On The Couch With The Chairman – Plans for 2020

Have you started planning for next year?”, asks Hugh Joslin, Chairman at Media Contacts.

If so, how about putting the some new year’s resolutions into the mix…
Set yourself goals — ensure these are realistic so they relate to your skills and financial aspirations

  • Use training to your advantage — this might seem obvious, but many of us see training as something else to do rather than a process that you can gain from. Tip – write notes on how you can incorporate this training into your job as soon as you’ve completed the course.
  • Take up a hobby — as well as being fun, hobbies can open your mind and present yourself with new challenges. These in turn can act as a refresher to your attitude in the workplace.
  • Take responsibility — use your skills as a friend. Before asking advice, ask yourself how your manager or senior colleague would answer the question – you will be surprised how often you’ll be able to solve the problem yourself.
  • Communicate! – We often use electronic communication as a crutch rather than as a way to develop a commercial relationship. Networking and socialising will open doors – make a plan based around who you know and who you want to know.
  • Be bold — Success will not come to you – you need to go to meet it. Be inquisitive, challenge yourself – this means going outside your comfort zone.

Good Luck for 2020!

7 Tips to Beat Blue Monday Syndrome (The Most Depressing Day of the Year)

Blue Monday falls on the third Monday of January each year, which means it’s only around the corner. Depression and feelings of low motivation after the festive season really kick in when the fun of Christmas is over. The weather is bleak, and the ‘new year new me’ feeling has worn off. We’ve put together some tips to help prevent Blue Monday and give your mental health a boost …

  • Physical activity – exercise may be the last thing you want to do in the cold winter months; however, it is a great way of increasing your energy levels and raising your mood. Research has shown that outdoor activities such as jogging, and cycling have the same effect in curing depression as anti-depressants. January is also the best time to start exercising as many gyms have discounts and special offers on.
  • Set realistic new year’s resolutions – better to make one small change you can keep to than 10 you fail at.
  • Focus on your work – throw yourself into your work to make your days more productive and worthwhile. Take on more projects, go on development training courses, get to know your colleagues better. If you’re working in sales or client services, check up on your clients and build on your relationships. If you’re looking for a job, enhance your search by looking on alternative websites and making changes to your CV – ask a friendly recruiter for tips.
  • Try something new – go on, we dare you!
  • Socialise – if you are doing dry January, for example, its all to easy to go to ground, so make sure you still spend time with your mates.
  • Be different – you are in control here. You can either choose to believe blue Monday will be grim, in which case that may well be what you get, or you can believe it will be a nice day, in which case you’re more likely to notice the good bits
  • Day off – if all else fails, book this Monday as a day’s holiday and make a long weekend of it!

On the Couch With The Chairman: Changes in Recruitment Over The Last 25 Years

This month, our chairman, Hugh Joslin, shares his opinion on

Changes in Recruitment Over The Last 25 Years

Some things have not changed – employers continue to look for the best candidates, while individuals still seek the best jobs with the most generous salaries. However, to get to the job offer, or find the right candidate, a lot has changed.
Here’s a breakdown of the changes I have seen over the years:


  • ‘Black Book’ of contacts
  • Job ads in national press
  • CV’s sent by fax
  • All interviews face to face
  • Process involved one face-to-face interview
  • All office-based with standard hours
  • Suit and tie or equivalent


  • Electronic database of contacts
  • Electronic advertising platforms CV’s sent by email to company
  • Skype/phone/face to face interviews
  • Process includes at least 2 stages and a task/presentation
  • Flexi hours, work remotely/virtual offices
  • Smart casual or dress down


So, it’s the means of communication that’s changed. What hasn’t changed? First impressions continue to matter. Top level preparation remains critical. And, of course, the desire to impress will always be noted


Workplace Faux Pas

Let’s face it, we see more of our colleagues than almost anyone else, so they’re bound to get on our nerves from time to time.

We conducted an informal survey on what winds us up the most:

  • Eating smelly food – This one was the main offender in our survey. Unless you’re working outside in a field, it’s likely that your colleagues won’t appreciate the smell of reheated fish and egg curry!
  • Negativity – There’s always one isn’t there? Moaning and whinging – someone who’d win the lottery and still find something to complain about.
  • Gossiping – I guess this one depends whether you are on the receiving end or not, but it reflects badly on the perpetrators.
  • Bragging – Bragging about your achievements can come across as gloating and intimidating. Modesty is a virtue, you know.
  • Poor music choice – Always a bone of contradiction because it’s so subjective. The only thing to do is to let everybody have a turn.
  • Clipping fingernails – Someone said that in her last job a colleague used to clip their fingernails at their desk. We say at least it wasn’t their toenails.
  • Singing and whistling – Distracting, annoying and one really set to raise the hackles. Even worse when it’s tuneless.

Competency-Based Interview Advice

Interviewers use competency questions to find out how a candidate may act if employed and as a way of fairly assessing people with differing levels of experience.
To prepare you need to start by identifying which skills, knowledge and behaviours the employer is looking for. The obvious place to look is on the job description, but you can also ask the person arranging the interview for more information, for example, do they have a competency framework you can see? Then think hard about situations where you have demonstrated these skills and be prepared to elaborate on your answers

Here are 5 of the most common competencies you might be asked about:

  1. Communication – “Tell us about a time when you had to adjust your communication approach to suit a particular audience.”
  2. Decision Making – “Give an example of a time when you had to make a difficult decision.”
  3. Teamwork – “Describe a situation where you were working as part of a team. How did you contribute?”
  4. Trust worthiness – “Would you report a colleague who you knew was taking money from the company illegally?”
  5. Leadership – “Describe a situation where you took on the role of the leader. What were the challenges and how did you address them?”