candidates in the business. The resulting insights are invaluable resources for you and can help set you apart from another candidate.
Many companies proudly state their achievements and more general information on their corporate website, so this is a good starting point. Its social media channels are also a useful way to learn more – and remember to check them for any news or announcements on the day of the interview.
The good news is that if you’ve been invited for an interview, the employer has already decided you are a potential match for their vacancy. Interviews are used to determine if you fit into the company and team culture, plus it is your chance to consider if the role and the business is the right fit for you also.
From the employer's perspective, our feedback as recruiters and the details on your CV will have demonstrated that you have the level of experience and technical expertise they are seeking. An interview gives you the opportunity to expand on the information detailed on your CV, so it’s a good idea to know your own CV inside out! Be prepared to outline how you would fit into the role you are interviewing for, using solid and up to date examples of how you will achieve this.
An interview is as much about compatibility as competence, so use the interview to determine whether the company is able to offer you the professional growth and career development you seek. One great way to do this is to prepare some questions to ask at the interview.
If you are well prepared for the interview, your next priority is to come across as motivated and enthusiastic. This is because the way you interact, and your body language, will provide the potential employer with a positive – or negative impression. Make sure you are polite and friendly and retain good etiquette by greeting your interviewer by their last name and a firm handshake. Wait until you are prompted to sit down, adopt a positive posture and look alert and interested at all times.
In terms of getting to the interview, you should plan your route and allow plenty of time to reach the destination. If driving, ask about parking arrangements at the venue and if using public transport, check tube, train or bus routes.
Make sure you are presented appropriately, digging out a smart suit if it is for a corporate job, or business casual for writing or creative industries. Arriving around 15 minutes early will give you some breathing space and allow you to nip to loo! And don’t forget to make a note of the name and title of your interviewer.
Finally, good luck – and call your recruiter when you leave to give feedback and ask any questions you didn’t get to in the interview.
- Look at the business’s website! You will most certainly be asked whether you have – and what you do and don’t like about it!
- Check the social media channels, even on the day of the interview to ensure you have not missed any news or announcements
- Know your CV inside out
- Have examples ready to show how what you can bring to the role
- Prepare questions in advance which allow you to determine how you can grow and develop in the role
- Think about your posture and non-verbal communication
- Plan your journey and aim to arrive around 15 minutes early
- Dress appropriately and know the name of the person who is interviewing you
Upskilling during lockdown
With lockdown easing and many of us thinking about returning to work, you may want to look at refreshing your professional skills, or even learning new ones, to improve your CV if you are considering a job move. There are a host of online courses available, some of which are free, all of which can be completed at your own pace.
Redwood’s Theresa Duncan explained why it’s so important to keep your skills fresh and current: “The job marketplace is more competitive than ever, with less vacancies available and more candidates going for jobs. Our live roles have never had more applicants – so it’s important that candidates stand out in order to get noticed. Upskilling and refreshing your skills demonstrates that you are professional and determined to bring a new approach to a job, which is invaluable, particularly in a crowded job market.”
So, what type of training should you be investing in, and who offers it? We’ve picked 10 online courses that offer a range of benefits, from polishing up computer skills to learning something new. Here’s our rundown:
We love author Margaret Attwood’s creative writing course which covers everything from creating a dialogue to crafting a cliff hanger. There are 23 videos available with prices starting at £14. Click here to learn more.
Pearson offer a great range of courses, especially as many of them are free of charge! Its Essential Skills for Career Development course gives you the tools to take your career to the next level – in four hours! Access it here.
There are a number of courses and e-learning tools around Social Media, with Pearson also offering an introductory course. This is ideal if you are looking to offer your employer some added value skills and help them to market themselves digitally. The short course can be found here.
Computing and IT
The Open University does not just offer academic courses; its Computer Basics course provides a helpful refresher and will enable you to improve the day to day skills you need in the workplace.
If maths isn’t your strong point (often true for more creative types) don’t worry. There are plenty of resources available to help you, including from the Government which has help on numeracy, maths and English. Click here to review.
Persuasion is a key business skill, often becoming more important the higher up the career ladder you get. We like the online course from the London School of Economics and Political Science, which provides an online course lasting six weeks. Costing £2,100, it’s not the cheapest but is very comprehensive and could be a good career investment.
Confused about their and there, or how to address someone? Brush up your grammar with OpenLearn course. From the Open University, all courses are free and there is a wide catalogue to choose from.
Oxford University has a dedicated site for its online learning courses, which includes an Introduction to Psychology. It introduces the science of psychology, exploring the richness of human functions, uncovering the brain’s secrets, revealing its complexities.
Equality & Diversity
Bring new stills back from lockdown thanks to Vision2Learn’s Equality & Diversity course. Make sure your business is doing everything to ensure an inclusive workplace and great environment for all.
The way in which we speak, our language and even non-verbal communication is used every minute, every day. So, make sure you are communicating at your best with LinkedIn’s range of resources. This is great platform to upskill in a number of areas and we particularly like its communications training.
Redwood can also support your career development, with free coaching and job application support. Learn more here.
During recent times, most interviews have been conducted via telephone call or virtually using technology such as Zoom. These initial interviews are very effective as it allows the hiring team to understand whether the candidate is the right fit for the job and if they are suitable to be taken through to the next stage. Interviewers will ask questions that are relevant to the role but without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of the candidate as an individual, with questions more open and designed to gather general information.
At the next stage, competency-based interviews (also called structured interviews or behavioural interviews) is more systematic, with each question targeting a specific skill or competency.
Candidates are asked questions relating to their behaviour in specific circumstances, which they then need to back up with concrete examples. The interviewers will then dig further into the examples by asking for specific explanations about the candidate's behaviour or skills.
For instance, when exploring how the candidate deals with stress, they will be asked how they manage stress followed by asking for an example of a situation where they worked under pressure.
Which skills and competencies do competency-based interviews test?
The list of skills and competencies that can be tested varies depending on the post being applied for. Taking a Project Manager post for example, skills and competencies would include communication; ability to organize and prioritise, and ability to work under pressure.
For a Senior Manager, skills and competencies could include an ability to influence and negotiate, an ability to lead and the capacity to take calculated risks.
Some of the more common skills and competencies that a candidate may be asked to demonstrate include:
• Client Focus
• Commercial Awareness
• Leveraging Diversity
• Organisational Awareness
• Conflict Management
• Creativity and Innovation
• Problem Solving
• Resilience and Tenacity
• Risk Taking
• External Awareness
• Sensitivity to Others
Assessment of competency-based interviews
Interviewers will have determined what type of answers would score positive points and what type of answers would count against the candidates ahead of the interview. For questions such as "Describe a time when you had to deal with pressure?" for example, the positive and negative indicators may be as follows:
· Demonstrates a positive approach towards the problem
· Considers the wider need of the situation
· Recognises their own limitations
· Is able to compromise
· Is willing to seek help when necessary
· Uses effective strategies to deal with pressure/stress
· Perceives challenges as problems
· Attempts unsuccessfully to deal with the situation alone
· Used inappropriate strategies to deal with pressure/stress
In some cases, negative indicators are divided into two further sections: minor negative indicators, i.e. those that are negative but do not matter so much; and decisive negative indicators i.e. those for which they will not forgive you for, e.g. not asking for help when needed. Marks are then Allocated depending on the extent to which the candidate's answer matches those negative and positive indicators. Here's an example of a marking schedule:
1. No evidence - no evidence reported
2. Poor - Little evidence of positive indicators. Mostly negative indicators, many decisive
3. Areas for improvement - Limited number of positive indicators. Many negative indicators, one or more decisive.
4. Satisfactory - Satisfactory display of positive indicators. Some negative indicators but none decisive.
5. Good to excellent - Strong display of positive indicators
If the interviewers feel there are areas that the candidate has failed to address, they may help by probing appropriately. For example, in answering the question "Describe an example of a time when you had to deal with pressure", focus on how you dealt with the practical angle of the problem but don’t forgot to discuss how you managed your stress during and after the event. The interviewers may prompt with a further question, such as "How did you handle the stress at the time?". This would give the candidate an opportunity to present a full picture of their behaviour.
Techniques for Answering Competency Questions
One interview style is the STAR Technique:
• Situation: This is where the candidate would be asked to give an example of a situational question relevant to the job being interviewed for.
• Task: Describe a task that has been undertaken.
• Action: Provide an example of what action was taken relevant to the question.
• Result: Explain to the interviewer the outcome of the action.
Throughout the interview, think about the questions and the response to those questions. The team at Redwood Publishing Recruitment will fully prepare you and support you through the entire interview process, particularly if a candidate is able to highlight an area that they are not so confident in, such as competency-based interviews. Make sure you have registered with us to benefit from this and other candidate support such as cover letter writing.
Reconnecting with your team
As lockdown (thankfully) begins to ease, we are slowly starting to emerge from a cocoon of remote working and isolation, which presents its own challenges and uncertainties.
Whilst lockdown was a very strange and unpredictable place, people adapted to working away from the office and learnt to live a new 9-5, coping with a change of routine and keeping on top of work – even if it was from the spare room or the kitchen table.
Zoom meetings and team calls have become the norm as workers looked to remain connected to each other and continue to work as one, albeit from different locations. 121’s perhaps become more regular, and instead of water cooler or coffee machine chats, many teams set up Friday quiz’s or a virtual ‘drink’ after work.
So now as we approach another change, we need to readjust and learn another new way of working. There is no doubt that provision will be made for people to work safely in their office, but will the office ever be the same again? Publishing is one industry that certainly benefits from teams working together, but now the remote and flexible ways of working has proven to work, there is an expectation that this will continue post-lockdown. For instance, employers will need to manage the adjustment period of working in an office again sensitively, so why not offer flexibility in the hours worked on site, and embrace Zoom in place of long train journeys to meet with colleagues or clients?
Another key element will be maintaining the strong lines of communication that have been formed during lockdown. There is a tendency, because people are physically in the office and do catch up during a break, to remove the number of meetings and face to face get togethers. It’s vital that communications remain robust and time is put aside for conversations with teams. This is especially important during such a transition period, with many people bound to be feeling vulnerable and unsure when entering the office environment after a long period of time away.
This is especially true of those who have been furloughed and have had little or no contact with colleagues or the wider business during the pandemic. They will need to be eased back into the workplace, with time taken to explain how the business is now operating and future plans.
In an interview with Personnel Today, Brian Kropp of Gartner explained: “Companies will need to re-onboard their furloughed staff when they do return to the office. It will be important that the business treats them as a new member of staff, giving them time to settle in, and working hard to create a new sense of belonging.”
We are Tech Women has also recently addressed the issue of the returning workforce, stating that new working practices will need to be established and experiences shared to help relieve the pressures of the new office environment. The office will look different, the way in which teams work will be different, and it will become the new normal. However, in order to get industry back on track, is to start building business and that involves the biggest asset – its people.
For more help and advice around returning to work, read resources from Fluidity, UP Performance Coaching and wearetechwomen.com
The Perfect Cover Letter
In our last blog we shared some insights on how to write your CV, including what information should be included and how it should be written to get approved by ‘bots’ and then considered by a prospective employer.
When sending your CV, a covering letter is used to introduce yourself and to summarise why you are applying for a role. Redwood offers free advice on cover letters to registered candidates, but we’ve pulled some helpful pointers to get you started in this blog post.
Your cover letter should be around 150-200 words in length and should be bespoke for the job you are applying for. Often, applications will get rejected because the cover letter refers to the wrong position or business – a sure-fire way of not reaching interview stage!
Therefore, think about your target audience and tailor each application accordingly. Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to write an overview and explain to the potential employer the reason for your application and your interest in the company. Remember to include key words and phrases pertaining to the job role and include your most relevant skills and achievements to date.
Take some time to plan and prepare by reading the job advert and the requirements of the role. This will then allow you to think about the skills required and then provide the examples of these in your CV. Use your letter to highlight particular parts of your CV that are your unique selling points and supply any additional information that does not fit neatly into your CV.
Things to include are as follows:
- Briefly introduce yourself.
- State the post you are applying for and where you saw it advertised.
- Explain why you are interested in this type of work.
- Explain why you are interested in the employer; demonstrate enthusiasm and evidence of research into the company.
- Highlight what makes you suitable for the post and show how your key strengths reflect their requirements.
- End by respectfully asking for the opportunity to discuss the opportunities further in your final paragraph.
- Ensure there are no errors/spelling mistakes – we highlighted Grammarly as one package that can be used to check spelling and grammar, and there are plenty more free options available.
- If you know the name of the recipient, you should end your letter with 'Yours Sincerely', but if your letter is addressed ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ it should end with ‘Yours Faithfully’. Ideally however you should know who you are writing to – and if not – do some research!
- Save your letter as a pdf to ensure all formatting is saved and changes cannot be made to the content.
Most of all, keep your cover letter to the point, relevant and engaging, leaving the recruiter with a real sense of who you are and eager to meet you to learn more. Contact us for advice with this to help you achieve your next publishing move.
Secrets to the perfect CV
As soon as we graduate or are looking for that all important first job, we create a CV. As time goes on, it becomes updated with more and more information to showcase our career, achievements and interests. But how relevant is your CV and will it actually stand out?
We asked Redwood Publishing Recruitment MD, Theresa Duncan, to share her advice on getting your CV pitch-perfect.
“First and foremost, don’t presume that your CV will be read by an actual person when you first apply for a position. As unreal as it may seem, there are some clever AI programmes out there which are used during the initial job application process. Some pointers to remember to ensure your CV makes it through this stage are as follows:
- Don’t worry about being clever and creative. Copy the keywords listed in the job description. For example, if you’re applying for a Post-Doc Researcher, make sure you include these words on your CV.
- Get rid of any fancy things, such as logos, photos, symbols and different shades of colour. Stick to the standard CV format, and use Ariel, Courier or Times New Roman fonts.
- Send your CV as a Microsoft Word document instead of a PDF file, unless you are a Designer.
- Include words that refer to software, responsibilities, basic skills and licenses or certificates associated with performing the job, as the AI robots will be looking for key phrases and contextual information related to those qualifications.
- Pepper keywords multiple times throughout the CV (but bear in mind when your CV is read by a person you don’t want to drive them crazy with repetition!).
- Instead of paragraphs, use bullet points.
- Keep the formatting on your CV simple. To target all the relevant categories, put them on separate lines.
“It’s also important to remember some CV ‘rules’ to ensure you get your key points across in a concise way, whilst leaving the reader with a clear understanding of who you are and what you can bring to the job being advertised. These include:
- Ideally keeping your CV to two pages. The aim of a CV is to give the person who is shortlisting a ‘taste’ of your experience/skills, whilst ensuring you get across all of your relevant experience/skills. Remember, they may have a high volume of CVs to look through.
- Start with your current role at the top of your CV and work back. This is because your current role will probably be the most relevant for the role being applied for.
- Add interests and hobbies as it can prompt a good talking point and will give the person shortlisting an idea of what you enjoy outside of work.
- Do check spelling, punctuation and comprehension. There are a number of packages available to help you, such as Grammarly, which flag up spelling and grammatical errors.
- Be careful of your personal profile, as it could ‘pigeon-hole’ you if you highlight aspects of your experience that are not relevant to the role you are applying for. Redwood offers a free CV checking service for registered candidates, and it is areas such as this that we can advise on and suggest any required changes.
- Make sure all your dates of education/employment are correct and are consistent.
Do contact us for an informal chat about your next job move and remember to follow us on Social Media for regular updates, news and publishing insights.
Virtual Interview Tips
During the lockdown period, employers are having to conduct interviews with job candidates remotely, either by phone or video conference. The format of this stage of the job application process may have changed, but there are many elements that have stayed the same. Now, as the format has to be different, the way in which the interview is conducted will have changed. In the first of two blog posts, we share our tips for making your interview a success.
One thing that remains the same for any interview, but especially for a face to face or video call, is to be presentable and look groomed. Chewing gum is a no no, as is wearing non-appropriate clothes. You may be enjoying shorts and t-shirt weather, but a shirt or smart top is more appropriate for an interview. And many people like to dress the part even for a phone interview. You will be more focused if you have brushed your hair, brushed your teeth and have changed out of your bed clothes ahead of the call.
First and foremost, any interview will fall apart if you’ve not done your homework. From being clear on the role and having read the job description, to researching the potential employer and business, preparation is key. When we speak to candidates about a role, we provide background information to help with this stage of the process Additional research could be to look at the interviewers profile on LinkedIn (remember to perform an anonymous search if you don’t want them to know you have checked them out) and see what details can be found online.
Getting your answers planned
During the interview, you will be asked a number of questions which will include background on yourself, your career history, current job status, why you are interested in the role and future plans. We’ll cover some of these off below in more detail, but an additional question that’s being asked now is about lockdown. Use this opportunity to share anything you did that was new, even if it was doing a HITT class each morning, taking up knitting or dusting off your bike.
Interviewers want to get to know you, so this includes your personality and character, and these elements are harder to learn when you are not engaged in small talk that often takes place before and after a face to face interview.
The interviewer will want to learn more about your career journey, but as succinctly as possible! Have a career precis planned and ready, to include key milestones, career path choices and how you got to be where you are today. This could include your degree, key positions and relevant businesses that are relevant for the position you are being interviewed for.
The interviewer will want to know why their business and the position appeal to you. This is where you can really stand out against another candidates and reveal how passionate you are about the industry and the business. Include clear examples and make references to campaigns or activities the business has executed. This could include their social media presence, business strategy, announcements or technical expertise. Research is key here and it will pay off to know as much as you can about the potential employer. Redwood is very proactive in this area and will give you as much information and detail as possible. Remember, we know the publishing industry inside out and will be happy to share our knowledge with you. For instance, we can tell you who their competitors are, how many employees they have and how they position themselves in the publishing market.
Tell me more
This part of the interview is the time to tell the employer why you want to work for them. What is it about this business that sets them apart and why are they are different to the competition? What is it about the role specifically that excites you and why did you apply for it? Have your answer ready and plan in advance what you want to say.
In part two, we will look at the questions that might be asked by the employer about you, including your current job, the expectations of the new role and the best way to ask them questions. In the meantime, register with us and benefit from a free cv check and our cover letter writing service.
Virtual Interview Tips Part 2
As we continue to work remotely and have restricted movements during lockdown, the way in which we approach work and career development has had to change. This includes adapting to a new approach for job interviews which are now being conducted virtually. In last week’s blog we shared our tips for making your interview a success, and now in part two, we focus on some of the questions that a candidate might be asked, and what kind of questions can be asked by the candidate to the employer.
Each interview will of course be different, with specific questions asked to explore how a candidate might best fulfil the role. However, there are some standard questions that will be asked which should be prepared for.
What can you bring to the role?
After asking why a candidate is interested in working for the business, an employer will want to find out what skills they can bring to add value and make a difference. This is terribly important as it can help make a decision between two very similar candidates and highlight more relevant skills or expertise.
About your current job
Asking questions about your current role, your responsibilities and achievements, can also help an employer understand whether your skills match the role being advertised. In this part of the interview, have some examples ready to illustrate what you have achieved, how you have developed the role and even why you now feel it is time to move on. For example, this can include company structure, lack of career opportunities and even location.
What drives you?
This question allows the panel or interviewer to gauge what motivates a candidate, and they are not looking for ‘great salary’ as an answer! Instead, think about why you get out of bed for work, what you do to make your working day great.
What’s your availability?
Asking when a candidate can start a role is very often a positive question, as it indicates that the employer is interested in you joining the business. Ahead of the interview, make sure you know how many days holiday you have left to take, and your notice period, so they are clear on a possible start date.
Redwood Publishing MD, Theresa Duncan, is an expert in helping candidates to prep for interviews and has shared some of her insights for this stage of the interview. “When asked if you have any questions, this your opportunity to get a feel for the business you are interviewing with and cover off any areas that have not already been discussed,” says Theresa. Ideally have three or four questions to hand, with the aim of asking one or two at this stage of the interview. Theresa also has some great advice for candidates:
“It is so important for you to have a feel for the organisation you are interviewing for, therefore, ask the interviewer, or one member of the panel, what they like about working for the company. This question will be quite unexpected, so will result in an honest answer – and show that you are really interested in the firm”.
As soon as possible, give your recruiter feedback – this is really helpful as your recruiter can gauge how well the interview went, and also gives an opportunity for any unasked questions to be flagged. So, if you were not clear on any of the points raised, or had an additional question, now’s the time to ask it. The team at Redwood have positive relationships with employers and might even be able to answer the question but will also be happy to field it on your behalf.
This is also the time to tell your recruiter if you would want to accept the job if it was offered. An interview is a two-way process and it is important to have your opinion on the role at this stage.
Make sure you receive alerts about our roles and take advantage of our job support, including a free CV check and cover letter writing service, by registering with us.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2020
During lockdown, we have been very aware of the impact of staying at home, working differently and having your normal routine turned upside down, sharing ideas and tips on how to cope with the changing times better.
This week is Mental Health Week (#MHAW2020) and part of its focus is drawing attention to the effect of the coronavirus on people’s wellbeing. The Mental Health Foundation is doing this through focusing on the power and potential of kindness. Protecting our mental health now is going to be key in helping us to recover from the pandemic with “the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus”.
Furthermore, “kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity”. We have seen kindness in many forms during lockdown, from the support of Captain Tom to the weekly clap for carers.
And we’ve also become better at building connections. Charity Mind recently conducted a survey with over 10,000 people, which revealed that one of the most common coping strategies used during this time is connecting with friends and family online. Even saying hello to those we meet on our daily walks, cycles or runs has become easier and more common, building a sense of wellbeing and solidarity around us.
What is key is that we continue to focus on our mental wellbeing and make is as commonplace as say eating healthily or taking regular exercise in the longer term. The Heads Together initiative started the conversation and we need to now keep our confidence to maintain awareness around mind health. So, what can we do now and in the future to do this?
Our suggestions include:
Having regular calls/chats with friends and family – and also checking in on workmates. This will be important if we have to continue to work flexibly and perhaps are not seeing others as regularly as before
Staying focused – we are creatures of habit and routine is a good way of keeping on top of things. This could include ‘to do’ lists, getting out of the house at the same time each day, and keeping a note to regularly check in on a neighbour
Taking up a hobby or learning something new – knitting and crocheting are more popular than ever and with bike sales going through the roof, how about learning how to repair yours?
Me time. Leave the pc and mobile behind for a few hours each day and instead pick up a book, loose yourself in a magazine and have some time out. Recharge your mind with some escapism which will help you to focus on things and have more clarity around any problems too
Be kind to yourself – in these times we can be too hard and self-critical, so learn some self-love
It is also a good time to think about your career and path in life, opening up questions about whether you actually enjoy your current role. We are here to help thanks to our extensive experience in the world of publishing recruitment. For instance, we can look at your cv and give you sound advice about your next move, perhaps areas that would suit you to work in, after getting to know you a little better. Simply register your details with us and we’ll do the rest.
Business as unusual
Following Boris Johnson’s update to the nation on Sunday, and further clarification during the week, the UK workforce can now start looking forward to a return to work…of sorts. Businesses are being encouraged to continue to look after their staff, with an extension to the furlough period, and a clear message to work from home (or remotely) if possible.
On the high street, booksellers are now turning their attention to whether they can – and how they can – safely open, backed by an increasing appetite by the public to get things moving again.
But caution is certainly needed. No-one in the UK wants the virus rate to increase, however the thought of further lockdown is depressing. Therefore, a balance needs to be achieved. Redwood’s recruitment model has certainly changed to accommodate business as unusual, or the new normal, filling positions that are now remote, and perhaps will continue to be once brick and mortar workplaces fill up again. In addition, businesses need to ask themselves if they are comfortable with staff travelling to work on packed trains, and whether 9-5 should really be standard working hours – just by staggering a start time will be a positive move for everyone.
Our clients are certainly more open to this remote and more flexible working style. There will not be a uniform approach to how we move forward, and each business will be different. But unity and safety will be at the forefront of every business, setting a new standard of how the world will work, and should work, going forward.
The rise of the e-book during the coronavirus
Figures released by Libraries Connected have revealed that there has been a 205% increase in the number of e-book library loans during the coronavirus. These figures mirror stats being reported nationally which show that e-reader book sales are on the rise during the pandemic.
E-Book App Libby reported a 30% increase in downloads at the end of March alone, with 10m e-book borrows and 247,000 downloads.
And April’s World Book Day survey results showed that Brits are reading more in lockdown than ever before, with a spike amongst younger readers, aged between 18-24 in particular. And it’s not just the e-book market booming. The Guardian reported that the nation rushed out pre-lockdown to buy actual books, with sales increasing by 6%, with sales monitor Nielsen BookScan noting a 35% week-on-week boost for paperback fiction. That same week, Waterstones, the UK’s biggest book chain, reported that its online sales were up by 400% week-on-week*.
So, what does this mean post-lockdown? Libraries have been under the threat of closure for a while, but perhaps now the Government will see what a useful resource they are for a more united community, off and online. With 120,000 people joining libraries in the three weeks after lockdown began, actions are speaking as loud as words – but library groups will have to push hard to keep the momentum seen over the past few weeks going, looking to how they market and promote their services in a post-pandemic world. Perhaps support from authors and publishers will help, and more services offered, such as creative writing groups, or book clubs, to cement their place in society.
And as for reading matter, lockdown has shown that we all need a book to escape to, whether hard copy or on a Kindle, so let’s embrace both, and ensure that we are recruiting the right people to create, edit and publish to maintain the positive momentum we have seen at a time of crisis.
Giving you all the support you need, now and in the future
In good and bad times, we all like certainty. We rely on trusted brands and products and seek advice from those who have experience and knowledge, as we know they can provide the answers and solutions we need. During these times of uncertainty and lifechanging times, this has never been more important as we all seek security and clarity.
Business is no exception, with brands and organisations pulling on their resources to support and help their customers. This is why we feel our experience and 30 years of trading is even more important at the moment.
Redwood Publishing Recruitment was created to bring an original, professional and fresh approach to publishing recruitment and our team has collectively worked across different areas of publishing recruitment for a number of years. We have been involved with leading industry players, spanning books, journals, magazines, part-works, digital and print, and utilise our talent, knowledge and expertise to bring you a recruitment service that can be relied upon.
We have weathered recessions, adapting our business model then, like now, to support our candidates and clients during uncertain times. Our industry insights set us apart, plus, we use cutting edge search and selection recruitment technology, to enabe us to find the ideal candidate for roles, whatever the business model might look like. Our team is here to listen, consult and deliver, now and in the future. We have broad, reliable shoulders and will help you or your business to adapt and adjust as we face a new normal during the pandemic.
Our wealth of experience in providing top publishing talent within the industry for many years will enable us to ride out this storm, placing candidates of all disciplines into a broad spectrum of roles within publishing at all levels.
We offer a reliable, tailored and competitively priced service, bringing up to date knowledge of the industry and a modern approach to recruitment. Our role is to understand your requirements and deliver a recruitment service to you that will add value to your business by having the right team in place, whatever issues the outside world might be facing.
At Redwood, our aim is always to provide a first-class service and to build solid, long term relationships built on honesty, trust, and professionalism, now and in the future.
Staying Focused during this challenging time
It’s Monday and the start of the working week still for many. Whether you are working or if you are looking for a new role, it’s important to have some clear goals and focus during these unsettling times. This is very important if you are working remotely and are finding it hard to get into a routine. We’ve got some suggestions of things to do this week to help keep you focused and on track.
Monday is the perfect day to plan for your week, whether this is for your current role or setting yourself job hunting targets. By writing done at least five things you want to achieve, your brain will stay engaged and help you to feel like you have achieved something, no matter how small.
Before you groan, we’re not encouraging you to do more housework! Instead, use any spare time you have to get yourself back on track. For instance, clear out your email inbox and delete all those messages that you really won’t ever look at. Unsubscribe to email lists that you always bin, leaving you less clutter in the future. If you have a home office, give your space a spring clean and file paperwork and declutter. By having a clear space, whether digital or physical, being tidier will not only make you more organised but will be one less thing to do when we get back to normal again.
In our blog post last week, we wrote about the importance of getting outside. We are able to get out once a day to exercise, but also remember to step into your garden, or look out of the window at regular points during the day to give yourself a break. Several of our candidates and clients have recommended the Headspace app, which gives you the chance to refocus and have some time out. There are many more out there, plus you can stream some great yoga and meditative lessons at the moment. Just choose something that enables you to take some much-needed time out during the day.
Whether you need to or not, make time in your day to talk to someone. If you are working remotely, set up some time for 121’s each day, and a team chat at least once a week. Having regular contact with people is great for mental health, in particular when you are suddenly away from work and people you normally work with. We love Zoom, but there are also plenty of other ways to get in touch, including a phone call, WhatsApp calls and Facetime. Remember to keep in touch with us too – we may have opportunities available that are not advertised, plus we are offering free coaching sessions also, so make sure you pick up the phone.
Challenge and learn
Use this time to learn a new skill or upskill. There are a number of companies offering training for free at this time, so once you have identified an area that you could improve on, search for that topic and look into online training that is available in that area. From improving your Excel skills, learning about Pinterest or even accountancy, there are plenty of subjects to choose from.
How to be most effective when home working
With an increasing number of companies asking their staff to work remotely from the office, many people will be learning new ways of tackling the daily task list. We’ve compiled some helpful tips to make working from home more straightforward, based on our experiences and those of candidates we work with.
The first, and one of the most important tips, is to create a dedicated workspace. Perching on the end of the kitchen table while your family eat around you is never going to work! Even if you have to move to a spare bedroom, use the sitting room for part of the day or even the garden shed, creating your own area to work in.
Once you have secured your workspace, now’s the time to set out a plan and schedule. Think how your normal workday is scheduled and try to mirror this as much as possible. For instance, if you always start with a ‘to do’ list, make this the first thing you do. Keep team meetings and 121’s in place and look to achieve tasks during the day and week.
To help keep your schedule, share it with others who are in your home. Whether this is flatmates or family, it’s important that they respect your time and keep noise and activity to a minimum, especially if you’re on a video call!
It’s important to schedule regular breaks, whether it’s for a coffee or lunch away you’re your desk. While you are at home, take advantage of eating as healthily as possible – homemade sandwiches, baked potatoes, veggie pasta, and rice bowls are great options. Avoid sugary snacks such as biscuits and cake – they only give you a false energy high. And step outside. We are still able to exercise outside, so perhaps use your lunch hour for a power walk or jog. Drop into the garden for air during the day, to literally clear your head.
Identify when you are at your most productive or change your work hours to be online when your clients or colleagues are. And think about dressing for the occasion. We’ve all heard about newsreaders wearing shorts under the desk and a jacket just for the TV camera, but if dressing more smartly helps your productivity, or doing your hair gets you in the zone, embrace it! There is nothing wrong with looking the part just because you are working from home. The important part is your output and getting the job done.
If you were in the office, you would not be thinking about the washing or running errands, so the same should apply when you are home working. Quit the tasks during the day or make time for them before you start work. You need as few distractions as possible, so taking housework or errands out of the mix will help you to focus. Social Media can be a huge distraction, so disable alerts and put your personal phone on silent to help you focus on the 9-5.
One of our final tips is to keep in touch with co-workers. As a recruitment business, Redwood do this on a daily basis, contacting candidates and clients regularly. We plan in calls, emails, and meetings and stick to them, becoming business as usual. Use this to keep yourself motivated in and in touch with your colleagues. We’ve heard how effective Zoom has been for all team and 121 meetings, even being used by some for a 5pm Friday hurrah as the week draws to a close. There are plenty of video calling options; the key thing is to utilise them to keep motivated and in touch with your team. Remote working can be challenging, but this, and the other ideas, should make your working week a little easier to manage.
The Do’s and Don’ts of CVs
Writing a CV can be tricky if you’re just starting out or if you’ve been in a job for numerous years. There is no perfect example of a CV but there are standard rules when creating your CV to make sure yours is even read. We are here to assist you when putting together a CV with a few basic do’s and don’ts.
- Tailor the CV to the job; emphasize the areas that apply to the job that you’re applying for.
- Keep the CV neat; make sure it is easy to read, the employer looking at your CV doesn’t have time to read big paragraphs so bullet points for your duties in each job will make the CV an easier read.
- Put your work history in reverse order; this keeps it easier for the employer to see your relevant experience by having the most recent work at the top
- Keep it updated!
- Don’t make it too long; no longer than 2 pages and no big paragraphs. Employers don’t have time to read 3 or 4 pages of block text.
- Don’t have fancy font; keep the font a reasonable size and easily legible.
- Don’t mix between third and first-person; this will make it confusing for the employer to read it.
- Don’t send a CV without proofreading; mistakes in a CV can be the reason behind you not getting an interview. Especially if you are applying for an editorial role, make sure you have no spelling mistakes/grammar errors. If in doubt yourself, get someone else to proofread your CV.
If you require any more CV tips don’t hesitate in contacting us.
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