What do you look for in a charity recruiter?
Where can things be improved? And - be honest now - does our bum look big in this?
Okay, not the last one (sadly we already know) but two of these questions are central to our survey with Third Sector Jobs, where you can share your views on charity recruitment with the chance to win a £150 Amazon voucher!
What are we asking?
As a charity professional you’ll already appreciate the importance of listening to the people who use your services: it’s vital to get a true understanding of their needs, how well you’re currently meeting them, and how you could evolve to benefit them further.
That’s exactly what we’re keen to know too, so we've once again partnered with Third Sector Jobs for a short survey on recruitment in the charity sector.
► If you haven’t worked with us before, don’t worry – you can still complete the survey and enter by sharing your thoughts and experiences of charity recruitment; what works for you and what doesn’t? What could recruiters do better and what are the key things you look for? And even if not from direct experience, if you have any perceptions of Harris Hill (though we appreciate that's not compulsory), we’d love to hear about them.
► Meanwhile if you also have feedback from working with us - to recruit or to look for a job (or both) we're very keen to hear about it too; what's worked well, where improvement's needed, and what you’d most like to see from us in the future.
How to participate
Since last year’s survey we’ve been hard at work on changes both front of house (like this very site) and behind the scenes to continuously improve what we do, but only you can tell us if we’re going in the right direction, and what really matters to you when it comes to recruitment.
So please do, and with a bit of luck you could soon have some spending to do too!
The survey closes on Thursday 28th February and we’ll draw the prize winner as soon as possible thereafter - you’ll find all the terms and conditions on the survey page.
Find out more from Third Sector or just click below to get started:
To complete the survey should take no more than 5 minutes and you can choose to express your views based on experience of job hunting within the sector, recruiting, or both. If you'd like to answer from both perspectives, select 'I have hiring responsibility' to answer firstly as an employer, and the questions relating to job-seeking will follow afterwards. However you only need to answer from one perspective to be entered for the prize draw.
We’re always open to adding new faces to our friendly and diverse team – find out more about what it’s like to work for us, the opportunities available and the kind of people we’re looking for.
Recently expanded into our new South West office, our executive team offer bespoke recruitment solutions for CEO, chair, senior management and trustee positions, with an exceptional track record of success.
Our hugely popular series of inter-charity competitions includes bowling, quiz nights and lead sponsorship of the London Charity Softball League! Get the lowdown on those and more events here.
If you're looking for interview tips, you've come to the right place. With decades of experience in guiding our candidates through interviews successfully, and helping them secure their dream job, we've compiled The Ultimate Interview Guide. By combining our collective experience, we've crafted the one guide you'll need to get ahead and stand out amongst the other candidates rallying for the role you're after. The Ultimate Interivew Guide looks at every type of interview, each and every interview stage, what to expect, what questions to ask and more. Download the guide by clicking below today! The Ultimate Interview Guide.pdf Size: 74.5 MB
It is fair to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations to make urgent and substantial changes to how they operate, sometimes overnight. The majority of the workforce are based from home and productivity, motivation and wellbeing has taken a hit. So how can charities support their biggest asset — their people — during the pandemic and nurture a company culture that’s stronger then ever? Freelance Writer Nicola Greenbrook finds out. Nurturing a strong company culture during COVID-19 The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating impact on many charities and volunteers. In November 2020, the NCVO’s monthly COVID-19 voluntary sector impact barometer reported that 39% of the organisations reported their financial position had deteriorated in the last month. The pandemic has also altered people’s working lives dramatically. For the VCSE sector it can feel particularly challenging due to the nature of work people are involved in. Being away from face-to-face services and juggling remote work and childcare with an increased demand for services can also lead to anxiety, stress and fatigue. Company culture has always been important — but now, it's critical. What exactly is company culture? Quite honestly, it’s multifaceted and there are several definitions. Can you describe your company culture in a few words? It can be difficult to characterise, but many people remember exactly how good or bad culture feels. The CIPD explains that, 'the way an organisation operates drives its employer brand, helping to attract and retain talented people who want to be part of a great place to work, and who will in turn thrive in the business’. Company culture is the backdrop for everything. It embodies the way people behave and think at work, their mindsets and even their emotions. For a charity, it could be the key practices that reflect its mission and values, directly linked to a broader social purpose — and not just the perks, free fruit or fun stuff. Cultivating a strong company culture can also mean encouraging a strong work ethic and healthy behaviours and attitudes. Why is it so important , especially now? Glassdoor believes that 2020 has heralded ‘a culture-first decade for employers’ that puts employees at the forefront of the modern corporation. Having a strong workplace culture has been verifiably linked to better financial performance, increased talent attraction and improved service-user satisfaction. In times of adversity like the current pandemic, and when foundations are unstable, it can shine the spotlight on bad practices such as poor communication, a lack of empathy and poor leadership. This can lead to low productivity, a disengaged workforce and high turnover; creating extra work — and costs — for charities. One in five (21%) Brits quit their jobs due toxic workplace culture and no matter how big or small the charity, if your company culture is brittle it will dictate how your people behave and perform — regardless of the economic climate. How can we nurture a strong company culture? A difficult year may be drawing to a close, but it could still be months before working life returns to the way it was, if at all. So, what lessons can we learn from the pandemic about company culture, and what can we take with us into next year? 1. Flexibility, trust and care The work-home divide is blurred right now; so it’s crucial that charities support their people to work flexibly and balance their other commitments, and continue to show and build trust. In a survey for the CIPD conducted by YouGov in April 2020, 3 in 10 surveyed found it hard to fulfil commitments outside of work due to time spent on their job. This increases to 4 in 10 for those also juggling increased caring responsibilities. Line managers should work to understand individual needs and, crucially, keep the emphasis on work outcomes, rather than hours put in. While managers should empower people to work a pattern that suits their individual circumstances for now, they should keep an eye on overall working hours or if emails are being sent late at night. Check in, and gently challenge when necessary, if the signs of burn out are starting to show. Now, more than ever, is the time for companies to show empathetic leadership, despite very challenging circumstances. Many people have contracted the virus, lost their loved ones, or have children at home from school isolating. Some may be missing their office and colleagues or even to be ‘grieving' for life before COVID-19. Managers should be encouraged to have open and honest check-ins with their teams during the pandemic (‘how are you, really?’), without being intrusive. Thirtyone:eight, a Christian charity based in Kent, was awarded first place in the Best Charities to Work for 2020 inaugural list by Third Sector. Its joint-CEO, Steve Ball, stated that key to its success has been "creating a culture of care and compassion for all", likening the charity to an extended family who "genuinely care for each other and look after each other”. 2. Creative thought and connection A survey by Resilience First showed that more than half of remote workers are now suffering from working from home fatigue. With the novelty of Zoom meetings wearing thin, the risk of some employees fading into the background in larger charities and the absence of face to face contact leading to feelings of isolation, communication is vital to keep a strong company culture intact. In a huge time of uncertainty around the future of organisations and roles, it can help people to cope. Consider creative ways to maintain a connection with your staff and volunteers and involve them in potential decisions, making them feel they’re being ‘seen’. Take it beyond company updates; like employee-written guides on surviving homeworking, book clubs, and internal channels for people to share what they're listening to/watching. Rather than a distraction, these can provide a way to connect and engage, maintain a sense of community and encourage creativity. Good quality communication could reduce anxiety or uncertainty and tackle loneliness. 3. A focus on wellbeing In a recent ONS survey it was found that around a third of men and women were concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their work. However, health — both mental and physical — and wellbeing must also be a key focus during the pandemic. As well as practical steps, like reminding staff to take breaks and use annual leave, charities should encourage line managers to include wellbeing as a core part of any 1:1s or work-based conversations. This could help to spot early signs of low motivation, or fatigue before it becomes an issue. In Mind's Mental Health at Work Commitment Guide for Employers During Coronavirus, the charity offers practical examples of what employers can do to support their teams and effectively respond to the current pandemic, including the promotion of an open culture around mental health. Here are some other ways to support staff and strengthen company culture during the ongoing pandemic: Create a ‘culture team’; responsible for planning virtual events so there’s always something to look forward to (especially during the winter months). This can help shape company culture, rather than people feeling they have to adapt to it. Don't neglect training; now could be the perfect time to encourage upskilling and capability-building and to offer training on managing mental health at work, such as via Mind. Remind people of the support mechanisms available to them, such as HR, mental health first aiders and employee assistance programmes. Celebrate successes and great work with virtual reward and recognition; asking colleagues to vote for each other also gives a much needed boost and could improve employee engagement Coronavirus will have a long-lasting impact on our working lives and nurturing a strong company culture will be critical to ensure your people remain well, engaged and productive — and on board. Steering teams through uncertain territory can be hard work; but creating an environment where staff feel valued, where you refine and stay true to your core values and where people feel their wellbeing is looked after, will enable charities to not only survive, but to thrive. To come back even stronger than ever. More from Nicola Greenbrook How to work well from home ► Podcast your way to workplace wellbeing ► How to be assertive at work ► More from the Harris Hill blog 12 tips for video interview success► 20 FOR 20► Should you be working for a large or small charity? ►
With Covid-19 raging on, many charities have seen the demand for their services increase while funding, due to cancelled events and financial uncertainty, has decreased. MDS UK, a charity supporting patients of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) - a rare blood cancer - is participating in the 20:20 campaign to replace some lost income, but urgently needs more participants! What is MDS? MDS is a group of malignant blood disorders in which the bone marrow fails to produce healthy blood cells. All types of blood cells can be affected, causing a range of symptoms: Red cells (erythrocytes) – which carry oxygen to organs and tissues in the body. Anaemia occurs due to a lack of red cells (also referred to as low haemoglobin), which may lead to fatigue and shortness of breath even on light exertion. White cells – which collectively fight against infection. Recurrent and persistent infections are a common symptom of MDS due to low white cell counts. Platelets (thrombocytes) – which prevent us from bruising and bleeding. A low platelet count can cause bruising, rashes and nose or gum bleeds. In some patients, MDS can progress to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). In AML, abnormal cells grow very rapidly, building up in the bone marrow and blood. While some patients live with their MDS diagnosis others will unfortunately pass away. A stem cell transplant is the only cure, but this carries inherent risks and can only be performed on younger, fitter patients. What does MDS UK provide? MDS UK aims to raise awareness of MDS, offers support and information to patients and families, and campaigns to increase the quality of life and make treatments available to those affected by the disease. The charity provides patients with access to a list of UK consultants specialising in MDS at specialist centres, a helpline for support and advice and national patient information meetings with specialist speakers. Patients can meet each other through MDS UK’s regional support group meetings (where they meet informally and hear from local consultants and nurses) and an online forum to share their experiences with others. MDS UK also recently funded its first research project aiming to improve treatment options for patients. Further research like this is essential due to the lack of MDS awareness among the public and medical profession and the lack of treatment options. Case Study MDS UK’s Chairman and MDS patient, Ted Peel, was diagnosed in 2015 following extreme fatigue, coughing up and passing of blood and several uncomfortable bone marrow biopsies. “Following an unsuccessful period of medication to remedy low a white blood cell count, I was hospitalised three times with sepsis where my temperature plummeted to 32C”, says Ted. “I was soon told that I needed a transplant.” Ted’s transplant treatment scheduled for this spring was sadly postponed as it was deemed too unsafe to be admitted to the hospital which was making provisions for Covid-19 patients. He was delighted and relieved when told at a more recent consultation that he would be admitted promptly for the treatment as Covid-19 cases in London have decreased. “It’s great to be given another chance at life”, says Ted. “I want to thank MDS UK for their continued support. They’ve been amazing, giving me advice and a helping hand when I’ve needed it most. However, our small charity needs more support.” 20:20 Campaign Due to Covid-19, MDS UK is facing financial hardship as the events it relies heavily on for income have been postponed or cancelled and demand for services has increased. Therefore, they were delighted when contacted about the 20:20 campaign which was set up to replace some of the funds lost by rare cancer charities. Participants will simply complete one challenge a day for 20 consecutive days between September 20th and November 20th and encourage friends and family to support them via the campaign JustGiving page. The challenges DO NOT have to be fitness / exercise based and can be as imaginative as the participants please, e.g. “bake 20 cupcakes” or “20 minutes of knitting.” There is no minimum financial target and the campaign may receive celebrity endorsement and media coverage! All funds raised by MDS UK’s participants will go directly to the charity. Appeal MDS UK urgently needs more participants to help it continue providing life-changing support for MDS patients like Ted and their loved ones, ensuring that, as the campaign strapline reads: “Cancer doesn’t stop for Covid!” If you would like to participate or for more information, contact Jan Edwards (MDS UK’s Fundraising Officer)and visit the event page. For more information about MDS and MDS UK visit their website. You can read Ted’s full story here. Thank you! For a copy of the event poster click here. Blog post written by Jan Edwards (MDS UK's Fundraising Officer). More from the Harris Hill blog 12 tips for video interview success Interviewing via video is the new normal for now, and if it's also new to you, here are some practical tips on the process from our executive recruitment experts, courtesy of director Jenny Hills. Read more ► How to work well from home Millions of us are doing it, but is working from home really working for you? Nicola Greenbrook has the lowdown on the lockdown and advice to help you turn the new arrangements to your advantage. Read more ►
Welcome back to Charity Careers, in which freelance writer Nicola Greenbrook invites key influencers in the charity sector to share their career story and how they navigate the professional world. We discover what they've learned along the way, what motivates them to get up in the morning and what their dream breakfast might look like when they do... In these extraordinary times, Nicola was delighted to chat (virtually, of course) to Susana Lopez, Head of Leadership Giving for Cancer Research UK about her impressive career to date and balancing parenthood with the personal reasons that drive her work for CRUK. She also learned how the charity is responding to COVID-19 and why breakfast in Spain, the complete works of Austen and Tiger King are a few of Susana's favourite things… Hi Susana - we know the name of course, but how would you sum up CRUK's mission and cause? In the 1970s, just 1 in 4 people in the UK survived cancer. Today, thanks to research, that figure has doubled. At Cancer Research UK (CRUK), our ambition is to continue to accelerate this progress so that 3 in 4 people survive cancer by 2034. As the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world, we define global research priorities. Untethered to government funding, we can react rapidly and have the agility to support courageous, risk-taking science. Since our beginnings in 1902, our work has helped uncover the causes of cancer, leading to some of the earliest studies into risk factors, including the link between smoking and cancer. We also laid the foundations for the UK’s national cancer screening programmes and today’s radiotherapy and surgery techniques, and we have contributed to developing eight of the world’s top 10 cancer drugs. Today, we support more than 4,000 nurses, researchers and doctors across a network of exceptional cancer research centres and partner with more than 80 organisations all over the world. We cover every aspect of cancer research and every step of the cancer journey, from our patient information programmes to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. What are you responsible for in your role? My role is really varied! I head up Leadership Giving which sits within the wider Philanthropy and Campaigns team. We work with amazing supporters who want to make a difference by investing in truly cutting-edge research and support. This includes the Catalyst Club, dedicated philanthropists working with us over the long term to have an impact on key areas of CRUK's work; early diagnosis, developing the next generation of science leaders, and the new City of London centre. What drew you to CRUK and when did you join? I’ve had two stints here; from 2006 to 2015 I was a trust fundraising manager and then a senior manager in CRUK's first capital campaign team, Create the Change, raising £100m for the development of the Francis Crick Institute in Kings Cross. I came back to the organisation in November 2019 as Head of Leadership Giving. The simple answer as to why is that cancer has had a profound impact on my life and my family; we lost my mum to ovarian cancer eight years ago; the treatments that kept her well for nearly four years post diagnosis were in part developed by CRUK. All four of my grandparents died of cancer, and too many other family members. I'm an Arts graduate, so was never going to go into science and find new and better treatments myself, but I can put my shoulder to the wheel in the fundraising efforts and secure the investment needed for cancer research. We're hearing much more about medical research in these unprecedented times of course, albeit for a different reason. How has the current pandemic impacted CRUK and your role in particular? Michelle Mitchell, our CEO, has been very open on the impact of COVID-19 on CRUK; unprecedented times indeed. We’ve had to close our shops, and postpone huge events like Race for Life and the gala events which really drive our fundraising programme, and are predicting a 25% drop in income this year, potentially more. The organisation has renegotiated leases on shops, made full use of the government's Job Retention Scheme by furloughing a large number of staff, and made every saving possible in order to protect the investment we make in the front-line science. Even so, we've had to make some tough decisions about the science we can fund, and have had to plan for cuts to that spend. Within my role, we work closely with senior volunteers, ambassadors who are willing to open up their networks and introduce potential supporters to our work, often through a range of events. Obviously we can’t plan those events currently, so we have had to almost throw out the old plans and start afresh. This could be terrifying, but has actually felt very liberating - we have permission to think outside of the box, and to really get insight from our supporters as to what they feel will work, and trial some new ways of working. How did you start your career and what have been the key roles? My first role was as a trust fundraising executive at YMCA England. I'd returned to my home town (after a post-uni year in Spain) to find everyone had scattered, mostly to London! So when a friend contacted me to say there was an entry level role at YMCA England where she was working, I applied. Although I knew nothing about fundraising (amazing to think now that there once was a time when these roles were available to someone with no fundraising experience), I quickly realised that it was a perfect role; lots of talking to colleagues in service delivery about what they were planning and what the impact would be, creative and impactful writing, talking to potential supporters and asking for advice and selling in the work and the difference it would make to homeless and disadvantaged young people. I've since worked in a range of organisations at a range of levels and I don’t know if there are roles I would pick out as being particularly key. Maybe my senior manager role at CRUK the first time around (!) as it really exposed me to working with amazing senior leadership and senior volunteers and to work with really significant supporters to secure multi million pound gifts towards a capital appeal, and to see how a campaign really works. What I would say is that there have been people who have been key to my career; from my first manager at YMCA England, Christine Douglas, who taught me how to structure a trust proposal and how to write for impact, through to Jennifer Cormack at CRUK who showed me how to lead a team collaboratively. Debbie Gilbert at St Giles Trust showed me how to show up as a leader (and never to take no for an answer!), Catherine Miles at Anthony Nolan showed me how to manage upwards and protect your team, and Russell Delew at CRUK gave me the opportunity to work on what was at the time CRUK's biggest capital campaign and secure some of the biggest gifts of my career… Was a charity career always your goal? It really wasn’t; I didn’t know what fundraising was when I applied for my first job in the sector. From childhood I wanted to be a journalist, but fell out of love with the idea on graduation (although three of my family are journalists on TV and in print now, so I feel I'm living the dream vicariously through them!) and I was at a loss what to do with the skills an English Literature degree and a naturally nosey nature had fitted me for. Luckily it turns out being inquisitive, talkative, with a good memory and a way with words is a perfect basis for a career in trust and major gift fundraising. How do you keep your skills fresh and ensure continuous learning along the way? I'm a huge fan of continuous learning - we can all learn something new. I've been working as a fundraiser for 25 years (ARGH) and still enthusiastically sign up for the Institute of Fundraising Convention each year alongside interesting looking briefing events, and especially the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration’s (SOFII) annual I Wish I'd Thought of That event. I also think it's imperative to learn from your peers and keep your ear to the ground with what's happening across the sector to ensure you don’t end up in your own little organisational bubble/echo chamber. To that end, I set up a networking group and invited people I met across the sector to come along; we meet four or five times a year and share news, ask questions, ask for support and advice and make connections. It's fascinating to see how other organisations deal with the challenges we all face - we're meeting in May, and I can't wait to hear how everyone is dealing with COVID-19! What would you advise graduates seeking to join the sector, or more experienced people considering a leap into leadership? When I'm interviewing, I always look for behaviours over a skill set, so my only advice to graduates would be show flexibility, how you've taken on new responsibilities or roles, and your willingness to learn. Skills can be taught. For people moving into leadership - choose the organisation carefully! I’m being half-facetious, but the serious point is to look at how the organisation supports its managers and leaders, what's expected of them, and what training there is internally - for example on managing a team, conducting 121s and annual reviews. These skills are key to managing and too many organisations think they’re innate. They aren't, as anyone who has suffered with a badly trained manager will tell you. Aside from that, be open, honest and transparent - turn up as yourself, and as authentic as you can be. When times get hard, it's tough to maintain a facade! And finally, approach someone you admire and ask them if they'd be willing to act as a mentor. I've listed some of the people who have been key to my career, but I've learned so much from so many people across the sector which has been invaluable. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Christina Grant (who contributed to your article on how to be assertive at work) had a profound impact on me when she worked at CRUK as a trainer. I use some element of her Raising The Bar training and coaching every single day in my work life; the key one is 'Human beings like threes'. Every single meeting opener, presentation, 121, PDR, whatever, I frame around three key points, because it works! What’s the most challenging part of the job? I’ve had lots of challenging jobs, and roles that I’ve left because I couldn’t see how I could make a useful contribution. I can honestly say that I don’t feel that way in my current role; the only challenge, as cheesy as it sounds, is sometimes reining a really ambitious team in! And the best bit? Where to start? The pride in knowing the work we do has a direct impact on cancer, and today, on COVID-19 as CRUK pivots to working on vaccines and treatments for the pandemic, and releases clinicians and nurses back into the NHS to work on the front lines of coronavirus. Working and being in awe of world leading medical researchers who are answering the toughest questions of cancer. Working with world leading fundraisers from whom I can learn so much. And knowing that my mum would be so happy that I've come back to CRUK, an organisation that she supported. What have been your career's biggest ups and downs to date? Up: working with a family who were keen to support an area of work, and who, after a couple of false starts, agreed to an initial gift of £1.1m, and then a further gift of £5m towards a campaign. I secured that gift just before going on maternity leave, so there was a nice completeness to it! Down: working up a huge proposal, full agreement from the finance team and CEO, all ready to go just before Christmas, for a January board meeting date. My ‘spidey sense’ was tingling, though, so I thought I'd make one last check with the project lead. After a couple of days they came back with 'Oh, we've decided not to do that anymore'. It was, I'm afraid to say, the final nail in the coffin for my time at that organisation! Who do you look up to in the sector or more widely? One of my oldest and dearest friends is a sister in A&E in our home town; I’m always in awe of her, but especially at the moment. My sister is a primary school teacher. and after four weeks of trying to teach a six year old, I'm in awe of her, and in fact all teachers. Across the sector, I look up to those people who walk the walk not just spout the theory - I'm loathe to name names as I know I'll leave someone out, but the people who have closed the big gifts, grown income streams, got senior leadership buy-in for major gift fundraising and in doing so created transformational growth. Let's finish with some quick lifestyle questions: are you up with the lark or a night owl? Left to my own devices, I would go to bed at 8.30pm and sleep til 9.00am. I love sleep. Juggling a small child and a full-on job, the lie-ins are less frequent although I am blessed with an early bird husband, so I definitely get more than my fair share! What gets you out of bed in the morning, rain or shine? Usually the six year old asking questions about dinosaurs, trains or planes ... more seriously: deadlines and wanting to get on and make a difference. Urgh, that sounds awful. But true! And what's your dream (and actual) breakfast once you're up? Dream breakfast - lockdown over and travelling again - would be some mixture of fresh eggs, bread and fruit overlooking the sea somewhere hot and beautiful. If it could be the motherland of Spain, so much the better. Actual breakfast more likely to be overnight oats with yoghurt whilst logging on … Does a typical day exist? Not really, but it would usually involve checking in with the team, checking in with senior managers, or looking over proposals and reports for donors to feed in my thoughts: after 25 years of doing the job, it's really key to me to share what I was taught and what I've learned the hard way! Also planning, taking part in some thinking about upcoming projects or launches, and best of all, meetings and calls with supporters and senior volunteers to talk about the work of CRUK, and to solicit their support in a variety of ways. What are you reading, watching or listening to at the moment? I'm an English Literature graduate who, in another life, would have been at my most content lost in an English department somewhere writing an interminable thesis on Austen. I have weird reading tastes - early 19th century fiction and contemporary US fiction. My favourite authors are Jane Austen, Curtis Sittenfeld, Tom Woolfe and Jonathan Frantzen. I could happily just read them for the rest of my life. Oh, and Mhairi McFarlane for cracking modern UK writing. I have absolutely gutter tastes in TV though; Tiger King was a recent highlight and aside from that, rubbish reality TV, especially the Real Housewives franchise, or what my husband calls 'your programmes about ladies shouting at each other’. I’m relatively new to podcasts, and just didn't get them at all until I came across Gossipmongers and I’m now a convert. Best. Podcast. Ever. And finally, how do you wind down in your spare time? If I have any, I like to switch my brain off with things that are detailed but mindless like knitting. I make many, many scarves, as that's about the limit of my skills. I dream of being able to make something more complicated. A huge thank you to Susana, we very much appreciate you taking the time to share your story, career insights and invaluable advice with our readers - we wish you and CRUK all the very best in the challenging weeks ahead, and of course for the future! Nicola Greenbrook - HR Specialist and Freelance Writer Contact Nicola, check out her website or follow her on Twitter, or for more on Cancer Research UK and why they need you more than ever, please visit their website. More Charity Careers #1: Sara Rees, Head of Fundraising, Rays of Sunshine ► #2: Hannah Sanders, Consumer Brand Partnerships, Save the Children ► #3: Andy Harris, Director of Income Generation, Shelter ► #4: James Harris, Associate Director of Communications, Marketing and Membership, Rethink Mental Illness ► #5: Chris Oak, Associate Director HR & Facilities, SPANA ► More from the Harris Hill blog 12 tips for video interview success Interviewing via video is the new normal for now, and if it's also new to you, here are some practical tips on the process from our executive recruitment experts, courtesy of director Jenny Hills. Read more ► How to work well from home Millions of us are doing it, but is working from home really working for you? Nicola Greenbrook has the lowdown on the lockdown and advice to help you turn the new arrangements to your advantage. Read more ►
Interviewing via video is the new normal for now, and if it's also new to you, here are some practical tips on the process from our executive recruitment experts, courtesy of director Jenny Hills. Getting the basics right: make sure what's behind you isn't distracting How to get the best from video interviews By now you'll probably know the basics from the video meetings that have come to dominate all of our working and social lives: make sure your camera and microphone are working ahead of the call, check your pyjama bottoms aren’t in view below your smart top, and that what’s behind you isn’t distracting. But over the past few weeks, we’ve picked up a few additional practical pointers that can help you ace that all-important video interview: Try a test run If you’re not familiar with the videocall platform you’ll be using, ask your friendly consultant for a quick technical test-run. We want you to nail this meeting, and if a test-run will help that, we’re only too happy to do it. If you’ve applied directly, ask a friend to do a test-run with you well ahead of the interview. Lights, camera, wardrobe Wear what you would normally wear (at least on top) to an interview. However, keep in mind the quality of your camera and the lighting. You don’t need a camera any fancier than the one that came with the laptop/smartphone, but if you know the image quality isn’t great, try and sit in a well-lit room, and consider the colours you are wearing. A white shirt in front of a white wall in bright sunlight might mean you blend into the wallpaper too much. On the other hand, wearing dark colours in room with less-than-great lighting risks you appearing as a grainy blur to the panel. In all cases, don’t silhouette yourself in front of the light source! Steady your nerves (and devices) If you're using a smartphone or tablet, find a way to prop it up and keep it steady for the interview, rather than holding it in your hand: a shaky picture can detract from what you're saying and create the impression of nervousness, even if you're confident, calm and collected. Stay informed Keep the relevant details (job description, person specification etc) and your application to hand, either printed out or in another window of your screen. If you’re switching between screens to look at something (most videocall platforms allow you to do this without leaving the call), remember the panel can still see and hear you. Be prompt Keep to your start time! Normally, arriving 10 minutes ahead of an interview is good practice, but if you log into the Zoom meeting early, you may interrupt the panel’s pre-interview discussion, or they may simply not be there and they’re taking advantage of a quick break to run to the bathroom. We’ve been advising our candidates to log in a minute before the actual interview. This gives you time to make sure the audio and video is working before it cuts into precious interview time, but also allows the panel to take their breaks, talk amongst themselves and be ready. Remember you're on camera! When on videocalls, some people understandably forget about eye contact and look around the room whilst talking (as many of us do when we’re thinking). Don’t stare down the lens (creepy), but try to keep your eyes on the screen. It doesn’t really matter where on the screen, but the person who asked the question is a good bet, especially if you find looking at yourself distracting. Express yourself There’s no need to be a mime artist, but if you use body language (nodding, smiling, leaning in, etc) you might want to exaggerate it a little bit more than you would in person so it shows up on camera. This helps engagement between you all as people. Someone sitting motionless and expressionless is hard to relate to, and the panel want to get a sense of you as a person and as a potential colleague. The show must go on For relatively minor audio and video disruption (screen freezes, distorted audio), we advise ignoring it unless it has impaired your understanding of what the panel are saying/asking. We’ve found that this keeps interruptions to a minimum, and on the flipside, we’ve seen conversations lose momentum when every bit of digital static is commented on. Be expressive, but not a mime artist. Also recommended in all other situations. Don't panic This way of working is strange for all of us, so don’t be phased if something goes pear-shaped. Can’t hear? Explain and wait for it to resolve (leave and re-join if necessary). Six-year-old has to show you the spaceship now? Cat decides it needs to sleep on the laptop? Smile, ask the panel for a quick pause to deal with it, and get back to it. We’re all human, and if the panel doesn’t understand that, do you want to work for them? Stay focused That said, despite the interruptions and informalities of working from home, the conversational style in videocalls is by necessity pretty formal (even for an interview). If two people speak at the same time, both are completely unintelligible so everyone has to take turns to speak. You are also missing out on almost all the non-verbal clues that we don’t realise we rely on so much. A particular risk is talking to fill the silence and missing clues you’d normally spot that the panel are disengaging from your answer, so stick to focused, relevant answers (the STAR technique is a good general guide). If you’ve said something interesting and they want more detail, they’ll ask. Make sure you leave a pause between someone asking a question and you talking to ensure they’re done, and that panel members are given opportunities to ask follow ups. Be flexible If your internet connection is bad enough to disrupt the conversation, apologise, fix it if at all possible, but if not, ask if you may switch your camera off and go audio only, or even dial in to the call instead. This should be a last resort because it’s the only way you can hear and respond to the panel. On the other hand, if one or more panel members go audio only for the same reasons, don’t get phased and keep your eyes on the screen. Just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean they can’t see you. BYO refreshments Finally, much as they’d like to, the panel can’t offer you the glass of water/tea/coffee, so make sure you have one to hand for when you need it. A separate celebratory beverage for when you leave the videocall having given the best interview of your life is optional. To wrap up, there are practical differences between the usual in-person interview and a video interview, but the intent behind them is the same: for you, is this a job you want? For the panel, are you the person they want for the job? Being able to adapt to these differences may not guarantee you the job, but feeling more confident and relaxed about the process will give yourself and the panel the best chance of making the right decision. Jenny Hills Chief Executive & Director Recruitment Practice, Harris Hill Search executive opportunities ► More from the Harris Hill blog How to work well from home Millions of us are doing it, but how well is working from home working for you? Guest blogger (and frequent home-worker) Nicola Greenbrook has advice to help you keep things running smoothly. Read more ► Should you be working for a large or small charity? The biggest charities may have the biggest opportunities, but you'll typically take on more responsibilities somewhere smaller - so which is better for your career? Faye Marshall and our fundraising specialists weigh up the options. Read more ► How to be assertive at work Altruistic behaviour is fundamental to the charity sector, but saying yes to every request can leave you seriously overwhelmed. Nicola Greenbrook explores how you can learn to stand your ground and be more productive as a result. Read more ►
With much of the world in lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, working from home is the new normal for many. Our guest blogger and freelance writer Nicola Greenbrook offers suggestions on how to work productively, interact socially and look after our physical and mental health. How to work well from home We are living in exceptional times. The virus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan has caused a global COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, the UK is in lockdown, the shutters have come down on all non-essential shops, schools and nurseries are closed, and many charities are in crisis. Government guidance advises people to work from home where possible, travelling only when it is essential. But for those unaccustomed, or averse, to homeworking, it can take a while to adjust. Throw into the mix that our partners/flatmates/children are our new colleagues, how can we work productively and efficiently from our homes - and keep our minds and bodies healthy? ___________________ Create a designated workspace The spread of coronavirus has been rapid; one day you were at work, the next creating an ‘office’ in your flat amongst the laundry and hunting under a pile of magazines for a pen. Before you do anything else, prioritise setting up a clear and defined workplace, separate from your home life where possible. If this is the kitchen table for the time being, ensure it's clear, free of coffee cups and has easy access to power. HSE's Display Screen Equipment (DSE) workstation checklist offers clear guidance on areas such as chairs, screens and lighting. Adding a personal touch to your workspace might help with the adjustment to homeworking (best to avoid dedicating an entire working day to #workspacestyling though). Kim Watson, comms freelancer and co-founder of holistic therapies business The House of Palms finds that it increases her productivity: ‘I have a proper workspace, a desk with plants, pictures, candles and natural light etc. All things that make me feel happy and wanting to work - that helps!’ Establish a routine and set boundaries I'm an HR Specialist for an IP law firm in the City for three days a week and a freelance writer at home for one day and weekends (plus a Mum in between). This provides clear boundaries and compartmentalises my working week. However, the lines are currently blurred; each part is now worked from home. It’s an unprecedented situation for most of us; there’s no commute to act as a physical divide and we've literally brought our work into our homes. So what can we do to restore some order? Creating a simple plan for the week ahead can help stay on track; try scheduling activities against set times and get to know when you’re ‘peak you’. If, generally, you’re less dynamic in the afternoon or susceptible to energy slumps, consider doing less creative work then. If working alongside a partner or flatmate/s AND children, and without a separate room to work from, at least delineate a space that is solely yours. Over breakfast each day, consider holding a team meeting with your ‘new colleagues’; discuss and agree the hours you’ll each work (especially if caring for/homeschooling children as well) and how you like to work (loud music vs complete silence etc). Then be prepared to compromise and be flexible - we’re all in this together! ___________________ Watch the clock It’s tempting to work all hours just because we can. Stick to your regular office hours where possible and commit to meetings in your diary rather than pushing them back. Establish a routine; stop for lunch and utilise morning and afternoon breaks to do a quick house chore or grab a drink - and step away from the screen. Work steadily, stay focused and STOP at a set time - then switch off. It's unlikely you'd run back to the office at 11pm after an evening out, so there’s no need to head back to your laptop at home. Stop looking for distractions There’s something about being in your own home that feels more comfortable, don’t you think? Sure, you could squeeze in some pre-work Netflix over a bowl of cereal, but can you stop at one episode? What about chores? Are you finding it hard to ignore the messy kitchen cupboard /peeling paint/huge pile of stuff to sort out? Yes? You could be procrastinating; save the decluttering for the weekend. Mirror your homeworking day with your office one. If a relative or friend wants a chat in the middle of the day (rather than it being a genuine concern or emergency), politely reschedule for lunchtime or post-work. It's important to digest public health information, but avoid getting bogged down in multiple sources, too many WhatsApps or unreliable social media posts. Don't let a quick peek at your phone become a Twitter marathon. ___________________ Be healthy in mind and body Working from home can be challenging and isolating, and you might be feeling a certain level of anxiety and distress. Explore some coping mechanisms that could alleviate feelings of uncertainty. For example, limiting social media (and visiting positive accounts only like Upworthy), using meditation and relaxation apps, reading a book or sitting in the garden to restore a sense of calm and wellbeing. Mental health charity Mind offers some brilliant advice on coronavirus and your wellbeing. Try exercising in your former commuting time (for your mandated, one form of exercise a day) to start or end the day in the right way. Runner's World has some good tips for staying active during social distancing and the Guardian suggests the ten best online (and free) home workouts. Stay hydrated and eat well, avoiding the temptation to fall into a pattern of idle snacking and ransacking the crisps cupboard at 10.00am. NHS factsheet ‘Water, drinks and your health’ provides some helpful reminders on this. Finally, ensure you follow sanitation and good hygiene practice to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at home too. Wash your hands and clean your keyboard, phone and other equipment regularly. Here's a reminder of the advice on this, via the CIPD (or click for pdf): Stay in conversation Maintaining some form of human connection while homeworking is essential, and emotional support is a critical part of our physical and mental wellbeing. If your workload allows, contribute to team chats or group emails when you can so you don't drop off the radar. Consider a virtual coffee break with your team and ask what they’re working on, come up with ways to support each other and share what’s on your list (or your mind, if you feel comfortable). Jot Form offers some great ideas for online business tools and ways to communicate, such as using a video conferencing tool like Zoom for meetings with multiple attendees, hosting courses, and webinars. And finally… • Get dressed - It’s tempting to jump straight into it and conference call in a work top with pyjama bottoms, but before you know it, it's 3pm. Get showered, first. • Support local businesses - Consider signing up for an online yoga class with a local teacher, order takeout as a lunchtime treat from a café and buy your basic necessities from a local shop. • Learn how to homework - LinkedIn Learning’s remote working course can be done in small chunks and includes insight from entrepreneur Arianna Huffington. • Reach out - If you're struggling, don’t hesitate to speak to your HR team for support or access any employee assistance programmes available. ___________________ These are unsettling and worrying times, and a huge period of change for the UK’s workforce. You may be feeling out of control right now, but try to focus on the things you can control (washing your hands, taking exercise and breaks, eating well and drinking fluids) rather than what you can’t. Take it day by day; get to know what works for you to get the best out of homeworking and stay in good physical and mental health. Stay safe and well - and indoors. Nicola Contact Nicola, check out her website, or follow her on Twitter. The coronavirus pandemic is a fast-moving and developing situation and official advice should always be taken. You'll find the most up-to-date information via the UK Government, NHS or World Health Organisation sites. More from Nicola Greenbrook How to set goals (and stick to them in style) ► Podcast your way to workplace wellbeing ► How to be assertive at work ► More from the Harris Hill blog Should you be working for a large or small charity? ► Smarter than the average bear: the Charity Series Quiz Night champions! ► Caudwell Children: Building a better world for disabled children ►
Previously in 2020: fires, floods, locusts and a global plague, but if you're tired of Apocalypse Bingo and keen to hear about our inter-charity quiz (or just desperate for literally anything new to read by now), you’re in luck! A quiz to remember Cast your mind back if you can to the halcyon days of February 2020: that carefree age when you could leave the house at will to go around touching your face and buying toilet paper with abandon. It was in this bygone era, when gathering hundreds of charity people in a bar was a convivial prospect rather than an invitation to certain doom, that the 2020 Harris Hill Charity Series Quiz Night took place. And rather good it was too. You’ll perhaps be wondering who held the winners’ trophy aloft, but let's not get ahead of ourselves - who knows how many months we might have to spin this out for - so firstly some very well-deserved thank-yous: to our wonderful hosts at Patch St Paul’s, who’ve hosted countless times and always manage to make a hectic night look effortless with smiles all round; and to our quizmasters extraordinaire Rob Wyatt and Matthew Glass, not to mention all the rest of the organising committee who work so hard to bring these events together so brilliantly. The big draw There are also thank-yous galore when it comes to the other big draw of the night, the fundraising raffle, which this year will make a real difference close to home, contributing to a much-needed specialised wheelchair for Muscular Dystrophy's Ravi, who never misses an event despite living with the condition himself. We’ve had some fantastic prizes before but this year’s selection was surely the biggest and best to date, all donated thanks to the huge generosity of the organisations and businesses below that we would strongly encourage you to go and frequent! Not right now obviously – they’ll be closed and you might get arrested, which is never as much fun as it looks. (In no particular order, that's Vauxhall's Embody Wellness and Floatworks spas, the Movember Foundation, Mondo Brewery, Northcote Biscuiteers, Linnaen restaurant and spa, Headcase Barbers, stylish retailer Oliver Bonas, Psycle Clapham, Sadhana Yoga & Wellbeing, the Sipsmith Gin Distillery, Beefeater Gin Distillery and a small team you may be aware of called Manchester United Football Club!) There were even more prizes on the night too - we don't have all the details in this new home-working world, but our huge thanks to you too! Of course there’d be nothing raised if nobody bought tickets, so an enormous thank you to every single person who did, and once again to our CEO Aled Morris for bumping up the total quite significantly to raise a fantastic final figure of £2,200! ---------- And so to the winners… There are some familiar names among our titans of useless trivia this year, and after a closely-fought contest there was a tie for second place between 2018 winners the Canal & River Trust, who nearly barged (sorry) right back to the top, and the combined talents of The Brooke and C40, collectively known as The Globetrotters! But out in front and fast becoming Charity Series legends, a team who know things as well as they throw things (given their second place in 2018's quiz and victory in November's bowling), our congratulations go to the irrepressible Citizens Advice aka The BearOs! All of which begs the question, can they follow up those consecutive quiz and bowling triumphs by doing the triple and topping this summer’s charity softball league? Sadly the coronavirus may have something to say about that, as we wait to see the extent of its impact on the 2020 season. Naturally the committee will be watching developments closely and doing whatever can possibly be done, but safety of course comes first, so all we can say for now is watch this space! Just not all from the same place, obviously. Until next time - whenever and wherever that may be - take care and stay safe! Team HH x More from the Harris Hill blog Should you be working for a large or small charity? ► The Harris Hill and CharityJob 2019 Salary Report ► How to be assertive at work ► How to set goals (and stick to them in style) ► Back to the blog homepage
Ever wish you were more assertive, when those 'few little requests' become a giant mountain of work? Our guest blogger, freelance writer and HR specialist Nicola Greenbrook has been finding out how, with insight from professionals in and out of the charity sector. How to be assertive at work Assertiveness is an essential workplace skill, but can be tricky to apply if you’re an introvert or have trouble speaking up. Many of us avoid being more assertive through fear that our colleagues, and boss, will think badly of us. Yet, taking on just.one.more project despite a full inbox can lead to over-work, over-tiredness and overwhelm - not to mention a dent in your personal life. So, how can we reclaim the power? Should I be aggressive, passive or assertive? First, let’s explore these different behaviours: • Aggressiveness can be defined as ‘a determination to win or succeed, and the use of forceful action to do this’. Fictional fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly is a wicked master of this. • Passivity on the other hand is ‘acceptance of what happens, without active response or resistance’. Always going with the flow and yielding to other people’s demands can lead to burnout and resentment. • Assertiveness falls somewhere between the two extremes. Not simply being calm, confident and firm with your convictions and decisions, being assertive is a state where you approach situations assuredly and objectively and are happy to seek feedback, aware of the growth and development it can bring. A satisfying compromise. Assertiveness in the charity world For people working in the third sector, the need to balance assertiveness with empathy - listening to service users, understanding their circumstances and inspiring action - can often be a particular challenge. In a recent LinkedIn thread, the author had observed the number of women in her office who over-apologised (for getting into the lift, having the door held open for them or just taking up space). As part of the discussion, Garry Wilkinson, Head of Charity Partnerships at Vintage Cash Cow considered whether being a chronic apologiser isn’t necessary limited to women. ‘Maybe it’s also something to do with sorts of people who work in the Third Sector; they tend to be people with high levels of empathy and are very conscious of the feelings of others,’ he suggested. Christina Grant, an executive coach and trainer for the fundraising sector has considerable insight in this area. She believes the fundraising role is fundamentally an influencing one. However, she observes that whilst her trainees are drawn to the sector by a desire to make a difference, limited budgets can often mean they lack adequate training or support in influencing and assertiveness. Fundraising also attracts a high number of women. Yet senior teams, major donors and senior leaders in organisations remain predominately male-dominated - and so influencing is even more critical. She believes the fundraiser has a challenging role, because in a first meeting with a donor or supporter, ‘they have to be seen as friendly and warm whilst also being authoritative, knowledgeable and credible’ so as to be trusted with a gift. Women also face even greater challenges at work when they start displaying assertive behaviours in the workplace which are then deemed as ‘bossy’ or overly aggressive. So what can we do to address this? The power of words We’ve all heard people say ‘you need to be more assertive!’. But what if you can’t find the words or find yourself apologising instead? Olivia Dunn, Head of Marketing and Communications at Halpin Partnership Ltd has observed women and men disempowering themselves with the words they use at work. In her insightful article ‘The shortcut to empowered communications’, she offers valuable advice on using emboldening language without bravado. Olivia suggests ditching ‘just’ (‘I’m just part-time’) and ‘I think’ which can dilute your point before you’ve even made it. She makes a compelling argument; it’s not the words you add in but the ones you remove which can empower you. Why it's win-win to be assertive at work Being professionally assertive can increase your self-confidence and lower your anxiety and dependency. It can also help you stay in control and communicate more effectively and healthily. A graphic designer from London shared with me how assertiveness worked for them: ‘Last year I worked on a particularly messy job for a lovely client.’ they explained. ‘Remaining assertive throughout the project meant the experience for both me and my client remained positive - even when the project became a source of stress. The feedback at the end of the job was that I handled things with grace’. Setting clear boundaries about what they were OK with in their own mind before conveying them externally, as well as taking control when requests from clients or others feel ‘too much’, was a useful strategy for them: ‘Instead of saying ‘no’ and explaining why I can’t do what they want, I try to respond positively. I explain what I CAN do and when, or I pass them on to someone who may be able to help, instead of giving the impression they’re inconveniencing me. If someone ignores or shuts down my assertiveness with a passive-aggressive response (including no response), I’ve learnt to let it go, move on and find people to work with who are a much better fit.’ How to be assertive! Assertiveness may not be an innate characteristic for everyone, but it can be learned and developed. Christina Grant emphasises the importance of body language and gestures in key meetings, especially when making first impressions. She explains, ‘For example, it’s important for women to seat themselves in prime spots in a meeting room and to be present in the room physically’. She points out that seemingly little things can affect this; being overly concerned about everyone's comfort and refreshments or taking responsibility for taking notes when no one else does. ‘This can sometimes damage our own credibility without us realising it (although if a woman has enough confidence she could take notes and make tea and it would not have an impact on how she is perceived)’ Christina explains. She also encourages women to ‘open’ meetings with a two-minute, strong introduction, to ensure other attendees know they're ‘leading’ the meeting and will sense their authority. ‘It should help other people to relax and feel confident that you have a plan and you're in control - not in an aggressive way, but rather a signal that you’re confident in your world’. Here are some final strategies on being assertive at work: • Practice outside of work first. Build up your assertiveness muscle; speak up about bad service or ask for the table you want at a restaurant. • Set clear boundaries. Career and business coach, Nathalina Harrison likens good assertiveness to good parenting. Put clear boundaries in place on how you want to be treated and communicated with and be clear about the consequences if they’re not adhered to, whether upwards (your manager and stakeholders), sideways (your peers) and downwards (your direct reports). • Be analytical. If you want to be assertive but you're hesitant and reluctant to speak up, do a quick analysis of the situation. What’s the worst that could happen? ______________ Assertiveness is an invaluable skill. It can bolster your career progression, improve your visibility and credibility in meetings and strengthen relationships with colleagues, clients and contacts. Being confident in your approach, removing disempowering words and setting clear boundaries will ensure you nail it at work. I’m certain you’ll like your assertive (not aggressive) self a lot better than the passive, exhausted resentful one and soon that mountain of work won’t look so daunting. Just don’t be Miranda Priestly, OK? That’s all. Nicola Greenbrook - HR Specialist and Freelance Writer Contact Nicola, check out her website, or follow her on Twitter. More from Nicola Greenbrook How to set goals (and stick to them in style) ► Podcast your way to workplace wellbeing ► How to negotiate a pay rise in the charity sector ► More from the Harris Hill blog Should you be working for a large or small charity? ► Caudwell Children: Building a better world for disabled children ► The Harris Hill Charity Series 2020 ►