Culture Clash – Beware

Corporate Culture – How to swim with sharks


All companies have a culture whether they know it, designed it, or it just evolved. So, when you join one be aware you are joining a cult. And like any cult there will be formal and informal group behaviour rules. These rules will govern a value system, how to behave in certain circumstances, even a dress code. If you don’t know the rules you are unlikely to survive let alone prosper. Experience shows that time and time again career success goes to those who fit best into the cult.

So how do you know what culture to look for? 

The answer is to know yourself. As a professional recruiter I can tell you 90% of you out there don’t!

Here is a quick test. Answer these questions:

What really motivates you?

What are your career values?

Where exactly do you want to be in one/five years?

What core career beliefs do you operate by?

What are your ambitions?

Where do your ambitions come from?


Did you find that on asking yourself the above you did not have to think?  The answers were straight there with clarity? If so move to the next question.


Are all of your short and long term goals really yours or those of your peers, parents or friends for you?


If yes, you are in the 10%. If not, I would not put money on you becoming a great career success. Make no mistake the ocean of opportunity out there is full of sharks. Once your ship sails you don’t want to go overboard!


You now have to be able to assess the culture of a target company you want to work for.  You need to establish their values, style, beliefs, motivations and goals.

Here is how:

Firstly, have a clearly defined culture. This tends to indicate a company that is going places. I cannot think of a single exception. The cultures are obvious to the customers. McDonalds, Marks and Spencers, Microsoft, Virgin, Amazon. Clear identity and values. 

The secret of judging how well defined the culture is found by looking for commonality at all levels. 

So it is not how they dress that is important but how they dress relative to each other.  It is not the particular value set that is important in itself but that they and you share common core values.

So look for commonality in every aspect of them.  How they answer the phone, dress, talk to each other, plan out their offices, incentivise their staff, train their staff, report and accounts, marketing, advertising styles, competitive stance etc.

How would you describe the culture of the following organisations?

Google, Disney, British Army, Virgin, Oxfam


Which above organisation do you think would have most of the following core values?

Team work





Attention to detail

Benefit to others




You see, the evidence is all there.

What from the above are the three most important values to you? Success Moves LogoNow which company do you think you would be happiest in and develop most working in? Why?

Now for those of you in the 10% you have to get to the 1% of serious career successes. You will achieve that by knowing your personal profile, match it to an aligned organisation then you will be somewhere which will appreciate and develop your talents best.

The final ingredient is having some talent. Talent is a choice not a gift. I firmly believe that everyone is incredibly talented, they just have to recognise it. 

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How to Earn Six Figures

This blog is for those in sales who want to earn over six figures. Here I share a strategy to achieve that based upon my own personal experience and by observation of the highest performers.

Rule Number 1: Really Mean It and Take Responsibility
This is actually 90% of it. Do you really want to earn over £100,000 per annum in sales?
Do you really?
No, I mean it, do you really?

I did not say receive £100,000 for minimum effort, like win the lottery. I said earn it. Because believe me earning six figures is a high yet achievable level of success.I know through our placements over the years many people who have progressed and are now earning six figures. The majority though didn’t make it and they spend their time blaming. Blaming the recruiter, their employer, the market, the economy, the government, their friends. Anyone and anything apart from themselves.

The difference between success and failure is whether you take responsibility or whether you blame. Successful people by taking personal responsibility empower themselves. Think about it, if all those other things are to blame it is very difficult for you to change them. You can change yourself though. You can learn from mistakes, rejection, find solutions to problems. It is all feedback giving you clues to where lies the path to success. People who are serious about earning six figures take responsibility. Whatever happens they were and are in charge. Every setback, obstacles, rejection and failure points them forward. And if you aren’t going forward you are going backwards if winning is your goal.

The successful know that the decision for success is something they have to make. I hear this so often and then someone drops out of a job after 1 week. They weren’t serious, first sign of pressure. Building fear of rejection, whatever and they give up and run!

Rule Number 2: Believe you can.
Believe of anything is a specific way you have made up your mind. Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow morning? Well, that is the sort of internal process and filing you need to keep your belief that you can earn over £100K in sales. When you have that level of conviction that the two are on par then you have a strong belief in yourself. So when the rejections come you just see at as steps to success. Rather than the majority who give up. Too much effort, pressure.They jump jobs looking for the easy life, they usually keep jumping, going around in circles, whilst others progress throughout the tough parts.

Rule Number 3: Get Educated
This is not a one off course or training but a continual process to continually learn and develop your skills. Listen to CDs free on You Tube, all the top gurus are on there Les Brown, Tiny Robbins, Zig Ziglar. You can also go to our You Tube Channel. Buy books on Amazon, especially mine, try Advanced Selling for Beginners. If you cannot afford it you can get it free on Get earplugs for your phone and listen on the way to work EVERY morning.

Rule Number 4: Get in the Right Sector
Some sectors are on an up most are on a down or holding their own. Pick a sector in growth. Then pick one that is favourably disposed to sales people and offers high income. If they even talk of capping commissions don’t even consider being employed by them. If they offer you an attractive basic with a tiny commission again don’t consider them.

Rule Number 5: Get in the Right Company for you
Few consider this on interview but most who succeed are a good fit for the company they joined. Their values are in line, they get on well and identify with the leaders of the enterprise. So, when on interview look at the boss and ask yourself. Does this person inspire motivate me, Do they talk sense? Do I admire them? Do I feel I would belong here?

Rule Number 6: Work hard and smart
Never be late, never waste selling time, never talk negative, never mix with negative people. Instead, keep focused on your goal which means working hard and smart consistently. The final never is of course, never give up on your goal of earning six figures. Never.

Whatever it is that you want print out picture get it on your wall at home, in the office, on your PC screensaver, on your mobile screensaver. Programme yourself for success. Ensure every influence around you is a positive one moving you forward towards your goal.

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How to Cope with Rejection and Come Back Fighting

Many Sales Managers believe, from their experience, that the most important trait a successful sales person needs is the ability to deal with rejection. At an interview a coping strategy for rejection is even more important because it is far more personal. In this blog I set out some techniques, attitudes and advice to help you bounce back.

When you were rejected in the past it is probably because of one of the following. So my first advice is to get your act as prepared as possible before your next interview:

a) Personal chemistry not an appropriate match for the corporate culture. Do you fit into the team? In this scenario, which is actually the most common one, you are often better off being rejected as it is not the right company for you. You need to make sure you’re applying to the right jobs.
b) You do not have clear well-formed S.M.A.R.T. goals that matched what they were offering. Revisit your goals and know exactly what you want to achieve by when and why.
c) Attitude not positive and determined enough. People always want their sales staff to be upbeat, achievement focused and positive as this sells more than any technique.
d) Clear crisp communication. If you talk in slang, a strong accent or with a monotone it will put interviewers off.
e) Smart appearance. Some people really do not understand that looking smart, well groomed and dressed is an absolute essential for any sales position.
f) A positive fun personality. People buy people first and wherever else second, so interviewers will look for a fun lively personality that is interesting to talk to. For this reason recruiters look and probe on interests more than most interviewees might think. What have you done that is adventurous?
g) You asked questions that put them off as to your real motivations. Your questions focused on the basic, hours of work, more than the career prospects, progression, market, management and potential earnings.
h) You lacked a track record showing stability, direction and accomplishment. Be careful of trying your best at something and then dropping out, you need to be careful of building a stable and progressive CV showing achievement, persistence, determination etc not giving up.
i) They doubted your honesty and integrity. No quality company wants liars representing their brand. Answer questions honestly, not with what you think they want to hear. If you have something negative in your background talk about what you learnt from it and how you have changed.
j) You lack sales skills. For new people this is less of a criterion than you might think. The reason being sales skills can be taught. Attitude and personality less so. They may well look though for a natural sales ability, ease with people.
k) You did not close, you waited to hear. Why would anyone want a sales person who cannot close a deal? Your job at interview is to decide if you want the job or not and if you do, get the offer out of them then and there.

In interviewing, like in sales itself, the reality is for every 100 contacts you make the majority will say no whatever you are selling. Therefore, you are hearing more rejection than success, a balance in the wrong direction that needs addressing.

If you are rejected at a sales job here is some simple techniques and reminders to help.
1. See ‘rejection’ as a learning experience. Decide that whatever happens you will always get a benefit from every interview. That can be many things; feedback, pointers, advice, referrals, experience. Find out why you were rejected.
2. If the job is exactly what you are looking for keep pitching. If they reject you turn it around. If it was a marginal decision that just might get you to a yes. I have seen this happen many many times.
3. Realise that every person looking for jobs gets far more rejections than offers. If it is not recoverable move fast to the next one.
4. No sales person should ever be unemployed. Every company wants to increase their sales, so there are always plenty of prospects. You only need one job!
5. Make direct applications to whom you would like to work for. Don’t just apply to advertised jobs. Cut out the middle men and go straight to the companies you would like to work for.
6. Listen every day to motivational and educational products like Tony Robbins or Les Brown. These will keep you positive and focused. Just listen free on You Tube.
7. Read a little of a good book daily. Improve your knowledge and skills constantly.
8. Avoid negative people, never look for sympathy and never listen to someone who thinks that you cannot achieve your goals and earn your fortune.
9. As Winston Churchill said to achieve victory, never, never, never give up on your goals until you have achieved them.
10. Decide to be a great success, trying your best is already accepting the possibility of failure.
11. Realise that when you have a track record of achieving high sales, it will all be about companies trying to talk you into working for them not the other way around. So focus when you are given a good opportunity on over delivering and building a powerful CV and reputation.

Good luck and good job hunting!

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Are you Destined to High Income as a Stockbroker?

Stockbrokers we visit often tell us their frustrations on recruitment, saying a typical dialogue might be as follows:

“I have always wanted to be a broker”

Ok, so you know what a CFD is, the difference between a forward and future contract, the difference between a stock and a share, an option, derivative, candlestick, swap?

“Uhh, not sure really.”

“Ok, so tell me what you know about broking, the market or how it works?”

“Uhh, not sure really.”

“Ok, what do you think for example would happen to the investment market with a rise in interest rates?”

“Uhh, not sure really.”

So what made you come to interview if you know so little about it?

They do not mind the not knowing, it is the clear untruth about always wanting to be a stockbroker. Reputable firms want people who tell the truth. It would break regulatory rules as well as being unethical and all calls are recorded.

We notice on their CV they have not set up even a free online ‘pretend money’ trading account, read any books on trading, or frankly done anything at all apart from apply for this job that would back this claim up. If you have wanted to be something since school you would have nurtured and followed up that interest and have something to say about to back up the truth of this statement. We would sooner see people who had never thought of it but have solid reasons with a strong motivation of why they believe it is for them.

So we wonder what they think the role of a broker is. On probing we often find that the real goal is that the title broker with a city address has a very high status to it coupled with very high potential income and this is the true goal.

What is a Broker? A person who buys and sells goods or assets for others.

There are regulated and unregulated brokers. The former are decreed by Act of Parliament and the Financial Conduct Authority regulate their behaviour, products, and companies. The FCA cannot choose who it regulates nor can a company choose to be regulated it or not. It is listed in the Act or not.

Historically, this led to the creation in regulated brokers of the “Opener” role because you could not make deals yourself unless a regulated broker. The unregulated broker has also taken on this structure.

So let us clarify what this specialist sales role is and if it may be for you. Yes I said sales. There are back room broker positions for more analytical positions, we do not recruit for those. If you want to analyse figures, calculate and comment on P/E ratios, work out yields, internal rates of return then we cannot help. Our positions in this sector are front room Stock/Commodity/Wine brokers that are selling. Predominantly selling over the telephone, although a recent development has been more seminar presentation and one to one meetings with clients.

Any form of investment is highly competitive and you have to get out there and make a pitch against competition. Over a number of months and years stockbrokers develop their own portfolio of clients, even then the client will expect to be called with any new offers available. This is when the very high incomes are earnt.

Do I have to cold call? Everyone you ring will not know you, nor you them. No brokerage firm will give trainees their oldest clients or expensive leads coming in through marketing when you start. You have to earn this right by proving yourself. You will start as Junior Broker by developing clients from fresh. Would you give yours away to someone else 2 years later? So yes you are going to be calling people you do not know, developing rapport, qualifying, nurturing interest and getting information out. It is really hard work, call after call, much rejection.

I am always telling people that before they even look for jobs they should have a clear set of goals. This I do appreciate is far easier said than done with so many career directions to pursue. Unfortunately, most people drift through a few jobs to find out where they fit in. They start with a ‘try it and see attitude’. This is a recipe for several short job moves that can ruin a CV. As a Junior Broker you will not make it through the first week with that attitude.

A typical day will start quite late and with training in products, investments, finance, markets or selling skills. Then you will be on the telephone and have a sophisticated system dial up calls for you, one after the other. Expect massive rejection of investors with many offers to consider. Each call is recorded and evidence is kept of exactly what is said. Yes, selling an investment for £100,000 is a world apart from tele-selling a hotel promotion. You have to be very persuasive and that means far more than sales skills. It means you really do know what you are talking about.

How do I know that the company is reputable?  The investment and financial services industry generally attracts bad press/blogs like a magnet. If you are going to be broker you are going to have to learn how to analyse and separate truth from opinion, slander and lies. You should never tell lies as a broker, never take an investment that has been financed or involving any sort of loan, take money from someone that is needed for their living costs. Everything you say is recorded. To check out a company the best and only source I take any credibility from is the FCA. They will list all regulated brokers. If they are not listed they are not regulated. They will also list any companies that have reason to believe are not genuine or where any legal proceedings, investigations are in process. That is what I do when someone rings me with an investment.

How do I know it is for me?
This who success as stockbrokers or similar have certain traits in common.
A real interest in investment and finance.
Motivated by high income AND prepared to work until they achieve it.
They never give up.
They are keen to continue learning.
They are sharp, intelligent and think in their feet rather than having academic qualifications.
They are strong and independent. This means if those around you including me tried to put you off you would still be determined no matter what.
They are extremely good listeners. This is a tough one and probably the biggest cause of failure. It really is more about listening than talking. So many people blot out what they do not what to hear.

Still want to be a broker?

Then if so look at our latest advertisements in CV Library.