Young man wearing glasses looks at a laptop in an office while holding a piece of paper.

It's no secret that January is the best month for job searching. When you combine a healthy new budget (over 50% of UK companies now start their financial year in January) with a hiring department fresh from their holidays, the result is a massive increase in job listings.


So how do you make sure you stand out from the crowd? Here are some tips and tricks from the recruiting industry to help you catch the eye of your dream employer.


What To Include In Your CV


1. A tailored bio


If there’s one thing everyone lacks, it’s time. Not even the noblest hiring manager will dedicate hours to reading CVs when they have 200+ applicants.


So give yourself an advantage: Write a one-paragraph summary of your CV and put it right beneath your name.


Make sure you include:

  • your current role and employer

  • your strongest achievement (see below)

  • your most relevant skills (read the job description!)

  • and why you’re interested in this position

The last one sounds like an unusual thing to include in your own CV, but it’s something that hiring managers always want to know: Why do you want to leave your current job and why do you want to work here? Answers on a postcard, please.


2. A list of your achievements


Once you’ve hooked your reader with your bio, the next thing to do is impress them. And what better way to do that than with proof of your prowess?


If you’re wondering how your primary school swimming badge could possibly be relevant to your career, you’ve cracked the first step: make your achievements relevant.


You’ve read the job brief (and if you haven’t by now, then you really need to rewrite your bio), so you already know what the employer wants. All you need to do now is show them evidence that you can do it. The way to do that is by using facts and figures.


Have a read of these achievements and see which one sounds more impressive to you:

  • Met my sales target each year.

or

  • Personally sold over 200 luxury clothing units each week for 18 months, exceeding my department's KPIs and resulting in a net sales increase of 40% year on year.

Facts and figures tell the same story from a completely different angle. They show what you've done, how often, and what the result has been. Without them, it can be hard to tell a good employee from a great employee.


Take a look at your current role and ask yourself what impact you’ve had on your workplace: what targets have you met or exceeded? What new methods have you implemented or created? Break each of your efforts down into figures.


3. Your work history.


A list of who you’ve worked for and what you’ve done will always be necessary, no matter how many times you update your CV. However, the way you write this section is just as crucial.


Think back to the person at the company you want to work for, who is skim-reading your CV. The quickest change you can make to your work history is simplifying it.


Endless paragraphs are hard on the eyes: use clear bullet points to help with flow. Long sentences with too many commas are slow and confusing: use short, clear sentences that provide information without any waffle.


You probably also have a few low-level responsibilities listed beneath your previous roles. Handling cash is important if you’re applying for entry retail roles, but if you’re ten years into your career or at executive level, drop it from your CV.


On that note, the part-time role you had six jobs ago doesn’t need its own set of bullet points anymore. Remove the details and just keep the role, the name of the employer and the dates you worked there. Anything else is just unnecessary.


4. Your education.


If the recruiter has read this far down, they are ticking boxes at this point. Keep your education section brief. The name of your university, your degree, your result, and the years you attended are all that's needed for most CVs.


If you’re still in your twenties, it can be worth including your A-Level results and the name of your school. Some of the top employers look for As and A*s prior to higher education.


However, remember to keep it simple. “Geography A, Maths A*, History B” or “Three A Levels A*-B” is more than enough. And if you didn’t do brilliantly, then don’t put the grades in at all.


5. Your interests.


Interests are a subject of some debate for recruiters. Some like the way they give them a sense of the person outside of work, whereas some find them pointless or believe they should already know who you are from the rest of your CV.


Our advice? If you’re over 1 or 2 pages already, there’s no need to include your interests. But if you have a little space, then there’s no harm in including a few of your hobbies, values, or voluntary activities.


Again, consider the job brief and the company you’re applying to when you word this section. You shouldn’t lie, but a “passion for classic cars” is more likely to appeal to a luxury brand than a passion for late-night drag racing.


Are references important?


It depends on your definition. If your boss has given you a written recommendation, is that worth quoting on your CV? Absolutely.


But the contact details of your referees? No.


If you have any space left over, you can state that “references are available upon request”. If not, you are not even required to put that.


Extra details take up valuable space on the page and make otherwise snappy CVs look long and complicated. We know you need referees, you know you need referees, so why mention them at all?


Wait until you reach the stage where you are asked for your references. Then, share them with your hiring manager. Otherwise, it’s only a waste of space.


Ready to get started?


Give these tips a go and see how much you like the look of your 2022 CV compared to last year's. We'd love to hear how you get along in your job search!


And if you get stuck on narrowing down your achievements or coming up with a punchy bio, keep an eye on our socials this January for our upcoming guides on each section.




Following the UK government’s announcement that all non-essential shops would be allowed to open from 15th June, we decided to catch up with the Centre Director of one of the South West’s best-loved outlets: Clarks Village. We spoke to Chris Davis last summer, but after having to close Clarks Village and go into lockdown earlier this year, how was the centre’s first day back?

Anna: Chris, it’s great to see you again. Who would have thought when we last met that we would be going through all of this?


Chris: Nobody could have predicted this crisis. It’s a bit of an odd one.


Anna: So you opened your doors yesterday for the first time in three months, how did it go?

Chris: It went as well as we could have expected! There were no major issues and we achieved what we set out to achieve. Landsec has been very helpful with any problems leading up to the reopening and the government guidelines have been relatively clear, so we have spent the last few weeks setting up everything up as best we can as an outdoor centre.

Anna: Surely that must be a benefit, being an outdoor scheme?

Chris: Well, benefit, yes, but a bit of a hindrance too. Our indoor centres can use stickers on their doors and floors, whereas we have had to bring in barriers and spray all of our arrows and footprints on the floor. Also, because we’re not a standard indoor centre, we have had to work out where all of our bottlenecks are, where we need to create a one way system and where we can allow free roaming.


Source: Clarks Village

Anna: How many visitors did you see yesterday?


Chris: We were way above what we expected and we hit our capacity two or three times during the day. In fact, we maintained our footfall capacity for just shy of two hours – impressive but manageable – which allowed people to be in the centre while still keeping safe.

Anna: And how did that compare to a normal day?

Chris: Obviously it was down on normal figures. Give it another week and we will likely see that go up. We want to make sure that people who make the effort to come here feel safe, so we’ll only increase capacity when we can. We were running one-in-one-out for about an hour and a half at the busiest part of the day, which customers seemed very happy with.


I think we saw quite a lot of local customers yesterday because they’re used to coming five or six times a year, if not more. It will be very interesting to see if that changes over the coming weeks. We asked all of our customers to “only travel if you really need to come to us” on social media yesterday, and that kept it at a manageable capacity.


Anna: Are there any stores that haven’t yet opened?


Chris: About 60% of our stores have opened and we will be at about 80% by the end of this week. A lot of brands are doing a phased return, so they’re opening in certain areas of the country first – they want to make sure that their staff can go back to their stores and manage everything safely. Other brands have been keen to see what happens in the first week, saying that if we have everything under control then they will open in week two. We have also had brands open in some Landsec sites but not others; to test the water maybe.


For the first couple of weeks, our focus is on helping our brands and looking after them. We’ve done several good deals in these last couple of months due to strong partnerships, despite the circumstances. Inevitably there will be some victims coming from this, but Clarks Village as a whole will be okay. We have new brands keen to come in pretty much straightaway.

Anna: What about pricing? Are the brands all offering big discounts?

Chris: It’s a bit of a mix, actually. We’re not advertising the discounts and offers as our primary message, we’re sticking to the safe and secure message right now. We’ve seen quite a few brands open with a full on sale of 50-70% off, like Jack Wills. Timberland has brand new product straight from the high street that they are discounting by 30%, plus additional offers of 60-70% off. Sports Direct even launched with a 50% off discount for NHS workers. I think some stores have the best product they have ever had!


Anna: So the footfall may be down, but is the spend higher?


Chris: We had fifteen brands report to us yesterday how they may not have been able to match last years’ figures, but the spend per visitor – the average transaction value – was incredible. M&S was at capacity for a good couple of hours, as was Sports Direct.


Anna: How are you managing the queues for stores that get that busy?


Chris: Right now, we are asking people at the back of the queue to come back later when it’s quieter! We don’t really have the space here for queues of several hours. The good thing is that people haven’t really come to Clarks Village for a specific brand this week. At other Landsec centres, however, there have been queues outside Nike for three hours and even overnight.

Anna: Sounds like the outlet version of Primark!


Chris: Yes, and we still have the weekend to come.


Anna: It’s been a pleasure to catch up at such a novel time for the outlet sector and I hope everything continues to go well over the coming months.

It looks like Clarks Village is once again setting the standard for outlet shopping. How and when its policies will change over the next few months remains to be seen and relies, as we all do, on the ever-changing government guidelines.

Let us know if you’ve been to an outlet or high street this week. How was it different from shopping before lockdown?


Source: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/joseasreyes

As an executive recruiter, I get to introduce people to our fantastic retail property world every week. I love making new connections with candidates and I find that interviewing a diverse range of people is always a fascinating experience, because the responses I receive constantly surprise me.

Just this week, I asked a candidate one of my standard questions: Which brands do you most admire?

I’m used to people responding with Apple, or H&M, or Michael Kors, but increasingly candidates have been mentioning e-commerce marketplaces rather than physical stores. This candidate said, without any hesitation, “Amazon” and then followed it with “ASOS”.

It’s an interesting insight that people are increasing seeing these companies as brands in themselves, rather than simply marketplaces – but then, with revenue in the hundreds of billions and being the 5th largest retailer in the UK it’s perhaps not surprising that Amazon is becoming a brand all of its own.


I wasn’t going to give up there – after all, our industry is primarily made of bricks and mortar – so I asked, “What about physical stores?” His first choice of brand was Arket. Owned by H&M, Arket prioritises sustainability, durability and accessibility in its products: perfectly in tune with a Gen Z’s values.

My candidate’s next choice was By Walid, a brand created by British-Iraqi designer Walid Damirji who creates modern pieces out of antique 18th century fabrics. This was easily the first time such a brand had ever been mentioned in one of my interviews, but again, with values such as authenticity, originality and again sustainability, it makes sense that By Walid is in the consciousness of candidates in their twenties.


This brand has been making quite the impact on the fashion industry for Damirji’s unconventional approach: no PR, no financial incentivising cocktail parties, and using only upcycled fabrics. It has also recently been taken on by Matches Fashion.

Here, in this brief conversation, we can see one of the biggest challenges for our sector: how to fully embrace these values while retaining a high margin and turnover? These stores certainly won’t be able to afford the rent or business rates applicable on most UK city high streets, and the retailers who can may struggle to implement costly features to ensure they meet these Gen Z values.


One solution for sustainable brands would be to bring together many of them under one roof, providing them with a central location at a rent they can afford.

They could call it House of Fraser, perhaps!


As for the brands who are not yet able to self-style as sustainable, authentic or accessible, the growth of interest in such values should be an early wake-up call. By acting sooner rather than later, these brands could prevent a tank in sales as their buyers trend younger and stop shopping at brands who have failed to evolve and only offer artificial, short-lived fabrics (or even worse, products built with planned obsolescence – looking at you, Apple).

What “Gen Z” brand do you most admire, and what values does it share with you? Have you also noticed an uptick in sustainable businesses lately?