All posts by Toby Kennett

How To Be Happy at Work…

In 1988, a well-known “philosopher” by the name of Bobby McFerrin wisely said, “Don’t worry, be happy!”.  And I challenge anyone that was of an age at the time to remember his no. 1 song, NOT to be singing it in their heads right now – in fact I think I can hear you whistling the intro out loud right now!!!  (But just in case – here you go)…

I would hope that most of us recognise the importance of being happy both at work and at play.  Unfortunately though, all too often the words “happy” and “work” don’t seem to feature in the same sentence unless it’s along the lines of, “I’m so happy that it’s the weekend and work is over for another week” or words to that effect!

Studies all over the world show that happy employees are more productive, successful and motivated.  So what can you do to be one ‘these’ employees (rather than one of “THOSE” employees)?

Choose to be Happy – You Are In Charge!
Simple Right?  If only…  Life, family, finances, romance, neighbours, friends, vehicles, pets, etc, etc, can all get in the way of us being happy.  Sometimes through intent, but mostly quite by accident.  You see we all get so caught up in “life” in general that sometimes we forget all about being happy and doing things to make us happy.

We all have a right to happiness and so it is up to YOU to CHOOSE to be happy.   The power of positive thought is miraculous!  So when you get out of bed in the morning, rather than choosing to harp on the lack of sleep you had; the headache that you’ve got; the pile of work that you’re going to head in to, CHOOSE to look outside at the sun shining and thank your lucky stars that you’re alive and in a position to be able to take charge of your destiny and make a difference.  (And I’ll bet you, even if it’s only something very, very small, you’ll make a change and feel better).

Love Every Day
Find something that makes you truly happy and do it every day.  It might be walking the kids to school or reading your book.  We’re all different, but that’s the point – we are all different and it’s not up to me or anyone else to prescribe what will make YOU happy.  That’s YOUR job and so stop to think what it is that puts a smile on your face and then make the time to keep on doing it.  Go on!  You know you want to and you know you’ll feel better for doing so – so what are you waiting for, huh???

Take Charge of Your Personal and Professional Growth
Throughout my management career, I have always been surprised by the number of people that want success to land in their laps.  Accusations of “you haven’t developed me” or “you haven’t promoted me” and yet when I have asked, “what have YOU done to develop yourself or earn that promotion” I’ve been met by a blank stare, hunched shoulders and a “you just don’t get it” attitude.

My question to all of you is this: “why is it a manager’s or an organisation’s responsibility to better you as an employee?”  Sure, I am all for supporting personal growth and development, but surely as adults we need to take accountability for our own futures?  What I mean by this is that I am all for a manager supporting an interested and motivated employee and the manager requesting financial (or ‘time off’) support from the organisation and even assisting with mentoring the person and/or providing exposure to information and opportunity.  But what I don’t support is the onus being on the manager/organisation to run around the building looking for people to drop training courses and development opportunities in the laps of!

Take control of your development and if this means that you need to initiate and even pay for the process yourself, then go ahead and do so.  The organisation doesn’t “OWE” you anything, but is far more likely to WANT to support someone who is showing initiative, drive and determination rather than one that is waiting for a handout.

Seek And You Shall Find
When was the last time you asked for feedback?  Most of us like to know how we are tracking – whether it’s about being patted on the back for a job well done; being slipped an extra couple of $$$ in our pay packets or being told that we’re on track.  I liken this to a journey from a place that you know to a place that you have never been before!  Sure, you might end up there eventually, but if you can get some direction before you start and then at regular points along the way, you are far more likely to get to your destination on time and in a good mood than if you are stressed out from getting lost and being challenged along the way.  You’re also much more likely to be able to go back to the place that you’ve visited the next time without as much guidance…

Requiring feedback can be a bit of a two-edged sword.  Managers are generally busy people and depending upon their personal quota of emotional intelligence, they may see you as needy and a nuisance.  Again, to assist you with this, an analogy.  When you were a child or for those of you that have children of your own – think about how frustrated parents become with children when they pick the most inopportune times to ask for something.  Whether that be a play-date with their little mate or to go to the toilet at the restaurant or if it’s to ask why the person on the bus only has one arm or talks funny.  Kids are masters of asking the RIGHT question at the WRONG time.  Why?  Simply because they are learning and testing the boundaries.  And without making a few mistakes, they will never learn when the right time is.

Keeping the above analogy in mind, there is generally a wrong time and a BETTER time to ask for feedback.  Personally, I never had a problem with one of my team asking me for a moment of my time.  By requesting a moment, I was able to either stop there and then if my schedule permitted or alternatively, make a time to stop and provide them with my full attention.  What was frustrating was those in the team that were completely oblivious to whatever I was doing and would push in and demand my attention when it was either impractical, inappropriate or downright rude.  As with most things in life, try to be considerate and treat others as you would like to be treated and the results are usually that much more positive (and effective)!

Be Aware & Present (Know What’s Happening, When!)
Make a conscious effort to be involved and aware of what is going on around you in your business.  Make sure you are up to date with all the goings on and make it your mission to know where to obtain the information that will enable you to be a moving part in a dynamic organisation.  Business does not stand still for too long, at least not without falling over, so make sure that you are keeping up with what is happening in and around the business and what is on the horizon.

Side Note:  Just make sure you don’t come across as a sticky-beak as no-one likes nosy Parker.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
I don’t know about you, but nothing stresses me more than knowing that I am going to let someone down!  My stomach churns, my pulse quickens and I lose (a lot of) sleep!  Often we’ve only got ourselves to blame because we find it hard to say “no” when someone asks us to do something.  This is an admirable trait in many respects, but it is often not conducive to making us happy in the workplace and often reduces our productivity through stress and procrastination.

You’d be surprised how much respect you can achieve when you politely say “no” to someone.  Obviously there is a time and a place and it will always come down to how you handle each specific situation.  But don’t be afraid to politely decline an extra workload if you think that you won’t be able to achieve it or equally as importantly – if you think that you’ll only be able to do an average (or below average) job!

Steer Clear of the Water Cooler!
OK.  OK.  So not all businesses have water coolers that staff stand around bitching about “Mavis in accounts or Derek in the mail room”.  But you get the idea!

Avoid putting yourself in situations where the negativity will get the better of you!  If “everyone else” is chatting about how crap the organisation is or what a terrible manager ‘blogs’ is, then some (possibly a lot) of the negativity is going to rub off on to you.  When you’re up and pumped, you seem to have a natural reflective force field against this sort of chatter, but when you’re not feeling quite so positive about the world, the negativity finds a way to get through and wind its way in to your subconscious.  Know how you’re feeling and how you’ll react to this sort of thing and then choose to avoid it or excuse yourself from it.  You’ll feel so much better in the long run.

Do NOT Fear Conflict (Creative Abrasion)
Not all conflict is bad!  In fact, conflict can be extremely positive and effective so long as it is handled respectfully and with some basic rules of engagement.  A term for this that was doing the rounds a little while back was “Creative Abrasion” and there is plenty of info on the internet about what this is, how it works and why it is good for an organisation.

According to Google:
“Creative abrasion is a phrase coined by Jerry Hirshberg, founder and president of Nissan Design International and describes a culture where ideas are productively challenged. A concept that is all too often seen as dangerous by managers and naturally so.” Mar 24, 2015

In my mind, the point that you need to take away from this is that when approached in the right way and often with the benefit of hindsight, conflict is actually an opportunity to grow.  If we don’t step out of our comfort zones, we don’t learn and if we don’t learn, we don’t grow.  Use conflict to learn and grow and by seeing it as a positive force, you will find that you are happy at work.  (Don’t let me have you believe that it makes it any less comfortable though – that is the whole point of learning and growing.  Think about the last time you learned to do something.  Play golf.  Drive a car.  Use an iPad.  On each of those occasions you would have been “uncomfortable” and it is through this discomfort that you learned something new)!

Exercise Regularly
We all know it, but we’re not all good at doing it!  I personally need to make much more of an effort on this front.  Do you?

It’s not rocket science.  I fit and healthy body lead to a clear and active mind.  We are all bombarded on a daily basis with adverts around out health and yet when we’re not feeling good about things, the idea of exercising can be (figuratively) a monstrous mountain to climb.  There is no doubt that you’ll fee better by being active and you’re far more likely to be able to smile when you’re feeling good about yourself.

Be Thankful For What You’ve Got
One of the best ways to bring yourself down a notch or three is to start comparing yourself to others:  “Blogs has the corner office overlooking the harbour bridge, whilst my crummy little office is dark & dingy” or “Joe’s new top of the range Mercedes Benz is so much shinier than my 12 month old Commodore”.

What so often gets missed here is the fact that (in the egs above):  you HAVE an office and that you HAVE a car (that is only 12 months old incidentally).  It might not be the corner office or a Mercedes Benz, but hey – what a great problem to have!  In real terms, if this is as bad as it’s going to get then celebrate your wins because there are people out there that are unemployed; sick; broke; depressed; going through tough times etc; etc.  So by comparison, you are one of the lucky ones.  Take the time to reflect on this and don’t think about what you DON’T have, but rather what you DO have.  And be grateful – it will completely change your outlook on life and the world in general.

Regularly Ask Yourself, “How Much of This Do I Own?”
All too often “we” get caught up in “stuff” that really doesn’t have anything to do with us, thereby burning emotional energy that could (and should) have been diverted to something far more productive!

Pause.  Stop.  And ask yourself just how much of this particular problem you actually own.  If the answer is nothing (or very little), move on and put your energies in to something that will return you greater results that you can celebrate on completion (see next point).

Reward Yourself
Who doesn’t love a reward?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a glass of wine; a trip to the movies or a family holiday.  Whatever floats your boat, as they say.  Just make sure that you schedule in a reward relative to the completed task/result and where you can, celebrate it with others.  Somehow life tastes so much sweeter when you have someone to share it with.

Listen To Your Instincts
This is a BIGGIE!  If your ‘gut’ is telling you that you’re not happy and that you need to get out, then you need to get outta there!!!  I realise that I am making a very difficult decision sound easy and when there are mouths to feed and bills to pay, it often comes down to finding that next job before you can move on.  So the important part is not actually the moving on, but the DECISION to move on!  Once you’ve realised that there is a mismatch and that you’re not happy, the worst thing that you can do is hang around making yourself and more often than not, everyone else, unhappy!

This blog is probably a little more “airy-fairy” than my usual stuff, but it’s funny how often I hear people say how unhappy they are in their current roles and how they just don’t know what to do about it.  The toughest part is making a decision and taking control of the situation.

Hopefully the above points will help you think through some of your current dilemmas.  And for those of you that are happy, hopefully you’ll recognise some of the things that you’re doing that make you feel good.  I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and comments and if there’s something in particular that really works for you, please leave a comment below.

And remember: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Lao-tzu.  Pick ONE or TWO of the most relevant ideas above, those that really resonate with your values and beliefs.  And then focus on making them a reality.  From there, you can start working on some of the other suggestions.

Best of luck and if you’re finding work and life a bit of a challenge, I urge you to reach out to someone to ask for help or guidance.

7 Plausible Reasons Why You’re Not Getting That Job…

As discussed in a number of my other blogs, there are a myriad of reasons why you mightn’t have been offered the job even after what feels like a good or even ‘great’ interview.   Some of those will never be known to you (or me or anyone else for that matter other than the person that makes the final decision).  And like it or lump it, a few of the reasons will be completely and utterly unfair.

Without trying to start debate and without providing specific examples, employers may choose not to employ you for as many silly reasons as they might choose TO employ you!  What do I mean?  Simply that when process, objectivity, logic and emotion aren’t  managed appropriately, “people” make some very strange decisions and these decisions are not just limited to employment.  So if you do miss out on a job, try to be level-headed about it and see it for what it really is.  It’s not the end of the world.  You will recover from it.  And there is another job out there for you (quite possibly an even better one).  By all means, be disappointed.  But don’t beat yourself up and don’t lash out at those that were involved in the process!

Going for a new role is a roller coaster of emotions that is brought on by the importance that we (our parents, partners, friends, peers, society, etc) all place on having a job.  Accordingly, your feelings may end up getting in the way of rational thought, so below I’ve tried to highlight some of the reasons why you may not have been offered the job and where appropriate, how you can address this:

1.  You just weren’t
So get over it!  I wanted to put this one first, because it’s probably the toughest one to stomach.  As mentioned above, sometimes you won’t get offered the job “just because” and the “because” may or may not be logical/fair/reasonable/justified/known/legal/etc.  The bottom line is – YOU’LL NEVER KNOW!  So rather than beating yourself up wondering why and telling yourself that you were the best person for the job and how unjust this world is, take a deep breath.  SUCK IT UP.  And move on.  Use the frustration to be better the next time and the time after that and the time after that.

2.  You were ONE of ONE HUNDRED (or more) applicants
This is a simple maths equation.  One hundred doesn’t go in to one (not as a whole at least) and so with only one role on offer, 99% of the candidates are going to be disappointed.  Again, I don’t tell you this so that you can make excuses not to try your darnedest to win the role.  I simply mention it because the reality of it is that there is going to be one “winner” and a whole lot of “losers”.  They are not losers in life or in work or in anything else.  They simply lost out on getting this particular opportunity.  It’s all a case of perspective and if it means that you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and have another go – so what?  You’ll be better the next time and the time after that.  It’s tough, sure!  But in this politically correct world where our kids are taught that everyone is equal (aspects of which I subscribe to) and that we are all winners (lovely sentiment, but unrealistic), the cold-hard-facts are:  WIN = GET JOB.  LOSE = TRY AGAIN.  Simple as that…

3.  You don’t fit their culture
This is a difficult one because in a lot of cases, you don’t necessarily know precisely what their culture is actually like and even if you did, you can’t change who you are in the hope that you might fit (even if you could, firstly you’d be found out pretty quickly, but more importantly – you’d most likely be very uncomfortable/unhappy as it wouldn’t be right for you either)!

Cultural fit is a two-way street.  It’s as much about how you’ll fit the organisation as it is how the organisation will fit you.  When this match is right – it’s fantastic for both parties.  When it’s not……’s uncomfortable at best and untenable and toxic at worst!  A good interviewer and particularly one in an organisation with a clear and articulated culture will be able to slice through your demeanour, responses and presentation to see whether you’re a fit for them.  What you need to be able to do is to master these same skills so that you are able to see if what they are presenting fits for you!

SUGGESTION:  Know who you are and what you want.  Sounds simple and it should be – don’t overly complicate things.  If you’re a corporate-type that finds comfort in a hierarchy for example, look for a job in the CBD that offers this sort of environment and don’t look at jobs in  the ‘burbs in a warehouse environment or say a shorts & t-shirt-type creative agency.  Or for that matter – working from home!  Know what makes yo comfortable:

– structure or flexibility?
– guidance or autonomy?
– big team or small team?
– hard-line or empathetic?
– high pressure or laid back?
– honest or hard-nosed?
– customer facing or back of house?
– environmentally, community & socially responsible?
– making a difference or making a dollar?
– sales or support?

Not that the above points are opposites or mutually exclusive!  They are just some thoughts on the sorts of things you should be asking yourself so that you’ll fit in and can look for companies that provide the sort of environment/roles that will make you happy.  The off-shoot of this is that you are also much more likely to “get on” in an interview because you, the company and the interviewer will be aligned culturally!

4.  You’re desperate!
Let’s face it:  desperation is not an attractive trait in any relationship and employer/employee is a relationship, so it needs to start off on the right foot.  I recognise that it’s not easy coming across as not being desperate when there’s a lot riding on you getting the job (paying the bills; getting a new car; going on that holiday; stature amongst your peers; ego; etc), but the challenge is to come across as present as keen, interested and available (for the right opportunity) as opposed to needy and willing to take anything that comes along!

SUGGESTION:  Do your research.  Be prepared.  Plan what you want to say and how you want to say it.  Role play if you have to so that you can be comfortable when the time comes.  And when the time does come, be cool, calm and collected in the interview.  Note:  I don’t mean aloof and distant – being warm and approachable will go a long way, just don’t be too “wishy-washy” for want of a better term!  The other thing is – make sure that you bring some colour to your interview – not literally speaking, but figuratively.  Try not to be “off-white or beige”.  Have an opinion and a voice, but not one that is confrontational or antagonistic.  Know where you are going, what you are doing and what you need, but don’t make it all about you.  And above all else – be yourself!  The majority of people can see through a fraud and even if it’s missed at interview, a fraud will soon show up in the workplace and be moved on!

5.  You interrupt too much (at least that’s the perception)
I’ve talked about this before in previous blogs.  It’s so important to show that you are interested in what an interviewer has to say and that you don’t come across as you believing that the world revolves around you.  What I inevitably find is that when people are prone to interrupting, they generally begin their interruption with “I” (I, I, I, I…..) and therefore what comes across whether intended or not can be:  “it’s all about me”.

I totally understand that the interrupting is generally brought on by nerves and an eagerness to please (desperation maybe?) and I will always try to give candidates an opportunity to settle in to an interview as things often improve the further in to the process we get.  But.  It’s not always going to be someone that interviews for a living doing the interviewing and therefore, they might not be quite so aware of the importance of allowing a candidate to become comfortable.

SUGGESTION:   When you’re interviewing:  Stop.  Listen.  Pause.  And then speak.  Give yourself TIME!!!  This can be really difficult when the palms are sweaty and the heart rate is up, but do your best to hold your nerves in check so that the interviewer(s) gets a chance to finish their question.  Also, by giving them that time, you are buying yourself the time to think of an appropriate (or better) answer!  And please remember:  there aren’t any bonus points for answering the fastest or guessing the answer correctly – we’re not on Family Feud!

Stop.  Inhale.  Think.  Answer.

6.  You’re going to be “hard work”
Intentionally or otherwise, you might come across as one of the following (or something else completely):

– Prima Donna
– Egotist
– A dictator
– Arrogant
– Temperamental
– Under qualified (it’s going to take time to get you up to speed)
– Require too much development/training  (being open to being developed is great.  Coming across as not having the basic skills and hoping that they’ll be provided to you through training is not!)
– Selfish
– Vague/aloof
– It’s all about you (see next point)

SUGGESTION:  Remember, an employer is looking for someone that is going to assist them and their business.  They are generally not looking to babysit a new recruit (whilst understanding that they will need to induct them and show them how ‘they’ do it).  And in fairness – this will depend on the role as an entry-level position would require training, whilst a more senior role ‘should’ not.

Approach an interview from the EMPLOYER’S perspective of “What’s In It for THEM”  and do your utmost to provide the interviewer with facts and evidence that you can deliver what it is that THEY want and need!

7.  It’s all about you
This follows on closely from the point above – if you make an interview all about you and what you want, the message that comes across is that you’re only in it for one thing…………YOURSELF.  Generally employers understand that the employer/employee relationship (there’s that word again) is as much about you as it is about them.  And the really good employers are all over this – they’ll be the ones telling you all the reasons that you want to work for them!  The challenge is striking a balance between gathering the information that you require without coming across as demanding, desperate or self centered!  Employers, often selfishly are far more concerned about what they are going to get out of a new employee than what the new employee is going to get from them.

SUGGESTION:  Learn when the right time is to ask for what you want.  Usually it’s much later on in the interview process and ideally it is once you have proved your worth and know that the employer is interested in you!  At this point, the ‘power’ or ‘control’ shifts somewhat from you wanting (needing) the job to them needing (wanting) you!  Wait until you know they are genuinely interested in you and then if you are going to make specific requests, know what’s reasonable and what the industry is offering.  And above all else:  be realistic.

In conclusion, there are so many possible reasons why you may or may not have been offered the job!  Where practical, try to speak with the interviewer to see if you can obtain some (valuable? – often you won’t be told the real reasons because people dislike confrontation and shy from being constructive) feedback in the form of constructive criticism.  But before you get to this stage, go in with realistic expectations and with the knowledge that no matter how “perfect” that YOU think that you are for the job, you just never know who ELSE is just that little bit more perfect (for whatever reason that might be…).

Landing the right job is more often than not, a numbers game.  Stay positive.  Apply for the right sorts of roles (appropriate to your skills and experience).  And only apply for those where you think there is a cultural fit.  And be realistic – you’re not always going to get the job, no matter how “perfect” you or it is!  In fact, more often than not, you won’t get the job.  So, if you don’t…

…STAY POSITIVE.  You might just be on the road to something even better and more suitable to YOU!

Resigning The RIGHT Way…

It’s a BIG decision, resigning.

And whether you’re leaving because of a ‘bigger & better’ opportunity; because your current employer is an absolute b#@$t!@d or because you’re just not content – you need to make sure that you exit in the right manner.

Tendering your resignation is a daunting process.  The stress that it brings on is up there with getting married, buying a house and moving according to some studies from around the world.  Whilst the temptation might be there to tell your current employer precisely where to stick that resignation letter, I urge you to think better of it, no matter how rude/difficult/inconsiderate/abusive/etc they may be.  Not that I’m condoning any of the above, but as my Mum always used to say to me, “two wrongs don’t make a right”, so it’s up to you to be the bigger person and rise above the temptation to retaliate or mouth-off.  It’s paramount to you and your future career that you remain level-headed, because you never know when you may bump in to the person again and, particularly if you’re staying in the same industry, you never know when you might need “friends” (think reference/referee).  Not to mention, in our industry, there is every chance that you will see them at a conference, function or meeting!

With the above in mind, here’s some further advice to assist you through the process:

1.  Plan.  Plan.. And PLAN…!
Get your contract out (or the Award if you don’t have a contract) and make sure you know what your obligations are – what’s the notice period you have to give; are there any restrictions on where you can work next (competition); when is your bonus due; what are your leave entitlements; etc?  If there is a specific date/deadline that you need to hit (for a new role), make sure that you know what it is and make this your end goal – ie.  what you HAVE to achieve when you hand in your notice and verbalise your intentions to your manager.

Make sure you know who it is that you should be handing your resignation in to (your line manager or his/her manager or the GM/CEO).  Also think about your timing and plan for what will get YOU the best result.  Sometimes, due to deadlines, you can’t afford to be picky about the “when”, but in general try to do it when the person that you are going to see is going to be the most responsive, ie.  not in a bad mood; not rushing to another meeting; not under the pump; not leaving to go home; not on annual leave; etc.  I guess ultimately, regardless of how you feel about the person/organisation, try your best to put yourself in the position of the person that will be receiving the news (and the pressure that that may bring) and treat them as you would like to be treated – being considerate goes a long, LONG way!

And plan for point 4 below – the OUTCOME of your resignation…

2 Document Your Resignation in Writing (but deliver it in person)
Your written resignation should be short and sweet.  No ‘War & Peace’ ramblings required here as the important detail gets lost!  Keep it simple:

  • Address the letter properly & appropriately
  • Lay it out properly and DO NOT forget to date it with the correct date as this becomes the date that your resignation is effective from.
  • (Having checked your notice period obligations) Inform your employer of the date that your notice period is effective from (today’s date), the period it is for (eg.  4 weeks) and what the date is that you are terminating your employment on (ie.  the date 4 weeks from today)
  • Thank them (in one or two lines at the most).  Ideally, this shouldn’t be too difficult.  You might like to thank them for their support, guidance and nurturing of you throughout your tenure.  Or you might like to say thank you for the development or promotional opportunities.  Whatever it is though, be sincere and if you haven’t got anything good to say – say NOTHING.
  • And remember:  LESS is sometimes MORE as the last thing you want to do is provide ‘fodder’ for your employer to come back and bash you with (figuratively speaking of course)!

If time permits, don’t tender your letter straight away.  Sit on it for a day or two (change the date accordingly) and make sure you go over the pros and cons of your current role and future opportunity.  Not to say that you can’t go back once you’ve tendered your resignation, but most of the employers that I know tend to take the view of “if you’ve decided to leave, I’m not going to try to change your mind” (in a positive way as opposed to a narky kind of a way)!

3 Personal delivery
When the time comes, have the fortitude, strength of character and decency to resign in person!  It comes down to respect and in most cases, other than the extreme ones, your employer deserves a bit of respect.  And even if they don’t, be the bigger person and show them how it should be done by holding your head high and resigning with dignity and professionalism.  If you do have any feedback, the time to do it is in person (verbally, not in writing remember) and ALWAYS make sure that you do it constructively and in a positive manner.  Hand your letter to the appropriate person, explaining what it is.  NOTE:  from this point, your resignation date is locked in as this is the date that you have tendered your resignation.

If you believe that it is going to be an unpleasant meeting – prepare yourself mentally for this and if appropriate to do so, you may choose to tender your resignation with another person present (or at least nearby), such as your employer’s Personal Assistant or maybe even your line manager.  And whatever you do, make sure that you stay calm, collected, polite and professional, no matter what is said to you (I’m not suggesting for a moment that this will be easy, but stay strong and committed to being the better person)!

4 Be Prepared for the Outcome
This forms part of your planning phase also – so make sure you give this plenty of thought.  Plan how you think your employer is going to react and what actions they might take and make sure that you’re prepared.  Think back to when other people have resigned or have been asked to leave, how did that go down and how did your employer behave?  Give very real consideration to the fact that you might well be asked to clean out your office and leave on the spot, having been locked out of your computer (and any other digital links to the organisation – eg.  phone/tablet/intranet) before you even leave your manager’s office!

Whatever the situation, remain calm and professional and try to take it in your stride, without letting your guard down as you need to remain alert to your rights and the employer’s legal obligations – like pay in lieu of notice or bonus cheques that are owed to you as a couple of examples.

5 Tidy Up Loose Ends
As suggested above, this isn’t always possible – but when it is, leave on a high!  Make sure you’ve cleaned up your desk, office and computer so that it’s ready for the next person and try to finish off any projects or at least leave them at a stage where someone else can pick them up and run with them.  You might even like to leave some basic instructions and/or information for anyone that might need them, like logins to things that need to be kept going, even in your absence.  And don’t forget to inform the right departments (when it’s your job to do so), so that the business can prepare for your departure.

Oh!  And if you have a uniform (and other company property – such as keys; phones; car; etc), either bring it back dry-cleaned and pressed, ideally on your last day (if you can get away with coming in to work in your own business attire) or within a few days of your departure.  Remember:  the organisation might be permitted to withhold your final payment until such time as ‘everything’ is returned, so get it back promptly.

6 Your Reputation is Your Greatest Asset!  Don’t BURN BRIDGES!
Often, your reputation is all that you can trade on – so make sure it remains a GOOD one!  Don’t denigrate the management or organisation and do your utmost to maintain your output/efficiency throughout your notice period.  Leave on a HIGH and make sure the departing impression of you is not one of a whinging, lazy, good-for-nothing bum, who slackened off in their last few weeks and did nothing but bag the organisation and belittle their manager!

As suggested above, you never, ever know when you might bump in to this person again and if you’ve read my previous blog “Negotiating Your Salary“, you may remember the employee that I had, that went on a rant as they stormed out of my office only to one day, much later on, be applying for a job in a business that I was managing.  Our industry is particularly small and it’s not uncommon for “someone” to know “someone” that knows YOU!  With this in mind, it is so important to keep your reputation in tact and not to burn any bridges.

Hopefully the points above will help you navigate through the stressful process of resigning.  It’s also worth mentioning that, where possible (ie.  when you’re leaving a ‘good’ employer), it’s a good idea to leave the door ajar.  What I mean by this is:  don’t cut all ties on the spot just because you are going.  Make a genuine offer to be contactable should the employer need to ask a question or let them know that you have left instructions for the next person, but they are welcome to call/email you if they require any further clarification.  Leaving on a good note leads to a greater chance of being remembered in a good light and therefore being referenced positively should anyone call about you or in conversations around a table (think at conferences, meetings, seminars, networking events where your “new” or “future” employers are also mixing)!

Good luck!

Interview Question: Do you have any questions for me?

It’s probably pretty reasonable to say that the vast majority, (I’d suggest 99.9%) of candidates know that they are going to be asked at some point in an interview if they have any questions for the interviewer.  And yet candidates often fumble their words and struggle to present themselves in a positive way.

The questions that you ask provide the interviewer with a great insight in to you, and so asking the right sorts of questions can catapult you to the top of the “to be employed” list!  Whilst poorly thought out questions and questions made up on the spot can very quickly highlight some of your deficiencies and push your application down in to the quagmire of mediocrity…….or worse.

Some of the best questions that you can ask tend to be those that have been very carefully planned and learned, but then evolve through information that comes to light during the interview.  What I mean by this is – there is no substitute for doing the research and preparation, but don’t be afraid to “tweak” one or two (or more) of the questions that you have prepared to include facts and information that you have gathered throughout the interview as it shows that you have been listening.  Often, your question can remain exactly the same, it will just be the lead-in that changes.  For example:

(Planned Question):  “What is the organisational structure of the Food & Beverage department? (and maybe something about FT vs Part Time…)“, might become:

(Tweaked Question):  “You mentioned that there are 120 staff in the F&B department.  What is the organisational structure of the department and what sort of breakdown is there between Full Time, Part Time and Casual employees?”

Oh!  And if it helps, don’t be afraid to take a notepad and pen or an iPad/Tablet in to the interview so that you can jot down notes (like the number of staff in the F&B department) as you go.  As a side-note, it is polite to ask the interviewer(s) if they mind if you take some notes during the course of the interview and sometimes, the jotting down of notes can actually buy you that valuable 4 or 5 seconds to contemplate an answer before you open your mouth (as you jot things down, generally people will wait politely for you to answer)…

For questions to really work, it comes down to RESEARCH!  And with the internet at your fingertips, there are no excuses for not being able to gather enough information to ask intelligent and pertinent questions.  To help you with the process, I have listed below a range of the sorts of questions that you could ask in an interview and with a little bit of thought and some manipulation of the details, they’ll provide you with a good foundation for the next time you are sitting across the table from an interviewer:

Ask specific questions about the venue/organisation and what your role would be there:
– What’s their vision for your position?
– In your opinion, what would make me a success in this role?
– Will the role evolve over time?
– What are the top 2 or 3 priorities that you believe would need to be addressed first?  (Let them tell you and finish telling you, then you might like to sum up briefly your ability to address those priorities)
NOTE:  In my experience, candidates often jump the gun in this circumstance.  They do the right thing and ask a good question like this, but rather than stop and wait for the WHOLE answer, they let their nerves get the better of them and jump on in with the “HOW” they can solve the problem or how they have the experience to do the job.  This means that they a) assume the remainder of the answer (it’s never good to assume), b) miss gathering further information (could be useful later on in the interview) and c) don’t show how they can listen (this can send completely the wrong message, when in fact, it’s just because they’re nervous)!
– If legislation has recently affected the industry or if there’s something pertinent in the news, try to tie this knowledge in to a question as it will show that you have done your homework!

What systems do they have in place?
– Are they adequate?  Or do they need updating?
– If they are inadequate, would it be your job to change or develop them?

Who was in this job before?
– Why did they leave?
– Will I be doing the same job as them, or has the role changed/evolved?

What is the company’s management style?

How do you measure performance and how often is it reviewed?

Do you provide any sort of professional development or training?

What is your target market?
– Is this something that you would like to expand?  If so, what are you plans for doing so?

What is the company’s policy on corporate social responsibility?

In what ways is your company involved in the local community?  (In our industry, there is generally plenty of information about this, so you might want to tailor this with something like:  “I see from your Facebook Page that you are connected with the <so-and-so charity>.  It what other ways are you involved in the local community?”).

It’s worth remembering, that to be amazing at an interview, you actually have to GET an interview and this begins with your application!  Make sure you develop a fantastic resume and that you get it in promptly via the means that they request.  And keep in mind that your research should start before you even send your resume in so that you can tailor your resume to the advert, the organisation and the role.  You should then pick up your research once again when you progress to the next stage and expand it so that it is fresh in your memory for when you get to the interview.  Oh.  And if you don’t get offered an interview, try calling to find out why (again, PLAN your questions) and see if you can gather any advice on how to improve your resume for the next time!  (Don’t forget to read my previous blog “To Call or Not To Call, That is the Question”, & if you haven’t already done so – you can click here.

When you do get offered the opportunity to attend an interview, think about the importance of making a GREAT first impression!  The interview starts the moment you step foot through the door in to the organisation and ramps up the moment you walk in to the interview room.  Dress.  Grooming.  Body Language.  Preparation.  Don’t underestimate the value of caring enough to make an effort – it goes an awfully LONG way!

Something that is all too often forgotten or done with no real thought other than because you’d heard it was the right thing to do is to follow up after an interview with a “thank you”.  There are lots of ways that you can do this with modern forms of communication – choosing the right one is the tough part.  In some (rare?) circumstances, an SMS to the interviewer is appropriate, but choose when and what you’re going to say and think carefully about whether an SMS really is the best way to go!  For example, if you know they are about to walk straight in to another interview, wait until later to send your SMS and try to choose a time when you know/think they’ll be able to receive it without the embarrassment of their phone beeping/vibrating in another interview!  Note:  I would only use SMS if the interviewer has been communicating with you via SMS, if they haven’t, then an email, phone call or even a well chosen ‘thank you’ card might be the better option.  Long story-short, don’t let your interview be the last time they hear from you!  Follow up to assist them to remember who you are and try to remind them of one of the positive aspects/events that occurred in the interview.

Similarly to  following up if you don’t get an interview, don’t forget to follow up if you don’t get offered the job and find out why so that you can use this information for your next interview.

And most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Sometimes, you can do everything right and still not be offered the job – so stay positive and upbeat as it’ll show the next time you speak to someone about a job.  And always remember – there is a great job waiting for you out ‘there’!  So keep honing your interview skills (which can be learned & improved) and stay focused.

To Call, Or Not To Call – That Is The Question

Here at White Now! we receive LOTS of calls from candidates about roles that we have advertised and it got me to thinking…

“…Which calls do I remember?”.

The answer was simple.  Not too many!  I’d be the first to admit that my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I’m not quite ready to be shipped off to “a home” quite yet, so it got me to thinking about why I only remember a very select few calls and what is is about those calls that stick out.

Here’s a list of things in no particular order that come to mind about the calls that are worth remembering and those that fade in to the background.

1. The call has purpose and is not just being made for the sake of being made.
– “Hi, I just called to make sure that you received my application” needs to lead somewhere other than “oh and what’s the salary?”.  We all recognise that as much as the message that the world would like us all to hear is “it’s not about the money”, Jerry Maguire had it right when he said, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!”, only that’s probably not quite the message that you want an employer or recruiter to walk away with.  So, rather than making a call to check whether cyberspace has decided to randomly pick your electronic application to be THE one that doesn’t make it through, PLAN your conversation prior to making it and have a number of points that you want to discuss that happens to include (at the right moment), a question about the remuneration.
– Asking the “$$$ question” is always a difficult one, but it’s one that you need to get used to asking.  Try to tie it in to your planned conversation and be prepared for the question to get turned back on to you – “I’m going to turn that question back on to you, what do you feel the role is worth in your opinion and I’ll let you know if you’re in the right ball park”.  Be ready for this as it’s a great way for the person at the other end of the phone to establish if you have any idea at all about the size and importance of the role and where it fits in to the hierarchy of the organisation, not to mention if you are appropriate.  This sounds a bit harsh, but if you’re looking for a job that pays $200,000+ and you’re applying for a middle management role that is paying in the $65-70,000 range, there is a MASSIVE mismatch before we even get to the point of interviewing…

2. Do some research PRIOR to making a call and map out what it is that you want to tell the person on the other end.  Ideally they are going to want to know:
– Your name (state it clearly and if you’ve got an unusual/confusing name, maybe even spell it for them)
– The state of your application:  “I have just applied” / “I applied yesterday/last week” / “I’m about to apply”
– Which role you’re applying for and ideally include a reference number if there is one
– A VERY BRIEF overview of your relevant experience & why you’ve applied for the role.  This is actually a LOT tougher than it sounds, because standing out from the crowd is tough when all you’re doing is reciting your job roles.  Try to make it interesting and more of a conversation than a presentation!  And try to include words and phrases that aren’t cliched, but that show how articulate and capable you are.
– Use intonation as there is nothing worse than a monotone voice at the other end of a phone conversation.  And speak from the heart as passion and drive will shine through over facts and figures during a verbal meeting.

3.  PLAN two or three main points that you want to get across that you want the employer/recruiter to take away with them and if you can subtly recap them towards the end of your conversation, then do so.  But try not to make it sound like it’s ‘revision’.

4.  Ask well thought out questions that show that you have done some research and that you have thought about what you really want to know.  Good questions will tell the employer / recruiter a lot about you – so put your best foot forward by phrasing questions that show that you’ve done some research.
– Some adverts contain a LOT of information and others don’t!  So remember, we live in the age of high-speed internet and ‘Google is your best friend’.  Type in some queries and see what you can find – there might be financials, YouTube videos, news articles, media releases and goodness knows what else out there.  So let your fingers do the typing and start doing some research EARLY as it will all come in useful if and when you get through to the next stage.

5.  Know when to STOP!  Sometime less, is more!  We’ve all heard it said, but often when we’re nervous or don’t have a plan in our heads, we end up prattling on and on and on, only to discover that we’ve lost our way and the whole point of the conversation.  Make your point, move on to the next or shut up!  It really is as simple as that.

6.  Finishing up:  make sure you thank the person for their time and try to finish up with something along the lines of, “Thank you for sharing your thoughts and providing me with all of that information.  This sounds like a great role and one that I am ideally suited for, so you will see an application from me, <Your Name>, in your inbox by close of business today”.

7.  When you send your application through, don’t forget to address the cover letter to whomever it is that you have been told to address it to in the advert (and if you haven’t been given a contact, jump on to the company’s website and find out the name of the President/HR Manager/General Manager/most appropriate person and address it to them) and then address the email to whomever it is that you spoke to.  What I mean by this is that if you addressed your cover letter to John Doe, General Manager of ABC Leagues Club, but you spoke to Sarah Sitizen (intentional type) at the Recruitment Company, then address the EMAIL to her and thank her for her time on the phone earlier today / yesterday / last week and mention that ‘as per your conversation, you are forwarding your application’.

To wrap things up, there’s a time and a place to make a phone call and when done correctly, it can make your application stick out before it has even arrived – you then just need to back up how well you presented over the phone with a solid written application, one that is FULL of achievements and is NOT a long list of tasks…..but I’m now getting on to the subject of another blog, so I’ll leave you with this:  if you’re going to make a phone call about a job, plan it and make it work for you!


It’s How We Lose That Shows Who We Are!

Recruiting is a funny business!

Whether being done for a small family business, a large multinational or as a Recruitment Consultant – the “recruitment process” provides an insight in to the human psyche.  And let me just tell you, it’s not always a pretty sight!

As a “glass half-full” kind-a-guy, I’d prefer not to err on the negative, unless there is something to be gained from this insight and so in this blog I thought that there would be significant value in sharing a couple of stories, thoughts and observations about what “we” see as recruiters in a niche market.

First and foremost, let me state from the outset that for the vast majority of roles that are recruited, there is only ever going to be the ONE position available.  Obvious right?  Stick with me here, because whilst this should be obvious, it would seem that there are candidates out there that forget this fact and the other closely associated fact that if there is only ONE position available and say 100 people apply, chances are that NINETY NINE of them are going to be disappointed.  It’s basic maths and yet it doesn’t stop candidates from being rude and at times, even abusive about the fact that they didn’t get the job even though (in their not-so-humble opinion), they were the best person for the job.

This leads me on to my next comment:  how can you know if you are the ‘best person for the job’ when you don’t even know who else has applied OR what the employer is actually looking for?  You’re well within your rights to believe that you’re a strong candidate because you have the necessary skills, experience and traits BUT the point is that  – YOU will NEVER know EXACTLY what an employer is looking for.  So rather than “assume” that you’re the best person for the role,  invest the time in your application to make sure that you have the best possible opportunity of getting the chance for a face-to-face interview.  Then, blow them out of the water at that interview and you might just convince them that you’re what they are looking for !

I mentioned above the competition (other candidates) and this is another point that unsuccessful candidates so often miss.  Faith and confidence in yourself is a much needed trait to be successful in the job market, but a misguided belief that your “Sh#t don’t stink” is likely to leave an impression of arrogance and prima donna tendencies.  Neither of which are an attractive proposition for a potential employer.  Remember, you may well be a great candidate, but there is always someone out there that is “better” than you.  Not a better person or even a better employee, but possibly just a better FIT.  Whilst I’m on the subject of “fit”, just quickly – always remember that a good fit goes both ways.  It has to be right for the employer AND the employee, so sometimes you’re better off missing out on a job if the fit isn’t right – it might just be a blessing in disguise!  To put the concept of competition in perspective, I recently recruited for a senior business leader role that attracted almost 70 applications.  Of the 70, there were 25 that could have done the job (admittedly to varying degrees, but they could still have “done” the job).  That’s over ONE THIRD of the candidates that applied, that by rights, could/should have been in consideration for the role!

This is where process comes in to play.  As a Recruitment Consultant, I am adamant about the fact that it is not my job to decide WHO a business chooses to employ.  Ultimately, my client is the one that will have to work with the successful candidate and not me, so later decisions are completely up to the employer (or their nominated representative(s)).  My (our) job is to make sure that we work closely with the employer (our client) and have open lines of communication (for more info on the importance of the employer-recruiter relationship see previous blog: so that we are able to clearly identify all aspects of the ideal candidate-type in the hope that we can present our client with a range of candidates for consideration that match their requirements as closely as possible.  Obviously a lot of this is dependent on their ability to articulate what it is that they are looking for and our skills at drawing out this information and sometimes the tough conversations need to be had so that there aren’t any “elephants in the room”.  To achieve this, we run a tried and tested methodology that is linked to years of experience and because it is not an exact science, we then sprinkle all this with the tiniest pinch of fairy dust in the hope that it will bring us that magical candidate that fits in to our client’s organisation like a hand in to an old glove.  Coming back to my point specifically in relation to the role where 70 applied and 25 could do the job – as one of those 70 candidates, “YOU” would have NO IDEA what the level of competition is like both from a ‘cold-hard-facts’ perspective (the other candidates’ credentials) nor the ‘intangibles’ perspective (the competition’s alignment to the spoken [and sometimes unspoken] criteria as set out by the employer).  Surely then it is overly presumptuous to expect that you will automatically be on the short list and probably the preferred candidate for the role.

So, now that we are all a little more aware of some of the obvious, but often unconsidered facts of recruitment, why did I title this blog “It’s How We Lose That Shows Who We Are!”?  Simple:  the candidates that stick in my mind for all of the right reasons are those that are humble in defeat.  Those that thank me for my time and effort and make comment of their understanding of how tough the market it is and how difficult the decision must have been.  Then there are those that remain in my mind for all of the wrong reasons and rather than list some of the negative comments, behaviours and language here, I will simply say that their responses perhaps show their true colours when they’ve been knocked down.


Well because in business, particularly at a senior management level, it is unlikely that things are always going to be rosie!  There are going to be challenges and adversity and so if it comes to my integrity versus the integrity of someone that cannot be gracious in defeat and I am asked “can you recommend this person”, I am left with the easy decision to tell my client “No.  No I can’t recommend this person because I don’t believe that they would be good for your business or your culture”.



How to Recruit a Recruiter…

How to Recruit a Recruiter…

Engaging a recruiter is meant to take the hard work out of the process of finding the best possible candidate for a role. Pressure should be lifted from Management, the HR Department and for senior roles, the Board of Directors – but this doesn’t mean that you can hand over all accountability and sit down to read the newspaper, whilst crossing your fingers and hoping for the best!

Part of what you pay a recruiter for is that ‘heavy lifting’ aspect of recruitment…..the “grunt work” if you like. A good recruiter should know enough about your business and the savings that you will make by not having your HR function, managers and supervisors tied up throughout the interview and selection process and they ‘should’ quote accordingly. The fee covers the recruiter’s attention to detail throughout the selection process and is not simply a payment for the applicant that is ultimately hired – it is also compensation for the many, many candidates that they sifted through to provide you with a suitably matched and therefore employable applicant(s).

However, there are a couple of details that have to be sorted prior to this equation adding up to the magic number! First and foremost, never take anything for granted… Whilst it would be lovely to believe that all of the candidates referred by recruiters are the best of the best, dropping your guard and not being involved throughout the process based on that assumption may well lead to a poor hire.

In fairness, qualified applicants can sometimes be difficult to find, particularly if the recruiter is being giving a mixed-message about ‘precisely’ what you are looking for, which can be further exacerbated by a fractured Board that cannot agree with one another or a desperate management team that just wants to plug a gap in a roster. However, when you are making the decision to recruit a manager at any level and particularly if that manager is going to lead your business into the future through the strategies that you set, then you need to make sure that you do your homework and hire a reputable, honest and consistently successful recruiter. However it doesn’t stop there! You then need to build a RELATIONSHIP with them so that they learn your business from the inside out and therefore be able to find you the applicants that are going to be the best fit.

If you find that things aren’t quite working as they should and that your recruitment firm is consistently sending you undesirable or unqualified candidates, or you feel that they no longer “get you” or the role, then it is time to re-evaluate the relationship. Here are some suggestions on where to start that process:

Examine Yourself

  • Have you been honest with yourself and each other about what it is that you really need and what you really want?
  • Are you willing to pay the appropriate price to attract the right candidate – both the remuneration package and the recruitment fee? (You tend to get what you pay for on both fronts!)
  • Have you been able to articulate your vision of the perfect candidate – their skills, their academic achievements and most importantly, their cultural fit?
  • And are you satisfied that your recruiter can articulate all of the above back to you in their own words as well as yours?
  • Do you understand your corporate culture and are you able to demonstrate it to the recruiter?
  • Have you been completely honest with the recruiter? Or have you just told them what you think they want to hear?
  • Has the “rhinoceros in the corner” been discussed or have you tried to sweep it under the carpet? In other words, tell the recruiter how it really is, not how it should be and if they’re worth their fee, they’ll find you a candidate that fits (almost regardless of the circumstance) *
  • Are you aware of the name that your organisation has within the industry and are your expectations set accordingly?
  • Are the job descriptions you are providing your recruiting firm completely accurate or are they too general or outdated? More specifically, do they accurately reflect what you want and what you need? More often than not, job descriptions detail skills and qualifications without getting to the core of the person, their values and the job that they will be doing in the environment that they will be doing it in!

* A great recruiter will give perspective candidates a candid summation of the role and the business, knowing full well that painting a rose-coloured picture of the situation will lead to a candidate accepting the job only to resign a month or two down the track. A great recruiter will find a way to wrap up your business, ‘warts and all’, so that perspective candidates are still interested.

If the answer to any of these questions above is a “no”, then you might like to think about addressing the issue before you go out and look for another recruiter. In other words, the problem might be ‘you’ and not your recruiter.

To Become a ‘Great’ Recruiter, You Need Practice………Experience = Practice!

The onus is on you to find the best possible recruitment business for your organisation. This is where we say, “it pays to do your homework” and whilst this is very much the case, it is important to note that you taking a passive approach to your next hire is very different from you having established a relationship with your recruiter resulting in you bring confident in their ability to provide you with the right short list of candidates that meet your specific requirements.

Here are some suggestions on the sorts of things that you can do to make sure that you are choosing the best possible recruitment company to represent your business out there in public. (Remember: candidates, your competition, your shareholders and the general public will be judging your business and its level of candidate care. So ask yourself, “are you comfortable handing over that sort of responsibility to just anyone?”).

  • Speak to your peers: word-of-mouth advertising is one thing, but obtaining a nod of approval from someone that you trust is invaluable. Ask around to see who those that you respect have used and if there is a recruiter that is the obvious leader in your particular industry. Then ask yourself “WHY?”. Don’t fight the facts! If there is an obvious leader out there, find out why and talk to them – there’s probably a very legitimate reason that they’re leading the pack and we can guarantee you, it won’t be because of price!
  • Ask for testimonials: any company worth its weight should be able to quickly and easily provide you with a comprehensive client list, along with reputable references and testimonials. If they can’t you need to ask yourself why they can’t.
  • “Pick up the phone Reg”: once you’ve got a client list and some testimonials, for goodness sake, CALL THEM!!! But prior to doing so, make yourself a list of pertinent questions that you are going to ask so that you get the best value out of the call.
  • Avoid “lapdogs”; you are looking for a recruiting firm, not a manicured poodle that will perform circus tricks at the sound of your voice. If a recruiter doesn’t ask questions, dig deeper into the requirements for the position and challenge your thinking, move on as all they are interested in is their fee. And remember: none of us have ALL of the answers, so sometimes, just sometimes, someone else might just have a better (cheaper/more effective/simpler/etc.) solution than you! And it might not always be the most obvious. A great recruiter will walk away from their fee if they can see a cheaper/free result that will better suit the client and knowing full well that the longer-term result for them will be a relationship that is built on trust, honesty and integrity.
  • Approach a recruiter that is a specialist in your industry. Someone that knows and understands the specific challenges faced and the skill sets and qualifications that are required. Not to mention the personal qualities and traits that make people successful within the arena in which your business performs. They’ll also likely know those candidates that have erred on the side of the law that makes them a threat to your business or those that are not necessarily looking, but would be ideally suited.
  • A quality recruiter will want to know why the position is open or better still, already has a good idea why it is open and they should be able to demonstrate that they have a basic understanding of the requirements for the job and a willingness to learn more.
  • A great recruiting firm will communicate regularly, informing you of progress
    (or lack of progress); they will return your calls and will be available to receive yours. In other words, they will make time for you and your business and be available when it works for you and not just them. In the hospitality industry, weekends and evenings are often a great time to conduct interviews, so ask the recruiter when and how they would usually conduct this part of the process and what hours they are open from and to.
  • BEWARE of recruiters charging a percentage of a salary as their fee ! A great recruiter will charge a flat fee for their recruitment and be confident that the fee charged will cover the full range of work involved for that particular level of recruitment. Be aware that those recruiters charging a percentage of the successful candidate’s salary may attempt to push the candidate’s salary up simply to increase their fee.

Returning to the point under the heading above; Examining Yourself, it is important that an organisation that is relying heavily on a recruiter to source, vet and recommend key staff, should also be willing to make an investment in developing the relationship by inviting that recruiter in to their business. Investing your time in your recruiter is like investing your time in your staff – the better they all get to know your business, the more successful they will be.

Thinking this through further: as organisations we invest hours and hours in to developing relationships with suppliers, vendors, financial institutions and of course our customers. Wouldn’t it therefore make sense to invest the same level, or even a greater effort in to developing a relationship with your recruiter whom you rely so heavily upon to provide staff who will lead your business in to the future (eg. a General Manager or CEO)? So why not encourage a sense of partnership with your recruiter and measure the results of your efforts. Make sure that you keep a constant line of communication open with whomever you are working with and discuss successes and failures as no one learns anything in a void.

This guide has been put together based on a combined 50 years’ worth of recruitment experience. The White Now Team between them have recruited for over 2,500 industry clients, most of whom return again and again; whilst having placed in excess of 6,000 managers and team members across the Club Industry. With testimonials available from venues small, medium and large, White Now has established itself as the leading recruiter within licensed Clubs, Hotel Groups and Casinos and this has been achieved through the relationships that have been forged with its valued customers.

If you are considering any sort of recruitment or would simply like to open up the lines of communication to begin building that unique club-recruiter relationship, please contact Toby Kennett, CEO on 02 9807 186 or mobile 0411 777 329 or email For more information visit or follow us on Facebook on

Negotiating Your Salary

Before we go any further on this subject, just remember:


OK, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s think seriously about why the subject matter of “salary” is almost guaranteed to make your palms all sweaty, your heart beat faster and your tongue get tied?  Simply put, it’s because the majority of us know 2 things:

1)  That we’re at the pointy end of the process and therefore, we’re in the hunt for a job offer.

2)  That by getting the salary negotiations wrong, that we might completely stuff up our opportunity of getting the job or alternatively, that we might miss out on that extra few $$$ that enable us to go on a nice holiday/buy a new car/pay our rent/etc.

In my opinion, salary negotiations tend to make us nervous for one main reason:  FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out!  We want to feel valued and suitably remunerated for the work that we are going to undertake and as much as we all say “it’s not about the money”, the reality is that happiness and satisfaction does not pay the rent or feed the kids!  COLD-HARD-CASH does!!!

So with all of this in mind, here’s some advice that may (or may not) assist you with your next salary negotiations…

The Time To Think About Negotiating Is When:

You’ve been offered the job…
Ideally this should be in the form of a written offer, but a verbal offer under the right circumstances is also OK.  There is absolutely no point in negotiating prior to the time of an offer as ultimately you don’t even know if you’re going to be offered the position and therefore why frighten the employer off before you get the job?

My Dad always said to me, “the purpose of a job interview is to be offered the job.  Once you’ve been offered the job, YOU can decide whether or not to accept it”.  It’s advice that has served me well over the years as it provided me the patience to hold out until I was playing from a position of ‘power’……….once you’ve been offered the job, you know that the employer WANTS you, so that is when the power has switched from them, to you.  This said, it doesn’t mean that you can afford to abuse that power by being disrespectful to or inconsiderate of their needs and budgets!

If the offer is not quite what you were expecting, now is the time to put together a supported and well thought out counter offer.  By supported, I mean a counter offer that you are able to articulate and demonstrate that you are worth with reasoning and examples of what you bring to the table!

You can articulate & demonstrate your value to the (new) organisation
Key to this part of the process is that you understand the following:  as much as the $$$ are personal to YOU (rent, petrol, food, private school fees, etc.  etc), the amount the company is going to pay out is personal to THEM (budgets, parity amongst peers, market constraints, competition).  In other words, BOTH parties are approaching this from a selfish perspective.  With this in mind, instead of making salary negotiations about YOU…
“I need an extra $5,000pa because I’ll be paying tolls to get to work and my petrol will go up by 50 bucks a week”, make it about THEM…
“My previous two roles demonstrate how through some advanced marketing techniques such as <blah, blah, blah>, I have added over $50,000 to the bottom line of those organisations.  With some minor tweaks, this is something that I am confident that I would be able to achieve for you, so would you please consider an extra $5,000pa which would greatly assist me to meet my financial obligations?”

You need to demonstrate why you’re worth more $$$ and the value that you bring to the table that will make their additional investment in you worthwhile.  And always keep in the back of your mind the acronym:  WIIFT – What’s In It For THEM?  The “THEM” being the employer!  If you approach your negotiations from THEIR point of view, you have a far greater chance of providing them with the information that they require to be convinced to pay you that little bit more!

You know YOUR worth and the VALUE of the job…
The old saying “Beggars can’t be choosers” comes to mind here because there are times when for whatever reason, an income is better than “no” income and so rather than rock the boat, you need to accept whatever offer is placed in front of you, even if you think that you’ve been a bit/a lot underdone in the remuneration department!

The trouble with this is that it won’t take long until you come to resent, despise or even detest your job which is generally going to lead to a level of disassociation and lack of care.  Neither of which is going to do you OR your employer any good.

So, if you think that the offer is underwhelming or it has made you cranky or annoyed, then you need to think about mounting a strong case (articulate & demonstrable) as to why you are worth more money to the organisation.  Worst case scenario is that they don’t employ you – but if you weren’t going to be happy there and commenced with a chip on your shoulder, you were probably better off not being there in the first place!  Again, all of this is on the proviso that everybody’s personal situation is different and only you can make that call.

(Personally, I would choose [and have] being a little disgruntled about the pay over my family starving to death.  But I also made a conscious effort to be GRATEFUL to my employer for providing me with an opportunity to be able feed my family!  For me, it’s all in the head – look at the positives and consciously ignore the negatives)!

You have a figure in your head that you’re not going to go beneath…
If you have a $ figure in your mind that is your lowest cut-off point and the offer comes in at or below it, then you have two options:  1)  walk away or 2) negotiate.

For me personally, option number 1 isn’t even an option!  Why?  Simple:  because by walking away you are NEVER going to get closer to a figure that you’re happy with!  You’re admitting defeat without ever giving yourself a fighting chance!

So, if option 1 doesn’t exist, you’re only left with option number 2:  NEGOTIATE!  I personally believe that people often take the “non-option”, number 1 because they are too nervous or lack the confidence to negotiate.  The irony is that even if you completely stuff up the negotiations phase and the employer knocks you back, what have you lost?  If you’d walked away, you would have ended up with nothing.  And if you negotiated and stuffed up and you ended up with nothing, you’re in the same spot.  However, by negotiating, you’ve given yourself an OPPORTUNITY to achieve your desired figure.  And surely even a 1% chance of success is better than a ZERO % chance?

So, if you’re going to decline an offer – don’t!!!  NEGOTIATE.  It is as simple as that!

The Time NOT to Negotiate Is When:

You’ve already said “Yes” to an offer…
Sounds obvious right?  But would you believe that it is not uncommon for people to go home and sleep on it (read:  chat to their significant other) and then come back and ask for more money?

Why?  I think probably because with the benefit of hindsight, they’ve gone home and done the math on what it costs to live and what the new role is going to cost them to accept (additional parking/travel costs; longer hours; whatever) and so the proverbial ‘light bulb’ has gone on and they’ve suddenly realised that they can’t justify accepting the job at the figure that was offered. Other times, it’s simply because they have gone home and gotten greedy overnight because they’ve realised that they shouldn’t have taken the first offer that was put on the table.

Either way.  If you’ve accepted an offer, my advice is to stick with it!  You don’t want to start off a new role on the wrong foot and the last thing you need is your employer wondering from day-dot if they’ve made the wrong decision!

A final offer has been made upfront…
If you are informed that the offer on the table is the employer’s first and final offer or their best offer, then you need to think long and hard about whether or not you are willing to take the job at that rate.

A negotiation has the potential to look disrespectful and inconsiderate of their ability to pay more.  However, if you’re going to feel under appreciated then you are better off thanking them and declining the role.

This point here is one of the most precarious ones in the negotiations phase as it flies in the face of one of my points above about negotiating to give yourself a 1% chance of success as opposed to walking away, thereby giving yourself a 0% chance.  However, there are times when you are better off not embarrassing yourself, or the employer by simply thanking them and declining.   And, at the risk of sounding somewhat philosophical – “what will be, will be”.  If the stars align and you were really meant to get that job and the employer wanted you and only you, they might just come back with “something” that may not be monetary, but that might incentivise you to take the role so that you can start in the position and make/save the company so much money that they have no option other than to pay you more!

The marketplace doesn’t justify more money…
Let’s face it, there are always certain parameters around the value of a job that are inextricably linked to a range of factors that may include:  budgets; market rates; the economy; unemployment rates; competition; etc; etc.

With this in mind, if you have done your research and you are a professional in this type of a role, you will know ‘roughly’ what the job is worth.  So, if you can’t justify more $$$, how can the employer?

I once had a Manager tell me that they wouldn’t work for anything less than $250,000pa, but due to the state of the industry this person applying for roles in organisations that at their upper-most limit could only afford to pay in the vicinity of $70-75,000pa due to their size and annual revenue. When I approached this Manager, their response was along the lines of:
“If they are going to pay peanuts, they’re going to get monkeys and then they’ll never grow any larger”.  This particular individual was so caught up in their own ego that they hadn’t stopped for long enough to consider what the EMPLOYER (you know, the one that was going to be forking out the cold hard cash) could afford.

There is pretty much always a limit on what an employer can AFFORD to pay.  And if you can’t recognise that, then there’s a mismatch way before the negotiations phase even begins.  Accordingly, I would suggest that you are probably unsuitable for the position in the first place.  It’s one thing to be looking to take on a new role at a higher level, with a bigger salary.  But it’s a whole other thing expecting an employer to pay you because of what you “believe” you are worth (and even more so if you are unable to justify, demonstrate and articulate your worth)!


Whilst the above thoughts and suggestions are based primarily on negotiations for new roles, a lot of the basic principles remain the same if you were to be negotiating a pay increase – the main focus being your ability to articulate, justify and demonstrate why you should be earning more money!

It is also always important to remember that you aren’t doing your employer any favours and more importantly, YOURSELF any favours if you remain in an organisation where you feel undervalued and under paid.  If you’re not happy where you are, you have two options:

– Put Up and Shut Up (ie.  stop bitching about it) OR
– Move On

And if you’re moving on, make sure that you leave without burning any bridges as you just never know where and when you might come across your employer (or someone that knows your employer) again……….Funny story:  as a Manager in hospitality, I once had an employee that asked for a night shift off 2 hours before her shift was due to commence, which I knocked back as I could not find cover for her at such late notice (although I did try).  She then called in sick and posted photographs of her at a party on Facebook, which resulted in me personally completing a 18 hour shift to cover her.

The next day, she turned up to work and before I could even approach her she came in to my office and started hurling abuse at me because I had been investigating her on Facebook!  The amusing part of the story was that I wasn’t “friends” with her on FB and so had NOT seen the pictures of her partying the night before – but thanks to her admission, I did do some investigating and managed to obtain those photos for her file.  Needless to say, she and I then had a very serious chat about her on-going employment.

The above in itself was quite amusing – but the really funny part of the story is that after storming out of my office that day of our chat screaming “I quit” along with a number of profanities that I have honestly never heard come out of a “lady’s” mouth she walked in to a retail venue in another suburb a long way from where I had worked with her, asking for a job.  The new General Manager of this particular store was none other than yours truly and when I was informed of this particular person’s name, a name that I will never forget, I felt that it would be appropriate to personally accept her application.  Her face was a picture…


And a very clear example why you should never burn bridges!!!

Words That Should NEVER Be Used On a Professional Resume…

Was it your Mother or Grandmother that used to say?:

“Never say never!”?

Well now it’s White Now saying it!

Here are some words that I suggest should (dare I say?), NEVER be used in a professional resume and some of my reasoning as to why:


As an adjective, “various” really is a bit of a nothing!  It doesn’t add any oomph or pizazz to a resume!  “I worked on various projects” or “I’m conversant in various software programs”.  It really doesn’t mean much at all.  In fact, I invariably make various noises out-loud when I read the word various on various resumes!

The next time you’re thinking of using the word “various”, ask yourself this:  ‘What’s the difference between:
– Worked on various projects, AND
– Worked on projects?”.  If you reach the same conclusion that I did, “various” will soon be in your deleted items folder!

Thinking the above through a bit further, what’s preferable is that you SPECIFY the projects that you worked on.  Reading the above doesn’t really tell the reader anything about you at all, but if you said that you had work on projects that have included (for eg): a $4.5m refurbishment; the acquisition of 3 other licensed premises and the development of a 10 year, 4-phase business plan that is currently in its second phase; then the details are far more impressive than having done some various projects.

“Visionary”…(or “Transformational”)…

It’s funny how some words seem to be so very “in” and visionary is one of those in-words that has stuck around for a while now.  What does it actually mean to be “visionary”?  More importantly, how do you PROVE that you’re “visionary” in whatever it is that you do?

Personally I’d much rather see something in a resume about how you can demonstrate that you have developed a plan (a vision), articulated it to your team and delivered it to the stakeholders…….which resulted in blah, blah blah (Insert:  $XXm increase in turnover/savings; % greater visitation rates; reduction in injuries; improved brand recognition; etc; etc).


This is another one of “those” words.  You know, the one that sounds great in theory, but in reality makes you sound like a bit of a tosser as it makes the claim that you’re ‘brilliant’ in a particular area.  In fact, you’re so good in that area that you’re an EXPERT.  And yet when the resume-reader digs further there is absolutely no supporting evidence.

Doctors that possess a doctorate in a particular field have a right to declare themselves an ‘expert’ in their specific area of expertise, but unless you’re a Doctor of something, I would argue that it is immensely difficult to prove that you’re an expert in anything, except maybe being a little bit full of yourself.


As a bit of a foodie, my first impression when I read this in a resume is that you mean that you have been salted and peppered to perfection.  Once I get that somewhat disconcerting thought out of my head, I tend to wonder what a “seasoned” anything might look like other than possibly……old?  Is this the image that you want to portray?  If so, why not just say that you’re old or maybe, to put that in a more positive light, talk about your ACHIEVEMENTS that you can demonstrate throughout your career and let the reader draw the conclusion about whether you’re old and ready to be put out to pasture or experienced with the necessary skills and, more importantly, demonstrated track record that the reader just has to get you in for an interview to speak to about the job?

“Results Oriented”…

This one always makes me smile as people all too often talk about being “results oriented” and yet at no point in their resume (or often cover letter as well), do they provide SPECIFIC DETAILS of the results that they have achieved.

Achievements have to be QUANTIFIABLE and should ideally correlate to the job that you are applying for – let’s face it, employers are generally approaching the recruitment process from the viewpoint of, “what’s in it for me?”.  They want to see what you’ve done in your past, how successfully you did it and then they want to picture you doing the same for them!  If this happens, you have a far greater chance of being invited to an interview.

Employers also don’t want to have to think too hard about how your achievements align to what it is that they have advertised for – so make it easy for them!  Use the words that they have used in their adverts and edit your resume to respond to the main points that they are looking for.  And most importantly, make sure that you can back these up if and when you get invited to an interview.

Finally, remember:  your achievements are what separate you from the resumes that the reader reads before yours and all those that s/he is going to read after.  One GM does pretty much the same as another GM, as does one Cleaner from another.  What makes one GM/Cleaner/DM/CFO/Marketing Manager/<insert role title here> different from another is what they ACHIEVED whilst they were in that role.


Surely there is an adjective that you can find to go in front of whatever word it is that you want to emphasise that is going to give you more impact than “very”?  Just about anything would be very much better than “very”!

“It was a very successful financial year” OR “the success of FY14/15 can be measured by the following exceptional results:  Revenue +$6.2m.  Expenses -21%.  EBITDA +19% and an overall nett profit of $7.6 million”.  You choose…


This was a buzz word about 8 to 10 years ago and at the time, was fresh, current and when used appropriately, even clever!  However nowadays it has been overused to the point where it has lost its impact – “responsible for the synergy of the department”; “developed a synergistic work environment” and “amalgamated two venues due to their synergy, resulting in a win/win for all parties”.  And incidentally, “win/win” is a bit (a lot) cliched nowadays too!

“Out of the Box”… (or “Creative”)…

If you were genuinely “Out of the box”, you’d have thought of something a little more “out of the box” to write down.  ‘Nuff said!

Here are some other words to avoid:

Love – “I would just love to work in an organisation…blah, blah, blah”.  And I’d LOVE to be in the Bahamas doing anything other than reading resumes.  But I’m not, so let’s stop the lovin’ and focus on the facts and achievements.  Capisce?

Great Communication Skills – says who?  YOU?  Prove it!!!

Try – as the great Jedi Master, Yoda so famously said:  “Do.  Or do not.  There is no try”…

Detail Oriented – I once had a recruiter say to me about these words on my resume, “You know what this means don’t you?  That I am going to look for errors and won’t necessarily concentrate on the content as much as I should?”…

Skillful…  Capable…  Innovative…  Experienced…  Team Player… References Available on Request…  Creative…  Highly Motivated…  Capable…  Skillful…  Pro-active…  Salary Negotiable…

Hopefully the above has given you some food for thought and possibly even put a little smirk on your face.  Ultimately there are no specific ‘right and wrongs’ when it comes to the use of the above words and others like them.  There is however, in most cases, a better way for the sentence to be structured for greater impact (you know, for more “Ah!” moments rather than “ARGGHHHHH” ones)!

Best of luck with the writing of your resume and please remember – if you would like us to have a look over yours, please give us a call at the office on 02 9807 1806 to discuss how we can assist.


Should Work and Annual Leave Be Combined?

The ‘age old’ question and one that ultimately comes down to personal choice!  But summing it all up in the first line hardly makes for a good blog read, so here are some considerations around the question:

“Should work & leave be combined?”

1.  What is the purpose of your leave?
This may sound silly, but are you going to take some time off because you’re due at a conference in the Bahamas and thought that you would tie in a bit of RnR?  Or are you stressed out at work and looking to take a break so that you can remember what your husband/wife and kids look like?  If it’s the latter – then the answer is pretty self-explanatory:  Go on leave and LEAVE work at work!  Ideally you should be looking to unplug your computer, email and phone completely so that you can fully recharge.  And remember this:  whilst we all like to think that the world will come to a crashing halt without us sitting at our desk, the reality is that for a week or two (and probably a lot more), nobody will miss you and the world will keep on turning!  It’s also worth noting that you are far more likely to be more productive and more pleasant to be around once you’ve had a chance to fully recharge!

2.  Is it your business or are you working for someone else?
I guess this really comes down to expectations, but if it’s your business it is that much harder to get downtime and often it is extremely difficult to switch off everything unless you are fortunate enough to have someone back in the “office” to hold the fort.  That said, even business owners need a chance to unplug, unwind and recharge so it makes sense to take some proper “TIME OUT”.  If it is your own business, there are often tax and cost savings by being able to include part of the travel and accommodation on the company bill rather than your own personal bill, but in the long run – if it’s your company, it’s your money anyhow!  So you really need to weigh up what is going to give you the biggest bang for your bucks – saving a few dollars or recharging your batteries?   The call is yours…

As for employees – it is important to remember that you are entitled to time off and you are under no obligation to tie your personal life in to your professional life.  That said, as with all relationships – a bit of ‘give and take’ goes a long way and if a combined work/leave trip works for you (and your family) financially and it provides your employer with the result that they require, then everyone is happy.  Just remember though – generally the purpose of a HOLIDAY is just that – to have a HOLIDAY and that you taking time off to recharge and get away from the daily grind of work will more often than not, give you the energy, enthusiasm and clarity to come back to your job and kick some goals.  So don’t be afraid to (politely) tell your employer that you are unable to combine work and leave if you feel that you need a break.

3.  How does your family feel about you working whilst you’re away with them?
This is a tough one because we all too often lie to ourselves saying, “it’ll be ok, I’ve only got a couple of hours worth of work to do”, only to still be doing that work at 5pm that afternoon having started before breakfast and having missed lunch!  We also tend to say to our peers and bosses that our family doesn’t mind us working, knowing full well that they are completely and utterly over our extra workload.  If this is the case, then the reality of the matter is that for the sake of your sanity, your marriage, your family – make an effort to SEPARATE your work and leave commitments.  Make the time to spend quality time (ie.  being present in the moment) with those that you go on holiday with, because whilst the majority of us need a job to feed us, ALL of us need people around us – particular our family and particularly once we give up work!  You’re a long time dead, so why not make the most of being alive?

4.  Is the opportunity worth it?
What I mean by this is – if the offer to travel to exotic and interesting locations, paid for by your employer is something that you would otherwise never be able to do, then you’d be mad to miss the opportunity as traveling is a great way to open your mind, change your beliefs and grow your knowledge (not to mention, become more understanding of other races and cultures) – all of which will serve you well in your career.  Work-travel may also assist you with promotions and career development, so again the opportunity to grow in your role, earn more money or network in other markets has to be weighed up and there are no standard “right” or “wrongs” – you have to do what is best for you (and those around you) at the time and based on the information that you have at hand.  If career, work and income is the driving force at the time, then your decision will be based on that.  If family, relaxation and recharging is of more importance (at the time), then a holiday completely away from work is what’s in order.  Often it is just that – “time based” and other times it’s based on your motivations (which incidentally often change with time too)!

So I conclude as I began.  Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and circumstance!  Your decisions are just that – YOUR decisions.   Just make sure that you are making them with your eyes wide open!