Qualified, Competent, Capable and Able but...

For a while now I have been searching for a job.  In my search I have encountered the good, the bad and the downright awful with regards to both internal recruitment and agencies.  I have jumped through hoops, (even agreeing to be interviewed via Skype whilst on holiday) for a role where the company were insistent that they wanted candidates interviewed by a certain time.   I have participated in doing numerous aptitude tests for a role that turned out to be a different/ more senior role than I was briefed on (this has happened more times than should be), to being asked, several times whether I want to be put forward for a job with no job description and then being advised that I don't have the right experience etc etc. And what could probably loosely be described as 'ghosting' having a conversation about a role at length and being promised an interview/being told that I have been put forward to the next stage and then never hearing from the recruiter again...

A consultant from an agency I spoke to recently said that over the last couple of years, employers are being 'extra choosy' in a way that he himself hadnt experienced in his 20 odd year career.

At the moment, my CV shows a lot of contract work - at one time this wasnt considered a bad thing.  Now, I have been advised that some employers are less likely to look at prospective candidates because of this...

In all my years of job searching I have never ever known it be this bad.....  I certainly thought that investing in myself and self funding for HRM qualification would be more appealing to employers also but I wonder whether this actually makes me in their eyes ineligible for roles that would/should otherwise be at my level

Has or is anyone else experiencing this?  Some agencies maintain it is Brexit related, others say this is a myth - any thoughts on this?

  • Hi Cass,

    For me working in the security industry, my recruitment is bound by BS 7858 which means you need to obtain references from each employment, and any gaps of employment are verified by proof i.e DWP letter.

    When shortlisting applicants, part of my criteria is would I be able to successfully screen the candidate, (looking at their history, gaps etc) this is because without successful screening and vetting being achieved in the first 12 weeks of employment, employment would cease.
  • In reply to Katie:

    Hi Katie

    Thank you for your response.  I understand some industries are regulated and need definitive explanations on gaps, in fact most employers want to understand the reasons, I certainly did.. - in these instances I outlined,  I was advised that prospective employer would not consider the cv because of the gaps and that the brief being given was that they did not want to be forwarded such CV's

    But this is a small part of the overall picture in terms of the experience of job hunting to be honest....

  • You are not alone, I too am experiencing all sorts of issues with interviews, questions and recruitment consultants. They seem to just want to get you in quick to get a fee, rather than looking for the right job. Don't get me started on interview questions and jd's. I had a jd which was 4 pages long - I am not looking for a CEO role! when questioned about this they said it was everything they could thing of! I think they need someone who could write a good jd. I do believe that if I volunteered (unable to do this on job seekers) it would look better. I too have jumped hoops and attended interviews at short notice. Now it looks like a lot of temp roles and the reasons are Brexit. I am thoroughly fed up and I even had my CIPD L5 Graduation today.
  • In reply to Jules:

    Congratulations on achieving your Level 5 CIPD qualification. What type of roles are you looking for?
    When you say you are unable to volunteer, does this include the evenings? Some charities are happy for you to volunteer when you can so this could be for example, 3 hours across 3 evenings - surely that would not conflict with your pursuit for work and your ability to claim JSA?
  • In reply to Cass Clothier:

    I was working in a stand alone role as a HR Administrator, but it was more like HR Manager role, then was made redundant. I am really proud to have done the L5, it was hard work, but I have a supportive family, which helped.

    I hadn't really thought about the evenings as I do have a Husband and two teenage children to deal with. I will speak with the dreaded Job (no jobs) Centre on Monday to clarify about voluntary work. I have a contact who is involved in Scouting and could help out there - at least until I get work.
  • In reply to Jules:

    It seems insane that volunteering in the evenings would affected you JSA. What about people who already volunteer who happen to lose their jobs and have to gone onto JSA? They wouldn't expect them to give up their voluntary roles, would they?

    Scouting has lots of good roles that could help build your CV - it's not just helping with Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. They need people to organise fundraising events, be on the committee (secretary, treasurer etc), people to check everyone has done their various training courses and track all that side of things... There's loads of roles available. Another good one is school governor - I kept my generalist HR skills polished by being a school governor whilst I was in a specialist role. You could also volunteer for your local CIPD branch - I bet they'd be delighted to welcome you and you could build your HR networks at the same time.

    Good luck!

  • Sorry you are finding it so tough to get another role and to progress your HR career.

    A few thoughts around your post which may / may not be helpful.

    Is the market worst now than 20 years ago? Well certainly in terms of some of the practices from recruiters (internal and external) I would agree. But I also think there has been a fundamental shift in the roles available for people to apply for. One of the consequences of the move to service centres and the HRBP model is that many HR jobs and departments are far far smaller than they used to be. Its usually in the middle roles than these cuts have been hardest. Whilst technology has reduced the need for some entry level roles , self service and the like, there are still a fair few about. Similarly (probably) at the top end. But the steps from Admin to HRBP are now, I believe far harder than they used to be from Admin to HRM as several layers have been taken away.

    In terms of poor Agencies and lack of feedback. Well I squarely and firmly blame the HR teams who appoint them and pay for them. If the HR department don't consider stipulating the levels of service that they require from their Agents, with regards to keeping in touch with candidates etc, then its a very poor reflection on their professional practice and overall professionalism. Too often we have passed the responsibility for contracting with Agencies to procurement teams without being clear about the levels of service we need to be included in the price. So we get Agency margins squeezed and poor service to our potential recruits.

    In terms of poor internal recruiters. Little excuse but recruitment is too often now seen as a commodity rather than a skill. Its a process and corners are cut to save money in the short term. It can be and often is the Cinderella service of HR one that we prefer not to think too much about .

    Contract work - its a personal thing and I think every recruiter will take a slightly different line. But in times where supply of candidates outstrips demand then it is inevitable that recruiters (be they agency or inhouse) can be very picky. So its largely down to how you sell the variety of experience you have in place of the longevity of building a successful practice in one or two organisations. Generally (and I have no stats to back this up) I would say that for most organisations they would be looking for an internal track record with demonstrable success and delivery over 2-4 years in an organisation (as ideal) before moving on. Clearly with lots of contract work you have to push the variety and accelerated experience (if this is true) and show why you are ready, willing and able to take a longer term job now and contribute over 2-3 cycles. I do think it adds a challenge but also an opportunity.

    Is Brexit to blame? Probably not IMO. certainly it has delayed some business decisions but not as many as people think (yet) and at the moment there is a certain wait and see approach. But the lower down the HR career structure you go I think Brexit has had a far diminishing impact.

    Sorry not real new ideas here, just some thoughts on the macro movements creating this difficult situation for you and others. There are roles out there but fewer than there were and therefore employers can (and should) be more choosy. But given a fair wind, lots of effort and some luck there are roles out there for you. I was once told that getting a full time job is a full time job in itself and I think this has never been truer.

    Good luck
  • In reply to Keith:


    Thank you for taking the time to respond - its always useful to get other points of view.

    I agree with you in terms of agencies, feedback and HR's part in it - it is something that I have stipulated in the past, particularly when working with 'High Street' agencies. I should have said that I do find with individual consultants who are not tied to larger agencies, you do tend to get that more personalised, tailored and respectful interaction.

    I also see that the steps from Admin to HRBP is far less seamless, even compared to a couple of years ago. At that time I knew a few colleagues who had spent 2-3 years as administrators with maybe 18 months - 2 years at Advisor level who were then poised and attained roles at BP level. Now, people that advertise for BP's tend to want someone who has already held that title, sometimes even for the rarer Junior BP roles. Perhaps this has evolved as a result of those people 'stepping up' and not having the requisite experience and having to learn in situ or just that there is the ability for employers to be very select in what they want.

    In relation to qualifications, I also saw in the past that this was as accepted (in some industries) as experience, maybe not as much but still viewed positively even on its own. Now, you need that qualification AND proven experience to even be considered for some roles.  

    In the meantime I will continue with my efforts, my studies and have the belief that the wind of change will be directed in my favour. It certainly is time consuming and mentally taxing looking for a full time job and certainly in this climate there is much truth to this.

  • In reply to Jacqueline:

    I've checked this morning with the delightful job centre. Apparently I can volunteer, but cannot take any payment and have to still be looking for a job and be available for interviews. All of which I am doing. I've found a site for volunteers, but it is not very up to date. I'll have to ask around. I'm going to a cipd seminar tomorrow so I can ask then. I just need full time job before I lose my marbles. Anyway job centre told me about a job fair. Last time I went to one it was only the police or car work companies. Not great, but I'll go and look, you never know.
  • I also have a slightly odd CV as I career changed into HR and my job title was HR Administrator even though I was doing an Advisor role. I struggled to move on to an official Advisor job, even though I was getting interviews, and realised I was never the 'safe' choice candidate for employers, although a lot of them found my background intriguing.

    After a few months without success, I focused on building a good relationship with agents at two HR specialist agencies, being honest about what I could offer and what I was looking for. They were great - no more applying for everything with the right title, but they really helped to identify the quirkier roles that suited my background. And here I am now as an HRBP in yes, a bit of an odd situation and company (and an element of risk) that probably would have put a lot of candidates off, but with lots of scope and I really enjoy it.

    So my advice is to find a smaller specialist agency who will work with you to find the right role, really get to know them, and don't waste time applying for roles that are vague or not quite right - or roles that 100 other HR people could do just as well. Go and hunt for your niche.
  • In reply to Fiona:

    Thank you for your response. My experience with agencies has not been great at all however, there are the odd one or two consultants that definitely stood out from the rest, and when they have 'that' opportunity I am confident that they will contact me.
    In the meantime well done on securing your role as HRBP - I must admit I am intrigued by what you call an 'odd situation' and element of risk, but glad you are getting enjoyment from it nevertheless