Category Archives: Advice

Interview, CV, Job Seeking Advice.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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


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Carry on Reading…

With bookshops now starting to reopen, we hope that this is going to be a much needed boost for us all. With evidence showing that reading books has surged in lockdown we are all hoping that this trend will continue and now that people are able to visit bookshops, translate into further increased sales.

According to Nielsen Book’s research, 41% of people said they were reading more books during this period and many have almost doubled the hours they have spent reading per week. There have been stories from parents that have been delighted to see their teenage children grow back in love with reading. Hopefully this trend will continue and those that have found a new love of books will keep on benefitting.

For those of us that are struggling to read during these unsettling times, it is worth persevering. Try reading something lighter than you would usually choose if you are finding it harder to concentrate. It is well documented that reading can have many health benefits including reducing stress levels, lowering our blood pressure and helping combat depression. It can also improve our memory and empathy and generally make us feel more positive. This is in addition to the more obvious benefits of increasing our knowledge and challenging our imagination. In these current times the opportunity to have a ready form of entertainment with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in escapism seems even more welcome and valuable.

So whether you are finding that you read more or less during lockdown – the message is clear – support your well-being and our industry by carrying on reading!

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How Leaders Can Give Hope and Inspiration, Even in These Uncertain Times

Leading in uncertain times…

Many people will be looking to leaders, for some hope and inspiration, to get them through these uncertain times ahead.

According to Gallop, what people primarily need in their leader, is a clear path forward.  If we have this, then as human beings we are amazingly resilient, known as the ‘rally effect’.  During extraordinary times like this pandemic, it becomes even more important for leaders to clearly communicate this path and then to inspire confidence in their workforce to get through this difficult period by working as a team. You do not need to be overly optimistic or unrealistic, but you do need to give hope and encouragement.

In times of panic, it is easy to micromanage. To show trust, give your staff more autonomy rather than less and encourage them to see the bigger picture. By showing faith in them, it will allow them to help you come up with the best solutions.  When times are tough, people are afraid of losing their jobs. This fear often prevents them from freely making suggestions and observations that might lead to improved outcomes, as they don’t want to rock the boat.  If you want to motivate your employees and get the best out of them, you need to make them feel safe rather than fearful.  It is crucial that leaders don’t show panic, as employees often model their behaviour, particularly in times of crisis.  It does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers – it just means that they need to provide hope that things will eventually improve and give practical suggestions on steps to take on the path to recovery.

None of us know how long this situation is going to last or what the long term effects will be but knowing that the leadership has a clear plan of action and that they care about their employee’s health and well-being, will go a long way towards them feeling confident and secure.  They need to know that their contributions are valued and integral to the future success of the business.  If we can learn and adapt together, there is a much greater chance of coming through this testing time, both stronger and more resilient.

In the meantime, do not forget to celebrate the wins, however small and praise your team for things they are doing well.  Positivity breeds positivity, even in times of crisis.

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What will life look like back in the office?

Returning to the workplace…

Recent government announcements suggest that anyone unable to work from home, should now where possible, start to return to their workplaces.  This is straight-forward advice for industries that cannot work from home but what about those of us that have a choice?  How can we decide the right time to do this and the best way to do this?  The most important thing is to start planning now, in order to do this safely and most effectively, when the time is right.

The last couple of months has turned everything we did and thought on its head, including our attitudes to home working. Working from home is no longer seen as just an employee benefit for the minority, instead it has and will continue to be a core part of business planning. We have now learnt that it is possible for many of us to work from home and whilst there are undoubtedly some negatives, there are lots of obvious positives that many people will be keen to continue benefitting from.  The future challenge for businesses will be how much they can and should continue to offer flexibility, once it is not forced upon them and what the trade-offs will be in doing so.

According to a survey by job board Totaljobs 49% of people are looking forward to returning to work so managing how we introduce our staff back into the office and arriving at solutions that are safe and sustainable is the immediate challenge.  Most experts think that this ‘management phase’ of the covid-19 crisis, is likely to last well into next year, so getting it right is crucial.  In order to decide who to bring back first, you will need to think about what roles you absolutely need to have in the office and plan accordingly.  For example facilities and IT may be among the first to bring back so that they can help plan and implement the rest. Technology infrastructure will play a key part as it will need to continue to support some level of home working for those that cannot come back into the office. The more agile and flexible your systems are, the more you will be able to react to future disruptions ie if we get a large second peak of infections.  It will also enable you to offer flexible working as a long-term benefit. 

The CIPD have published a guide to returning to the workplace and they encourage all businesses to ensure that they meet three keys tests before bringing people back into the office:

  • Is it essential?
  • Is it sufficiently safe?
  • Is it mutually agreed?

The guide includes lots of practical advice on areas such as risk management and the importance of communicating the new rules and procedures. It also has lots of information on how the government’s new extended, more flexible furlough scheme can help. There are links to other useful information including the government guidance for working safely in offices.

What is clear, is that in order to keep to the government’s social distancing guidelines, most of us will not be able to go back into our offices exactly as we left them.  Unless we are able to take extra space, we will need to reduce the number of employees at work at any one time.  This could be done in a variety of ways, from shift patterns to rotational days or weeks, but ultimately will probably require some mixture of home and office working.

Managing all these additional challenges, as well as trying to keep business going will require all of us to work together. Clear communication and thorough planning will be vital. Showing that you are putting the health and well-being of your employees at the heart of all the decisions so that they feel supported and valued will be even more important in these challenging uncertain times.

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