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How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile to Get More Job Offers
January 17, 2020
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The following by Pete Davies the senior director of Consumer Products at LinkedIn may be of interest to your clients.

Image result for linkedin logo

Not all roads lead to the perfect career. That’s why it’s called a career journey, with twists and turns and likely many lessons learned along the way. How you embraced the journey is what matters to potential employers: the skill sets you’ve developed, how you’ve navigated change and overcome challenges.

Your LinkedIn profile serves as a digital and visual representation of this journey and your unique personal brand. Capturing your professional experience in one place helps you best represent yourself and tell your story. Your LinkedIn profile can be your ticket to a variety of new opportunities like partnerships, jobs, volunteering, or new business.

It’s always a good time to think about how you can spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Here are a few suggestions to make it shine.

TELL THE WORLD WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU WANT TO GO

It sounds simple, but start with your profile photo. Profiles with a photo get seen 21 times more often than those without. Your profile photo should be professional yet approachable, giving people a true sense of your personality. And, don’t forget to add a background cover photo that supports it and works with the story you are sharing about yourself.

Equally important is your summary. Your summary is the first section people visit to read about you when visiting your profile, and it’s worth taking a little extra time to capture your professional strengths and unique capabilities. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself though. Try to sum up your experience in about 40 words, and think about keywords relevant to future job opportunities to help you be found.

Recommendations from professors, alumni, managers, colleagues, and even direct reports help validate what you’re saying about yourself and helps people understand a little more about what you’re like to work with. Whether you’ve been working for a few days or a few decades, don’t be afraid to ask for one and perhaps offer one in exchange.

Finally, location, location, location. Adding your home-base city makes you up to 23 times more discoverable in searches, making it even easier for you to be connected to your next opportunity or to be found by an old friend or colleague.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR EXPERTISE

Keeping your experience up to date pays off. Not surprisingly, professionals who have their current position listed on their profile are discovered up to 16 times more in recruiter searches. And if you’re not in a current position, don’t worry. Consider instead adding something about the industry or job you’re pursuing, for example “seeking opportunities in accounting.”

Also, don’t overlook crafting summaries for each job you’ve had in your experience section. This gives your audience more insight into your skills and background. Write a crisp summary or two-to-three bulleted sentences that share your strengths and key achievements in that position.

Eighty-seven percent of recruiters agree the skills a candidate lists are crucial as they vet them. Skill Assessments allows you to represent your expertise and show your strengths. Our data shows that people who complete LinkedIn Skill Assessments are up to 30% more likely to get hired.

Another way to demonstrate your expertise and build relationships with your connections is by sharing news, ideas, and perspectives to the feed and to help others stay informed. This is a great way to stay engaged with your network, for others to learn more about you, and an easy way to keep your profile up to date, as the posts you share can also be found in the activity section of your profile.

TELL THE LINKEDIN COMMUNITY WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Your profile is the perfect place to signal your needs to your professional community. Let people know what you want. Are you interested in a new job or volunteer opportunity? Need a recommendation on service providers? A service provider yourself, and want to grow your business? Signalling your intent through your profile will help you grow professionally.

If you’re looking for a new job opportunity, you can simply activate the Open to Job Opportunities feature when you update your profile. You can choose whether all LinkedIn members can see your status–or only recruiters searching to fill positions in which you may be interested. Plus, you can select the specific titles and job locations you’re targeting, allowing your profile page to work behind-the-scenes to help you land your dream job.

In 2019, we made it easier for freelancers, service providers, and entrepreneurs to list their services on their profile and let the LinkedIn community know they’re open for business and discoverable from a LinkedIn search. More than 130,000 service providers and freelancers have opted in to this feature to grow their business since we rolled it out globally.

Your profile is the gateway to your professional career success, so let the world know what makes you special. By making these updates to your LinkedIn profile now, you’ll be showcasing the very best of you and your strengths. It’s a small investment you can make now to prepare your career for the next decade and beyond.

Creating a Learning Culture, Where Individuals Can Perform Their Best
January 14, 2020
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Why is it important we keep learning?  Whether we like it or not, we are learning every day:  it might be a new way of buying a product or using a phone that has updated technology. All this change and innovation means we need to embrace learning. BY Kirstin Furber

The world we are living in is complex, competitive, fast and busy. In such an environment, it’s critical organisations focus on learning and constantly develop their capability. Many organisations have adapted their learning model from one of traditional classroom teaching to a blended learning approach including face to face presentations, coaching and learning whilst doing. 

These methods embed learning quickly and fit better in busy workdays. There are also some skills we can’t go on a course to learn, especially in digital space, as the work has not been done before and therefore the learning is very much on the job, through trial and error.

With the ability to learn its critical for organisations to remain competitive, adapt and stay ahead of the competition, how do we create a learning environment that supports individuals being their best? With the five characters of human culture as a foundation, I believe companies need to focus on the following five areas:

1. Purpose: Purpose provides organisations with a direction, a mission to get behind, and the opportunity to communicate how each employee’s role contributes to that purpose.  A clear purpose also provides ‘guard rails’ and focus.  When everyone is learning, creating new ideas, and developing as individuals and as a group, it’s easy to get off track. Having a clear purpose that everyone understands and buys into means that ideas can flourish ‘on strategy’ and be translated into action

2. Authentic Leaders: We know leaders are important role models, in everything they do and I have blogged before about the importance of authentic leadership.  Leaders have an opportunity to create an environment of learning through ‘bringing the external in’ and by ensuring the organisation does not get too internalised. Reading and sharing, participating at conferences, bringing speakers in to contribute new ideas and perspective, and by creating an environment of curiosity where it is safe to ask questions, is the perfect environment for learning to take place.  Remembering that they should always be open to learning also enables leaders to learn from their teams. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to have your thinking challenged. It’s important to be open to doing things differently and to update your perspective as the world changes. Authentic and vulnerable leaders who admit they don’t know everything, keep learning. 

3. Telling your story: Learning is about sharing and translating lessons learned into every day operational best practice.  Organisations that provide ways for individuals to share their learning with others both informally, e.g. at team meetings, and formally (through films, podcasts, or via company intranets) allow this translation of learning into the organisation to happen in the most organic way possible. This helps learning embed in the organisation.

4. Diversity: We all learn differently, and its critical organisations taken this into account. Some of us like to read about a subject in-depth, form views and then debate, others like a planned learning approach with many different forms of content: video, discussions, face to face sessions. The reflectors among us can get annoyed with a discussion group full of extroverts’ whist the extroverts are feeling very much in their comfort zone. Companies should enable time for reflection and processing as part of learning as well.  Cultures, physical and mental health, and learnings styles all need to be considered alongside how best to use technology to customise learning so it lands well-enabling people to engage with it for maximum impact.

5. Workplace: Finally, where do you learn best?  Traditional learning used to always be offsite, but with budget cuts and because of people’s productivity suffering if they’re out of the office for long periods of time, this has changed. Training has moved to ‘bite-sized’ learning with different views on timing, ideally no more than 90-minute learning sessions, for individuals to learn best, as outlined in this article.  Some of us like to learn at home, in the cafe, with others, in the office.  With learning being produced, delivered and customised through a variety of learning platforms, opportunities for where and when employees can learn are expanding. Some of us are better at learning in the morning, others in the evening, we should factor that into our learning approach. What is the best period of time to learn? To brainstorm? To make a decision?  To create an environment where employees can learn, all of these factors need to be considered when developing a curriculum.

A learning environment does a number of things: it builds capability to drive performance and helps attract the best because of an attractive development offering. It also helps retain the best because they grow and develop by utilising new found skills in a number of ways, especially when promotions or pay rises aren’t an option.

Creating an environment where it is easy to learn goes a long way to creating an environment where people can be their best selves at work because an environment where everyone can learn is one where everyone can flourish.

Kirstin Furber – Chief People Director of ClearScore

How Can Parents and Carers Support their Children with Career Decisions?
December 18, 2019
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By Zoe Hendricks (RCDP MCDI, MA CEd & C) is a masters qualified career coach and an associate careers and employability practitioner at Ideas4Careers.

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As a parent, you are likely to be the first port of call for your child when they want to talk about careers. Naturally, you will want to give them the very best advice and support possible. However, it can be tricky to understand current options and choices. So, what can you do to help?

Will school do this for you?

Schools and colleges do their very best to help your child make good career choices. However, available resources may limit the extent of personal careers advice and guidance your child receives. Check if your child is given one-to-one, personal career guidance from a qualified career guidance professional. If so, discuss this with them and offer your support. For example, by taking your son or daughter to explore open days at colleges or universities or helping them to complete applications for courses or apprenticeships. Whether they receive effective careers support at school or not, you can still help them to take responsibility for making good career decisions.

Choosing a career

Some young people know exactly what career they are aiming for, but many do not. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know what they want to do, this is normal! Even if they have some ideas, these may change as they get older. You can help them to start thinking about the type of work that might suit them through discussing their strengths and interests.

To help them do this, explore free tools and websites such as the iCould Buzz Quiz or Start Profile which offer quizzes and questionnaires that suggest career areas of interest based on their preferences. This can be a useful exercise to spark ideas and career discussions, but by no means should they feel they need to follow the suggestions. The National Careers Service ‘Explore Careers’ is also a trustworthy website for learning more about different jobs and what qualifications and skills are needed to get into them.

Work experiences 

Having personal experiences of different work environments can be a great way of discovering what kind of work may suit – or perhaps more importantly, rule out what doesn’t! As well as supporting your child with work experience placements organised through school, encourage your child to participate in opportunities or initiatives such as Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or the National Citizenship Service. Volunteering is also good experience and will help them to develop employability skills. Additionally, these types of activities can help your child to make effective applications for work, college or university, by incorporating them on their CV, on application forms or discussed during interviews. Find out more about volunteering in your area at Do-it.

What to study?

Broadly speaking, your child will have the opportunity to study towards academic qualifications such as A levels, or vocational qualifications such as a BTEC. Vocational study can keep the door open for university equally to A-Levels and can be undertaken through full-time education in sixth form, college or an apprenticeship. New qualifications – T-Levels which are being rolled out from September 2020 – are a mix of both and gradually becoming more available across the UK. Most importantly, your child should feel happy in what they do and have the best chance of success in their chosen route. For more information about choices after 16, visit Career Pilot.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Although you may want your child to make the right decision straight away, if it doesn’t work out – don’t stress. Learning resilience and overcoming difficulty are essential skills for your child to develop. This may mean working through their issues and staying with their chosen path, or maybe they need to explore something new and make an unplanned change. If you notice your son or daughter is not thriving or is unhappy, the sooner you address worry and concern, the better. There will always be other options available. Speak to your school or college or contact a careers adviser at the National Careers Service for advice.

A career is a journey full of twists and turns

Finally, it’s important to recognise that career choice is likely to change as your child develops. As careers advisers, we want the next generation to encounter meaningful, fulfilling and rewarding careers. We also know this is unlikely to be a straight-forward path! Every bump and obstacle your child encounters on their journey are opportunities for development. In turn, these experiences will help them to build the skills they need to positively manage future career decisions, as they move into adulthood.

For more information and resources visit Links4Careers

About the author

Zoe Hendricks

Zoe Hendricks (RCDP MCDI, MA CEd & C) is a masters qualified career coach and an associate careers and employability practitioner at Ideas4Careers. Zoe combines over 25 years of experience in training, coaching, recruitment and commerce with her drive to help individuals create fulfilling and rewarding careers. Her careers advice and guidance work in schools enable young people to make well-informed career and educational decisions at critical points in their life.

GDPR Best Practice: How to Reduce the Risk of a Data Breach
December 11, 2019
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A Tribal Group Blog Posted by Paul Dulle

In recent months, it has become apparent that Universities and Colleges are ‘under attack’ or at risk of data breaches. Both the GDPR and the corresponding UK Data Protection Act (2018) are just two examples of international data breach notification laws that have come into play in recent years. 

The breadth and complexity of these regulations are proving to be a significant challenge for businesses and the ICO (the UK Data Protection regulator) has shown they are not afraid to impose significant sanctions for those who cannot demonstrate compliance.   

While it has taken over a year for any ‘big fine’ to be imposed in the UK, during the last few months we have seen some record-breaking fines announced by the ICO. With Marriott Hotel being fined £99.2m and British Airways being fined £183m, now really is the time to ensure your data is backed-up, and if the dreaded does happen, a plan is in place to maintain business continuity.

Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham stated:

“People’s personal data is just that – personal. When an organisation fails to protect it from loss, damage or theft, it is more than an inconvenience”. “That’s why the law is clear – when you are entrusted with personal data, you must look after it. Those that don’t will face scrutiny from my office to check they have taken appropriate steps to protect fundamental privacy rights.”

The ICO has identified a list of factors that have contributed to breaches:

  • Poor board-level awareness of the risk to the organisation
  • Incomplete or missing corporate records (contracts and policies)
  • Inadequate staff training (important to keep a record)
  • Policies repeatedly not followed (compliance needs embedding)
  • Not understanding supply chain risks
  • Investment in security deferred
  • Poor data governance (particularly in test or product development environments; and in respect of the use of live data for testing)
  • Staff Workarounds compromising security systems because the agreed way of working is not the easiest way of working
  • Obvious misconfiguration of systems leaving them open to long-known vulnerabilities

Since most data breaches are the result of human error, even organisations with the best privacy program and awareness of personal data processing, may experience a breach. We have learned from the GDPR that organisations must not only be accountable, but also be able to demonstrate compliance. This can be broken down into three key activities:

  • Put in place appropriate technical and organizational measures to meet requirements.
  • Ensure compliance of data processing operations is demonstrable including having underlying evidence ready.
  • Ensure technical and organisational measures are reviewed and updated on a regular basis (annually) to ensure compliance with changing legislation and guidance.

If your University or College is GDPR compliant, you will already have a solid foundation for addressing a data breach, however, if you are still in the process of becoming compliant here are some recommendations:

  1. Create a Record of Processing Activity (ROPA): A key element of GDPR is the ability to provide proper documentation to demonstrate compliance (Article 30). A ROPA provides easy access to all information on processing operations so that you can quickly retrieve information when you have a security alert or incident report.
  2. Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO): The appointment of a DPO is mandatory under the GDPR and other jurisdictions are adopting this requirement. A DPO can act as a first point of contact and internal advisor on how to proceed in the event of a breach.
  3. Conduct (or leverage) your Data Privacy Impact Assessment (DPIA): Conducting or leveraging your DPIA may already reveal risk involved in your processing and include mitigating measures put in place to help you determine if a data breach is reportable.
  4. Keep a data breach register: While not all breaches are reportable to authorities, you do need to keep an internal register of all data breaches and security incidents. Reviewing your data breach register may point to problems within your organization related to lack of awareness, lack of security or simple carelessness in some of the departments.
  5. Document your information assets and your approach to privacy management: By documenting and assigning ownership of the different Information Assets that exist across the college, along with the relevant policies and procedures, decision making processes and business continuity plans, you can create a robust set of information that can be used to assist at the time of the incident and demonstrate responsible privacy management to the ICO and other parties after a breach.
  6. Create a robust business continuity plan: This needs to include both incident management and recovery elements, closely linked to the GDPR notification guidelines. The plan should be rehearsed and available in both hardcopy and electronic formats (in case you experience a ransomware/lock-out situation).  It should also include a call tree (a layered hierarchical communication model used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate recovery, if necessary. This should include internal contacts and external agencies (ICO, Police, National Crime Agency, insurance company etc).
  7. Ensure your operational data is backed-up and secure:  As well as your own backups, Tribal offers a business continuity, backup and disaster recovery service, with two days’ worth of data stored off site, SecureSend transfers and data restoration within four hours.
How do you Attract Millennials to a Business?
December 9, 2019
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By 2020, Millennials will account for 35 per cent of the global workforce. Renowned for their propensity for smashed avocado and Instagram, they will soon be the most represented demographic on earth from a professional perspective.

So, what does a typical Millennial look for in a workplace? The modern employee is a different beast to previous decades, no longer motivated purely by the amount of their salary or the size of their company. Money and reputation are certainly still important, but there are other factors at play now.

Work-life balance

The ability to be fulfilled both at and away from work is not only a reality in 2017, it is highly sought after by employees and employers alike. Those at the top of businesses understand that productivity is directly linked with worker happiness and satisfaction, and the flexibility to adjust office hours and work remotely is highly valuable.

Company culture

Clocking out at five on the dot is a thing of the past for many businesses. Workplace culture is a crucial aspect that contributes to employees feeling valued and taking pride in their job. Friday afternoon drinks, celebrating company milestones and mentoring programs are all examples of developing company culture.

Office layout 

The physical nature of workplaces has changed drastically in the last decade, with Millennials renowned for their interest in the design, layout and amenities. Simply being open plan is no longer a distinguishable feature; young professionals are interested in everything from dedicated ‘chill zones’ with ping pong tables and edgy collaboration spaces, to wellbeing facilities and onsite baristas.

Career advancement

There is a perception that Millennials are not as loyal as previous generations given the shift from the old model of spending more than a decade at one organisation. To combat this high-turnover environment, businesses must demonstrate clear pathways for their employees to upskill and develop from a professional perspective.

The Art of Cracking the Interview: A Job Seeker’s Story
November 20, 2019
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By Amit Kalra, Guest Contributor.

Until a few months back, the behavioural interview process had proved to be the Achilles’ heel in my professional journey. Being an immigrant to Canada, and new to the process of job hunting in North America, I couldn’t manage to figure out exactly what the hiring managers wanted from me. I had been rigorously applying to positions and I was getting invitations to interviews, but ultimately, I wasn’t chosen as the successful candidate.

Failure after failure to crack the secret of the interview process had created some serious self-doubts about my abilities. Ironically, I experienced so many rejections that the fear of failure ceased to be a concern in my mind. This was the only silver lining to emerge from an otherwise discouraging period.

I realized there was an urgent need for some deep self-reflection. It was during this period of introspection that I discovered things about myself that had been hidden from my conscious mind. I had been making the job search all about ME. I had been approaching interviews with the mindset of, “This is going to be my dream job!” I know now that I should have been asking myself, “How do I become this company’s dream candidate?” Rather than focusing on achieving what wanted, which was to be hired, I realized that I needed to focus my efforts on becoming the candidate that would leave the employer with no doubt that I was the new hire they had to have.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through this self-reflection alone. I was blessed to have a wonderful mentor in my career coach at Success Skills Center in Winnipeg. She kept me motivated and on track throughout my journey.

I learned that preparation for an interview is exactly like a deep meditation exercise. If willing to be completely honest, job seekers have the opportunity to uncover answers to the most complicated questions about themselves such as, “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose?” Theseare the things an interviewer really wants to know.

Instead of cramming to memorize a few repetitive responses, presenting authentic answers to interview questions creates an interesting exchange where one can bring his or her personality, uniqueness, values, and qualities to the table. As job seekers, there are two ways we can approach interview questions: we can present just like the majority of the other candidates, or, we can open up our personality so that the listener is drawn in and becomes a “fan.”

As an old saying wisely states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For me, the first step was to arouse the curiosity of the potential employer via my résumé and cover letter in order to secure an interview.

The next step came into play during the interview when I was able to discuss what I would bring to the employer. The job description acted as a guiding path for me; every single word helped to project a picture of the company’s ideal candidate. I took my time and read through each job posting very carefully.

While scrutinizing the posting, experiences and accomplishments from my career history started to form in my mind. I selected the best of my past work and prepared my stories, each with a positive outcome that benefited my employer. The more I practiced, the stronger the connection became between my mind and heart. “Self-bragging” is an art and to make it compelling is part of the preparation that’s required before an interview. Believe me, a fully prepared mind works like a magnet. It doesn’t just attract and hold the attention of the interviewer, but I observed that it seems to go beyond that to enthrall the person.

In a behavioural interview, not only is the interviewer trying to discover how the potential candidate reacts to different situations, he or she is also scrutinizing the candidate’s personality. Among other things, they watch for signs of passion, clarity of thought, positive attitude, and a sense of commitment and responsibility.

Questions like how you acted when you experienced a work conflict or how you handled criticism are not hypothetical ones; vague replies don’t cut it. Answers have to be specific and authentic. No one expects job candidates to be superhumans liked by everyone in the workplace, and who receive only praise and appreciation for work they do. In these interviews I saw the value of my preparation. I was able to deliver specific, relevant answers that directly addressed the questions. My responses were interesting and portrayed a picture of me as someone who was focused and possessed deep self-understanding. It may sound cliché, but the STAR technique worked wonders for me.

In a nutshell, interviewers are human beings just like the rest of us. Their role is to hire a candidate who fits the role and the culture and will make significant contributions to the betterment of the company. So, here is our opportunity to present as the “dream candidate,” showing who we are, what we can do, and what we can be.

I am delighted to report that I now sit on the other side of the table in my role as a Talent Acquisition Advisor for a leading aerospace company. Everything I learned in my own career journey is what I now watch and listen for in the candidates I interview.

To paraphrase part of a speech once made by Mr. Obama; “We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.”

As an interviewee, I believe that my demonstrations of being a truthful, authentic, prepared candidate who allowed his personality to shine through are what ultimately landed me a job I love.

Hints & Tips: Virtual Meetings
October 30, 2019
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While people understandably lament the lack of face-to-face contact and human interaction, it’s impossible to argue against the convenience, speed and low cost of being able to bring together a group of decision-makers without requiring them to travel. 

Do…

Issue guidelines to people about what is expected. The same rules apply in a virtual meeting as they do in a face-to-face meeting, with courtesy, respect and all other behaviours equally expected of participants. But just as with live in-room meetings avoid absolutes. 

Establish quiet spaces to hold virtual meetings. If most participants work in an open-plan environment, the ideal place to hold virtual meetings might be in a closed office, rather than distracting the whole floor with the minutiae of one meeting. 

Encourage punctuality. As with physical meetings keeping to a set agenda and managing time will improve productivity and outcomes. Research has shown that about 45 minutes is the ideal length for any meeting. This becomes even more important for virtual meetings as they can be more tiring because attendees may only have audio to go by (rather than being able to also see each other). 

Encourage people to consider their backgrounds and settings when visible on camera. This applies particularly to those who are working from home. There is nothing more distracting than your domestic life intruding in the background (just ask political analyst Robert Kelly about his disastrous BBC appearance). 

Don’t…

Expect too much of the technology. While the tech is now more user friendly it’s not perfect. You can’t just say ‘come in Brussels’ and have the technology understand that and show your Brussels attendees. 

Let people schedule virtual meetings without trying them out. If they were holding a big in-person meeting of course they’d check if the projector was working first. So why should a virtual meeting be any different? People should check the technology (such as the computer, cameras, phones) they plan to use on the day and load up the PowerPoint slides they’re going to show, ideally getting another colleague to check what it looks and sounds like from another office. 

Limit yourself to one vendor. While this makes sense for something like telephone systems (which are physically installed in the building) it doesn’t necessarily make sense for services that are supplied remotely. You may find that a single-vendor solution suits the users that are office based but doesn’t work well for those on the road. Therefore you may not be saving money if your main salesperson can’t bring together a project team for a meeting. 

Share your whole desktop. There is nothing less professional than attendees at a virtual meeting being able to see email notifications with personal subject lines such as ‘you left the kitchen in a mess this morning’ or ‘can you leave early to pick up the kids?’ I’ve personally attended a virtual meeting where the presenter’s internet browsing history was visible to everyone and it did not make him look professional at all. 

By Jonathan Dungan is a marketing executive at 247meeting.com 

Help and Support for Returning to Work
October 22, 2019
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Government Equalities Office has published guidance for those looking to return to work following a career break for caring responsibilities, and information for employers wanting to implement a returners programme at their organisation.

Businesses and organisations across the UK face the same issues around addressing the gender pay gap, accessing talented staff, reducing training costs and improving diversity.

There are currently over 1.2 million people in the UK who are out of work for caring responsibilities but would like to return to employment.

Recruiting experienced returners could help employers respond to these business challenges and help people back into work.

Returner programmes are a key priority of the government. The Government Equalities Office has awarded in the region of £1.5 million to sixteen organisations supporting returners in the private sector. They have also launched returner programmes that target key workforces in the public sector, including social workers, health professionals, and police investigators.

Applying for a returner programme

Returning to work after a career break can be challenging. There are a number of dedicated returner programmes that provide training and support to help people back into the workforce in a way that makes sense for them. Individual criteria for each programme will differ but most programmes ask for applicants that have been out of work for a year or more, either on a career break or for caring responsibilities.

Read our Returners Toolkit for advice, tips and support on returning to work.

Share your story

We are interested in hearing from returners who are currently on, or who have completed returner programmes. To share your own story, please email geo.strategiccomms@geo.gov.uk.

Read Returner Yemi’s experience of a returner programme.

Setting up a returner programme

Research shows that setting up a returner programme can have significant benefits for businesses, helping to increase the diversity of staff and expanding the level of experience within an organisation. There are two main routes for employing returners into your organisation:

  • Returnships: fixed-term contracts that cover competitive pay and extra support like training, coaching and mentoring.
  • Supported hires: permanent roles for returners, offering the same additional support such as training, coaching and mentoring.

Guidance on setting up a returners programme

Returner programmes: best practice guide for employers 
This guidance provides a framework for organisations to develop effective returner programmes. It applies to organisations in all sectors and of all sizes.

Returners: an introductory toolkit for employers 
This toolkit describes the benefits of returner programmes, top tips for developing a returner programme, how to attract recruits and case studies.

Returners: The Benefits of Implementing a Returners Programme 
This infographic provides an overview of the benefits of Returner programmes and employment methods.

Adapting your current employment practices

Our evidence shows that making small adjustments to a business’s employment practices can have a significant impact on the number of returners applying to your vacancies. Best practice includes:

  • Advertising your job vacancy as suitable for returners
  • Enhancing and promoting your flexible working policies – including flexible working opportunities to job advertisements

Find further guidance on flexible working practices and the 100 ways to work flexibly campaign.

Hints & Tips on Copyright Law
October 21, 2019
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Why do I need to know about it?

In a 24/7, interconnected online world, where we have the ability to share almost anything at a click or swipe, it can be hard to discern the original creator of something. 

This has actually been a problem since 1710, when the first copyright legislation was created. But as the way we create and consume content changes, new challenges are cropping up and the area is arguably more important than ever. 

“Copyright law is important for businesses and individuals because it is a mechanism to help protect individuals’ and businesses’ creative output. If you invest time and effort in creating intellectual property [IP] it is right that you should be able to benefit financially,” states Martyn Freeman, general counsel, BBC Studios. 

“Copyright law, along with trademark law, design law and patent law, protects people and entities who create something,” says Kieron Sharp, CEO of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). “The purpose of the law is to enable a person to make a profit from a creation – although the creator is entitled to give it away. It is also there to protect the product of a company where its profitability and the livelihoods of the workers depend on selling a unique product.” 

What do I need to know?

Copyright law in the UK is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The act has eight fixed categories of ‘works’ that content must fall into to be covered. These are: literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, and typographical arrangements. 

While you may think only ‘creative’ organisations need to worry about copyright, these categories actually cover a broad spectrum. “A literary work could be an instruction manual. An artistic work could be a company logo,” says Joshua Marshall, a senior associate in the intellectual property and technology protection and enforcement team at Fieldfisher. 

The law can be a little grey over when something is copied and when it’s been inspired by another work, Marshall adds: “Existing copyright works can be used as inspiration, provided a qualitatively substantial part of the work is not taken. Just because a part of something has been copied, that does not mean copyright has been infringed.” 

The law could soon change, however. The EU’s Copyright Directive, passed in April 2019, is an effort to modernise copyright legislation, prevent piracy and ensure that original creators are paid properly. The UK has two years to comply, so depending on whether Brexit happens as planned we will need to update our laws. 

Regarding proper pay, Time calculated in 2014 how much artists earned from their songs being streamed on Spotify. Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ earned between $280,000 and $390,000 (£228,397 and £318,125), which sounds substantial. But considering the song was streamed 46.3 million times, that makes each play worth less than a penny. This money could then be split further, depending on whether Swift owns the full copyright to the song (unlikely). 

Regarding illegal content sharing, video hosting platform YouTube is currently embroiled in talks over whether it will be obliged to roll out an upload filter that will catch and block copyright violations. 

When might I be in breach of the law?

You could be creating copyrighted material without knowing it. Written a staff handbook? That’s copyrighted. Designed a poster campaign? Also copyrighted. Unfortunately you probably don’t own that copyright. 

“Copyright law provides that an employer owns the copyright in works produced by its employees during the normal course of their employment. Where this is not the case – for freelancers and contractors for example – the company would usually take an assignment of the copyright in any work produced by those individuals while working under contract,” explains Freeman. 

“Unlike some other IP rights, copyright is an unregistered right meaning it arises automatically on creation of the ‘work’. As a result businesses and individuals create copyright works every day without realising it,” Marshall adds. 

If you work in a creative or innovation-orientated sector competition (and copying) could be rife. “It may be the case that employees within companies rip each other off,” says Sharp. Which could lead to workplace conflict over who actually created something. 

Anything else?

Copyright law will continue to be topical. The Intellectual Property Office is investing in educating the public, including school children, on copyright issues. 

“There are many threats from people who believe copyright is unnecessary and certainly politicians across Europe would like to see copyright law simplified or abandoned,” explains Sharp. “All of us who work in this world would love to see it simplified but it’s difficult to know how to achieve that – by its very nature its bureaucratic. Protection of creations is an absolute necessity and as yet no-one has come up with a better system.”

The article first appeared in HR Magazine News

Questions Managers Should Ask Remote Employees
September 30, 2019
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As more employees are working from home or spending days on the road visiting learners and employers, how do you ensure you have the right conversation that homes in on issues that are often unspoken?

Here are 11 questions that you can use to create better dynamics with your remote employees, faster.  Ask these questions when you first start working with any remote employee, or at regular intervals (e.g., every half year), to check in on changes. 

1. What do you like best and least about working remotely?  

Follow-on questions: 

  • What is the high point of a typical day (for example, yesterday)? 
  • What is the low point of a typical day (for example, yesterday)? 

What this question uncovers

Motivation analysis: This question helps you find out what motivates and demotivates your direct reports. Learn more by asking for more context on comments. For example, if they say ‘my high point is getting into a flow state with a project.’  Ask: ‘what creates a flow state for you?’

2. What is your work setup like?  

Follow-on questions:

  • What equipment or process improvements would make things 10% better? 
  • What technology issues have you encountered? 

What this question uncovers

Environment analysis: This question helps you listen for ways to optimize setup and workflow. While doing so, you can also arrange for your remote employee to interview other remote employees from cross-functional departments to learn their setup tips. 

3. What is your daily routine? 

Follow-on questions

  • What do you do to take breaks/ recharge? 
  • Are you able to fully disconnect when on vacation or at the end of the day? 

What this question uncovers

Energy management: Listen for spots to help optimize time boundaries. A big danger for remote employees is burnout since work and life are blended. When working in-person at the office it’s easier to have delineated boundaries for starting and stopping work. 

4. What has your experience been with working remotely in the past? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • What were some challenges in your previous setups?
  • What were some of the learnings you had? 

What this question uncovers

Level of support needed: There is a presumption that working remotely is easy – one simply does what one would normally do, but at a different location. This isn’t true. What we’ve found in our research is that working remotely requires a unique skill set that gets honed with time, including over-communication, clarifying expectations, assertiveness, proactivity, and more. Asking about prior experience with remote work helps you gauge your direct report’s skillsets and determine if more guidance or training is needed to set them up well for success.

5. What challenges do you feel remote workers have compared to those in the office? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • What could make things easier?
  • What benefits/advantages do remote workers have compared to those in the office? 

What this question uncovers

Perception/fairness markers: The human brain is wired to track comparisons between conditions, including in this case in-person vs. remote dynamics. Sometimes remote employees feel more is happening at the office than really is (e.g., team meetings that they are not a part of, benefits they miss out on, etc.). This question helps you surface unspoken issues and re-set expectations if there is a feeling of misbalance. This includes a conversation around perks. The downside of working remotely is getting access to things free snacks or onsite company celebrations, etc, but the positive trade is flexibility, autonomy, no need for a commute, etc.

6. Would you say our meetings are remote-friendly? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • Can you hear and see well? 
  • On a scale from 1-10, how easy is it for you to contribute during a meeting? 

What this question uncovers

Meetings culture: Team meetings are often harder on folks who are dialing in, yet easy to optimize. This question will help you hear, from your remote employee’s perspective, small optimization ideas. As an example, one easy hack LifeLabs Learning has found to quickly improve perceived meeting quality (PMQ) is to have each person in the in-person meeting dial in using their laptop and laptop camera and a jabra mic for the room. With this, all people in the in-person room can speak to each other like normal, but the remote person can see a close-up view of each person who is speaking. 

7. Who do you connect with most often at work? 

Follow-on questions:

  • Which coworkers or departments do you wish you had more connection with? 
  • Who do you go to when you need support or have process suggestions or improvement ideas?

What this question uncovers

Support network: When working remotely, it is harder to make connections, yet an essential brain craving for all humans is to feel like we belong. Asking ‘who do you connect with most often’ and the follow on questions helps you realize if your direct report needs help building out their network. Creating relationship capital for your direct report is easy: you can link them to other people doing similar work, find ways to make their work more visible by creating demos, or set them up for informational interviews with relevant departments. 

8. How do you feel about how often you visit the office? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • Is this the right amount or would you like it to be more or less often? 
  • When you meet with other teammates, do you/ they turn your camera on? 

What this question uncovers

Belonging: This question helps you uncover how your direct report feels about the amount of contact they get and allows you to explain decision criteria around in-person gatherings. Having the right amount of in-person time matters when working from afar. Our research shows that ‘frequency beats length’ when it comes to having contact. What this means is that flying a direct report in for in-person time is important, but having cameras on in order to see each other frequently is even more important.

9. What are some things your prior managers did that you liked? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • What’s something you didn’t like? 
  • What’s something I could do 10% better? 

What this question uncovers

Managerial relationship: This question helps you understand how to work best with your employee. It opens feedback lines by normalizing that your team cares about optimizing work dynamics. It also helps you improve one-on-one meetings for the future. 

10. How consistent are our information systems? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • Which apps do you most use in your daily workflow? When do you use Slack, text, Jira, etc.? When do you feel confused about which systems to use? 
  • Where are we consistent/inconsistent as a team?

What this question uncovers

Communication systems: When working remotely, it is particularly important to know which medium to use for which type of information. This question helps assess confusion spots in the system. 

11. What do you want to learn more about regarding our team or company? 

Follow-on questions: 

  • Has any news surprised you recently? 
  • How included do you feel in team decisions? 

What this question uncovers

Information flow: When working remotely, people sometimes feel out of the loop. This question helps you hear if they feel or are excluded. You can then optimize systems or explain the context.

Article first produced by LifeLabs Learning: LifeLabs provides training for managers, execs, and teams, with a focus on rapid skill acquisition and tipping points: the skills that make the most difference in the workplace.