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August 2012
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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Doing Less with Your Strengths: A Woman’s Secret

Posted by: Trudy Bailey

 

So, the pressure is on us women to ‘do it all’ and as we juggle demands to satisfy this, we find ourselves still continuing to add more ‘stuff’ into our day (ok, into the night as well).  Some days, you wonder how you got through it and, if you are anything like me, you feel like a day’s work has been done before arriving at the office. You look around to see if any of the other women are feeling as frazzled as you are. You apply another coat of concealer and gloss, feeling slightly inadequate as you sip your extra shot skinny cappuccino and wait for the effects.

 

But with this being the turn of the season as many women return from holiday and start to gear up for the final few months of the year, we have an opportunity to see – for once – about how we can do less, but more effectively.

 

In Capp’s Female Leaders Programme, Nicky gives some great strategic advice relating to how we can align our strengths as an emerging leader – I resonate with it all. I will share with you something practical tips about ‘doing less’ as you employ your strengths, as I confess to a little more practice at juggling! Here are some of my Realise2 strengths and top tips for real progression and ‘me time’.

 

Judgement – I make good decisions and accept this. Perhaps as a woman who wants it all, there was a time for prolonged guilt as a result of not ‘serving’ a particular individual or, the time I had made available for others.  There is no looking back, only pride in the decision to make a difference to those to whom I offered guidance.

 

Authenticity – I do what I feel is right for all concerned, and that even includes me! I know I can outperform my peers in the areas that energise me, so I recognise this and only look for praise and promotion in areas I wake up excited by. I become more resilient to challenges at work when I know that I am leading in a way which is right for me.

 

Persuasion & Counterpoint – Having been told when I was younger that I was always trying to get my own way, I know how to fully use these strengths to my advantage! I look for ways to make a difference to the organisation that have not been thought of before, and to be controversial. I love to challenge and to have passion in the process of winning people over to my ideas. This then gives me the autonomy to take ownership of the project and get noticed quicker than others.

 

Humour & Enabler – I know I want to have as much impact as I can with my two children in the relatively short time I spend with them. Being an Enabler with Humour means that I can not only support and encourage them at school, but also bring us closer together as we laugh about the challenges they have faced in their day. The homemade reward chart certainly enables the children to earn their pocket money, and cuts down my to-do list rather nicely! I can also create quicker ways to establish enduring memories with my Humour, as I challenge them to be as daft as me! Think about using the Enabler in you to create that ‘village of support’ that we all need.

 

Service – When I first completed Realise2, Service was in my top three and it now sits rather happily at number eight. Service has a tendency to be overplayed as we search for ways to be recognised. You will find climbing the success ladder far easier if you can engage more specifically and purposefully with your strengths, rather than being ‘well rounded’ in a more generalised sense.

 

Planful (a weakness of mine) – I have learned to adopt a strengths-based partnership philosophy at home. Once being slightly distracted by my partner’s strength in Detail, I now take full advantage as he enjoys some elements of housework!

 

Although, of course, you may not share all of the elements of my strengths profile, you can look to your own Realised and Unrealised Strengths in a different way.

 

From today, make the most of your post-holiday reflections to see how these final few months of the year can be different to those that preceded them, as you start to do less and enjoy more.

 

Follow the link to find out more about Capp’s Female Leaders Programme.

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Help Female Staff Excel at Work – Changeboard

Posted by: Nicky Garcea

 

I thought readers of The Capp Blog would be interested to read this post on the management strategies that our research shows are most effective for women, as published recently in Changeboard:

 

“Men and women like to be managed in different ways, but  in a climate of equality in the workplace, how is this possible? As the director of Capp (a global organisational psychology firm), I worked with Emma Trenier (consulting psychologist) to look at what women want from their managers, and what can be done to address their needs.

 

Recent research conducted by Capp has highlighted a number of key management behaviours, which make a real difference to women. These largely focus on attitude, relationships, and are not just about getting the job done…”

 

Read the complete blog on Changeboard.

 

Follow the link for more information on Capp’s Female Leaders Programme.

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Reflections on School Leavers’ Fortnight

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Over the last two weeks on The Capp Blog, we have focused on helping school leavers tackle some of the big questions they face as they consider moving into the world of work or undertaking future study.

 

Our blog topics over the course of School Leavers’ Fortnight have taken in topics including:

  • Employability – what it is and how to demonstrate it
  • How to differentiate yourself so that you stand out on an application form
  • Insights into the mind of an interviewer and tips for interview technique
  • How to help students and young people spot their strengths and apply them to their choices about future courses and careers.

 

We hope you have enjoyed reading the blogs and – more importantly – that they have helped you to help the students and young people you know who are grappling with these challenges at this stage of their lives.

 

A recurrent theme throughout our advice over this fortnight has been the importance of helping people to know, understand and maximise their strengths. For this, nothing is better than Realise2, Capp’s online strengths assessment and development tool.

 

If you want to help a young person find their right direction in life, you would be well advised to give them the most powerful gift of strengths. This is what Student Careers and Skills have been doing at the University of Warwick – and it’s making a real difference.

 

Share your experiences and let us know how you get on by using the Comment function on The Capp Blog below.

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The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With A-level results released today, we won’t be surprised to hear, yet again, that double-edged sword of a question: Are exams getting easier or is the intelligence of our students increasing? The pressure for students, nonetheless, is fierce. Places at university, internships, and jobs are more competitive than ever before; choosing the right course or vocation could be career-defining, and the fees for university places are higher than ever before.

 

Capp’s experience of how successful students rise above the rest is by knowing their strengths. Whether you are a parent, guardian, or a careers adviser, there is a significant role that you can play in enabling young people to do this. 

 

Strengths are the things we do well and find energising. People management research shows that when we use our strengths, we experience higher levels of performance, productivity, engagement, self-esteem, resilience, happiness and vitality.

 

As a result, it’s no wonder that graduate recruiters in companies such as Ernst & Young and Barclays Investment Bank are using strengths-based recruitment to hire graduates who are high performers; graduates who have the natural strengths and motivation to deliver exceptional performance in their role.

 

In addition, as a result of graduates knowing their strengths through strengths awareness sessions led by Capp, Warwick Student Careers and Skills at the University of Warwick found a measured increase in self-awareness, self-confidence, career clarity, confidence in writing CVs and articulating their strengths to recruiters.

 

You can play your part in helping students go from average to A+ through helping them to make the right choices about their future career. The key is facilitating a conversation about the specific activities that they perform well and find energising, and then helping them to align these to their career search, through the steps I set out below:

 

Step 1 – Strengths Spotting through Tasks: Look for things that the person does well, enjoys doing, and picks up easily. What do they have natural motivation for? What do they learn quickly? What do they do when they have the choice? These are all things that can be signs of a strength.

 

Step 2 – Check the Data: Review the strengths that have emerged through the above questions and check this against a student’s past and current academic grades and feedback. If a student has described a passion for being detail-oriented, curious, and being great at conducting experiments, yet have consistently achieved lower grades in Science subjects, you may want to know why.

 

Step 3 – Caution against Learned Behaviours: Learned behaviours are defined as things that we do well but find draining to do. Over-using our learned behaviours has shown to lead to increased levels of stress, disengagement and burnout over time. Be aware of these when conversing with students: If a student’s grades are high in specific subjects, but the interest, energy and motivation isn’t there, search deeper for a student’s true areas of strength because that is where they will excel sustainably. If you don’t, they could burn out over time.

 

Step 4 – Align Tasks to Potential Courses / Careers: Once you have identified possible areas of strengths for a student, start to identify the specific activities that a student would naturally perform well in and find energising. What courses or vocations would provide the opportunity for your student to do these activities and therefore use their strengths?

 

Step 5 – Go for It: When you have helped the student to spot their strengths, distinguish them from their learned behaviours, and match these strengths to their course or career choice, then help them to demonstrate that they have what it takes to interviewers, assessors and recruiters. See the earlier blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight for more help here.

 

As Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. Enabling your students to understand the richness of their strengths is one of the greatest gifts that you could ever give to them.

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An Invitation to all Working Women – The Women at Work Survey

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

Following on from Female Leaders Month on The Capp Blog, we are delighted to launch Capp’s Women at Work Survey – and if you’re a working woman, we’d love to invite your participation. You can access the Women at Work Survey here.

 

We are interested in understanding more about why as a woman you do what you do at work, your achievements, your career progression and role models, the advice you may need, your learning and the legacy you would want to see for other women.

 

As a thank you to all the women who complete the Women at Work Survey, we will enter you into our prize draw for an iPad 3 or three runner up prizes of a Spa Day. We will also give all our respondents a sneak preview of our findings and results before they are published more widely.

 

Thank you – we’re keen to collect responses from as diverse a working female population as possible – so please pass on this invitation to your female colleagues, friends and family as widely as possible.

 

We appreciate it!

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Inside the Mind of the Interviewer

Posted by: Emma Trenier, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Interviewers are like everyone else. When they have a long day of interviews ahead of them they feel apprehensive, hopeful, excited and tired. Just like candidates do.

 

Instead of focusing on your fear, focus on how you can best present yourself to your interviewer, the real person, in front of you.

 

From my experience interviewing and working with other assessors, there are three things you should know about us:

 

1. We have short concentration spans. Not all interviewers are exceptional listeners. We find it much easier to listen to the answers of candidate when they are well structured and include strong examples. When you provide all the facts about an example without us needing to ask multiple follow up questions, you make it so much easier for us – and so you’re more likely to impress.

 

2. We want to meet the real you. Interviews often run back-to-back and can be draining for interviewers. We are waiting to meet the candidates who reveal their true personalities. It provides a welcome break to see their passions, motivation and energy coming across. We are hoping to meet candidates who are right for the role and right for the organisation.

 

3. We are imagining how you will fit in. As we meet each candidate, as interviewers we are thinking about how you will fit in with the company. It helps enormously when you show that you understand the company’s values, vision and purpose and show commitment towards these.  

 

In an interview, there are many things that you can’t control. You can’t be sure of the questions you will be asked, what the interviewer will be like, how many other applicants there will be, or indeed how good they will be.

 

There are, however, a number of things that are within your control: your self-awareness, preparation, and ability to talk clearly about yourself for a start.

 

As you prepare to meet your interviewer, human to human, my top tips are:

 

1. Make it Clear Why You. Clarify the three things that stand out most about you as a candidate – the three things that you want the interviewer to remember. As you approach your interview, whatever style of interview it is, be sure to get these three things across.

 

2. Showcase your Strengths. Identify your strengths using Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and practice talking about them confidently. This will help you describe yourself richly rather than using too many clichés.

 

3. Get Feedback. Boost your confidence by asking people who you trust what your best features are and why they would employ you. This way you will be sure that you are speaking truthfully and will feel more authentic describing your credentials.

 

4. Use the STAR Technique. When you give examples, remember ‘STAR’. Describe the Situation (the context), the Task (what you had to do), your Actions (the part you personally played) and the Result (what you achieved). This will make it easy for the interviewer to gather all the facts that they need about you.

 

5. Let your Body Talk. Be aware of the clues your body language is giving away. Make sure you give a good firm handshake, maintain eye contact and refrain from foot tapping, hair twiddling and putting your hands behind your head!

 

6. Ask Questions. Always come prepared with three questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask questions and this is your chance to engage the interviewer in discussion, showing that you have thought carefully about this in advance.

 

So, with your interview looming, put your fear to one side, and take control. Remember that the preparation you do in understanding and talking about your strengths, motivations and experience will not be in vain.

 

You are the real you, after all!

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Stand Out on Your Application Form

Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

When applying for a job, there are two important opportunities for convincing a potential employer to select you over other applicants: the application form and the interview.

 

Many application forms now ask applicants to explain why they should be considered for the job – which is good news because it is your chance to sell yourself, make a good impression and secure an interview.

 

This means that completing an application form is not simply an administrative task – it’s an important part of the recruitment process.

 

Here are my top tips on how to maximise your impact:

 

1. First impressions really matter – make sure you complete the form fully and accurately and check your spelling. If you can’t complete the form online, keep your handwriting as neat as possible.

 

2. Identify your strengths by completing Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and apply them to the requirements of the job. For example, strengths such as Detail, Order and Planful would be very useful in a job that involves project management, while Service, Explainer and Listener would help you in a call centre role.

 

3. Describe your strengths in relation to the job responsibilities. For example, “I am a good listener and I am able to explain complex ideas to others clearly”. Better still, illustrate with an example – perhaps you ran the debating society or were part of a mentoring programme at school.

 

4. Be specific when you are asked to explain why you should be considered for the job. Build your answer around the job description and the person attributes to show how you fit the requirements – using your strengths examples to illustrate the point.

 

5. Include anything that demonstrates your initiative, motivation and employability – as well as your qualifications. This includes any work experience, paid or voluntary; other positions you have held, such as a team captain at school; hobbies and interests, particularly where you have learnt new skills (e.g., sailing, rock climbing or writing apps).

 

6. Stand out – what have you done that is different to the norm, that demonstrates that you have what it takes to succeed in this role, and showcases your future potential by highlighting your past achievements?

 

7. Seek feedback from other people and ask them to check your application form for errors and improvements before you send it.

 

By adopting these strategies, you increase your chances of being invited for an interview.  They won’t be enough to get you the job – that’s down to you, after all – but they will take you one step further along the process.

 

And remember, all you need to do is ensure you get to the next stage each time. At the final stage, of course, if you’re successful, you’ll be offered the job!

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Update from The Strengths Project, Kolkata, India – June 2012

Posted by: Avirupa Bhaduri & Alex Linley

 

In her post for the month of June, Avirupa shares with us the long-awaited arrival of the monsoon season, although this also brings with it its own challenges. Further, the changing political situation in Kolkata is having its own impact on Shiriti slum and the activities of the Women’s Sewing Co-operative:

 

“Monsoon finally arrived in the second week of June much to the relief of one and all. Every weather though brings forth its share of tribulation. Rain is welcome in our country, since prehistoric times, as ours is a primarily agriculture based civilization. In villages in fact the first day of rain is celebrated through rituals. But in urban shanties, the romanticism of rain is but a distant memory.

 

Shiriti, for example, gets water logged if rain lasts for days. Filth, animal waste, overflowing garbage, plastic packets, all clog the open drains, clothes refuse to dry, children fall sick, and water gets contaminated. Water-borne diseases are very common during this season.

 

But our month started on a high note as all of us were quite upbeat about the successful completion of the costumes in the 1st meeting of June. On the second week Sharmila informed that she had inquired about the price of covers for sewing machine. The local carpenter has given an estimate of about Rs.300 per machine. This seemed a lot of money for our paltry fund. The collective decision was to start with two and then make the rest one by one, subject to availability of funds.

 

The next week however turned out to be difficult. A new problem has cropped up. As we approached the club, a local youth came over and wanted to talk to me. I was surprised as I haven’t met him before. He introduced himself as Tinku, member of the new club committee. He asked me to meet them, to discuss the status of our sewing group. He sounded self-assured, even to the point of being arrogant, and I had a feeling he wanted some kind of monthly donation for the club, if we wish to continue with our activity in the club premises.

 

I immediately called Babunda, our ally and friend, the erstwhile chairman of the club committee. He informed that apparently the old brigade has been asked to leave in the last committee meeting. This change of guards was anticipated, following the state elections. The old members were veterans, all supporters of the communist party, which was in power. The new members are relatively young boys, eager to assume position of authority, owing allegiance to Trinamul Congress, the party in power now, in the state.

 

I told him that the boys hinted at donation, or rent, as they liked to put it, for keeping the sewing machines in the club, and for the women to assemble on Thursdays. He advised that selected members of our sewing group should accompany me when they call for the meeting and explain that the sewing project is for the benefit of their own sisters and mothers. We then called for an urgent meeting the next week to talk about the impending issue.

 

Sharmila, Mousumi and Arpita all wanted to be present when the boys called us. They added that if it seem unlikely that they become convinced that it’s for their family’s interest and relent, then we should offer a small amount as rent, which we will then try to generate each month through work, as a compulsion. This would be the eustress we need to get work.

 

We were all happy to garner some positive targets from a negative situation. With this encouraging parting promise we concluded the month, with hopes high for the future.”         

 

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Employability (Part 2): Five Top Tips for Showcasing Your Skills

Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Often school leavers are caught in a seemingly irresolvable situation: you need a job to develop your employability skills, but you need employability before you can secure a job.

 

But consider this: as a school leaver, you may be more employable than you realise.

 

Here are our five top tips for young people just leaving school and entering the job market, to help you assess and develop your personal employability skills:

 

1. Identify and map your own employability strengths: Understanding your own strengths will help you to assess your employability. You can do this by completing Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and then mapping your strengths onto the five elements of personal employability that I outlined yesterday. For example, if your strengths include Personal Responsibility, Persistence, Planful and Drive, what does that say for your level of self-direction?

 

2. Provide concrete examples of your employability: Look for the opportunity on application forms or at interviews to demonstrate your employability. Have you taken up a new hobby, researched it, taught yourself the requisite skills and become competent? Have you planned and arranged a holiday for you and friends? Remember, as a school leaver, employers will not be expecting all your employability evidence to be work-based.

 

3. Use work experience: Have you already gained some work experience, in the evenings, weekends or school holidays? This will have given you some insight into what it is like at work – what has it shown you about working in teams, solving problems or dealing with customers? What difficult situations have you handled successfully?

 

4. Gain more work experience: All work experience is useful for developing your employability skills and shows initiative on your CV and application form. Are there any internships available in jobs that interest you? Try searching the Internet or talking to your parents and their friends about opportunities where they work. Consider volunteering – unpaid work is still valuable experience and shows your work ethic to potential employers.

 

5. Find yourself a mentor – think of an adult you know who you respect and can talk to easily, preferably one who has the type of job you would like. This might be a member of your own family, a friend of your family, or the parent or elder brother or sister of a friend.

 

Talk to your mentor about their job and what it is like at work. For example, you might what to talk to them about the following things:

  • How did they get the job? Where was it advertised? What did they include on the application form? What questions were they asked at the interview?
  • What strengths, skills and knowledge are important for doing their job well? What are the challenges of their job and how do they overcome them?
  • Discuss your own strengths with your mentor and how you think they map onto employability. Talk to you mentor about how you can apply your experience to securing a job. For example, you may have been the captain of a sports team at school (which would demonstrate team-working skills and leadership potential) or you may have learnt to rock climb or play a musical instrument (demonstrating initiative, persistence and drive).

 

Leaving school and finding that first job is both exciting and daunting. Whilst having the right qualifications is still important for many jobs, understanding employability and being able to demonstrate these skills to potential employers is key.

 

In fact, it could just be the key that unlocks the door to your first job as a school leaver seeking employment.

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Employability (Part 1): Have You Got What Employers are Looking For?

Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Employability has become a familiar and commonplace term, used by employers and the media in the post economic-crisis job market. But what does “employability” actually mean and what is its relevance for school leavers?

 

Employability refers to a person’s ability to secure a job, to remain employed, and to progress and perform well in their job. Developing employability skills is important for anyone wanting employment, even those who already have jobs, but it is particularly important for school leavers.

 

Nowadays, there is significant competition for fewer jobs and, unfortunately, unemployment amongst young people is on the increase. Employers often choose to recruit people who have already developed their employability skills through previous work experience in favour of inexperienced school leavers.

 

There are two main areas of employability. The ability aspect is about possessing a good standard of numerical, literacy and ICT (information and communication technology) skills. This includes proficiency with basic arithmetic, being able to write and speak clearly, a good vocabulary, and being able to listen well and ask appropriate questions of others.

 

The second aspect of employability is to do with your personal attributes, strengths and attitudes. Regardless of people’s previous experience or qualifications, employers are seeking people who have the right mindset to flourish at work.

 

Across a wide range of industries and businesses, employers describe a consistent pattern of personal employability skills:

 

  1. A positive mental attitude: a willingness and readiness to take on tasks and contribute; an openness to change and new ideas; a proactive approach to identifying better ways of doing things; and a drive to get things done.  It’s about being a “glass half full” person.
  2. Team-working: being able to get on with others, communicate well and work in a team. This includes being able to deal with disagreements and conflict when necessary.
  3. Self-direction: being able to work independently, keep yourself motivated, manage your own time and prioritise your tasks. This involves taking personal responsibility for your work and seeking and accepting feedback from colleagues.
  4. Problem-solving: showing initiative and having a creative and flexible approach to solving problems, being able to think situations through logically and generate potential solutions. This involves being resilient and bouncing back when things don’t go right.
  5. Business “savvy”: understanding what your organisation does, what “success” looks like for your employer and how your work contributes to this success.

 

Understanding what employability means is only part of the challenge – school leavers also need to develop their employability and demonstrate it to potential employers, if they are to be successful in today’s job market.

 

See Part 2 of this blog tomorrow, when I will explore how school leavers can assess and develop their core employability skills.

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