All posts by Niki Chesworth

Don’t Move! Improve: How the Property Market Should Inspire your Career Choices

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

When you’re considering your career choices, take inspiration from the property market. There are more similarities than you think.

As a nation we are pretty obsessed with house prices – what our property would fetch if we put it up for sale, what the neighbour’s/our boss’s/our ex’s home is worth, how much our ‘bricks and mortar’ has gone up/down in value. Even if we have no plans to sell up, “property porn” is highly addictive.

Well, you might not realise it, but the jobs market is very similar the housing market.

Who hasn’t got bored at work, and scrolled through job boards to see if there is a better paid role elsewhere? Who hasn’t looked at their pay and perks and wondered if they earn more or less than their colleagues and friends?

This is not the only similarity between the jobs and property markets.

Take supply and demand: When there is uncertainty, the supply of candidates drops. This is keeping “values” up with average pay up 3.9 per cent over the last year.

It’s a similar picture in the housing market. Fewer properties for sale is preventing a property price crash as there is less supply. So prices still managed a 0.9 per cent rise in the year to June (although in London they dipped 2.7 per cent).

Both are a Buyer’s Market

Just as homebuyers can negotiate hard – so can candidates. In 2018, employees who stuck with the same firm saw their average pay rise by just 0.6 per cent after inflation. Those changing employers saw their pay rise by seven times as much, up by 4.5 per cent.

However, this can be a risky strategy.

Yes, you tend to earn more by switching jobs but it’s not the only way to increase your earnings.

If you stay put and “improve” your job prospects, you won’t have all that uncertainty – not knowing if a new job is really for you, worrying that you won’t pass the probationary period and (even worse) waiting until your first day to discover that the job description could be something written by an estate agent (i.e. it bears very little resemblance to reality).

How to Improve Your Job

There has been a fivefold increase since 2013 in the number of homeowners choosing to improve rather than move. So, why not take a leaf out of their book and do the same with your career choices.

· Start with a Valuation

Just as with a house move, many of us wonder if we would be better off with a job move. But how do you know for sure? Well, check out salary benchmarking websites.

Check out Michael Page’s Salary Comparison tool, which compares pay for a number of procurement roles by sector to see if you are underpaid or not. Also check Glassdoor and scour a few job websites to check advertised salaries.

· The Best Improvements to Make

Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people who are one-step-up the career ladder to see what attributes they have that add to their value.

Just as bi-fold doors and open-plan living are desirable in the property market, there are some skills that really stand out among successful people (whether that it is soft-skills such as leadership or hard-skills like proficiency in the latest tech).

Check out job adverts too – are there any skills that seem to be in high demand, that you don’t have?

· Can you get away with a bit of DIY?

If your tech skills are lacking or you need a bit of CPD to bring you up-to-date with latest developments in your sector, online learning is an easy solution. You can learn in your own time, invest in the courses that work best for you and then have something to prove your worth to your employer.

When negotiating a pay rise, showing that you have invested your own time, money and effort in your own success – which could also help boost productivity – is a great bargaining chip.

· Or do you need Professional Help?

Sometimes a bit of DIY is not going to add value. In some cases it can even be a waste of time and money. So, this is where you may need to get professional help, perhaps studying a postgraduate or professional qualification with a recognised provider.

For this you are going to need finance. You can get postgraduate student loans (a bit like a home improvement loans, only for your career). These are similar to student finance for a first degree and you can borrow up to £10,906. Go here for more information.

Or you could simply ask your employer. Many professionals are reluctant to put in a training request (partly because they worry that they will appear as though they need training).

However, this is about career development – doing a better or bigger job – so sell the benefits. It is less of a big ask right now.

According to recruiters Robert Half the biggest talent management concern for senior executives is “employee retention and training” which will be a priority for 31 per cent over the next 12 months. Attracting talent comes in second at 29 per cent – showing that firms see greater benefit in up-skilling their staff than hiring new ones.

· Get Someone Else to Market You

Despite those online property platforms offering to sell your property for less, most homeowners still favour traditional high-street estate agents. Paying someone else to sell your property is not only easier, they are professionals so should (in theory) be able to get you a higher price.

Do the same for your career. If you can find someone else to champion your career, you might not have to ask for that promotion or pay rise – you could be identified as a “potential highflyer” and approached instead.

Seek out mentors, who can help guide your career but who also have currency within your organisation. Perhaps a manager in a different department or even the person who first hired you (and has an interest in you doing well).

Also, reach out via LinkedIn – post thought-provoking and intelligent ideas, link to senior professionals and build your brand through endorsements and connections.

· Get a New Valuation

Finally, prepare your career for the market – declutter your social media, spruce up your online presence and update your particulars (your CV). Now ask for a chat with your line manager (tell him or her what it is about) and go in with a clear asking price (use your research to determine your value). Then see what offers are made.

If your improvements do not yield results, it’s not the end for your career choices. At least you are ready to put yourself on the market!

Would you Change Your Accent to Appear More Professional?

Credit – Markus Spiske/Pexels

When you landed your first professional job, did you change the way you spoke? 

Perhaps you thought you’d sound more professional if you talked with a slightly more sophisticated accent or littered the conversation with a few long words – or maybe, you just wanted to fit in and speak like everyone else.  

Or did colleagues continually ask “What did you say?”, which made you realise that you needed to tone down your dialect to be better understood. 

You might have hoped that no one had noticed. However, when you went home, your family probably did – and perhaps they were not shy about pointing out that you were talking differently.  

One in ten people with a regional accent even say they were accused of speaking “posh” when they went back home to visit. 

The Class Divide – How You Speak Can Count Against You 

The issue is that every time you open your mouth, you could be ruining your career chances.  

In fact, even if you don’t have an accent you believe this to be true with more than half of people saying that having a regional dialect would rule them out of the top boardroom jobs.  

London accents that are considered the worst. So you probably won’t be hearing many people who sound like Dany Dyer heading for the executive offices. 

So it’s probably no surprise that nearly a quarter of professionals say that in order to be successful in their career, they’d have to alter the way they speak at work according to a survey by the Equality Group

The Brass Ceiling – Why We Hide Where We Come From 

It’s not just how you speak that matters. It is shameful that in this century, professionals still feel they cannot be honest about their socio-economic background (or how much brass they have). 

One in ten has even gone as far as hiding their hometown for fear of judgement – saying they have not been forthcoming about where they grew up because they worry that they will be unable to access particular professional/social networks if others knew their background. 

Along with gender, age, race and religion, your background this is yet another example of how we are discriminated against at work. 

However, you might not have a leg to stand on if you complain – because the Equalities Act of 2010 does not cover socio-economic class.  

It’s a big issue according to the Equality Group, a consultancy that helps businesses attract, develop and retain diverse talent. 

Three quarters of us believe that professionals with higher socio-economic status have increased access to better careers and job opportunities regardless of their experience of qualifications. Yet six in ten of the UK workforce identifies as coming from a working-class background. 

So, until things change, professionals are purposefully hiding their hometowns and regional accents for fear they will miss out on a better job.  

Better Off Do Better – Just Look at Boris 

The Social Mobility Commission backs up these findings, revealing that those from better-off backgrounds are 80 per cent more likely to end up in professional jobs than their working-class counterparts.  

This partly down to confidence. Professionals from lower socio-economic classes are less likely to ask for a pay rise and promotion due to a fear about ‘not fitting in’.  So, could your own self-perception of class be influencing your employment status? 

This even influences our choice of careers according to a report from Debut. It found that more than a third of graduates say they were put off joining a business whose workforce was perceived to be made up of mainly middle and upper-class employees. Two in three also said they had to change who they were, including how they look, to get a job. Debut calls this “professional exclusion”. 

Unconscious Bias – You are Guilty Too  

If you think it is grossly unfair to discriminate against someone just because of their accent or where they come from, then take a good look at yourself. 

Unconscious bias is something we are all guilty of. It is natural human behavior. We may rule someone out of a promotion or even our team because we perceive them to be too old (which we often equate with being unable to adapt and learn new skills). Or we may assume that a young female employee is not as bright as a middle-aged man. This list goes on…. age, gender, race, religion or even size, can all influence how we view others.  

However, it can also work the other way – we are often drawn to people or treat them more favourably if they look like us, sound like us and have a similar background. If you went to a particular university (or did not go at all) you might unconsciously favour someone who followed the same educational path. This can lead to us working with people who are not up to the job – and it could damage our own careers. 

So which category do you fit into – and how can you tackle your own unconscious bias? 

  • Perception bias: This is where you believe on thing about a group of people based on stereotypes and as a result you make assumptions that may not be true. 
  • Challenge yourself to get to know someone first. 
  • Affinity bias: You like people because they are like you. In recruitment this can lead to “mini me” hiring. Diversity is good for business so this can stifle innovation and creativity.  
  • Challenge yourself to reach out and work with people who are different to yourself. You might learn something new, change your point of view and become more open minded. 
  • Confirmation bias: None of us likes to be proved wrong. So, we try to confirm our assumptions about groups of people (or even ideas) rather than making objective judgments.  
  • Challenge yourself by stepping back and judging someone on their behaviour, merits, achievements – not just how they look or sound. Look for ways to prove that you are wrong in your assumptions. 
  • The halo effect:  A white, well spoken, well dressed, good looking man walks into the office and you automatically assume that this person is honest, capable, intelligent etc… without knowing a thing about them. That’s the halo effect. 
  • Challenge yourself to delay making judgements. Anyone can buy a nice suit, it does not mean they are good at their job.  

Could A Selfie Save Your Sanity?

A greater understanding of what makes you tick could be the route to a more fulfilling career – and if you are stuck in a rut and can’t move roles, then forget EQ and IQ, learn to boost your PI (physical intelligence). The future is all about understanding and nurturing your self.

By AlessandroBiascioli/ Shutterstock

As a nation we have become paralysed by political uncertainty.

These turbulent times are leaving us trapped. While half of us say we would like to change careers, only one in six are brave enough to make the move, according to recruiters Michael Page.

So, don’t just sit there waiting for things to get better.

Now is the perfect time for a bit of self-reflection.

We spend so much of our lives at work, getting to and from work and then thinking about work, it is important that whatever you do works for your personality type.

Many of us crave jobs which are more fulfilling, more aligned to our values and ones that build or self-worth rather than knocking it.

But how do you really know what makes you tick, if you don’t take a good look at what motivates you?

The answer is a psychometric selfie.

Find out why you do what you do

Michael Page has partnered with FindMyWhy (findmywhy.com) to help you find out more about yourself.

Complete the online questionnaire (be prepared for around 30 minutes of self-reflection) and a tailored psychometric report will reveal some telling insights.  It is important to be honest. That way you will gain most from the advice.

The selfie does more than just match your skills set to new roles.

It highlights your weaknesses to – and this could really transform the way you see yourself.

The good the bad and the potentially ugly

Most of us know what we are good at, but these strengths can also work against us.

Take a team-player as an example.

If you are someone who likes working in collaboration with others, the mutual supported of colleagues and coordinating your efforts with others to get things done, you probably think you have the perfect personality to succeed in your career.

However, what happens when you are faced with conflict or colleagues who work against each other? How do you feel when others are highly critical of you or the team? And how do you feel when you are required to engage with less collegiate colleagues?

Finding yourself in the wrong working environment could leave you less motivated and disengaged.  In fact, your team-player skills set could work against you.

The Me at Work report is a great way to learn more about the potential pitfalls that could trip you up professionally and perhaps the most telling part of the report is the “So what might stop me” section. It is important to avoid self-sabotage.

Build resilience through physical intelligence

While the FindMyWhy may help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and the things to look for in a new role, you may still find that work can cause stress, drain energy and challenge your ability to remain positive (even if you love what you do).

That is why – in addition to being more self aware – you should look at how to be more physically intelligent. This is the ability to detect and actively manage the balance of chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters) racing through our bloodstreams (through how we breathe, move, think and communicate) in order to reduce work stress, boost energy and kickstart positivity. 

A new wellbeing book by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton called Physical Intelligence available in ebook and paperback looks at the strategies we can all adopt to do this.

These are Dale and Peyton’s top 11 physical intelligence tricks to help you become happier at work.

Reduce Work Stress

  1. Ground Yourself:  Being grounded increases emotional/mental stability, confidence and inner strength. To ‘ground’ yourself, feel your feet on the ground/bottom in the chair and the weight of your body distributed through your skeleton down into the ground – rooted rather than ‘uptight.’
  2. Just Breathe:  Managing your breath pattern is THE key to stabilising the nervous system and managing our physical response to stress. Pace your breathing (e.g., 3 counts in, 5 counts out), with longer out breaths, expelling carbon dioxide that settles in our lungs and increases cortisol (stress hormone).
  3. Focus on Fitness:  Regular exercise is important, elevating our heart rate at least 3 times a day. Otherwise, the parasympathetic nervous system will be too sluggish for us to rebalance when we encounter stress, and if we encounter multiple stressors, we’ll likely feel overloaded.
  4. Talk It Out:  Stress builds through a lack of control, rumination and difficulty deciding on actions. Verbalising stressors removes their charge. Getting advice helps us process and learn from what is happening. Reaching out to a trusted network of supporters boosts oxytocin (belonging hormone), released through non-aggressive, honest, human contact.

Boost Energy

  1. Take a Cold Shower: Turning the water to cold for the last thirty seconds or splashing ice-cold water on our face enhances brain function, improving energy gain.
  2. REST:  To avoid burnout, balance pushing yourself hard with periods for rest and recovery.  Block time in your schedule each week for ‘REST’ (retreat, eat [healthy], sleep and treat) and guard those windows.
  3. Get Some Sleep: Sleep has a bigger impact on our mental, emotional and physical performance than any waking activity. When we sleep, we consolidate memories and experiences, detox the brain of waste products and regenerate brain cells. This makes a profound difference to our daily performance, enabling us to think clearly and deeply, focus well and handle multiple challenges with ease. Aim for that magic minimum of seven hours through naps, proxy sleeps and going to bed even a few minutes earlier each night.

Kickstart Positivity

  1. Smile:  Smiling at yourself in the mirror boosts serotonin (happiness).
  2. Jump:  Literally jump for joy – it promotes optimism.
  3. Bounce Positive:  Apply a learning mindset to setbacks/mistakes.  If you’re dwelling on something, talk to someone you trust about it, then commit to letting it go.
  4. Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships:  Balance your own agenda with those of others, communicate well and flex your behavioural style, creating the chemistry of trust – balancing oxytocin (social bonding/trust), dopamine (goal-orientation/seeking and gaining reward), and testosterone (independent competitive action), while managing cortisol (stress).

The more we use physical intelligence techniques, the better armed we will be to achieve business success. Why not give it a try?

The One Thing You Should Be Doing To Boost Your Career This Year

Nearly 50 per cent of workers are making “learning new skills” a priority right now, ahead of both a pay rise and a promotion…

By jamesteohart/ Shutterstock

Forget pushing for that promotion. Don’t waste too much time looking for a new role. And leave lusting after a new job title for now. Instead, focus on your skills.

“Skills” have traditionally been viewed as something for the trades – those who chose a more hands-on career pathway, rather than one that needed academic qualifications.

While we all appreciate the talent of hairdressers, plumbers, motor mechanics and a host of other vitally-important skilled tradespeople, this year skills have taken on a new meaning.

One of the top workplace trends for 2019 is “Skill signalling”.

There is added emphasis on highlighting the skills that set you apart from the competition according to recruiters Robert Half.

This could be your digital literacy – such as working with artificial intelligence – or softer skills such as communications and problem-solving abilities.

Basically, anything that can help you to stand out from the crowd.

No. 1 aim is to learn new skills

This is something you should take seriously, or you could get left behind.

Nearly 50 per cent of workers are making “learning new skills” a priority right now, ahead of both a pay rise and a promotion, according to research from CV-Library.

However, you might have to acquire these outside of the office as two-thirds of us say our employer isn’t responsive to our needs.

Also, much of the employer training on offer is a waste of time and money.  Research shows that of the $400billion spent on corporate learning globally every year, only 15% is proven to really work.

Top 10 career priorities for 2019

  1. Learn new skills (44.6%)
  2. Get a pay rise (43.5%)
  3. Move to another company (40.1%)
  4. Gain a new qualification (24.3%)
  5. Get a new job title (22.7%)
  6. Change job roles (19.7%)
  7. Get a promotion (17.2%)
  8. Change industries (13.1%)
  9. Work for themselves (12.4%)
  10. Build a personal network (8.9%)

Source: CV-Library

So, what are the skills of the future

What should you be learning? Well, employability skills are key – according to Hogan Assessments, the global leader in personality assessment solutions, these are defined as “the ability to find a job, the ability to retain it, and the ability to find a new job should the first one go away”.  There are three components:

  • People Skills – getting along well with others and working well in teams. People who score high on this skill seem friendly, pleasant and helpful.
  • Learning Skills – learning the essential functions of the job and acquiring new skills as the job changes over time. Individuals with learning skills are likely to be bright, curious, and motivated to learn.
  • Work Ethic – taking instruction, working hard, and producing high-quality results in a timely fashion. Employees with good work ethic are hardworking, productive and dependable.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune and take a year or two out of work to study an MBA or master’s to gain these skills.

However, the bad news is that you are often either naturally good at these – or not.

Tips

  • Do a 360 exercise with friends, family and colleagues to get a view of how you score on these points.
  • Find a mentor to help you work on these skills – for example listening and reflecting. Choose someone you trust within your organisation, or find a mentor externally (someone you already know, respect, get along with and want to be like).
  • Try to demonstrate these skills on a daily basis – work on them, and you will improve.

Decide to specialise or generalise

The future workplace will be made up of two types According to the Future of the Workplace 2030+ report from Unily.

Expert Generalists who can transfer skills and see the bigger picture necessary to drive the ideas economy.

Hyper Specialists who are more operational, can dive deep for solutions are equipped to understand details and specifics.

Once again, these skills are often innate. Some of us are brilliant when it comes to attention to detail, but find it hard to be adaptable. Choose your path depending on your personality type.

Whichever path you choose, you will need to work on these skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking

In a time of constant change, the skill or trait that will help you get ahead is being able to deal with change.  

The No. 1 personality trait you need right now

As a result, resilience is one of the key skills employers will be helping their staff to develop over the next few years.

However, you can develop this skill yourself by nurturing your own physical and mental wellbeing, which can help you to stay positive and cope with the ever faster-changing world of work.

This is also a key skill to highlight on your CV: it is one of the things employers will be looking for. So try to find ways to demonstrate your ability to “bounce back” from adversity and to deal with change.

If you don’t ask you don’t get

Boosting your skills can boost your performance as well as your life-long career prospects.

“Learning new skills is an excellent way to secure yourself more opportunities and a better paid job down the line,” says Lee Biggins, CEO of CV-Library.

So, how do you go about investing in your own success?

  • Identify the skills you need to work on or develop.
  • Look for ways to develop these (note: this is unlikely to be in a classroom).
  • Ask your boss to support your skills development  – whether that is giving you time off to attend seminars, conferences, lectures or to work one-on-one with a mentor or on new projects to develop new skills.
  • Make it a lifelong journey – skills need constant development.

Learning to learn – that’s the no.1 skill

“The future discussion will not be about reskilling or upskilling but ‘learning to learn’” according to the Unily Future of the Workplace Report which says:

Being comfortable acquiring new knowledge is a skill in its own right.

To become a continual learner, you will need to learn to

  • Take risks
  • Experiment
  • Adapt

… and challenge yourself to disrupt and do things differently.

George Clooney Is Not The Only One In A Catch 22 – Jobseekers Are Too

While nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library, many are doing nothing about bagging themselves a better paying job.

By Denis Makarenko/ Shutterstock

You want to earn more. (Who doesn’t?)

But the only way to get a significant pay rise is to move jobs.

However, that is risky – what if it doesn’t work out?

Also, there’s a lot of competition.

So even after all the hard work of looking around for a new role, you might be left disappointed.

And if your current boss finds out you are applying elsewhere… well, that might not reflect well on you.

It’s a paradox – a Catch 22 – with seemingly no escape.

We’re feeling trapped

So, while nearly nine in ten UK professionals are considering moving jobs right now, according to CV-Library, many are doing nothing about bagging themselves a better paying job.

Just under six in ten say they aren’t doing so because they believe the salaries on offer aren’t high enough. Although they might be wrong on that score (it’s often hard to find out what you could get paid, unless you apply and get an interview).

In addition, around three in ten are stuck where they are because they don’t feel confident enough to apply for a new role – with younger employees worried they don’t have enough experienced.

The pay paradox

Yet, those who are brave enough to take a risk and jump ship should reap the rewards.

Pay is on the up – by 3.4 per cent – on average for all UK employees. So, it’s great that most people are enjoying above inflation pay rises.

However, if you look for a new role you should be able to earn more.

Talent shortages mean that pay rises for new jobs are 5.8 per cent higher than a year ago with new recruits are seeing higher salary hikes than existing hires.

Much depends on where you live.

Certain UK cities are witnessing well above-average growth in pay for advertised roles.

            Top cities for highest annual hikes in advertised salaries

  1. London – pay up by 16.1 per cent
  2. Hull – pay up by 15.8 per cent
  3. Edinburgh – pay up by 12.8 per cent
  4. Portsmouth – pay up by 10.7 per cent
  5. Nottingham – pay up by 9.5 per cent

Competition is hotting up

So, firms are so desperate for the right candidate they are having to up their advertised salaries significantly. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that everyone else is beginning to get the same message.

As a result the number of job applications is soaring in many cities according to CV-Library.

            Biggest jump in job applications year-on-year

  1. Bristol 27.2 per cent
  2. Brighton 22.1 per cent
  3. Edinburgh 20 per cent
  4. Manchester 19.7 per cent
  5. London 19.6 per cent

Hiring is slipping

Brexit is taking its toll – with many firms adopting a wait-and-see approach. As a result, there has been a 3 per cent drop in the number of job vacancies year-on-year according to CV-Library.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) UK Report on Jobs, produced with KMPG, has been tracking this trend.

The number of people placed into permanent job roles has fallen in four out of the past five months and the growth in vacancies hit an 80-month low in April (rising slightly in May – but still subdued).

Once again, much depends on where you live. The Midlands has been seeing permanent staff appointments decline while the North has seen them increase.

            So what does this mean?

More candidates + less vacancies = tougher competition.

Time to be more Clooney

So how do you become the George Clooney of jobseekers – standing out above all those other candidates?

With competition for roles increasing, you need an escape plan:

  • Avoid the scatter-gun approach: Applying for anything and everything is not going to land you a role worthy of your skills. Identify your ideal jobs and employers and then target them specifically – even if a job is not being advertised you can always make an approach. Let them know you want to join their team and believe you will be an ideal fit. You will then be first in mind when a vacancy arises.
  • Network your way to a new job: Referrals, recommendations and introductions are now one of the most popular ways to find new recruits. It really is a case of “who you know” as well as “what you know”. So, boost your social profile (at sites like Procurious and LinkedIn), link to the right people and make sure you are visible.
  • Get the right tailoring: I don’t mean the right suit (although looking the part is important). This is about tailoring every CV and cover to every role and employer. Make it appear that you are only applying for this one job … and this is one that you are not only uniquely qualified to do, but this is THE one you really want.
  • Stand out from the crowd: There will be other candidates… so how do you make sure that you are the preferred one? Well, the first step is to get an interview. For that, your CV needs to stand out. Learn new skills (investing in your own success shows you are a go-getter), be more of a mover and shaker (post blogs, join networking groups, raise your profile) and be very specific in the wording you use on your CV (demonstrate every requirement of the job on your CV). You can also grab the attention of recruiters by including some big numbers (I raised sales by 20 per cent, worked on a £40m project etc).
  • Do your research: Failure to find out about the employer, the work they do, their clients and their values, is one of the main reasons why candidates do not get the job. It’s easy. While you are at it, research yourself online (a bad social media profile can cost you a job).
  • Believe in yourself:  If you’ve ever missed out on a job offer to a less-qualified rival, you’ll know that getting hired is about being the perfect fit rather than having the perfect CV. Practice your interview techniques with friends and family – people work with people. So aim to come across as someone they’d like to work with.

Job Hunting… It’s Now Like A Date From Hell

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

By fizkes/ Shutterstock

You’ve spent forever trying to find your perfect match. Then, while searching online you spot “The one”. They seem to tick every box…  you connect, it seems like destiny and you are really excited when they want to get to know you. In your imagination, you are thinking of a making a serious commitment (perhaps lasting years) as you start to visualise a new, happier future. Things are really looking up.

Then…nothing! Out of the blue they stop replying to your emails and don’t return your calls. You wonder what you did wrong.

You’ve been ghosted.

If this sounds like a dating experience from hell, think again.

This is increasingly what it’s like to be a jobseeker.

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

For some bemused candidates, the ghosting can come even after a “successful” interview when they’ve shaken hands with the boss and been told “you’d fit right in here”. After assuming they’ve got the job, they then hear nothing, ever again. If this is the case, you’ve probably dodged a bullet. Who would want to work for a firm like that?

Are you just as bad?

However, skills shortages mean the tables have turned, with employers and recruitment firms desperate to find the right talent.

As a result, it is increasingly the candidate that’s doing the ghosting according to a survey by education and training specialist TheKnowledgeAcademy.com.

One in four applicants in the business, finance and the legal spheres have admitted to ghosting a company during the job searching process. Ouch! Come on… this is your personal brand we are talking about. At least, do the recruiter the courtesy of saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Cat and kittenfishing is rife too

However, ghosting is not the only dating misdemeanour that is now rife in recruitment.

Kittenfishing (a bit like catfishing) is the most common HR practice according to research commissioned by JamieAi, an HR tech start-up.

Three in ten job seekers have fallen victim to hype – the practice of making a job seem a “bit” better than it really is just to grab the candidate’s interest.

Catfishing – where the job is described as being “far” better that it actually is – to the point where it does not match reality, was also experienced by nearly three in ten job seekers.

If you have ever been on a date where the person you met is nothing like their description, you will know how disappointing this can be as well as a total waste of your time.

However, with a job, you may only find out once you start.

Players and rostering trip you up

Rostering is a problem for one in four with a quarter of candidates finding they are waiting for ages for a yes or a no, because they are actually the second-choice candidate. This is a bit like waiting and waiting to find out if you are going to meet on a Friday night because your date is hoping for someone “better” to come along.

Sadly, players are also rife – promising you that you are the lead candidate while also saying the same thing to several others. Don’t fall for their patter. Wait until you have signed your employment contract before handing in your notice, or you could find you are left with no job instead of a new job.

Get savvy to protect yourself

It’s relatively easy to protect yourself from these practices.

  1. Don’t take it personally: If you are aware that jobs are oversold, recruiters may never return your calls, your CV will be lost in the ether and even after an interview you might get ghosted, you should just put this down to experience. Don’t let it knock your confidence. If an employer cannot be bothered to reply, then they are not the sort of firm you should want to work for.
  2. Do your homework:  Websites like Glassdoor.co.uk let you check how the employer is rated by their employees. If the firm has a reputation for not acknowledging CVs or providing feedback after interviews, you will know that it’s not you that’s the problem.
  3. Don’t give up: Find out the name of the hiring manager, and send an email direct to them or even better connect to them on sites like LinkedIn. Often, firms are inundated with applications and they may have found a suitable candidate before your CV even landed in their inbox. However, if you really like the company, there is no harm in letting them know you would still love to work there.
  4. Double check your application: There may be a reason why they have ghosted you. Perhaps you did not put the job reference number or correct title on your application? Or did you forget to cover all the “must haves” on your CV? Often applications are screened electronically and if you haven’t included the key words your CV may have been rejected before a human even set eyes on it. To pass the application tracking system software test, use the job spec as a guide and include the EXACT words used. Also. double check the instructions – if the request was for a pdf of your CV not a word document, you might have been rejected for failing to do as asked.

Finally don’t be tempted to get revenge

If you are fed up with being catfished or ghosted, you may think that as these practices now seem to be acceptable, there is no problem if you do the same.

However, it could backfire. If you ghost recruiters or become a player and keep various firms interested as a back-up plan, you might get away with it….or you could find that the people you have treated badly, then move to another firm and remember you as the candidate from hell. Remember, it’s a small world and social media makes it even smaller.

Catfishing is also dangerous. If you exaggerate your skills, you might not pass your probationary period and you will be left without a job, and without a good reference. Remember, firms are struggling to recruit … if you’d been honest and said you were prepared to learn, you might have got the job anyway, without having to lie.