The Elusive Christmas Bonus

With less than a week to go until Christmas Day, this week’s blog is full of festive spirit.  Unless, that is, you were counting on receiving a Christmas bonus this year.  Research conducted by One4All has revealed that only 7% of UK companies will hand out a Christmas cash bonus this year.  While the popularity of the Christmas bonus has been dwindling for some time now, particularly in the wake of the economic crash, this statistic does seem extraordinarily low.  So, why are companies saying “Bah humbug” to bonuses?

The Christmas bonus, as it is known today, originated in America during the onset of the 20th Century.  The concept gathered momentum and by the mid-1900s, it became commonplace for companies to offer their employees a percentage of their annual salary as a way of saying “thank you” for all their hard work throughout the year.  Yet as it became more widespread, the sentiment of expectation arose in the place of gratitude.

And this is precisely where the dilemma lies: with expectation comes the unravelling of the business logistics behind the bonus.  If employees expect it, then there is no longer an incentive to work hard in order to receive it.  Companies have latched onto this and have since introduced performance bonuses, awarded based on employee achievement throughout the year.  Yet this holds its own perils: which factors decide who qualifies for the bonus and who doesn’t?  With today’s threat of a company being taken to court by a disgruntled employee on the grounds of discrimination, awarding Christmas bonuses to staff has become rather risky.  Furthermore, what does the company do if it has a bad year and cannot afford to pay the bonuses?  It really is quite a quandary.

In addition, it could be argued that the Christmas bonus seems anachronistic in today’s society.  Current workplace culture bears little resemblance to that over fifty years ago, when employees would work at the same company for the majority of their career.  Such a practice fostered closer relationships between employees and their employers meaning that that the bonus was a genuine and personal gesture of gratitude.  Today, employee turnover is so high that the Christmas bonus is considered corporate rather than meaningful, which only adds to that aforementioned cult of expectation amongst employees.  Having said this, One4All’s research did also point out that the provision of a Christmas bonus did directly impact upon employee retention.  It is clear then, that employees like to feel appreciated.

So, with the difficulties enveloped in the Christmas bonus, what are companies looking to as alternatives to show appreciation for their employees this Christmas?  The Christmas party probably comes in first position, undoubtedly a festive way to celebrate, and with an adaptable budget depending on whether or not the year has been a good one financially.  This author recommends extra paid time off, still relatively inexpensive to implement given the general lack of productivity during the seasonal period.

The prize for the worst Christmas bonus of last year goes to Poundland who offered employees a 10 percent discount in store for a limited period of time, equating to 10 pence off each product purchased.  However, our favourite concept by far is the example set by a bank in America where every employee was given 1000 dollars with the strict instruction to pass it on and spend it on somebody who needed it more.  After all, isn’t this what Christmas spirit is really all about?

If you’re currently looking for a job, why not look at the job offers on our website?

Le CV par compétences : à adopter ou éviter ?

Chez TM International, nous avons récemment noté une nette augmentation du nombre de CV par compétences dans notre boîte de réception.

Êtes-vous déjà au courant de ce qui en est ce CV plutôt avant-garde ?

Peut-être souhaiteriez-vous que l’on vous conseille sur ses qualités et ses défauts ?  Alors voici votre petit manuel pour tout vous expliquer à propos de l’engouement pour ce format de candidature.

En bref, le CV par compétences se distingue du CV classique principalement au niveau de la mise-en-page.  Les compétences acquises par le candidat pendant sa carrière sont mises en valeur de manière hiérarchique, effaçant l’ordre ante-chronologique des expériences, ce qui est préféré du CV classique.  On met la qualité la plus fondamentale quant au métier au premier rang, suivie par deux ou trois compétences additionnelles considérées comme importantes pour le poste auquel on a postulé.  Voici plusieurs exemples.

Avantages

  • Si vous réfléchissez à une réorientation de carrière, le CV par compétences pourrait vous convenir. Il vous permet de mettre en évidence vos aptitudes pour un poste spécifique même si vos dernières expériences n’y correspondent pas.
  • De plus, si vos dernières expériences se sont développées dans plusieurs secteurs différents, le CV par compétences vous aiderait à présenter un parcours professionnel plus cohérent plutôt qu’un mélange d’expériences diverses.
  • Si vous souhaitez détourner l’attention d’une pause significative dans la carrière, la composition du CV par compétences favorise cela.
  • Il en va de même pour les experts dans un domaine, surtout dans l’informatique, qui souhaitent donner du relief aux compétences spécialisées, telle que la connaissance de certains logiciels par exemple.  Sophie Girardeau vous l’explique en profondeur ici.

Inconvénients

  • Le CV par compétences ne place pas les savoir-faire du candidat dans leur contexte ce qui peut rendre la candidature moins crédible et lisible chez les recruteurs.
  • En général, les personnels RH ne sont pas des aficionados de ce nouveau genre de CV et se déclarent avoir une préférence pour le style classique.
  • On ne conseille pas aux jeunes diplômés d’adopter ce genre du CV parce qu’ils n’ont que la formation pour prouver qu’ils ont acquis le bilan de compétences dont ils parlent.
  • Si votre situation professionnelle ne correspond pas à celles explorées dans la section « Avantages » ci-dessus, il vaudrait mieux opter pour le CV classique afin de ne pas risquer de présenter une candidature générale et répandue.

Enfin, à moins que vous soyez certain que le CV par compétences ferait la meilleure impression chez les Responsables RH, mieux vaut exercer la prudence et être fidèle au CV classique.  Aussi n’hésitez pas à regarder quelques exemples sur notre site.  Profitez-en bien !

Christmas is here. So should I put my job search on hold?

Christmas Tree 2014 2

The TM Christmas Tree

On the first day of Christmas

My true love sent to me:

A rejection email with my unread CV.


 On the second day of Christmas

Another company:

No interview date

And a rejection email with my unread CV.


 On the third day of Christmas

This time four more companies:

“We regret to inform you”

No interview date

And a rejection email with my unread CV.


It is a common assumption that the recruitment market goes into a bit of a lull during the festive season, possibly due to employees drinking too much vin chaud and attending one too many Christmas parties.  So, with the holidays fast approaching, TM began to reflect on whether there is any truth in this belief.  Is the Christmas period truly a bad time for job hunting and when would be the optimum time of the year to start applying for jobs?

What TM finds

At TM International our busiest periods fall in April and October.  Given that our clients are based across all industries, this isn’t surprising since these two months coincide with the busiest months for recruitment in general, regardless of sector.  Being based in Paris, our quieter period falls in the summer, when the majority of Parisians pack their bags and head south for August.  Employees are usually en vacances and things begin to pick up again at the rentrée; it’s not just the children who are back to school!

Know your industry

The key piece of advice though is to know your industry.  It is fairly obvious that the retail and catering sectors see a huge surge in recruitment around Christmas as companies need to cope with the many more festive shoppers and restaurant goers.  In the UK, Royal Mail and Amazon are hiring 32,000 temporary staff between them this Christmas!  Likewise, financial services take on the most recruits between January and March in preparation for the end of the tax year when the workload picks up.  Aside from this though, analysing the recruitment calendar and hedging your bets is a lot like card reading; there doesn’t seem to be an exact science to it.

Change is in the air

Interestingly, Simon Baddeley, regional director of Reed employment, makes the point in an article by Emma Woollacott that the conventional recruitment calendar is changing and the traditionally ‘slow’ seasons (Christmas and the summer) are no longer quite so slow.  With online applications now commonplace, the use of automated processes has made the imbalances in the recruitment calendar decidedly smoother.  Now that job adverts are all online (who remembers the old adverts posted in the newspaper?) and many companies use technical screening for the first stages of your application, previously time-consuming processes have been simplified.  This means that the recruitment process is not so affected by reduced numbers of staff during holiday periods.  Furthermore, thanks to email, your CV and cover letter are no longer in the hands of the Royal Mail, so long gone are the days of your application being a victim of the infamous Christmas post!

Some recruitment experts go so far as to actually advise applying during the holiday periods.  Mary Eileen Williams gives several reasons to look for jobs at Christmas, her most important being that the number of candidates applying drops off.  While at TM we can’t see any specific lull in the number of candidates we receive in December, there’s no reason why you should put your job search on hold thinking that your chances of getting hired will be reduced.

So, on that note, update your CV, stop the online Christmas shopping, and start job hunting instead!  With many adding ‘Look for a new job’ to their list of New Year’s resolutions, beat the crowd and give yourself a head start before the year is up.  There’s no time like the present!

If you want a job for Christmas, head to our website to browse our latest opportunities.  And, if you liked this article and want more career advice, take a look at our blog (you can even subscribe by clicking ‘Follow’ – now that would be a good Christmas present)!