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How have rogue employment agencies taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis? How to avoid them

October 29th, 2020 by

The global response to the COVID-19 crisis involved shutting down entire sectors of the economy and restricting a wide range of revenue-generating activities, so it’s no surprise that despite furlough schemes and other stimulus measures, many people have found themselves out of work.

Of course, there were also many thousands of people in the UK who were already seeking employment at the outbreak of the pandemic, and have been forced to cope with a closed-down economy for much of 2020.

However, recruitment activity has continued throughout the year, and this has led to an increase in the prevalence of rogue employment agencies who are prepared to defraud legitimate candidates in a variety of ways.

Why are there more rogue employment agencies in 2020?

The events of 2020 have been a perfect storm for an increase in fraudulent activity posing as recruitment consultancy services:

  • A rise in people out of work and urgently seeking employment
  • A fall in the availability of legitimate and lucrative employment opportunities
  • Disruption to some legitimate employment agencies’ activities

With a sudden and significant change in the way people are interviewed and appointed into new roles, this has opened the door to the potential for applicants to become victims of fraud.

It is worth noting that the criminals carrying out such acts are not recruitment agents at all, but fraudsters using the industry as a front for their activities.

Common types of recruitment fraud

There are some common ways fraudsters attempt to trick would-be job applicants and employers looking to fill vacancies.

The most obvious is to ask for a fee or deposit to be paid upfront, at which point the fraudster simply disappears with the money.

Some examples of this include:

  • Charging employers a deposit or consultancy fee for a job listing that never appears
  • Asking candidates to pay a finder’s fee to be referred for a vacancy that does not exist
  • Spurious upfront charges e.g. transport/accommodation deposits, uniform deposits, CRB check fees etc.

The charity SAFERjobs offers support to individuals who work in the ‘flexible economy’ such as freelancers and gig workers, and saw reports of scams and frauds by UK employment agencies rise by two thirds in the six months following the start of lockdown.

Why choose a reputable recruitment agency?

It’s quite clear why you should choose a reputable recruitment agency to avoid falling victim to a rogue employment agent – but it’s important to understand what ‘reputable’ means in 2020.

SAFERjobs found some rogue employment agencies advertising non-existent jobs on legitimate online jobs boards, before collecting fraudulent fees and deposits from applicants who believed the vacancy had been vetted by the website operators.

In such cases, the website that lists the vacancy often cannot be held accountable, the fraudsters themselves cannot be traced, and the victim’s bank refuses to issue a refund.

For all of these reasons, it’s crucial to choose a reputable recruitment agency like Alexander Hancock whether you are recruiting or applying for jobs, and we will continue to work diligently to place the best candidates in the best roles as the UK economy recovers from recent events.

 

What jobs are available during the COVID-19 crisis?

October 29th, 2020 by

The COVID-19 lockdown brought a sharp fall in employment in the spring months, with 673,000 fewer payroll workers between March and September 2020 according to the ONS.

But preliminary data for September showed a possible start to the labour market’s recovery, with 20,000 more employees on payroll, fewer people temporarily out of work and a rise in total hours worked.

As part of its labour market data, the ONS publishes figures for the number of vacancies available in the UK by industry – a useful indicator of where jobs can be found as we emerge from lockdown and the lingering economic effects of the pandemic.

Most vacancies overall

The largest number of vacancies overall in July to September 2020 was in human health and social work activities, at a total of 114,000 available roles.

This represents an increase of 11,000 job opportunities since the previous quarter, perhaps an indication of the rising demand for medical and care workers due to the pandemic.

A further 58,000 jobs were available in wholesale and retail trade including motor vehicle repair, up by 20,000 jobs over the previous quarter, and again potentially a sign of the extra demand within wholesale and retail supply chains since the start of lockdown.

Biggest ratio of demand

The data also shows which industries have the biggest proportional demand, defined as the number of vacancies for every 100 employees in each sector.

Again healthcare tops the table, with 2.8 vacancies per 100 employees in human health and social care jobs.

This time it is followed by jobs in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply at 2.0 vacancies per 100 employees in the sector – the only other industry with a ratio of 2 or above.

Largest growth in demand

According to the ONS figures, there were 144,000 more job vacancies in the UK in July-September 2020, compared with the previous quarter, a rise of 42%.

The biggest proportional changes were in:

  • Construction (1.0 more vacancies per 100 employees)
  • Accommodation and foodservice (1.0)
  • Transport and storage (0.9)
  • Motor trades (0.8)
  • Information & communication (0.7)

Because these are the biggest changes per 100 current employees, they are a useful way to see rising demand equally across sectors of different sizes – and show the variety of industries with greater need for employees at the present time.

COVID-19 recruitment advice

Whether you’re an employer or a candidate, our employment consultants are on-hand to help with the latest Coronavirus recruitment advice as we move through the pandemic and beyond.

Our insight can help applicants to find industries with the largest number of vacancies at the current time, and we can also help businesses operating in sectors where demand for employees outstrips the availability of talent.

To find out more, give us a call on 0161 929 6665 and we can help you get started with your next recruitment campaign or job search, whatever the coming months might bring.

Mental Health and Redundancy

September 18th, 2020 by

At the beginning of this month, the Guardian reported an estimated 194,706 people had been made redundant, and unfortunately, this number is rising. For many people, the immediate response to redundancy involves panic and an urgency to find a new job. It is important, however, to take stock of your mental health at this time. For many people, working is an innate part of their identity, and is important for intellectual satisfaction and overall wellbeing. Men are particularly susceptible; indeed one in seven men develop depression within six months of losing their job. Regardless of gender, work provides purpose, a social network and a sense of belonging as part of a working team. It is important to recognise the distress that redundancy can bring mentally, often involving a loss of self-confidence, social contact, purpose and financial distress. Losing your job is emotionally challenging at the best of times. But with the added pressures of a recession and global pandemic to deal with, it’s completely understandable if you find yourself struggling with your mental health.

If you have found yourself facing redundancy this year, there are steps that you can take to make this transition a little easier. The first thing to remember is that you have nothing to be embarrassed about and you are not alone. As noted above, hundreds of thousands of talented, capable people are in exactly the same position, and this is simply a product of the unfortunate global landscape. Before you throw yourself straight into a new job hunt, take time to pause and acknowledge your situation, accept your negative feelings and allow yourself to grieve the loss of work. Robust mental health is pivotal to the resilience required for applying for new roles, and it is important to take care of both your physical and mental health.

It is also important to talk about how you are feeling, whether that be with a partner, a friend, or a relative. Many people benefit from professional help too, so do make an appointment with your GP to find out what services are available in your area. Many mental health services have self-referral schemes and online resources that may be helpful. The charity, Mind has a wealth of online advice and support that may be useful at this time. Guided meditation apps like Headspace and Calm can be accessed for free, and can also be helpful in reducing any anxiety, sleep troubles, or stress that you might be feeling.

Creating a plan for yourself moving forward can aid the transition and assist in maintaining a feeling of control over your own life. The obvious impact of a job loss for many is financial uncertainty. If you have worked for your employer for at least two years you will be entitled to either statutory or contractual redundancy pay. If you have been made redundant because your employer has been liquidated, contact the government’s Redundancy Payments Office to see if you are eligible to claim statutory redundancy pay. Moving forward, create a weekly budget to prevent payments from piling up. Look carefully at your spending. Switching bill providers, reviewing shopping habits, and prioritising debts and outgoing payments can assist in getting a handle on your finances. You may also be entitled to benefits whilst you look for a new job. The main benefit you can claim while out of work is Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Universal Credit if you live in an area where it’s already been rolled out. There may be other benefits available to you, depending on your circumstances, such as tax credits or help with housing costs.

Feeling easier about your finances, then take advantage of the opportunities presented by redundancy. Invest time in yourself. Physical activity and being outdoors have been proven to boost mood and improve mental wellbeing, as well as aiding overall health. Going for walks, running, doing online yoga and exercise classes are all activities than can help to provide a new routine and lifestyle that you may not have otherwise had time for. Why not also take this time to clean out your home, partake in some DIY, and enhance your space? Clearing out items you no longer use can help you to feel more content with your surroundings and provide a physical manifestation of new and exciting changes ahead. Diet also plays a crucial role in boosting mental health and wellbeing. Practice cooking new meals and baking, add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, and stick to regular mealtimes to further enhance a new structured routine. BBC GoodFood and Mob Kitchen are just two examples of websites with free recipe that can help provide excitement and make a real event out of mealtimes. Try to cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods, especially in the evenings as they can disrupt sleep. If you’re someone who prefers to keep your brain stimulated and challenged, listening to podcasts, reading or doing puzzles can all be helpful in keeping your brain active and helping you to relax.

When you do come to think about your next role, create a realistic action plan to help you become controlled and organised in your search, being sure to break down your tasks into small achievable goals. Think about your previous role, the skills you developed, and your key achievements. Take a moment to celebrate all of your qualities and achievements so far. Be sure to also ask your former manager for a written reference. Once you have taken this time, update your CV and create an online networking presence on LinkedIn demonstrating your strength as an employee. Take the time to assess the aspects of the job you enjoyed, and the aspects you would like to avoid in your future role. Ask yourself if there are similar roles or industries that would suit your skill set and the work you have previously enjoyed doing. Reach out to any contacts you have who could tell you a little more about their industries and companies. Identify any areas your skill set could be further enhanced and used this time to enrol on courses to develop these. Coursera is a website with a wealth of free courses from universities around the world in almost every area imaginable; these can not only inform a personal or professional interest, but also help you to develop a sense of daily purpose and fulfilment and enhance your CV further.

Tips for getting a job in the COVID-19 era

September 17th, 2020 by

The full economic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown remains to be seen, but some sectors have already been badly hit by the difficulties of social distancing and reduced footfall in urban centres.

At the same time, many people are looking for new challenges, a change in working conditions, or were just ready for a new job before the pandemic began.

Here are five tips for getting a job in the COVID-19 era, whatever your reasons for looking.

1. Be patient

If you’re able to be patient, try to appreciate that this is a difficult time for many people and for many employers too – even if you are highly skilled and experienced.

Companies are facing a lot of disruption to working practices and workplaces, with social distancing rules that keep changing, but that has its benefits too.

At Alexander Hancock we are working hard to place talented candidates into suitable roles as quickly as we can, taking advantage of more telephone and online interviews to help you find your next job faster.

2. Be realistic

If you find yourself out of work unwillingly, try to draw up a budget and decide how long your savings will pay the bills, and how much you need to earn to survive over the long term.

Look at other options to reduce your monthly outgoings, such as remortgaging at a lower monthly repayment, or ask your lender if they have any repayment holidays available.

You may need to get through several weeks of jobhunting with no income, followed by a period on a lower income than usual.

Either way, we can help you by finding the best rate of pay currently available and getting you into a job faster – and we’ll be honest about the current conditions in your industry, too.

3. Be ready

When an opportunity presents itself, be ready to embrace it – this is where your patience can pay off.

If you can be available for telephone interviews at short notice, you can get your name higher on the list, which improves your chances of landing a job sooner.

4. Be flexible

If you normally work in a sector that has been hit badly by Coronavirus, consider whether you could move into a related discipline even if only temporarily.

We can help you to decide whether you want to do this, by looking at your skills and experience and comparing them with the industries we know have capacity for more jobs at the moment.

You never know – by placing you into a role that suits your experience and personality well, we might put you on a brand new long-term career path for the post-pandemic years.

5. Be optimistic

It’s easy to assume the worst if you find yourself out of work during a pandemic or the recession that may follow – but we can help you navigate this difficult time.

Many employers are offering more flexible roles and remote working, which could save you a lot of time and money on your daily commute.

Overall, this is a great opportunity to strike a new work-life balance, try a new career direction, or fill any skills gaps on your CV, all of which is good reason to be optimistic for your job prospects in the final months of 2020 and beyond.

What does job hunting look like during COVID-19?

May 22nd, 2020 by

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

May 19th, 2020 by

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.

Dropshipping

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.

What roles are companies hiring for in 2020?

February 26th, 2020 by

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.