10 Interview mistakes, avoiding them, and how to dazzle the interview panel

So your CV has fought its way to the top of the pile, and you have been selected for an interview. Congratulations – it is a tough job market out there. But after drinking the champagne and jumping around the room, it is time to get to work and prepare yourself. You will need to put in some work if you want to ace that interview.

  1. Be authentic. Trying to be anything else is exhausting and they will find out eventually anyway. Lying, or attempting to be something you really aren’t will result in a disconnect that will probably alienate your interviewers as well. Just don’t do it – it is too easy to do background checks.
  2. Refresh your memory about what the job is, and why you said you would be good at it. Think of examples where you have solved problems or added value in a situation that you can relate to the job you want.
  3. Preparation is everything, so do more research. If you want a position in the exciting Print and Packaging industry, for example, then make sure you do plenty of research about the sector, and in particular, find out more about which segment the company you wish to join operates in.
  4. Do your research. Don’t even think about turning up to the interview without doing due diligence on the company that is interviewing you. Read everything, prepare to explain why you would be an asset to them, and of course have intelligent questions to ask (and not just about how much you will be paid, or when you can take a holiday). For more background  read some trade publications, the company website, any press releases particularly concerning recent acquisitions etc. Watch company videos on YouTube which often give an insight into “behind the scenes” within a target company.
  5. Be punctual. Lateness will make a terrible first impression that you can never rectify. Again, research where you have to be, estimate how long it will take to get there – and double it. Leave at least that much time for the journey.
  6.  Look the part. Think about your personal presentation, i.e. wardrobe. What kind of image would the person who gets this job be projecting? If you appear polished, this should help convince the interviewers and help you exude calm, collected confidence. As you arrived early, you will have plenty of time to freshen up.
  7. Don’t criticise other workplaces, or former bosses, as this will be perceived as negative and disloyal.
  8. Expect tough questions. Expect to be asked about how you deal with conflict, and prepare some professional examples that will demonstrate how you can resolve work difficulties – and that doesn’t mean fighting over the last doughnut in the tea room.
  9. Be polite. No matter how anyone on the panel behaves, conduct yourself with poise and courtesy to show them what a classy act you are.
  10. Do your homework. If you bring documents or case studies to support your professional achievements, then make sure they are presented impeccably. Find out how many people will be on the panel and bring copies for everyone, and a couple extra, just in case.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For interview tips and advice please contact us. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1 

 

360-Degree Feedback – Why You Should Be Using It

Feedback is an essential part of business, especially for Print and Packaging businesses that employ large teams who work together. If you want to improve the communication levels in your business, here is everything you need to know about 360-degree feedback – and why you should be using it.

What Is 360-Degree Feedback

360-degree feedback is feedback that comes from many different levels. Instead of one employee receiving feedback from their manager, they would receive feedback from a variety of people, including peers, managers, other workers, customers or stakeholders. This gives more accurate feedback that includes everyone’s needs and opinions, so the employee can significantly improve their performance and skills.

How a Printing and Packaging Company Can Benefit from using it

One of the main benefits of 360-degree feedback is that you can assess an employee’s performance from multiple people’s perspectives. This is very useful, as it is possible that one manager is unaware of an employee’s bad habits, so they may not point them out. However, a co-worker or a customer may be aware of these issues, and 360-degree feedback gives them the chance to air these so that any problems can be solved.

This is especially useful for employees who work in a busy environment, as teamwork and mutual understanding are essential parts of the business

It also gives employees more power rather than just allowing managers to make decisions. This means that employees will feel more valued and appreciated. It also means that they are less likely to have problems in the workplace, as they are able to air their grievances.

How to Prepare Employees 

It is important to discuss the benefits of 360-degree feedback before implementing it, as this means that employees will be fully aware of how it works. You should take the time to state that any feedback will be anonymous, so employees don’t feel worried about giving it, and you should also say that the system isn’t being implemented to make employees feel under scrutiny. It is being implemented to improve the workplace for everyone.

You should also take some time to sit down with the managers to prepare them for the results of 360-degree feedback. Many managers are not used to receiving feedback from the employees that they manage, and so they may feel attacked and worried about any negative feedback that they get. Thankfully, proper training and an anonymous system should remove any worries that your managers have.

Starting 360-Degree Feedback

Once all of the employees have been informed about 360-degree feedback, you can start to implement it. You should set clear rules to ensure that no one abuses the feedback system – for example, you may want to set one day of the week for when employees can leave feedback rather than every day of the week.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here:  https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

The latest HR technology trends

HR is an industry which hasn’t exactly kept up with technology trends and this is probably down to the fact that is an industry based on communication and personal relationships. However, we are seeing a lot of interesting new developments in HR and these can be hugely beneficial for businesses for both recruitment and retention. These are some of the top HR tech trends to look out for this year.

Enhanced recruitment process

At the moment, most HR recruitment systems exist for the purpose of tracking candidate applications – however, this is set to change throughout this year. Recruitment systems are set to become a lot slicker, incorporating marketing and brand building, as well as the standard tracking – and this will help improve the overall recruitment and selection process.

Performance management tools 

An effective performance management process is essential for helping to grow talent and improve retention. Up until now, performance management tools have been fairly limited, however, this is starting to change. We will see an influx of cloud based performance management systems, which can help support the process and make performance management a lot more useful.

Digital learning 

In the print and packaging sectors, it is essential for employees to continuously learn and update their skills and with enhancements in digital learning, this is set to become a whole lot easier. Employees will be able to undertake lessons and gain certifications, all through their computers or phones. The on boarding process will even benefit from digital enhancements, and this will improve the entire journey for employees, as well as making manager’s lives a lot easier.

People analytics 

The Print and Packaging sectors are challenging and it can be difficult to retain talented staff, due to the options available for candidates. If you want to know more about what your employees want, people analytics is the way to achieve it. It can all start with simply online surveys, where you can find out more about what your employees want and this can help improve retention levels.

Most businesses could benefit from investing in some of the new HR tech trends, particularly large organisations who want to improve employee relations and retention levels. If your HR systems are stuck in the dark ages, it may be worth looking at alternative options.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. Please get in touch if you are contemplating a career move or looking to recruit. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

 

The key challenges in the print sector

In addressing the challenges and concerns of the UK’s print industry, it’s important to remember over 8,600 companies employ over 122,000 individuals and enjoy a gross annual turnover of £13.5 billion. The UK market is the fifth largest producer of printed materials in the world. It’s a powerful player and it will survive the significant challenges facing the industry at present.

New media

There has been a critical decline in the publishing print division (magazines, books, reference books, catalogues and newspapers) due to the “new media” explosion (social media, eBooks). Road maps have been replaced by sat navs and smartphone apps. Search engines have superseded reference materials and books, marketing budgets are focused on and committed to email advertising and websites.

These digital commodities have replaced printed materials and the publication print sector is set to decline an average of 3.7% over the next five years.

UK economy

In comparison to other developed European countries, the UK economy has been rather stable. So far, an immediate post-Brexit financial fallout has not occurred. It’s expected that any downturn will concentrate on already stressed sectors such as graphics and publication products.

Print media marketing

By 2019 it’s expected that just 5% of marketing budgets will be dedicated to physically printed material, due of course to more profitable marketing opportunities emerging from social media and mobile devices.

Employment downturn

While sector turnover has been comparatively stable, the print industry has shown a downturn in the number of employees and companies. There are two elements driving this decline, one a past influence and one a contemporary factor. The fallout from the 2008 recession such as decreased profit margins meant that not all print industry companies survived. By 2012 this situation had stabilised and print industry incomes began to climb. Secondly, advances in automation and production processes have caused a reduction in the overall numbers of employees.

Fixed capital investment

The development of improved production processes mentioned earlier comprises fixed capital investment. Demand has changed direction, from sheet-fed litho to digital, and this is expected to carry on. As a result, companies are choosing the growing digital print market over high volume long run requisitions. Interestingly, cut sheet continues to dominate twice the current market share of digital print.

The challenge of raw materials

It’s expected that crude oil prices will continue to climb, which means the already higher cost of raw materials such as carbon black (10% increase in 2016), hydrocarbon resins (5%) and mineral oils (20%). Drastic shortages of sulphate-based TiO2 due to the Finland Huntsman fire and China’s new production restrictions will receive full analysis and projections in the coming months. Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy has further compounded the pressure, as has the increase in transfer times from China and India, as well as cancellation and reduction of routes. Print industry companies need to consider their supply chain and manage the challenges accordingly.

We’re developing, not dying

The majority of the challenges facing the print industry emanate from the consequences of industry development and evolution. Overall, print companies across the industry are doing the right thing: adapting and developing their products in line with new markets and consumer demand. The future is bright.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

The Key Trends in Brand Protection and Security in the Packaging Market

In the face of increasing losses due to more sophisticated counterfeiting and the theft of goods in transit, the packaging market is seeking to develop higher levels of brand protection and security.

Well-recognised threats to brands and goods, combined with revised regulations regarding the shipment of perishable items such as food and drink, are leading to the emergence of new and exciting packaging innovations designed to protect products from both counterfeiting and theft.

And this is good news for the industry as a whole. A recent report about the market predicts that it will grow at an impressive compound annual growth rate of 5.3% over the next five years, reaching $3.6 billion by the end of the forecast period.

What Is Driving This Growth?

There are several factors driving this predicted growth. New laws to help prevent tampering with goods in transit through compulsory labelling and the use of ever more sophisticated tamper-proof measures are currently being introduced in both the EU and America. These will be applicable for ‘life-critical products’, which include food, drinks, industrial components and pharmaceuticals.

In addition, a number of countries – including India, Brazil, Turkey, China and South Korea – have already introduced measures aimed at increasing security within the transportation of goods used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Track and Trace

And the World Health Organization and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are leading the way by mandating the use of so-called track and trace technologies. These innovative new developments aim to ensure all manner of goods can be accurately tracked throughout their journey from the producer to the client, ensuring that nothing happens to them along the way.

Track and trace technology, in fact, is expected to see the largest growth in coming years – already it makes up 37% of the market. The technology is so advanced that much of it can even be accessed via smartphones.

Another critical factor driving the growth is the extension of certain trade zones across the globe, which have made it easier for counterfeit products to cross borders.

Where Is the Growth Expected?

Experts say the majority of the growth in the area is likely to occur in management systems, software and equipment, with a small decline predicted in actual physical components.

A greater emphasis is being placed on easy measures such as printable codes, which can be used across the board in a wide range of applications to improve brand protection.

The main users of the technology will be the food and drinks sector, with a market share of 38.8%, followed by the industrial sector and pharmaceuticals industry.

So it seems that brand protection and security will be set to play an ever-increasing part in a range of industries in the coming years.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

Rising Demand in the Global Liquid Packaging and Paperboard Market

The paperboard industry changes as the needs of society change, and it seems that there will be a few changes to the liquid paperboard and packaging industry over the next few years.

A new study has looked at the next five years of LPB, and they believe that the industry will grow significantly. This will be due to an increased demand for cartons for dairy products and dairy alternative products as well as cartons for juice.

An Increase in Demand

This will encourage a steady increase in demand for LPB products. The growth has already started to occur: a recent study that was published in “The Future of LPB to 2022” found that the liquid packaging board passed the 7.7 million ton mark in 2015 alone, showing a huge demand for the products.

The study also found that the demand for LPB products will continue to increase over the next five years at around 4.5% per year, which is a fairly significant increase. This means that the market value of $4.69 billion in 2017 will reach $5.83 billion in 2022, leaping just over a billion in five years.

This is great news for anyone who works in the LPB market, but it is worth noting that production of paperboard materials isn’t too common. LPB is currently only made in ten countries, although the consumption of these products is spread across the majority of global regions.

Some countries consume significantly more LPB than others: three-quarters of all LPB is used in Europe and America, while Asia only accounts for 17% of the market.

What Is LPB Mostly Used For?

Although LPB is very popular across the globe, it is generally only used to make a few specific products such as milk cartons, soy cartons, almond milk cartons and juice cartons. In fact, in 2016 over 70% of the LPB products were used in the dairy industry, while another 20% of the products went on to become juice cartons.

This shows that LPB is universally used for the same things, but recent years have seen a decline in the number of dairy products that are bought. Many people are making an effort to be more environmentally friendly and ethical, and so they are cutting milk out of their diet in favour of plant-based alternatives.

This many seem like bad news, but it isn’t too much of an issue as most dairy alternatives will be packaged using LPB.

The Dairy Industry

It is also worth noting that while Western countries have slowed down their milk consumption, places like Eastern Europe have seen an increased demand for dairy products, so the dairy industry is still booming in certain places.

Either way, the future of the liquid paperboard and packaging market is looking positive, and it is likely that there will be significant growth over the next few years.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

Customised Packaging Innovation Set to Shake Up Print and Packaging

Just when commentators were ready to write off the Print and Packaging industry, it’s begun to enjoy a marked resurgence, led by brands which want to appear less corporate and to appeal more directly to consumers. The major corporates are leading the way with innovation in personalised Printing and Packaging, and this trend is now growing throughout the industry.

The fact is that personalised Printing and Packaging is now seen as a key way to add value to what are otherwise standard consumer products. A customer will pay far more for a bag of cookies with – say – their own or their partner’s or child’s name on it. So Printing and Packaging are seen as previously under-used ways of harvesting extra value on products. As brands jostle with competing products and generics on the supermarket shelves, personalised products are turning into increased sales at far better mark-ups. The most noticeable manifestation is probably the Coke bottles in your local store now bearing a selection of people’s names. Coke ads feature people holding the personalised bottles.

Digital Cheaper for Shorter Runs

The Financial Times recently reported on this trend and talked with Dion Weisler, who is CEO of HP (previously Hewlett Packard), so a man who knows what he’ talking about when it comes to printing innovation. He sees digital printing as the next big development in the print market. Because digital printing is now as good as analogue in terms of quality, a new market has suddenly opened up. Whereas analogue printing remains cost-effective for large runs of the same label, shorter runs are cheaper with digital.

Growth of 20% Predicted

It’s not just a case of printing popular names on products and then charging more for them. The personalisation can extend to targeting consumers’ gender, ethnicity, language, culture, nationality and other attributes. Although corporates could find themselves embroiled in diversity issues and will have to tread sensitively.

Smithers Pira, a sector consultancy, has forecast growth of 8% in digital commercial printing and 20% for digital printing on packaging, which shows the step change that is under way.

Added Value for Established Brands

The key driver of growth is the phenomenal value that can be added to brands by customising them. The FT quotes the example of a Melbourne department store that last Christmas sold Nutella in customised printed packaging. They sold these at AUD 12.95 each. That’s around £8.00 per jar. And they shifted 400,000.

Not to be left out, Kraft Heinz has been sending out “Get Well Soon” customised cans of tomato soup and charging about six times as much for them as for the standard product. The company would no doubt point out that this is still less than the cost of a decent get-well card, and you can’t eat a card. These examples give a glimpse of the massive potential market that is opening up.

The unlikely corporate love affair with randomisation is also influencing the digital printing and packaging trend. Algorithms are used during the print runs to introduce randomness. Diet Coke recently produced two million individually packaged bottles using this method.

Great Opportunities for Fresh Thinkers in the Industry

Companies are going to need executives who are abreast of these trends and understand the technology but also have a shrewd idea of where the print industry is going. Because of the massive innovation that is taking place, there’s going to be a need for managers who understand change management and can deliver new ways of working with different technologies.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

Possibly the best time management advice ever!   

One of the best time management advice stories goes like this. Charles Schwab was a steel mill Magnate in the 1930s and asked a time management guru, Ivy Lee, for his top tip. Ivy Lee gave the tip and said he was so confident of his advice that Charles can try it out and pay him whatever he feels the tip is worth. After a few weeks Charles was so impressed with the usefulness of the advice that he sent a cheque of $25,000. In modern money this is about $344,000. Wow!

 The famous advice that Lee gave was: 

  • At the end of a day list the key tasks that you need to get done the next day.
  • Prioritise them (ideally 1 to 5 priorities).
  • Next day work on tasks in the order of their priority/importance until daily time allows, not proceeding until a task was completed. Get as far as you can on the priority list.
  • Keep doing this every day.

Charles M. Schwab said this tip was the most profitable advice he had ever received. He was the first manager in the US to get over a million dollars a year so he must have been a competent guy.

We all have the same amount of time and there is normally plenty to do. Managing our time optimally is so important and gets us ahead.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. Please get in touch if you are contemplating a career move or looking to recruit. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

 

I have several job offers, how do I decide which to choose? 

In the current economic climate, securing a new role is difficult for many candidates, but if you are lucky enough to have several job offers, you will want to ensure you make the right choice. It may be the case that you have been unemployed for a long time and suddenly you find yourself inundated with offers. It can be tempting to just take the first one offered to you or to focus only on the salary, but there are several other elements to take into consideration.

Culture 

In order to get real job satisfaction, it is important to work in an environment which suits you and the culture is often an aspect which is discounted when candidates make a decision on accepting a job offer. The wrong culture can make you truly miserable, even if the salary and benefits exceed your expectations. You will be spending most of your life at work, so the right culture fit is vital. For example, if you prefer to work on your own initiative, you won’t get job satisfaction if you are micro managed. Similarly, if you prefer a relaxed environment and the culture is very corporate and strict, it won’t be the right fit. Take time to consider where you would feel most comfortable and consider this when making your decision. You will gain a lot of insight into the culture during the interview process.

Expectations 

Don’t be afraid to ask for as much detail as possible about the role and the expectations the manager has for you. If you start a role, only to find that you are quite quickly fire fighting to keep up with the workload, you will be completely disheartened. There should be an induction process and training provided for you, before you are left to get on with the workload. You should definitely not feel stressed and overwhelmed as soon as you start the job.

Benefits 

This is an obvious consideration when accepting a job offer, but it’s not just the financial benefits you should take into account. For example, if you have childcare issues and need to work specific hours, make sure the company can accommodate this before you accept. You may also be interested in working from home occasionally and if this is important to you, be sure to clarify this before you accept.

Location 

A two hour commute might not seem like a lot if the salary is competitive, but this can quite quickly become frustrating as it will leave you with very little spare time in the morning and evening. The location is an important aspect to take into consideration, both for the financial implications and the potential stress it may cause you. Make sure you are able to commit to this long term before you accept the job offer.

Development Opportunities 

This very much depends on your future career plans. If you are happy to stay in the same role for the rest of your career, it may not be an important consideration. However, if you want to develop, make sure there is a career line of progression within the company.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. Please get in touch if you are contemplating a career move or looking to recruit. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

 

Why your CV is probably being ignored

 

The print and packaging job market has always been a competitive environment. Not only are we competing with other applicants for a role, we are also competing for attention. Employers (and recruiters) seek candidates focused on their career, not someone merely going through the motions of looking for another job. Here are the simple mistakes holding you back, and straightforward feedback as to why your CV isn’t commanding interviews.

All or nothing

Finding a job is a serious business. Often we start too small and stay there, then wonder why the phone isn’t ringing. By ‘small’ we mean unfocused. Little things give you away. Phrases such as “I’m putting feelers out”, casual coffee chats with industry contacts “to see what’s out there”, or sending out your CV to “see what happens”. This casual tone leaks into your CV and covering letter. Would you hire a distracted manager to run one of your talented teams?

There’s a reason we call the process job ‘hunting’. The search for your next role requires focused commitment and an investment of your time. To modify the famous RAF quote: time spent in consideration is seldom wasted. Especially when it comes to finding the role you want. You’re an experienced, talented, multi skilled candidate with so much to offer your target company in the print and packaging industry.

Can you read me?

Never underestimate the power of asking someone you trust to read your CV. They don’t need to have industry experience – in fact their lack of experience will be the key to unlocking your CV. Ask them to answer the following: does your CV makes sense (grammar), is it easy to read (layout) and – crucially – does it sound like you (tone). Listen to what they have to say. Remember: what’s obvious to you isn’t necessarily obvious to others. Your experience is your expertise; this is an opportunity to share your knowledge. Clarity and brevity are essential. Keep an open mind when receiving feedback and make the necessary changes. There’s no excuse for careless grammar, a disengaged tone or formatting errors at this stage of your career.

What are you saying?

Everyone knows they need to tailor their CV and covering letter for each job applied for. This should be your signal to go the extra mile and separate yourself from the competition. Take a step back and look at how your existing skills align with the job you want. Consider how to frame your skills in relation to your experience and the role. Look at what you are saying. What do your words communicate about you, your experience and professional goals? How are your skills a good marriage with the job?

Include statistics to back up business improvement claims made in your CV, such as performance and sales. Qualify your claims – make it easy for the person reading your CV to see that you can do the job. Mention skills you want to develop. You are a manager keen to continue learning as technology evolves. Make yourself relevant now and into the future.

Ultimately, if you don’t capture why your skills, experience, management style and vision are what a company is looking for, who will?

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For advice on how to put together a great CV please get in touch. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1