Why the UK Needs more Digital Skills Training

Given the digital revolution that the UK has encountered in the last decade you might be surprised to discover that the one thing our workforce - and potential workforce - really lack is digital skills. A House of Lords report from February of this year entitled Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future found a shortage of medium and high-level digital skills in the UK that could soon begin to affect the wider economy, rather than simply being limited to individual career paths. Digital skills training, said the House of Lords report, is required at all stages in the UK talent pipeline, including primary, secondary, further and higher level education. Digital jobs are on the rise We have begun to move more and more of our lives online and businesses are increasingly digitising more and more of their processes, so it makes sense that in the very near future a vast proportion of available jobs will require someone to have a good set of digital skills. Without skills training we risk alienating people from significant sectors of the working economy. Staff shortages will be a problem It's not just issues for individuals that are likely to crop up if the UK doesn't improve its digital skills training but many employers will most likely feel this bite too. The 'right' candidates may become few and far between and better incentives and more competitive packages could be the only way to ensure that the best quality candidates are recruited. Computer science graduate numbers are dropping It's an odd fact to see the numbers of those doing such a relevant degree falling when all around us computers are (potentially) taking over much of the business and consumer world. However, in 2011 there were just 56,025 UK people who graduated in computer science - that represents a fall of 23.3% over a decade. A lack of digital skills could stunt growth. While some believe that the only sector to be affected by this skills shortage will be the tech sector, in fact the problems are likely to be spread much wider and to have a knock on effect on many other industries too. Recent estimates indicate that the UK is already losing a potential £2bn per year from unfilled roles requiring digital skill and this can only rise as the gap between availability and need gets wider. For those looking for roles in the digital sector the JM Group has a wide range of options - contact us for more information or take a look at our website.

23 November 2015

DevOps Spending Hits 1m for a Third of UK Organisations

DevOps is a word on the tip of many tongues right now. It has taken the IT industry by storm and blasted its way into some of the world's biggest organisations. But what is it exactly? Why have a third of UK organisations dug so deeply into their pockets to get DevOps on their side? By definition, the word DevOps is a clipped compound of 'development' and 'operations'. It is the intersection of software engineering, technology operations and quality assurance, and is a method that acknowledges the interdependence between these areas. When employed within an organisation, the purpose of DevOps is to help produce software products and services, and to improve operations performance - more efficiently and effectively than the traditional means of several segregated departments. Its primary focus is on the communication, collaboration, integration and automation across each component. The reason behind DevOps dramatic rise in demand is its commitment to four universal elements, crucial to the success of any business: speed, quality, control and cost. Results pay, and DevOps is continuing to prove its worth with almost every client. In the UK alone, more than a third of organisations are now investing a 1million minimum into DevOps, with 77% of businesses setting aside some sort of dedicated budget. Its popularity sits on a global scale too, with an estimated 80% of Global Fortune 1000 organisations expected to adopt DevOps by 2019. For those working in the sector, things can only get better. Employment is up and so are the salaries and overall job security. Anyone with proficient skills in DevOps-related tools such as Puppet and Chef has a strong hand in the game of IT recruitment, and many organisations are overlooking conventional qualifications in favour of an aptitude in the DevOps field. The JM Group specialises in Digital and IT sector roles so speak with one of our trained consultants or check our website for details regarding the last DevOps roles.

09 November 2015

The JM Group joins forces with Staffing 360 Solutions

The JM Group has become part of Staffing 360 Solutions, a NASDAQ listed company in the recruitment industry with operations in the US and UK. In the UK the business is known as Longbridge and like The JM Group, is a very client focussed business with experienced consultants who specialise in finance, sales and marketing and law. The JM Group saw a good fit in terms of culture, style of business and commitment to client service. Key facts The JM Group will continue to be led by its current senior management team The JM name and brand, with its strong reputation built over 35 years, will not change The high levels of service provided by JM consultants will continue and their new colleagues at Longbridge can offer additional areas of recruitment expertise.

05 November 2015

Data Manipulation: The Latest Cyber Threat

The dominating fear surrounding cyber crime has always been one of data theft, and rightly so. The biggest cyber attacks so far have involved data theft on monumental levels, bringing about all kinds of threats and consequences. But security experts are now voicing their concerns towards a new possibility - one potentially far more sinister - and that is data manipulation. The theft of data has always posed two significant compromises: the confidentiality and availability of information. With manipulation now perching on the horizon however, a third compromise looms - the integrity of information. By changing and manipulating sensitive digital data rather than just stealing or deleting it, cyber criminals have the power to affect critical infrastructure systems. This in turn then affects the ability for authorities to make decisions, if they cannot trust the information they are receiving. With more advanced threats comes the need for more advanced security measures, which is in itself a precarious talking point that triggers much debate between governments, organisations and the general public. For all a government can do to protect its country, there remains a fine line between what is acceptable and what is a violation of personal privacy. In this, the jury is still very much out. One thing is certain - it is more important than ever for people and organisations to adopt a holistic approach to their cyber security, and to embed it into their culture. This means accepting cyber security as a part of everyday life, taking responsibility and not leaving everything to IT experts. With the Internet of Things continuing to expand, so does the window of opportunity for data theft and manipulation. Many data breaches are a result of human error and could so easily be avoided, simply by increasing cyber literacy amongst the general population. Something that all security experts agree on is the need to get off the back foot and start taking things more seriously. Cyber security should not be employed as defence but as prevention, and innovation to get ahead of any upcoming threats. If you are cyber security professional looking for a new opportunity the JM Group trained advisor can find you a role to match your skill set. Check out our current roles or contact an advisor.

02 November 2015

Is HMRC Revoking Contractors Rights to Expenses?

The last few years have seen several legislative changes brought into play in a bid to clamp down on unscrupulous practices by a number of payroll firms. In the Autumn Statement of 2014, the Government went on to highlight the growing use of overarching employment contracts by some service providers, which allow their employees to benefit from tax relief on things they would not ordinarily be able to claim. On paper, this may seem all fair and well. However, following the release of this year's budget, it was announced that tax relief on travel and subsistence expense is going to be greatly restricted for employees of umbrella and limited companies, who are under the 'supervision, direction and control of the end user'. This latter phrase has become an underlying cause for concern amongst many contractors across the UK - the main issue being the dubious ambiguity of HMRC's definition of SDC, and who exactly should fall into its category. Even at face value however, the knock-on effects could extend beyond the contractors themselves and right into the hearts of their relevant industries as more contractors become liable for PAYE and NI. For example, the costs of hiring a contractor in the IT industry could rise two-fold. Firstly because there will be less contractors as the market shifts to more permanent opportunities. Secondly, contractors who fall within the SDC division will increase their rates to account for the loss of expenses and increase of PAYE and NI costs. One potential outcome is that end clients will have to take responsibility for advising recruitment consultancies as to whether the roles fall within or outside the scope of SDC. Meanwhile, contractors who are declared as working within SDC are likely to request a pay rise, change contracts to a non-SDC assignment, or even start to look for permanent opportunities. The document itself - Employment Intermediaries and Tax Relief for Travel and Subsistence is still in its consultation stage, and can be commented on until the 30th September.

22 September 2015

Are IT Salaries on the Rise?

Working in IT has long been recognised as a means of earning a decent income. But recent shifts in the market have led to an increase in average salary across a wide range of IT roles and there is evidence to suggest this trend could continue. It may be an obvious thing to point out, that technology advancements coupled with years of underinvestment are driving business change in the UK. The growth and innovation that has come from this change however is prompting the need for additional IT talent across multiple sectors. Investments are being made to expand and galvanise infrastructures, with budgets extending to enable systems implementations, network upgrades and new security initiatives. In a bid to meet these more demanding in-house IT requirements, recruitment levels for technology professionals are at an all-time high across almost every industry and sector. Another element of change comes with the shift towards more permanent and well-paid positions; accounting for on going projects and initiatives, as well as continual IT risk security and domestic expansion. Further to this, is the growing number of businesses looking to nearshore or reshore their IT functions back into Europe and the UK. The result of all this appears to be that technology professionals are in strong demand and short supply, thus putting the ball firmly in the candidate's court. According to Computerworld's 2015 IT Salary Survey of IT professionals in the US, 74% of participants named an increase in salary as the biggest influential factor in changing their job. The survey also revealed that 64% had received an internal pay rise in the last year. These internal pay rises set against the increased average salaries hint at employers getting savvy to the wants and needs of IT pros who are, at the present moment, sitting rather pretty. The only thing that technology buffs need to be aware of is that all of this is only applicable to the top talent. So if they are to really cash in, they must be at the top of their game and able to demonstrate the skills and technical expertise that companies are so desperately looking for. If this is you and you want to find out more about what jobs are on offer, as well as reviewing your current salary, simply speak with one of our trained consultants or check our website for details.

07 September 2015

Is Information Sharing Key to Security Success?

In May this year the Wassenaar Arrangement got its first proper airing, introducing new export regulations with the intention of extending restrictions on export and sale of intrusion software and software vulnerabilities. The changes could affect a very broad number of businesses, from those that are offering penetration-testing packages through to those producing software that scans for vulnerabilities. The wide-ranging nature of the extension has been very publicly criticised by Google, which has stated that it believes it to be "dangerous broad and vague" and, in basic terms, simply just not practically feasible. Tens of thousands of export licences Of course, Google has phrased its objections in a fairly broad context, drawing attention to the "significant negative impact" the regulations would be likely to have on the open security research community. But Google's objections are not just in the interests of the community in general but with respect to its own administrative burden too - the new regulations would put Google in the position of having to request perhaps tens of thousands of export licences, something that would be hugely costly and take up significant resources. Difficulties with vulnerability disclosure The search engine giant also makes the point that the consequent demands of the new regulations could introduce huge delays with respect to bug vulnerability disclosure processes and the like and states that "you should never need a license when you report a bug to get it fixed." Google's solution is "standing license exceptions for everyone when controlled information is reported back to manufacturers for the purposes of fixing a vulnerability" as this would protect those researching and reporting vulnerabilities, exploits, or other controlled information. Google's argument is that the Wassenaar Arrangement could otherwise result in vulnerability disclosure becoming too difficult so that those who are discovering issues look to less above board sources to generate a return for what they've discovered. Information sharing Information sharing is another much more credible alternative as far as Google is concerned. It believes that multi-nationals should be able to engage in multi national information sharing on intrusion software, without the need to obtain a licence for it as is proposed. We all know that, in theory, licensing seems a logical way to structure and control the vulnerability market but there needs to be a balance between disclosure, internal company policies and realistic expectations in order for any changes to work. Most of all, Google has insisted that clarity is the most important element - or we could just end up with one big, costly, global mess.

24 August 2015

What is the future of SDN?

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is still a relatively emerging architecture that allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. This abstraction is ideal for efficiently developing new applications, making SDN a great tool for delivering innovative services in a more timely way. SDN also centralises the intelligence of a network system and this makes network utilisation more flexible and, as complexity is hidden from operators, SDN is also easy to operate and maintain. It was perhaps with Google's step onto the SDN bandwagon in 2011 that this technology started to really become a telecom technology trend, rather than an obscure academic idea. Google's intervention illustrated how SDN is able to go beyond its data centre origins and introduce WAN cost and efficiency benefits and this triggered a hive of activity around using SDN. Companies such as Verizon Communications, AT&T, NTT Communications Corp and Telstra Corp have all announced the incorporation of SDN in some way, shape or form over the past two years. With this stage has come the really hard questions that need to be answered if SDN is to progress from being simply a technology trend to architecture that can be properly implemented, integrated and commercialised. As a result of the stage that SDN has reached, it's still hard to determine exactly what the future will be and drawing concrete conclusions is almost impossible. However, there are a number of issues that will affect what happens to the future of SDN that are worth taking a look at in order to get some idea of its potential longevity. Security Cyber security is a frontline issue for just about everyone right now but the security of SDN and NFV networks has not really had a lot of airtime. Given the way that SDN is developing, however, this is likely to become one of the main issues in the very near future. Real life examples For some time it hasn't really been clear what might be possible with SDN, both economically and technically, but there are now some compelling real world examples, with a significant concentration around WAN automation in general. Overcoming IP and optical integration IP and optical layers can be logically integrated through software control and management using SDN, providing a new option for this architecture. SDN overcomes multi-vendor interoperability, which has always been the missing link when it comes to uniting these different layers.

13 August 2015

How Will 5G Change the Telecoms Industry?

As most of us continue to get to grips with our new 4G gadgets, without even really understanding or experiencing their true potential, the telecoms industry is already ploughing on with 5G test beds. But what is 5G? Well, this is the thing. As yet it remains little more than a concept; a future-vision cast out by the telecoms industry with view to preparing us all for our technological needs in years to come. Which, considering the unprecedented growth of the Internet of Things and the demand for wireless connection, could be seen as a critical component of global infrastructure. Traditionally, each generation of mobile technology has sought out to fix the problems that arose in the past. With 5G, the focus is more of a 'prediction' than a remedy. Think 2020. Of course so much can and will happen that no one can possibly know what the final outcome will be. But here are just a few examples of what to expect from the current idea of 5G: It will be ridiculously fast with huge bandwidth capacity Battery life will be greatly increased Smart Cities will become a reality It will be almost unbreakable [apparently] Technically speaking, all this will be possible thanks to 5G's ability to provide coverage at the higher end of the frequency spectrum, known as millimetre waves, thus helping to alleviate over-capacitated small cell networks. It is likely to be working in conjunction with existing network technologies and bands currently used for the deployment of 3G and 4G. Of course there is no exact prediction as to how and when 5G will make its impact, but there has been plenty of talk suggesting UK and Europe as likely pioneers thanks to companies such as Ericsson who are already busy test-driving 5G devices. KT Telecom also hinted that the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeonchang could see the first commercial rollout of the technology. Whatever the future holds, if 5G lives up to any of its promises, things could get very interesting indeed.

27 July 2015

Press Release - JM Appoints 2 New Directors

The JM Group is pleased to announce two senior appointments within the company. Adam Drew and Fiona Eddy were invited to become Directors of the JM Group (IT Recruitment) Limited and we are delighted that they have both accepted. Fiona Eddy has been appointed Director with immediate effect. Fiona brings to the board her deep experience of relationship management and client development as well as her extensive knowledge of contract recruitment gained during her18 year career at JM.     Adam Drew has been appointed Finance and Operations Director with immediate effect. His broader role across the business will include full responsibility for Finance, HR, IT and Operations.     Stuart Milton, Chairman of The JM Group, commented: "We are delighted that Fiona and Adam have joined us on the Board, their appointments will be key to the future success of the group. The JM Group offers a full compliment of recruitment services, including executive search, selection, contingent permanent, contracts and interim services.

24 July 2015

96 % of UK Corporations Hacked: Is Anyone Really Safe?

New data has revealed a staggering percentage of UK corporations reporting security breaches. The hacks appear to be for a number of reasons, namely to steal, change or publicise important data. According to the government-commissioned 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey conducted by PwC, 90% of the bigger organisations polled reported breaches - more than 10% up on last year's figures. Smaller firms have also seen a leap in successful hacks, with 74% now admitting to being left vulnerable to attack. The survey also showed that the majority of businesses expect their incident rate to further increase in the coming year. What is perhaps most disconcerting however is the nature of the attacks, which are predominantly being targeted by outsiders via the use of malicious software. While many firms are doing what they can to protect themselves from cybercrime, there remain a significant number of UK businesses - 9.1% - that have yet to implement any kind of safeguarding procedure. This trend is by no means exclusive to the UK either. In the world's longest running and most comprehensive research on senior financial executives, the latest round of data from the Global Business Outlook Survey shows increased hacking to be a global issue. 92% of polled businesses across Europe have been hacked, with 23% not acting to prevent attacks. More than 80% of firms in the US have been breached, with a further 85% across Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is clear then that cybercrime is not going to go away anytime soon. But with so many businesses failing to protect themselves, the real problem seems to be a little closer to home. Thus the role of the in-house ITC security team is becoming more important than ever.

13 July 2015

A New Segmentation for Retail Financial Services

Courtesy of JM Guest Blogger Anne Boden of Starling Bank. We all know the context. Despite billions of pounds of investment in new propositions, brand "refreshes" and other marketing, trust in the UK banking sector is still at an all time low. There is very little actual differentiation between the main retail banking players, and almost no perceived distinction when you ask customers. If people bother to move at all, they are pushed out by bad service, unexpected fees or lack of product competitiveness, and are pulled to an alternative by little more than convenience of alternate branch or until recently joining cash incentive. But we believe the market is on the tipping point of major change. There is a new generation of players that have or are about to launch. Many will play in the traditional retail banking space, but differentiate by channel or customer experience. Some are taking one element of the services traditionally delivered by the banks, and either offering a best in class experience or serving previously under-served audiences. This is the sort of market disaggregation that has happened in the US, and we believe is inevitable in the UK as well. This article attempts to take this moment in time, and capture who's doing what, in order to help the uninitiated navigate this increasingly complex, brave new world of how the UK population can manage their money. Big banks and traditional challengers The players here are well known. Defined, and some would say hampered, by their history and, in most cases, their high street presence. Legacy systems restrict innovation, and large customer bases restrict the ability to expand quickly to meet evolving customer expectations. The likes of TSB and Williams & Glyn have been forced into existence by EC mandates to increase competition post financial crisis but are simply "a chip off the old block" encumbered with legacy without the scale of the originating big bank. I'm not sure this is where you would start if you really wanted to create a new and agile player likely to introduce some true competition. The exceptions to this are the new players of Metro and Virgin Money. That said, there was much expectation set at the launch of both players, but little delivery beyond making slightly better what was annoying customers - faster account opening, branch hours more reflective of a busy, urban audience, and some small product innovation. Savings and mortgages - building societies as was plus new entrants For some time yet, there will still be power in the savings and mortgage space, occupied by those that can offer increased value. This is mostly driven by their ability to price competitively in moments of key market demand. It will be interesting to see how this sub-category of brands retain relevance as the generations who remember the power of the building society model mature. Currently price is still their biggest draw to younger generations, but the lack of investment in defining their brands beyond this rational hook may result in further disaggregation in this space, as we've seen in other lending markets. The supermarkets and other retailers This sector saw large levels of investment between 2012 and 2014, but it feels like focus has returned (out of necessity) to their core business of grocery. Trust remains an issue - many people seem happy to take out insurance or a reward based credit card, but very few are moving their current account relationship. Why does a banking licence matter? So one of the key questions we get asked is why we are bothering to apply for a banking licence? And the answer is simple. For the time being, the word 'bank' is still the frame of reference that people look to in terms of where to securely keep and manage their money. Alongside this, there is still an element of trust that comes with the increased regulatory supervision imposed on the banks. Most importantly of course, it provides the maximum available protection for customers' money, with balances being underwritten by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to the tune of £85,000 per customer, per bank. As we come on to some of the disaggregated products hitting the market, there is a common misconception that this means money is protected in the same way. And of course, whilst they are regulated, the same level of protection isn't offered. The next generation of banks The simplest way to think about the core of new market entrants is that they will effectively replicate the full set of products and services a traditional retail bank has, just through all or a subset of digital channels. Necessary branch based services (e.g. paying in cash or cheques) will still be offered, but via a third party arrangement. That's not to say this reference to the traditional product set is a bad thing in any way. Customers still frame their decision around the core set of products that have existed for many years. And the advantage all of these players have is in building the majority of their systems for current market requirements, enabling them to both avoid the sins of the past and hopefully deliver genuine innovation in customer experience. Some are specialising based on audience - OakNorth and Civilised are focusing more on the small business audience; Lintel believe there is untapped potential with foreign nationals, but the majority still see the advantage in servicing a broad base of customers. How will Starling be different from this? We believe there is an opportunity to go further than just replicating a full set of retail banking products, and focus on delivering an exceptional, mobile-first experience for the core customer need of money management, by building a single, best in class, current account. As highlighted in previous blogs, why do customers have multiple products that do slightly different shades of the same thing? The mental accounting piece aside (because that can be solved in other ways), it's because banks have spent years telling customers they need them. And why? Because selling (and it was selling) complex products, with opaque charging models made really good commercial sense! Of course, like all new players, we will be looking to right the many wrongs proliferated by the category. But in focusing on a single product build, all of our investment in the customer experience will be concentrated on the things customers need and use the most. Neo-banks If you look at the US and some of the European markets, you can see another area of growth that is likely to hit the UK market soon, in the form of so-called neo-banks. These brands claim to deliver the best in class digital experience, with none of the risk of a balance sheet - so they effectively put a layer of information management over another banks' product set. The challenge with this is that customers' funds and effectively the bulk of the relationship is held with the partner bank, and so in creating those hand-offs, such as in the on-boarding process, this can still be onerous. Simple and Moven are probably the most well known names in this space, with Number 26 starting to grow their reputation across Europe. Monese will be the first player to launch in the UK, currently schedule for summer 2015. Whilst full details on their proposition are yet to be revealed, current messaging features the ease and speed of account opening, as well as the lack of hidden fees - but transparency is easier when you don't allow customers to borrow any money at all. Pre-paid debit cards The grouping of brands that have the greatest potential to cause customer confusion have to be the pre-paid debit cards. Many are calling themselves a "bank", without needing or possessing a banking licence, and/or promoting their "current accounts", without offering the full spectrum of benefits customers have come to associate with this nomenclature. Or at least certainly not offering the same level of free banking as is currently offered by the retail banks. Now this may lead to a greater level of transparency for the sector overall. As one of the brands quite rightly claims, no banking is truly free in the UK, as all businesses need to make money somewhere. The danger though is that currently, many of the players in this space are a viable offer for those that can't pass the credit scoring required for a full current account with the banks, and would rather have the additional benefits offered (although at a cost) beyond historical "basic" bank accounts. Whilst transparent in terms of charging, I would argue that customers will pay a premium to go via this route. For some it is worth the monthly cost - for those without credit history or credentials, the security of an FSCS scheme and the absence of overdraft facilities is irrelevant. It is better to have a card than no card at all. However, it is sad that the people who least afford services sometimes pay the most and social inclusion in the financial system remains a challenge. Payments and digital wallets As payments and mobile technology evolves, some would argue whether you need a card at all. As NFC technology advances, secure mobile or wearables payments should become the norm. The two biggest barriers in the UK currently are the roll-out of technology at the merchant end, with many terminals still not taking contactless, let alone mobile, and there are still large populations of customers for whom security is a concern. Of course services such PayPal, and others like ApplePay, Google Wallet, and Amazon offering a digital wallet still ultimately need to be "funded" from somewhere or only currently house existing, traditional card details. But what are the barriers in the future to them to create their own cards and / or fully-fledged current accounts? When this happens, markets such as the pre-paid cards will cease to exist, forcing those brands to evolve or die. FX / international payments Whilst a much smaller market, international payments has not remained static either, with Transferwise leading the charge to take business away from what it says are the cost prohibitive bank services. I wouldn't rule out the old school Western Union and Money Gram however, who still benefit from large volumes of usage by foreign nationals, and are looking at their own innovation to stay relevant in a digital age. The lending market will continue to evolve Finally, it will be interesting to see what happens in the lending space after the flurry of new entrants, and market disaggregation in recent years. With much regulatory focus on the payday lenders, we may see some contraction here. What will be interesting is to see who in the peer-to-peer space is really set to weather any sort of storm (touch lots of wood that we won't see a financial crisis like the last anytime soon). The attractive rates are bringing in the savers, in an environment of rock bottom rates everywhere else. But as rates start to rise, how much of a return will customers be willing to trade off for their FSCS protection? So what? Ultimately, what's the desired outcome of all of this increased competition? Well of course, it should be to ensure customers will have more choice. And that is the agenda that should be driving what ever proposition the brands of the future create. Courtesy of JM Guest Blogger Anne Boden of Starling Bank.This article first appeared on Anne Boden's Linkedin Blog which can be found here

03 July 2015

Top Tips When Job Hunting

When it comes to job hunting, the smart money is on those candidates who manage to achieve maximum results with minimum effort. Increase your chances of getting the role that you want and take all the hassle out of the process, with out top tips for job hunting. Don't just wait for the work to come to you. It might sound like a lot of effort but actually you're saving yourself time to go proactively seeking jobs rather than applying at the same time as everyone else. You may be able to apply for a role before others get the chance to or you might simply benefit from demonstrating enthusiasm or being the first CV in the pile - search for opportunities via social media, the websites of the companies you want to work for, by contacting HR teams and looking for signs that a company might be recruiting, such as deal news, new partnerships or client announcements. Network heartily. This doesn't mean standing around in stuffy rooms clutching a glass of warm wine. Make sure your social media profiles are up to date and compelling and make contacts online. Don't waste your energy attending every event in your industry, research those that are likely to have the best attendees for connections and then go and perform at your networking best for a couple of hours and come home with all the connections you need without breaking a sweat. How can you stand out? Yes, most CVs need to tick certain boxes for certain jobs but you also need to make sure there is something that differentiates you from the rest. You might want to start your CV with a short, compelling personal statement, or you could even opt for a gimmick - send your CV with some Easter chocolate, for example. Focus on the company, not the job. If you know you want to work for a specific business then become their biggest fan. Interact with them via social media, be a brand ambassador and contribute to their digital marketing. Brands want employees to love their products and services as much as they do so this is a great way to get noticed. Create your own job. This is ambitious but if you think a company is lacking a certain position then tell them about it. You'll need to back this up by researching the business, and the market, stating what they're missing out on without it and what benefits you would bring. Make sure you communicate this to the right person too - it's usually better sent to a partner/manager level employee, rather than HR or recruitment.  

29 June 2015

Introducing the New JM Group Website

For the past 34 years, JM Group has been helping talented IT, Change and Digital professionals and leaders find their next career opportunity. In that time we have also witnessed the birth of the digital sector and its extraordinary development. As a result, we were able to extend our client base to include companies and individuals from across these fields. Having reached a point where we are representing the most cutting-edge people in the IT and digital sectors, it seemed only right that our website reflected this. Which is why we would like to announce the launch of our new and improved site - aimed at giving clients and candidates the best online experience, wherever they may be. With a mature client base which includes leading organisations within the financial industry and global corporates, Director Louise Smith said, "Over the last few years our focus has also extended to Digital professionals and we have updated our website to reflect this and also to allow interested clients and candidates to find out more about us whether sat in the office or on the move. Our new website allows us to communicate more effectively with our network of candidates. It incorporates responsive design with a carefully constructed layout, intended to make navigation as simple and hassle-free as possible. Its entire content has been completely overhauled with improvements made to its management and SEO capability. Access to useful blog material has been made easier than ever, and we were adamant that our candidates were the main focus for the new layout and functions. We also hope that the new website will help to increase the potential client attraction, driving clients and candidates towards it thus boosting the ROI. 2015 has so far been a very busy and productive year for JM Group. We have been working exclusively with a leading infrastructure organisation to build an in-house IT function of 40 people. We have also collaborated with a new bank and leading investment management firm to identify Senior Leaders. Our interim practice has grown too, with a particular focus on Change and Programme Management Skills. If you are a candidate looking to work in Business Change, IT or Digital, or a client wanting to hire new talent for your company, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

22 June 2015

What it Takes to Become a Solutions Architect

A Solutions Architect is in many ways a very easy job to define and in many ways rather more opaque. It's one of the raft of roles that have appeared with the new growth of the tech industry and is essentially one that involves interaction with customers using a piece of software or a service, listening to the issues that they have experienced and then designing solutions to those problems. It's an essential position for customer retention, product development and customer service, as well as being an exciting and varied role. So how do you become a Solutions Architect? The first step on the road to this role normally involves a degree in a related subject. So, a bachelor's degree in something such as computer science, software engineering or information technology - this may vary from employer to employer, some of whom may require a masters level degree and others of whom may have a specific final class of degree in mind. The kind of topics covered will include systems engineering, advanced maths, programming and database management. The flip side of the tech ability is the communications aspect of being a Solutions Architect and there are opportunities during the degree phase to work on this, such as taking courses in ethics and mass media analysis. Your next step might be to look into getting some sort of additional certification or qualification to set your CV apart from others with a similar degree. This might be network security, software programs or even specifically solutions architecture certification. Gaining experience is probably one of the most important stages in the process of becoming a Solutions Architect. Around five to ten years experience in a related field is normally required before the switch is made to the Solutions Architect role. Network administration and working with IT systems are the two principle areas from which Solutions Architects tend to be drawn and skills such as detxterity with business intelligence tools or complex database management systems are very valuable to have on your CV. If you want to boost the experience side of your CV then it might be worth taking on some independent contractor jobs, particularly as these sometimes require less experience in order to get started (two to three years). Make sure that you can demonstrate knowledge and experience of a wide variety of technology and software, particularly those that will be required for the positions you're interested in. If this sounds like the role for you, them JM Digital can help. Get in touch with our team today for more information.

21 May 2015

Your company is insane according to Albert (and who am I to argue?)

Article by JM Guest Blogger Neil Marshall of This article first appeared on Neil Marshall's LinkedIn blog of 30 June 2014. The world is changing. Or at least mine is. Conversations in client organisations are going from "Why are we doing this?" to "Why haven't we done this yet?" All very encouraging. All of which means the ever present change programme cycle moves on again. There has been a lot of ink spilt down the years on how to do this well. Everyone from Kotter to Prosci to X to Y can tell you the '7 things that make your kettle boil NOW'. If you laid all the slide decks full of 2x2 matrices end on end you'd probably discover dark matter. And yet somehow we still manage not to do change very well. The stats have stayed the same. In the late 90's Harvard did surveys and they found that 65% of change initiatives had failed. McKinsey did a recent study and the figure is 70%. You can find lots of reasons in lots of articles and books for this - badly scoped, projects not implemented poorly, benefits not quantified etc etc - lots of 'What's done or not done'. 30 years talking about 'what to do', with no improvement. That would have Albert scratching his head. So out of respect for Albert, 'What to do' is not what this blog is about. Instead, I want to look at something different. I want to look at 'Who does it'. Here is my take on it. Whodunnit (up until now) Traditionally, companies have used one of three sets of people to implement change. These are the three things that fail 7 times out of 10. They are: They do it themselves This has advantages - you know your people, you know your industry, and you know your organisation. And the Finance Director likes it because it is cheap. However, change is a process and a competency like any other. It draws from strategy, problem solving, project management methodology, behavioural science, neuroscience, psychology and leadership, and you have to know what you are doing. What you save in lower cost, you will lose a hundred fold in benefits that never come to pass and plunging productivity in the meantime. Bring in contractors to help This costs a bit more, but at least you have the resource and (hopefully) some expertise. Someone skilled enough is hard to find. Even if you do, as a contractor they will be hamstrung because they lack a network in your organisation. The leader of your change is completely reliant on the political power of others. And once they're done, even if they do succeed where most fail, that expertise then walks out of the door and off to the next contract. In fact, usually well before your change has stuck, because again, they are expensive. Use consultants Professional, with a good level of expertise, the right consultants understand change. They also understand their value - this is an expensive route. The thing with consultants is, the process is one of being done to. Consultants are always outsiders, often resented by those in the organisation, which makes their task doubly hard. And, just like contractors, they will leave early and take their expertise with them. Looking at these options that people have, a 70% change failure rate is really no surprise. Without your own change capability, deployed strategically, the options aren't great. It's not about what you do, it is about who does it. So what to do? My answer, for what it is worth, is to build your own internal change capacity and capability in BAU to successfully deliver change. (And that's not just me saying it - IBM do to, in this report) That is not PMO, by the way (sorry PMs). Projects initiate change, but they are not the ones that need to carry it out. Project managers deliver new capabilities that have the promise of changing the way we do things. They do this really well, focussed on time, quality and cost. However, the actual change (and the positive outcomes) happen in operations - the sales, HR, manufacturing and finance teams who have to go through changes and make them endearing. These are the people who are either tasked with a change or find themselves at the business end of large transformation programmes. They are the ones that need to deal with people adapting to change. In other words, change happens in 'Business As Usual'. It is there that you need your change competency, not the PMO. Jack Welch in his letter to shareholders in 1992 famously said: Stimulate and relish change... [don't be] frightened or paralyzed by it. See change as opportunity, not just a threat. So next time you look at managing change (that would be tomorrow for many of us), use it as an opportunity. Us it to build personal and organisational change competency in BAU, competency you can keep, so you can deliver the benefits you promised. Get some expertise in (Hello! - just saying :-)) not to run the change for you, but to develop and mentor your leaders to be successful change agents. Give them a deep understanding and knowledge of change, complemented by practiced new skills. Over time, you can build a valuable internal competency, which is the best resource to deliver successful change. As you do it, you will develop your next generation of leaders. And you'll never have to rely on consultants or contractors again. Neil is Commercial Director of ChangeSchool Ltd, Contact him at  

24 April 2015

Press Release - Simon Girven Appointed Director.

The JM Group are delighted to announce the return to JM of one of its key employees in the first phase of growth for the company. Simon Girven has re-joined the JM Group as Director and a member of the Operations Board. Simon brings with him a wealth of experience in the Senior Technology and Financial Services Sector. He will be responsible for the development and growth within both the Financial and Professional sectors of the business. In his career Simon has been responsible for several high profile appointments in the financial services and technology space. He is also one of the Founding Board members of Deep Blue Associates, which he formed with the involvement of his prior clients and colleagues. Simon played a major role in developing this company into a dominant provider on the permanent Senior IT talent market. He personally managed key relationships with the Salomon Brothers, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. Commenting on the new appointment the Chairman and Founding Shareholder, Stuart Miltonstated: "These are exciting times at JM. The shape of our business has changed considerably as our market moved and many of our former clients slowed down in their hiring in the last couple of years. However, we are seeing increasing opportunities within financial services. We recognise that Simon will play a valuable role in continuing the JM growth of the past few years as we deliver our renowned superior service to our clients in the futute". The JM Group offers a full compliment of recruitment services, including executive search, selection and interim.  

23 April 2015

Tips to Improve Your Local SEO

Thanks to the developing intelligence of search engines and mobile technology, the power of local has seen something of a renaissance. Any business or organisation, large or small, can boost its SEO by following a few simple steps. Include an Address in All Online Platforms Without an address, you cannot rank in local search results, unless you work extra hard on your localised keywords. Not only should you have an accurate address on your site, but also on all relevant online platforms. The more pages you can list your address and local phone number, the better your local search ranking will be. Look at the layout of your website and see how you can include contact information at the top or bottom of every page. Add Your Business to Google+ Local Listing your business contact details on Google+ Local, or taking control of any that it already has, will put you at an immediate advantage. Simply go to and sign in with any existing Google account or create a new one. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your primary phone number and address, and any other details. Go Multimedia While keywords remain important, they become even stronger when linked to variety of media. People on the lookout for a particular product in their area are just as likely to check out the Images tab on Google, as they are the Web results. Use text, pictures and video to give your ranking an extra push and use all three on your Google+ Local page too. Use Google Maps Search for your business's location on Google Maps and click the Link button to get the embed code for the map. Add this map to your website, on the same page that is listed for your Google+ Local page. Separate Your Locations If you operate in different areas, give each one its own page on your website and then customise its optimisation with keywords specific to that area. Try to make the content of each page as original as possible to avoid getting penalised by Google. Check the Usability of Your Site Does your website work on different devices? Is it responsive? Is it simple to navigate? If not then it's time to invest in a web designer who can adjust the code to make it more user friendly. Things to look out for are horizontal scrolling and links and boxes too small to tap on a touchscreen device. If you work in User Experience Design, Visual Design, Web Design and Development and are looking for a new venture then please get in touch. JM Digital is a specialist recruitment agency, working closely with candidates in the digital field.

20 April 2015

How Event Tracking Can Improve the UX of Your Site

With more flash and Javascript functionality, user experience has moved far beyond simply reading text page by page. It has evolved into a fully interactive sphere with live updates and multimedia. But whilst the overall UX has improved, analysts can struggle to really see and measure what's going on within that experience. That's where Google Analytics comes in. Though widely regarded as a marketing tool, it can in fact be the saving grace for any UX researcher in need of immediate insights - without adding a new layer of tools. A basic Google Analytics account is free and offers more than enough data to give you what you need. It is also incredibly flexible with almost limitless options of answers that can be extracted: everything from usage trends and actions, to tracking errors. All this data can then be easily managed and represented pretty much however you want. Before you begin with any in depth analysis, it is important to understand the basic tracking structure. GA allows you to have multiple Accounts, Properties and Views. The top level is Account. This is used to separate individual websites or projects that you want to track. Properties offer a way to break down different concerns within those websites and projects, keeping user flow and metrics nicely isolated. View is another level of data separation. As with any data collection, you must first have a clear idea of what it is you want to discover. Once you know this you can select which data to collect and analyse so as to further improve and refine the user experience. Standard Pageview Tracking By default, GA provides standard tracking code that observes how your users are navigating, along with parallel data that reveals some further details about them. This allows you to see where they entered and left your site, and which paths they took through the site. It also shows you the type of device they used. Though this is more aimed at marketing, it can easily be modified to work for analysts by adding in some code - setting GA up manually and calling a tracking function every time a user performs a task you want to track. Behaviour Flow Behaviour flow is under the Behaviour section and is a GA report that tells you exactly how users are navigating your website. You can use this to analyse how users behave at a particular point of your flow, as well as isolating any unnecessary steps or returns to previous states. Perhaps most importantly, you can determine which steps are not being followed as you may have intended. Event Tracking Since it is the smaller details that really make for a smoother UX, Google Analytics enables you to track events separately from pageview to avoid interfering with the behaviour flow reports. These events represent standalone actions that your users are taking, such as opening different menus or altering list views. They are completely customisable and each event has four properties that you define yourself: Category, Action, Label and Value. To track an event you need to add a different line of code, similar to pageview tracking. Event reports can be viewed in the Behaviour -> Events section. The intensity of each action is also visually represented when you select table view by Performance. Why not start using Google Analytics Event Tracking today as a tool to help you answer questions and collect feedback on your website's user experience and see where you can improve.

07 April 2015

UX KPIs you should be tracking

Measurements have always been a way of keeping track of whether something is working. As human beings we have done this ever since we first developed numerical measurement systems (perhaps even before then) and since online experience became such an important tool for business this has become even more the case. Learning to measure user experience is not only key for working out how we can improve the overall experience and satisfaction but also for quantifying exactly what is working and what isn't. With that in mind, here are a few of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs i.e. the quantifiable measurements) that you should be tracking. Task success is one of the most commonly used KPIs and basically measures the percentage of correctly completed tasks by users. This could be something such as signing up for a newsletter, buying a product or registering personal details. When the number of successful tasks is divided by the total number of attempts you'll be able to see how hard or difficult people find the task to complete. Navigation or search is another important metric that will show you how the website is being used i.e. how many people are getting around the site using the designed navigation and how many are opting for search. Normally navigation is the first choice and then if that fails people will resort to search so if the metrics show a higher number of uses of search than navigation then the site design might need a rethink. Error rates will show you have many times users are falling down while trying to complete a task, such as making a payment. You need to define here what will constitute a user's failure and whether you're going to include a partial failure in your calculations. You might want to measure the total number of errors against the total number of opportunities for errors or alternatively the total number of errors against the total number of task attempts. Conversion is of course the definitive metric when it comes to success and, although this is important, it's also worth remembering that the conversion metric misses out those people who are almost ready to commit or interested in committing but haven't quite got there yet. If you can, widen out your metrics from conversion to include those who might imminently convert or who might be thinking about it - for example, look at the likelihood of taking action on a micro conversion - then you will get a broader, better picture.

23 March 2015