Tag: Jobs

It’s ‘Monday blues’ time…but you should love Mondays. Here’s why. 

Have you ever had a case of the Monday blues? Who am I kidding, of course you have. Unless, that is, you’re a multi-millionaire Premiership footballer (in which case: hello, can we be friends?). Irrational or otherwise, many people spend their Sunday night wishing that the weekend would just stick around a little bit longer. 

Once you’ve given up your Cher impression and accepted that you can’t turn back time, perhaps it’s time for a small dose of common sense. 

Ten reasons that you need to get over the Monday blues

1. A productive Monday makes for a really good week. That thing you’ve been putting off for weeks? Do it 9am Monday morning. Chances are you’ll smash it, and the rest of your week will end up super productive – which means you’ll enjoy next weekend even more! (Disclaimer: if that thing you’ve been putting off is ‘transport something valuable’, please ignore my advice to ‘smash it’)

2. An irrational fear of Monday actually ends up ruining your weekend. If you spend your Sunday evening dreading Monday, you’re ruining one day of your weekend. That time is surely better spent doing something….fun, no?

3. If Monday really fills you with dread, you’re in the wrong job. Chances are you spend 40 hours a week working. That’s about 1,800 hours a year. If you hate every single one of those hours, go out and get a new job. 

4. According to research by Red Letter Days, most people are more productive on a Monday than any other day. That means a Monday is actually likely to make the rest of your week easier. May as well embrace it! 

5. New week = clean slate. Have a bad week at work last week? Break the coffee machine, incurring the wrath of the whole office? Head to the gym in the morning only to stop at McDonalds on the way? It’s a new week – and a fresh start. After all, those diets always start on a Monday, don’t they? 

6. 1/7 of your life is taken up by that dreaded Monday. Is it really rational to live in fear of 1/7 of your life? May as well enjoy it, it’s the only one you’re going to get! (If you believe in reincarnation, go ahead and ignore that last sentence – you’ll come back as a butterfly or something cool, and you won’t even know what a Monday is)

7. Monday is a great day to do those boring chores everyone saves for the weekend. Did you, like me, spend far too much of your weekend cleaning the kitchen or bathroom? You’d be much better off doing your menial household tasks on a Monday, and spend your weekend doing something fun

8. It’s only four more days until the weekend. Seems like a great time to start planning, right?! 

9. Very few people like Mondays. Imagine how fun it would be to wind them up by being ridiculously happy? 

10. Bob Geldof didn’t like Mondays. Do you really want to be like Bob Geldof? Thought not. 

There you have it. Monday shouldn’t be feared – it should be conquered. Happy Monday!

@JasonMcIntosh88

Flexible working – millennial fad or essential business practice?

It’s difficult these days to talk to someone about what they look for in a job without discussing flexibility. ‘Flexible working’ has become a huge desireable in the workplace, and often recruiters go to great lengths to outline the “great flexible working options that my client has!” But what does ‘flexible working’ even mean in 2017 – and is it really essential for employee engagement? 

What does flexible working even mean?! 

Flexible working means something different depending on who you talk to. For some, flexibility is the ability to start and finish work whenever you please (within reason…!). For others, true flexibility is only found in the ability to do your job where you please. Others again see flexible working in the embracing of technology – in other words, how you do your job. 

As someone who has great passion for the ability to work flexibly, the practice for me means all three – the choice to work (or start/finish) when I want, the option to work where suits me best (and, crucially, where I’m most productive) AND the ability to use technology to influence how I work. It’s crucial, therefore, that your firm invests in the ability to facilitate this. For the most part, this means an investment in technology that frees your staff from the shackles of their desk – but also an investment in the culture of your company. 

Do we NEED to offer flexibility? 

For most, it seems recruitment of talented, engaged staff is becoming a challenge. Call it the ‘millennial effect’, if you will, but graduates and other prospective employees have a different set of ideals when it comes to the corporate culture that they want to adapt to. A significant part of this is an investment in flexible working. 

The Deloitte Millennial survey for 2017 finds that 67% of millennials are able to start and finish work whenever they please within certain limits. A pretty big 64% also report the ability to work regularly from a location “other than their employer’s primary site” – facilitated mainly by the how factor above, being advancements in working technology. 

The survey also finds that 84% of millennials report “some degree of flexibility in their working arrangements” – with 39% reporting that their employer is highly flexible in their working arrangements. 

Is it possible, however, that such findings are a product of a ‘millennial fad’? Maybe it’s true that millennials are just lazy? 

Not at all. In millennials (and I’m talking the more youthful end of the millennial spectrum – after all, apparently I’m one myself!) we have a generation who have grown up conditioned in the psychology of everything being ‘on demand’. It follows, therefore, that we should expect the greatest level of engagement from this generation when we provide them with the ability to engage with their work life in the manner to which they are most adept – through ever-advancing technology. 

This should, logically, provide an ability for employees to work where they like. The scene that comes to mind is that of a Californian Starbucks packed with consultants working 5 hour days on their Mac whilst sipping a non-fat caramel macchiato (I have no idea what that is – I’m sincerely hoping it’s actually a coffee). 

The reality, however, should be that our employees can work seamlessly on client site, or at home. In my experience, the ability to work at home on a semi-frequent basis is an easy way to ‘buy’ enhanced employee engagement. I say ‘buy’ in inverted commas because the cost is nothing. Enhanced employee engagement, together with the mental and physical health benefits of allowing someone to work at home, for no cost above the technology investment that you’ve hopefully already made – win win, no? 

The bottom line is that the days of employees sat at a desk 9-5 Monday to Friday are over – at least in the real world. Employees are actively seeking flexibility – and other firms are embracing it. To not invest in an ability to work flexibly in 2017 is a strategy that can surely only fail. 

What is the perfect balance of flexibility and control? 

From discussing flexible working with many people over the past few years, the biggest concern from an employer point of view is the inability to directly control the output. There’s a very logical fear of having large swathes of employees sat at home, feet up, watching Friends (or whatever the millennial generation watch these days…Spongebob?) and swivelling a mouse every 90 seconds. 

The important thing to remember is that flexible working must be based on trust. The trust that you need to have in your employees to deliver – which is based on good management – but also the trust that an employee needs to be able to have in their employer to facilitate it. 

Building a culture of trust in flexible working means setting the tone at the top. Senior management should be seen to actively embrace flexibility – and also be seen to be delivering on their required outputs and be readily available during the working day. More junior employees should have a clear expectation of output defined – and trusted to deliver. Employees also need to see the trust that the employer has in them to deliver – trust is very much a two way street. 

The important thing to remember is that flexibility can be developed over time – starting from a little bit of flexibility in working times can lead to the flexibility to work where you please, once you’ve proven that you can be trusted to make it work. 

And at the end of the day, that’s what’s important – being flexible needs to work for all parties. Managed properly, and implemented effectively, the practice of flexible working can increase both productivity and employee engagement. It truly is a scenario where all parties can win. Is your company fully on board – or lagging behind? 

@JasonMcIntosh88

Interviews – tips to stand out from the growing crowd

Interviews – tips to stand out from the growing crowd

The prospect of an interview for a graduate job (or any other job for that matter – especially since many firms are now recruiting straight from secondary school) may be daunting for many people. For most, it’s a chance to get the first step on the career ladder with a large, well established firm – and their future may seem to rest on their performance over that hour-long period.

However, the vast majority of candidates have no idea how to prepare. Sure, there will be plenty of evidence of frantic ‘interview tips’ searches in their browsing history…but whether that has translated into a plan to tackle the interview is another matter.

I’ve thought a lot about this very issue recently. Partially due to reflecting on my own experiences during my job search, but mainly having spoken to those responsible for interviewing graduates in my profession (both in my company and outside it).

This post therefore aims to share a number of tips which should benefit you both in your preparation for the interview, and in the interview itself.

Fail to prepare – prepare to fail.

Sounds obvious, right? An interview is not something to be taken lightly. Your future career depends on your performance. Rocking up to meet someone in a senior position and hoping to ‘wing it’ just isn’t going to work.

The biggest amount of effort in your preparation should be in understanding the role you’re applying for. It should be obvious, but this extends to more than just knowing the name of the role itself. Ask yourself a few questions; What does a typical day look like? What role will I fill in my first year in the job? What’s expected of me from day one? These are the types of questions you should know the answer to; if you don’t, you need to find out.

Research will be your friend here. Chances are, the company you’ve applied for has a website (let’s face it, even the corner shop has a website these days). Go online, navigate through their pages, and make some notes. This should get you started. Employers also love people who are forward-thinking. Is there any information available on the company’s growth plans, market share or latest developments? Use it to show that you’re up to speed already. 

One thing you’ll learn as you progress in any career is how important building a network is. Have you got a network in place already? Use it. Ask someone who works in the field for which you’ve applied about the job. Not only will this help you to understand the role, but bringing it up in interview will show that you’re serious about succeeding.

Know your CV

This bit should be obvious – but you’d be surprised at how many people can’t talk about parts of their CV. At this point, you should have a solid CV in place (and if not, that’s a topic for another day). Hopefully it’s all true (believe me, you’ll get found out otherwise!) – so read it through. After all, the document is supposed to be about you – if you can’t get you right, how could you be trusted to get anything else right?

Make sure you know not only your employment history, but any skills or knowledge that you quote. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if you say you can speak Spanish, but can’t respond to “¿como estas?”

Furthermore, you should reflect on what your experiences have taught you. We’re all learning every day – nobody wants to hear  about how you’re the finished article, rather they’d like to see that you learn from your journey.

Be confident…but not cocky

Confidence is key in an interview. You have to believe that you are the best person for this job – and you have to show the interviewer that you believe it. Talk about your experiences with enthusiasm and conviction. If you think you have a certain skill – say so!

You do need to watch out, however, for the potential for confident to come across as cocky. Remember, you’re in the interview to sell yourself to your prospective employer. A little bit of humility would go a long way. No doubt it’s a tough balance to get, but it’s important.

One online interview tips page I’ve seen recommends you ask the question “Why should I want to come work for you?”. Don’t do it! It’s your responsibility to find out whether the company is for you – selling yourself as a must-have commodity is sure to drop you down the list of desirable candidates.

It’s not just what you say, but HOW you say it

Albert Mehrabian’s study on communication says that only 7% of the impression you create whilst speaking is from ‘verbal’ components. 38% comes from ‘vocal’ (i.e. how you say it – tone of voice), and a huge 55% of the impression you create comes from your ‘visual’ indicators (body language etc). Imagine, therefore, if you are saying some wonderful things, and making yourself sound incredibly experienced – but you’re doing so whilst slouched in your chair staring at the temperature gauge on the air conditioning.

Pay attention to your body language. It sounds basic, but get the basics right and then worry about the detail. When you walk into the room, make sure you give a firm handshake and maintain eye contact. There’s genuinely nothing worse than placing your hand into someone else’s and letting your wrist go limp! Maintain that eye contact throughout, looking away every few seconds (I doubt you’ll be successful if you state the interviewer out for half an hour…). Sit up straight, have some form of expression on your face (bored isn’t a good look!), and actually show that you’re interested. 

The basics won’t get you the job – but getting them wrong might just rule you out. Oh, and show up on time – and dressed well. If you were planning on doing anything other than this, then you can probably give up now!

You’re a real person – an individual – so show it

As I’ve already mentioned above, employers hire a person – not a CV. So don’t forget, as you sit in your interview, to have a bit of personality. Build a rapport with your interviewer, be funny if you like (not too funny mind – getting a job is a serious thing!), but be yourself. You might think that sounding like an expert accountant who can quote every IFRS and its amendment date will make you stand out – but what will make you stand out is your personality. 

Did you win the tiddlywinks competition at university? Did you captain the monopoly society? Can you play the bagpipes? Anything that’s unique about you – make sure to use it. If an interviewer comes out of your interview and tells the decision-makers anything, you can guarantee that the memorable interview will be mentioned first. Be that memorable interview (for all the right reasons!). 

Most of all, be genuine about why you want the job. Have a passion for the role that you’re hoping to fill – and show it. 

Get the job!

In summary, a few key tips for a really good interview are: 

  • Prepare, then prepare some more
  • Know your background – and why you’re well suited to the job 
  • Be confident!
  • Get the basics right – body language IS important
  • Be you

If you get the above right, you’ll put yourself in with a really good chance of landing that job. 

Ultimately, you might find that the job isn’t for you. But one thing’s for sure – you’ll learn from the experience and be infinitely better next time around. After all, it’s experience that’s ultimately going to set you apart from the ever-growing crowd.

@JasonMcIntosh88 

Why choose a career in Audit? It’s simple.

Why choose a career in Audit? It’s simple.

It’s a question I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, more times than I could count over the past five years. “Why audit?”. There was a time not so long ago when audit was the default route into the graduate employment world for accountancy students. Many threw themselves into the job without so much as a second thought for what they were getting into. But here’s the thing: millennials are smarter than they’re given credit for. The days of taking the first job going are over, and more and more graduates are undertaking detailed research into the profession.

I have been an auditor for a little over five years now. I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of those graduates that threw themselves into the role without a clear understanding of what I was going to do. Sure, I did the research before the interview. I could quote a huge amount of nonsense on what the audit profession was, and I quite happily wheeled out the “An auditor is a watchdog, not a bloodhound” line (FYI – as great a quote as it is, it’s the last thing I’d want to hear interviewing a prospective candidate!). But the truth is that I had too little an idea of what I was going to do.

I’ll tell you a secret though: I love what I do. And it’s because of this that I want to encourage people to think about (and choose) the profession. So let me give you a bit of an insight into why audit should be the career for you.

What does an auditor really do?

I’ve been to countless careers fairs over the past five years (and for many years before that as a student – I’m guilty of being the kid that’s only there for the free pens!). The question I’m asked more than any other is “What do auditors do?”. The answer sounds like a bit of a cop out – but it’s not. The truth is the life of an auditor is as varied as you could imagine. Sure, your first year will be spent checking through invoices, reading financial statements, looking at bank statements. But each day brings something different – and each day that goes by brings something more interesting than the last.

You can, no doubt, find a perfect description of an auditor from any search engine. But don’t get too bogged down in trying to understand everything that an auditor does. Just know that an auditor is a third party ‘gatekeeper’ providing assurance over the contents of a set of accounts, and that an auditor should be a business advisor to his/her clients. Everything else you’ll learn as you get stuck in.

So I have a vague idea of what an ‘audit’ is. Why is it for me?

If you read the above and wonder whether the world of audit could possibly be for you, here’s the best piece of advice I could give you: if you have any desire to work in the world of business or finance, you couldn’t possibly get a better grounding in how that world works than in audit.

You’ll get first hand access to businesses you’ve seen in the news all your life. You’ll also get first hand access to businesses that you’ve never heard of (but maybe you’ll wish you had that idea first!). And everything you can find out about that business will give you the greatest thing you didn’t know you needed: experience.

The part of my job that I enjoy most as a manager within an audit department is watching people develop. I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with people who supported me in the journey towards being a business advisor, and getting to play a part in that same journey for someone else gets me up in the morning (not literally…my dog jumping on my bed literally gets me up in the morning!).

Oh, and you might just have a bit of fun outside the office too. Being part of a group of people all going through the same journey certainly leads to quite the social life! Until, of course, you get old and can’t keep up any more (or so they tell me…).

Why choose audit? Why not!

On top of the experience that you’ll gain, you’ll work closely with people experienced and otherwise. You’ll grow your network faster than you thought possible – and when people much older and (occasionally) wiser than you tell you that it’s never too early to start building your network, listen to them. You never know when that random person you met at class one day might come in useful!

I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to work for a great company. I work with highly intelligent people, all pulling towards the same goal. Do your research, ask questions at those graduate fairs, and pick the firm that will give you the best possible training.

And if you’re thinking about a career in audit, I can assure you that you’ll not look back regretting it. Take the plunge…and be willing to learn every day. Oh…and try to have a little fun along the way!

Twitter: @JasonMcIntosh88