Corporate and Social Responsibility and COVID-19

Many companies have projects that they sponsor or charities that they donate to in the course of their business, benefiting a multitude of good causes. But, what about one cause, slowly unfolding before us and on an inevitable growth curve over the next few months.

Effects of Covid-19 on Youth Unemployment

COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of sadness and disruption to thousands personally, but economically worse is yet to come.

According to the Resolution Foundation (The Guardian 7th October, 2020, Richard Partington Covid generation: UK youth unemployment ‘set to triple to 80s levels’”) from October to the end of this year we could be facing an increase in youth unemployment (those aged 16-24 and not in education)  from 5.5% to 17%. This would match 1984 level under the Thatcher Government, at a time of great economic disruption, most notably a year dominated by the miners’ strike.

Lasting Damage of Early Unemployment

This grim forecast is due to the COVID second wave and the fact the youngest and oldest of the workforce are overrepresented by job losses in the Leisure, Hospitality and Retail sectors. However, surveys show that it will be the younger age group that will suffer most from the lasting damage from unemployment early in their career, and the danger of subsequent mental health issues. The RF reported the proportion of adults experiencing poor mental health in 2020 had increased by 80% among 18- to 29-year-olds compared to a 2019, the biggest increase of any age group.

Government’s Kickstart Scheme

The Government’s Kickstart initiative announced in the summer is something we can all as businesses get involved in and help stem this threat of long term youth unemployment. It is something we can all easily add on to our Corporate and Social Responsibilities. Offering businesses funding to cover minimum wages for 25 hours a week on 6 month placements plus a £1500 grant for each placement, the Government is hoping that 16-24 year olds currently on Universal Credit and facing long term unemployment will gain vital work experience, professional development and, most of all, hope.

How Smaller Companies Can Apply

If the stipulation of a minimum of 30 roles per application is prohibitive for smaller companies, they are able to pool together with other companies or seek out a Gateway company who will coordinate applications. The Government is also offering £300 to the applicant (whether the company or the Gateway company) for each role started to cover application administration costs. So, unless you want to top the job up to full time or increase the wages, it really is an initiative that costs the company nothing except the time to fill in an application form and to write a job description for each role.

Finding a Kickstart Gateway

Atwood Tate are acting as a Gateway and we have had a wonderful response from SME client companies who want to get involved. If you would like further details about this scheme you can find FAQs on our website at www.atwoodtate.co.uk/kickstart or email us at kickstart@atwoodtate.co.uk.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, Company News

Are you Able to ‘Kickstart’ a Young Person’s Career?

The government is calling on ‘every employer, big and small, national or local’ to hire as many ‘Kickstarters’ as possible, through their newly launched Kickstart Scheme.

These newly created job placements should help the ‘Kickstarters’ develop skills and experience that will help them with their future career prospects.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

Kickstart is a Uk Government Scheme which provides funding to employers to create thousands of job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit.

The Government will fund 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions, for 6 months. £1,500 is also available per placement for support and training.

Who can apply for funding?

All UK companies are eligible to apply for funding but if they have less than 30 placements to offer they must apply through a representative organistation/gateway. The only criteria is that the job placements created with Kickstart funding must be new jobs and cannot:

  • replace existing or planned vacancies
  • cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment

The roles you are applying for must be:

  • a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group
  • should not require people to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement

Each application should include how you will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including:

  • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
  • support with CV and interview preparations
  • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as communication, problem solving and teamwork

How can Atwood Tate help?

As a passionate advocate of the scheme, Atwood Tate are delighted to get involved by acting as an intermediary organisation/gateway to facilitate our clients’ access to the scheme.  It is a fantastic opportunity for us all to give hope to the hundreds of young people that are getting in touch with us, concerned about their futures.

There has been some criticism and concern that many smaller businesses may be disadvantaged by the scheme in relation to their larger counterparts because companies taking on fewer than 30 new young workers are prevented from applying directly for funds. To address this problem, we are delighted to be working with our clients to pool your job vacancies and apply for funding on your behalf.

When Does the Kickstart Scheme Start?

The scheme is open for applications now and the DWP expect to be able to confirm funding within 4 weeks of the application.

How to Apply?

You can apply through our gateway as a completely free service, or you can take advantage of our large network, skills and experience to provide you with a more comprehensive package. Details of all our packages can be found on our website www.atwoodtate.co.uk

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, Company News

How Company Culture Can Impact Recruiting?

How you consider your company culture can have a big impact on the way you recruit. It is widely considered that hiring for ‘cultural fit’ is a sensible approach to recruitment.  It makes sense that candidates hired with ‘cultural fit’ in mind are more likely to start really becoming part of your team much quicker, be happier in their role and in turn stay longer with your company.

BUT, if the definition of your culture is too rigid, it could lead to a lack of diversity by allowing ‘bias’ to creep in and consciously or unconsciously favouring people with similar backgrounds to your own. 

Consider cultural contribution rather than just cultural fit

Rather than just fixating on finding people that ‘fit in’ and align exactly to your beliefs and behaviours, it is better to think about how they might contribute to these. If you see value in hiring people who bring new perspectives and ways of thinking to your business, then you are already thinking about ‘cultural contribution’, rather than just immediate and obvious fit. 

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t define your values and culture and recruit with these in mind, but you shouldn’t be restricted by them. It is important that you recruit for people that will stretch your ability to innovate and adapt, as challenging the status quo is what will drive your business forward. Your recruitment approach needs to fact based, so that candidates are measured by their strengths and behaviour, rather than whether they are ‘similar’ to the people you already have.

Make ‘cultural contribution’ a company value

If you make cultural contribution a value of your company and are able to demonstrate and articulate the benefits to your existing team, you are less likely to create disharmony. People are often threatened by things that they are not familiar with or don’t understand but if you are able to show that cultural contribution can help them and the business to grow and evolve, you are more likely to take them with you on the journey.

Very often it can be a company’s perceived culture that holds them back so having people challenge this by having their own new ideas can have a positive impact.  Culture does not need to be fixed, instead it can adapt and evolve to create an environment where everyone can fit.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice

Ideas to Keep Your Team Motivated

It has been a difficult six months on many levels – the uncertainty of the economy, the isolation of working at home, the challenge to keep focussed and motivated. All this on top of keeping both ourselves, and our loved ones, safe from the pandemic. I thought I would share how the Atwood Tate team have been coping and why we now find ourselves ready for the winter with renewed energy and confidence.

Uno joining ‘Hour of Power’!

At the start of the lockdown, we were acutely aware of how tough it was going to be. As a small company with a team who were used to sharing ideas and encouraging each other in an already tough market, the idea of a weekly Zoom meeting didn’t fill any of us with much enthusiasm.

A couple of years ago I had qualified in teaching a fitness class called Hour of PowerTM. As a qualified personal trainer in my spare time, I was keen for a new challenge. I loved teaching the class, but I found that the competition for fitness classes in my area and the fact that it was an unknown class made it very difficult to cover my costs. I ended up finishing before Christmas 2019 and had no motivation or confidence to start it up again in January 2020.

Charlie joining ‘Hour of Power’!

Fast forward to March 2020 and I find myself in a Director’s Meeting saying I could always do a weekly fitness class on Zoom…perhaps? Well, it was received with far more enthusiasm than I thought it would! And so, on a Wednesday lunchtime in April the team appeared on the screen in front of me in Lycra, and we have not looked back!

I think we have only missed three sessions over the months – due to holiday or illness. We have exercised through the heatwave, with some of the team furloughed and some not, when there’s been little happening in the market, and when we’ve all probably felt it is the last thing we want to do. But, it has been a really positive experience for us all. Before and after the class we have a chat – rarely about just work. We have got to know each other much better, and the smiling faces and laughter after the class lift the spirits well into the afternoon. Physical activity is certainly a tonic and mood enhancer, whatever your fitness level (it may also have had something to do with my faithful sidekicks Charley the dog and Uno the conure bird, who always make their presence known!). Plus, keeping fit increases confidence. We have all tackled difficult tasks we may otherwise have kept delaying and we have also revelled in the achievement of regular exercise, as we have seen and felt a difference in ourselves. For me it has helped me regain my confidence and belief in the class as a means of building strength, stamina and confidence, which feed into other areas of our lives.

I think it has become a staple of the weekly routine for us all and we have no plans to stop, unless we all become too busy to fit it in. But, in that case it will have done its job, tiding us over a difficult period, keeping us motivated. Or we may just reschedule it to a different time!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Company News

How to Get the Most Out of Your Recruitment Agency

Honesty is the best policy

The most important thing in the relationship with your recruitment agency, is honesty.  The more honest and open that both candidates and clients are, the more they are likely to get out of partnering with a recruitment agency.

As a candidate being honest about what you want and expect from a job is made easier by having a third party to ‘sound out’ your expectations.  This will give you the opportunity to find out if these are realistic and feasible without potentially ruining opportunities.  If you are using a specialist agency, they will be extremely experienced in the industry and be able to offer vital advice.  It is great for candidates to be focussed and have a good idea of what they want and this enables agencies to match them with the right employers for them.  It is also important that they are realistic and ensure that they have the relevant skills and experience that the role requires and a good agency will be able to advise where and if there is any flexibility on this.  Communication with your agency is key and ensuring that you are available to pick up and answer messages, either by phone or email, as promptly as possible will ensure that you don’t miss out on potential opportunities. If you are flexible and reliable, your recruitment agency is much more likely to be proactive on your behalf.  If you are unsure of anything it is always best to ask and if you are worried about any particular aspect of the job or remuneration package it is always good to raise this with your agency at the earliest possible opportunity. Always let your agency know about other opportunities you are exploring as a good agency should offer impartial advice and be more focussed on creating long term partnerships than the quick win. They should therefore hopefully have your interests at heart and give you the information and benefit of their experience to allow you to make the right choice for you.

Keep your agency informed of any changes

As a client, it is also extremely important to be as honest as possible with your agency partner. The goalposts will often move throughout the recruitment process but keeping your agency updated and aware of these changes is critical to ensuring they are able to manage the candidate’s expectations.  Honest feedback on the candidates is also essential so that the agency can help to ensure that the candidates are going for the right opportunities for them and are able to learn from their experiences.  Clients also need to be realistic with their expectations and realise that it is not always possible to tick every box.  Again, a good specialist agency will be able to give advice on where it is best to be flexible as they are likely to have an excellent grasp on the current market. Where possible it is always best to use one specialist agency rather than multiple agencies as this commitment will be matched by the agency’s commitment.  Partnering with the right agency and showing commitment to them will allow them to become a great ambassador for your company to ensure you maintain the value of your employer brand.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice

Top 20 Interview Tips

Interview Tips

Interviews can be nerve racking and with many interviews now being conducted remotely it can be more difficult to appear relaxed and be able to get your personality across.  Whatever structure your interview takes and whatever level of role you are being interviewed for, the one things that remains unchanged is that preparation is still the key. The more you prepare the better chance of success you have.

There is a huge amount of advice out there to help you nail your interview, but we have put together a reminder of our top 20 tips for a successful interview.

1              BE PREPARED

2              BE PUNTUAL AND IF USING TECHNOLOGY TEST IN ADVANCE

3              SMILE & BE FRIENDLY

4              DON’T PANIC

5              RE-READ YOUR APPLICATION LETTER AND CV

6              BE ENTHUSIASTIC

7              BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITY

8              TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER YOUR ANSWERS

9              DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE COMPANY AND ROLE

10           DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE COMPANY’S COMPETITORS

11           PREPARE ANSWERS TO COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

12           HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS AND APPLY THEM TO THE JOB ROLE

13           FRAME ANY WEAKNESSES POSITIVELY

14           PREPARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK

15           CLEARLY DEFINE WHY YOU WANT THIS PARTICULAR ROLE

16           KEEP PROFESSIONAL THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW

17           DON’T WAFFLE OR GO OFF AT TANGENTS

18           DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADMIT IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING

19           ASK ABOUT NEXT STAGES AND TIMELINE

20           FOLLOW UP AND CONFIRM YOUR INTEREST

Good luck!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, Company News

Why a diverse workforce can pay dividends

Creating a more diverse workforce should not just be seen as something to improve a company’s reputation or just used as a box ticking exercise, it should be recognised for something that will give you a competitive advantage and therefore ultimately increase success and profits.

Creating a team with different backgrounds and characteristics will enable you to challenge your thoughts and look at things from different perspectives, which in turn increases your creativity.

Research by Josh Bersin shows that companies who are the most inclusive are, amongst other benefits, 1.8 times more likely to be ‘change-ready’ which in today’s market is certainly a crucial skill to harness.

It is well documented that Publishing is an industry that has struggled with diversity and its ability or willingness to publish books that can appeal to and reach multiple audiences and although obviously not the complete answer, rethinking hiring practices has to be a starting point. As the recent well publicised academic study on diversity in trade fiction and the publishing industry Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing suggests ‘hiring more people who belong to marginalised communities will benefit publishers strongly in terms of helping them tap into new audiences – but only if they are given the resources and freedom to do this work’.  It goes on to say ‘while it is tempting to hire the person who fits in with the ‘culture’ of a publishing house, hiring people who do not fit the typical mould might in fact reap the biggest rewards if they are given the freedom and space to express themselves’.

As an agency and partner in our client’s recruitment, we take this responsibility seriously and do everything possible to facilitate the broadest possible reach and range of potential talent to offer them. To help combat ‘unconscious bias’, we can offer more standardised CVs which can include:

  • Removing candidate’s names
  • Removing university names
  • Removing current or previous employer details

We work with our clients to continually challenge our perceptions and some clients are asking us to specifically include a certain range of candidates where at all possible ie at least 1 female candidate, at least 1 male candidate (for roles such as editorial that have traditionally attracted mostly females) and at least 1 BAME candidate.  Where this is not possible, we are able to show that we have been fully inclusive with our searching and advertising criteria.  More and more clients are also opening their selection criteria to candidates outside of publishing, where this is possible.

As an agency, we encourage transparency when advertising new opportunities, particularly with salaries, as keeping salaries secret can increase discrimination. A candidate could be chosen simply because they are able or willing to accept a lower salary. To attract the right candidates to a company we need to look not only at their relevant ‘hard skills’ but also whether they are aligned to the company’s values and priorities. Transparency at an early stage, both with salaries and company culture, not only builds trust but also wastes less time. Even if we are not able to advertise the salary, we only approach candidates that we think are in the right bracket and do not put any candidates forward without them being aware of what the salary and other benefits are likely to be. We do not only look at the candidate’s current salary to determine whether they are a fit for the role, we look at whether they are qualified for the role, regardless of their current salary.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, Company News, Industry News & Events

Now could be a great time to try freelancing

Are you thinking about freelancing?

Freelancing can offer great flexibility and a chance to ‘be your own boss’ and now may be a great time to give it a go.  Whether you are looking to build a long term freelancing career or find interim work whilst looking for the right permanent opportunity, a lot of the same challenges and rewards apply.

If looking for a permanent job, getting some freelance experience will be great for your CV and will offer you the chance of increasing your connections.

First you need to decide what skills and experience you have to offer ie experience in social media marketing/general online marketing, experience of designing book covers or experience of editing technical content. 

Whatever this is can be your main offering but being open to new skills and continued learning is essential if you want to sustain a full-time freelance career.  There is so much training available online that you can teach yourself almost anything to either get more advanced with a current skill or learn a new skill.  See our recent blog on upskilling yourself online.  The more skills you have to offer the more successful you can be.

Once you are clear what you can offer potential clients, you can go about finding these clients and letting them know about your service.  Start with your existing network of contacts and build from here.  Advertise on social media channels and consider memberships of appropriate societies where you can advertise yourself and learn from other members.  BookMachine are currently partnering with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading to offer CIEP free membership in August.

Whatever freelancing services you want to offer there are some key qualities that you will need and that publishers will be looking for:

  • Confidence in your ability
  • Accuracy
  • Self-motivation and discipline
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal)
  • An understanding of your target market
  • Value for money
  • Being organised and adhering to deadlines

Showcasing as many of these skills as possible when approaching potential clients will give you a greater chance of success.

Once you have had some experience, you can start asking for testimonials and referrals which is a great way of building your network further. Also hopefully you will start to get repeat business and regular assignments.

Good luck!

More resources:

Working as a freelancer and Tips for freelancers from The Publishing Training Centre

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, Company News

Raising your profile through LinkedIn

With the current challenges in the job market, it is becoming even more important to stand out from the crowd and create as many opportunities as you can to get in front of potential employers.

One easy and fast way to do this is to create a personal LinkedIn profile that showcases your personality, interests and skills.

Before starting or updating your profile ask yourself how you would like people to see you.  Who is your target audience that you are trying to reach and influence?

Start with adding a photo. Ideally this should be a high resolution recent image that looks like you and has your entire face visible. You should look professional but relaxed and smiling to welcome your audience.

Add an attention grabbing Headline. This is the best way to get your profile noticed and hopefully help you to get interviews.  Remember that a lot of potential hiring managers will view your profile so you need to show your skills and expertise and communicate the value you will bring to them.  Try to include one keyword or phrase for the type of job you want.  Don’t waste your headline by just putting your job title – always personalise and develop to include relevant keywords that will help people find you. You only have 120 characters, so make sure you use them effectively.

Next you can expand on your headline, in your summary. This space gives you a maximum of 2000 characters to define yourself and your experiences in your own words. It is your chance to sell yourself by highlighting your achievements and show your enthusiasm for the sectors that you are trying to influence. If you need inspiration, there are countless examples that you can view online but try to make yours unique and personal to yourself.  Keep to short paragraphs to make it easy to read.

Next add your experience.  Start with your current or last position and expand as much as possible on any accomplishments or examples of where you have added value to team projects or team initiatives.  Keep it clear and concise with bullet points where appropriate to break up the text.  If you are looking for your first role you can still add any part-time work experience you have had or relevant experience through your education.

Add your education, including where and what you studied. Research from LinkedIn suggests that people who list these details get up to 11x more profile views.

Keep your profile up to date and relevant by posting and sharing content that you are interested in and that shows your passion for your career aspirations. Posting videos and photos will make your page more engaging and eye-catching.

Add skills you want to be known for under ‘endorsements’, to enable connections to endorse you. This will add credibility to your profile.

In summary, your LinkedIn profile is a great way to show people who you are and what you stand for. People can find you and see what you are interested in through your content and posts. It needs to be kept up-to-date and relevant and should be written with keywords in mind for discoverability.

Once you are happy with your profile, it is time to start connecting and building relationships. You can let recruiters know that you’re open to new opportunities which will encourage them to contact you.  By adding titles and locations you’re interested in, you’ll help them understand what you’re looking for.

It is important to understand your privacy settings to have control over your profile and its visibility so you can customise it to fit your needs. Within these settings you can also choose to keep your job search private and visible only to recruiters if you wish.

Remember – Your personal brand is you, your reputation, your personality and energy. It is therefore important to optimise it.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice

Helping candidates get a ‘foot in the door’

We know that many people are currently worried about their job prospects and as an employment agency we are keen to help in any way we can.  We are particularly concerned for those trying to enter the job market for the first time and have invited our publisher clients to promote any graduate schemes, paid internships or work experience through us (free of any charge). 

Details of publishing internships / publishing work experience / publishing graduate schemes will be posted here on our blog, promoted on our social media and shared with our registered job seekers.

If you’re a publisher or company in the publishing industry or supply chain, please get in touch with Claire Law at clairelaw@atwoodtate.co.uk

If you’d like more info on getting into publishing, we’ve got a blog post with lots more info: Work Experience & Entry Level Resources


Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, Company News, Industry News & Events