Organisations large and small are proudly embracing what they often call ‘new ways of working.’ Job seekers need to be aware, however, that some companies are much more clued up than others when it comes to accurately describing their specific approach.
The terms ‘flexible’ and ‘agile’ are two terms you’ll see used all over company descriptions, especially in the tech industries. They’re often used interchangeably to refer to vastly different ways of working, but there are some distinct differences between them that are important to bear in mind. We’ve highlighted the most crucial:
When, where…. and how
Flexible working tends to be used to broadly refer to a non-traditional approach – one that turns its back on nine-to-five hours in a fixed location. It implies two main levels of flexibility – time and place. Flexitime, for example, enables employees to choose to work at alternative times of the day, week or year, making it a popular approach for organisations looking to accommodate working parents, for example. Flexible working also gives workers more choice as to where they work – from home, while travelling or in a co-working space or workhub, for instance.
Agile working also adds another, key element – autonomy. As well as adaptability in terms of hours and location, a true agile working policy also empowers workers to choose precisely how they complete the tasks expected of them. As long as they work within legal and regulatory boundaries, agile workers are given freedom from set procedures that might not suit their working style.
Flexible working is often described as a more employee-focused approach, while agile working tends to be seen as benefiting companies and workers alike. Organisations that choose to adopt an agile working policy are generally hoping for a more efficient and reactive company culture, leading to boosted performance and happier customers.
As anyone who’s led a successful team will attest, an atmosphere of trust that enables employees to control when, where and how they complete their work can be an incomparable boon to productivity. Implemented properly, agile working can have startlingly positive effects on both staff morale and the bottom line.
A difference in commitment
Another fundamental aspect that sets agile working apart from flexible working comes down to management. If a company wants to reap all its transformational benefits, it has to commit to deep changes in attitude, culture and working practices from the top down – whereas it’s possible to adopt only selected flexible working policies rather than going the whole hog. It’s worth really doing your homework if you want to get it right.
Interviewing for high level IT positions is an undeniably nerve wracking experience. The (often lengthy) process can make even the strongest candidate feel vulnerable and exposed – an especially daunting prospect for those of you who feel more comfortable behind a monitor than in person. While you obviously can’t control every aspect of the experience, getting to grips with those you can control is key to acing your next interview. With that in mind, we’ve put together our top tips for success:
Know what to expect
Beyond the long rounds of interviews and perfected CVs, when looking for candidates to fill higher level IT roles, employers are basically after three core pieces of information: whether you’re able to do the job; are passionate about your field and your ability to fit in with a particular company culture.Remember, leadership and people skills are just as important as technical prowess when you’re going for these top positions. Thorough, targeted preparation will ensure you tick all three of those boxes by showing your achievements in just the right light.
Take preparation to the next level
Too many candidates turn up to interview with only the most cursory knowledge about the company they supposedly want to join. If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of securing that dream job, it pays to arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can.
This includes research into the organisation’s current performance (especially the performance of its current CIO so you know which aspects of your experience to highlight), data on its main competitors and information about its current range of products and services. A potential CIO will also be expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of a company’s industry, including trends and industry-specific challenges, as well as key facts about the interviewers so you can feel more comfortable conversing with them.
Prioritise your achievements
It sounds obvious, but a surprising number of candidates simply don’t bother to go through a job spec and think about their experience in relation to it, point by point – if it’s provided for you, use it.
It’s also an excellent idea to think of four or five key attributes you want to communicate to the interviewer/s over the course of the session, and focus on including them at appropriate times. Coming up with around five of your most solid career success stories that are relevant to the position is another superb way to make you stand out from the competition.
Conduct a Mock Interview
Role playing the interview with a trusted colleague who knows your industry can make all the difference when it comes to the real thing, especially if you have a tendency to clam up when asked a tricky question. A mock interviewer should cover likely topics such as reasons for leaving your previous position/s, career gaps and specific success stories. Feedback from a dry run can be just what’s needed to push your interview performance from good to job-clinching.
Get your body language right
Communications experts agree that positive body language will carry you a surprisingly long way at interview. The right level of eye contact, a firm handshake, limiting nervous gestures, a confident posture and laughter at appropriate moments are all crucial, and can make the difference between a candidate who seems engaged and employable and one who comes across as timid or indifferent. Filming yourself during a mock interview is a great way to assess what aspects of your physical presence might be having a negative impact on your overall persona.
The digital skills shortage remains a critical concern for UK businesses of all sizes. As tech skills become ever more indispensable, with 84 percent of firms acknowledging that they need digitally adept staff more now than two years ago, according to a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce.
These shortfalls are having considerable impact on businesses’ productivity and day-to-day operations, including higher operations costs, heavier workloads for existing employees and issues with meeting customers’ demands. While there’s no quick fix solution to this complex problem, there are some solid steps businesses can take to tackle it:
Invest in retraining
While companies often understandably focus on recruiting new staff in order to plug their skills gaps, it can be easy to overlook the potential benefits of retraining existing team members. Aside from the obvious advantages to equipping current workers with much needed expertise, a well structured retraining program leads to energised and engaged employees who take an increased interest in the fortunes of the whole company as well as their individual role.
Embrace Knowledge Sharing
Employing a scalable, flexible workforce is crucial for any organisation who wants to stay on top of the digital skills shortage. Offshoring, outsourcing and making use of short term contractors as well as employed consultants all bring in fresh perspectives and knowledge – the right combination of skills is out there if you’re prepared to put the energy into a more flexible recruitment strategy.
Look beyond the usual recruitment channels
Employers who insist on only recruiting candidates from the most recognised universities with obvious qualifications are seriously limiting themselves. Looking for more diverse talent from less obvious institutions enables firms to build a stronger, more creative team with a fruitful range of perspectives – crucial attributes if you want to stay competitive in a rapidly changing environment.
Involve your existing team
You may not even need to look far to attract much-needed digital talent. Encouraging existing employees to identify potential recruits from their own circles through an employee referral program can pay huge dividends. Employee-referred staff are often more satisfied at work and likely to stay longer with one company, and you’ll also give your current staff a sense of empowerment by enabling them to contribute to your firm’s future in a concrete way.
We all know the power of networking when it comes to sourcing untapped tech talent, but there’s often more companies can do to really capitalise on their presence at networking events. Look into partnering, sponsoring, exhibiting at and hosting relevant events to build productive relationships with promising candidates and increase your company’s brand awareness.