COVID-19 Update:

The way we work is changing as we take necessary steps to protect ourselves and others

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Recruiting in Manchester, Stockport, Trafford Park, Bury, Warrington and the Greater Manchester area

Why working from home can be good for your business

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many more people to work from home than has previously been the case. Employers have adapted quickly to provide collaboration and conferencing tools to make this possible.

But you might already be planning to ‘get back to normal’ once social distancing rules are relaxed, which is likely to occur in the coming weeks to some extent, and continue over the course of several months.

However, it’s worth considering whether working from home can be good for your business in the long term. You could find that in more stable times, flexible working conditions can unlock considerable benefits for you and your staff.

Employee Satisfaction

First of all, many employees would love to have the opportunity to work from home once the COVID-19 pandemic is over (and it will end, although that might seem unlikely right now).

Working from home doesn’t mean lower productivity. In fact it can increase output for some employees, while others will be more willing to keep working after 5pm to finish their duties for the day.

Overall, companies that fully embrace homeworking as a part of their regular culture – and provide staff with the tools they need to do their job from home as standard – often make significant productivity gains as a result.

Talent Pool Access

Working from home is a form of flexible working, along with others like job-sharing and flex-time that accommodate employees who are unable to work precise 9am-5pm hours.

Together, these kinds of flexibility give you access to a wider talent pool including individuals who might normally be shut out from jobs due to fairly arbitrary contractual requirements like working hours and workplace location.

By catering for their more flexible needs, you can pick up the very best individuals for the roles you recruit into, and gain talent that your competitors have missed.

Transport Disruption

Working from home, the only commute is from bed to the home office or kitchen table. In some jobs, it might not even be that far, as employees might reasonably log on from a laptop without leaving the warmth and comfort of their bed at all.

In any case, on days when there is significant transport disruption due to delayed or cancelled public transport or road closures, your workforce will still be able to log on remotely, whether homeworking is their default or just there as a backup.

Reduced Overheads

Finally, allowing employees to work from home can substantially reduce your overheads. If they never normally come into the office, you don’t need to provide them with a desk space, a computer (many will prefer to use their own laptop or PC if it’s safe and secure to do so) or consumables like stationery and tea or coffee.

Your utility bills will be lower, and your insurance could cost less too. In cases where your entire workforce can be home-based, you might be able to eliminate physical offices completely.

The potential benefits vary between different businesses, but they are often extremely compelling. So whether you have been forced to introduce homeworking by COVID-19 or you are simply curious about how it can help your business, it’s certainly worth considering for the long term.

What does job hunting look like during COVID-19?

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every business to a greater or lesser extent, so no matter what industry you are applying in, it’s likely that job hunting has been affected for you too.

Whether these changes will create a ‘new normal’ for the long term remains to be seen, but with social distancing measures likely to remain in place to some extent for many months, there are a few things worth keeping in mind at least for the medium term.

1. Be patient

First of all, every stage of the job hunting process is likely to take longer, as many employers are dealing with significant disruption to their normal recruitment procedures.

Be patient – give them extra time before chasing for a response to your application. If possible, make a note of any deadlines for applications, so you know when to time your follow-up for the best impact.

Working with a recruitment agency is a good way to make sure your applications don’t get missed or misplaced by HR professionals who are not used to working from home.

2. Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit

At the moment, even talented candidates could face delays in finding work. Again, a good recruitment agency can arrange the introductions you need, but you might still want to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.

These benefits are designed to bridge the gap when you are not earning anything and special arrangements have been made regarding eligibility and how quickly you can start receiving benefits payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Face-to-face interviews

Strict social distancing rules mean very few employers will currently be holding face-to-face interviews, but that will change as those instructions are eased by the government in the coming weeks.

However, you may still want to request a video interview. Many employers will have used video calls and video conferencing apps for interviews during this time and might be happy to continue doing so even when it is not entirely necessary to do so.

4. Video interviews

If you are offered a video interview, treat the opportunity with respect – even more so than a normal video call in the course of your job.

Plan in advance so that you have a professional-looking background, are dressed and groomed to the appropriate standard, and if possible locate yourself somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed.

There are plenty of technical aspects to consider, such as lighting, video quality and microphone volume, but especially at the moment, employers will be a little more flexible as these are unusual circumstances for interviewers and candidates alike.

5. The future

Keep up to date with any changes to social distancing rules as the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds – especially anything that could affect your ability to attend an interview or even attend your new job at all.

If you are successful in an application, make sure you know if you can work from home and if so, whether that is a permanent arrangement or you will be required to commute into the workplace once it is safe to do so.

Job hunting is not impossible, in spite of the significant impact COVID-19 has had on all our lives. Stay aware and be flexible, as conditions will change.

Real jobs that you can do working from home

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

If you’ve worked from home in the past, you might have found friends and relatives treated you as though you didn’t have a ‘real’ job. This is especially the case if you were self-employed.

Many people are still amazed that it’s possible to earn a living working from home. While the ‘easy money’ ads you see all over the internet are usually a scam, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a substantial income to be earned without leaving your house.

Accountancy Services

Accounting and bookkeeping are essential services for most businesses, so they form a discipline with relatively guaranteed levels of demand and no real need for physical premises.

If you have the skills and relevant qualifications, you have everything you need to get started offering accountancy services from home.


Most of the jobs mentioned in this article are service-based, but dropshipping bridges the gap between a service role and direct-to-customer retail.

Basically, you list products for sale at a markup. When a customer places an order, you pass that order directly to the wholesaler who takes care of the inventory and shipping.

It’s a way to turn a profit without handling any physical goods yourself. You’ll need to be savvy with marketing the items you sell, but if you’re confident you can master that, dropshipping is relatively low-risk and potentially high-reward.

Etsy Store

Websites like Etsy provide a platform for creators to sell handmade items and homemade crafts directly to customers worldwide.

This is a little more hands-on than dropshipping and the service-based ideas mentioned in this article, but if you’re passionate about what you create and you’re confident you can sell it at sufficient scale to generate an income, it’s a rewarding career choice for many people.

Multimedia Services

Individuals who are talented in graphic design, sound production and video editing can capitalise on these skills to earn a good living from their own homes.

For many people, these skills started out as a passing interest before developing into a hobby and then a passion – meaning you can generate a solid income doing something you actually enjoy, in a place of comfort.

Training Services

Online education is growing fast and native English-speakers have a distinct advantage, as there is demand worldwide to teach English to international students.

You can do this remotely from your own home and there are online platforms that give you a reliable rate of pay, along with lesson plans and any other essential information you need.

Writing Services

There’s a wide range of writing services you can offer from home. Outsourced blogging and copywriting, editing, proofreading and translation services are all in demand.

You don’t need any equipment – just a computer and an internet connection – and as your reputation as a writer grows, you can scale up your business and raise your prices accordingly.

Pursue your passion

The above ideas barely scratch the surface of the different ways to make money from home, whether via the internet, awareness in your local community or otherwise.

If you have a true passion project and you can afford to take the risk, have a go. You can start many online initiatives in your evenings and weekends until you’re sure there’s a market out there.

Entrepreneurial spirit is a hunger that can only be sated by giving it your best shot – and if your idea is a strong one, it’s likely there’s money to be made from it.

How will COVID-19 affect office working?

Friday, May 15th, 2020

We’ve all made changes to the way we live, work and play due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations, and office jobs have been some of the most significantly affected.

In recent years there has already been a trend towards working from home. Employment law has required that employers give serious consideration to employee requests for flexible working conditions, but these may have been dismissed in the past for various reasons.

The Coronavirus pandemic shifted the balance. It’s no longer a case of employers considering whether to make an exception for individual requests to work from home – instead, entire workforces were ordered by the government to stay in their homes if at all possible.

As we move through the pandemic and into the period that lies beyond it, it’s going to be much more difficult for employers to legitimately reject working from home requests from any employee, whether they have a ‘need’ for flexible working or not.

Working in pyjamas

We’re in a state of flux right now, but looking to the long term, will we all be working in pyjamas in the years to come?

It depends in part on how quickly we return to ‘normal’ social distancing conditions. At present, and for the foreseeable future, there will be a need to keep two metres apart wherever possible, including in the workplace.

That is simply impossible in most offices. Remember that two-metre exclusion zone applies in all directions – face-to-face, workers seated side by side, facing each other across a desk, in meetings, at the water cooler or coffee machine, and so on.

While it could be achieved in some workplaces by constant self-awareness and changes to working practices, it’s much easier for many companies just to let their employees stay home and dial in over the internet.

Keeping in touch

This raises the question of communication and collaboration. There are plenty of tools that allow teams to collaborate remotely, such as online platforms to enable multiple users to edit a document at the same time, and of course video conferencing apps.

At the moment many of those tools and applications are being offered for free, or for a significantly reduced price, but it could be hard for companies to find free or low-cost alternatives once the usual subscription models are reinstated.

By then, many employees will likely be reluctant to return to the daily commute and formal office attire, having had a taste of working from the kitchen table with their own preferred brand of coffee on tap.

Applying for office jobs in COVID-19

The truth is, nobody really knows which parts of the old system will return and which of the many significant and sudden changes will become part of the ‘new normal’.

When applying for office jobs during COVID-19, it’s worth asking the interviewer how much they have been impacted and what temporary and permanent changes they have introduced.

At the very least, this shows you have a long-term interest in working for their company, while giving you some insight into how quickly – and to what extent – they hope to return to their previous practices regarding flexible working conditions, once the Coronavirus emergency begins to ease.

The way we work is changing: A COVID-19 update

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Here at Alexander Hancock Recruitment, we wanted to reach out to all of our candidates and clients regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the steps we are taking as a business to protect ourselves and of course, you.

We are making sure that our office continues to run smoothly whilst also taking the appropriate steps to ensure that we are all taking the appropriate precautions to protect everyone who comes into contact with this office.

Whilst we are continuing to give in-depth interviews to all our candidates, in order to work to government guidelines, we have made the decision to minimise contact on a face to face basis and will be carrying out telephone/WhatsApp interviews and anyone experiencing symptoms in our offices will be self-isolating.

None of our staff, or people they live with, have developed any symptoms or have any concerns, meaning none are required to self-isolate. For as long as that’s the case and as long as the government is happy for us to stay open then stay open we shall.

We are closely monitoring the situation and will take all appropriate measures to ensure we can remain professional whilst protecting candidates and staff alike.

This is a strange time to be in and worrying times for many businesses. Please support not only us but other local businesses (restaurants, cafes, independent shops) in whatever way you can to help.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your continued support during this difficult time.

What skills are needed for Industry 4.0?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

We are on the cusp of what’s being billed as the fourth Industrial Revolution – or in 21st century parlance, Industry 4.0 – so what skills are required to climb the career ladder to boardroom executive roles in the coming decade?

It’s a shortlist that reflects the year we’re in. For decades, 2020 has been a popular milestone among sci-fi authors, as well as being the deadline for many long-term environmental initiatives and sector-specific business development plans.

Now we’re living in the 2020s and although we still don’t have flying cars, we do have electric vehicles and it seems likely that trials of driverless cars will develop into mass-market autonomous vehicles during this decade too.

The pace of innovation is astonishing – so what does it take to make the grade when applying for jobs in the era of Industry 4.0?

The first three Industrial Revolutions

First of all, let’s quickly recap the first three Industrial Revolutions:

  • 1780s: Steam Revolution, mechanical manufacture.
  • 1870s: Electrical Revolution, mass production and division of labour.
  • 1970s: Digital Revolution, maturity of IT and electronics.

Half a century on from Industry 3.0, it’s not enough just to be computer literate. If you’re targeting senior executive roles in your career plan, you need to be ready to cope with whatever disruptive technologies come your way.

Mental gymnastics

Adaptability – or ‘mental gymnastics’ as it’s sometimes called – is the ability to think laterally and non-linearly in order to solve problems using innovative solutions.

With new technologies emerging all the time, appreciating how to apply them to improve efficiency and drive revenues in business is key to gaining a head-start on your rivals.

This is true not only when competing with other businesses, but also when competing with internal rivals for lucrative promotion opportunities.

Emotional intelligence

Despite the digital, automated world we now live in, emotional intelligence remains a crucial leadership attribute, especially in organisations with a highly flexible workforce.

The ability to detect when a remote worker is struggling in their role enables you to tackle their concerns head-on and show some support, which is often visibly lacking for people who don’t work in the main office or company headquarters.

Emotional intelligence is equally important in executive roles when holding negotiations via video conferencing, where it can be harder to pick up on non-verbal cues unless you have heightened awareness of them.

Visionary creativity

Finally, don’t be afraid to think big. We live in an era of true visionaries – private entrepreneurs shipping goods and crew to the International Space Station, and so on.

Just a few decades ago, some of these ideas that are now reaching maturity would have been dismissed as science fiction, but it is business, not government, that has achieved many of those pipe dreams.

If you believe there is an opportunity in a specific industry, it may be worth chasing, even if it’s what the business world terms a ‘big hairy audacious goal’ or BHAG – it might just be the vision needed to land the juiciest executive roles in the sector of your dreams.

What roles are companies hiring for in 2020?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Getting the job of your dreams depends on suitable vacancies being available to apply for, and this holds true from entry-level jobs right up to executive roles.

Of course some entrepreneurs build their own business from scratch, but if you’re entering a mature industry, it’s usually easier to join an established company and work your way up.

Here are five roles many companies will be looking to fill in 2020, giving you the vacancies and opportunities you need to progress towards your long-term career goals.

1. Data analyst roles

Data drives profitability in a wide range of industries nowadays, and that means talented data analysts are always in demand.

As new technologies emerge all the time, the data landscape is continually disrupted. This helps to level the playing field significantly for new entrants.

If you’re relatively early in your career, data analyst roles are one discipline where recent education can be as important as on-the-job experience in landing the best positions.

2. Specialist sales jobs

Disruptive technologies need competent sales teams who are able to explain the potential of new innovations to prospects who have never heard of them before.

In many cases, the sales teams working on raising awareness and orders of new technologies are themselves from technology backgrounds, rather than traditional marketing backgrounds.

This is giving specialists an in-road into sales and marketing, a dynamic and rewarding discipline that you might want to consider if you want to get out of the computer lab in your next job.

3. Executive roles

Leadership is critical in this time of disruption and continual innovation, so talented individuals are finding new opportunities in board-level executive roles and senior management.

Getting into these executive roles means combining good career experience with personal attributes like good resistance to high-stress scenarios and flexibility across multiple disciplines.

If you fit the profile, executive roles could be well within reach and it’s worth putting them in your career plan even if they currently seem like an ambitious aim.

4. Human resources

HR roles are diversifying too. An increasing number of human resources professionals are being tasked with upskilling internal employees, not just hiring from outside.

Internal promotions have always been popular to fill senior roles, but the climate of disruption means new senior management and executive roles sometimes emerge with nobody to fill them from further down the hierarchy.

This leaves a question – recruit externally or train internally? There’s no right or wrong answer to that question in many cases, but it is one that is often left to the HR department to answer either way.

5. Regulatory and compliance

Finally, with an increasing amount of compliance and regulatory demand placed on companies across many different sectors, companies need department heads and executives who can navigate the treacherous legal waters.

Again this is often driven by emerging technologies, such as the regulations surrounding driverless cars in your company fleet, or how to handle marketing data collated via a mobile app.

If you have good awareness of the issues confronting your sector or you have undertaken relevant legal training in the past, you could find you have a head-start when applying for senior-level roles that would previously have had little exposure to legal issues.

Are you looking to climb the career ladder? Contact us today for expert recruitment services.

The winding road to chief executive roles

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Chief executive roles are some of the most prized positions in any organisation, and getting your name on the door of the CEO’s office is a long-term ambition for many people.

But how you get there can be a very non-linear process. It’s always been a combination of many different factors, such as leadership ability, intelligence, a willingness to work hard, and often blind luck.

However, modern-day companies are increasingly looking for CEOs to have experience in multiple different departments, and you’ll often find chief executive roles occupied by former chief information officers or chief financial officers.

In some organisations the CIO or CFO is on equal footing with the CEO when it comes to expressing opinions around the boardroom table.

But by experiencing more than one management role in different departments, you improve your odds of getting into the C-suite overall.

Is ‘lateral promotion’ good or bad?

Moving into a different department at the same level of seniority is often thought of as ‘lateral promotion’ – a move sideways rather than up the hierarchy.

Research shows that this can increase your chances of eventually making CEO. However, too much lateral movement is not always a good thing.

Move to a completely different company and the evidence shows that you don’t help your chances, although on average you also don’t hurt them either.

But switch to an entirely different industry and you’re less likely to make it to CEO, so try to choose your sector early in your career and stick to it if you’re targeting executive roles as your long-term ambition.

Cutting corners to race to the C-suite

Increasingly, organisations seeking to capitalise on talented candidates are offering hybrid roles that make good use of your capabilities in multiple disciplines at once.

For example, you might work in the IT department but have significant financial responsibilities, giving your employer a single source for information about IT budgets and spending.

This kind of role is relatively rare, but if you’re aiming for executive roles in the future, middle-management hybrid roles are one way to show your aptitude in multiple areas at once, potentially removing the need for lateral promotion later on.

Right skills, right time

Surprisingly, the CEO isn’t always the individual with the best skills in sales or marketing, product innovation, technology or otherwise.

Instead, it’s about being the person with the best total capability across all of those areas. If you’re pursuing executive roles within your existing company, look at the current executives for inspiration when trying to fill in any gaps on your CV.

Covering many different disciplines to a good level – even if not the highest level – means you’re well equipped to step into any senior-level role that becomes available, especially if nobody else in your organisation has the skills to step up.

Often this is how senior execs find themselves in the executive roles they’ve been chasing throughout their career – by being in the right place, at the right time, with a varied skill set.

Your 5-year route into executive roles

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

You’ve probably been asked by an interviewer “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” but you might not realise that this is a question that is worth asking yourself, especially if you have an ambition to climb the career ladder into executive roles.

Getting into the C-suite is no small feat for anyone in business and, although it may seem like there’s a certain personality type that’s destined for the boardroom, that isn’t always the case.

For some people in business, it’s hard work and forward-planning that eventually gets them into executive roles, and the sooner you can set out your career plan, the better the chance for you to get a seat at the table too.

Why a 5-year plan?

Career mapping is all about long-term goals and ongoing personal development, and in most people’s career a five-year plan makes good sense, as it’s long enough to make significant progress but not so long that it takes too big of a bite out of your career.

If you’re targeting executive roles, ask yourself where you are now in terms of skills and experience, and what you need to do to climb the promotion ladder as quickly as possible.

Some of the most respected and renowned executives in business started out in entry-level roles with an ambition to become the president of their company – and many of them got there in double-quick time.

Getting started

The start of any career plan is finding the right role to begin with. Unless you already have considerable experience or extremely unusual qualifications, you’re likely to start out near the bottom in an entry-level role.

Keep executive roles in your sights. Apply for entry-level jobs with clear progression opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask about the promotion hierarchy upfront – interviewers should not be put off by ambition.

Remember that promotion, especially to the highest levels, tends to happen from within. If there’s a particular company you’re interested in, find a way to get in the door.

Earn your reputation

Show some initiative and excel in your role and you’ll build a positive reputation with the right people in the management hierarchy.

That can mean taking on responsibilities that are not strictly part of your job description. It may mean taking unpaid overtime or longer hours, or working on new initiatives and helping to bring them to maturity.

All of this helps you to show willingness and positions you closer to the core of the company, moving your name higher up the list when promotion opportunities arise.

Watch your goal

Keep your eye on the boardroom. Do whatever you can to ‘dress for the role you want’. Ask senior colleagues to mentor you, take on management-level duties like delivering training sessions, and so on.

There’s no clear-cut route map into executive roles, but there are sensible steps along the way.

Know where you want to be and plot the ways to get there – based on what opportunities are available to you in your entry-level role – and who knows where you’ll be in five years’ time.

If you are climbing the executive ladder, we can help! Get in touch with us today.

Alexander Hancock are rated among the top 3 recruitment agencies in Trafford

Friday, February 7th, 2020

The team at Alexander Hancock got an early Christmas present at the end of 2019 when we were listed in the top three recruitment agencies in Trafford.

It’s an area that spans from Old Trafford and Trafford Park, right down the west of Greater Manchester, taking in Stretford and Sale, Partington and Warburton, Hale, Timperley and our own home in Altrincham, among other districts located between the M62 and Manchester Airport.

With such a large part of Greater Manchester covered, we were thrilled to be shortlisted by Three Best Rated as one of the podium placed best recruitment agencies in Trafford.

The rating is a shining endorsement of every aspect of our service to candidates and employers like, so it was a huge compliment to be contacted by Three Best Rated to let us know we had been shortlisted.

What is Three Best Rated?

Three Best Rated use a rigorous 50-point scoring system to rank organisations in different sectors and different local areas.

Criteria used to rate businesses include history, reputation, trust, cost, complaints data, satisfaction, user ratings, nearness and ‘general excellence’.

We are one of the companies shortlisted in the category of Top 3 Recruitment Agencies in Trafford, which means even more to us because of how much of the city was in the running.

How did we do?

Alexander Hancock is the only company in our category to score the full 10 marks on seven out of the possible 12 categories – the other two finalists scored full marks on three or four categories each.

That means our entry on Three Best Rated scored full marks on address validation, business hours, contact info, range of services, location, website source and website standard – an indication of how complete and correct out TBR profile is.

We’re really pleased to be able to offer this complete and accurate information via the TBR website, making it even easier for people to find us when they’re looking for the best recruitment agencies in Trafford.

Is this a paid listing?

Absolutely not! Three Best Rated do not allow businesses to pay them for a listing. This was an independently scored rating and Alexander Hancock came out in the top three over all the other recruitment agencies in Trafford that TBR considered.

TBR say: “We display only businesses that are verified by our team, since customers deserve only the best.”

This is a sentiment we wholeheartedly agree with at Alexander Hancock, where we always aim to deliver the best recruitment services in Trafford whether you are an employer or a candidate, if you need our help get it touch with us now.