All posts by Kerri McCartney

Steps to Employment: 5 Ways to Improve Your CV

 

When sending your CV into an employer, it is easy to slip

under the radar among other applicants for the same

position. The most important thing for a candidate to do is

to stand out and be memorable in the RIGHT way. Here

are senior consultant Paddy Steele’s top five tips for

what makes a successful candidate CV:

 

Make it Your Own

The term ‘CV’ actually stands for ‘course of life’, so make sure to tell yours! Make sure that your CV represents how you see yourself as an employee, and who you want your potential employers to see you as.

Keep it Simple

Here at Black Fox Solutions, one of the first things we ask our candidates for is a CV so that we can gain a comprehensive understanding of what experience they have, and what skills they can offer.

If it is difficult to read, or unclear what roles you have accepted in the past, we are unable to gain a holistic view of your experience and qualifications.

For example, as a graphic designer you may feel like a bright and colourful CV would best represent your skill set, however this could seem busy and distracting.

Part of our responsibility as recruiters is tailoring your CV for the positions that we put you forward for, so if it is difficult to read then it is difficult to edit!

Less is sometimes more, and the added bonus of applying through Black Fox Solutions is that you let us do the work for you!

TO THE POINT

When discussing tips for a successful CV, Paddy immediately recalled a candidate with a CV that was almost five pages long, and how he reduced it to just two and a half pages before he sent it to potential employers.

As well as being straight-forward to read, your CV must also allow employers to know within a short space of time whether you are suitable for their position!

Target your CV Towards Each Position you Apply For

It is common knowledge that employers sometimes look for specific words within your CV in order to assess your capability for the position.

Therefore, when applying for each job remember to reference the key terms and requirements that the position needs!

This means that the employer will be able to clearly pick you from the other applicants, as you have marketed yourself as specifically suited for the position!

SPG is More Important Than you Think

Not every role requires a candidate to have a perfect grasp of the written English language, but it is important to try and make sure that your CV is free from misspellings or accidental typing errors.

A CV is the first impression that an employer will have of you, and spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes can give the impression of carelessness.

Ask another person to read over the document, or if you have applied with a recruiter, we can do this for you!

 

As professionals in the recruitment industry, an integral part of our job is to ensure you, our client, are fully prepared for all aspects of a job application, including helping to prepare you for an interview, and applying for jobs on your behalf.

For further help in your pursuit of employment, contact Black Fox Solutions on 02890994111, or Follow The Fox on social media:

 

@LetTheFoxHelp

 

Black Fox Solutions

 

Black Fox Solutions

Steps to Employment: 5 Ways to Improve Your Interview Skills

When applying for positions, the initial task of simply getting an interview can be difficult in itself.

Therefore, when you are lucky enough to secure one it is important to make a good impression with your potential future employer, and ensure that you have done enough to stand out among an array of other qualified candidates.

One of our senior consultants, Ben Ritchie, has listed his top five tips for success in an interview below.

Research the company

Although this is a pre-interview step to take, it is arguably one of the most important ones: it is vital to spend some time researching the company you have applied for.

I advise my candidates to spend ten or so minutes the night before an interview on their potential future employer’s company website.

Pay close attention to what type of work the company does, what kind of people they employ, and,most of all, the requirements of the job you have applied for.

This will give you hints as to how you should answer their questions and what aspects of the role to mention when doing so.

Dress the Part

The person interviewing you will ultimately see you before they hear you, and so it is important to convey what type of employee with what you are wearing.

A neat and professional appearance will cause the interviewer to hold this opinion of you throughout the exchange.

Wear something smart, but also something that you feel comfortable in.

Although it is important to dress professionally, if wearing a suit makes you VISIBLY uncomfortable then it is better in this instance to dress ‘smart-casual’.

Arrive on time – or even better, arrive EARLY

A well-known interview tip, this ensures that you appear organised and punctual.

What this also allows you to do as an interviewee, is it gives you a few minutes to observe the working environment and the other employees.

In addition to this, these few minutes can be used to calm any last-minute nerves or anxieties over the interview itself.

Remember to take a few moments to relax: being asked for the interview means that they have seen something desirable in you for the position, and therefore like you as a candidate already. Be confident in yourself.

Make the first and last seconds COUNT

The first impression you make to the employer is vital:

  • Say hello
  • Introduce yourself by name
  • Speak clearly and loud enough that you can be heard
  • Make eye contact
  • Offer a firm handshake
  • Make sure your body language is relaxed yet confident

Most importantly, be the best version of YOU.

This is your opportunity to sell yourself as an individual, so make sure that you endorse yourself properly and prove why you are the perfect candidate.

When you finish, make sure you thank your interviewer for their time and don’t rush out. Leave in the same manner that you introduced yourself.

Keep in touch

Following your interview, remember to contact your recruiter.

This gives us an opportunity to reaffirm your enthusiasm for the role to the employer and helps to give you an advantage over the other candidates!

Often, we at Black Fox Solutions are in direct contact with the company and may already have received feedback regarding how the interview went that we can pass on.

 

As professionals in the recruitment industry, an integral part of our job is to ensure you, our client, are fully prepared for all aspects of a job application, including helping to compile your CV and applying for jobs on your behalf.

For further help in your pursuit of employment, contact Black Fox Solutions on 02890994111, or Follow The Fox on social media:

Black Fox Solutions

 

@LetTheFoxHelp

 

Black Fox Solutions

Has Our Increased Independence On The Online World Caused Today’s Rise In Mental Health?

Fifty years ago if you had asked someone what the year 2019 will look like, they would probably have said that people would be happier, working professionals would work less and everyone would have better lives because of inventions like Jetpacks, 3D television/gaming, Robotics and so on.

They wouldn’t have guessed that communication and online technology would have created such a massive increase in mental health issues, ones which are continuing to grow. Many people would agree that it’s hard to be an individual in today’s digital driven society, but it was also difficult years ago, when society adopted a more ‘tough love’ approach to life.

There was something to be said for this tough love type of attitude. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from driving on and learning for ourselves. For example, a 20-year-old would have been a bit more naive but a lot more resilient in the year 1969 than 2019. As nowadays when someone is down, they are sat down and asked if they want a hug, a stark contrast from the previous response which would have been to get on with it.

Of course, there are positives to an increased awareness of mental health, and this should continue to help those who are in need. The problem is that social media has swept in and put those with milder mental health issues on the same level as those with severe problems, something that needs to be sorted. It starts with people not allowing them to care so deeply about what others think of them and their life, because it’s more than likely that the influencer profiles they are admiring aren’t always what it seems. However, social media has made perfect look realistic, so now normal has become disposable.

Everyone is completely obsessed with what others thinks of them, today’s culture seems to live by the motto ‘it’s better to be liked, than to be right.’ Why is this? Because people are too afraid to speak their mind in fear of being disliked. Most millennials put more emphasis on looking happy on their profile’s than actually being happy, which is negatively impacting their mentality. What should society be doing to help a generation who are constantly becoming more concerned with getting a social media ‘like’ than being their own person?

In this age of distraction, it’s vital to pause and pay attention to what’s truly important. We live in a world focused on phones, internet and emails. As a society we must ensure that we don’t lose the ability to experience. If you want to live a creative and content life, the first thing to do is start paying better attention to it …

Guide Dogs NI Urge For More Support to Help Increase the Amount of Dogs Available

BlackFox Solutions joined forces with Reactive Recruitment to help Guide Dogs Northern Ireland by giving them a substantial donation. This is to help with the availability of guide dogs available to those in need and are encouraging others to do the same.

Guide Dogs NI are encouraging people to make donations to improve the decreasing percentage of dogs and emphasise that every little counts. There are around 1,4000 guide dogs trained in the UK every year, and many considerations that go into the matching process between a dog and their owner, including details such as tone of voice and age.

Kerri McCartney, Marketing and Events Manager at BlackFox Solutions and Reactive Recruitment commented, “I came across an online article highlighting the long wait that those in need of guide dogs have to face before being matched. I felt something needed to be done so I mentioned this to BlackFox & Reactive CEO Max Mackin and within minutes we had decided to make a sizeable donation to help try and make a difference. This is one of the great things about working for a company that has such a strong moral compass, that we can help charities like Guide Dogs with the fantastic work they do. I hope our donation will urge other companies to raise awareness of the importance of their social obligations and to donate also.

The Guide Dogs volunteers work tirelessly to help those in need, and we have massive respect for them and what they do.”

Paul Armstrong, Group Director at Reactive Recruitment said of the experience, “It was humbling to see the fantastic work Guide Dogs NI do and we are delighted to be able to support them as they support so many locally.”

Guide Dogs Northern Ireland have many options for you to offer your support, donations, volunteering and signing up to My Guide. This is a guiding service that matches trained sighted volunteers to people with sight loss who need support getting out and about. While someone is waiting for a guide dog, or may not wish to have a guide dog, a My Guide partnership focuses on achieving a set goal, this could be around building confidence, increasing physical fitness, working towards a guide dog partnership, or tacking social isolation by assessing local communities, hobbies or pastimes.

If you would be interested in doing your part, get in touch with them at MyGuideNI@guidedogs.org.uk or find out more online: My Guide

There is also the ‘Use Your Senses’ 5K run in Stormont Estate on 1st June. For more information, see here: www.guidedogs.org.uk/uysbelfast2019

The Debate Of Interviewing: What Is Your Process?

If you have recently taken the massive step of becoming self-employed or have just started your own business and now find yourself in the position that you need to start employing staff, it can be an exciting, yet daunting experience.

So we wanted to give you some insights into how to best navigate the tricky process of interviewing potential employees. It can be a difficult subject; people have different views on what to ask, what not to ask and what’s appropriate. Industries have their own method of interviewing and most follow the same process each time.

However, don’t be afraid to mix it up at times, not only will asking a variety of questions be more interesting for you but it will make you stand out to candidates and portray your company as an enjoyable place to work.

This article looks at the different aspects of an interview, the do’s, don’ts and what questions could make you stand out from the rest.

There are plenty of relevant questions that should be asked such as, ‘tell me about yourself,’ ‘why should we hire you’ and ‘when did you face a problem in the workplace and how did you solve it?’ How your candidate answers these will give you an insight into how they work and how they will fit in with the rest of the team.

Asking open ended questions like, ‘What do you do in your spare time/what are your hobbies?’ or ‘Tell us a fun fact about yourself’ are brilliant ice-breakers and will help you find out how the person will fit into your team without being too invasive.

Inappropriate questions can make a candidate feel uncomfortable, asking them about their marital status, whether they have children or continually commenting on their appearance can be deemed as discriminatory. Always be careful when asking about their lifestyle, there are ways to find out about their personal life, without getting too personal.

Inappropriate or invasive questions can make a candidate feel uncomfortable and some, such as “Are you married?” or “Do you have children?”, can be blatantly discriminatory and illegal. It’s best to avoid getting too familiar. You should never ask a candidate a situational type question that you wouldn’t like to answer yourself.

Even though the usual questions are a must, don’t be afraid to add a different spin on how you ask them. We recently had a candidate in for a position, the interviewer asked them, ‘What will we miss out on if we don’t hire you?’ Although the candidate was initially taken aback by the question, his answer was that his short commute to work would be a benefit as he would be happy to come in early or stay late when needed and would be more motivated to do this because of how close he lives to the offices, and it was how he answered that helped him get the position.

Another example is when a candidate was asked ‘name a song that best describes your work ethic?’ The answer was just as quirky as the questions, ‘the lazy song by Bruno mars.’ Although this was a risky answer, the interviewer saw the funny side and offered him the job.

Sometimes it’s important to come across unique as well as professional when interviewing potential recruits. There are many acceptable questions to ask that won’t be inappropriate or embarrassing, take the time out to research and prepare ahead of time.

Although choosing the right question can be a challenge at times, you will need to take the time to prepare and research to decide on the best questions that will help you recruit the best suited candidate for your company culture, as well as the role itself.

Ensure you have given the candidate a clear understanding of your company culture and the person you hire is competent and has the skills needed to do the job satisfactory. At the end of the day, you will be spending between 40-50 hours per week with this person, so you need to make sure you are asking the best questions to help you figure out whether they will be a good addition to your team.

CEO of BlackFox Max Mackin Part Of Judging Panel For 40under40 Competition

Our CEO Max Mackin had a great time deciding the winners of Business First’s 40 under 40 with the rest of the judging panel.

Max commented, “It was extremely interesting to gain an insight into different characters working in Northern Ireland and what they contribute to the economy. It has also been very inspiring to see so many professionals working within different industries achieve so much!”

The event is organised by Business First Magazine and there will be a networking event on the 7th of June for all winners and judges to enjoy! To find out further details and gain access to the full list of winners, click here: https://bit.ly/2PqLH6Z

Northern Ireland Foodbanks Seeking Support! #ThisCanChange

We teamed up with The Trussell Trust Stewartstown ​Foodbank, to help by giving a sizeable donation and urge others to do the same.

Charities such as The Trussell Trust, are urging people to make donations and emphasise that every little counts. Recent statistics from the organisation show the percentage of people needing to use food donations has drastically increased. They revealed that December was the busiest month for foodbanks across the country last year, with some individuals claiming they could not live without the foodbank services.

The Trussell Trust network provided 159,388 emergency food supplies last December, a 49% increase on the monthly average for the 2017-2018 year. These statistics show the demand for foodbanks are significantly rising year by year.

Founder and CEO of BlackFox Solutions, Max Mackin commented: “It’s upsetting to think of the amount of people in need and it is admirable to see the work Edel Diamond and her team are doing to stop people going hungry. They do an amazing job and genuinely help a lot of people who need it.

Hopefully these circumstances won’t be the same next year, but for this to be the case, the government really needs to decrease the waiting time for benefits, the more people receiving their money, the less living in poverty. We are delighted to have played our part and hope many others will do this as well.”

Foodbank Manager, Edel Diamond, believes there is a lot more that can be done to help, she states: “All of our clients are referred for various reasons such as sickness, ill health, loss of job, loss of wages, benefit changes and benefit delays, any crisis at all which means they aren’t able to put food on the table.

“Since the introduction of Universal Credit, we have seen a 50per cent increase in footfall as clients are often waiting 5/6 weeks for their benefit without any money during that time.  So were before we might have had on average 3 families in each hour and a half session – that has now doubled and more.

We would love a society where foodbanks did not exist, however I fear they will be here for quite some time and if we can show compassion and offer a glimmer of hope to those in need then we are doing what we set out to do.

We could not function without our wonderful volunteers who give of their time freely and willingly.  They are the backbone of the foodbank and further to that the generous public and organisations and businesses like yourself.  Without food and financial donations, we wouldn’t be able to operate.”

Something needs to be done before this situation gets worse, to find out how to contribute visit The Trussell Trust for foodbank locations in your surrounding area and help make a difference.

Help or a Hindrance… Do You Think The five Year Plan Really Works?

“So, tell me, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” I’m sure many of you have heard this question before, at family gatherings, out for dinner with friends and most commonly while in an interview. The answer to this usually entails parts of life such as climbing up the career ladder, getting married and having a family. While all these things are important, have you ever sat down and properly thought about where you would like to be in five years, including all the achievements and experiences in between?

Most believe there are benefits to creating a structured five-year plan, while others argue that it adds stress and pressure to their already busy lifestyle. This article explores the benefits and drawbacks of developing your own personal plan and will make you consider whether one would be useful for you.

One of the main advantages to having a five-year plan is that it helps you find out your purpose by asking yourself ‘why do you have the objectives you do?’ It’s important that you look at each of your aims and goals and make sure your goals are relevant to your true intentions. For example, your aim may be to become rich but the reason for wanting to become rich may be to go on more holidays, so your true goal is to travel.

It enables you to refine your goals by figuring out your objectives and exactly why you want them. This is where the SMART measurement comes in useful, this method encourages you to make objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. With the Career Development Centre in University of Waterloo states that a plan of action will provide the necessary inspiration needed to achieve your future objectives.

Implementing a 5-year plan will also help motivate you to take action in achieving your goals. Breaking down each part of the plan into a quarterly or yearly basis will help you stay on track and work towards turning each goal into a reality. It will also help you to get advice from different industry experts on how to achieve your goals, you can ask for advice on certain parts of the plan, how to achieve them, if there is anything to add and so on.

One of the main disadvantages to creating a plan is no follow through, this means the time and effort that has gone into it has been a waste of time. Or even worse, there could be a follow through, but the reality, facts and assumptions of the plan have been too unrealistic for it to work. This can be demotivating as some people become too consumed with making the plan work.

Others argue that five years is too long of a time period, with the New York Time’s Virginia Heffernan revealed that around 65% of today’s grade school students grow up to work in jobs that didn’t exist during their childhood. So, if the working world can develop and grow in short periods of time, how is a person meant to stick to their original five-year plan without changing their mind or developing themselves. Therefore, every year you should review the plan and make any changes.

The five-year plan method definitely has a mix of lovers and haters, but after weighing up the pros and cons, what’s your thoughts? Do you think it will help boost your motivation into making your dreams a reality or does it become more of a hindrance than a help?

Perception or deception… Which category of millennial do you fall into?

Today’s millennials fall into two categories. For some it’s important to be perceived online as successful regardless if it’s true or not, and then there are others who are hungry for success whether they are perceived to be or not.

Do we finish early on Fridays? Can we bring our pets to work? Do we get free breakfast? These are common questions asked by the millennials eager to showcase online. They are digital natives, hence their need to post online, but has this ability give the perception of a fantastic life outweighed the reality of having to work hard to achieve it?

Many want a ‘cool’ job as it raises their online status while enabling them to buy items to show off in their latest post. They want to travel, shop and socialise more than working their way up the career ladder. Even though we all know the online world isn’t always as it seems, these types of millennials are swept away by the need to buy and travel to have an exciting online profile.

Many believe they should have early finishes and plenty of holiday days to help them maintain a social image, all the while still expecting to be given promotions and salary increases. The problem with this is that many millennials put too much focus on having more fun than working, equalling in an uneven work-life balance.

Many view work as an integral part of their life that’s helping them build the lifestyle, they want but are not willing to let the stresses of work negatively impact their social life, unlike other generations. Instead they get more stressed about making sure strangers believe they have a great life, instead of having one.

Then there are those who don’t care about the benefits highly, the number of holidays or the option of flexitime won’t be what makes them accept they job. They will say yes to a job offer because of an established company or career progression opportunities.

Even though they are dubbed the ‘entitled’ generation, there are those who have a greater grasp on reality and realise the importance of working your way up the career ladder to experience the life they want, rather than just pretend they do.

It’s time that the millennials more focused on perception drop the focus of an alluring life and get back to reality. Pay your dues, work hard and you will get what you are after and it won’t just be on your Instagram images. At the end of the day, while you’re choosing what filter to choose, there are those out there choosing what email to send and it’s those millennials who will end up with the better online profiles and it won’t just be perception.