May 01, 2024 / 1:19.04

Episode Description

For season two of The Leader Insights Series Podcast I’ve mixed up the format slightly and every episode will now feature multiple guests, discussing a particular challenge or issue.

In this first episode I had the pleasure of welcoming back Sam Waterfall, London’s Global Career Coach, as well as speaking to Andrew Elder, an experienced FMCG marketeer, for the first time, to discuss how to accelerate your job search.

As a reminder, Sam is a high-impact career coach with a background in marketing and a no-nonsense approach to getting you the job you really want. Whether it’s helping young people overcome their inexperience to land their first job, or it’s working alongside senior leaders to build strategies for their career growth, Sam has worked with people in all stages of their career search (helping some land jobs in Nike, Red bull, Virgin, Facebook and the NHS to name a few!)

Andrew has amassed around 25 years’ experience working in a variety of marketing roles across FMCG. He’s worked for organisations such as Kellogg’s, Premier Foods and brands such as Birdseye, Quorn and Stella Artois. As an omni-channel marketeer Andrew has worked across insight, innovation and brand strategy but above all, he’s an exceptionally nice guy with an infectiously positive disposition!

In this episode, we focus on how to accelerate your job search. Through the conversation my guests provide actionable tips of how to help you find your next role including how to get the most out of LinkedIn Premium, the importance of having ‘clarity’ in your job search and the benefits of networking and how to maximise this.

We also discuss the realities of going through a job search and how you can keep yourself motivated and energised during the process.

I hope you like this new format and, as ever, if you’d like to get in touch for any reason you can reach me at


Episode Transcript

Jonathan O’Hagan 00:24

[Music] Hello! And welcome to the Leader Insights Series Podcast. This is the Podcast designed to uncover the secrets to both career and business success, gaining real insight from inspirational figures across the food and drink industry.


[Music] This is Series Two, we’re back. Finally, apologies for the wait. As a reminder, I’m your host, Jonathan O’Hagan. And this episode is all about accelerating your job search in 2024.


I’m delighted to be joined by two fabulous people, the first of which probably needs no introduction. He’s actually been on the Podcast on two previous occasions. So, this is his third appearance. If I was any better friend, I’d be paying him but let’s not give him any ideas. So, this first guest is Sam Waterfall, who you may remember is the founder of the Obvious Candidate. He’s also known as London’s global career coach. And Sam is just an all round, fascinating guy. He works with people in a very close partnership driven way. He helps people to land their dream job, he works with people to accelerate the job search. He’s a Career Strategist. And just by way of example, he’s helped people land jobs with people like Nike, Amazon, Virgin, Red Bull Racing, Rolls Royce, I could go on but Sam has done some fantastic work, continues to do so. And he’s right at the forefront of job search and job search strategies and helping you get that dream job faster.


The other guests we’re joined by today is Andrew Elder. Now, Andrew, I’ve known for a number of years. Andrew is a great guy. He is what you classed as a classical FMCG marketer. He’s got around about 20, 25 years experience in food and drink under his belt. He’s worked for some great companies. So, businesses such as Kellogg’s premier foods, Nomad foods, he’s worked with brands like Birdseye Corn, Stella Artois, again, I could go on but Andrew is just an all round solid guy, experience across insight, innovation, and brand strategy. He’s an Omni-Channel marketer. And the reason Andrew has been invited on to the show is, he’s had a really interesting journey in terms of the job search. And I think, what Andrew has done, and what he continues to do, is potentially really valuable for a lot of people to just listen and perhaps incorporate into their career development strategy as a whole.


So, I think, this episode is really insightful. We cover a lot of ground without giving too much away, we talk about the importance of clarity in your job search and how to go about getting clear on what’s important for you. We talk about being patient, staying positive, we talk about some really useful new technology platforms and gadgets that people can use, we talk about the power of networking and how to go about it. As I say, there’s a lot of ground covered. So, I hope you enjoy. As always, subscribe to the Podcast, if you’ve not done so already, you’ll get notified of all future episodes, I’m working really hard for this series, to bring some fantastic guests. And we’re going to cover some really interesting, very relevant topics. This series is going to be more of a roundtable discussion, which hopefully should just provide an interesting new format for you. So, here we go. Hope you enjoy. This is, let’s talk accelerating your job search in 2024. Enjoy.


Jonathan O’Hagan 3:50

Sam, Andrew, such a pleasure to have you on, it really is, I’ve known you guys for a number of years. And Sam. It’s been about two years, over two years since we last spoke, believe it or not. So, I guess the first question would be from what you’re seeing Sam, your perspective, since we last talked? What’s going on in terms of the job search market, what’s changed, you know, what’s relevant, since we last spoke a few years ago?


Sam Waterfall 04:15

Well, thanks for having me back. Jonathan, really pleased to be back with you on the Podcast. And I think, that if I give an answer to that, in both general terms, and also a few specifics, is probably the best way to handle that. I think, that in general, things are more competitive, and hiring managers are becoming more and more concerning and demanding than ever. People are really very clear on what they’re looking for with their candidates. And as you will no doubt have seen, job vacancies can get up to a couple of 100 applications in days or even sometimes hours. And so things are really very competitive out there. And I think that as a job seeker, people can hear all kinds of tales of gloom about the state of the jobs market, but what I always say, is that you don’t have to worry about the jobs market a bit like you don’t have to worry about the economy, you have to worry about your economy and you have to worry about your jobs market. And I think, that it’s really important because you can’t change the jobs market, but you can change your job to market.


And really with a morning of hard work, or just a little bit of time really spent focused, that can make a massive difference in people search. So, I think, that’s the first thing, don’t put off, if someone’s saying to you, that something’s tough out there. It is tough but you can make a big difference on yourself. And I have this idea about controlling the controllables. What if you take control of the things that you can control, that makes a massive difference, you can speed up a process, by taking control of what you can control, lots of things in a job search process that you cannot control, you’re not sure how people will respond to you at an interview, or whether you’re going to get through, or how long a job search process might be taking. But I think when you actually take control, you can become a Class Act. And you can make yourself the obvious candidate, which is what I always say about this.


When it comes to the specifics, I think, there’s four things, that have really changed since we spoke last. And I think, that it’s even more important to set out knowing what you’re looking for. If you start searching for something and you don’t know what it is, you’re looking for, you’re just out there searching, you can find all kinds of things that could possibly be right. But it’s really important, if you know what you’re looking for. The second thing, I think, is to have real clarity, and also a market orientation meaning by that, you need to really think about not just what you understand that you’re looking for, but you have to put that and interpret it in ways that other people can make sense of, sometimes companies have got very peculiar internal job titles, for example. And I think, that can be confusing when it comes to other people, but what is very helpful to do is to describe your job in a way that’s meaningful outside of your current workplace and in a way that the rest of the market can understand.


And I think, it’s also really important to update your skills. There’s all kinds of things that people can be doing these days. But if your latest qualification was your bachelor’s degree, you know, back from 1993, or something like this, that’s old news by now. And really, it’s quite easy to find courses, I’m not suggesting that anyone goes out there and has to go and get another Master’s degree or something like that. But there’s plenty of short courses, six weeks, eight weeks, 12 weeks, from very well known experts or from very well known institutions. And you can get the equivalent of a module of masters education in a certificate program.


But you can bring in a badge, the likes, for example of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability leadership, and get their qualification or you can get qualifications in Blockchain, or Indeed AI and lots of other things. Things that people really want, I think, it makes a massive difference to have actually obtained some expertise, because a lot of people can say, they’re interested in something and are interested in making a difference for sustainability. But actually to have gone out there and done a course and to got something which establishes that with an external credential, I think really helps.


And the final thing I would say, is technology, last year, 2023 was really the year of AI, really coming into so many different things. But it’s not just that, I think, if I think about technology, could be as simple as LinkedIn premium. LinkedIn, something that almost every job seeker is on. And if you’re not, please get on there. But what I always suggest is LinkedIn premium is absolutely worth it, it is not cheap, but you can get a free 30 day trial. What it gives you, two very specific things. The first one is it gives you absolute visibility of who has viewed your profile. And if you’re in a job search, you need to know who has viewed your profile, you need to know if there’s recruiters who have been looking, people in your network, if they’ve been looking. And you get a very limited number of people that you can have visibility of on the free site.


So, if you’re in a search, absolutely upgrade for that period, into LinkedIn premium. The other thing that it also gives you, which a lot of people don’t know about is, there’s an opportunity to find out which keywords LinkedIn needs to optimize your profile for the job search you’re doing. And so that is something else that you can only get inside LinkedIn premium.


The way that you do it is, if you go to your profile, if you’re editing your profile, you can go to the ‘More’ button, which is at the top near the count of your connections. Under More, click that and then click ‘Build a Resume’, and then click ‘Create from Profile’. And then you add the job title. So, if you’re going for a Chief of Staff position, or if you’re going for a Marketing Director position, then type in that name and then click ‘Apply’. And it will, through the magic of AI, and the magic of all the data that LinkedIn has on job search, tell you which keywords you need to have in that profile. And this is so useful because you can then put those into your headline, you can then put those into your About section, you can put those into your Skill section. It’s just so useful to be able to do it, means that you’re going to have a much better fit towards jobs that are advertised there. And you’re also going to rank far better when it comes to search.


Jonathan O’Hagan  09:58

It’s a really interesting point. The technology one is so true. It’s moving at such a pace that even people like you and I, who are sort of involved in this world day-in, day-out, struggle to keep up with everything all the time with the developments. And one of the things, I was going to ask you is, this seems as though, there’s maybe just an increase in frustration out there from job seekers, you know, we are seeing more people vent and post about their experience, whether it be lack of feedback, whether it be ghosting, you name it, there’s a number of different things. But are you seeing that out there? There seems to be more frustration, or certainly more people venting their frustration. And maybe some of that’s because, like you say, it’s a demanding market right now, technology’s changing, maybe people are just a bit frustrated with the whole journey they’re on. But yes, are you seeing some of that frustration out there as well?


Sam Waterfall 10:51

I am. And three things come to mind. The first one is very simple. And that’s to keep it positive out there. Certainly, job searching has got so many emotional ups and downs, things can be going really well. But you might be down to the last two candidates, had a client who had been down to the last three from over 150 different applicants, and then got pipped at the post. And it’s gutting at that point. And then, if the feedback is not clear or not useful, or you get ghosted, at any point in the process, it really is frustrating. And of course, when it happens more than once or for some people tens, or sometimes I hear, hundreds of times, it gets really frustrating. And I think, there’s a tendency, as you say, to vent, and sometimes to put this out there is very understandable. But those posts hang around a lot longer than your emotion and your feelings on that topic.


So, I would really encourage people, I have a personal rule, which is, if I’m frustrated at something, if I wouldn’t like to see what I was writing published on the front of a newspaper then I’ll try and not write it, because I think you know, it’s out there and it makes a difference. And I’ve seen a few people, who have almost made a habit of venting and getting quite angry. And I must say, that some of the job searches are taking a very long time. I’m not saying, that’s completely the reason. But I do think, people pay attention to it. People are certainly looking. The other thing, I think is that sometimes the ghosting happens un-intentionally, it could be deliberate, it might be not deliberate.


But you can always follow-up, you can try again, to get some additional information. When you get feedback as well, from any part of a job search, I think I would say as well treat it with some caution, because it may be true, it may be half true, it may not be true, it may just be the easiest thing to say, rather than the truth. So be a little bit careful with that.


And I would say, the other thing as well is to get help from the right people. If you’re feeling frustrated, you don’t have to do this on your own. There’s people out there who can certainly help. And that could be setting things up correctly with friends and family. It could be making sure that your industry acquaintances are being helpful as well. Recruiters or indeed maybe a career coach as well. There’s lots of people out there, who can help them and help make sure that you’re not up against it on your own.


Jonathan O’Hagan  13:02

Yes, good. Now, we hear a lot about personal branding and networking. We’ve spoken about this previously. Sam, is it more important than ever, in your opinion, right now?


Sam Waterfall 13:12

It is. I think personal branding is really important, but I think it’s really important as well to understand what it is and what it isn’t, when it comes to a job search. Because personal branding, sometimes people fear that it might mean becoming a social media influencer or posting selfies or posting six times a day. And really, I don’t think personal branding during a Job Search means any of those things. I think what it really is about very simply is clarity, consistency, and visibility. And if you can achieve those things that’s going to work for you much better. It does require taking some time and making some decisions about what you are, what you are not, who you’re targeting, and what they need to see. Again it’s back to that idea of market orientation, to put your desires for what you’re looking for, for the next part of your career in a way that other people can understand that and make sure that out there. I believe that’s what the branding is.


And when it comes to networking, yes, absolutely. It’s absolutely vital. But not just networking for the sake of networking, I think being really focused is important. I’ve got just one analogy that I think, helps to understand the importance of this. It takes forever, you know, if you’re out there trying to do a job search on your own, but I’ve got young children at the moment, so I read a lot of storybooks. And there’s always a deep dark wood in these stories. And I think, if you think about job searchers trying to navigate a deep dark wood, you know, it’s difficult place. If you can imagine that deep dark woods, someone’s going to put five jobs over the next three to six months that would be perfect for you as your next chapter behind five of those trees. If you have to go out every day and there’s 1000 trees in the deep dark word. If you have to go and look behind each of those on your own. That’s a big job. And it’s far easier if you can imagine that deep dark wood might be called London or any other city, you’ve got people who you already know, who are working in that town, who are working in that space, in your category. If you let them know what you’re looking for, and when they’re out and about in the deep dark wood themselves, or in London or wherever else they might be, they can be looking. And it’s a lot easier, if you’ve asked other people to keep an eye open for the right thing for you. And really, that’s what networking is about.


And so the idea of having to look everyday for yourself just makes it very hard work, but far better to do strategic networking to get other people. And again, this comes down to that clarity, consistency, visibility on exactly what you’re looking for. And then, they can help you, people love to help as well. And they can let you know, when they spot one of these jobs that’s coming up, may not be perfect, but it’s going to really help and speed up your search.


Jonathan O’Hagan  15:45

That’s a really good point. And I think, it’s also about doing it, when you don’t actually need to, which I know is not helpful for someone listening to this, who’s in the middle of a job search. But we’ve spoken about this countless times, haven’t we, that it should just be an ongoing thing that you view it, as developing your network consistently. So, that in some ways, you never need to actually look for a job, per se, you’ve built such a strong network of advocates or those extra pair of eyes and ears, that can be really valuable for you. But it’s that switch between being reactive and proactive. And now, we’re going to talk a little bit more about that later on. So, listen, in summary, Sam, right now with 2024 in mind, what would be your top three strategies to accelerate your job search?


Sam Waterfall 16:29

So, let me summarise that for you. So, the first one would definitely be get clarity on what you want, at the beginning of your search, it’s a lot easier to find what you’re looking for if you know what it is you’re looking for. But at the same time, keep flexibility on how it might show up, it might look somewhat different as it comes along. So have the clarity, but with flexibility.


The second idea would be to get your personal marketing ready to go. Once you’ve got that. By that, I mean your CV, I mean maybe covering letter templates, certainly your LinkedIn profile, the narrative that you’re going to say to people, but always be ready to tailor that personal marketing, that personal branding, for every different opportunity. So, I think of that always as putting a filter, like an Instagram filter on your story. Your story is always your truth. That’s what’s there and is the core of your story. But different elements of your story, and your personal brand, will be more interesting for particular recruiters, for different hiring managers. So, be prepared to flex that as well.


And the third is really to apply that networking to make sure that there’s other people who know exactly what you’re looking for. So, that with the right people, they can help you open the right doors. And to treat that networking like a job, really go at it. If you want to get a job quickly treat your job search like a job, go at it hard, build momentum, run through walls. When I see people do that, they really make things happen in weeks, not months. And when I see people take it, like it’s not a job, it’s just something that they do every now and then, that search takes a long, long time. So, the momentum makes a big difference.


Jonathan O’Hagan  18:02

Really good points. Let me just drill a bit deeper on your first point get clarity. So, how would someone get clarity, Sam, because I speak to a lot of people where they don’t quite know what good looks like, they don’t quite know what that dream job looks like? What would your advice be around? How could they work towards getting a bit of clarity?


Sam Waterfall 18:21

So, within my obvious candidate method, I’ve got seven steps. The whole idea about clarity fits into step one, which is the most important step. If we don’t do that, if we miss out on that, then we don’t know what we’re looking for. And what we tend to do, what does it look like? We take anything, usually between two and six weeks. And we explore first, we create options, what could possibly. Those are great coaching questions, what could possibly be the right next place for you in terms of your career? And we look at what does the job need to be like, we look at what aspects of, what you’ve been doing previously, do you want to keep. Which aspects of what you’ve been doing previously, that you want to get rid of? And also, can you see things that other people are doing, that you’d like to be doing more of that, maybe you’ve not had the chance to bring into your career so far.


And so, we get very clear on the aspects of the job. And then, we also start looking at the type of employer. And we think about do you want to be doing something similar to what you’ve done previously? Or do you want something really very different? And then, we start to build a very clear path. And we get from the idea of, I guess, concepts and quite a conceptual search, bring it into the reality of which are the companies that we would need to look at and then which of the people we would need to approach. So, we begin by creating options, we then evaluate those options, we start to then make some decisions. And ultimately, we set very specific criteria. So, you know exactly when you’re speaking to a recruiter, Jonathan such as yourself, or when you’re speaking to one of those people, who’s out there in the deep dark world, out there in the networking zone. You need to be very clear what you can tell them so, you can have that clarity so, you can give a consistent message and that’s where your Branding echo goes out, into that wood, into that space. And people can then start bringing back exactly what you’re looking for. That’s the way this works.


So, we explore first, we evaluate, we decide, we set these very specific criteria. And the criteria even helped you then to evaluate the quality of what’s been brought back to you. Not every job that comes in your direction is one that you should be taking time, your valuable time and energy to apply to. Sometimes it’s just a no, it doesn’t take enough of the boxes in the criteria. But that’s how we go about doing it. It’s a very specific process. It’s all guided, it’s tried tested, and it’s a proven process to find out exactly, what’s the right next step.


Jonathan O’Hagan  20:35

Yes, good. And like you say, it links very neatly into networking, doesn’t it? Unless, you’ve got clarity over, what good looks like when you are networking and sort of spreading that message, subliminally, it would get very difficult. And for anyone, who doesn’t know, I’ve said in the Intro, Sam, and I’ve done two episodes now. So, on your second point of your CV, [Music] and especially LinkedIn, I’d urge, you go back and listen to episode Two, that Sam and I did, which was way back in January 2022. Now, seems like a lifetime ago. But we really dialed in, on some of the detail around CVs and LinkedIn and that sort of thing. So, we won’t go through it now. Go back and listen to that episode. Brilliant. I think, we’ll leave it there for part one. We’ll be back shortly.


Jonathan O’Hagan  20:35

Welcome back. This is part Two, I’m going to bring our special guest in, Andrew, who’s been waiting patiently in the wings there. Patience, I knew was something you’d have in abundance, Andrew, so welcome to the show. Andrew will a little piece of you die, if I asked you to do that awful thing, and just to give the listeners a little bit of an intro?


Andrew Elder 24:00

Not at all Jonathan, delighted to be here. So, thank you for inviting me. I’ve been a marketer for the vast majority of my career, and have worked in businesses, predominantly in food and drink, such as Bass brewers Kellogg’s, Interbrew, when it was called Interbrew, that’s showing my age, then entered into the likes of Premier foods, Northern foods, Birdseye and then more recently into the world of insurance, which is a whole other different world. But currently working with Sam looking for my next marketing opportunity.


Jonathan O’Hagan  24:33

Brilliant. Well, we’ve known each other for a while now, Andrew, I don’t know how many years, but a number of years and I guess one of the reasons, I thought it’d be great just to bring you on to the Podcast to talk all about, you know, job search and the right strategies to use and how you can accelerate that is, you’ve had a really interesting journey. You’re back in the food and drink industry now. But you actually were out of the food and drink industry for a little while. So, just take us on that journey, I would probably imagine it was back maybe in your Birdseye days was it, when you and I were talking properly about, what next. So, maybe from there talk us through the job search journey, how you found it?


Andrew Elder  25:15

Yes. Well, it was an interesting journey. And you’re absolutely right, you and I were talking back in 2019. And it was really at that point, that I’d been working in FMCG, for so many years, I’d had a great time at Birdseye, but I was really just reflecting on what actually I wanted to do next, and I was at a bit of a crossroads. So, during 2019, I made, some would say foolish, others would say mature, decisions to actually leave Birdseye all with good wishes, and so on, and so forth, really to take time, to decide what I really wanted to do. Because what I didn’t want at that time was to become unhappy, and then lurch into a role that ultimately, I would regret. So, I was in the fortunate position that I had money saved and are comfortable as a family. So, I was in a, one would say, rare position to be able to have that luxury to leave a job without wanting to go to and take time.


Unfortunately, that was just before COVID hit. So, the next few weeks of job hunting, which were quite relaxed. And I remember Jonathan, you and I catching up in London, just before lockdown started, of course, the job’s market disappeared within a flash during March of 2020. And, frankly, that then changed my focus to educating my children and finding what else to do with my life. Now, I think specifically, what led me into my next role goes back to a really, really pertinent point that Sam mentioned, and that is networking. Because the reason, the way, that I found a role in insurance, which was certainly not in my life plan, was through people that I knew, and it was actually friends, friends of friends, that enabled me to do that. That wasn’t in the way, that I have been using networking successfully, like what Sam has very much espoused about contacting the network, this was actually just calling up and speaking to an old friend of mine, whose husband was in insurance and that led to a contract role in a very fast growing insurer tech organization that needed marketing expertise. And they didn’t have that.


So, I jumped on board, and three and a half years later, I was still there. And you know, a really interesting experience, I suppose, just as a slight angle to that. I think, that I’ve always been in FMCG. And I’ve always thought that my skills are only appropriate for FMCG, I think, I would certainly highlight to people that don’t certainly feel that your skills are necessarily only suitable for something that you’ve done in the past, I was certainly able to, and was given the opportunity to use my knowledge in a way that was enjoyable.


For me, it was fulfilling, it was an interesting organization. And they benefited I felt, and certainly that’s why I was there, you know, for much longer than I anticipated in a category that I frankly had no idea what it was like at the very beginning. So, that role ultimately ended when the business got new backing, at the back of last year, which was ultimately part of my life plan, that when that was done, I would be moving back into FMCG. So, that’s where you find me now, Jonathan.


Jonathan O’Hagan  28:52

And talk us through, maybe the highs, the lows of that job search, because as I mentioned to Sam earlier, or Sam said, you know, it’s pretty demanding out there, hiring managers are being very specific on their briefs. It’s a competitive market. How did you find it? What were the tough bits, the good bits? Yes, talk us through, how you found trying to come back into the food and drink industry?


Andrew Elder 29:18

I think, first of all, that I have to refer you to Sam on this one, Jonathan, but also, I think for everybody, you should be thinking about your next role or next opportunity, even while you’re happy in your existing role. And it’s the point that you were making before gents about networking, keeping things ticking over, because you never know. And frankly, you might be very happy in a job and you may not be looking for another move. But if another opportunity arises that you had only arisen and come into full view, because of the conversations that you’ve with other people, informally maybe, socially, that’s incredibly valuable. And that ultimately was, what got me my position in insurance, it was nothing else, it really wasn’t.


Jonathan O’Hagan  30:10

So, right Andrew, and sorry to interrupt, I just think, it’s a really valid point you make because again, I forget when we last met, but you were well entrenched in this insurance business, but you were proactively thinking about what’s next. And we kept in touch and I think, there’s almost two approaches, which look, we’ll talk about this a little bit later on, in more detail, but you can be reactive or proactive, and the vast majority of people are quite reactive with their careers, they’ll wait until their job is either potentially under threat or they’ll wait until they’re unhappy or something on along those lines.


Actually, if you can be proactive, and like you say, be thinking about what does an excellent role look like for me. Then think I need to do this to get there or just having clarity over what’s next. Having that clarity and understanding and being a bit proactive, I think is really important. So, it’s a good point, that you make, a really good point. You’ve already mentioned one thing, Andrew, but what’s been the most effective strategies for you? So, networking has clearly been very powerful for you. Has there been anything else that’s been particularly useful on your journey?


Andrew Elder 31:25

I think, having absolute clarity on what I want, and what I don’t want 100%, because without that, frankly, you can come across to a recruitment specialist, such as yourself, just saying, I want a job as a marketing leader. And that, of course, provides no clarity, frankly, to the recruiter. We as marketers have to be distinctive, because back to the personal branding, you’ve got to stand out for what you are, what you want, where you want to go. And if you don’t do that, you kind of look like a lot of other people. So, therefore, when a roll comes along, and recruitment specialists, such as yourself, will have many CVs, or people on your books. If you haven’t cut through by being very clear to yourself, you know recruitment specialist about exactly what you want, then you’re just in the mix. And what recruitment specialists have to ultimately do is to find the obvious candidate, the perfect match to the organization search criteria, because ultimately, if you’re not doing that, then you may not get the opportunity in the future.


So, it’s in everyone’s interests, ultimately, to be very clear about what you want, what you don’t want. Do you want to commute? Do you not want the commute? What kind of a team, what kind of an environment, what kind of culture, all of those aspects. So, that enables you to be able to say, No, I don’t actually want that role. And as one, that I’ve just recently been approached regarding and I’ve said no, because that, frankly, doesn’t fit what I want. So, yes, it’s been clear. It really is. And it’s to be honest, it’s quite empowering. Because then, you have far greater confidence so that, when you are contacting recruiters, and this has been the process, that I’ve found. They said, that’s great, that is really clear, that helps me and ultimately, you want to help them to find you the job that you want.


Jonathan O’Hagan  33:44

It does, again, it’s a really important point that Sam made about clarity, and you’ve mentioned about clarity. I think, the initial instinct is for jobseekers, to keep it quite broad, because you know, ultimately, they want more choices. They want more opportunities to talk about roles. But actually, if you can be clear on and sometimes actually, I’d encourage people too, if they’re struggling with what good looks like, think about what doesn’t fit well. You know, what times in your career that you’ve really detested and things that you don’t like, start maybe from there, and that helps you guide towards what good does look like but think about the company ownership style. Think about, you know, who’s been the best boss, you’ve worked for? Why? What’s their style been? What have you enjoyed about that particular role? Think about all different aspects and start detailing it together and have almost a list of, you know, priorities or this is what I’d love to find.


And I often say, to people that what does that unicorn role look like? You may not get that unicorn roll. But hey, we should all strive for it. And actually, I think, it’s a really attractive quality being quite focused on this is, what I really want. And to your point, being able to say, no, you know what, that role doesn’t quite fit with what I’m looking for. These are the reasons; it helps people like me in the talent world. Actually, it’s an attractive quality for hiring managers as well, because they want to hire people, who are clear about what they want to do. People’s motivations are really important, especially when you’re hiring at a senior level. Actually, they’re in front of you, because they’ve pretty much got the right skills and experience, that’s almost a given. Actually, it’s more about their motivations.


What’s in it for them, is there that win-win? So, I think, if you can be clear on why this move makes sense to you, why it talks to you, I think, it’s a really attractive quality. So, yes, again, another really good point, Andrew, just finally on this section then. So, advice for others embarking on this journey, Andrew, from your own personal perspective, is there anything else that’s really worked? Obviously, working with Sam, I imagine, has been helpful. We’ll give him a plug. But yes, what advice would you have for job seekers either thinking about coming on to the job market or proactively thinking about how they should go about their search?


Andrew Elder  36:02

I’ve alluded to it already, Jonathan, the network is so important. I think, it’s staying positive kind of celebrating the small wins, whether that’s posting something on LinkedIn and getting a positive reaction to a post of yours, assessing who’s actually responded, you know, who’s reacted, is there anybody knew about that? Are there Headhunters, other people in the business that maybe you’ve lost contact with. And it can be tough. And you know, I’ve been here before you’re in a situation of job hunting, but it can be fulfilling, I think, the other thing is, what you also need to make sure that you do keep open minded to is, contract roles. And don’t be so blinkered to say that, Oh, that’s not what I really want. I am in a contract role at the moment. And that, frankly, has been through networking, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Is that part of my life plan? No, it’s not.


But frankly, my last job in the world of insurance started as a contract. And that lasted for exactly the amount of time that I wanted it to. And it was fulfilling and enjoyable, and taught me a lot, that I’ve subsequently been able to apply back into the world of FMCG. So, I think, it is that kind of broad-minded approach that you have to do. And I know, I’m sounding like a disciple of Sam’s here. But treat job hunting, like a job, take time out, make sure that you’re doing that, but don’t get desperate, you know what I mean? I love my cycling, as you gentlemen both know, and I bore you with incessantly. There have been times when it’s been quiet in the job-hunting time.


So, try to find other things that you do that are fulfilling, because those will energize you, and help you celebrate the other parts of your life, to actually then to kind of return back to the job-hunting market, let’s say, the next day with renewed vigor. So, it can be hard because no money is, maybe coming in. And there are stresses and strains. And I’ve been there, but I try to very much keep an open-mind and say, you know, what, if the sun shining, which it hasn’t been recently, but if the sun shining, going out for an hour helps to boost those endorphins, and actually, you know, help in some way to fill you with a bit of vim and vigor to get back on to LinkedIn or to get back to contacting your network or to speak to Headhunters, and so on.


Jonathan O’Hagan  38:34

It’s a really good point, it’s self care at the end of the day, and you said it yourself, it can be really tough. I mean, I speak to people who can really feel it. Sometimes, they’re going through the mill, the pressures on it, can be really difficult. So, to sometimes take a moment, and just well, you said, just be positive. And yes, from my perspective, just be kind to yourself. And Sam, did you want to chip in there?



Sam Waterfall 38:59

I think, it’s really important when you’re in a job, you have a to-do-list, which is in your face all the time, you’ve got exactly what you need to get done. When you get into a job search. If it’s all you’re doing, suddenly, a week looks like a long time. And Andrew’s point is exactly right. You need to balance that time out. So, when I say, go at it, treat it like it’s a job, what I mean is balanced, that certainly give it the energy that it needs. But you’re quite right. I think, what’s been working for a lot of my clients in the last 12 months has been to balance maybe, doing three days on their job search, maybe taking on a part time role or some advisory work or getting on the bike or doing something else, and really balancing that out.


But when they’re working on the job search, they’re networking, that list of people, the dream 30 that we call it, and that we go through, back in, I think, it was episode 16. Jonathan, when we talked about that, but those 30 people or the 30 people in the world, who are the ones best focused, best place to be able to help you find that job. And that’s exactly what Andrew is saying, you know, you can spend time with him, you can be focused, but then give yourself a break, the rest of the time as well so that you can bounce out because you can’t work all the hours doing, you don’t need to feel guilty, when you’re not.


Jonathan O’Hagan  40:12

Yes, a really good point. Now, my next question, it’s one, I should probably answer, in all honesty. But Sam, let me put it to you first, and perhaps we’ll circle back to me. I think, for some people, how they interact with recruiters or headhunters can be a bit of a mystery. So, Sam, what’s your advice to people in terms of interacting with recruiters’ talent partners? What are your thoughts on that?


Sam Waterfall 40:36

Yes, I did want to reflect this question back to you. Because it’s really, how do we work best with you. But I think, as we have both worked with Jonathan, we’ve learned over the years, it comes back to this idea of clarity, authors, Chip and Dan Heath, they wrote that.


“Resistance is created by a lack of clarity.”


And to build on what Andrew has just been saying, if we can give you a really clear brief, not just a turn up and tell Jonathan, I’m really open-minded. You know, tell me what you’ve got. Because that doesn’t help you find the right thing. It doesn’t help you satisfy your clients. We need to understand you. And it comes back to this thing that as I mentioned, Mark Ritson talks about this market orientation, he says, that.


“The first rule of marketing is that you’re not the customer yourself, you’ve got to put yourself in the position of the other person.”


In our case, when Andrew and when I’m working with you, we’ve got to put ourselves in your shoes. You’ve got a client who you need to satisfy, you’ve got to turn up with a shortlist of really excellent candidates, otherwise, you don’t look good. We need to then listen and what is it you need to find. So, I think, trying to help you, we can think as job-seekers, that, gosh, it’s poor me, I’m the victim here, I’ve got to, you know, please help me find a job, find me the next thing, please, you know, let’s help you achieve what you need to be. Let’s listen to what the brief is, let’s position ourselves then.


This is what Andrew does. Day-in, day-out, he’s repositioning brands, he is researching what needs to be done, we need to research with you. What does this particular job require? Then, we need to re-position our story. And again, it’s this Instagram filter on our own story. We’ve got a CV that’s written, but maybe it needs to be adjusted, it needs to have a new filter put on top of it. So, even though your truth, your whole story is still there, you lead with the part that’s going to help. When we give you that CV, that part is going to help you present us as the obvious candidate that you need to put forward. So, I think, that the listening role is not just about coming to you, asking for roles.


The other thing is, that in every industry, there are specialists. So, Jonathan, you know, you’re one of the specialists, one of the leaders in your space. There are others of course, and when it comes to like, if you’re moving industry, it’s going to be a different set. And we’ve talked about saying, No, when things aren’t right. And I know, you do this, Jonathan, you know, very quickly, you know, after years of experience, you know, who you can help and who you can’t, and you move to say, no to people very quickly, which is a great thing. And that’s what this evaluation, these criteria are basketball from a job-seeker’s point of view.


So, I think, if we are job-seeking, what we need to do is, find the group of people who are best placed because you don’t cover the whole industry, some particular companies will work exclusively with one person or with one particular recruitment agent. If you want to work with that company, you need to find out, who it is that they work with, and build a relationship there. So, I think, when it comes to working with recruiters, there is an art to getting it right. There’s also then the follow up. And it’s not about paying out a CV, sending that off all the time. It’s about having a sensible conversation. And as Andrew said, having real detail there, in terms of the specific criteria that you want for that job, so that you can get that clarity, then you can say, yes, I can help or you can’t.


And then, Andrew can be following up as the job seeker and regularly with you, not too regularly, but maybe every four to six weeks to sort of let you know to update you that, you know, he’s not just waiting on you. But he’s doing other things as well give you some positive things. And then, you can see that he’s an active candidate. He’s someone who really wants this, you can feel his motivation, because of the other steps, he’s taking. So, I think, from my point of view, that’s what I see, helps the most is, that clarity to avoid the resistance. If we don’t give you clarity to begin with. The resistance is right there. You don’t know what to do with us. And so, you don’t do anything at that point and as a job-seeker, then we get ghosted or we feel, we didn’t give you the help you need to be able to help us.


Jonathan O’Hagan  44:21

Yes, it’s good point. And, Andrew, I’ll bring you in here as well. What’s your experience been around trying to develop really good partnerships with recruiters, headhunters? What’s your experience been? And how have you gone about it, typically?


Andrew Elder 44:35

I would say, my experience has been mixed. In all honesty, Jonathan. I think from a marketing perspective, it’s quite tough for recruiters at the moment because there aren’t as many jobs around as there have been, you know, in previous years. I know last year, I wasn’t in the market, so to speak, particularly, but I think that was particularly tough because the economy and life in general was quite tough for people. So, I think, that was okay. I think, that all relationships, I go back to networking to an extent, the people that the recruiters that I’ve had long relationships with and have kept in touch, that’s been great, they’ve been more than willing to get in contact and for us to a certain extent, reconnect and start that dialogue.


I think, for others, it’s been a little bit harder work. And actually, here’s a little bit of insight that what I was doing incorrectly, so to speak, I was contacting some recruiters via LinkedIn and sometimes wasn’t hearing back. And the reason being was that, then, I was going back and saying, Okay, I will E-mail them now, because I still had their E-mail. So, maybe, I was being too, you know, trying to be too open up with technology and only go through LinkedIn, when I E-mailed them. Oh, Hi, Andrew! I didn’t realize that, you know, you have been trying to contact me on LinkedIn. Frankly, I’m overwhelmed with contacts at the moment. But I do read my E-mails, that was just a bit of an aha moment with a couple of Headhunters, when I’d been going through it the wrong way, feared that I was being ghosted, whereas, in fact, it was just, I was using the wrong communication technique to get in touch.


So, sometimes, I think, that you’ve got to be a little more gently, pushy, be persistent, and try to find ways in which, again, you can be distinctive, and you can cut through and say, Look, I really do want to speak to you because, you know, I’ve got a very clear idea of what I want for my role, you know, what I want to do, etc., rather than just be kind of vague and broad. It’s taken time, in some instance, taken persistence, the challenges, as Sam alluded to, it’s always about maintaining that momentum and not frankly, giving up because if you drop off, then you will drop off their radar as well.




Jonathan O’Hagan  46:55

It’s been consistent, isn’t it? And if I could compliment you, Andrew, at something that you’ve done very well, when I think back over the years, you know, we’ve known each other for a number of years. But actually, we’ve not had huge amounts of contact, but it’s been consistent. We’ve spoken a good few time each year. And this perhaps leads me on to one of the tips, I would certainly give is, to be consistent and look at this as building relationships with people who can help support your career journey, not just a job search, it’s about your entire career journey. Now, I take great pride in the work that I do, especially when it comes to someone, I’ve known for 10, 15 plus years and help them move on from job-to-job and you know, you really get to know them in a deeper way, and get to help them manage their career. That’s fantastic.


I guess, from my perspective, just to shed some light on this question, how can you be effective with recruiters and headhunters as well, we all work differently. You know, I’m an independent, for example. So, I’m not a big mass volume type entity. I’m low volume. I’m in the senior end, it’s board minus one, its senior management and board level stuff. So, it’s not high-volume stuff. So, I can’t deal with everyone. To your point, Andrew, I might well be that guy, that you sent a message, but it might take me a few days to respond. Because essentially, there’s me and a few others, but I’m not in the volume market. So, I think, it’s about knowing who you’re reaching out to. Because bottom line, we do all work differently. Some of us work more proactively. Some of us are reactive. Some of us are market specialists. Some of us are discipline specialists, you know, I could go on.


I think, I last heard and this may or may not be correct, but there was something ridiculous, like nearly 40,000 Recruitment businesses registered in the UK alone. So, there’s going to be some differences between, you know, Headhunters, exec search firms, low and mid level recruitment firm, you know, there’s going to be such variance in how they do their job. And I guess that is where some of this frustration, perhaps we see is born out of right, you know, people operate differently.


Andrew Elder 49:08

Sorry to interrupt. I think, one thing that I have found over the years as well is that, the people, the recruiters, or headhunters that you’ve used in the past working not necessarily for themselves or maybe you know, for a larger organization, they may not be the people, the person that you need to speak to now because frankly, they may have moved disciplines or they may have moved to position in the organization, where they aren’t, frankly relevant to your job search. And consequently, you have to address that within the organization of that particular contact, that you’ve had either, if you’re trying to contact them and they may not be responding. Recognize the fact, that’s partly because it’s not their responsibility to do that anymore. They might be, I’m only talking to the C-suite and have other maybe international priorities.


So, therefore, it’s sometimes just looking at that organization and saying, okay, that person may not be appropriate anymore. They’re frankly, too busy to respond. There are plenty of other people in that organization that I can at least contact and say, Look, I used to be, you know, working with this particular person. That’s happened to me, I have to say, not recently, but once in a while, where, you know, they’ve moved on and up. And I wasn’t necessarily at that level, or I had a particular focus somewhere else.


Jonathan O’Hagan  50:35

Yeah, no, it’s a good point. And I suppose the other recommendations I would have is, well, I always think, actually, if you can find two or three specialists in your market, that’s probably enough, you know, there’s no need to flood the market, find two or three real specialists and allow them to really get to know you. So, you have to do a bit of the groundwork, you have to get to know them. But by return, they’ll get to know you. And you can look at it as a long-term relationship with a talent partner, who can help you over your career. So, I’d certainly recommend, try and seek out two or three real specialists in your market at the right level.


And you’re absolutely right, Andrew, sometimes they may move on, you may move on to different levels, that they then don’t specialize in, you have to constantly be looking out and being proactive and adapt as you go on. But I would find two or three specialists. And also, something I always appreciate is, as a candidate, as an individual, can you add some value somewhere along the lines? You know, we’re all in the people business at the end of the day? Can you add some value to that Headhunter, to that recruiter in some shape or form? It’s about building a two-way relationship, right? If you can bring some value in some shape or form, whether it’s through introductions, you know, as a headhunter myself, you know, I’m constantly looking for the best talent in the market.


Typically, you do that, through recommendations and referrals. So, there’s a quick one, who’s the best, so and so, you know. I’ve got a project in this space, who would you recommend or speak to, you know, adding value can come in many different ways. But that’s just one. One example, the clarity bit, I absolutely love, you know, someone who’s clear on what they want, and perhaps what they don’t want is great for me. Anything else you’d add, Sam, on that topic of dealing with a recruiter or a headhunter, effectively?


Sam Waterfall 52:28

I think, you’ve covered really everything there, that I would have, I think, just to move it to the relation, that’s the thing. So, it’s not a transaction, this is someone that you need to have trust with. And you have to realize that, there’s an issue of space and time here, just because you’ve popped out of your previous job role, doesn’t mean that the next ideal role is going to be there at the right place, at that moment. And so it can take time, it can take weeks, it can take certainly months, could be over a year when especially at a senior level, when you’re looking for something very specific. And it’s about having some patience there.


So, yes, you need to be keeping that relationship going, maybe, updating because sometimes your criteria can shift as well, it’s absolutely okay to do that. And if they do need to go back round that list, the people on your network and let them know that you have shifted your criteria, otherwise, they’re going to be potentially bringing you the wrong things. So, that would be all, I would add there.


Jonathan O’Hagan  53:20

Yes, brilliant. I just want to circle back to this reactive V/S proactive approach that I mentioned earlier on, and I’ll open it up to both you guys. But just to give a little bit of clarity on what I mean by that is, I found over the years, you know, people look at this, in terms of their career and what’s next question in almost two ways. One is being very reactive to your career and the next job and actually not thinking about it and actually waiting for your job to either come under threat, potential redundancies, cutbacks, whatever scenario, that will lead you to being forced into doing something.


The other type of individual is more proactive and thinks, Okay, things are going well. But where is the next move coming from? And going on that journey of, you know, is it internal, is it external? Okay, I want that job. What’s the gap? What do I need to do to get there? And typically, people who get a bit higher up the career ladder, have this proactive mindset, I find, and it works incredibly well. What’s your experience, Sam, you know, do you find many people are in that proactive space? And is it the best ROI to think, proactively and invest some time in this, when you’re not forced to?


Sam Waterfall 54:32

I think, absolutely is, and it’s quite rare, honestly, that I find somebody coming to me, who has been doing lots and lots of planning. Very often they might be working with me as the first coach, the first career coach, they’ve worked with, they haven’t tried that before. When it comes to these two areas, that reactive is much more passive. It’s responding to what comes in and if it’s part of a job search, it’s responding to the things that come your way and the prior motive is about making things happen from nothing and really setting out to make that happen. And both have their place, both can work very well in a job search, the reactive bit actually works better, when you’ve done the right setup. So, if you’ve worked on that clarity, you’ve got criteria, if we go back to our deep, dark word, if you’ve told all your friends that live in the deep dark wood, if all your network out there know exactly what you’re looking for, you can sit back a little bit at that point, you can be more reactive, because they’re going to start bringing you the right things because you’ve briefed them well with clarity.


But if you haven’t got that set-up, and you’re just waiting for stuff to happen, well, then maybe your job gets stopped by the company, for example, you know, that’s happened plenty of times, there can be a reorganization and before you know it, you’re out and then you’re looking and then you need to start from scratch. And so, it’s really important to work as much as you can to think about this. But of course, like I said, when you’re in a job, your to-do-list is all over, your manager need something done, you haven’t got so much time, it’s easy to talk about being proactive. But I think, even if it’s just a few times a year, you take time to think, Am I heading in the right direction? Is there an internal opportunity? Should I be looking externally here and at least thinking about that could be that, you don’t have to do a visible search, doesn’t have to mean that you put the open to work banner on your LinkedIn, because you’re starting to think about, you can be very discreet about starting to have networking conversations, tell people as well, when you’re having those networking conversations, when you’re reaching out to recruiters say, Listen, this is speculative at this stage, I’m just looking for this in case the right thing comes up, you can start to set things up and really start to manage your career.


And when I see people doing that, that is how they advance more quickly, it makes a big difference. And I think, that productivity is where you then start shaking the tree or stoking the fire whichever those metaphors we might like. You start to make things happen. By as I said earlier, controlling those controllable, you reach out to a certain number of people on LinkedIn each week, you set yourself some goals as to what you can control. And you have to be proactive, otherwise things don’t happen. Otherwise, you just sit there until someone else moves your job for you, and maybe ends that job for you. And then, you’re looking. So, productive, can be a really smart way to stay on top of that.


Jonathan O’Hagan  57:08

You can also avoid, we talked earlier about, actually it can be pretty tough, you know, and demoralizing. Sometimes when you’re applying for lots of Ads. Maybe, you don’t get any response at all, maybe the feedback is generic, it can be pretty tough. You can avoid a lot of that by just thinking, that I’m going to be proactive, I’ve done my pre-work, I’ve got a bit of clarity over what good looks like, let me start working with that. And there’s an amazing stat, I probably need to refresh myself on the exact figures. But it’s something, it’s in the 70 percentiles of people earning six figures and above will find their next job through networking.


So, in terms of this ROI, yes, for me, it’s being proactive all day long. Once you’ve done that pre-work, you’ve got a bit of clarity over what good looks like, well, think about who would you want to work for? Who are the companies, the brands, the products that inspire you? LinkedIn is an amazing tool. It’s not the only one. But it’s an amazing tool for doing some of this networking stuff behind closed doors. And I think, more and more now as business leaders, whether you’re a CEO or whoever they’re carving out more time to talent scout, and proactively build then their own networks, so that when they do need someone, it’s a less painful process to go through. So, I think, a lot of people are surprised at that. But I definitely encourage that. Andrew, anything else to add on that bit, before I move on?


Andrew Elder 58:29

I just think, Jonathan, from a proactive perspective, this is I suppose just for anyone in any business, you want to develop yourself, but I think, it perhaps is looking further ahead and saying, well actually what areas of marketing in my discipline excite me in something that potentially in the future, I could benefit from, in a different role or actually, frankly, further up the ladder. And one thing, that I was really grateful to Nomad foods when I was there, I was passionate about marketing capability and was given the responsibility there to oversee the development of the whole marketing capability framework for the European arm of Nomad foods. And that was fantastic.


And I got a lot out of it, I put a lot into it. But it is something that, you know, when you’re looking at leadership roles in any organization, it’s things like that, that are ultimately part of your role. It’s kind of those things that you should be considering. So, you know, whilst it’s not necessarily something that is part of exactly as Sam was saying, it’s part of the day-job, you know, if you’re working on a beer brand, or you’re working on fishfingers or you’re working on cornflakes or whatever you’re working on, it’s how can you build your Brands through the work that you’re doing, not necessarily to always to have an immediate benefit and get you a promotion in your current business, but something that actually could have some benefits further down the line and I look back at that with great memories. And it’s something that I was able to apply even in the of insurance. And it helps me now, in the role the contract work that I’m doing right now. So, you do have to think proactively, absolutely networking, job hunting, in that respect, but also think about what you’re doing right now.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:00:19

Brilliant. Yes, really good point. Now, we’ve had some questions sent in, exciting stuff. I know, I put a little post out there on LinkedIn. And yes, we’ve a few interesting questions. So, happy for either of you guys to tackle these. The first question is, and hopefully you’ll know, what I mean by this, but green banner or no green banner. And for anyone who doesn’t know, on LinkedIn, you can click a toggle button current year, which says, What does it say, these days? Sam? Is it? I’m…


Sam Waterfall 1:00:48

Open to work.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:00:49

Open to work. That’s it. So yes, what are your thoughts, green banner, or no green banner?


Sam Waterfall 1:00:53

I think, it depends, you know, we’ve just been talking about reactive or proactive. One of those is very much hanging out, sign in your shop window, say I’m available, which is very good. We talked about clarity, it brings a lot of clarity, I think, the only downside to it, which is a significant downside is, that it can suggest some people might say, that looks a bit more desperate. And certainly, I believe it reduces your negotiation position, because it kind of suggests that I need this. And that’s probably not the proactive approach that we’ve been talking about, the proactive approach would be, to be more clandestine, perhaps more subtle, or to be having speculative conversations under the radar. Maybe, whilst you’re still in your previous role, looking for the next one that could be internally, it could be with a different company altogether. And you don’t need the green banner to be doing that kind of thing. So, you can be having those whilst you’re in the security of your job.


And I think, moving from within, they often say, that it’s a lot easier to find a job when you’ve got a job. And it certainly means that you can use that leverage in your negotiation to hopefully earn more as you step into the next role. But there comes a time in a search, especially if you are out, if you are looking. Clarity is king, when it comes to that. And so, some people will look at this, oh, I didn’t realize that you were looking and you know, you’ll be thinking to yourself, gosh, I think, I’ve told everyone in the world 20 times, trust me, they haven’t heard you yet.


So, you need to kick around with that message, keep banging that drum, let people know initially that you are available, and then let them know, what you’re looking for. And then, try to be helpful to them. So, that there’s a reciprocity involved in this. And everyone you speak to, ask them, do they know any recruiters, who they work well with, so that you can grow that list speaking to the right people. Just keep pushing. So, I think the answer green banner or not depends very much on the circumstances of your search.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:02:42

Yes, there’s pros and cons, isn’t there? Andrew, did you have any experience of green banners or no green banners?


Andrew Elder 1:02:48

I mean, no and they’re like, hey, look, I could have that temptation. I could have recently had that temptation to put up the green banner. But no, because I think personally, one has to have confidence and clarity in what one wants, and therefore, that should be part of your LinkedIn profile. In any case, and to a certain extent, if you’re looking like the ideal candidate from your LinkedIn persona, then people will want you, whether you’re working or not, you know, if you’re looking for a senior marketing position, or what have you, then regardless, you’ll be someone that an organization wants, and you should in any case, be speaking to recruiters about what you want. So, in my view, personally, in my situation, right now, know that I just don’t feel, that is necessary, because you should be doing far more effective work in other channels.



Jonathan O’Hagan  1:03:42

Yes. I agree. Next question. There seems to be a lot more talk around this on LinkedIn, if you’re a fan of the News Feeds, but there’s an awful, lot of talk and quite negative talk around this whole competitive salary debacle. In other words, you know, company is not listing a salary banding or specific figures, but opting to be quite vague, and maybe at best listing, competitive salary. Sam, what’s your thoughts on this? Are people right to be frustrated, angry, perhaps, about this?


Sam Waterfall 1:04:20

Yes, it’s always in negotiation. And there’s the old adage that the person, who says the number first loses, so they’re obviously paying attention to that, it’s all in negotiation. And it’s part of the game, they want to get the best talent for the lowest amount of money. And yes, it’s totally frustrating. I totally get that. They’ll ask you questions. When you get into a process, you need to ask them questions. So, yes, it’s frustrating. It’s very useful when someone gets some clarity on that. There’s always people arguing that it should be essential that every Ad post, you know a salary range, but companies are trying to get, as I say, the best talent for the least money. And I think, they’ll continue to do it until anything is changed that has to be brought into force.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:05:07

Yes. And I suppose to build on that, I don’t think, it’s always motivated for getting the best talent for the least money, I think, sometimes genuinely company don’t quite know, where to pitch it based on the job at hand. So, some companies do have that added bit of flexibility to stretch and they want to maximize the best person they can. But it’s not because they’re trying to Penny pinch necessarily. It’s just they maybe, haven’t done the due diligence, they haven’t done the pre-work on what the market rate is, maybe the role is so niche and unique. It’s very difficult to do that pre-work and salary benchmarking.


So, I’ve executed on some searches, where we have purposely kept it quite open, because they genuinely want the best person they can. But it’s very difficult to pinpoint that down to even a 10 or 15k salary bracket. So, I think, there are mitigating circumstances, I get why there’s a growing sense of frustration, and all I’m not going to apply, if there’s no clarity, but I would just encourage people, well, it’s got to be worth a conversation, right? You know, it’s your career, at the end of the day, you’ve got to be call it, what you will in it to win it, throw your hat in the ring, you’ve got to want to find out more to your point, it’s a negotiation, two-ways, right? You know, it’s not just them interviewing you, you’re interviewing them.


And I would encourage people not to be put off, if it doesn’t disclose an exact salary, I’d encourage you to know your own worth. And actually, if you get in that initial conversation, and you’ve discovered, they’re not paying what you feel you’re worth, then fine. It’s time well invested, you can exit the process. And so, I don’t quite think, it should be this binary. Yes or No. I think, there’s mitigating circumstances around it which internally, companies do have challenges, sometimes publishing all salaries for certainly more senior roles, especially, newly created roles. I could go on with all the mitigating circumstances here. But you get my drift. There’s reasons behind it. The next question is really about any tips and new platforms, Sam, since we last spoke, are there any tools, platforms, new gadgets out there, job seekers should be looking at?


Sam Waterfall 1:07:20

There are all the time just building on one of the ones, we’ve just been talking about with regard to salary was Cycle PayScale. And there’s a UK version of that site. And that can be quite helpful in terms of helping you to do your homework from a candidate point of view. So, that’s one, there are others, there are salary surveys and so on as well that are published at Michael page, for example, published ones, that we’ve been talking about marketing, so they’ve got marketing, leader salaries, it gives you an idea, is just an idea. But it helps you to benchmark what would be appropriate and can be helpful as you plan a negotiation.


We mentioned LinkedIn premium earlier. If you’re on LinkedIn, which I hope everybody is, that’s essential. But during a job search, do upgrade because it gives you that who’s viewed, it’s like having a rearview mirror for using your profile, you know, you need to know who’s been looking. But also the idea of getting the right keyword. So, using the advanced features there. There’s also Photo Photo is a… It sounds like a dodgy site, you wonder, what on earth you’re getting involved in, I promise you, it’s safe. It’s a fabulous tool. What it does? It allows you to upload your current LinkedIn picture, and potentially two or three other options, and have other professionals like us all, have a look.


And what people are doing is they’re going to vote on that just on pure perception alongside a job title, and let you know as a impartial viewer of that image. Do you look like the role that you say, you’re going for? You know, for example, an investment banker probably looks quite different to maybe a primary school teacher, you’ve got a different visual in your mind when I say, those two roles. Are you looking like the role that you’re saying and are you likable? It has likability, it tests capability. And it tests influence. And I’ve had so many clients, where we’ve put pictures up and they scored horribly with their existing pictures and they said, I had no idea, you know, I thought that was working really. I really like it.


Remember, we talked about market orientation, it’s no good to just really like the picture of you. That’s irrelevant, you’re not the customer, the customer is going to be your next hiring manager. So, this gives you a real insight. And I get my clients to look for above 8 out of 10 on each of those scores, the likability, the capability, and also the influence score. And it’s a game to play that so, what we do is, we look at all the ways you can play with that photo, how you can take your clothing, take your outfit, take your background, all these different things, your smile, your eye contact for camera, lots of different ways that you can win by getting that right and it makes a massive difference but that first impression on [Unintelligible 01:09:50]


Andrew Elder 1:09:51

It’s scarily addictive, that’s the problem.


Sam Waterfall 1:09:54

Yes, indeed.


Andrew Elder 1:09:51

They become a bit self-obsessed.


Sam Waterfall 1:09:57

It’s Yes. I always put a warning out there because you start refreshing and hitting the refresh key to see what your scores are because you want to make sure you’re doing as well as possible. I’m going to have to check this out.


Andrew Elder 1:10:07

You’ve also got to make sure that you use the professional element of photo feeler. Or also you’re going to be using it from a dating site perspective, which is not, you know, that’s another conversation.


Sam Waterfall 1:10:17

Another very important warning, thank you very much. Yes, don’t use the dating version of that. The next one, I’ve mentioned would be job That’s a brilliant tool, what there’s so many ATS or applicant tracking systems that are making things supposedly easier. But what it means is, it’s incredibly, highly competitive out there. And you might be sending application after application, and maybe not hearing back and getting very frustrated at that. It’s usually because your CV might be lacking a huge, sometimes just a few of the right keywords and the right content. Job would they very cleverly re-engineered, or reverse engineered that ATS tool, and it helps you then, with its feedback to optimize your CV for online applications. Very useful tool, you get a few free uses to begin with before it turns into, of course, a SAS technology, like everything else, where you’re paying monthly. But it’s very useful to help you target that, if you’re applying Online. Personally, I think, it’s the Online applications and not the way forward for especially the most senior roles. But we do use those jobs boards. And we do recommend it. So, if you’re applying Online, definitely try, it’s .co,, .uk.


And finally, of course, as I mentioned before, we had the year of AI, it’s only gotten bigger and more important this year, of course, chat GPT or Google Gemini. Google Gemini find very useful because it’s plugged into Google. So, you’ve got all of that immediate power of the Internet there. You can search far faster, use that, the skill here and I would say, before you start using it, take yourself onto YouTube and learn how to prompt these AI tools. It’s going to save you a lot of time, if you get that right. But by giving a detailed brief, a detailed prompt into these tools, it can save you an absolute stack of time, quickest example, had a client recently looking for a Chief of Staff role within the private equity world in London, Chief of staff roles tend to report to a Chief Exec.


So, we asked Gemini from Google, can you make a list for us please, of the 30 leading private equity firms and who are their chief executives. And that list of 30 is effectively one of those 30 people, is likely to become that candidate’s new boss. Which one? We don’t know yet. But suddenly, look, you’ve got, your search is not everything that’s out there in London, suddenly, it’s really refined, you’ve got 30 names to approach. That’s the way, that we focus on search. And it’s how the technology can really help us, it took four seconds, by the way for it to give us the answer. Really useful. Amazing.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:12:51

I feel, we could do a whole episode Sam, on gadgets and tools and platforms that people could utilize, but there’s some really great suggestions there. Yes, a Photofeeler, job, Google Gemini. And what was the first on Payscale? Did you say, Sam?


Sam Waterfall 1:13:08

Yes, PayScale.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:13:09

Yes, brilliant, right as we draw to a close chaps because I’m going to have to let you go at some point. I’ve had far too much of your time. There’s been loads of great things here, that we spoken about. If I could ask you just to summarize, I suppose three actionable points that as a job-seeker, or someone thinking or approaching a job search, what would be the top three things, that you would recommend, they think about first? And perhaps Andrew, if I let you go first, maybe because Sam’s probably done most of the talking here. So, Andrew, yes. What are your top three bits of advice for a potential job search?


Andrew Elder 1:13:46

Network. Absolutely. And then, I suppose the second tip within that is, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be shy, be confident in the way that you approach. You know, people are always jumping thing. And it is difficult, when work has dried up but do stay positive, do kind of pick out the good bits of every day, because otherwise it becomes a bit of a doom loop. And it doesn’t need to be because you know, you’re not alone. And there are plenty of people, there that can help.



Jonathan O’Hagan  1:14:16

Brilliant Sam, anything to build on that?


Sam Waterfall 1:14:19

Totally agree with those points. And you don’t have to do that alone. And so my whole role as a coach is to be there for people, I join my client teams to help them get all through this, to keep it all positive. And essentially, I always think of it like a one of those old cartwheels in a British pub garden. And I think, of myself as a coach sitting on the hub of that wheel. And my clients are out on the various spokes in different industries or different parts of the world. And I’m in a very privileged position to be able to listen to what’s working for all those different people.


And then, while confidentiality is there, of course for everybody, it’s about sharing what’s working, sharing what’s just worked. They’re giving people tips, sharing all that advice that’s working. If there’s a new technology, a new site, a new negotiation method, share-share-share, so you don’t have to do it on your own and that way, we’re not learning by trial and error. We’re learning and advancing together, and we can speed up research dramatically.


Jonathan O’Hagan  1:15:15

[Music] Brilliant, guys, thank you so much. Thanks for investing the time with me. I think, there’s been a lot of ground, we’ve covered that. So, yes, it’s been a pleasure. And we will keep in touch as we have done for a number of years. Thanks so much for investing the time. And we’ll speak again very soon.


Sam Waterfall

Thank you both.


Jonathan O’Hagan  01:15:32

[Music] So, there we have it. I really hope you enjoyed that episode. A big thanks to both Sam and Andrew, I thought they were fantastic. I thought they shared some really useful things. For me, probably the top three takeaways would be, in no particular order. I think, the clarity thing, it’s easily said, but in my experience, not many people actually just take the time, create some space to think about what’s important, you know, what are the priorities in the next job. And sometimes, that can be coming from a place of okay, I know what doesn’t look good, or what doesn’t feel right, based on experience.


So, I think, creating some space to figure out actually what does the next unicorn role look like, and having a checklist of priorities, that then you can pass on to anyone recruiters, contacts, having that clarity is a really powerful thing to start with. But you’ve got to make an effort early on to create that clarity. I think, the second thing for me, Networking, anyone who knows me knows, that’s something I regularly talk about. And it’s not about doing it when you need to, it’s about just incorporating it into almost daily life really. So, constantly be networking, reaching out to all contacts, and adding value, you know, it’s a two-way thing, you’ve got to add value to them. And they will add value to you.


We’re being proactive with this networking thing, doing a little bit, not necessarily every day, but certainly every week. And like a previous guests said, in series one, networking, think of it like a muscle, the more you do it, the stronger it gets, and therefore it becomes quite powerful for you. Because if you don’t do it, it becomes pretty weak and ineffective. Sadly, I see too many people leave it until they’re on the job market before they think right, a bit of start networking.


By that point, I wouldn’t say, it’s too late, but it’s not as effective. And then the final bit is, this being proactive versus reactive. Again, I see it quite clearly, there’s two different types of approaches. There’s people who think, Okay, I’m going to wait for the jobs to come to me, I’m going to scour job boards, etc. I’m going to apply when a role appeals, and you might be one of 500 people these days that apply. The other approach is being proactive and thinking, right, I’ve got clarity over what the next role needs to look like. Then, it’s about taking that to the companies I want to work for the business leaders, I’ve heard good things about the companies with a culture and the values that I’m drawn to. It might be an affinity with a product or a category. But actually being proactive with your job search, not waiting for the job role to come to you. But you are approaching companies, business leaders. I’m a big fan of a coffee style chat, as anyone who knows me, will have heard me advocate before. And as I said in the show, there’s a huge amount of people, who end up securing their next role through that proactive activity and through someone that they know.


So, that was it for me. Let me know what you learned from it. Drop me a line in the comments or drop me a line directly. If you want to reach out to me for any reason, feel free to do so. I’m on John without a H – Until next time, thanks very much for listening. Stay tuned. Subscribe, if you’ve not done so already, so you get notified of all future episodes. We’ve got some great topics and guests coming up in Series Two. And until next time. That’s it from me on the Leader Insight Series Podcast. Take care.