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?

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 7 Questions You Need To Ask Before Hiring Anybody

Staffing is always a difficult nut to crack: Having too many people adds unnecessary costs and nicks your profits; too few and crucial things like customer service start to suffer. You want that magic number of sufficient, competent employees. For any owner, it’s a balancing act.

job interview

Here are the questions to consider:

1. What are your goals? Your investors are likely to be focused on short-term profits or conserving cash. Your customers are pushing for speedy, capable service. You have to walk the tightrope between the two.

2. What is your positioning? If you’re the price leader, your job is to cut costs wherever possible. Think like Walmart. If you’re more interested in customer service, then you must hire and train people to deliver top-notch service. should be your model.

3. How can you track your personnel needs? At, we use a personnel predictor that’s built into our phone system. It matches historical customer service trends on a day-to-day and hourly basis versus what we think we’ll need. We factor in an acceptable level of Average Speed to Answer and an acceptable Lost-Call rate. The software calculates how many people we’ll need based upon the service level we want to offer. Your business may not require such a system—but you should have some kind of a system.

4. How hard are your employees willing to work? Again, it’s not a simple question. People like overtime pay, at least in the short term, so it can be an effective way to temporarily meet increased demand. But people eventually burn out. And there’s ample evidence that people perform better when they work less. When your people work constantly, with no real break, they don’t have time for training, so they never get better at their jobs.

5. How do you pay people? I think it’s smart to make payroll as much as a variable cost as possible, so you can hire more people, but pay on performance—in other words, when they sell, provide service, etc. Your payroll costs never get (too much) higher than revenue dictates.

6. Are you willing to share the profits? If profit-sharing is a part of people’s bonuses, they’ll perform more efficiently. They understand that the more people you hire, the smaller their share of the profit pie. So they’ll work harder (read “smarter”) to prove their worth. At my company, at the end of the year we take a percentage of profits and divide it up equally among all the employees. The more we make, the more everyone gets, but the system incentivizes employees to make the most with the fewest number of people.

7. How long does it take to train and on-board people? If people aren’t moving through your training program and becoming productive quickly, put more resources into training to shorten that time. The more complex your business, the more likely it is that you’ll need to hire ahead of anticipated demand. If, on the other hand, you can outsource your peak calls, then you simply need to have that reservoir ready when demand dictates.

To hire or not to hire is not just one question: It’s at least seven—and probably even more. What questions do you consider before you decide to staff up?

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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.
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10 Management Terms You Can Use To Sound Smarter Than Everyone Else – Maybe!

Following our critical view of what we saw as the worst management terms of 2011, we were delighted by the general response and to find such common concern over the diabolical increase in management jargon.

But why, if we know it is so dreadful, do we let it persist? We have decided that it’s most definitely a power game — an arms race. The holders of the newest and most convoluted terms are deemed to be the more superior.

As programs to eradicate plague pests, such as the Tetse fly, involve introducing sterile bred alternatives into the system to compete, so TMM are releasing their own batch of genetically modified 2012 Management Terms into the vocabulary. Hopefully, if adopted by enough people, they will help to show how silly most existing terms are, leading to their demise. We give you:

1. “Omegal” — from the Greek letter Omega, the last letter in their alphabet. Can be used negatively, “Jeff, ok, nice idea – but pretty omegal” as in “the last thing we would do.” Or positively, “Ok folks, lets Omegalise this thing” Finalize or close the matter.

2. “Charge the trees” — Eco-reference together with moving forward rapidly. Bound to work. Suggested uses – “Hey we aren’t going to charge the trees on that one?” – “Are you suggesting we charge the trees?” – “He’s the type of guy who’d charge the trees.” Do feel free to make up any connotation you like, whether it is references to Rhino’s charging against trees to shake down ideas or to billing folks who really deserve a free service due to the morality of their work.

3. “Diodal” — Once you head off in a direction there is no turning back. “You realize that this is diodal? You with me?” “Market research has suggested that diodal uptake is presumptuous upon addiction.”

4. “Deep Sea Ten” — “I want you all to go Deep Sea Ten on this” or “Scott, 11th floor said “deep sea ten” this by Friday.” Basically an idea or thought process that only the “Deep Sea Ten” global rescue vehicle from a 1960s puppet show could pull it off. Of course, there never really was a “Deep Sea Ten” but as proven by people who use the malapropism “no holes barred” few people challenge the origin of phrases anyway.

5. “Superstring” — Knowing the liking for misappropriating complex science into management sound bites, this one is off to a head start. It evokes joining more things together than anyone else has with normal strings. Very de-rigour in sales, management , system analysis, social networking, the lot. This one should easily catch on. “We are superstringing the network to optimize conjacent synergies.”“This will superstring all your strengths and client needs.” “Multidimensionalising superstrings is only one of the many applications that we can run on Data-Yuanque CRMs.”

6. “Euronation” — To have your top idea go so wrong even the ECB, IMF, and world superpowers are incapable of rescuing it. “The sales budgets for 2012 are looking subject to euronation in the current time frame.” Also see “euronate” – To cause cataclysmic failure. “Guys we need to Euronate on XYZ’s competitive offering.”

7. “Lolhor” — Low oLeft, High oRight. Every presentation always has to have as many of these graphs as possible. What is the use of a graph showing achievement, targets or dreams if it doesn’t start “low on the left” and go “high on the right”? “Jess, I’ve got some investors coming in in 30 minutes could you run me off some Lolhor charts for them please?” ( Tip: If you are struggling, use cumulative returns) Of course costs should be Hollor, but psychologically no one likes a graph that goes to zero, as once there, where’s your job?

8. “Three Buck Whistle” — Many management terms are derived from sporting, military, parliamentary, or transport terms where the original meaning has been lost in time. “The whole nine yards” is a classic example where there is no agreed source. We suggest that “three buck whistle” could be launched on similar lines. It will never be agreed as to whether it is derived from the length of steamboat’s hoot, a referee’s whistle, a musicians tin whistle, or the volume of a workman’s wolf-whistle (none, of course, as we just made it up) but we suggest it could easily slip into management parlance. “The Board gave that idea the three buck whistle.” – “It wasn’t worth a three buck whistle” – “This deal is THE three buck whistle .. {pause for effect}”

9. “Weidmann” — The opposite of reaching out. Not giving a damn and doing what you wanted to all along. “We have weidmanned the stakeholder community and pressed ahead with our original intentions.” “Hi Greg, I’d just like to weidmann you on the proposal you sent over.” “You wanted it in green? Can we remind you of the Weidmann Clause (page 87)? You are getting it in red.” {Any references to current leaders of the Bundesbank are entirely intentional}

10. “Yaldistic” — Insert it as an adjective in front of a noun of importance and see if anyone ever challenges it. If they do, explain that it is a reference to a school of thought developed by Marshall and Petigrew in 1955, which has been developed by the Yalding School of Management to describe a product of bandwidth ideation through outreach. However, as the latter terms have recently been discredited with the arrival of the YSM Grand Unification of Management Phraseology hypothesis. “Yaldism, yaldistic, yaldistically” are now preferred.

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