Our Blog

Could your digital footprint be ruining your career?

Being aware of your online presence has never been more important when it comes to your job search.  More and more employers look at a candidate’s digital footprint before even meeting with them and depending on what they find online, whether it is fair or not, you can be sure that they will make preconceptions about you based on the language you use, what you are wearing and how you conduct yourself generally in online conversations. 

As someone who works in Executive Search, the internet and social media platforms are important tools when searching for potential candidates.  It is crucial that you are social media savvy if you want to be taken seriously, or indeed headhunted for roles.  Equally important to remember that even if you are not actively seeking a new job, your current employer may be also be checking out your online presence from time to time.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter that recruitment consultants, head hunters and employers are looking at.  Yes, these are some of the most popular social media platforms that are the first port of call but potentially one of the most powerful online tools people forget to check is google.  Have you ever googled yourself?  You might be surprised by what you find if you start to do a bit of research.  Ask yourself; is this the image you want to portray to a potential employer?  If not, be mindful of your behaviour online, put security measures in place so you’re not caught out by tags on friends’ photos and take a look at your privacy settings on all your social media platforms.  It’s not unusual for these to change regularly without being notified.

However I am not saying that it is in anyway all bad, in fact for me the digital market is mostly positive.  Like most things in life it is simply a lack of understanding that creates the fear or engenders a negative attitude. 

More people can find out about you than ever before. In times gone by it would only have been people within your local or industry network that would have known of you and you were reliant on their perception that you would be recommended. Thanks to the internet anyone can find you if they are looking and can verify your experience directly. 

You can ensure that even through you may not be looking for a job at a given time that people can still contact you, then you are always ‘on the market’ and will be available to receive and respond to opportunities.  Sites like LinkedIn provide a fantastic online platform for you to promote your professional skills and experience, which you can control and present yourself appropriately. 

Used wisely and with consideration, your digital presence could very much work in your favour.

For more information visit www.neallucasrecruitment.com

The recipe for success - top traits of successful executives

The successful people that I have interviewed or dealt with over the years all have something in common – they apply similar attitudes and outlooks to their work life and possess similar traits, which combine to make a great recipe for success.  I’ve worked with hundreds of top executives throughout Ireland and Great Britain and have come to learn over the years the habits that they put into practice not only in the workplace, but in their day to day lives.  They say it only takes 21 days for something to become a habit, so if you want to be successful, start applying some of these below to your everyday routine. 


They’re passionate and driven

Successful people are driven, passionate, and full of enthusiasm for their job.  To be successful at the top, executives need to drive profitable growth whilst meeting organisational objectives. This can’t be done without drive, resilience and consistent, continual actions. They have a clear agenda which they work to.   Having a positive outlook towards work and tackling challenges head on, is what separates the good from the great. 


They’re honest, open and transparent

Successful CEOs are trusted and respected.  Trust and respect is built by being open, honest and transparent and demonstrating professional integrity.  Transparency also helps to instil confidence and empowers employees.  Good executives not only recognise the importance of demonstrating and practicing these values, but also recognise the ongoing need to take stock and reset the moral compass in the overall organisation towards these crucial values. 


They strive to improve

Successful people are always looking at ways they can improve, both themselves and the organisation for which they work.  Continuous Improvement needs to be embedded in the organisations. Good executives benchmark good practice and they observe high performing competitors. 


They think strategically

A large part of an organisation’s success is down to its strategy and furthermore its ability to adapt its strategy to suit the organisation’s current needs.   In an ever changing environment, it’s vital that strategies and objectives are continually reviewed to ensure value can be extracted from the market. A successful CEO is aware of the environment around them – within the organisation and the industry as a whole, and can identify and adapt the organisation’s strategy and objectives to ensure resources are applied and the capability of the organisation is fit for purpose.


They inspire and acknowledge

Setting high goals for yourself and your team is important, but a great leader also creates an expectancy that targets will be achieved. The leader also inspires the team to want to achieve these goals.  Acknowledging performance is very important and encourages the bar to be raised next time. Motivation is the fuel of implementation and achievement.


They build alliances

Top executives will overcome all road blocks to achieve their objective. Often this is by seeking help to inject innovative ideas to create solutions. They use all their network and research capability to optimise benefit to their business. They also realise that it is best to negotiate through a problem, tack to the wind and avoid a storm.  This is often done by building alliances where all parties engage through some form of collaboration to create value rather than destroy value through disputes. 


They monitor performance

Assessing their own performance regularly and setting time aside for self-reflection is a key habit of successful executives.  Monitoring your own performance in your role is crucial in helping you to develop and become more effective in your job.  Additionally, monitoring and evaluating the overall performance of the organisation is vital in terms of evaluating areas which need work. 



By developing these components, winning will become a habit. 


Neal Lucas is Managing Director of Neal Lucas Recruitment. Northern Ireland’s leading executive search and recruitment business specialising in the appointment of Director and Senior Management level roles (including Chair and NED positions).  He, or a member of the team, can be contacted on 028 9268 8818, followed @NealLucasRec or connected with on LinkedIn


*A copy of this article featured in NI Business Now

Jobs overview May 2015

The latest figures in the monthly Labour Market Report last week provided an optimistic outlook for the jobs market in Northern Ireland as unemployment levels continue to fall, which is encouraging. 

We’ve come a long way since 2010 where we experienced a slowdown in job market churn; these are the roles generated by people moving within the market rather than those created by new or developing organisations.   This caused stagnation and many strong candidates became frustrated by the lack of opportunity and either left the market altogether by moving away or put their careers on hold until the market began to move again. 

In terms of employment opportunities today, Northern Ireland is a good place to be.  SMEs continue to thrive, however we lack larger corporate positions that can support the development of ambitious local employees and also attract successful members of the diaspora back home.

Statistics also revealed that median gross weekly earnings over the year to April 2014, for all employees in NI, decreased by 2.2% while the UK saw a growth of 0.6% in the UK.  This is a worrying statistic and serves as a reminder that we need to see an increase in higher salaried jobs in order to drive the private sector forward.

All too often skilled and experienced candidates are forced to move across the water in order to progress in their careers.  If candidates wish to progress, enhance their skills and achieve their career goals and that means they have to move, then so be it.  The problem with this reality is that when they look to return home, there aren’t always appropriate executive level jobs for them to come back to.  

A dynamic economy will ensure a vibrant job market where people will get opportunities to develop their skills and companies will be able to source talented people to achieve their strategic objectives. 

For those who are currently on the job search, it’s important to remember that competition is rife and it’s imperative to hone your job hunting skills if you’re looking for employment.  Don’t presume your experience and previous positions are enough to get you through.  A common gripe that I hear from employers is that candidates aren’t up to the standard they require and finding the right person can actually be difficult.  Put the legwork in, spend time on your CV and application forms, make use of social media platforms such as Linked In to network, follow companies, join groups, keep informed and stay abreast of your industry.  

For more information visit www.neallucasrecruitment.com or follow Neal on twitter @neallucasrec





Charity bosses are worth it

The issue of large salaries paid to CEOs within the charity and voluntary sector has always been subject to criticism within the media and public generally and the recent revelation that Praxis CEO Nevin Ringland is earning £142,000 a- year has, it’s fair to say, sparked a fresh backlash and new demands to curb the salaries of charity bosses. 

But should this be the case and how much is too much when it comes to pay packets? 

Being in charge of a charity is a hugely demanding job. Modern charities are large, complex organisations with multiple stakeholders, several income streams, high numbers of staff and volunteers, and more than one simple bottom line to consider. More often than not charities take responsibility for investing in human capital where the commercial and public sectors fail and leave people behind.  Where would we be today on issues such as gender equality and diversity, environment, health, cancer research and education if it wasn't for charities campaigning and investing? 

Senior executives are not only required to be technically good at their job, they are also expected to have a range of abilities to engage and communicate with an audience who can be just as demanding as shareholders and paying customers. Fortunately, funders, philanthropists, commissioners and beneficiaries generally understand and support this by paying leaders for performance. 

If the organisation has an effective board with robust governance procedures and more people benefit from the activities of a charity because it has an excellent chief executive who inspires staff, volunteers and donors, and achieves the organisation’s vital yet challenging objectives why should that not be reflected in that individual's remuneration? If we want the very best people to work in a sector that is so crucial to the welfare of so many, and for campaigning on critical issues, surely we should be willing to pay enough to attract them? 

The truth is, the reason the ‘taboo’ around the high salaries in the third sector continues to cause backlash is down to the sector’s failure to educate the public, and key stakeholders about how charitable organisations work; the complexity of their operations, their impact on society, and why senior executives (and other staff) should be paid a fair and decent salary for their skills, experiences and achievements.  

In order to have a well-run, effective organisation, it’s essential that the very best people with the skillset and mindset are hired to do the job.  These people need to be considered not only as a cost but an investment to enable the organisation’s strategic objectives to be achieved. 

Neal Lucas, Managing Director Neal Lucas Recruitment www.neallucasrecruitment.com T: 028 9268 8818.

*This article featured in the Belfast Telegraph