Latest Blogs

Who’s interviewing whom? by Tariq Siraj

The traditional advice for job seekers had always been around selling oneself to the company (but not too aggressively), showcasing that you had done lots of research (but not being overly showy about it) and offering examples of your achievements (but not too boastfully). That advice and that thinking, though largely quite common sense, put the emphasis squarely on the company being king. The interviewee was subservient to the interviewer. The candidate can make a difference but will never rock the boat…etc etc

In more recent years that emphasis has shifted towards the candidate. You are interviewing them as much as the other way round and they need to work hard to tell you why you should join them and not a rival. It’s a candidate-driven market and the candidate is king. The company will develop you, but will never try to take your personality away…etc etc

Has the emphasis shifted too much? Maybe so.  It sounds obvious but the right balance is somewhere in the middle. The reality today is that strong candidates have multiple options while attractive companies have multiple candidates applying for each position.

And what of the interview process itself?

The interview process is not just the candidates’ means of representing themselves to the company, but the company’s way of representing themselves to the candidate…and more than that – to the wider world too.

91% of people say their view of a company is influenced by the interview process, and people are 6 times more likely to tell others if they have a negative experience.  This article by Richard Solomon, Global Recruitment Director for Regus, represents an interesting take on this.

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Showcasing Female Talent : Profiles of Women working in Indirect Tax – by Liz Watt

I wanted to demonstrate that quite often, women’s careers do not follow a linear path, but this fact does not stop these women achieving, and frequently exceeding, the career goals they set themselves.

I also wanted to show that there isn’t one set career path – there is a wealth of opportunity out there in all different types of businesses and in fact, if you compare all the profiles so far, no two are the same.

And I also wanted to demonstrate to women at an earlier stage of their careers that, contrary to received wisdom, there are some great role models out there!

These interviews have been a tremendous success. I have really enjoyed hearing about the many and varied career paths my interviewees have followed, and I have learnt some fascinating and hitherto unknown facts about them along the way!

If you would like to read the profiles so far, please click here

Watch this space for a whole new set of profiles during 2020 – I hope you can take inspiration from the amazing talents and achievements they showcase.

Referral Scheme

Do you know someone with a great story to tell? Or is there someone you think I should feature in 2020? Maybe someone in your team, a colleague or a client….. If yes, please refer them to me and if I publish their profile, a gift will be winging its way to you!

To find out more, please contact me:

Women's Profiles

The traditional concept of ‘Retirement’ is changing……… Liz Watt

An increasing number of us are finding ourselves in the position of considering our retirement and future life options at a far earlier stage than previous generations, especially as quite often there will be a gap between the time when we finish conventional employment and when our pensions (state or otherwise) kick in. This may be an enforced situation – eg redundancy, or driven by health or family issues; it may be that one experiences a growing realisation that life in the corporate world is no longer as fulfilling and ambitions wane; or some may be in the fortunate position that financially, suddenly it is possible to change tack.

Whatever the reason, the reality is that having made the decision to change direction or retire, many are blind-sided by the question ‘Now What?’ Lack of planning can leave a huge gap between the world that was, and the reality that is looming. Without planning and forethought, the issues that arise can include boredom, loneliness, ill health, loss of purpose and direction and often financial hardship.

In my experience, though, it is those with a sense of purpose that make the most successful transition. Everyone is different and the same plan won’t work for everybody. However, if you are one of the many who have no real idea about how to go about planning and preparing for this next phase of life, this Learning Lunch is for you.

Over a light lunch, I will help you:

  • Look at how to embrace the opportunities and challenges that you might be facing
  • Consider the options open to you as you plan your new reality
  • Think about how you are going to fill your time without a corporate structure around you
  • Assess your transferable skills
  • Discuss issues important to you with a small, like-minded group of people
  • Take away a plan as to how you can move forward

Date & time : Thursday 30th January 2020; 12-2pm

Venue : Central Court, 25 Southampton Buildings, London, WC2A 1AL

Investment: £25 + VAT

If you would like to join me for this interactive and informative lunchtime session, please contact me:


Resisting Change? How Adaptable Are You? by Liz Watt

I moved house earlier this year. Big deal you might think – and yes for me it really was! We’d lived in our house for 25 years; both my girls were only small when we went there and so it had been our only real family home. Consequently, there was a huge emotional attachment to disentangle, as well as the physical move we were about to undertake. Added to that, having lived in and around London for most of my adult life, we were moving out of London to live by the sea, which was both exciting but at the same time, deeply scary.

So in the run up to the move, I found myself saying ‘this is the last time I’ll do this…… commute / cook a meal in this kitchen / go to my regular exercise class with my friends’ – the list is endless… and as a result I was making myself feel pretty mournful and nostalgic.

At this point I realized I had to have a serious word with myself! It was important to stop this rather negative way of thinking and instead, reflect on why we were making this move, what we are looking forward to and remember all the positive benefits of moving out of London to the sea. So, I started to reframe my thinking: ‘this is the first time I will…… do my new commute / cook a meal in my new kitchen / have my girls to stay / walk on the beach….’

This experience has made me really think about how I personally respond to change, what is important to me to remain stable in my life and what I am comfortable in letting go of. It made me question how resilient I am. I have to admit I’ve found it challenging and this has been a learning experience.

More importantly though, it has enriched the way I respond to my Coaching clients who are going through a period of change – in whatever guise. Responding to and dealing with change is one of the most frequent issues that clients bring to the table, whether it is at pivotal moments of ones career, for example promotion, taking on new responsibilities or as a result of major life changes – for example, return to work post maternity or parental leave, or in the run up to retirement.

Whether change is happening in your professional or personal life, your response to it is likely to be determined by how much control you feel you can exercise over a situation. We are far more likely to be resistant to change if we feel we have no influence over it. Change is an integral part of life, but the fear of the unknown is likely to cause us to push back and put up barriers. Even when the change is something new and exciting, the lure of the familiar – what we know and are comfortable with – can make us anxious.

Being able to exercise some choice and control over situations can help. But the fact is that change happens, and we have to learn ways to deal with it. Being adaptable and resilient certainly helps. Good communication too – for example if your business is going through a reorganization and redundancies are on the horizon, your ability to weather the storm will help if you know what the score is. Being self-aware enough to recognize your own internal barriers and unpick where they are coming from can help in seeing the bigger picture, as can being empathetic to the effects of change on ourselves and those around us.

So, six months on – have I adapted to my big life change? Well yes – what seemed scary and very unfamiliar at the time is now a great source of joy. In this case, change really has been a good thing!

If you are experiencing change in your professional life and would like some help in navigating the way forward, please contact me to see how Coaching might help :

Embracing Change

Customs and Global Trade – a hot topic….by Emma Wade

With Brexit on the horizon the Customs market has been very interesting over the last 12-24 months from a recruitment perspective.  Customs is obviously a hot topic for most businesses and the consultancy firms have been very busy, resulting in teams growing significantly across the UK including partner appointments – it’s great that Customs has the high profile that it deserves.   Not that I am biased at all!  The consultants joining these firms have come from a diverse range of backgrounds – the UK is an attractive place to be from a customs perspective right now from both a technical and professional perspective.  Candidates have moved over to the UK from other consulting practices overseas, some have made the move from an in-house environment and there has been a steady stream of candidates leaving HMRC, attracted by the bright lights of the private sector.  On that note HMRC have recruited heavily themselves into the Customs area, a combination of transferring people internally from VAT over to Customs and Excise and recruiting graduates straight into teams such as the EU Exit Policy team.

On the in-house side the market has been steady, but not quite as hectic as you may expect.  There has been a reasonable amount of recruitment for Customs and Excise compliance specialists and grants from the government have helped customs agents and intermediaries to build capacity to manage Customs declarations.  Recruitment at the more senior level has been more piecemeal – there have been a few appointments but many businesses are waiting to see if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal as this will have a significant impact (huge impact for some businesses) on what their Customs landscape will look like.

I have had many conversations with businesses, talking through potential hiring plans, all contingent on what happens with Brexit.  The effect on the Customs burden for many businesses is so dependent on Brexit that in my view, they are right to wait.  It will have a big impact on the level of seniority of candidate they need to recruit.  Some businesses have taken pre-emptive steps and have been using contractors to make sure that processes are in place and they are Brexit ready.

One thing I do know is that it’s a great time to be a Customs specialist in the UK, the work will be challenging, the landscape continually changing and your role will certainly be high profile in the business.

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