The secret to boosting your salary in a downturn

Given the current economic climate and turbulent job market, increasing your salary may seem like a pipe dream right now. In reality, it is possible to significantly enhance your career prospects by taking matters into your own hands. The secret lies in committing to your personal development through independent professional study.

Making the decision to ‘go back to school’ as an adult says a lot about you as a person and as an employee. Gaining targeted professional qualifications is a clear indicator that you are ambitious, motivated and dedicated to your particular line of work. A well structured course provides a framework for your existing knowledge while introducing you to additional skills that will boost your current ability. All of these factors combine to make you more capable and confident in the workplace, which in turn will increase your chance of securing that elusive pay rise.

Evidence suggests that professional study has a positive impact on employability and earning power. Research conducted by the University of Sheffield and published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2010 showed that vocational qualifications make a marked difference to employees’ earnings, ranging from 5 to 23 per cent. A further study by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows that people with level 3 vocational qualifications and above are less likely to be unemployed than those with similar academic credentials.

If you already have a busy work, family and social life then you may well find it hard to attend daily or weekly classes. This is where distance learning offers an attractive alternative. With distance learning you receive all your course materials digitally or through the post, and tutorial support is delivered by phone, email or over the internet. As a result you benefit from all the help you need at the time and place that suits you best.

Most distance learning providers also offer access to an online learning platform where you can take part in live we classes and chat with other students on the same course, so you get all the advantage of a traditional class from the comfort of your own home.

One of the main benefits of distance learning is that you’re not tied to specific start and finish dates. Instead, you progress at your own pace, spending as much or as little time as you like on your studies each week. You can even take a break and pick up where you left off further down the line. As a result, the duration of the course is down to you. With hard work it’s possible to gain a range of highly respected qualifications in anything from three months to two years.

Nowadays, it’s possible to find distance learning options for most subjects and course types so check out all the options before committing yourself to the classroom.

With these facts at your fingertips you are armed with all the knowledge you need to start developing your own professional skills and start creating a positive impression in the workplace that your boss can’t possibly ignore!


“Um, What Company is this Again?” Candidates’ Most Cringe-Worthy Interview Mistakes


Employers know as well as job seekers do that it’s still tough out there, and it seems they would be kind to overlook job seekers’ most innocent of mistakes, like spilling coffee on the boss’s suit, or letting it slip that “snugglebear” was one’s childhood nickname, or calling the hiring manager “Dad” in a moment of flustered introductions (No? Never happened to you?).

In a labor market where a single open position may receive resumes from hundreds of applicants, however, there are certain mistakes employers won’t — or shouldn’t — brush off. But which mistakes are blips — and which are total blunders? You be the judge, as CareerBuilder’s latest survey, conducted by Harris Interactive© among more than 3,000 employers, takes a closer look at candidates’ biggest interview mistakes – straight from the HR employees and hiring managers who experienced them.

What are the most harmful interview mistakes, according to hiring managers?

It’s hard to believe candidates would risk pulling out the iPhone during an interview to answer a text about Friday night plans, but it does happen. The mistakes below are surefire ways for candidates not to get the job, according to the majority of employers surveyed:

  • Answering a cell phone or texting: 77 percent
  • Appearing disinterested: 75 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately: 72 percent
  • Appearing arrogant: 72 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers: 67 percent
  • Chewing gum: 63 percent
In addition to these egregious errors, we recently walked into offices across the nation to ask hiring managers what would make them count a candidate out immediately.

Employers’ most memorable interview experiences

There are your run-of-the-mill “Don’ts” for interviews — and then there are some that are a bit more unusual. While, as we’ve said before, strange interview tactics can be a smart move, the tactics must show how a candidate will contribute to a company or display their strengths somehow. Do any of the tactics below pass that test for you?

  • Candidate brought a “how to interview book” with him to the interview.
  • Candidate asked, “What company is this again?”
  • Candidate put the interviewer on hold during a phone interview. When she came back on the line, she told the interviewer she had a date set up for Friday.
  • When a candidate interviewing for a security position wasn’t hired on the spot, he graffitied the building.
  • Candidate wore a Boy Scout uniform and never told interviewers why.
  • Candidate was arrested by federal authorities during the interview when a background check revealed the person had an outstanding warrant.
  • Candidate talked about promptness as one of her strengths after showing up ten minutes late.
  • On the way to the interview, candidate passed, cut-off, and flipped middle finger to driver who happened to be the interviewer.
  • Candidate referred to himself in the third person.
  • Candidate took off shoes during interview.
  • Candidate asked for a sip of the interviewer’s coffee.
  • A mature candidate told the interviewer she wasn’t sure if the job offered was worth “starting the car for.”

 Take a moment to reassess

It’s important for job seekers to keep in mind that with so many others applying to the position they want, every misstep can matter — and they need to be presentable, prepared, and courteous to those interviewing them, above all else. While many of the examples above show a lack of these qualities, it’s also important for hiring managers to remember to put themselves in candidates’ shoes for a moment (as seen above, possibly even literally), to reassess the situation.

What would your advice be to candidates on what NOT to do if they hope to ace the interview?

How to Become an Expert in Oil and Gas Job Interviews

Looking for employment in the Oil and Gas industry is definitely a worthy experience, as the large range of positions are easily to be filled by many types of professionals. The oil and gas domain is a complex one, and you will be able to see this even in the types of interview formats and questions that you will experience while applying for a position.

Although many of the smaller oil companies have a recruitment process that can be classified as formal, others have begun to focus on the global aspect of the oil industry and adapt their recruitment techniques according to their worldwide practices.

The recruitment process is very different from the traditional one that included the application form and the interview. The applicants are grouped under the supervision of a moderator and they are given complex tasks to solve.

Such techniques are used by Shell, and the tasks include creating viable solutions to problems that relate closely not only to the oil and gas processes, but also to the economy or environment of the area in question. This type of selection techniques will give the employers the possibility to observe how the applicants deal when confronted with complex problems that can occur in their position, but also how motivated are they and their ability to manage in a stressful situation.

The oil and gas companies have adapted their selection techniques according to their needs and objectives, but the final goal is the same: to form a highly professional team of oil and gas employees. Before you decide which company is the best for you to build a solid career in the Oil and Gas industry, you should know that a little research can work wonders on your selection process.

The first step you should do when preparing for a job interview for an oil and gas company is to find out more information about the basic sectors and operations in the Oil and Gas industry. The amount of information available on the topic is vast, including books, publications such as the Oil and Gas Journal or The Internet. It is the best way to be prepared for any kind of questions or case scenarios that the employer might try to surprise you with, and you will demonstrate your profound knowledge on the inside mechanisms of the oil industry. You will also find who the major players of the Oil and Gas industry are and which company is the best working environment to build a solid career.

After the company has approved your application, you should consider the next stage ? the job interview ? as the only occasion for you to sell yourself and to find out more about the employing company. Focus on demonstrating the employer that you can be an asset to his company, by bringing on board a productive and ambitious team player.

Consider the fact that the employers prefer ‘people persons’, and you should mention that you are a communicative person and you can reason with people on various levels. In fact, he will be able to observe this from the interview, so the manner you handle contact with the interviewer is very important.

Even if you are nervous and you think that you might not be accepted, consider the fact that usually, employers tend to choose the person that fits the company, instead of the most qualified applicant.

  • Be confident, happy and full of energy;
  • Be interested in finding more information about the company.

You can pass any job interview if you will consider following the next set of tips:

  • Arrive at the company earlier, maybe 10 ? 15 minutes earlier. In order to achieve that, make sure you allow time for any traffic problems. In case you are late apologize briefly and don’t offer any excuses, because you shouldn’t have any.
  • Don’t go at the interview if you are tired; yawning and lacks of energy don’t make god impressions.
  • The handshake should be firm. If you are nervous and your hands are sweaty, you can run some cold water over them and wipe them with a napkin.
  • Make sure you choose the appropriate clothing for the position you are applying for. A suit might be great for an accountant position, but not for a driller position.
  • Be prepared with useful information about the company and the oil and gas industry and you will build an interesting conversation with the interviewer.
  • Turn off the cell phone and the pager. No one likes to be interrupted by their sound, especially the interviewer.
  • Avoid excessive hand gestures or other nervous habits (like playing with your hair or chewing your nails).
  • Speak clearly and try to avoid using words like ‘hmm’ or ‘ah’, that could leave the impression you don’t know what to respond.
  • Think before you speak, especially if you like chatting. The interviewer doesn’t need to know what movie you have seen last night.
  • Be confident when it comes to your skills and what you can do for the company.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Don’t hesitate in asking questions about the company. If you don’t have any, think of some. The employers appreciate the real interest in the company and the operations they perform, and will consider that you could fit into the company.
  • At one point, you can open a discussion about the wages or benefits they can offer you, especially if you are a graduate.
  • You can offer to provide them more references about your skills and experience.

Now that you know what you should do during the job interview, maybe some possible questions about the oil and gas jobs might prepare you better regarding the informational aspect of the interview.

Those questions can easily match many of the Oil and Gas sectors, and the only thing you must to is consider any questions related to the specific company you are applying for. You can use them successfully for asking your interviewer details about the company and show that you are really interested in building a career in the oil industry.

  1. Can you specify some of the consequences of the mergers and the restructuring of the staff on your company’s profile?
  2. What is the career development of your employees that started a similar position five or seven years ago?
  3. What are the methods used by your company to maintain a permanent development in the oil and gas field?
  4. How would you describe your company’s most competitive advantages?
  5. How do your business units cooperate in order to operate at a maximum efficiency?

Now that you have put your interviewer on the spot, it will eventually be your turn to be ‘grilled’. You can use those questions to get an idea about what the interviewer will ask you. There will also be questions that will refer specifically to the position you are applying for.

  1. What are your goals on a long term period and on a short one regarding your career?
  2. Why have you chosen the Oil and Gas industry to build a career?
  3. Have you ever used your persuasion skills in order to achieve your goal? If you had, describe the situation.
  4. Have you ever been involved in a project that required working with people that came from different backgrounds? Describe the experience.
  5. Can you describe me a situation that required you to use your skills in order to prevent a possible conflict?

Now that you have seen how a job interview could develop for an oil and gas position, we strongly advise you to pay attention to the information above and use it properly in order to start your oil and gas career with the right step.

If you need advice contact us now.

CA Oil & Gas Middle East –


10 Sites HR Professionals Should Read

1. HR World : HR World is a leading resource and community for HR professionals. The site provides in-depth content that HR professionals at small, medium and large companies need to make key decisions, including choosing the right HR services and software for their business

2. Evil HR Lady : According to the blog “ Need to fire someone? Come to HR. Need to explain to someone why, even after working their rear end off all year, that their annual increase is 2.7%? Come to HR. Need to come up with new mountains of paperwork? Come to HR. So, come join me on the Evil Side.”

3. HR Thoughts : If you are a Human Resource professional, developing leader or someone interested in transforming the way we communicate, interact and connect with others, HR Thought is for you. Partly professional, partly personal and 100% authentic. Guaranteed.

4. Your HR Guy : Lance Haun,who runs the blog, is a Human Resources Generalist practicing in the field for the past five years. His professional interests include recruitment, team building, training and development, employee relations and restraining himself from beating the crap out of bad managers and employees.

5. Guerilla HR : A blog built to help you, the business people, better manage your teams and careers by providing information that will help you achieve the results you need by capitalizing on a better relationship with Human Resources, Personnel Management, Human Capital Management, or whatever it is called in your world.
6. Cheezhead : Joel Cheesman is one of the most widely-read bloggers on emerging recruitment issues in the world. He was the recipient of’s Best Technology Recruitment Blog for 2005 and received Best Recruiting Blog in 2007.

7. HR Daily Advisor : A site that many human resources professionals call the most unique and useful HR site on the Web. You will find plenty of information catering to your professional needs.

8. The HR Capitalist : A blog run by Kris Dunn, the VP of People for DAXKO, a software company focused on serving the best membership-driven organizations in America. He shares some of the best tips in the HR world and coming from someone who has spent over a decade in HR, he is a person whose advice you want to listen to.

9. Know HR : KnowHR is a product of iFractal LLC, which provides organizational communication consulting to some of the leading companies in the world.

10. HR Lawyer’s Blog : A blog run by Christopher J. McKinney who is board certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His practice is dedicated to civil litigation matters, with a particular emphasis on cases involving state and federal employment laws.

What is RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing)?

What is RPO?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is becoming more and more widely used as organisations experience rapid change and exceptional growth, particularly in the technology and online sectors.  Flexibility and scalability are critical to any business, and RPO gives companies a solution to ever-changing hiring demands.
The Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association defines RPO as follows: “When a provider acts as a company’s internal recruitment function for a portion or all of its jobs. RPO providers manage the entire recruiting/hiring process from job profiling through the onboarding of the new hire, including staff, technology, method and reporting. A properly managed RPO will improve a company’s time to hire, increase the quality of the candidate pool, provide verifiable metrics, reduce cost and improve HR compliance.”
The biggest distinction between RPO and other types of staffing is Process. In RPO, the service provider assumes ownership of the process, while in other types of staffing the service provider is part of a process controlled by the organisation buying their services.  RPO Providers work seamlessly alongside HR to provide a high-volume solution to staffing.
The RPO Alliance, a group of the Human Resources Outsourcing Association (HROA), approved this definition in February 2009: “Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a form of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. An RPO provider can provide its own or may assume the company’s staff, technology, methodologies and reporting.”
In all cases, RPO differs greatly from providers such as staffing agencies which provide contingent/retained in that it assumes ownership of the design and management of the recruitment process and the responsibility of results.
What to consider when selecting an RPO partner:
  • Track Record – ensure that there is proven history of success with other clients, preferably in your industry.  Talk to the clients which have been serviced by your shortlist of RPO providers, learn from their experience and ask them to provide references. A companies client list on RPO can tell you a lot about their ability to handle your project.
  • Candidate Reach – make sure that your RPO provider has experience and knowledge of how to source and recruit outside of your geographic location. If the talent is not in-country, then you need to be confident that they can go and find it for you.
  • Recruitment Process & Automation – RPO is all about process, look into detail at the processes and way in which the company handles applications from high-volumes of candidates, and how they get from volume to quality hires.
  • The People Behind the Process – It’s all very well having the processes in place, but the people running the project, from the management team down to the administration and recruitment team are critical to the success of the RPO.
  • Your Core Values & Culture – It is vital that your RPO provider ‘gets’ your business. They must truly understand your values, your people and your culture in order to implement are highly effective RPO solution which exceeds your expectations.
  • SLA’s in Place – Always ensure that you agree Service Level Agreements which are metrics driven in line with your company standards to keep your RPO provider accountable.  These could include time to hire, fill rate, quality of hire, retention, attendance, performance etc. and will vary depending on whether you are bringing in RPO for contract staff or permanent staff.
There are many benefits to RPO:
  • Scalable solution to support the ebb and flow of hiring demands; with an RPO provider you can manage staffing for a seasonal business or ramp-up quickly when a new contract is won and increased headcount is needed.  One of our clients we provide RPO for increases headcount by in excess of 700 staff in the lead up to Christmas in UK & Ireland.  Our role in this is to source, select, screen, assess, hire, onboard and pay the staff and then manage any disciplinary procedures for the duration of the contract.  We provide onsite staff and work seamlessly with the HR team and management within the business.
  • Cost-Saving – What is the cost saving for a business in using RPO?  A large IT company in the US saved over $1m per annum, representing 40% of their costs.  Initially companies may look to RPO for cost reasons, but they also make long term gains.  Outsourcing is better for efficiency, better service, employer brand reputation and a host of other reasons. Once corporates engage in dialogue with the RPO provider they start realising the value in other areas. Cost brings RPO to the table but its not why people sign up and stay with RPOs.
  • Large or Small Business?  – It’s just not just large corporates who are turning to RPO, start-ups who have just taken on VC funding are looking to RPOs as a quick and effective way to get scale quickly.  They focus on what they do best and outsource areas such as recruitment and HR from the get go.
  • Expertise & Industry Knowledge – An RPO provider can hit the ground running, they can start building a pipeline quickly
  • Your Employer Brand – An RPO provider can give your company more exposure and more credibility in the marketplace by representing you really well to jobseekers and potential talent.  Their reach in the market will be greater and many RPO providers will advertise on your behalf with your branding, as well as running social media campaigns to attract only the best people.  Their networks in many cases can take you further afield and build you a great reputation in the marketplace.
  • Strategic Focus for HR Teams – Bringing in an RPO provider allows key internal HR resources to refocus on higher level organizational competencies.
I hope you found this explanation useful, I am regularly asked this question so I thought I would share my thoughts and ideas and point you in the direction of resources that can help you decide if RPO is right for your organisation.
Should you wish to discuss or find out more about CA Oil & Gas RPO for Middle East and Africa clients, contact is now on +27 21 551 5340.

The Management Secrets Of Kim Jong Il

The death of North Korean Dear Leader, Eternal President and Lodestar of the 21st Century Kim Jong Il gives us a moment to assess the man – sorry, demigod – not just as a brutal, murderous, deranged dictator but also as a manager.

Let us not forget that he lead a complex enterprise for 17 years and even managed to “flourish” (at least by his definition), as he told his people every day. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned here.

Do whatever it takes to get the best talent. In 1978, Kim ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, the actress Choi Eun-hee, in order to build up North Korea’s film industry. They made seven films before escaping to the West in 1986. We all know how hard it is to keep good people, don’t we?

Communication is overratedHe only made one broadcast to his nation. In 1992, during a military parade in Pyongyang, he said into a microphone at the grandstand: “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!” Even so, North Koreans wept on the streets like Elvis fans when they heard of his death. And speaking of Elvis…

Have your own style. Only Donald Trump has a more distinctive (and funnier) hair style than Kim’s fabulous pompadour. As so often happens when someone dies, I suspect Kim’s passing will make people wistful and even nostalgic about him. To stay ahead of the curve go out now and order a gray leisure suit and glasses bigger than your face. You’ll thank me later.

Be a renaissance man. While in college, which he finished in just three years, Kim wrote at least 1,500 books. Even after becoming North Korea’s CEO he always made time for the arts, composing six operas and directing movies. He also invented a product described as “double bread with meat” and created factories to produce them. (Jealous rivals tried to smear this last accomplishment by saying this invention looked an awful lot like the hamburger.) Nor was he just another nerd: According to his biography, the only time he ever played golf, he had a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one.

Work your way up from the bottom. Despite being the son of the nation’s leader, Kim earned his place at the top. While in middle school he worked in a factory and was said to be quite the whizz at repairing trucks and electric motors. Even though he joined the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea in 1964, it wasn’t until 10 years later that he was anointed as successor to his father.

Embrace new technology. North Korea is believed to have as many as 1,000 hackers targeting other nations.

Keep an eye on the details. Kim had female staff inspect each grain of rice on his dinner table to make sure it adhered to standards of length, weight and color.

Customer service matters. Kim forced waitresses at restaurants frequented by foreigners in Pyongyang to have cosmetic surgery in order to appear more “western.”

Play office politics for keeps. Do I really have to spell this out?

Work hard? Party hard. Despite famines caused mostly by economic mismanagement that have killed two million North Koreans, Kim had live lobsters airlifted daily to his train when traveling. He reportedly drank nearly $700,000 worth of cognac a year. It’s a wonder he made it to 69. If that was his real age.
Read more:

2 Lists You Should Look at Every Morning

I was late for my meeting with the CEO of a technology company and I was emailing him from my iPhone as I walked onto the elevator in his company’s office building. I stayed focused on the screen as I rode to the sixth floor. I was still typing with my thumbs when the elevator doors opened and I walked out without looking up. Then I heard a voice behind me, “Wrong floor.” I looked back at the man who was holding the door open for me to get back in; it was the CEO, a big smile on his face. He had been in the elevator with me the whole time. “Busted,” he said.

The world is moving fast and it’s only getting faster. So much technology. So much information. So much to understand, to think about, to react to. A friend of mine recently took a new job as the head of learning and development at a mid-sized investment bank. When she came to work her first day on the job she turned on her computer, logged in with the password they had given her, and found 385 messages already waiting for her.

So we try to speed up to match the pace of the action around us. We stay up until 3 am trying to answer all our emails. We twitter, we facebook, and we link-in. We scan news websites wanting to make sure we stay up to date on the latest updates. And we salivate each time we hear the beep or vibration of a new text message.

But that’s a mistake. The speed with which information hurtles towards us is unavoidable (and it’s getting worse). But trying to catch it all is counterproductive. The faster the waves come, the more deliberately we need to navigate. Otherwise we’ll get tossed around like so many particles of sand, scattered to oblivion. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what’s important.

Never before has it been so important to say “No.” No, I’m not going to read that article. No, I’m not going to read that email. No, I’m not going to take that phone call. No, I’m not going to sit through that meeting.

It’s hard to do because maybe, just maybe, that next piece of information will be the key to our success. But our success actually hinges on the opposite: on our willingness to risk missing some information. Because trying to focus on it all is a risk in itself. We’ll exhaust ourselves. We’ll get confused, nervous, and irritable. And we’ll miss the CEO standing next to us in the elevator.

A study of car accidents by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute put cameras in cars to see what happens right before an accident. They found that in 80% of crashes the driver was distracted during the three seconds preceding the incident. In other words, they lost focus — dialed their cell phones, changed the station on the radio, took a bite of a sandwich, maybe checked a text — and didn’t notice that something changed in the world around them. Then they crashed.

The world is changing fast and if we don’t stay focused on the road ahead, resisting the distractions that, while tempting, are, well, distracting, then we increase the chances of a crash.

Now is a good time to pause, prioritize, and focus. Make two lists:

List 1: Your Focus List (the road ahead)What are you trying to achieve? What makes you happy? What’s important to you? Design your time around those things. Because time is your one limited resource and no matter how hard you try you can’t work 25/8.

List 2: Your Ignore List (the distractions)

To succeed in using your time wisely, you have to ask the equally important but often avoided complementary questions: what are you willing not to achieve? What doesn’t make you happy? What’s not important to you? What gets in the way?

Some people already have the first list. Very few have the second. But given how easily we get distracted and how many distractions we have these days, the second is more important than ever. The leaders who will continue to thrive in the future know the answers to these questions and each time there’s a demand on their attention they ask whether it will further their focus or dilute it.

Which means you shouldn’t create these lists once and then put them in a drawer. These two lists are your map for each day. Review them each morning, along with your calendar, and ask: what’s the plan for today? Where will I spend my time? How will it further my focus? How might I get distracted? Then find the courage to follow through, make choices, and maybe disappoint a few people.

After the CEO busted me in the elevator, he told me about the meeting he had just come from. It was a gathering of all the finalists, of which he was one, for the title of Entrepreneur of the Year. This was an important meeting for him — as it was for everyone who aspired to the title (the judges were all in attendance) — and before he entered he had made two explicit decisions: 1. To focus on the meeting itself and 2. Not to check his BlackBerry.

What amazed him was that he was the only one not glued to a mobile device. Were all the other CEOs not interested in the title? Were their businesses so dependent on them that they couldn’t be away for one hour? Is either of those a smart thing to communicate to the judges?

There was only one thing that was most important in that hour and there was only one CEO whose behavior reflected that importance, who knew where to focus and what to ignore. Whether or not he eventually wins the title, he’s already winning the game.