Latest from BLT

Confidence – Innate or Learned? by Liz Watt

We all know people in our professional networks who seem to be innately confident – nothing seems to phase them, they breeze through life taking everything in their stride, they are always positive and never scared.

Of course, there are many for whom this is their reality – they are indeed supremely self-confident and never suffer from a moment of self-doubt.

I would suggest though that these individuals are in in the minority – the more I engage with my Coaching clients on a deep level, the more I realize that quite often many are living with a genuine lack of self-confidence and they have to really steel themselves to overcome or manage the business and personal challenges they encounter on a daily basis.

Yet to the outside observer, these are all confident, successful people who are achieving in their chosen career, who would appear to have their lives on track. Imposter Syndrome is a very real phenomenon!

This is not to suggest that most people are in fact quivering wrecks terrified to face the world though! Most people I encounter are pretty resilient and learn to manage the areas of their life where they might not feel completely in control. For example, fear of public speaking is one of the most common anxieties, often ranked higher than death in the pecking order of ‘things to fear’. And yet somehow speeches are made, seminars are delivered, and meetings are facilitated. Most of us manage to overcome our fear and ‘fake it to make it’ – we do the best we can, we face the fear head on and in the main, people would never know that we suffer from a lack of confidence in a particular area.

One area I really lack confidence in, for example is driving. Not crucial to my professional life admittedly, but something I would rather avoid at all costs, much to the hilarity of my nearest and dearest who cannot understand my fear. Of course, I do drive, and get around fine, but don’t suggest a motorway, or driving somewhere unfamiliar to me……

But if you do suffer from lack of confidence and gaining confidence in a particular area seems like a huge hill to climb, what can you do about it? Is gaining confidence a learned skill?

I believe there are techniques and tools you can employ to increase your confidence – as with so much in life that is worth having, it requires effort, hard work and practice. The following ideas might help you build your confidence:

  • You’re Good – Remember Why! You have a professional skill, are experienced in what you do. Take some time out to reflect on your achievements, think about your successes and take pride in them. Better still, ask a trusted friend or colleague to list 3 things they believe you are good at and why.
  • Passion – what are you really passionate about? It doesn’t matter if this is a personal or professional passion – being able to let your passion for something really shine through will make you feel better about yourself and others will take their lead from your exuberance.
  • Take Risks! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Taking calculated risks is a great way of experimenting, moving forward, expanding your skills base. What’s the worst that can happen? And the exhilaration when it goes well – which it will – is infectious!
  • You Have A Voice – Use It! If you never put yourself forward at work, are reluctant to let your talents shine through, never say what it is that you want to do, how will anybody know? So be prepared to speak up, to volunteer for that responsibility, to ask for the training you need so that you can move forward.
  • Your People – surround yourself with positive people who will champion you, who you enjoy working with, who are fun to be around and who share your values and ambitions. Avoid at all costs those who are negative and who sap your energy and motivation.
  • Be Kind To Yourself. We all make mistakes, sometime things don’t go to plan, we might upset someone by accident, we might not win every pitch. That’s life. Don’t beat yourself up or ruminate. The key is to look at the situation honestly, think about what you can learn from it – and then move on. It is all about silencing your inner critic and not allowing that pernicious voice to undermine your confidence.
  • You’re Not Alone. Look around you at your colleagues and friends, you may think they are all sailing through life brimming with confidence. The chances are though that they have their insecurities, doubts and worries, their own areas where they don’t feel all that confident. Appreciating this might make it easier to recognize and celebrate your own achievements and accomplishments, and empower you to not let a lack of confidence to stand in your way, but to be determined to overcome any impediments to reaching your personal and professional goals.

If you do suffer from a lack of confidence in any area of your life, the start of the new year is a good time to think about the changes you can make to build your self-esteem. They don’t have to be dramatic, but a shift in thinking could pay amazing dividends!

If you would like some help in building your confidence, please contact me for a confidential discussion: or 07867 517919


How does January look for you? by Liz Watt

It’s January. And once again I will be attempting Dry January. This in itself is a bit of a depressing prospect – and added to the general gloom of the month, the end of the festivities and the sense of the party being well and truly over for another year……well, it’s enough to send anyone scuttling back to bed in the vain hope that the month will be over soon!

But …. hold on a minute….. as I was contemplating the year ahead, I realized that I was in danger of creating a really negative mindset to start the year, and this is not a good place for a Coach to be in! How can I work positively with my clients, helping to set goals and plan ahead, if I am not in a positive frame of mind myself? So – time to reframe the dialogue and think again!

Over the years I have fallen out of love with making new years’ resolutions – they just seem to become a stick with which to beat myself if they fall by the wayside. So, this year, have decided to make January the month to draw breath, be kind to myself, and create a resilient and healthy mindset that will be my bedrock for the year ahead, ready to make the most of new and exciting challenges. This doesn’t mean doing anything fancy or complicated – yes, I will stick with dry January and it’s probably a good idea to focus on some healthy eating (far too much chocolate consumed over Christmas!). What else? I have a pile of new books to get stuck into and I asked for (and received) a giant jigsaw for Christmas (yes really……) which should while away some hours, and as I received a beautiful new notebook I’ll be giving journaling a go. I’ve decided to reinvigorate my exercise programme – I know I am far more likely to stick with things if I’m enjoying them rather than doing what I ‘ought’ to do. And of course there will be plenty of time for family and friends – no sense in becoming a hermit!

So in short, I feel really positive about 2019 and the opportunities out there to develop my Coaching business and the Women’s networking groups I run. There are lots of other ideas on the horizon too – if you follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn you can see what is happening.

How are you viewing your January? What plans do you have, both personal and professional? If you are stuck and would like to have some outside input in framing your 2019, please get in contact with me for an initial consultation. Time to take a positive stance and make 2019 a great year!


BLT are hiring!

£25 – £27,000 base, depending on experience + generous commission structure

Want to be part of the BLT story? We’re looking to recruit two Recruitment Consultants in London, one to join our award-winning Management Consultancy Recruitment Division, and one to join our Indirect Tax recruitment Division, the pre-eminent name in this niche field.

  • Recruit for some of the most prestigious names around
  • Be treated as a grown up; we’re not a KPI driven business.
  • Capitalise on the strength of the BLT brand; our reputation is second to none
  • A company characterised by a strong ethical approach.
  • Friendly, supportive culture; team work is valued and encouraged.
  • Work with and learn from a team of vastly experienced recruiters.
  • Your efforts will be competitively rewarded.

BLT is one of the longest- established recruitment businesses in the UK, with a great track record and reputation. We’re a small business with a real ‘family feel’, that punches well above our weight.

The role in our Management Consultancy Division will see you handle positions in the fields of Strategy, Change Management, Operational Improvement, Corporate Development, International Development, Brand & Innovation Strategy. You’ll be learning from and working with a highly experienced team, and will be recruiting for a range of strategy houses, mid-sized and boutique consultancies, in-house corporate teams, not-for-profits and start-ups.

The role in our Indirect Tax Division will see you work closely with the Directors on the continued development of our market-leading recruitment offering in the specialist (and rapidly expanding) field of Customs Duty & International Trade. You are also likely to work on junior to mid level VAT roles both in the UK and overseas. Our clients include all the major professional services firms, boutiques as well as some of the biggest and famous corporate names around.

To apply, you will need to demonstrate all of the following:

  • Prior recruitment and/or sales/marketing experience in the UK.
  • Individuality – our recruiters stand out, and you’ll need to too.
  • Genuine ambition to forge a career in recruitment.
  • Empathy.
  • Hunger to generate revenue for the company and yourself.
  • Exceptional communication skills.
  • Self-motivation whilst being a team player.
  • Confidence on the phone and in person.
  • Keen to become a recognised expert in a niche field.
  • Willingness to learn; recognisant that you’ll need to walk before you can run!
  • Resilience and adaptability.
  • A good sense of humour.
  • High degree of professionalism.
  • That you can operate in a small but growing company where everyone looks out for each other. No prima donna’s round here!
  • Good networking skills, both in person and on social media.

What do the team at BLT say about us?

  • The consultants here are professional consultants, not CV jockeys or wideboy salespeople. BLT is in it for the long term.
  • We’re really good people to do good business with. Our strong ethical values are at the heart of everything we do.
  • Very supportive and open environment, no-one gets their head bitten off for piping up with a question or asking for help.
  • You’re encouraged to be an individual and find your own way of effective working. We’re business partners to our clients, rather than mere suppliers.

If this sounds like you, please send your CV to Guy Barrand, Director at


Indirect Tax – Facing up to The Talent Gap… by Guy Barrand

The market for Indirect Tax talent is candidate constrained as never before. Whether the Indirect Tax profession has grown to the stage whereby there’s simply not enough to talent to go round or whether nerves around the current political/national uncertainties are playing a part (a combination of both I suspect), there’s no doubt that ‘shortlists’ for roles are getting shorter.

The paucity of talent to fill the roles around has also had an effect on reactions when a valued employee resigns. This is often a disaster for a number of reasons – it’s tricky to find a replacement and even when you do find one, it takes a while to get that person up and running. Companies also often have to replace the incumbent with someone at a higher salary to secure the appointment (and that’s without taking the very reasonable BLT introduction fee into account too!). This article is to encourage Indirect Tax employers to be aware of the talent gap and to provide some handy pointers as to how to face up to it.

Retain right

It might seem a little odd for someone whose business is moving people from one job to another to be suggesting this, but BLT are nothing if not in it for the long run, so here goes. It seems obvious, but the best result for companies is not to find yourselves in the position where you lose a good Indirect Tax specialist that you then have to replace. By the time it gets to resignation time, it’s usually too late to persuade them to stay. So let’s go back to basics – why do people move jobs?

  • Fresh challenge. No matter how long the employee is with you, if they get bored, or feel that they’ve achieved as much as they can, you’re likely to lose them. Just because they were hired to do that particular job, doesn’t mean they want to do it for ever! Companies need to proactively think of new responsibilities, new adventures, new projects that these employees can do to help them continue to feel engaged – or run the risk of departure.  
  • The pay. People need to feel like they’re going upwards, simple as that. No pay increases; bonuses that are less than expected; not being paid market rate – all are of course bad news for retention. A freeze will usually mean you’re out in the cold yourself… fight your employee’s corner with your Reward departments like never before!
  • The environment. People need to enjoy coming to work. If the atmosphere is toxic, fix it. If people aren’t getting along, fix it. If workload is causing too many stress fractures, fix it. Or face the consequences…..
  • Promises not met. Don’t make them if you can’t keep them!

Ultimately, people decide to move on because of one thing:

  • The boss. Yes,you. It’s well documented that people don’t leave companies, they leave people. Whether you haven’t been able to meet your employee’s professional or financial aspirations, whether you’re a divide and conquer personality, whether you’re known for your moodswings or for the occasional rant, whether they think you’ve reneged on promises – ultimately it’s likely your fault that they’re going and there’s no getting round it! It’s crucial that companies get the personality profile of the person at the top absolutely right – and the ‘soft’ skills required to be an effective leader need to be to the fore like never before. The best leaders we’ve seen are hungry, commercial and creative, but also empathetic, humble, with ‘time’ to invest in inspiring and getting to know their staff. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk.

If none of the above apply, then you probably recruited the wrong person to start with. All the more reason to:

Recruit right

The resignation has happened, you missed the signs, you’ve failed to find enough convincing reasons to persuade them to stay (let’s face it, it’s too late when they’ve got to the stage that they’ve told you they want out as you’re automatically on the back foot). Best crack on with finding a replacement, but you need to get it right to avoid more painful times ahead! The key thing is to:

Articulate the sell. Why should someone join you? If you don’t know yourself, or struggle to express it, then you’ll find yourself losing the candidate talent to those who can. Some tips:

  • Company values. Be able to articulate them and show that these are put into practice by giving specific real time examples. There is a BUT though and it’s a big one. We live in an age where the vast majority of companies are so on top of this, that there’s no differentiators any more. When everyone’s messages are about developing talent quickly; providing early access to top work; seeking to employ a diverse cross-section of society, and where flexible working arrangements are the norm, the values start to lose their impact. So you need to find more specific differentiators, and that has to come down to….
  • Team values. What’s so good about the specific team the person will be joining? What are the personalities like, what’s it actually like to work there? Who will the person be liaising with, and will these people be included in the interview process? It’s not enough these days to tell the prospective applicant it’s a ‘nice’ team they’ll be joining. Why is it nice? And how does that manifest itself?
  • Job specification. Firstly write one. No-one wants to join a company where they don’t know what they’ll be doing. Worse than this (large companies beware) is producing one so generic, bland and awash with corporate platitudes that it screams: ‘we don’t care about this hire, you’ll just be one of a number, we’ve just copied and pasted this from one we made 5 years ago’. The best job specs feature a detailed list of responsibilities, typical projects that the employee might get involved in, a structure chart, as well as an attempt to express the company and team values and why someone would want to join. Don’t blather on about wanting good communication and team work skills as everyone thinks they have them even if they haven’t. And try not to be prescriptive about needing professional qualifications/certain types of educational background – the chances are that the best candidate may not have them, and quite frankly these are usually more of a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential.
  • What’s in it for the candidate professionally? They’ll want to know about learning development prospects and where this role will take them. Think about career path for the successful candidate.
  • What’s in it for the candidate financially? Most companies get this wrong. Firstly you need to think about what the target audience will be earning currently, and be able to provide an uplift to attract. Secondly give a range (both lower and upper – that way you should attract both people who might be able to grow into the role, and those already there). Thirdly, you’ll need to be able to share the salary range you are thinking about to the external market. You’re unlikely to get many applicants if you can’t tell them what they’ll be earning as it’s the first thing that candidates ask about, even if financial drivers are not the main motivator for the application. And it’s not just base salary either, you’ll need to be able to talk in detail about bonuses (what it could be, what it has been and what’s realistic), pension, private healthcare etc. Don’t forget about holiday – its amazing how many prospective candidates say no to a job on the basis of it not matching their existing holiday entitlement.

Approach the market. This is where most of the recruitment pitfalls happen – get it wrong at your peril!

  • Engage with people who know the Indirect Tax market and have relationships with the people in it. With the best will in the world this is unlikely to be your internal recruitment department or some random headhunter. You wouldn’t go to a computer hardware store to buy an apple would you? If you don’t, you may find that the wrong people are spoken to (which then gets the wrong messages out into the market), or that time is wasted trying to find applicants from an initial low starting point. Result – stale apple.
  • Don’t rely on a LinkedIn advert. You’ll only likely to get those who are actively scouring the net for a new job – who are not necessarily going to be the best person for the job. It’s much more likely that the dream candidate is too busy to rifle through job boards, is probably perfectly okay with their current role, and only keeping half an eye on the market. It’s the more passive talent out there that you want access to.
  • Time kills all deals. The longer the job is out there, the more one gets closer to ‘stale apple syndrome’ where the market starts to feel there’s something wrong with the job! If you’ve wasted a month or so trying to fill roles by being reliant on responses to advertising and cold impersonal approaches to individuals by unknown quantities, then the less likely it is you’ll be successful at finding someone. Arrange interviews quickly and pass feedback on as soon as you can – chances are that the candidate you want to secure will have other options, and he/she is more likely to join you if they get to feel and know that you want them.
  • Sell sell sell. When you meet a prospective candidate, of course it’s super important to assess their suitability, but remember it’s a buyer’s market! In all probability you won’t have many candidates to choose from, and candidates will be reluctant to embark on interview processes that involve psychometric tests, written case studies, technical grillings – it’s only going to put them off applying in the first instance.
  • Be alive and expect to compromise. The perfect candidate is unlikely to exist…but you’re absolutely well within your rights to hope for ‘almost perfect’. At some point you’ll likely have to flex your parameters a little, within reason of course – but if you hang on dreaming the impossible dream, you’ll most likely end up back in stale apple territory I’m afraid.
  • But don’t compromise too much, no matter how desperate you are! If you’ve got doubts, don’t ignore them – employing someone that you have insurmountable concerns about will usually lead to rotten apples. Compost, if you will.
  • Don’t penny pinch. If you want someone, be prepared to make your best appropriate offer right from the start. No-one likes a bargaining exercise and if you come in low initially, then the result is that the candidate feels undervalued. A rather bruised apple.
  • Don’t overpay. No matter what some (but not all, I hasten to add) millennials may tell you, it’s unlikely that their appointment merits giving them a £20k payrise, no matter how amazing they feel they are! So if you’re tempted to give in – don’t! You don’t need a gold-plated apple.

We hope that these tips will go some way to help Indirect Tax employers steer their way through the choppy waters of retention and recruitment in a tight market. For more information about how to face (and fill) the Indirect Tax talent gap – do get in touch with Guy Barrand or Emma Wade at BLT on + 44 (0) 207 405 3404 or email


Bad Apple


The Future Of Indirect Tax – A survey!

How prepared is the UK Indirect Tax world for the disruptors ahead? Take part in the super-quick BLT survey, and we’ll report back with the results in our next newsletter. As an incentive to take part, the name of everyone who enters will go into a prize draw with a chance of winning £100 of Amazon vouchers!



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